Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How Star Trek Would be Different if Starfleet were Based in Houston Instead of San Francisco

We all know what Star Trek looks like, especially in the three "connected" series (TNG, DS9, VOY), and it's pretty much what you'd expect, right?  A product of its time.  The Original Series had blinking-light computers, miniskirts, and fist fights, and the next three series had people in long sleeves hanging out in a flying (or stationary but still spaceborne) mall-like environment.  And Enterprise looked like they couldn't quite decide what to do with themselves, but were determined to do it in a way which showed how determined they were. 

The problem is, no matter how you slice it, the style that sticks in the memory seems to be the three connected shows.  And that's what bothers me.  The other two shows are about the cool, awesome future we (or at least our great grandchildren) can look forward to, but the three connected series seem to get almost bored with future-as-future.  "The future is sooo sixties!  Let's just make things like the present, only with mood lighting!"  And so you have mall-like spaceship interiors.  Extremely (and self-referentially) tolerant crewmembers.  Diverse (or at least, token-filled) crews.  And worst of all, IMHO, culture drawn solely from NPR.  Shakespeare.  Classical music.  Shakespeare.  "Serious" theater.  Shakespeare.  And, when you just wanna get down and dirty, jazz!  Occasionally there will be suitably "ethnic" fare to show how oh-so-multicultural we are.  But we usually fall back on Shakespeare. 

The problem, I think, is that Star Trek is written in California, by people who live in California, who expect the future to look like California.  We've gotten away from that "Make the world America" chauvinism, in favor of the much more enlightened "Make the world like College and California" chauvinism instead.  The out-universe problems I can't change.  But the in-universe problems I attribute to one thing--Starfleet Headquarters is located in San Francisco.  More than anything else, this has to be the main source of the California ethos Starfleet is drenched in.  And so, to remedy the extreme douchiness of the corporate culture of Starfleet, I hereby present my Modest Proposal:  Move SFHQ to Houston.  Put it in the old Mission Control Center.  That way, when you hear, "Houston, we have a problem," there'll at least be a chance the speaker will be wearing some of that great-looking velour that must work so well in the Pacific Northwest climate. 

And so, a few modest changes ahem, improvements that could be wrought by moving SFHQ to Houston: 

1.   The NCC-1701A would still be Constitution-class, but the NCC-1701D would be an Alamo-class
2.   Concerts would play classical music, from such noted composers as Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, and Conway Twitty
3.   Data would tell his clingy girlfriend that her fingering is much improved--on the banjo
4.   The United Federation of Planets would be called the Confederacy of Planets
5.   The CoP would have a permanent trade alliance with the Ferengi
6.   Captain Picard, a Frenchman, would have a Spanish accent
7.   Captain Picard would quote from "the Duke" rather than "the Bard"
8.   Captain Picard would wear a ten-gallon hat to cover up that huge bald spot of his
9.   You'd finally be able to get some whisky out of the replicators. 
10.  In The Savage Curtain, Lincoln would be on the "bad guy" side, perhaps replacing Colonel Green or Zora of Tiburon
11.  The Romulans would never breach the Neutral Zone--they wouldn't dare
12.  Whenever the Enterprise won a battle, they'd be obligated to broadcast the first twelve notes of "Dixie" over subspace radio
13.  Worf, who prefers traditional dress, would wear spurs and a long duster
14.  Phasers would have a "hammer" attachment that let you cock them
15.  The Starfleet symbol would be a rattlesnake coiled around a Lone Star
16.  The helm console would have mandatory sound effects to make "going to warp" sound like an Indy Car ramping up, and "coming out of warp" sound like slamming on the brakes
17.   On NX-01, Archer would never have made it to Captain--that would be Trip, who would not have been portrayed as such an idjet
18.  Vulcans on Enterprise would not have been so full of themselves--for the same reason as the Romulans
19.  MACOs would be replaced on the NX-01 by Texas Rangers
20.  On Voyager, Janeway would not have such a hatred of being called "Ma'am" 
21.  Chakotay would look much less douchy, and he would NOT be the only Indian in Starfleet
22.  In Caretaker, if Janeway didn't want the Kazon to have the Caretaker technology, she could have set a damn bomb and used the launcher thingy to fling them back to the Alpha Quadrant before it went (seriously, Katie, some dynamite, some wires, and a clock.  Not exactly rocket science.)
23.  The EMH wouldn't be bothered with people shutting him off at random, he'd just get even.  "So you're the one.  Right!  Hypospray of chili sauce comin' right up!  You're just gonna leave that little switch alone from now on, aren'tcha?" 
24.  On TOS, Kirk would be a little more suspicious of Scotty, at least starting out.  After all, Scotland is to the North of England--he's a British Yankee!  "Who's he think he is, anyway?  Tellin' me I can't break the laws of physics whenever I damn well please?  The nerve of that limey Yank!" 
25.  Dr. McCoy would recommend that nauseated crew members "take two shots and call me at end of watch." 
26.  Dr. McCoy would be unpopular in Starfleet Medical bars because of how little he drinks
27.  Spectre of the Gun would be a lot more historically accurate
28.  In The Cage, the "formerly desert, now a green paradise" scene would be moved from Mojave to Lubbock
29.  DS9 needs almost no changes.  Sisko is already about as close as Star Trek comes to Chuck Norris--worshipped by some, admired by others, terrifying to still others.  The space fighting scenes of Emissary play like the Battle of the Alamo.  The Defiant, built to destroy a Borg cube, would only have to be redefined as a Secession-class.   The Mirror Universe Terran Empire would be ruled by a clean-shaven Chuck Norris--and therefore wouldn't have fallen.  The Cardassian Union?  Let's just mention the War Between the States and have done with it. 


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