What Makes a Good Star Trek Series? Ronald D. Moore Knows.

We talked to Star Trek creator Ronald D. Moore about his hopes for Star Trek: Discovery.

We’re all eager to check out the newest addition to the Star Trek universe, Star Trek: Discovery. This includes Ronald D. Moore, the current showrunner of Outlander, creator of Battlestar Galactica, and a man who cut his TV writing teeth in the Star Trek universe.

For those who don’t know, Moore was responsible for much of the Star Trek we know and love. He was a staff writer on The Next Generation, writing or co-writing 27 episodes of the series, including the two-part finale “All Good Things…” He and Brannon Braga co-wrote the Trek movies Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact.

Moore continued his Star Trek career with Deep Space Nine. He wrote or co-wrote 30 episodes for the series, and served as a supervising producer and then co-executive producer. Watching Deep Space Nine, it’s easy to see the Star Trek series as a reaction to the utopian tone of The Next Generation and as a prototype for the themes Moore would go on to explore with Battlestar Galactica.

Moore wrote or co-wrote two episodes for Voyager before moving on to non-Star Trek projects.

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Given Moore’s contributions to Trek, I couldn’t help but ask him about his hopes for Star Trek: Discovery when I interviewed him at last summer’s ATX Television Festival.

“I’m eager to get back to a TV series,” said Moore of Discovery, adding that enough time has passed since he was actively working in the universe that he can look at the show simply as a fan again.

I think the movies are great. I wrote a couple of them. I enjoy a lot of them. But the heart and soul of that franchise was the TV show and examining these ideas in a science fiction context that was about us, that was about society. 

Like many Trek fans, while Moore finds the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films entertaining, he doesn’t think they capture the essence of Star Trek. For him, Star Trek is “a show [of] little morality plays.” 

The movies move the franchise into this territory that’s action-adventure all the time, and it’s all about blowing up the universe. There has to be a big villain. It’s like every movie has to have its Khan now. And it’s basically always the captain’s story and maybe one subplot, and everyone else kind of gets a cameo. And that isn’t Star Trek to me.

Moore notes that Star Trek was “never a great action-adventure show,” in any of its TV incarnations, and that there aren’t many great fights in the series because of it.

There are some good space battles in some of the later series, but that wasn’t why you were tuning in every week. You were tuning in every week because Spock was a fascinating character. Because his friendship with Kirk was profound and really unusual. The triangle with McCoy was a really interesting thing. And Data as Pinocchio trying to be a real boy is a great storyline. And Worf’s story as a Klingon among humans. And Picard’s relationship with Q. And, you know, the politics of Deep Space Nine and terrorism and occupation.

As Moore muses about the past and future of Star Trek, it’s clear that, while he may no longer be an active creator in the Star Trek universe, he is still very passionate about this world. In other words, he is a fan. 

“These are great, fascinating stories that were bigger and more important than just blowing up a planet,” Moore gushes. “[The Original Series] was about politics, it was about racism and sexism and a lot of really interesting stuff, and I’m hoping that that’s where the show goes because that’s why people fell in love with it. That’s why it’s lasted since the 1960s.”

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Star Trek: Discovery premieres this Sunday, September 24th on CBS and CBS All-Access.

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