Imagination Connoisseur, Richard Ford, claims STAR TREK: PICARD seems to have stolen some of its ideas from crowdfunded, independent productions (most notably Mark Zicree’s SPACE COMMAND and Mark Edward Lewis’s BLADE OF HONOR). What do you think? 

Dear Rob,

I’ve now just watched the 3rd episode of STAR TREK: PICARD (ST:PICARD).

One of the changes in ST:PICARD we’ve discussed on ROBSERVATIONS, is the terminology change from “android” to “synth.” Less mentioned is that this seems like blatant theft from Marc Zicree’s SPACE COMMAND, which is on YouTube, and is still being shopped around (although it hasn’t been picked up by a network yet).

Biological vs non biological life is a central theme of that production and the terminology selected was synth, intentionally different from established franchises like STAR TREK, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, etc. It seems a low blow to be stealing from new independent productions still being shopped to the networks and taking ideas from peer studio funded shows as we see happening over and over again with STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (ST:DISC) and ST:PICARD.

I’d be interested in your comments on two interesting topics this raises:

1. Is this an attack by the studio establishment on crowd-funded productions seeking pickup? SPACE COMMAND and Mark Edward Lewis’s BLADE OF HONOR are both vying to establish a new viable path from crowdfunding to network backing for stories. This path gives the networks less control since the productions that take this path already have shipped hours of material and have an audience vs shows that are pitched script only.

Does ST:PICARD using the explicit synth terminology takes something distinctive from SPACE COMMAND and blunts it and perhaps makes SPACE COMMAND harder to sell?

2. If you were driving SPACE COMMAND, do you see this as a positive or negative, and would you see a need to change or stay the course (story or marketing strategy) based on this development. On the one hand, you have a publicly traded company validating your topic and terminology, potentially creating a “synth story bandwagon“ which could be a boost. Maybe every channel needs a synth show now? Alternately it blunts your differentiation and value. “We’ve already seen this” becomes a new barrier to sale, even if SPACE COMMAND was the first mover.

In some ways this reminds me of the past when JMS pitched BABYLON 5 and the result was STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (ST:DS9), which borrowed many of BABLYLONG 5’s ideas. The two shows both got produced and competed for viewers in the marketplace, so I guess everything turned out ok.

 I know it’s a rough and tumble business. Maybe this will generate more interesting discussion about the dynamic nature of film making and the thought process behind course corrections as the environment changes until you lock your final print and ship.

– Richard F.