When Roddenberry passed away in 1991, should everyone have just packed up and gone home?
The Gene Roddenberry concept of Star Trek was very different from the Star Trek that we have today. Roddenberry didn’t like space battles, he didn’t like a lot of the things that you actually take for granted as part of Star Trek today. He opposed the idea of the Klingon cast member on The Next Generation.
With Roddenberry’s ideas, the ideal is wonderful but it doesn’t necessarily translate to television and film. That’s where some of the later people that came along actually saved this franchise and kept it going thirty-five years, because I’m not sure Roddenberry’s vision would have done so.
One of the examples is the phaser. The problem with the phaser that Gene Roddenberry approved for use in The Next Generation and they used in the first season is, when you hold it up, you can’t really see it. This kind of thing would drive the people at Paramount nuts, because Gene Roddenberry didn’t quite have that visual element that he needed.
Gene Roddenberry had the original philosophy, but it really took others to move it forward and keep it going thirty-five years. At that point Gene Roddenberry had virtually lost control over the whole franchise. I think that always bothered him, that he lost control. But, on the other hand, sometimes good ideas come to fruition not under the people who created the ideas but under the people who end up inheriting the ideas.
Everybody always associates Gene Roddenberry with Star Trek, and rightly so. It was certainly horrible that there was his untimely death right before one of the films came out. But I don’t think it was necessarily a death knell for the series.