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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Script Treatment: “Wesley Crusher Returns Again”


TO: Gene Roddenberry, Paramount Studios

FROM: Bruce Bethke, Auteurs Sans Fierté

DATE: 12 October 1988

RE: ST:TNG Season 3 Script Treatment


“Wesley Crusher Returns Again for the Last Time, No Kidding!”

Okay Gene, here’s the outline. Returning from a mission dirtside, the Away Team discovers that a freak malfunction of the transporter contrast control has turned them all black. Picard retires to the executive conference room (I understand we’re contractually obligated to use the conference room set for at least five minutes in each show, right?), opens the executive safe, and reads the Enterprise warranty, only to discover that the transporter is covered by a carry-in service contract and the nearest XEROX service center is 200 light-years away.

Troi gets a “bad feeling” about this.

In the meantime Wesley, bored out of his mind now that he no longer gets to save the ship each week, programs the holodeck to simulate the Enterprise. He enters the holodeck and goes down to the holographic holodeck, where he meets a holographic simulation of himself. Together the two of them program the simulated holodeck to simulate the Enterprise, whereupon they enter the simulated simulation, go down to the holographic holograph of the holodeck, and meet Wesleys #3 and #4…

Troi feels “confused.”

Ryker barricades himself in the lunchroom and demands that the replicators be reprogrammed to produce soul food, so that he can prove how macho he is by eating chitlins and collard greens. Data desperately and unsuccessfully attempts to learn to break dance to Michael Jackson, there apparently being no developments in popular culture after the end of the 20th Century. Geordi, watching Data, laughs himself comatose. The ship’s chief medical officer “has never seen anything like it before.” (Where does Star Fleet keep finding these ignorant medical officers, anyway? Draftees? Med school “C” students doing a hitch in Star Fleet to pay off their student loans?)

Troi feel “nauseous.” (Not nauseated, nauseous. There is a difference. Look it up.)

Suddenly, the Enterprise is stricken by a massive power outage caused by Wesley’s recursive adventures on the holodeck! The ship comes to a screaming stop in mid-space (obviously Newton’s Laws have been repealed by the 23rd Century) just as the Tholians, Malcots, and Gorns join forces with an ancient pre-warp-drive Romulan battle fleet that’s still alive due to relativistic time dilation! Picard, after being reminded by Worf that Romulans never take prisoners unless it’s essential to the story line, realizes he must restore power to the phaser banks and start shooting things if he is to save the series! But Geordi is still unconscious, and the rest of the engineering officers have been spirited away by an assortment of omnipotent alien life entities! Decisively taking action, Picard boldly calls an emergency meeting in the executive conference room, and all the senior staff members leave the actual running of the ship to the redshirts while they assertively discuss options right up until the commercial break.

Troi is feeling, “Not bad. How are you?”

At last, Picard realizes there is no alternative except direct action. Setting the transporter controls for both “duplicate” and “enlarge 125%” he beams a few dozen Worfs directly onto the holodeck, with orders to kill all the Wesleys they can find. There follows a cheerful slaughter of Wesleys…


So whadaya think, Gene? Have we got a deal? Fax me your okay tonight and we can have a shooting script banged out by Wednesday. My best to Majel,

—Bruce Bethke


Bruce Bethke adds: It is perhaps worth noting that I wrote this piece during the second season of ST:TNG and actually sold it to a pro magazine, which actually paid me cash money for it, and then someone in the magazine’s upper management decided (probably wisely) that the value of running this piece was peanuts compared to the possibility of offending either Paramount or Pocket Books, both of whom bought a lot of ad space in that magazine. The piece was spiked, but I received a kill fee. This therefore became the first time I was paid more to not publish something than to publish it. It’s nice work, if you can get it.

Over the years I’ve written a lot of these weird little metafictional pieces, some of which were published in various places and others of which ended up just laying around here somewhere, cluttering up my files. If you’d like to see more like this, let me know.   


Pete Wood said...

I hate Wesley Crusher, but I love Wil Wheaton. The Wil Wheaton Project was one of the hippest and funniest talk shows ever. Hell's Bells, Skeletor was a frequent guest. How do you top that? You think Lewis Black can rant? you ain't seen nothing until you've seen Skeletor. Alas, the SyFy network did what tv always does with great shows. It canceled the Project as if they had anything better to program. If Guy Fieri can have shows running 24/7 on the Food Network, why can't Wil Wheaton have one @#$#% show?
Does the brother in law of the Federation President have a holodeck business? Why else would every star ship have constantly failing technology with seemingly little safety protocols? I sense a rat.

Eric Dontigney said...

I loved the Wil Wheaton Project. I was so frustrated with the network formerly known as Sci-Fi when they canceled it.

~brb said...

@Pete -- That's an old, old problem, people confusing the actors with the characters they portray. It happens to TV and movie actors, it happens to stage performers -- see Alice Cooper, "No More Mr. Nice Guy" -- sooner or later it may even happen to you. I know that because I wrote a lot of my stories in first person, it happened to me quite often, as readers made assumptions about me based on the characters in whose voices I'd written.

As for why all starships have holodecks: that secret is revealed in the ST:TNG writer's guide. Holodeck episodes were cheap to film, as they could use existing sets and props. Therefore, the producers liked holodeck episodes.

Pete Wood said...

It has happened to me. Some reviews of my short stories have raked me over the coals, because they assumed I shared the same beliefs as my characters. It's fiction, not my political manifesto.

~brb said...

Some of the most daft hate mail I've received as editor of Stupefying Stories has been based on a reader's assumptions about a given author's gender or ethnicity based on the author's name.

I've got a two-word reply for that: pen names. Just because the author's byline is a male and Anglo-sounding name, that is no guarantee that the author is in fact either.

Judith said...

Me too!