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Old 02-12-2010, 04:06 PM
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Star Trek:TNG "Sub Rosa" - Ripoff of Anne Rice or original as claimed?


This is probably only going to be one that fans of either Rice or Star Trek are going to bother reading, but it's something I've thought of on and off for years now.

The TNG episode "Sub Rosa" has Beverly Crusher inheriting an heirloom candle from her grandmother upon her death. The candle houses a "spirit" (really an "anaphasic alien lifeform") who has appeared to almost all of the Howard (Bev's maiden name) women for generations, mentoring them and acting as a lover. Crusher finds all of this out from her grandmother's journal and tries to figure out what's going on, while simultaneously being stimulated (so to speak) by this being ("Ronin"). Eventually, Crusher destroys the candle and escapes the being's influence, returning to the Enterprise.

I don't really remember all the details, but I know I was struck by the similarities to Anne Rice's first Mayfair novel, "The Witching Hour". Multiple generations of women under the spell of a spirit being, keeping the same last name despite marriage (and we've seen that our current tradition of changing the name to the husband's is still prevalent in the 24th century in humans, at least), the family's (and spirit's) origins in the Scottish highlands, the fact that the spirit can control weather, the fact that the last heir to inherit the candle and spirit is a doctor, the spirit materializing flowers for the Howard women, the "merging" with the women (though in the book it's the doctor's fetus he merges with)...the list is long.

The official word on the episode is that was, in no way, inspired by "The Witching Hour". Which is laughable, but that wall is stone. It's one of the minor controversies of TNG and has been around since the episode aired.

So, fellow fans of Rice and/or Trek, what's your consensus on this debate?
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:10 PM
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I'm certainly not a fan of Rice, but as a dedicated Trekkie I'll admit that the franchise has been less than scrupulous at times. And by "at times", I mean, "for the entire run of Deep Space Nine, which was almost certainly ripped off from Babylon Five."

So, given the parellels you've described, it seems likely that either:

1) This episde did, indeed, rip off the Rice novel, or;
2.) Both the Rice novel and the Trek episode were adaptations of a similar, earlier story with a similar plot. Was there anything like that?
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:16 PM
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Not to my knowledge. As far as I know, the entire Mayfair Witches trilogy was original. It was BASED on common European/southern gothic legend, but the details are all original, and it's the details that are so similar.

Last edited by jayjay; 02-12-2010 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:30 PM
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I don't know the answer to the question, but I noticed that Crusher's maiden name is Howard. I wonder if that was a nod to Heinlein and his long lived Howard families?
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Old 02-12-2010, 09:22 PM
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I always thought the Star Trek episode was a rip-off of Witching Hour. Another point...does anyone know if Beverly's maiden name of Howard is ever mentioned before this episode? Since Anne Rice's birth name is Howard, the Star Trek writers may have been referencing their source in a sly kinda way.
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Old 02-13-2010, 12:17 AM
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Reading this thread prompted me to surf on over to The Agony Booth. At the end of the review -- which is definitely worth a look -- it noted that there's a somewhat fishy credit buried at the end that apparently was not there the first time the episode aired. So Anne Rice may very well have sued over the similarities.
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Old 02-13-2010, 02:09 AM
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Reading this thread prompted me to surf on over to The Agony Booth. At the end of the review -- which is definitely worth a look -- it noted that there's a somewhat fishy credit buried at the end that apparently was not there the first time the episode aired. So Anne Rice may very well have sued over the similarities.
Man, beat me by a couple hours. The first time I'd heard of the novel was when I read that review.

Still I can provide the link you forgot.
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Old 02-13-2010, 06:58 AM
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And by "at times", I mean, "for the entire run of Deep Space Nine, which was almost certainly ripped off from Babylon Five."
cite? According to IMDB records DS9 was over a year before B5.Abd I think it had its plot arc planned out from the start.
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Old 02-13-2010, 07:42 AM
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cite? According to IMDB records DS9 was over a year before B5.Abd I think it had its plot arc planned out from the start.
Paramount had his series bible.

Really if you look at DS9 it was nothing like any of the trek before it and it makes a lot more sense if you see it as inspired by the plot outline of Babylon 5 not as an outgrowth of Trek.
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Old 02-13-2010, 07:46 AM
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cite? According to IMDB records DS9 was over a year before B5.Abd I think it had its plot arc planned out from the start.
People who say this kinda thing like to yammer about "but but but they both take place on space stations! And they both have commanding officers who like baseball! And they're both about wars! In space!"

But aside from that, they're pretty dissimilar. It's like complaining that Band of Brothers is a ripoff of Hogna's Heroes because they're both about American soldiers fighting Zee Germans.
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Old 02-13-2010, 08:20 AM
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People who say this kinda thing like to yammer about "but but but they both take place on space stations! And they both have commanding officers who like baseball! And they're both about wars! In space!"

But aside from that, they're pretty dissimilar. It's like complaining that Band of Brothers is a ripoff of Hogna's Heroes because they're both about American soldiers fighting Zee Germans.
Many people, when this topic comes up, will point out that DS9 aired earlier.

I wonder, if they care enough to get their air dates right, why they don't care enough to look just a tad deeper and learn that that JMS(the creator of Babylon 5) pitched the Bab 5 concept to paramount a few years before they came up with DS9.

There are quite a few similarities between the show in setting, in tone, and in plot even so far as the captain of the station becoming a great spiritual leader.

Considering paramount had b5 pitched to them before writing DS9, and the vast similarities, only a fool would be familiar with the history of the shows and doubt JMS's ideas had some influence for which he never received credit.

Last edited by ZPhobiaZ; 02-13-2010 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 02-13-2010, 08:32 AM
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Captain becoming spiritual leader? Check.
One race recently liberated from faded empire? Check.
Leader named Dukat? Check.
Female first officer? Check.
Minority doctor? Check.

Powerful "outside" race trying to foment wars to increase their power? Check.
Dominion vs. Shadows.

I'm sure with some time I could come up with more, these are just the surface similarities.
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Old 02-13-2010, 08:43 AM
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Clearly, I agree with your conclusion, but I think your reaching on the doctor point. I assume you refer to Bashir's being a genengineered freak, but I always had the impression that was an idea they cooked up midway through the series.

Also, black people are not genetically engineered.

As for Franklin, while the doctor was black, I don't recall anything in the series which implied to me that role was written specifically to be a minority character. Perhaps the best man for the role just simply happened to be black. Or, they simply wanted a black actor somewhere and the man going for Franklin was the best candidate.
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Old 02-13-2010, 09:08 AM
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Let's continue this interesting hijack in a new thread.

Back to discussing Sub Rosa/ Anne Rice.

Last edited by Peter Morris; 02-13-2010 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 02-13-2010, 04:36 PM
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Ripoff of Anne Rice or original as claimed?
Does it really have to be one or the other? It could be an homage, or they both could be based on an earlier story, or they could both use common tropes of the genre.

FWIW Memory Alpha says it's an homage to The Innocents and other Gothic Horror conventions.
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Old 02-13-2010, 05:16 PM
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Clearly, I agree with your conclusion, but I think your reaching on the doctor point. I assume you refer to Bashir's being a genengineered freak, but I always had the impression that was an idea they cooked up midway through the series.
Dr. Bashir (or at least his portrayer Siddig El Fadil, who changed his name midway through the series to Alexander Siddig) is of Arabic descent.


The episode in question is one of the very few eps. of TNG that I've never seen. (But because of its' reputation, I haven't tried to hard.) But because TNG has eps. that are blatant ripoffs of Otto Preminger's Laura (Aquiel) and Kurosawa's Rashomon ("A Matter of Perspective"), and that the Borg are suspiciously similar to the old "Doctor Who" monsters the Cybermen (right down to the same catch phrase "Resistance is futile"), I'd hedge a bet that the Crusher episode is an Anne Rice knockoff.
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Old 02-13-2010, 05:36 PM
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Dr. Bashir (or at least his portrayer Siddig El Fadil, who changed his name midway through the series to Alexander Siddig) is of Arabic descent.
Sid's specifically Sudanese by birth. (Half-Sudanese by decent - his mother's English.)

Bashir's ethnicity is unclear, even to the creators. The majority of his characterization came after casting - his ethnicity never specifically nailed down, even after Sid was cast.

From Memory Alpha:

Quote:
As Alexander Siddig pointed out in 2002, "He was a completely blank canvas, no one knew anything about him." He believes that the only reason the character was created was because the producers knew there had to be a doctor on the show, but beyond the fact that he was a doctor, "they were all scratching their heads."
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Ronald D. Moore commented "In my mind, Julian was of Sudanese (like Sid), Indian, or Pakistani extraction, but that the family's roots were probably in England, hence the accents."

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Old 02-13-2010, 06:41 PM
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The Star Trekverse rips off a lot of people.

Like the DS9 episode where Miles O'Brian finds out he's the robot.

That's just a ripp off of that short sci-fi story. They eventually made it a movie around '00 or so.

Jeez! I wish I could remember the name of the movie.
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Old 02-13-2010, 07:11 PM
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Um ... the plot gimmick is older than either Trek or Rice. (Hmmm, "The Years of Rice and Trek" would make a good sotry title.... )

To wit:
Quote:
Nornagest, from the Scandinavian prose "Nornagestsaga" or "Nornageststhattr", was an old man who relates the story of Sigurd and Gunnar (the Norse forms of Siegfried and Gunther), to King Olaf Tryggvason.
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Old 02-14-2010, 12:12 AM
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[QUOTE=jayjay;12111525]This is probably only going to be one that fans of either Rice or Star Trek are going to bother reading, but it's something I've thought of on and off for years now.

The TNG episode "Sub Rosa" has Beverly Crusher inheriting an heirloom candle from her grandmother upon her death. The candle houses a "spirit" (really an "anaphasic alien lifeform")

I know why the spirit survived for so long. He (it?) was played by Duncan Regehr. Very handsome man who very easily could have persuaded any number of women to do anything he wanted. Check out the "Last Days of Pompeii" miniseries from the mid-80's and you'll see what a stud he was.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:39 PM
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Like the DS9 episode where Miles O'Brian finds out he's the robot.

That's just a ripp off of that short sci-fi story. They eventually made it a movie around '00 or so.

Jeez! I wish I could remember the name of the movie.
I don't know the name of the movie version but you mean the Philip K. Dick short story "Imposter". Terry Nation adapted it for the BBC before writing for a new BBC series called Doctor Who. he wrote the second-ever serial of the series, which starred aliens he created called the Daleks.
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Old 02-03-2020, 12:41 AM
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Originally Posted by jayjay View Post
This is probably only going to be one that fans of either Rice or Star Trek are going to bother reading, but it's something I've thought of on and off for years now.

The TNG episode "Sub Rosa" has Beverly Crusher inheriting an heirloom candle from her grandmother upon her death. The candle houses a "spirit" (really an "anaphasic alien lifeform")
I know why the spirit survived for so long. He (it?) was played by Duncan Regehr. Very handsome man who very easily could have persuaded any number of women to do anything he wanted. Check out the "Last Days of Pompeii" miniseries from the mid-80's and you'll see what a stud he was.
Interesting that this should pop up today - I've come across a link to an interview with Mr. Regehr today. Here it is. And a good quote from the interview:
Quote:
ML: The Gothic romance episode “Sub Rosa” is one of the most polarizing of TNG episodes, as it is so off-format. It’s often described with affection—or derision—as the “sex candle ghost” episode. How do you feel about it today?

Regehr: “Sex candle ghost”? I didn’t know it was called that, but I like the title, and love the notion that the episode is both affectionately lauded and critically derided… gives it an air of notoriety, very Hollywood headline-sounding. Sex Scandal Ghost… haunts bedrooms, ignites darkest passions!”
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Old 02-03-2020, 01:00 AM
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In fairness, Anne Rice stole the idea originally from Harlan Ellison, who was very disappointed by the adaptation.
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Old 02-03-2020, 01:45 AM
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I don't know the name of the movie version but you mean the Philip K. Dick short story "Imposter".
Also Imposter, starring Gary Sinise. Not a good movie.
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Old 02-03-2020, 03:32 AM
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Why anyone would want to take credit for "Sub Rosa", I have no idea.
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:03 AM
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In fairness, Anne Rice stole the idea originally from Harlan Ellison, who was very disappointed by the adaptation.
Creators steal or at least adapt. The trick is to grab some idea and develop it well. Cf. Shakespeare, JS Bach, Disney, Colin Chapman, et al.

The cult of originality is a rather recent conceit about who sells what to whom and how quickly. Space / Soap / Horse operas, pulp fiction, penny dreadfuls, bosom-heaving romances, are more fast-food entertainment than immortal art. Make it; sell it; make another; sell that and more before the lawyers come for you.

Most drama still embodies Mark Twain's 3-act structure: 1) Send them up a tree; 2) throw rocks at them; 3) see if they come down. Setup; conflict; resolution. What, a spirit haunts a family line? That can be played many ways till we concoct our desired ending. Just don't multiply your Daleks unnecessarily.
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Old 02-05-2020, 07:52 AM
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I've read somewhere that Sub Rosa wasn't originally written for Star Trek but the author had this script sitting around, dusted it off, and used it for Star Trek. I don't know if that's true but it would explain why the episode is such an odd duck.
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Old 02-05-2020, 11:09 AM
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Meh.
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Twice, I believe.
Or, was it three times...?
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Old 02-05-2020, 11:17 AM
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Aren't there numerous books/movies about spirits inhabiting objects or homes or being a historical part of a family? It's just my feeling that you don't have to "steal" that idea or similar ideas because they've been around for a very long time.
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Old 02-05-2020, 02:40 PM
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Aren't there numerous books/movies about spirits inhabiting objects or homes or being a historical part of a family? It's just my feeling that you don't have to "steal" that idea or similar ideas because they've been around for a very long time.
I consulted with Phineas Dinwiddle Barnaby, the 19th-century copyright attorney whose spirit dwells in a set of fireplace bellows in the basement of my ancestral home and whose opinion my family has consulted on many occasions.

He says the issue is "iffy" and potentially actionable.
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Old 02-05-2020, 02:47 PM
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I consulted with Phineas Dinwiddle Barnaby, the 19th-century copyright attorney whose spirit dwells in a set of fireplace bellows in the basement of my ancestral home and whose opinion my family has consulted on many occasions.
If he chose to haunt a set of bellows, he must have been a real "windbag" in his corporal life. LOL
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:03 PM
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Old 02-05-2020, 08:20 PM
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Well the rumor was he did a lot of blowing to pass the bar.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:12 PM
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Given the times, was it the blowing or his silence which assured his passage?
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:59 AM
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In fairness, Anne Rice stole the idea originally from Harlan Ellison, who was very disappointed by the adaptation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
Aren't there numerous books/movies about spirits inhabiting objects or homes or being a historical part of a family? It's just my feeling that you don't have to "steal" that idea or similar ideas because they've been around for a very long time.
There are only twelve stories. Harlan Ellison has written seven of them.

---

P.S. I was going to add my own riff on the "haunted bellows" meme, but I couldn't think of anything good.
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