Things I Would Like to See (Part IV)

st A new Star Trek series.  As a serious fan, I can tell you that it has been far too long since the franchise has produced any new episodes.  Enterprise went off the air somewhat underwhelmingly in 2005, and while the two movies produced since then have been entertaining, they aren’t really filling that Star Trek-shaped hole inside of me.  While immensely popular, the newer cinematic Trek has been more about action than ideas or exploration.  That’s unfortunate, because these latter things are some of what Star Trek is all about.

A few months ago Slate recommended that Star Trek come back to television, this time on cable.  The ability to have a limited number of episodes produced in high quality (the likes of Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead) would, in this line of thinking, be a real boon for the series.  So too the possibility of being freed from the cutthroat raitings demands of the traditional networks.

I accept this logic wholeheartedly.  The question is, what kind of show should we have?

There are probably a host of “outside the box” options available, but I’ll just offer three more “mainstream” options here.

Reboot Universe Side Drama: A story of exploration set in the universe established by the new Star Trek movies.  Though not taking place onboard the Enterprise (that crew is already spoken for), it would take place at roughly the same time and have connections to that film world.  Sort of like what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  is attempting to do vis-a-vis the Marvel movie universe right now.  A Star Trek set in this world would be more recognizable to fans of the newer films and carry some of theirnew-star-trek-movie-trailer-spock excitement with it.

Dystopian Trek: A popular theme in science fiction right now (The Hunger Games, Revolution, The Walking Dead, etc.).  This show would take place in the traditional Kirk/Picard/Sisko/Janeway universe of the traditional television series, but set maybe two hundred years in the future.  The United Federation of Planets will have fallen (or become a shadow of its former self), and a starship crew would face the challenges posed by this new reality.  Quite gritty, and perhaps way too pessimistic for Star Trek, this would fit more with the cable drama milieu.  This said, the historic optimism of Trek, deeply coded in most of its iterations, would mean that this show would take the franchise in a much darker direction than it might be able to handle.  The thought of a Walking Dead style series is not entirely appealing and would probably be even less faithful to the shows that went before than the “let’s blow stuff up” mentality of the recent films.

The Next Next Generation:  Similar to the relationship between the Kirk and Picard series, this option would flash forward from the end of Star Trek: Voyager by about 75 to 100 years.  The Federation would still be around, but facing challenges in a changed universe.  The show would be set on a future iteration of the U.S.S.  Enterprise and be about the same kinds of exploration, reflection, and drama that categorized the franchise at its height.

Ttumblr_muk8a5Gqzd1r1fbqco1_r1_500he nature of contemporary television drama would mean the show would have some sort of overarching plot–perhaps a softer version of “the Federation in peril” or “can we maintain our values in time of war” that would resonate in our contemporary American context and keep with the tradition of the show’s social commentary.

Though a little darker in orientation, its outlook, values, and sense of adventure would remain discernibly in the tradition of Gene Roddenberry.  Though we live nearly five decades away from the optimistic days of the original show’s space race genesis, a little of that spirit might be healthy medicine in our rather cynical society.  And you know what?  It might just be fun to explore things again.  Whether a television show like this would work well or simply come off as an outdated Next Generation clone remains to be determined…but it would definitely be Star Trek.

I’m certain there are better and/or more developed options out there.  There are rumors a new show might happen.  What would you like to see?

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3 comments on “Things I Would Like to See (Part IV)

  1. wcosnett says:

    I will respond to each of your ideas.

    1 – Reboot side story – I don’t think this would end up working out. I think one of the main reasons that the new movies have been successful in ways that the previous set of movies were not is because it is a star trek universe created for the screen. The tone, characters, and stories were made specifically for that format. Whenever movies are made out of TV shows, especially ongoing shows, they often end up feeling like long, expensive TV episodes. There’s a little more freedom after the show has ended because they don’t have to worry about continuity, but you still run that risk even then. Reference X-Files, or Star Trek Insurrection. Even something like Serenity, which I thought was relative well done, was essentially Season Two crammed into 2 hours.

    I think going the other way would have similar issues. Either you change the tone and story enough that it doesn’t really feel like it’s really a Star Trek movie series, or you end up with what feels like short, underfunded movies. I’ve been watching Agents of Shield, and I kind of like it, but at the end of the day it feels like a big budget Joss Whedon series with Marvel theming more that a continuation or expansion of the movie universe. So at the end of the day, I while I think it’s not impossible to do this well, I think that chances are it would not end up filling your “Stark Trek Hole”.

    2 – I feel like we had this. It was called “Battlestar Galactica”. Also, as you mentioned, the heart of Star Trek has always been a hopeful vision of the future. More than anything else that is what has always differentiated Star Trek from other science fiction. I think this would be as successful as a gritty Muppets reboot. It might be a great series, but I don’t think it would really be Star Trek.

    3. I think this is the one and only way to go. For me, Enterprises main problem was that it looked back, not forward. Star Trek, like all great science fiction, has always really been about the present. In the original series the subtext was the cold war with the communist Klingons. In the next generation we saw a Federation that was essentially unchallenged in it’s supremacy working through how to use it’s power responsibly. Many episodes dealt with planets and people who could have easily been subjugated, but the conflict was more about how to allow them autonomy even when it seemed they were making bad or amoral choices. (Wesley Crusher being executed for stepping on flowers?) Enterprise,told the story of a young country making it’s first steps into a larger world, which didn’t feel very relevant at the time. Trek is it’s best when we look at it and see ourselves.

    That being said, I can see, as you say, a series taking place sometime after Voyager. Other, previously less significant races have grown and developed to the point where the Federation influence is waning. The subtext would be a former superpower finding it’s place in a universe that previously had only three big fish, and now has myriad medium sized ones. It must change how it exerts it’s influence and finds new ways to live out it’s mission of peaceful coexistence, exploration, and discovery, while dealing with an increasingly dysfunctional political structure torn between trying to return to the organizations glory days and choosing among possible ways to move forward into a new future.

  2. Will,

    Maybe it’s time for you to start that blog! 🙂

    Thanks for this. A few thoughts:

    1. There are some challenges here, and in some ways I fear they’d go this way. I want my classic universe back! Plus, I’m not sure SHIELD is even that good….so with it as a template, there would be challenges. Still, I think I’m potentially more positive on this than you are.

    2. It’s funny: I think I heard Ronald D. Moore of BSG once say that Battlestar was what Voyager was supposed to be. But you’re right: grim Trek is no Trek.

    3. This too makes sense, and would be more hopeful, I think, for something in this direction. I like the detail you’ve given this here (interestingly, I think some of this is taking place in some of the post-Nemesis book…sort of). But ya: what does the final frontier look like now would be a good question here. But, again, I don’t want this to be too depressing. 🙂

  3. Tyler Cronk says:

    Enterprise gave us a look into the future, I think it’d be awesome to go past Voyager and see how the Federation is doing–especially with the newfound knowledge from the Delta quadrant. Still a lot of Galaxy out there…

    The gap from Enterprise to TOS would be interesting.

    I’d like to see a gritty Star Trek, but I’m afraid it’d just be a rehash of the already good (and bad) gritty space shows. Star Trek was different, I think, because the GOOD guys were not gritty (counter to, say, Firefly).

    I really did enjoy Enterprise, especially once they figured their crap out. But then it just fell off a cliff…

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