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 their 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.
The 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?