Should Star Trek Return to TV?

About a decade ago, it felt like we were inundated with Star Trek.  The Next Generation movies were still in full swing in the theaters, two TV series were on the air, no less that 15 computer games were released from 2000-2002 alone, and countless books were published.  There was a point of saturation, where even Trekkers were feeling like they were drowning in all things Trek.  Critical mass was finally reached when the cinematic Nemesis bombed and TV’s Enterprise was cancelled after four seasons, making it the first of the live action sequels to not run seven years.  There was a four-year gulf before J.J. Abrams’s theatrical resurrection was a critical and financial success.  It seems that a breather, as well as a new creative force, was what this series needed.  Fans are anxiously awaiting the sequel with hopes that it’ll be this generation’s Wrath of Khan.  Its success is guaranteed, but the question remains if it’s time for Star Trek to return to where it began–television.

Of course, most people know that the original series was the brainchild of Gene Roddenberry and only ran for three years after struggling in the ratings.  It was only in syndication when the fan base exploded (metaphorically speaking) and the convention circuit was created.  Eleven feature films, four live-action series, and an animated show resulted from the surge in popularity.  Fans could count on a movie every couple of years, and for eighteen years could find at least one TV show producing new episodes.  Trek was everywhere.  Now, we have to wait years between movies and hope for the best.

Would a new Trek series work?  The shows always had a mixture of futuristic adventure and deep (if not painfully obvious) themes.  The later series became entrenched in mythology that paved the way for shows like the remake of Battlestar Galactica (which was created by former Trek writer/producer Ronald D. Moore).  It set the stage for what we come to expect from ongoing series today, even if its own mythology was only touched upon in very few episodes a season.  A new series would have to forgo the somewhat old-fashioned way of storytelling and be more contemporary.  J.J. Abrams knew that in order to appeal to mythology-obsessed fans, he would not be allowed to simply do a remake, but would have to tie a new cast into the existing storyline.  Hence, he had Leonard Nimoy’s Spock from the established timeline return into his past and change history, thereby creating a new history and unexpected story possibilities.  It served as making a sequel, prequel, and remake all at the same time.  A new TV show would have to take this lead and create something new while still connected to the universe that the fans love.

Should a new TV series be in the same continuity as the new film?  The only way that would work is if new characters were introduced who were somehow connected to the movie but not on the Enterprise.  This would be difficult, and it could hinder the film series from paving their own way.  Could it go the route of Enterprise and set the show in the “past”?  It didn’t work for Enterprise, but it did work for the new film.  Again, this would tread on the movie’s toes.  Should it be set during the Next Generation‘s time period?  Possibly, but there would have to be some explanation for the gap of over a decade since the last time we’ve visited that era.  Another consideration would be to follow Next Generation‘s lead and move the show far in the future.  Picard’s Enterprise launched 80-some years after Kirk had the conn.  Based on Abrams’s movie, we know that Ambassador Spock, last seen in a Next Generation episode where he failed at re-unifying the planet Vulcan and Romulan homeworld so he went undercover as a Romulan, inadvertently destroyed the Romulan planet.  This is major.  A new series could be set in a post-Romulan galaxy, thereby connecting both conflicting continuities.  Spock has gone back in time, but how would those left behind deal with the new political situation?  The Undiscovered Country posed the possibility of a destroyed Klingon empire (which we know never transpired), so now we have the actual destruction of the second most popular bad guys in the history of Trek.  What’s the Federation to do?

There’s no certainty as to exactly how many years transpired between when Spock first went undercover and when the Romulan homework was destroyed, but we can guess it was at least 20 years.  Vulcans age slower than humans, but since Spock is half human and was already regenerated once, this proposed series could be set in the same time frame as Next Generation and its sequels, though accounting for the time they’ve been off the air.  That way, characters from Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager could make appearances.  This was something that was a problem with characters from the original series:  McCoy had to be hidden under heavy makeup; Scotty had to be stuck in a transporter beam for decades; and Sulu was featured in a flashback.  It had to take the movie Generations for Kirk and Picard to meet, and even then they had a convoluted time-rifting energy ribbon to explain it.  A new series set far in the future would prevent any possible crossovers without some far-fetched explanation.

Maybe setting a new show another 80 years forward would for be the best.  Like Next Generation when it premiered, it would wipe the slate clean.  Yes, they have a long history that they would need to reference, but would not be saddled with having to adhere lavishly to every plot point developed for the previous shows.  Those would be history, and treated as such in the storylines.  Voyager tried to do this by plunging the ship on the far side of the galaxy; Enterprise did this by being a prequel.  However, there are dangers in this.  Would going this route be beneficial by allowing creative freedom and establishing its own identity, or would it be a show killer by cutting itself off from the Trek universe and being alien to the audience?

There are other ways to go to make this proposed series unique.  Much talk has happened over the years about exploring Starfleet Academy.  That could be one possibility.  Or perhaps look at other aspects of Starfleet–a medical ship, planetary negotiators, a team of galactic spies.  Of course, there is life outside of Starfleet.  Could we see how people who are not Starfleet personnel live?  There is so much in this fictional universe that has yet to be explored, that the possibilities are limitless.  How about an anthology series where new characters and situations are presented with each episode?  Could we have a new animated show?  The 1973 animated series used original cast members for voices and writers from the live action show.  The Clone Wars proved that Star Wars can work in a CGI environment, so why not a well-produced computer animated Trek?  Regardless of the format, the writing should take center stage, giving us thought-provoking, innovative storytelling that has always been at the heart of Star Trek.

copyright © 2011 FilmVerse


16 comments on “Should Star Trek Return to TV?

  1. Star Trek should return to T.V.!! But not in J.J. Abrams’s Universe. When I saw that movie I felt like he needed to sit down and watch STAR TREK, and stop watching movies like FAST AND FURIOUS. You just didn’t need to think in his world, and that was one of the thing Roddenberry wanted people to do when they watched STAR TREK. So if there going to do this do it right

    • Abrams was definitely going more for fast-paced action and thrills than though-provoking ideas, but it worked since it was a huge hit. His film is the anti-TMP. For a TV series, his vision definitely would not work.

  2. I’m a lover of most things Trek but I would rather see another Stargate show than another Star Trek. Having written that down, I would watch another Trek if they made one. I watched Enterprise and hated it.

  3. I think there should be a new series on TV and should it go back to the basics a starship based episodic series infused with a lot of social commentary much like the original series. God knows there is plenty of material with everything going on today. I don’t think it really matters if its pre Abbrams or after just as long as there is one on tv.

    • That is the tried and true formula of Star Trek. Since the show’s been off the air for a long while now, if it returns to TV, it would make sense to do another one similar to the original. The thing is, it needs to be different enough to warrant doing it, otherwise it would seem like a retread. Each of the previous series advanced the overall storyline and broadened what we knew of the Trek universe, so a new show should take us in some uncharted direction.

  4. Well, how about a Star Trek comedy series for a change?

    • The problem with changing genres in the Star Trek universe is that fans expect certain things–aliens, warp travel, phaser shoot-outs, etc. It wouldn’t hurt if a new series was more lighthearted, since some of the shows tended to be on the dour side. Humor has always been a part of Star Trek, but just one element. The Voyage Home proved that you can do a comedy with Kirk and his crew, but it also had action and the threat of the destruction of the Earth hanging over them, not to mention their own fate in Starfleet since they were fugitives. I’m not sure if a weekly comedy Trek series could be sustained, but it might be worth exploring. Would a Modern Family is space work?

  5. That’s just the point though. The core audience, or true trekkers, would watch anything new whether good, so-so, or even bad, give it a fair go at least in the beginning. And to gain a new audience, one would almost have to throw in the fantastical soap-opera / romance story line.I just can’t help thinking about the current masked rider in Japan, (again thirty year history) set in a high school complete with cheerleaders and American football and inexplicable base on the moon with shots of the stars standing on the surface and chit-chatting while viewing earth wearing space suits. Or the power rangers fresh off the Johnny Depp bandwagon with pirates.And both shows have the same over-fake legions of the bad guys. IDIC in the end can still be the same.

  6. I think there should be a new series on t.v. or even a wrap-up of the Enterprise series Romulan-war storyline in a movie or mini-series that appeared in recent excellent books (Kobayashi Maru). In Japan there are shows on air continuosly for like the past 30 years with main character and storyline remakes every two years or so, like power rangers and kamenrider. I miss my trek and would watch that over reality t.v. any day. You have the fan base.
    And the suggestion to appeal to the younger set with an academy series is good too. Or “Twilight” or “Vampire Diaries” in space? Just borrow the wraith-like characters from Stargate-Atlantis (Connor Trineer anyone?) or you’ve got Edward mind-reading with the Vulcan mind-meld.
    CSI in space? An alien who-dun-it could be arranged I’m sure with hundreds of planets in the Federation to choose from. I could go on and on, so I better stop now…

    • I see where you’re going with this in saying that a new Star Trek series should do something different. The problem, though, is if it’s done in a completely different genre, it will lose the core audience. If you look at each of the series, they’re essentially the same format with a few variations: TNG was exactly the same as the original series; DS9 was on a space station rather than a ship, but had similar dynamics with the crew; Voyager was on another ship, just lost in space; Enterprise was the same concept just earlier in history. A Starfleet Academy show would suffer in ways DS9 did in that the characters aren’t going anywhere and all the action would take place in one location. DS9 solved this by adding the Defiant and then introducing intergalactic wars with the space station being the central point of conflict but expanding elsewhere in the galaxy. A Starfleet Academy show would by nature have to focus on the young cadets and their personal lives, which would turn into soap opera-like storylines that would alienate the core audience.

  7. As far as crossovers go, if they had not killed off Data in Nemesis, the possibility for a Data crossover in a series set in the 26th century would be credible. By then you would have to think Data would reach Admiral status.

    • They could always explore how Data’s mind is now existing in B4’s body, though since both bodies are virtually the same, it doesn’t even seem to be an issue. It’s not like Spock having to re-learn everything all over again.

  8. […] worth checking out: Should Star Trek Return to TV? Source: Filmverse (function() {var s = document.createElement('SCRIPT'), s1 = […]

  9. I’f I’m honest I’m not interested in a series that validates the redundancy of nearly every trek show that has aired (I realise some have suggested all still happens in another universe). I wouldn’t be interested something labeled ‘Star Trek’ which might just as well be labeled ‘Star Gate’, or ‘Star Wars’. I recognized the need to revamp a franchise but invalidating every series and hitting the reset button was too much.

    Equally I just can’t see a fan base supporting such a series.

    • If you mean a new series that takes place in the alternate reality of the new movie essentially erasing all of the history of the previous shows, then I agree. I would rather have a continuation in the prime universe rather than the JJ Abrams timeline. However, the events that were referenced from the future that old Spock came from still need to be addressed at some point, assuming a new show would be around the same time period.

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