A few weeks have bodly gone since CBS announced plans for a new ‘Star Trek’ series, which is to be executive produced by Alex Kurtzman, but we know very little as to what it will be about and whether or not it will be in the prime time line or the alternate one, which was set up for the J.J. Abrams movies. With Kurtzman involved in the series many fear that it will be the alternate timeline and not the original one.
Either way here are a few things that I have been pondering since the announcement was made and figured I’d share.
- It Needs To Be Relevant To Our Times
First and foremost a new ‘Star Trek’ series should be in sync with the current times. The original series was very much of its time. Yet also managed to be a head of its time by talking about taboo subjects that never really got aired on television at the time. It used allegorical stories and attracted some of the best science fiction writers of the time as well, which is something that never really got emulated on the sequel shows. At least not to the same extent. Added to this both the Original Series and Next Generation kind of predicted many of the technologies that we take for granted now. The mobile phone could well have been inspired by the flip communicators used in original Trek whereas the Apple Ipad and subsequent tablets may well have been inspired by the electronic pads used in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’.
The allegorical nature of the series carried on through into ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ for most part and also went on through to Deep Space Nine, which was the edgiest of the modern series, but somewhere along the way with ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ and ‘Enterprise’ the franchise began to lose its way and wasn’t as daring as its predecessors. Part of this was because a lot of the stories from classic trek and previous series kind of got re purposed and in a very obvious way. You had several different types of Star Trek show. The transport accident, the holo deck malfunctioning, some political thing with the Klingon’s or Romulan’s and any number of other standardized tropes that got repeated throughout the various series.
Of course we had some awesome episodes but they got fewer and fewer with each successive series because ‘Star Trek’ had kind of gotten trapped in its own time zone and was not as aware of what was happening out there in the real world.
I think an issue that Star Trek will have now is the fact that generally people are more open now about things such as race and sexuality. So shows no longer really need allegorical tropes as much as they used to.
When ‘Enterprise’ came out there was a rumor that one of the characters would be openly gay. Which is something that no ‘Star Trek’ series had done before, but at that point we had seen openly gay and lesbian characters in other shows, but not on ‘Star Trek’ Whether this was due to Network politics I don’t know. But it seemed odd to me that a ‘Star Trek‘, which had always been progressive with its social commentary. Just seemed to stall and not really look at this issue on the television.
They did do an Aids Allegory story on ‘Enterprise’ involving the character of T’Pol, but it was kind of rather flaccid of an attempt to do something with this theme and the end result could have and should have been a lot more edgier and truer to the issues as they were back then.
So for me a new series should address social commentary and not be afraid to tackle issues in politics, religion, gender politics, terrorism or anything else. I think it should delve into all of the above subjects and not let its self be held back by anything or anyone. Lets remember this series is going to have to compete with fare such as ‘Game Of Thrones’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ and for younger viewers stuff like ‘The Hunger Games’ so its got to be good and its got to be able to engage with most age groups as well, but do so without alienating the core fan base. Maybe win a few of the older fans back.
- Lets See More Of The Galaxy
The original series through to recent shows in the franchise had only really stuck mainly to the alpha quadrant and relied on tropes such as the Borg, The Kingon’s and Romulan’s. All these things were great, but in moderation. Lets see other galaxies and meet new races.
With modern technology we can now mix practical effects with CGI in order to show fresh new alien vistas. So lets see some.
Voyager did visit the Delta Quadrant. I’ll not dispute that, but even that show fell into the trap of being overly reliant on enemies such as the Borg and never really did develop any of their own villains as fully as they could have.
One of the many things that the J.J. Abrams movies haven’t been successful at is showing us the characters explore new worlds or find new civilizations. Lets have some of the exploration and discovery back into ‘Star Trek’.
- Make It For The Mainstream, But Stay True To ‘Star Trek’s’ Spirit
‘Star Trek’ was never meant to be a niche show. And when it was at its shining best it never was. The reason ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ got so successful was because it managed to be ‘Star Trek’ while also pulling in mainstream viewers. It didn’t happen over night, but by the time the shows third season hit the audience had become a solid mix of hard core ‘Star Trek’ fans and new fans from the mainstream.
This new series needs to try and be as inclusive as possible for people from all walks of life and of all ages.
I started watching the original series when I was about 7 or 8 and initially I watched because of the space ships and action. As I got older I got more from it. So lets try and make this series as inclusive as possible so anyone can watch whether they are 7 years old or 90 years old.
- Include LGBT Character, But Don’t Clobber US Over The Head With It
Already covered this earlier on. But I say include lesbian, gay, bisexual and even trans-gendered characters. We’re living in the 21st century now and these things are here and are here to stay. Irrespective of whether you personally approve or disapprove of the different sexual orientations they are a fact of life and something that we will all have to accept and get on with in the future.
Massive strides have been made in these communities to attain acceptance and equality and the rights to live and love as decent human beings, and for me this is something that ‘Star Trek’ has avoided for way to long.
What we don’t want though is to be clobbered over the head with it. We don’t want it to be just the one token character. It should maybe a couple of the characters within the series. Maybe one as a regular and the other as a recurring and if they have relationships it should be portrayed as any normal relationship and not highlighted as anything different from what is considered normal. It should all happen naturally and not feel forced.
I think most ‘Star Trek’ fans have a friend that is gay. I personally have a friend who is trans and they’ve gone through a lot of crap and heartache to find their own personal happiness. So I personally think these groups should be represented and shown to be proud yet normal everyday people within the future universe of ‘Star Trek’.
- Dial Back The Action To Allow More Character Beats
Lets have a less is more approach to the action element of the series.
The new Abrams movies took a far more action approach than any ‘Star Trek’ series or movie and frankly it has got in the way of good character moments and us being able to get to know the new versions of Kirk, Spock and the others as well as we got to know their original incarnations.
Action is great, but not when it is substituting for good solid character beats and moments.
Also if you look at some of the best ‘Star Trek’ episodes. You’ll find that a lot of them were far more philosophical and thoughtful than the recent J.J. Abrams movies. Lets a see a return for stories such as ‘The Inner Light’ from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ or ‘Balance Of Terror’ from the original series. It doesn’t have to be all action all the time.
- Lets Have Flawed Characters, But Keep Them Likable
One of the reasons ‘Deep Space Nine’ went over so well with so many people was because we had flawed yet likable characters. Lets bring this into the main trek universe and embrace a group of character that make mistakes and own them.
Lets not have preachy characters or a captain that is held back by the prime directive. Lets have a Captain or a Commander that will bend some rules if the outcome is for the greater good. As much as I loved Captain Picard. I often felt he was a little to careful and to constrained by the political side of things. Whereas Kirk at his very best would always bend the rules if it was for the greater good. Kirk was great characterisation because he was flawed as a human being. Same goes for Sisko who had to make an epic decision that could potentially have backfired on him in the episode ‘In the Pale Moonlight’. Which sees Sisko enlisting Garak in order to deceive the Romulans into joining the allied forces against the Dominion.
- Lets See Some Returning Characters
At present we do not know if this series will be in the prime universe. But if it is. Lets see some returning characters from the other shows. I’m sure many fans would love to see how some of their favorite characters have done since last seen. So if possible lets get a glimpse of where they are in the wider scheme of things.
We had some great moments in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ when original series characters wound up on the Enterprise D and even Picard got to check out Deep Space Nine when that show started. So lets keep this as an ongoing tradition in ‘Star Trek’.
- Less Technobabble
Something that began to grate on my nerves about the last few shows of ‘Star Trek’ was the amount of technobabble.
The show could be a lot more inclusive of mainstream viewers if it didn’t go to such great lengths to explain every scientific theory or get out of jail free card.
On the one hand. Its great that ‘Star Trek’ inspired many scientist and astronaut’s and such. But lets spare a thought for the viewers that may just want some of the wonderlust without the massive scientific explanation. Perhaps they may just want to look it up and find out for themselves. Lets have a less is more approach to technobabble.
- Lets Have Scary New Villains
Lets make a rule that there will be no Borg in this new ‘Star Trek’. Instead lets have new scary villains as apposed to relying so heavily on old tropes because they are popular. Lets try new alien races and such.
- Bring Back Classic Quotes From Literature
Something that I loved about the original series as well as The Next Generation were the quotes from Shakespeare, J.M. Barry and numerous other literary giants. I mean where would be sparring between Picard and Q be without the shakespeare quotes.
This was something great that I loved about the classic series and the Next Gen, but somewhere along the line it vanished off the face of the earth when it came to DS9 and Voyager or just did not happen as often. So I’d like to have some of this brought back into Trek as a nod to some of the greats and maybe we can have nods to more contemporary writers too.
Those are just a few of the things that I’d like to see on a new ‘Star Trek’ series.