As I’m sure you have all heard by now that CBS is making a new TV series of Star Trek. It’s due to air in early 2017 on the coat tails of the franchise’s 2016 50th anniversary. I am a huge Star Trek fan but I’m also a mostly reasonable one. This week the internet went ballistic with hatred for this new show that hasn’t even been written yet. One reason is that Alex Kurtzman who co-wrote the first two reboot films is behind the project. Honestly I don’t think it is really that important who is behind the show, so long as they stick to these 10 very important things.
1) Keep it Star Trek
This is the most important thing that has to happen. Keep Star Trek as it should be. Star Wars is a fantasy in space, “NuTrek” is a Sci Fi action film series. Star Trek the TV show has always been pure Science Fiction that comments on socio-political issues all while being fun with action and adventure. It needs to have heart and make the audience think and ponder. Star Trek aired in 1966 and broke profound social issues on racism and war, putting a mirror up to society. It was this ground breaking social commentary that made Star Trek the dynasty it is today. It’s a tone of morality that is by far the biggest thing missing from the last two reboot films. Without a sense of morals and tone, any new series simply wouldn’t be Star Trek.
2) Keep the Original Cannon
Star Trek as a TV series, even before the JJ Abrams reboot, kept the feature films very separate from the TV show. Although the films were canon stories, their style, mood and tone were very different. From Star Trek The Original Series (TOS) all the way up to the end of Star Trek Voyager (not to discount the prequel series Enterprise) a whole world of canon, history, characters and rules were long established. Despite the reboots, it would be a shame to stray away from this long fan loved history of 703 episodes that spanned five TV shows. To just disregard the 40 plus years of stories and history that were established to attract new audiences would be a crying shame. Many fans are calling for their dream version of Star Trek. The problem there is that everyone has a different vision. I’ll be happy if the new series is set after Voyager, before The Next Generation or set during the Romulan war between Enterprise and TOS , as long as it’s not the NuTrek alternate timeline. A new series has to add to the legacy, not start over.
3) Be Brave
As much as we love what Star Trek has done in the past the new series has to be different. The new series has to be brave and try new things and stand on it’s own two feet. Voyager set itself up to be a very different show at the beginning but fell back into old routines, never quite rising itself. Enterprise once again tried to be different but took several season to be brave about it. It would be great to see a darker side to Star Trek and the Federation. After all change and progress is the fundamental ethos of Star Trek.
4) Have Cameos
We would all love to check in our favourite characters. The last we heard of Commander Riker, he was Captain of the USS Titan, Worf was ambassador to the Klingon Empire and Janeway was an Admiral. It would be great to have those characters pop up on a view screen of a new ship or for them to pop by for an episode. In the case of a prequel series, Captain Archer could throw in an appearance as a wise admiral. The big thing however is that the new series does have to be able to stand on it’s own two feet just like Deep Space Nine and Voyager did with some small cross over characters in their pilots. Over use of known characters would unfortunately just turn into fan service and result in unlikely stories and scenarios unless it’s done in the right way. For an example of this done badly just see how little sense it makes for Walter Koenig to be in Star Trek Renegades.
5) A New Ship
A new Star Trek needs a new ship and to me, that ship can be any ship. It doesn’t have to be the next Enterprise or an old one for that matter. Despite my personal feelings towards certain characters in Voyager and some of the storylines, adventures on a different ship were exciting and fascinating to see. I would be hesitant to be on the Enterprise F, J or H far in the future and being thrown into a universe we really don’t know, with technology that’s reached a point of being completely magical. This was a pitch made by Bryan Singer about eight years ago. A new ship is essential for the series to work. Trying to recreate the Enterprise E again with a different crew would just be sad and would lack imagination and progression. I’m sure thousands of fans are probably calling out for the return of the TNG crew to a new series, it’s been over 20 years and it ran for seven seasons and four movies. Let it go friends, let it go.
6) A New Enemy
We need a big new threat. DS9 struggled through it’s first few seasons despite some great stand out episodes, it just didn’t connect with audiences well. Then they introduced The Dominion and if you haven’t gone back and watched it, I highly recommend it. It became a fantastic war series. The same in Voyager, they’re ultimate enemy most definitely being The Borg. Since however there has been a throve of novels, comic books and games with The Borg as the main enemy and we are done with them. Janeway crippled them and that’s that. What we do need is a whole new threat to the Federation. A new species that are hard to understand, something truly alien or a well known ally turned foe. The last we checked in with our universe the Romulan home world had been destroyed not long after making peace with the Federation. How interesting would it be for Starfleet to have to now defend and care for their former enemy, against forces trying to take advantage of the fallen empire.
7) Have an Overall Story Arch
DS9 and Enterprise changed how Star Trek ran. With the exception of the odd two part special, every other Star Trek series ran with very independent episodes with very little relationship to one another. We rarely got a hint of a new enemy or story direction in TOS or TNG that would later reappear. In DS9 we had The Dominion War span three seasons, an idea that was planted in early season two and was carried to completion in season seven. That show had some great frame work. Enterprise, despite having some terrible story arch’s, still had full season stories. This is how most TV works these days, giving little hints each episode for a big final. It would be a shame for Star Trek not to evolve with TV. The new series is going to be released on CBS’s All Access online subscription channel and I would be very surprised if they’re stand alone episodes in our modern binge watching society. More likely we’re going to get HBO or Netflix style 10-13 episode season that supports one main story like Game Of Thrones, Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
8) A Strong Female Lead
In an ideal world this point should go without saying, however, women haven’t been depicted well in the reboot films. Falling into the Hollywood trope of sex sells, Doctor Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness had the sole purpose of existing to be topless for the trailer.
The Original Series sadly is a testament to it’s time and is extremely misogynistic. Thankfully Star Trek evolved. Back in the 90s we had this sorted, in 1995 we put a woman in the Captain’s chair. I personally had a lot of problems with Janeway as a character, but having a woman in command was no big deal and it worked for seven seasons.
DS9 had great female leads in Major Kira and Lt. Dax, the types of characters that TNG just didn’t hold well. I’m looking at Councillor Troy here, she was always so weak. Despite the strong start with Lt. Tasha Yar, her character was never replaced with a similar trope after her death. The closest we got was Whoppi Goldberg and she only made guest appearances. So I’m cool with it whether the Captain is going to be a man or a woman. No matter which way the casting goes the next senior officer has to be of the opposite sex. A Female Captain needs a male 1st Officer and vice a versa. It’s a dynamic that works and creates characters that everyone can relate to.
9) An LGBT Character
As mentioned above Star Trek has a long history of breaking social boundaries and highlighting modern thinking. One fact that has always failed Star Trek is it’s portrayal of Homosexuality in the future. It’s a part of life in the Federation that has only been hinted at and brushed with very lightly. Many writers and producers were very shy about portraying it and the only on screen appearances of homosexual relationships have been two women. David Gerrold wrote an episode of TNG entitled “Blood and Fire” that featured a gay couple. Sadly the show’s producers were terrified of public backlash and they buried the episode. It’s since been adapted as a fanmade TOS episode and you can see it here
What we need is a strong, male lead character, a senior bridge officer, somewhere between the Captain to Helm Officer. A man with a position of authority who is just as capable as any other male character, who just happens to be in a same sex relationship with another crew member. The most important thing is that it has to also not be a big deal, it has to be subtly written and portrayed just like any other relationship.
The main reason I’m calling out for a male/male relationship is that unfortunately studio executes wouldn’t be able to help themselves with a female same sex relationship and it would turn into sexy scenarios. For proof just look at the increasing tightness of T’Pol’s cat suit’s in Enterprise and Seven of Nine’s outfit’s on Voyager. Sex sells. But the point of showing a relationship like this is to almost not draw attention to it and to depict it as the norm.
Look at how Caprica did it with Sasha Roiz portraying the cold blooded gangster who was married to a man. Until we saw this character sitting at home entertaining dinner guest holding hands with his husband and offering a tender forehead kiss, there was no mention or attention given to his sexuality.
10) Be Set After Voyager
Now this is just a personal preference of mine. I really want to be able to check in with my favourite characters and see what is going on in the future of the Star Trek universe. However I wouldn’t be heartbroken if we were given a series set between TOS and TNG or any other timeline. I made a comparison to Game of Thrones earlier for a reason. My dream show would depict several locations, with a lot of characters and cameos to work with. Follow a new ship and crew but have us check in with Starfleet Command, visit the USS Titan with Captain Riker and his crew. Lets us see Worf struggle with politics and have all their stories connected. Both Jonathan Frakes and Michael Dorn have been trying to get their own spin off shows made for years. Lets join them all together with a new ship and crew and make some fantastic poignant TV while we’re at it.
So that’s really 9 things I think are very important and 1 hopeful wish for 2017. So what do you want to see in the 2017 from the New Star Trek Series?