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Why Star Trek Might Not Work For Today’s TV Execs

For those of you just joining us, yesterday I wondered why we didn’t have a new Star Trek television show on the air already, before suggesting that, just maybe, such a show wouldn’t work on modern television anymore. Pick your appalled, disagreeing jaws off the ground; here’s where I explain what I mean.

I’ve been embarrassingly addicted to rewatching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Netflix Instant since it was added to the service a couple of weeks ago; I’m almost finished with the first season already, and loving every minute of it. But something that keeps occurring to me during almost every episode is how unlike modern television it is. If Deep Space Nine was still on the air, it’s very unlikely that it’d manage to be the same show that it was back then.

For one thing, it’s so wonderfully leisurely at times; pre-credit teasers take their time getting to the point, and even within episodes, scenes can unwind at a surprisingly slow pace, filling the space with character moments or throwaway technobabble for the hardcore audience. Compare and contrast that to television today, where everything has a ratcheted-up intensity and meaning – There’s rarely a scene that doesn’t have some kind of “significance,” usually offered with a breathtaking lack of subtlety (Not, admittedly, that Trek was a subtle show, in any of its incarnations, I admit).

Also, all of the Treks – with the possible exception of Enterprise – had a wonderful schizophrenia about their tone that is very rare on television today; you would never really know, tuning in, whether you were going to see a drama or a comedy, or whether the drama was going to be of the “This is an allegory for a real-world situation and we shall all be making a Very Serious Point” variety, or the “We’re trying to make a suspenseful thriller, so expect long looks punctuated with stirring soundtrack strings” one, or even the “Want an action movie in less than an hour? We’ll do our best, but don’t judge us too harshly” attempts. What was weirdly wonderful about Trek was the play-of-the-week nature of the show, even when there were longer-running continuities running through episodes, and television – especially genre television – has lost that variety; normally shows stake out their tone early on and stay there, hoping to ensure loyalty through stability and knowing exactly what you’ll get when you switch on.

There are some exceptions to that; Castle and, to a lesser extent, Bones both strike me as shows that aren’t afraid to shake things up every now and again. They’re both procedurals, as well, which is maybe the last way in which I worry that Trek would be changed for a modern audience: Star Trek is a procedural show. It’s not about the inner lives or love lives of its characters, except as color commentary between the weekly plots, and there days, network genre television comes with a large helping of emotional drama, to “humanize” the characters and soften the show’s appeal to those who may not be into “science fiction” but could maybe get into a soap opera with some weird things in it (See the success of Lost as leading that charge, I think).

All of which is to say, if we did get a new Star Trek on television, I’d worry that it’d come retooled for what executives believe today’s audiences want: A series with a long-running storyline in every episode, a consistent tone and a focus on the character’s private lives when they’re not on the bridge, where every scene counts towards a larger story that’d be planned to run through many years. And, while that could be a great show, I’m not so convinced that it’d be a great Star Trek show. But what do you think?


  • Hans Adolph

    Slightly off-topic but I really hate the term “genre television”.  It’s typically used to refer to shows that appeal primarily to nerds or other niche audiences and just comes across as pretentious to me.  All tv shows are part of a genre, even the mainstream ones whether it be police procedural, live-audience sitcom or space-faring science fiction.

  • Anonymous

    I’m also watching Deep Space 9, though I had to skip S.1, which as I recall, was atrocious. S.2 is when the producers figured out what they were going for and began telling their multi-season story. I agree that there’s no way such a leisurely pace would be permitted today.

  • Alistair Hocker

    And it’s largely thanks to J.J “Blind the Audience” Abrams and Lost that every virtually every t.v series now feels the need to shove in “mysteries” no matter how badly it may fit the premise. Hence ‘Terra Nova’ which is so heavy handed trying to set up ongoing hidden plots it’s laughable.

    Besides any future series will likely take its cues from the nuTrek movie, so i certainly have no interest watching anything based on that mess of a film. 

  • Lackshmana

    Honestly now, almost no shows do that. The only shows that do, are the ones that are obviously trying to be the “new” Lost.

    Police shows don’t do it, medical shows don’t do it, comedies don’t do it. None of the big cable dramas do it either.

    What shows are you really talking about, sci-fi mystery shows? Well yeah, sci-fi mystery shows have big sc-fi mysteries.

    There might be a hand full of shows in any given year that once again try to emulate Lost, and they always fail after a single season. You can’t blame the one show that used its gimmick really well, for a minor glut of shows that use that same gimmick poorly.

  • Whitworthian

    Your last paragraph pretty much describes ‘Enterprise’. 

  • Dave Powell

    Enterprise failed because it fell into that trap.  The temporal cold war and the xindi over-arcs were awful, in my opinion.  When they finally got it, that Trek was better in small stories, one or two episodes long, and set IN the Trek universe, it was too late. 

    I doubt they’ll ever allow a true Trek show again.  One that is alternately story, pseudo science, and character driven.  Any series (if it ever returns) will be about a mystery or threat, and not about Trek.

  • Anonymous

    Two words: Stargate Universe

  • notinmybook

    I think you’re still in the early seasons of DS9. Once the Dominion arc begins the pace and intensity really pick up, creating the template staff writer Ron Moore would use when he rebooted Battlestar Galactica.

    Yes they have a leisurely pace. Yes they take time getting into a story. That’s because you’re watching a franchise at the height of its powers. It’s not worried that viewers will change the channel. It knows its fan base will wait patiently. That’s what eventually killed it, two series later. 

    And yes, if Star Trek ever comes back as a tv show, it will be a modern take. It would have to be. If Next Generation tried to be a show from the sixties it would have been cancelled pretty quick. Again, Enterprise failed because it was running on the engine of a late 80’s/early 90’s show in the early 2000’s. TV had moved on and Star Trek hadn’t. When Star Trek caught up with the Abrams film, the audience was there for it.

  • Anonymous

    Slow, leisurely pace couldn’t get approved for tv today? Apparently someone hasn’t watched SONS OF ANARCHY, MAD MEN and / or BREAKING BAD.

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    Star Trek XI had roughly two hours to tell its story. Deep Space Nine (just as an example) had 173 roughly hour-long episodes to tell its story. The pacing tends to depend on how much story you’ve got to tell and how much time you’ve got to tell it in, IMO.

  • Dave

    We DID, and it was called Stargate Universe and they canceled it

  • Anonymous

    If Deep Space nine were still on the air? The youngest member of the original cast would have been in the role more than half of his entire life! A horror unto Gunsmoke.

    Imagine the Simpsons if we could see the actors behind the voices. Yeardley Smith is just a few days younger than me and has probably gone from a 24-year-old to post-menopausal while voicing that same little girl.

    Can’t we just say so long and thanks for all the Sulu Snacks? This franchise has gotten so much contradictory continuity built up it’s sunk under its own weight and will form a black hole if it accretes any more mass. Even the theatrical reboot isn’t immune, as the familiar setting just mean fan blocs will demand that their favorite storyline be revived.

    Soap operas that ran for decades have shut down recently. Time to do the same for Star Trek and build a new concept of the future for today rather than continuing one from a bygone era that in turn was the TV version of stories written in the 50s.

  • Byfield

    Wasn’t that a stronger Galactica riff than a Voyager one?

  • James

    I’m going to disagree with the general sentiment here that Trek has never done a good, overall story arc. Deep Space Nine, which is my favorite Trek series, did so with the Dominion and the Dominion War and, I think, did so well. To be fair, they were seen as “in competition” with J. Michael Strazynski’s Babylon 5, a show well-known for having overall arcs, and so there may have been a certain pressure to follow in B5’s footsteps a bit. Still, even in the height of the Dominion War, we had more “fun” episodes. Episodes like “One Little Ship” and “Badda Bing, Badda Bang,” the latter of which I just watched the other night, are perfect examples of taking a break from the grim seriousness of the war to do a more “fun” storyline. Would there be changes in the standard Star Trek fomula in a new show? Sure. But that’s a complaint some Trek fans make every time a new show is contemplated, from Next Generation to Enterprise, and, so far, I haven’t seen a reason to worry.

  • Rick

    A contemporary network exec would go for a Starfleet Academy version of Star Trek.  That way “youthful angst” would fit perfectly into the stories.  A “special” episode would have them escaping a planet of vampires.  Of course, some Academicians would get bitten, so a cure would have to be found.  That takes care of the procedural portion of the episode.

  • ray

    i miss star trek tv series

  • Tripleecho

    I think the author of this bump is pretty much correct. While there’s an audience that wants Trek, there just isn’t a machine capable of producing Trek. The studio execs did this to themselves. They have a formula that MUST be delivered in order for ad revenue to be made. Take note that there are NO space operas on at this time, no new ones being produce and even “Blood and Chrome” is considered a shaky proposition to continue with production into a full series. It’s difficult to have real-world product placement in an environment that is purely fictitious. The last I knew: JMichael Straczynski’s previous Trek treatment he submitted and was subsequently shot down became pretty much what Abrams did with the movie. I have a few ideas and of course would lobby for Trek rights if I ever won the lottery (thus fronting my own $$ to start a production company) but we all know the odds of that happening. So we are left with what we got… nothing.Available options for current production: in the spirit of “Trekkies” — a reality TV show about nerds in general, possibly stealing a little of Big Bang Theory’s thunder, but since CBS licenses Trek anyway, this would be unlikely. Another option might be something in the spirit of Trek, but SO FAR REMOVED from the notion of the stigma studio execs call “Star Trek” that traditional fans wouldn’t even recognize it, new audiences drawn to it would like it but not love it, it would lose dedication, fllounder and die… (Andromeda). But then again, like I said, no machine will produce a viable space opera. With NASA privatizing the space race (not that there is one any more) and no real alien cultures coming forward to claim responsibility for cattle mutilations, space has lost its appeal. The future has been rewritten to be a continued perpetuation of today from this point forward. We won’t ever get our jet packs or flying cars. They [again the evil ubiquitous “they”] have found a way to keep our interests bottled up, keep our minds distracted with petty social activities and structured it so that knowing what’s going on with some actors on a beach in New Jersey more appealing than understanding what this universe is actual made up of… Roddenberry had his time. They used him up. They got a new formula. We… you and I, Patrick, are part of the last of a great and dedicated audience. What we thought was cool will be lost to history and obscurity while something else cooler and more eye-catching takes its place for fifteen minutes before it too fades…

  • Purgebs

    You might have made the same assumptions about Battlestar Galactica before it was retooled for modern audiences, and the recent Star Trek movie proved that it can work for today’s viewers. Star Trek, like any other franchise, is just a premise- all it takes is good writers to make it gripping.

  • Megabearsfan

    That would be a horrible show. See Enterprise Season 3 for proof.



  • Anonymous

    Star Trek wouldn’t work today because the braindead American audience is too dumb to appreciate speculative science fiction and because the Star Trek formula is now too boring and, yes, limiting.

    The VAST majority of Star Trek mythos never dealt with artificial intelligence in anything that resembled a thought-provoking way.

    Post-humanism (enhancing human physical capabilities and consciousness with technology either biological or inorganic cyber-implants) was never a significant part of the show, sure there were a few pitiful stories but nothing that really explored such an awesome idea. NO, THE BORG DO NOT COUNT! That was such an extreme view of post-humanity that really dumbed-down the whole idea. Post-humans were turned into boogey-men so that the huge ideas behind post-humanism would never have to be dealt with.

    There should have been cool mega-engineering projects like Dyson Spheres that were an integral part of the show instead of just one pathetic episode.

    Battlestar Galactica by Ron Moore, at least in the first half, dealt with post-humanism in a very cool way: namely the ability of Cylons to resurrect themselves endlessly and to share their memories with others of their own model. If Ron Moore hadn’t ruined the entire series by not keeping it a science fiction show to the very end, I would have said BSG is superior to Star Trek.

    The point is that, Star Trek never really explored technologies or sciences in any meaningful way. It’s pretty clear that there was an edict that it was a “family” show and that nothing too serious could ever be examined [with the sole exception of DEEP SPACE NINE]. Of course, Deep Space Nine missed many opportunities with their mythos. The concept of the TRILL for example is very interesting. Yet it remained ridiculously shallow for the entirety of the show.

  • Brian Middleton Jr

    That’s because Star Trek isn’t about ‘Post-Humanism’, or the ‘The Trill’.  It’s about having optimism for the future, and being the best person that you can be.  It wasn’t a ‘science fiction’ show so much, as a show in a science fiction setting.  It explored politics, religion, discovering oneself, falling in love, finding new loves and many other wonderful themes.  You don’t watch Star Trek to learn about Dyson Spheres, you watch Trek to see if Riker and Troi are going to get together, and how Data is going to fair in his attempts to become more human.

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    Star trek wasn’t the only series that could blend different themes on a week to week basis. You mentioned Bones and Castle but X-Files did it quite well as had Fringe. I do see your point though, recent hits like Lost and Battlestar Galactica didn’t stray too far from their mood setting pilots over the course.

    What I find amusing is that the one show I could see them emulating given the recent Star Trek movie would be Firefly.

  • Lion_okitkat

    I think all the nay saying and nashing of teeth is a tad over dramatic. All things are cyclical. Look toward the recent vampire craze and the growing desire for zombie content (books, comics, movies, tv shows) as prime examples. Star Trek and space faring shows will come back one day. 

  • Moondog_33

    why not do something different and have the show on a pay channel?  HBO would be great but since this is Paramount it would have to be Showtime. They could tell the story they want with a bigger budget.

  • LightningBug

    I would love to watch a character driven, long-arc version of Star Trek. Just as TNG was modernized to appeal to 90s audiences, so should a new Trek be modernized to appeal to us. Fans of Doctor Who squabble about the one-shot episodes being lost in the current of long form story telling, but that show is more popular now than ever before. That type of storytelling is popular for a reason. It is amazingly suited to serialized drama and pays off for loyal viewers. Why would a television studio want to air a show that is easy to watch only some of the time? It makes sense that a new Trek should grab viewers and try to keep them coming back every single week, and hopefully reward the ones that do. See the remake of Battlestar Galaktica. Obviously a new Trek shouldn’t emulate it’s gritty and hopeless tone, but it is a good example of how human drama and character development can play out on and off of the bridge of a spaceship. I think pulling this of with Star Trek is a worthy and compelling challenge that I hope somebody out there is taking seriously.

  • Zen Strive

    I love episodic sci-fi series with overarching story, like Babylon V. I also like the surprises Star Trek: TNG had given me with its episodic, stand alone episodes. So I don’t believe in Sci-Fi that has overarching, non episodic titles. 

    Even Battlestar Galactica was episodic somewhat. But that one is an anomaly. The last time major Sci-fi franchise went non-episodic, it fails spectaculary.Let me point you to Stargate Universe. That series has more potentials than any others, but it wasting it on personal issues and  survivals. The starship is INTERGALACTIC STARFARING for God’s sake, it should be more interesting than claustrophobic, schizophrenic show it was.

  • demoncat_4

    sadly execs would decide stark trek needs to be the next lost or terra nova more mystery and personal back story then what made star trek work in the first place. or  it would wind up on fox.

  • Jonathan Nathan

    Why would it not be a good Star Trek show? What you’re talking about are the trends that have made television a generally higher-quality medium. Even the crappy stuff like Leverage and Burn Notice is head and shoulders above the crappy stuff from the 1980s, for example, no matter what misplaced nostalgia might try to tell us.

    Your concerns also seem a little schizophrenic. On the one hand, you’re not sure you want heavy character work on a Star Trek show…but a few paragraphs earlier, you cited character work as one of the things that slowed down the pacing of the Star Trek shows, which you saw as a positive. And ultimately, from TNG on, Star Trek television always did heavy character work. There are very visible arcs of development, particularly on TNG and DS9, but what separates them from some of the shoddier television character work of today is that they were incredibly subtle. In fact, in many cases, they were never even commented upon. You would see a character very organically and naturally shift, change, and grow, and it might be discussed once or twice, generally toward the end, as in the relationship between the Ferengi dude and the security dude on DS9 (not a hardcore fan talking, you can see), or really, between the Ferengi dude and everyone else on the show. That’s a level of character work not generally seen in television of any era, but which has become more popular thanks to incredible shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, and maybe Lost (haven’t seen it yet so I don’t know.)

    What I think you would see in a new Star Trek show would definitely be updated to accommodate more modern television trends, but what that does mean is that it would be a show that respected its audience more. Television used to be afraid, as a medium, of serialization, because “Oh no, how will the audience react to seeing a story already in progress? Oh no, they’re too dumb for that.” Not anymore. Almost everything is serial now, and the few things that aren’t (Two and a Half Men), we all pretty much know are incredibly dumb, even though some people watch it for some reason. So yeah, you would see a more overtly serial Star Trek show, but even DS9 was quietly, subtly serial from start to finish, and TNG did a lot of serial stuff as well. It’s not like this is foreign to the franchise. And it does almost inherently mean a smarter show and a smarter audience. You are asking the audience to do a little work, and the audience will go there with you if you make it worth their time.

    You might also see the character work intensify, and of course that would need to be done carefully. You would want some really good writers to work on this show, not the same old hacks who cycle through everything on TV. And you’d want actors who could handle it. You’d want top quality. You would probably ideally have Abrams and Lindelof running the thing, and working with the film cast. There’s no reason this couldn’t work; it worked for years in the 90s.

    Finally, what I would HOPE to see would be a show on HBO or Showtime, with a big budget, big effects, big action. Star Trek can’t afford to be hokey anymore. You have to pair the top-flight writers and actors up with a top-flight visual presentation, and with a company like HBO or Showtime that’s willing to let the creative vision go relatively unmolested.

  • ATK

    Please keep in mind that up until Voyager (not counting TOS) the series’ were syndicated and not on a major network because Star Trek has never really fit into a “network” style show and hopefully never will.

  • Jonathan Nathan

    Well that’s not going to happen. I mean, the relative merits of your argument are almost moot here, because that is just so not going to happen. Star Trek is a valuable property, and even if it WASN’T a valuable property anymore, someone would rehabilitate it and turn it into a “cult” property like they did with Space Ghost and Birdman and the rest of it. Star Trek is never going away. Unlike a soap opera, it can be endlessly merchandised and retooled and switched around and you can just put that name on it. So give up on your dream of a world without Star Trek.

    Also: you want long-running genre properties to pack it in, but you hang around a comic book website largely devoted to long-running serial comic book properties from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW, etc.? Did you mean to be on the Comics Journal website or something?

  • Jonathan Nathan

    I’m sure thinking all of the things you posted in that comment makes you feel very tragic and noble and special, but Star Trek isn’t going away. The recent film captured the most important elements of Roddenberry’s vision (specifically, an optimistic, utopian future) and made it work for a modern audience. Even snuck in a couple of product placements. The future we were promised will happen someday, just not yet. Relax. Enjoy life. Stop wringing your hands.

  • Jonathan Nathan

    It occurs to me, reading your comment (and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before), that Grant Morrison would be a hell of a showrunner for a new Star Trek series.

  • Jonathan Nathan

    It wouldn’t work today because the audience is too dumb to appreciate something which you claim Star Trek never was in the first place? Right.

    If you don’t think the Data character arc dealt with A.I. in a thought-provoking way, you’re heartless. Sure, it didn’t hammer it over the audiences head as you seem to wish it would have, but without really obsessing over it most of the time, the show allowed the audience to examine the transformation of the character in a beautiful, organic way.

    On the subject of the Borg and “post-humanism”: The entire concept of the Borg should be looked at as the Star Trek creators looking at the dark side of their own vision. Star Trek was always about the optimism of the utopian future. Technology, wielded by pure-hearted idealistic (and idealized) beings, will be our salvation. But what happens when we let ourselves get so wrapped up in that belief that we become subservient to it? The Borg were not a referendum on post-humanism; they were a mirror image of technology. Every episode of every Star Trek show, we got to see technology as salvation; the Borg episodes showed it as damnation, and seemed to endeavor to explain why, no matter how great the advancement, it can only be a tool for salvation. The wielder still has to make the right decisions. The Borg stories were ethical treatises; they were metatextual reflexive commentaries on the Star Trek mythology; they were fun sci-fi adventure and space opera; they were usually memorable episodes of televised entertainment.

    You’re right that Star Trek was never hard science fiction, and that’s because the greatest science fiction never is; see Star Wars (epitome of soft SF), Transmetropolitan (pretended to be hard SF but really was much more a philosophical conversation about contemporary society), and Dune (hard political drama, not hard SF.) You’re right that it didn’t heavily explore concepts like the Trill, because the individual ideas like the Trill were not the focus; the focus was on imagining this beautiful universe in which all these fantastic ideas like the Trill were commonplace (Transmetropolitan often felt like a dystopian inversion of that.) But what you wanted Star Trek to be would not have been good television, good writing, or good art. And it would have meant nothing to anyone.

  • Anonymous

    Show me a single series running much more than a decade that purports to still be the same timeline going all the way back. The first workaround was to have the Earth I/Earth II split at DC, so they could have their cake and eat it, too. Marvel put Capt. America on ice and made the Sub-Mariner extremely long-lived. But consider, Capt. America can no have been revived in the early 1960s. He’d be pushing 70. Even if you allowed the Super Soldier goo to keep him young, what of the Avengers who first found him?

    Way back when, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm first met Nick Fury as young soldiers in WWII. Which made them well into their thirties when the FF was started. Then the conflict in question got bumped up to Korea, then Viet Nam, then notable conflicts in which to gain combat experience got rather thin for a long while. Similarly, Flash Thompson went from being a relatively unscathed Viet Nam vet to losing both legs in Iraq! Suffice to say, the years have not been kind. (A similar experience was had by a character in the ‘Doonesbury’ strip but that character had appreciably aged and was called up as a reservist, not a perpetual twenty-something.)

    No, the timeline has been pushed forward every once in a while. It usually goes unspoken but does anyone still think Peter Parker as published today went disco dancing with Mary Jane while ‘Saturday Night Fever’ was still in theaters? Or do we just look at those stories as obsolete entries because, after all, that would make Peter well into middle-age by now.

    I lose track but a recent Fantastic Four writer offered that at any given moment that the FF had existed for approximately ten years, meaning they now made their fateful rocket flight in 2001, long after the Cold War. Likewise, Bruce Banner was developing his Gamma Bomb in a post-USSR era.

    A lot of this stuff doesn’t age well. You’ve got to hit the cosmic CTRL-ALT-DEL once in a while. Likewise when you have a far future setting that heavily references events that have long since failed to happen. I’m currently working on some e-book conversion of SF novels that had a 21st Century Soviet Union as a major factor in future events. Oh well.

    Regarding long story arcs in Trek: Rodenberry very much wanted this when TNG was in development. The series bible (I was working at a computer game company approached to do games based on the series, so they sent us a copy a few months before the first season aired.) specifically used the phrase ‘Hill St. Blues in Space’ to pose the concept.

    The big problem here was that syndicators didn’t like telling affiliates they had to play all of the episodes and in order. Ever wonder why certain episodes of original Trek never seemed to appear but other popular ones popped up constantly? Quite simply, the stations would play favorites. This killed long-term story development in primetime TV for decades.

    Babylon 5 broke the wall for US TV, then Buffy the Vampire Slayer knocked it down completely.

  • Jonathan Nathan

    You’re changing lanes now, though. You said Star Trek should pack it in, not get a reboot. Of course long-running properties get rebooted all the time. Star Trek just got a reboot from Abrams.

    However, I don’t think that referencing some event that was supposed to have happened in 1998 that didn’t happen is a problem. This is clearly a fictional universe, not the one in which we live. So in the old Star Trek continuity, something happened in 1998 which didn’t happen in our universe. Another thing that probably won’t happen in our universe: Klingons. Not a problem for me.

  • Anonymous

    I believe I already mentioned my problem with that. Due to fan demand it means instead of doing something new we just rehash the old favorite stories with slight rewrites and different actors. With comics it is less of a problem because you aren’t dealing with aging actors and their schedules. Whatever a writer & artist can imagine, they can do.

    Can’t we just do something new that isn’t dragged down by the past? How much better might Enterprise have been if it wasn’t subject to such bounds but instead served as the reboot point? But even a reboot is problematic. As tiresome as the idiotic Kirk vs. Picard arguments were, imagine when we get to Kirk.1 vs. Kirk.2 vs Kirk.3 vs. …..

    I can be nostalgic, too. But I’m getting really tired of turning on the TV, and finding something so familiar I assume it’s a repeat, then find it’s on for the first time. There has been a hell of a lot of good SF written that could make for some great movies or series. But no, they just stick with the same old, same old because it’s risky expecting the audience to pay attention.

  • Camitch3

    I was actually talking about Trek with some friends today and I think you make some pretty good points.  Trek as it was is gone and probably isn’t coming back.  Even on the “darker” DS9 and the “modern” Enterprise, Trek had this sort of folksy/cheesy 80s family-friendly feel to it that it rarely discarded, often resulting in awkward dialogue as character tip-toed around taboo subjects and the use of vulgar language.   A new Trek can work (at least I hope it can) but it is going to have to discard some of the elements of its past in order to do so.   Oh but I hope discarding comedy episodes isn’t one of them because the rage that some Trekkies feel when their “serious” show turns to laughs is delicious.   

  • Cjorg2

    Have we forgotten DS9’s “the Dominion War,” Voyager’s quest to get home, ongoing battle with the Borg etc.  It wasn’t just Enterprise that did it…

  • Jmcreer

    “Also, all of the Treks – with the possible exception of Enterprise – had a wonderful schizophrenia about their tone that is very rare on television today; you would never really know, tuning in, whether you were going to see a drama or a comedy, or whether the drama was going to be of the “This is an allegory for a real-world situation and we shall all be making a Very Serious Point” variety, or the “We’re trying to make a suspenseful thriller, so expect long looks punctuated with stirring soundtrack strings” one, or even the “Want an action movie in less than an hour? We’ll do our best, but don’t judge us too harshly” attempts.”

    We must have been watching a different “Enterprise” because the one I watched had plenty of those moments – dramatic storylines about such subjects as genocide, prejudice, where to draw the line, and problematic situations that led to the formulation of the Prime Directive, incredibly funny episodes and moments (half of the scenes involving Tucker and Reed were all comedy) involving a crew completely oblivious about dealing with extraterrestrials and each other, as well as allegorical tales for real-world situations (for fuck’s sake the majority of the show reflected America’s concerns about terrorism at the time! How could you miss that?!?!)  Many of the episodes were also suspenseful thrillers punctuated with stirring soundtrack strings, and there was plenty of action movie moments throughout the show.

    It seems that the majority of the people who criticise the show actually watched very little of it.

  • Gregg Eshelman

    Star Trek with a B-5 style long story arcs treatment, and where they don’t hide or destroy everything deemed “too dangerous” (just so no writers of later episodes have to reference it) – oh yes please I’d like some of that.

    The problem is, in the 21st Century TV market the network suits do not give a crap about the people watching. They especially do not care about SciFi fans because they cannot be pigeonholed into a neatly packaged demographic. Fans of SciFi and Fantasy and Anime and horror and all that other “out there” stuff can be *anybody*. All ages, all races, all anything else you can think of to define a group of people, among them you will find Fans. (Except perhaps the Amish, and maybe Mennonites.)

    We saw a most vile application of this network mentality in the way FOX torpedoed “Firefly”. FOX had prior experience not paying attention to the fans with “Space: Above and Beyond”. CBS pulled the same garbage with “Space Rangers”, only ordered 6 episodes and only broadcast 4, with the first one shown last.

    And even before that, ABC ganked the very successful “Battlestar Galactica” in spite of great ratings.

    Of course no fan of Star Trek does not know the efforts NBC took to try and sink the original.

    Can a psychologist explain why networks pick up SF&F shows, spend money on producing them then do stupid things like poor and mis-promotion, airing episodes out of order, constantly shifting time slots and preempting them – then complain about poor performance in the ratings?

    Solution? Pick up the show, pick a timeslot and leave it there, don’t lie to the audience in the commercials for it, PROMOTE IT A LOT – especially on other channels your network owns (never saw any Firefly ads on FX, but tons for “John Doe”) and DON’T MEDDLE WITH WHAT THE PEOPLE YOU PAID TO DO THE SHOW ARE PRODUCING.

    They might just be pleasantly surprised to discover that an audience will come to the show.

  • The Star Treker

    Wow dude that was awesome. Well said. I really missed Star Trek a lot and I really want it come back on TV. Only new current show I enjoy a lot and that is so human is Chuck which does have some of the Star Trek stars appeared on. Robert Picardo (The Doctor), Scott Bakula (Captain Archer), and I heard that Ethan Phillips (Neelix) will appeared this upcoming season.

  • The Star Treker

    Exactly man. I enjoyed Enterprise as I enjoyed the original Trek, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.

  • Jared

    People like stupid reality shows. “Hey, look at this stuff I found in a storage locker!” “Hey, check out my fake Repo show and it’s stupid swearing action.”

    What the hell, people?

    Yeah, I don’t know what they would do with a Star Trek series today.  As I get older, I get tired of stuff going on so long through so many episodes, I forgot who people were and what was going on at the begginning of the season. Maybe that’s me.

  • Anonymous

    “Show me a single series running much more than a decade that purports to still be the same timeline going all the way back”

    Simpsons.  Law & Order.  South Park.  Cerebus.  CSI.  Doctor Who.  Cheers.  Frasier.  NYPD Blue. 

  • Jack

    The drastically over used TNG formula of major crisis plot/minor character exploration sub plot ran it’s course.  As great as TNG and DS9 could be with it, they could waste too much time or suck the wind out of an episode.  I think, creatively the practice was started for budgetary reasons. By the time Enterprise was doing it, it was too much of a drag on the episodes energy.  The original Trek is perhaps the only show that could consistently pull off heightened suspense on a low budget..   You play to the spirit of that formula, like the JJ Abrams movie did, and you’d have a great and unique show on current television.  To my mind, the only show currently pulling this off:  perfectly blending action, suspense, humor, character analysis and exploring larger philosophical issues all at the same time… with ZERO loss of pacing or suspense is FRINGE… And you know they don’t have as huge budget on that show as, say, Five-0 or one of the CSI’s.

  • Anonymous

    You haven’t been paying attention, have you? Look at these shows and notice what a lot of them have in common. In the case of the two animated series you have children that have barely aged. In South Park it took six years for the kids to advance a grade in school. Things Bart Simpson once joked about as current events now took place long before his birth and are unlikely to be notable to a child of that age. This is the same floating timeline advancement seen in comics.

    Law and Order has NONE of the original cast and has changed out many roles (not so much the character as the role in the structure) many times over. The timeline hardly matters as things that happened ten years ago on the show are unlikely to matter to the current cast. Doctor Who again, while technically the same character, largely ignores the original run of the series with the big exception of bringing back Elizabeth Sladen. But the very nature of the series makes past events a bit amorphous. CSI has replaced nearly all of the cast and has almost no longterm plot elements. Their biggest story arc was getting Grissom laid. Cerebus is set in a fantasy world and has no particular position in history past or future. Dave Sim doesn’t have to concern himself with current events and so long as he kept up with the minimum issue schedule (which he didn’t) was free to produce the material as fast as he was able and dribble it out month by month. The real trick was for the audience to stay interested.  He lost me around the time he started obsessing over Oscar Wilde and getting worked up over militant feminism because some old girlfriends made it clear he was frequently a spectacular jerk.

    So we have NYPD Blue, the Gunsmoke of cop shows. Tune in for another season of torturing Andy Sifowicz. No thanks. How man partners did he burn through over the run of that show?

    That leaves a pair of long running sitcoms with no major arcs to speak of. Plus, for those trivia freaks, they cancel each other out. Aspects of Fraser’s family and background were contradicted by the spinoff when they were found inconvenient. I guess Dr. Crane left Boston to return to Seattle after the Flashpoint.

    Excusing the fact that we were talking about comics at that moment, TV shows of such duration are rare birds indeed. You left out SG-1, which is another example of a franchise that has been pretty well used up. There is such a massive backlog of miracle gadgets and maguffins built up that it becomes extremely hard to do any good new stories. It is an essential problem of such genre shows. They acquire miracle plot device like plaque in an artery.

    Time for something new with a clean slate.

  • Lastnamecumbie

    well look at doctor who even though there is a big plot there are episodes that are not always with the grain sort of speak so maybe bbc could bring a new star trek back or a network like showtime could do it because there would be enough audiences to keep it on being the way star trek is and being a big fan of star trek myself enterprise was not that bad and the last episode was cool i mean it did last longer than the original but it is nothing compared to any of its predecessors  

  • RunnerX13

    I’m re-watching season 6 now, which is my favorite, but there are way too many filler episodes.  A new ST TV show should limit itself; do 13 really good, really cool looking episodes.

  • Anonymous

    Which part of that film was optimistic. 

    I will ignore the lack of science, exploration and discovery in the film as well, they were to me and many people I know the important parts. I did not think the film showed a particular utopian society either but none of the films tend to show that apart from the first one and may be the undiscovered country. The rest dealt with conflict and war hardly utopian. 

  • Anonymous

    I would not mind the mystery, Star trek episodes a lot of them started of with a mystery and either end that episode with the mystery solved or remained unsovled, not every episode was like this but a lot were. 

    I do not see why this concept cant be stretch out over multiple episodes. I agree about the personal backstory, ST: NG  had the right mixed for me, we had a pretty detail back story for most of the characters, and occasionally we see into there personal lives, just s small glimse every now and again. Stargate Universe also had the right mix for me. BSG, well that series was a utter messed by the end of show and that being kind. Caprica had way to much about there personal lives and not enough story. 

  • David Wolff

    I think we haven’t seen a new Trek because Enterprise just wasn’t that popular and no one has a new idea.

    Personally, I’d like to see something that’s a cross between the original and the X-Files. Have a crew that goes out and ‘cleans up’ a lot of the unresolved ideas from the earlier series. A Special Missions science vessel (but one that can still kick butt). For example, that one with the green glowing blob alien from the orignal series that in a novel in the EU was supposed to be a Q. And what really are the Q? Just pick bizarre, unresolved stuff from the previous shows and send this crew to go figure it out. You could certainly do original ideas where the crew investigates ‘other’ ships’ mysteries too, but I think it would be a cool way of tieing the whole universe together by finishing up old dangling plots. Basically, every week is a just weird mystery that the crew gets involved in. They seek this stuff out. Like Star Trek meets Planetary. Star Trek/X-Files/Planetary would be awesome!!! Dark, creepy and mysterious. Weird and wonderful. Live up to the “where no one has gone before” banner.

    The other issue as I see it is the crew. TNG was brilliant in the cast they came up with and the original is of course classic, but DS9, Voyager and Enterprise had some of the most boring crews imaginable. Enough Vulcans already!

  • RunnerX13

    Couldn’t agree more except the bit about DS9.  The DS9 crew was the most realistic cast of all the series.  In TNG and Voyager, everyone was friends because everyone got along so great, snooze.  Yet in DS9, friendships developed naturally, and not everyone got along.  I loved how Sisko clearly did not like Bashir.   

  • Starwarsguy

    You Star Trek kids got tons of episodes to watch, while i get 3 cool movies that are 30 years old, and 3 absolute abominations.  Count yourselves lucky.

  • bree rubin

    We shall never see the amazing likes of TOS again.

  • Alan Smithee

    It’s already on the air. It’s called Torchwood.  Captain Jack Harkness is as uniquely a hambome classic leader as James T. Kirk.  The themes of morality–literally life and death–are similar.  A Star Trek TV series would be crushed by the weight of the legacy. 

  • V kotecha

    I always felt battlestar was the Star Trek serious Enterprise promised to be

  • V kotecha

    series not serious

  • Anonymous

    And yet, none of your special pleading addresses the fact that none of those series have involved new timelines or reboots of the franchise’s history!

  • Anonymous

    Really having trouble with the concept, aren’t you?

    Ask yourself, how old was Bart Simpson in Season 1 and how old is the same character 23 seasons later? How many specific real world events were referenced along the way? (I know people who went from being childless to grandparents in the time that show has been on.) The show no more has a single nailed down starting point in 1989 than Peter Parker could have been a teenager in 1962 and scarcely a decade older today. He stopped aging and started floating some time in the early 70s. Once the character was no longer a full time student it became easy to keep things vague.

    The same goes for South Park. Early episodes referenced events that for the current season took place before the kids were born. This is what is meant by a floating time line. Things just float along and stories with a fixed date in history are ignored or retconned ala Flash Thompson going from being a Viet Nam vet to someone who wasn’t even born yet when the last US force departed that theater.

    There is another problem of real spans of history expanding to encompass more and more stories if the venue remains valuable. Those you have MASH running far longer than the war it supposedly depicts, or Sgt. Rock in a WWII that is seemingly endless as the comic keeps selling.

    But this is no big deal for comics or animation. You can change out personnel repeatedly and still say it’s the same product. Making a TV show where you get through a decade with the same actors is vastly harder and thus very rare. In an ensemble cast you can move in new characters as older actors move on, so long as no one of them is needed to make the show work. Tough but it has been managed, mostly by soap operas. Usually a show doesn’t last long enough in the ratings for such considerations to matter. Getting sustained ratings and a primary cast willing to stick around, as in Fraser, is very rare indeed.

    Typically, things start to get difficult just after the time the big bucks from syndication start to happen, around the fifth year. First is the difficulty of a show retaining an audience that long. Second is the cast getting antsy and requiring larger infusions of cash to stay. Since the former doesn’t happen that often, the latter tends to make for stories in the press, like the Friends cast demanding awesome sums per episode to keep cranking out the episodes and enhancing the value of the syndication package. (There is so much Simpsons material now, Fox has floated the idea of a dedicated Simpsons channel on cable/satellite systems. There are enough episodes now to go almost 11 days without a break or repeat. Amazing.) So you get Ray Ramano being the highest paid man on TV, followed by Charlie Sheen after Ramano’s show finally packed it in just ahead of Peter Boyle’s death.

    Five to seven years is the upper limit for the majority. (Contracts for lead roles, often listed also as Executive Producers to give them an ongoing piece of the action if the show continues without them ala CSI, usually run five years in pursuit of the syndication fulfillment.) Enough for the really big money but not so much everybody involved feels like they lost their lives to this pursuit. Past that is when you get to the very short list of shows that became notable for their longevity even to those who never watched.

  • Shaun

    DS9’s first season was NOT atrocious. A few clunkers, sure, but for crying out loud… Go back and try to watch the first two seasons of TNG, or ANY season of Voyager, and then tell me again about DS9’s first season. The pilot episode was great, and there were plenty of good or decent ones after that, several of which are actually pretty important in terms of laying the groundwork for the series and/or developing the characters.

    Also… DS9’s first season ended with two GREAT episodes: “Duet” (one of DS9’s best episodes ever, even one of Trek’s best episodes ever), and “In the Hands of the Prophets.” I’ll put those two episodes against anything else DS9, or any of the other Treks, ever did. 

    If anything, DS9 kinda fell apart in the seventh and final season… It wasn’t as bad as most of TNG’s last season was, but not up to the level of the previous seasons. The ending was a bit disappointing.  

  • Shaun

    David, what are you talking about? There were NO Vulcans in the crew on DS9! Hell… I’m trying to remember if we ever saw any Vulcans on the show, period! I think we did, but they were few and far between.

    Clearly, you didn’t see much of DS9, and you’re probbly one of those people who gave up on the show far too early on and never what saw at an amazing show it turned into. If anything, the DS9 crew became the most complex, diverse, and interesting of any the Trek crews. They had greater depth and sophistication than the other crews, and they were the most realistic, well-rounded of the bunch. They even did comedy really well, in spite of being the “dark” Star Trek.

    By comparison, the TNG cast was the dull one… Outside of Picard, Worf, and Data, what did we really learn about that crew? Not a lot. TNG was often great, but they didn’t take many chances on that show. DS9 did.

    I was no fan of Voyager, but to be fair, that show had one Vulcan in the cast. So again, what are you talking about?


  • Shaun

    Maybe you’re a fan of the wrong franchise then?

    Just kidding… I love the original SW trilogy too. I mean the ORIGINAL originals.

  • a fan

    No matter what is said, Star Trek has almost half a century’s worth of fans. That is an astounding fan base. They have to do another show some time. Come on, We are Begging you Paramount!!

  • Shamus O’Doone

    Stargate Universe found its feet and got much better in their last 8 to 10 episodes after it was too late to save the show, after the cancellation was already announced. Makes me wonder who was holding it back trying to make it fit their vision and lost interest in the show after the Sword of Damocles came down?

    Next up to suck us in and either be prematurely cancelled or throw up all over itself…Terra Nova.

  • Omegasaga

    I too loved DS9 and TNG  ( hated Voyager& Enterprise)      but how in anyway shape or form- was 2009s STAR TREK a bad movie much less a mess?

    It was simply an epic film.

  • Anonymous

    Yeap, all of which are the worse elements of those shows.

    As much as I love DS9 and the dominion war, star trek is not arc television.