Sunday, June 13, 2010

What I Want in a New Star Trek TV Show

io9 had a post today regarding what they thought should be in a new Star Trek television series, and I do agree that there needs to be one to fill the void left by shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica no longer running... But with all of the original shows (The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and yes, even Enterprise) still in the Star Trek canon despite the time-altering events of the new movie, where does one go when making a new Star Trek TV show?

I already posted this in the io9 comments, but it's an idea I've had since I first watched the new film, so I figured I'll just re-post it here to get it out there and keep it for my own records, with added comments in red.
My ideal new Star Trek series would be this:

First off, set it in the new time-line. Why? Because while it may not please all the classic fans, it's the Star Trek that's most familiar (and perhaps most appealing) to the average television viewer.

But, since the film's cast is now (mostly) too busy for television, the series can focus on another Starfleet crew. It worked for DS9 and Voyager, so why not now? You set up a whole new 'fresh and young' cast, with some experience characters/actors as well, and you've got yourself some appeal already.

Not to mention, this is a chance to expand the universe of the new time-line outside of just comics and events that take place before the film (i.e. Star Trek: Countdown and Star Trek: Nero). I want to know what's going on outside of the Enterprise; there's a whole new universe to explore that could never be shown in a two-hour film.

Even better, depending on development time and/or filming of both the next film and TV series, you could even have this other ship and its crew have a minor role in the film, or even have characters like Quinto's Spock (w/o Heroes, what's he doing anyways?) show up for an episode arc or two.

This refers to both paragraphs: I think that the mindset for say... Chris Pine, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho (maybe) , and even Anton Yelchin, is that they're too big for TV now that they've each been in multiple Hollywood blockbusters, including Star Trek. So ultimately that's the reason I suggest a new, different cast. However, actors like Zachary Quinto, John Cho, and even Simon Pegg have appeared in recent television series, even if it's just cameo roles (i.e. Pegg on Doctor Who, or appearing on Look Around You, though both of these appearances pre-date Star Trek).

Sure, FlashForward and Heroes both got canceled, but I still don't think that's good motivation for a Spock/Sulu adventure series. But at least that now frees up both actor's schedules to possibly appear on the new show to bridge the gap between the new films and this new TV series. And while I think Pegg would be the kind of person to appear for fanboys, the idea of flying all the way to Hollywood just to film a cameo seems highly unlikely. Plus, I wouldn't want to rely too much on the Enterprise crew to be in this series because then the new crew doesn't get the spotlight.

Oh, and get Orci/Kurtzman/Abrams to produce, with Damon Lindelof as a lead writer, and then allow other writers to get their hands on this new Trek. Preferably, set the show up in a Fringe-like 'adventure of the week' formula but still have an over-bearing season long story arc. So that it's kind of like the Star Trek we know, with something new each week, but at the same time can keep you interested in the long run.

This parts tricky, so I'll explain: Orci/Kurtzman/Abrams should at least write the pilot, with Abrams directing, but I picked Lindelof for lead writer for a few reasons. First off, Lost is over, and while he may have only had the role of producer on the new film, he's joining Orci/Kurtzman on the writing staff for the sequel. Second, Orci/Kurtzman still have Fringe to focus on, while also producing the Hawii Five-O TV series remake, while J.J. Abrams has Super 8 and a new TV series, The Undercovers, to worry about. Of all the heads of the recent Star Trek film, Lindelof is the only one with a freed up schedule now, and a new Star Trek series with him at the helm may attract a lot of the Lost viewers that may not have watched a Star Trek series otherwise.

But, at the same time, I'd love for new writers (and maybe even classic Star Trek writers) to take a shot with this new series, especially if it was an 'adventure of the week' type formula. It's something that made the latest series of Doctor Who very interesting and enjoyable, because not only are getting good episodes from the show-runner that's had history with the series, but you have one off episodes from other writers that can give a fresh take on characters while still feeling familiar.

So yeah.. that's my ideal new Star Trek series. I'll sign the contract now.

Sure, my fanboy dream would be to have the film's cast, reprise their roles for television. But I know that just won't happen. What I'm proposing here is what I think would be... logical.


J.R. LeMar said...

The big problem with trying to do a TV series featuring the new movie timeline is that the new timeline is still so fresh. Both the future AND much of the past is open to interpretation now, but it makes more sense to leave it for the movie producers to explore, since that it the more potentially profitable franchise than a TV series would be.

So if, for example, the movie producers get some great new idea for introducing Khan or The Borg or whatever in a future sequel, but its different from how the TV producers have already done it in the new show, the movie producers will have to either stick with the TV version whether they like it or not, or skip it and have to think of something else.

The same goes for the past. I'd be interested in seeing a show based on Captain Robeau and his First Officer George Kirk on the USS Kelvin, but we also don't know how much of any of that might later be used as story points in future films, like some enemy of George Kirk's might return to get revenge on his son.

So, again, the whole point of the reboot was to free-up the franchise to not be bound by any other "rules" of established Trek continuity, and new show could end up sticking them right back where they started. I think Paramount realized that, since last year i09 reported that 4 new commissioned novels that were to be set in the new timeline were abruptly canceled, though some may have already been finished. I think they didn't want to step on the new films' toes.

Now, they still publish novels and comic-books set in the original timeline, but I think it would be a mistake to set a new TV series in the original timeline, since that is more high-profile, and could lead to viewer confusion with two concurrent "realities." So it's best to leave TV alone for now, I think. Though I do wish they would speed up the sequel, and not always wait 3-4 years inbetween further film installments.

JDW said...

Thanks for commenting J.R. but that's exactly why I proposed that at least have Orci/Kurtzman/Abrams as executive producers, so that they're still in control of what's going on with the timeline, but at the same time get other writers in there to see what they have to say.

This is also why you have a completely different crew, so that the movie can do what it wants, but at the same time this other ship is doing its own thing. They would co-exist, but possibly never interact.

And yes, I remember the books being cancelled, but I'm sure that's because, as you say, they dealt with the Enterprise crew. By removing that connection, I see no reason why there can't be a new time-line TV series.

J.R. LeMar said...

Well, I suppose you do have a point that, with the film writers involved, they can help oversee it and keep it from going too far away from what they may want to do in the films. And, on the one hand, that could even be beneficial, as it could allow them to basically test certain ideas that they have, and see which ones the audience reacts to most favorable, before they introduce it to the big screen.

Still, I see drawbacks, even with a whole separate cast. If they try to do anything really major in the series, it would odd that the Enterprise is not involved. Something I used to wonder about during the Dominion War, while the TNG crew were offlimits because of their movies.

Plus just in general, it still feels to me like anything really new should be debuting in the movies first. We still haven't seen this new timeline's Klingons or modern-day Romulans, and how those empires interact with the Federation. I think stuff like that should be left for the films.

Although, though I know it's not possible, I kind of do wish that they could scrap the sequels, for now, and just get the whole cast of the New Enterprise to star in a weekly series. Then they could do all of your ideas. Then after 7 years, they can move on, and come back later for movies, like the original cast did.

JDW said...

in a perfect world, yes, the film cast should do a TV series. but alas, i tried to think of a logical solution. ;)