Where No Man Has Gone Before…?
By now, you may have heard the news that Star Trek is returning from the deep space of the silver screen back to where it all began: television. But should they even bother?
When the original series premiered in 1966, amidst the height of 20th century America’s obsession with space and science fiction, it started a cultural phenomenon that is still felt both in parody, film, and everyday pop culture to this day. The adventures on and around the starship Enterprise transcended television, allowing young and adult fans alike to explore and experience the trials and tribulations of the final frontier from the comfort of their own living rooms. Many of those very fans have been loyal to the series ever since.
While the Original Series as it is now called ran for just three seasons, the Star Trek franchise has evolved over the years with six more seasons, 12 movies, and one more movie in production that will coincide with the show’s 50th anniversary. And now, sourcing are confirming, there’s a new TV series in the works. But do we even need it?
For the past few years, Star Trek has had to undergo a major change of face to rejuvenate the franchise for younger audiences, as well as to bring older audiences back out of hiding.
Naturally, Hollywood made the two films (Star Trek and Into Darkness) very Hollywood, but behind their epic special effects, features, and battle scenes, they were still sentimentally attached to the franchise’s heart and soul. Both films were financial successes and performed well critically, bringing Star Trek out of the dark years and back into the fashionable cultural scene. So is a TV show the natural next step?
Star Trek‘s popularity has always been retroactive. The show’s original run performed only modestly during its time on NBC, but it reached cult status shortly after it was discontinued. Fans seem to agree that the franchise reached its peak during The Next Generation years (1987–1994), while it suffered greatly after less popular seasons and movies we wish we could forget like Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). So has the time come for another try on the small screen? Yes.
Boldly going where it’s already gone many times before, it still makes sense that now, amidst the popularity of the two most recent movies and in the advent of a third, Star Trek is strongly suited to come back to TV and perform at least moderately well.
Even as sites like Netflix threaten to end TV as we know it forever, today we are seeing more mainstream sci-fi and superhero shows than we have in years. Long-running Star Trek fans will gladly return to give a new series a chance, and younger fans, whether influenced by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto or no longer affected by the taboo such shows once had, will at least test the waters to see if they want to stick around.
Of course the show won’t be connected to the movies, as the official press release clarified, “The new television series is not related to the upcoming feature film Star Trek Beyond, which is scheduled to be distributed by Paramount Pictures in summer 2016.” Still, it stands to show that the ‘spinoff’ can ride the fame of the current movies to perform at least decently in a new but familiar format. With a worth estimated at $4 billion, product marketing will only help a new show rake in money, regardless of critical reception.
Similarly to previous installments, “The brand-new Star Trek will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966.” This seems like the most promising aspect of a reboot. Since its inception, the franchise has been known for tackling themes like humanism, morality, diversity, acceptance, and courage. It famously cast gay actors like George Takei and bravely featured one of American TV’s first interracial kisses between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols.
And this is the true bravery of Star Trek, to confront taboo subjects and deal with them progressively and with great heart, and in our current world filled as always with so many problems and so much good left to be done, a show with as dedicated a fan base and as profound a cultural impact such as Star Trek might be just what Dr. McCoy ordered. If you think Star Trek needs a return to television, please SHARE this post with your friends.