6 Rules for Rebooting a Star Trek TV Show - Mania.com

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6 Rules for Rebooting a Star Trek TV Show

The Star Trek TV Series Should Do This...

By Chris Beveridge     December 07, 2009


With the success J.J. Abrams has had in rebooting the Star Trek movie franchise in 2009, you just know that there are execs at Paramount that are kicking around the idea of getting the series back on the small screen as well. Star Trek has been mostly off the air since Enterprise ended earlier than any other Trek series since the 1980s and there are more science fiction fans than before, though many may not call themselves that. The success of series like Battlestar Galactica has tapped into new science fiction fans and people are more receptive than ever before. While many long time Star Trek fans will argue that the franchise should remain dead for another decade on TV, it's best to prepare for the worst by offering up the best ideas for ensuring a better show.

Star Trek Reboot

6. Respect the Timeline

As much as we completely loved the new Star Trek movie that J.J. Abrams used to reboot the franchise, that particular timeline, actors and setup of the Star Trek universe should stand alone and apart. Abram's version of the franchise certainly revitalized interest in it after all that had gone wrong with the property in the last decade, but it's not what a TV series needs. A new Star Trek TV series should exist within the original timeline that has been built since the series debuted back in the late 60s. With several series under its belt, a massive bible of what has occurred to date and a very rich history contained within it, it would be foolish to jettison all of that when creating a new series. Besides, we're not going to get any of the actors from the movie to do a TV series at this point and they're far better suited to providing us with more focused movies.

Star Trek Reboot

5. Look Forward, Not Backward

When the original Star Trek series had been off the radar of TV viewers for quite some time, the idea of a new series didn't make sense until we learned they were moving it forward in time by several decades. The Next Generation kept to Gene Roddenerry's vision of always looking towards the future while understanding the past. Subsequent series didn't take these chances and met with mixed results. Deep Space Nine and Voyager played in the same time frame while Enterprise went back to the past and tried to rewrite history at times which caused some continuity issues among the hardcore fans. And when you lose the hardcore fans, it's hard to really get the buzz out there to the more mainstream viewers, particularly when they fill the Internet with nothing but negativity. Any new series should take the premise of The Next Generation and move the time period forward by another hundred years or so since it can give us a new landscape, technology and races to work with.

Star Trek Reboot

4. Keep the Science in Science Fiction

There's a saying where magic is simply science that we don't yet understand. Star Trek has always played it a bit loose when it comes to its science, especially when you can explain away any situation with something related to tachyon particles. When you deal with science fiction, especially a show that could be set some four hundred years from now, there's a lot you can make up in order to get various situations to work. The problem is that they can become easy gimmicks to get you out of a situation that would be better suited to higher quality writing. Science is a wonderful thing and Star Trek has been huge for getting people into the fields of science. A more grounded view of science is needed here to help balance out the big visions of the future that is part and parcel of the Star Trek universe, and that will make it far more engaging.

Star Trek Reboot

3. Storytelling Has Changed

The evolution of the franchise since the ‘60s really is intriguing. The original series is pure ‘60s with its episodic storytelling, monster of the week and sexy appeal that pushed boundaries at the time. The Next Generation gave us more philosophical stories and avoided some of what the original series did while still keeping to the spirit of it. With Deep Space Nine, the franchise moved ahead of its time by building a concrete universe and layering its stories which became highly engaging for a segment of fans as it progressed past the first couple of seasons. Voyager went back to a mixture of Next Generation and the original series. TV has changed a lot since all of these though with stories told in season form. Star Trek needs to move in this direction by providing viewers with an engaging season long story that's layered both with its characters and the overall story and universe it inhabits.

Star Trek Reboot

2. Respect the Characters

Science fiction has worked hard to humanize its characters over the years and for Star Trek fans, the last couple of seasons of The Next Generation is where it showed promise by allowing the characters to grow and change and actually engage in relationships. Deep Space Nine took this further and science fiction has gone much further since then with shows like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. While Roddenberry wanted characters that would be positive that would inspire others, that can be done while still making them very human and compelling. Keep the characters from being all about their jobs and allow us to feel like they truly exist in that space. When you have people serving aboard a ship like the Enterprise for years at a time, visiting various ports of call and mixing with all sorts of races that wonder of all of that really needs to shine through.

Star Trek Reboot

1. Respect the Audience

Science fiction fans tend to be a bit more bleeding edge when it comes to what they want out of stories and characters and you can't disappoint with that. A very welcome change in the last few years with series is that in planning out longer story arcs, they can make it so that characters aren't as permanent as they used to be. Having a real element of danger and that element of change with deaths, transfers and promotions shows the viewer that things aren't static and that surprises can creep up anywhere or simply appear out of the blue. Politics, intrigue, military aspects and more are areas that a lot of people are expecting to see more of in science fiction as they're reflective of the world we're living in. Star Trek has always been about taking a mirror to the world and making us look at ourselves in a different way while showing us where we can go with it. Don't coddle the audience.


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karas1 12/7/2009 2:18:23 AM

These are really good suggestions.  If they could follow these rules and ignore everything about JJ Abrams movie, a new ST TV series could be good.

Kara S

goldeneyez 12/7/2009 4:07:54 AM

Kara you were on it... you really don't like the reboot.  I respectfully disagree.  I enjoyed the reboot & look forward to more, and I still love the old series.

Personally, I think they should stay away from TV a bit longer.  I think it's too soon after BSG and the new movie.  Let the franchise marinate a bit longer before they try to bring back another series.

Lastly, I don't think they really respected TNG characters in the movies that much.  Worf became a freakin punchline in every movie.  Riker & Troi should have stayed apart.  Also that last TNG movie with the Romulans was garbage... actually even with the new JJ movie, they have yet to do justice to the Romulans in the movies.  They don't look right, don't act right... maybe they should just stay away from the Romulans for a minute too.

twinbing 12/7/2009 4:09:50 AM

This list starts off by saying "As much as we completely loved the new Star Trek movie that J.J. Abrams used to reboot the franchise...".  Who's "we"?  No Trek film has divided fans more than Abrams' version of Star Trek.  This fan completely *hated* STINO (Star Trek In Name Only).

Darkknight2280 12/7/2009 4:31:13 AM

I agree with this article 100% stick to the original time line and move forward not backwards :)

karas1 12/7/2009 4:31:51 AM

I never said that the TNG movies were good to the characters, or good movies at all really.  They were mediocre at best which is what killed the franchise off to beegin with.

goldeneyez, I'm glad you enjoyed the ST movie, that everyone who liked it had a good time.  I just wish that it had respected the source material more.  It was completely opposite in theme and tone to everything Roddenberry's Star Trek stood for. 

Maybe Roddenberry is old fashioned.  Maybe values like tolerance for those different from yourself, accepting of the alien and celebrating that his different strengths make you a better team, exploration for the sake of knowing something new and the desire to make yourself a better person, even at the expense of personal gain, have no resonance in a post 911 America.  Maybe taking on someone who threatens you and blowing him up real good is what audiences need right now.   I don't like that.  I think it makes us a weaker people that we think like that, that this is the sum of our ambitions.  I liked it better when we reached for the stars rather than circling the waggons against a hostile universe.

Oops, you got me going again. 

Back to the idea of a new TV series.  Perhaps waiting awhile would be better.  TV is in a golden age for genre and my TV schedule is too crowded now for me to take on another ST series.  But if there was going to be one, I would prefer one that had respect for what went before, rather than trashing 50 years of continuity.  I'd want one that celebrated the wonder of space exploration.  I'd want one where people tried to make themselves better, rather than just richer.  I'd want one like the one described in this article.

Kara S

maehara 12/7/2009 5:02:11 AM

I loved the new Star Trek movie, so that's enough for a "we".  Was just watching it last night, as it happens, after picking up the Blu-ray, and it occurred to me how the 'new' ST was really just ST:Nemesis with a much-needed injection of humour.  Although that may have been the late hour & the alcohol clouding my judgement.

Anyway.  The TV incarnations really had run their course - after so long running two series at a time, there was just a complete lack of any originality to them, and a breather was required.  I was always a big fan of DS9, but in hindsight I think it suffered (along with Babylon 5) from being ahead of its time - it was aiming for that dark and gritty feel that Battlestar Galactica and now Stargate:Universe have managed to get just about right (neither show is perfect), but audiences at the time weren't quite ready for science fiction that made the characters equally as important as the gadgets and setting.

Now, things are different, and the time is probably right for a revival - but it has to be done right.  TNG/DS9/Voyager were notorious for taking until their third or fourth seasons to really find their feet, and I doubt audiences would stick with them for that long now - they certainly didn't with Enterprise - so when Paramount come to look at the idea, they really will need to think carefully, and Chris' suggestions seem pretty much spot on to me for what they need to be thinking about.

monkeyfoot 12/7/2009 6:42:49 AM

Wow, alot to digest and talk about here.

First off I pretty much agree with the show suggestions., especially a new storytelling style to match the times. The characters moving in and out and longer story arcs. I also think it needs characters that the total non-fan can identify with. The TNG cast were good but they always seem to look down their noses at 20th Century humanity. The other shows had various levels of "real" people and "ideal" characters.

I don't know where or when to set such a series but I don't like the idea of another 100 years in the future. Why? In the last TNG movie, Nemesis the Enterprise detected trace elements from Data's brothers body from light years away. Light Years! What can't those people do? They've developed such massive tech strides the only thing left in the future is for them to mentally project themselves into avatars or whole starships from safely back on Earth and explore the few unseen areas of the galaxy with only their minds!

Mainly, they would need a whole new production team who are not set in their ways on what makes a Star Trek story. But I also say that  at the same time I say they also need to remember the main philosophies that Roddenberry set the whole premise in.

Funkatron 12/7/2009 7:08:38 AM

I wouldn't mind a new series based on the Abbrams movie.  I haven't seen that much of TOS but I was a massive fan of TNG and DS9 and I must agree that the universe has gotten a bit stale.  The new alternate timeline has given Trek a chance to start over and start fresh, allowing them to boldy go but with a modern flare other sci-fi shows are using.  Gointo into the far future only muddles things.  I agree with the above poster about the advancement of tech.  It feels as if in the future everyone would pretty much be a god, so whats the point?  What villain

scifiguy2001 12/7/2009 7:20:27 AM

I would love to see a reboot of "Star Trek Deep Space Nine."  "Star Trek Deep Space Nine" was the most human of the modern Trek shows.  There never was a dull character on the series.  With the drama the world is going through, it would be nice to see a new "Star Trek" series that is not too PC and rich in character, and either a new DS9 series set in the regular Trek universe would be that series or a reboot of the DS9 series set in JJ's Trek universe would be that show.  I would love to see new Cardassians in the new DS9 series, Klingons, and the Jem Haddar. 

LordDarkseid 12/7/2009 7:23:11 AM

Can I just have something that doesn't focus on time travel please? Thanks.

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