Star Trek Back on TV

Just announced! A new Star Trek TV series will hit CBS in January of 2017! And you know Siskoid's Blog of Geekery will be along for the ride. After all, reviewing Star Trek is how this l'il blog began!

Now granted, the press release doesn't have a lot of details. You could even say it's more about selling CBS All Access than it is about Trek. But here's what we do know:
1) Alex Kurtzman will be executive producer. He was the Trek nerd in the team that brought us the new movies, which likely means the program will take place in that timeline.
2) 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. And further:
3) 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.

#2 allows me to think it takes place in the movieverse, and that would be why new characters are necessary, leaving the movie franchise intact. #3 could contradict that, however, depending on what they mean by "not related". Because the Marvel movies have totally created a template for this. Shows like Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter take place in the margins of the big budget superhero movies, referencing the movies from time to time and even allowing for guest-stars to cross over. Star Trek could do this too, just as DS9 and (bleh) Voyager were in TV Land while TNG was having its movies, with plenty of back and forth between ships and stations.

After all the effort to make the movie franchise evolve from the original timeline as opposed to a straight reboot (a mistake, in my opinion, but that ship has sailed), I don't think Kurtzman - surely the force behind the continuity consciousness - would now reboot the Trek universe for television. The movies come out only once every few years and just can't show us the breadth of the universe. And besides, we're in the age of synergy, and I expect the show to follow that trend.

In fact, that's what I'm most interested in seeing: Just how the way TV has evolved will change Star Trek. Long arcs as opposed to one-offs? Stylish and immediate camera work? Deeper character work? I felt that Enterprise was getting to that in its latter two seasons, just not fast enough. One of Voyager's great weaknesses was that it essentially copied TNG's antiquated style right to the end. It looked like a dinosaur by the time it reached the 2000s.

And that's all quite beyond what the show's status quo will be. From the slim information we have, it'll take place on an explorer-class ship. Clearly, that's what it must be, but it must also have a wrinkle the movie Enterprise's adventures don't have. (Insert your snark about the movies not respecting Roddenberry's vision here.) It won't be a NextGen thing, or a station, and it's too early to do a "lost in space" scenario, nor can we prequel this thing, so we can at least strike through the series of the past. My mind goes go some of the novelized spin-offs instead. They could go New Frontier and explore a sector really, really well. A "Stargazer" series would mean following a known hero/ship from TOS, updated to the new franchise; they could even use the Kelvin from the first film. Starfleet Corps of Engineers was a fun e-book series that showed a specialist crew; maybe some kind of explorer-scouts with a small crew. I don't know, I just want it to have a good hook.

But what I don't want is what the new franchise Star Trek comic book series has done, which is retell and remix elements of TOS. I was pretty disappointed in Into Darkness for that reason as well. I don't need to see this new crew face Trelaine or a giant space amoeba. Find your own stories!

But it's still a year out. Just talkin' out of my airlock here...


snell said...

"It won't be a NextGen thing..."

Not so fast? TNG did, after all, start up while the original movie series was underway. And setting A TV series 100 years or so after your movies does allow you some freedom to tell stories without being beholden to the movie's current state of affairs. (Plus, in all honesty, there's little evidence that Kurtzman has ever had an original idea in his career, so...)

Siskoid said...

Talkin' out my ass as much as anyone this early in the game, but I still doubt it given today's cross-platform trends.

Anonymous said...

You know, I still have to give DS9 credit for doing brilliant and daring things that I can't imagine any modern TV show doing. DS9 had the running theme of how decent people have to do monstrous things in war, and not let that ruin them for peace; that has set my bar rather high for any Treks. One of the stars of the show was even a terrorist under the Cardassian occupation; I don't think many shows would trust audiences to side with a former terrorist today.

I guess I'm hoping for the magic of DS9 again, but I know they're not going to be able to deliver.

Siskoid said...

DS9 Next was basically BSG.

We reach, Anon. We reach.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

" (bleh) Voyager " - not cool, man. That should be ' (bleh) Enterprise ', if anything. ;-)

Pragmatism says this will be the first Abramsverse show, but hope still wants a Prime universe consideration. The one thing that allows me to still countenance the possibility is that shows like the Flash, Supergirl, Agent Carter, etc. shows a more nerd-friendly TV culture that is more willing to listen to fanbases than the film industry... which *might* be enough to recognize that the Abramsverse has been controversial but best (and more stylistically difficult to depict on TV), and that fans are clamoring for a Prime universe show. It is a SLIM hope... but it remains a hope nonetheless.

That said- perhaps one of the reasons Voyager wasn't 'bleh' to me is that I *like* that antiquated, dinosaur style. I'd like to see a Trek returning to weekly exploration and stand-alone stories, with arcs reserved for ongoing villains and character development (which, if I was making a wish list, would be a little less soap-opera than modern character development on TV usually is). Something a little inbetween TNG and DS9 (ironically, like the first couple of seasons of Voyager, actually- ongoing continuity of setting, character arcs, but not serialized storytelling). To me, that's what allows Trek to thrive; the weekly vignettes and morality plays and alien encounters don't play so well with a serialized format, which tends to veer more into 'ongoing defeat the bad guys' territory like the movies, and latter Enterprise, which felt hollow of the Trek spirit to some.

Of course, that is probably exactly what we'll get; despite the most beloved Trek shows of all time using the stand-alone story format, it is seen as outmoded and dinosaur-esque in the modern world (which to me reflects more poorly on the world's tastes than on the still-viable show format). But, a guy can still dream... at least for one more year. :-)

Right now is, for Trek fans, a mix of hope and fear; excitement at a new show, but also anxiety because TV has changed a lot since the last time there was a successful/quality Trek series (whichever one the particular fan personally considers that to be). We have wanted new Star Trek for so long, but now that we're getting it, it's easy to sit back and think of all the ways they might screw it up. (After all, we're nerds- we're really good at fretting over things). Will it get too political, as some of the novels have- bogged down in taking potshots at red states instead of telling more timeless stories or morality tales? Will it be too messageless, mindless action without any meaning as Trek has sometimes tended toward since mid-Voyager-onward? Will the characters be too 'CW'? Will the storytelling be too serialized? Not serialized enough? Will it be Prime or Abramsverse? TOS-era, TNG-era, Post-Nemesis-era? And so on, and so forth. It will be impossible to please everyone, of course- my idealized series may be your nightmare series, and vice-versa. I'm sure a lot of the basic questions will be answered in the next few months, in terms of theme and setting- but the next year will probably be equal parts excitement and fear, just as (for me), the lead-up to Star Wars Episode VII has been; enthusiasm for getting something new, mixed with trepidation that they'll mess something up. :-)

Siskoid said...

You gave up on Enterprise too quickly, clearly. Voyager was never good though. Please refer to the second year of this here blog for why you are wrong ;-).

As for the rest of your message, I'll read it just as soon as my rage-blindness subsides.

Siskoid said...

Alright. To be clear, I didn't think Voyager was a dinosaur because it told one-off stories. Plenty of genre shows do this still, though usually with a healthier dose of character development, which is where Voyager really failed. It was a dinosaur because its LOOK was essentially TNG's, with the same camera work, lighting, pacing, score and acting style. It felt like a relic from the late 80s and contributed to the viewership's disinterest in the franchise which had become rather samey.

DS9 got out from that somewhat, with moodier lighting and some serialized arcs, but never QUITE broke off. By the time Enterprise broke from the house style, it was too late. Fatigue had set in and the franchise's days were counted.

But I think you make a very good point about achieving the movie look on a TV budget, and that might be where alternatives are considered.

Brendoon said...

But WAIT! if there's a new Sisko, will there be an alternate Siskoid as well?

Brendoon said...

OOOH! I've an idea!
Why they cast Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher and Summer Glau in this new ST 'verse series?

No, wait, if Tudyk and Fillion are busy playing Booster Gold and Blue Beetle... AH! An ST/DC crossover, right????

Brendoon said...

that is "Why DON'T they cast" damn brain spellchecker is on the fritz.

Siskoid said...

A "Siskoid" is an alternate take on Sisko, so that Sisko will BE a Siskoid.

Brendoon said...

Ah! True.
He would be "A Sikoid" not "THE sikoid".
Mustn't have too many of you running around, after all.

Brendoon said...

Sorry, typo. Siskoid, not Sikoid!!

Siskoid said...

Sure there are. Mirror Sisko. The Emissary. Benny the sci-fi writer. Klingon Sisko. TOS costume Sisko. Original Sisko with no beard. Bond villain Sisko. Etc. Etc.


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