Saturday, April 22, 2006

New frontiers

So there is a story online about a new Star Trek movie in pre-production. J.J. Abrams, he of Alias, Lost and the forthcoming MI:3 is writing and directing. Supposedly. (Defamer has their own twisted, and hilarious, look at the story.)

It's not that I doubt the story. I'm sure he's been signed. I'm sure he's begun writing something and has ideas of what he wants to do. You just have to understand, at this point nothing is locked up. Until they have cast and started filming, I fully expect things to change or fall apart. The forthcoming Superman Returns went through about five directors before it got going.

And the reason I think this is likely to fall apart or change, much like Superman, is that the idea is kind of lame (Superman went through some truly horrific scripts over the years. Hunt them down if you don't believe me). And I don't think it's getting a big fan response.

The idea is basically Starfleet Academy with Kirk and Spock meeting each other and going on their first mission. And many think it's a lame thing to base a movie on. I agree.

This was one of my problems with Enterprise. It felt too much like canabalization. As if Star Trek had run out of new ideas and had nothing left but to go back, not forward, and fill in the gaps. And I honestly do not know who Enterprise was supposed to make happy. Hardcore fans were going to snipe at the continunity; new fans were going to quickly get lost and frustrated by the show and its references to stuff that they didn't know.

It's the same way I feel about this new movie. Who does this appeal to? Remember, it's been 40 years since the original Star Trek debuted. There hasn't been an original cast movie in, what, 15 years or so. The Trek most people love these days is Next Generation. And, by the way, this isn't an argument over which Trek is better or if you still watch the original. Odds are if you're willing to have that argument then odds are you're a geek or a Trekie.

I use Cathy as my basis for the average person. She likes Trek, She'll watch it and be entertained by it. But she has no tolerance for convoluted history and Picard is her captain. And that's who the producer need to appeal to. Is a continuity filling movie featuring a young Kirk and Spock going to do it for them? Nope.

I still believe in letting the franchise rest for a few years. But if you have to do a movie, pick whatever members of the recent shows willing to come back (pay Stewart a lot of money) and do something on a grand scale. An All-Star Trek. Do the Borg again if you must.

As for the new show, here are my two ideas. Which, as you might appreciate in these days of the Internet, are a dime a dozen.
1. Do something on Peter David's New Frontier novels. Which is basically a sector of space ruled by a secretive empire falls into turmoil when the ruling government collapses. Starfleet sends in a sole starship to provide aid and explore that sector of space. It's captained by a cowboy he tends to flaunt the rules, but gets away with it more often than not. Plus, the crew is eccentric with assorted secretive histories.

It's a lot of fun. David is good at this sort of thing and can write excellent characters with a solid mix of humour and drama. It would work. There are tons of stories there. They won't do it, but it would be fun.

2. Jump ahead 50 years. They did it with TNG and it worked. Do it again. You leave behind some of the continuinty baggage of the current Trek and can start again. Maybe the Federation has collapsed after years of struggling against the Borg and other adversaries and now it's up to a few planets, and starships, to rebuild the Federation.

But above all, regardless of the idea, get some new blood and talent in the pool. Ever since DS9 ended, Trek has been guilty of recycling the same ideas. Maybe Abram's can pull off this new movie. If nothing else, I'll have to do and see MI:3 now, which I hadn't planned on (I'm in a serious hate Tom Cruise space right now), just to see how he can do on the big screen.

There's still life in the franchise. But they've got to step up. They've got to step forward. And I don't think this is it. It feels more like trying to squeeze the last drops out of something before it's discarded.

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1 comment:

Jason said...

While I like Peter David's books, I'd have to wonder how much would be lost in translation to TV. But I agree it would be one of the best choices.

Really I think they should let it lie low for 5 years. The franchise can live off the merchandise.

And come Craig when will we get the Anti Tom Cruise rant come on, it would go great with my morning coffee.