Is Star Trek-like Time Travel/Alternative Universes The New Thing For Genre TV? | TrekMovie.com
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Is Star Trek-like Time Travel/Alternative Universes The New Thing For Genre TV? December 4, 2009

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Editorial,Sci-Fi,Star Trek (2009 film),Trek Franchise , trackback

[Spoilers] Is it just me, or is Star Trek-like time travel the new thing for TV? Just a few years ago dealing with hard sci-fi topics was taboo in TV, but these days you can’t throw a rock in prime time, without it jumping into a parallel universe. The latest example came last night in FlashForward, a show co-created by TNG era vet Brannon Braga that also includes Star Trek’s John Cho in the cast. 

 

[even more spoilers about lots of TV shows]

Flash Forward goes MWI

Any regular TrekMovie reader will know that Star Trek co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman did their homework when they set up the alternate timeline in their new film, using time travel to create a point of divergence (the destruction of the Kelvin) and then relying on the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics to set up a parallel timeline/universe. Orci spoke about this at length in an interview here last year, and it was also covered in a follow-up article.

ABC’s FlashForward is one of of the hottest genre show’s of the year. The premise set up in the pilot was that everyone on Earth blacked out had their consciousnesses ‘flashed forward’ a few months, glimpsing the future. The mystery for the season so far has revolved around the causes of the Flash Forward, and if it is possible to change the future everyone has seen. In the Fall finale (the show comes back in March) last night, the show dipped its toe into the MWI, as this clip shows.

And the show also made its first hint that time travel may also be going on, as shown in this clip from last night.

Time Travel & parallel universes – all over the tube
But FlashForward is just part of a new growing trend. The last season of Lost (created by Trek producers Damon Lindelof and JJ Abrams) had the cast jumping around all season long, here is a clip showing a time travel ‘flash’ and also Sawyer giving his assessment of what is is like moving through time.

And the Abrams gang isn’t done. Abrams other show Fringe (co-created with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman), has set up an entire parallel Earth (where they are keeping Leonard Nimoy and his character William Bell). Here we see the first season ender with Agent Dunham (Anna Torv) meeting William Bell on the parallel Earth.

And of course NBC’s Heroes is still limping along, and that show has dabbled in time travel and alternative timelines for a couple years. Even with the current season, it seems every other week the Star Trek-loving character Hiro (Masi Oka) travels back in time to try and fix something. Here is a scene from last season with Hiro jumping all over the place.

And of course there Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the FOX show that came to an end last season. As part of the Terminator universe, time travel and alternative timelines were key components of that show. Here is the time-travel-astic finale of that series.

Of course the new show Stargate Universe is a ‘hard scifi’ show on SyFy, but it took them only 8 episodes until they dove into time travel this season, with "Time". Here is a the "Kino" web extra from that episode, discussing time travel.

Star Trek: the king of time travel
Of course time travel has been a component of the Star Trek franchise since the first season of Star Trek in 1966  ("The Naked Time"). Since then there have been dozens of time-travel episodes (and four of 11 movies also played with time). In a way, Star Trek has set the standard for time travel on TV, which now seems to be becoming a sub-genre or at least an accepted sci-fi theme. Some of the greatest moments in Star Trek (and TV) history, were in time travel/alt timeline episodes, like this one (from "Yesterday’s Enterprise)…

Perhaps the new Star Trek movie is helping, as just the latest blockbuster that traveled in time (with Back to the Future and Terminator also being classics of the sub-genre).  Maybe we will see more and more shows dealing with time travel and other ‘hard sci-fi concepts. As Damon Lindelof says in the video below (from Comic Con 2008), it would be a good thing if, with all the cop shows and legal shows and doctor shows, there could actually be a "critical mass" of shows dealing with time travel.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

1. Enterprise - December 4, 2009

Is it a wonder that all those shows are pretty much flops on TV?

2. Scott - December 4, 2009

I remember my disappointment when the very first episode of the “back to basics” series Enterprise immediately introduced a time travel subplot. They practically lost me right there. Although time travel has occasionally been used in Star Trek to great effect, far more often, it has been little more than a gimmicky source of nonsense.

3. Lt. Bailey - December 4, 2009

They seem to have forgotten about the golden era of TV and all those great shows. Either that or we all just have gotten too blase with our entertainment.

This is why we need to have Star Trek The Experience back to get out of one reality and into another…or just loose ourselves in a better reality.

4. Irishtrekkie - December 4, 2009

Esp 08 ”Time” is about the only esp of Stargate universe i have liked so far , trying add in too much drama and forgetting its a sci fi programe hope it does not go down the battlestar gac route (as personal i did not like the new BG at all).

5. Dan - December 4, 2009

@ #3

I second that! Quarks bar is the best!

6. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - December 4, 2009

Tos had many Eps on Time travel. The best being City on the Edge of Forever and my Fav. Tomorrow is Yesterday. One of the best Time Travel Shows of all is my personel fave. Quantam Leap. Staring Enterprises Scott Bakula. I hope he comes back as Sam Beckett for either a Movie or another Series. Even Stephen King has done a little Time Travel in the Langoliers. Great Miniseries. These were some of the best of Time Travel that worked. There have been others that simply floped. There was a very Short lived series last year that had a guy goiong back and forth through time but was a total flop. Don’t remember the name. Time Travel if done right can be realy cool and Spectacular. If done wrong is a joke.

7. Joseph - December 4, 2009

#2:
Took the words right out of my mouth. Time travel can work really well on TV and in any other media, but Star Trek is not an example of how to do it well.
It seems to me that time travel plotlines that revolve around trying to change things are ripe for storyline potential. It speaks to a very basic desire that we’ve all had at some point: a desire to go back and fix our mistakes. But ultimately the reality of it is that there is no going back for any of us. Even if somehow we change the entire world we live in, the original mistake that was made was still the driving force that made that world a reality. So ultimately, a good time travel story should eventually force the character to come to terms with the fact that they can only really mend the mistake by accepting responsibility for it and working in the present to fix it.
Instead, Star Trek simply glossed over this potentially limitless pool of character development and simply let their characters get away with it guilt free. I think my personal “favorite” example of this was when Voyager had B’Lanna watch Harry Kim die in the first ten minutes of an episode, but then by the end of it they’ve brought in another copy of him and no one speaks of it again. Is anyone really so shallow as to not be at least a little bit bothered about the one who died?

8. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - December 4, 2009

Another great time travel movie was the Final Countdown. About a Nuclear Aircraft Carrier that was somehowe transported back to December 6th 1941. Wow. Think of the possibilitys of that. It had a pretty great cast. Kirk Douglas was the skipper and Marten Sheen. If you have not seen it you should. This Movie came out in 1978 or 79.

9. Valar1 - December 4, 2009

Wow, that Sarah Connor finale actually looks good, too bad that thing didn’t last. I remember when it was first promoted I just thought it would be another show about how a highschool teen douche becomes a hero whilst controlling his urges around females, so I never bothered to catch it. If I had known the show was focused on the adults I might’ve watched.

10. AJ - December 4, 2009

8:

I was going to mention that one! The USS Nimitz goes back in time to the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor. Great one.

Also, Nick Meyer’s “The Time Machine” where HG Wells follows Jack the Ripper from the past into present-day San Francisco. I think they’re played by Malcolm McDowell and David Warner, respectively.

And no mention of the Family Guy where Peter marries Molly Ringwald in the 1980s instead of Lois? For shame!

11. CmdrR - December 4, 2009

Gad. Every decade or so, pseudo-science spits out a theory that’s more poetry than science. MWI? Nah. I’m just not buying it, at least not the way it’s spelled out in the scene above. As shown there, every whim of every human being spawns an entire universe. Um, them universe suckers is BIG. To think that each of us, and the drunk under the bridge, is creating a new universe every few microseconds or so… That’s… um…

Bullshyt*

*as coined by Neil Stephenson in “Anathem,” which also deals with multiple universes.

I’m just saying that if there are multiverses, then there’s got to be a better genesis mechanism than the bad vibes of a human mind.

12. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - December 4, 2009

Time Cop with Jean Claude Van Dam was actualy a good one as well. At least I liked it. It was his only good movie he did I actualy liked. They did have a short lived series but was not as good. I know the Twilight Zone had some good Eps on time travel as well as the Outer Limits and of course Dr. Who. Also there was another series back in the 60s. I think it was called Time Tunnel. But I probly am wrong. It was a great series as well. In one ep they went back in time and saved J.F.K from being Killed.

13. fred - December 4, 2009

#7 what about trek 4 now that users time travels as a way to show how things may be if we carry on with what we are doing to ourself and our planet !ok they fixs things in the end but not before showing us that we still have a choice and we can still change our own future

14. CmdrR - December 4, 2009

And just to get a nit-pick in… check Geordi’s uniform in the very last shots of “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”

15. Gene L. Coon was a U. S. Marine. Stand at ease. - December 4, 2009

10. AJ – December 4, 2009

8:

“I was going to mention that one! The USS Nimitz goes back in time to the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor. Great one.”

That was a great 3/4 of a movie. SPOILER! The big payoff never came as the Nimitz got pulled back toits own time, never having the chance to engage Yamamoto’s fleet. Great setup, though.

They should remake it now. Imagine the possibilities with CGI today! It would be the ultimate Combat Flight Simulator Pacific Theater game! This time, they could actually smoke some zeroes!

16. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - December 4, 2009

#15. I agree with you. They could actualy make a series about it. Have the U.S.S Reagon go back in time to Dec 6th and have them engage the Jap Fleet and then have the New York Report to the Presedent. Could you imagine what that would be like. Th U.S would realy be in great shape.

17. tman - December 4, 2009

11- I think it’s a dumb name but I don’t understand why it is difficult concept to believe. Time moves in one direction, entropy occurs and you have the wave/particle duality. What is inconsistent with the idea that in a probability distribution all outcomes will occur though we will only sample one specific outcome in our path forward with parallel us’s seeing the other outcomes in parallel. THe notion of being able to break across from one to another seems to me whimsical, but I don’t see at face value what’s wrong with the theory of parallel universes.

Regarding time travel, even Farscape had it when when Crichton touched the quantum singularity and was leaping forward seeing different future scenes and possible outcomes change as he reacts to the information.

Taken in moderation I think it’s great for television shows. Enterprise missed the part about moderation.

18. ER - December 4, 2009

So… perfect time for Doctor Who to hit in the USA?

19. CmdrR - December 4, 2009

16-They could actualy make a series about it. Have the U.S.S Reagon go back in time to Dec 6th and have them engage the Jap Fleet and then have the New York Report to the Presedent.

Dec. 7, 1941. That would be when virtually everyone knew Ronald Reagan as “The Gipper.” I think Roosevelt would be more than a little confused by a carrier named after the Gipper.

17- I’m probably not saying it right. I don’t have a problem with multiple somethings. I have a problem with those somethings being based upon the whims of humans. I mean, that makes a great Sandra Bulloch vehicle, but crappy science. The recent Family Guy about the multiverse is a perfect example of why I HOPE that’s not how it works.

20. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - December 4, 2009

#19. You are correct. But would add a little fun to it. Haveing the U.S.S Reagon would be interesting. But you could use any of the named Ships and send it back.

21. gregored - December 4, 2009

An interesting topic, considering that just about every movie or television program could be said to be set in an alternate universe, since the events differ from what happen in “the real world”.. For example, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a laugh track in the background when I say something funny.

One thing that’s always come to my mind with regards to Star Trek–what television programs appeared in the Star Trek universe instead of Trek?

22. Captain Robau - December 4, 2009

Any discussion of time travel in sci fi TV should probably include Doctor Who, which has been running fairly steadily (save for a 16 year gap) since 1963 and is all about travel through time and space.

23. Mark - December 4, 2009

That STNG Episode was the best IMHO

24. JohnWA - December 4, 2009

They have done time travel so often that they did an episode spoofing the whole absurdity of the concept. Janeway even commented on how too much time travel gives her a headache.

Funny stuff.

25. fansince66 - December 4, 2009

I love flashforward( watch it every week); & I’m glad mr. Braga finally found a format for his love of time-travel stories. It’s not needed for ST; & I’ve never liked such stories for ST.It has always been story enough in S.T. to have humanity use its’ creativity & ingenuity in science & technology to escape the bonds of earth, reach for the stars, expand & grow, & discover other civilizations & worlds & have fascinating interactions with other races & civilizations.

THAT is Star Trek.

26. The Original Spock's Brain - December 4, 2009

I LOVE MWI, and time travel. FF is a good show; so is SGU, in a different way.

BSG is the best written SciFi show since the Twilight Zone.

Thanks Anthony good summary.

27. Norm - December 4, 2009

Lost is incredible!!

28. Justice Boy - December 4, 2009

Anybody remember Sherman & Peabody? The animated idiot geek boy and his intelligent Spock-like dog Travelling through time, setting right what once went wrong?

29. S. John Ross - December 4, 2009

Wherever lazy writing pays the bills, there will always be time-travel providing an alternative to drama … but it seems unfair to blame it on Star Trek :(

30. Gorn Captain - December 4, 2009

28. I remember those guys! The makers of Quantum Leap should have cut Jay Ward’s estate a check! The cartoon “Time Squad” also had a similar premise. I think they did pay homage to S&P though.

I’ve long thought of “A Christmas Carol” as the original time travel/alternate future story.

The main characters on Time Tunnel tried altering history a couple times, but it’s hard to convince people that the Titanic is going to sink, or Pearl Harbor is going to get attacked before the fact it seems.

Time travelers on the Twilight Zone had even less luck changing history. One tried killing Hitler, and the rifle simply would not work!

#12 It was the 1980′s TZ that had an episode where Kennedy lived, but world events began to spiral into World War III soon after! There’s no way Time Tunnel would have gone near JFK only three years after the fact.

And of course, much of the Planet of the Apes movies deal with time travel, and whether one can alter the future.

31. Admiral Waugh - December 4, 2009

Let’s make sure that history never forgets the name……….. Enterprise.

32. EFFeX - December 4, 2009

#1, Fringe is a flop?

Not only do I think it’s an excellent show, it does pretty well in ratings doesn’t it? I know the first season did pretty good.

33. Darkthunder - December 4, 2009

I don’t know about the nay-sayers around here, but some of the best episodes of Star Trek (atleast according to me), dealt with time travel. Including the TOS favorite, City on the Edge of Forever. One of the best Star Trek movies dealt with time travel, namely First Contact. The most humorous Star Trek movie dealt with time travel, namely The Voyage Home.

Ofcourse, Star Trek isn’t the only source of good time travel materials. Among my favorite movies are the Back to the Future trilogy, Timecop (only movie with Jean Claude Van Damme that I actually liked), the movie Final Countdown with Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen was a cool movie as well.

As has been said: If done well, the results are excellent. If done badly, the reputation of the movie/tv-series will suffer greatly.

Shockwave Part 1 & 2 from Enterprise was pretty good I thought, although the whole setup from the beginning with the Temporal Cold War, kinda turned off a lot of Star Trek fans from the show. Enterprise had it’s best years during seasons 3 and 4, and I think could’ve rebounded had it been given a chance to run the full 7 year term.

34. Jim Nightshade - December 5, 2009

the nick meyer hg wells movie was called time after time-mcdowell was excellent in that movie–remember when wells went to mcdonalds n was delighted to find out that fries were pomme frits hehe
Sherman n peabodys improbable history like rocky n bullwinkle was some of the best animation on tv-animation very cheap but writing,humor, and fun satire cleverness was off the scale-

35. Vardonir - December 5, 2009

Ah, time travel.

Like #33, my list of “best Trek” episodes have the concept: TCotEoF, TVH, FC, OGAM, Year of Hell, Timeless, Shattered (does it count?), Yesterday’s Enterprise, et al.

On the other end of my list, there’s also another time travel concept gone wrong: Voyager’s Endgame. (Or maybe because I hated C7. I dunno.)

So, in conclusion, time travel is (very) overused and nice, but only when it’s written nicely.
(Or, IMO, when the titmeline is restored to the way it was)

36. =A= - December 5, 2009

flashforward was good begining but right now very boring and was my time.

37. JohnWA - December 5, 2009

Ugh, the Temporal Cold War.

They spent two whole seasons on this disjointed, incomprehensible nonsense. And just when the audience thought it was finally gone and forgotten (good riddance), they came back to it at the end of Season Three. It was as if they wanted Enterprise to get cancelled.

And despite filling up hours and hours of screen time, the TCW plot was so underdeveloped that we never did find out who the Suliban worked for. After four seasons, the super villain jokingly referred to by fans as “Future Guy” was still “Future Guy.”

That’s just good old-fashioned bad writing, folks.

38. SarahJM - December 5, 2009

#1 “Is it a wonder that all those shows are pretty much flops on TV?”

Flops?

I do not think you know what that word means.

39. Cosmo kid - December 5, 2009

Time travel – or not…

I’m fairly confident that
any resurrection on the
ol’ tube will be based with
the Abrams time line.

If incorrect, I’ll go
back in time and
“fix” my post.

40. Hoggzman - December 5, 2009

They should put some time travel in Dr Who…

41. Holger - December 5, 2009

Read Asimov’s The End Of Eternity and Heinlein’s All You Zombies and tell me if anyone can top these time travel stories.

40: LOL

42. Franco - December 5, 2009

Time travel isn’t the bad part. It’s that sometimes the writing is bad. In many cases with Star Trek in the Berman era, the writing was bad. But when time travel stories are written well, they could make every single Star Trek story about time travel and it would work.

43. Crusade2267 - December 5, 2009

Don’t forget Red Dwarf’s Back To Earth this year, in which they escape the TV universe and enter our world, or the Ninja Turtle special where the 1987 and 2003 turtles team up to save the comic book turtle universe…

44. BrummieWhovian - December 5, 2009

Don’t forget – Doctor Who: “Rise of The Cybermen / Age Of Steel”

An example of how alternative universes CAN be done properly.

45. deleted - December 5, 2009

deleted by admin

46. CoolPT - December 5, 2009

#10, that movie was called Time after Time with Malcolm McDowell and David Warner, both who are Star Trek alumns. I just bought that movie on DVD. It was a great movie with cheesy special effects, but great acting. And don’t forget Planet of the Apes, a Time related classic!

47. falcon - December 5, 2009

@28 – Actually, Sherman and Peabody traveled back in time to show kids a cartoony version of a particular invention, or event in history. It was actually a pretty interesting concept, and got people thinking about people like Alexander the Great, or Marie Curie, or Alexander Graham Bell.

And Peabody’s puns were groan-worthy, but priceless.

48. brutus arelius - December 5, 2009

# 1: Yeah, Lost has been an absolute dog of a TV show. No success at all. No wonder it has only been on for 6 years. And Flash Forward is a real dog too. Not at all one of the hottest new drama series on TV. And Fringe has not loyal following. And of course this summer’s Star Trek was a terrible critical and box office flop. Probably no hope at all for any sequel and probably the end of any attempt to ever again bring Trek to the big screen.

49. Eli - December 5, 2009

The Stallone movie Demolition Man was a pretty good movie. Don’t know if it qualifies as time travel since he was just frozen for 25 years and didn’t actually travel through time.

50. S. John Ross - December 5, 2009

#33: “I don’t know about the nay-sayers around here, but some of the best episodes of Star Trek (atleast according to me), dealt with time travel.”

I agree that time travel (and alt-universe) aren’t _inherently_ bad, but they’ve earned their reputation, time and again (ha!) by being a pair of gimmicks that attract lazy writing, simply because, for a lazy writer, these concepts are like a playground of pillows and hammocks for them to laze in. That we’re currently inundated with examples on big screen and small just goes to show (IMO) that in American TV and film, in particular, the corporate culture has come to entirely dominate what happens, because corporate drama is inevitably lazy drama.

#44: Amen.

51. British Naval Dude - December 5, 2009

Arrrrrrrrrrrr…

Time travel… like JJ’s new Starry Trek… changes it all…

Ye’ Final Countdown nuts oot’ thar’… ye’, it be a grand film, but wit’ no payoff o’ Tomcats goin’ aftar’ Zeros…

But still that be tha’ point… history unfolds as a lady disrobin’… sometimes ye’ get a good show and sometimes ye’ see that she has cold, plastic Borg parts where she should have soft parts. But it unfolds as it should. Muckin’ aboot’ wit’ that may never let ye’ get a glimpse o’ breast.

Final Countdown, though a letdown at tha’ end, gives us tha’ lesson that tha’ US had ta’ enter WW2 ta’ stop them thar’ German-boyos. If they had “Mavericked” Zeros down then thar’ would be no (immediate then) US entry in tha’ war, eh? Or we would have a Carrier named tha’ USS Patty Duke?

Oh, me head hurts!

Is thar’ an alternate timeline where Tasha is lickin’ me ears instead o’ Geordi doin’ me laundry? Hey- them be my pants, LaFarrrrrrrrrge!

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

52. British Naval Dude - December 5, 2009

How come Picard nor Kirk never buy a lotto ticket when thrown back in time?

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

53. AJ - December 5, 2009

50:

“Lazy drama?”

I think this thread may be mis-directed somewhat, as time-travel has been used successfully in films and TV these last few decades.

“Back to the Future” brings basic time-travel to the masses in such a perfect way as to be considered by many to be one of the finest genre films ever made. “Terminators” 1 & 2 certainly rank as well.

As Trek fans, we’re inundated with it, for sure. We’ve had classics and duds these past 43 years, and perhaps JJ Abrams’ approach to Trek was to use time travel in ST09 because Trek has historically used it so many times, usually to its advantage.

The “laziness” may be, for example, showing the WTC half a dozen times in “Fringe” to send goosebumps up our spine. We get it already, guys. Otherwise, we’d be watching “Grey’s Anatomy.” Show us the Boston Yankees or a democratic North Korea, and we’ll ‘get it’ again.

A story using time or alternate realities is good or bad on its own merits. Complaining about it is like saying “I’m sick of shows with space aliens in them.” It’s part of our culture’s body of fiction, and always will be,

54. Brett Campbell - December 5, 2009

Interesting article, and as much as I love TOS, let’s remember before using terms like “Star Trek-like time travel,” that the idea of time travel was a science fiction staple long before Trek debuted in ’66.

55. ChristopherPike - December 5, 2009

“Storm Front” from Enterprise’s 4th Season was a lot of fun, I thought… if a completely unsatisfying way to wrap up the Temporal Cold War. An alternate WWII with alien involvement and Nazis in the White House? Very 50′s pulp sci-fi.

I imagine the intent with Future Guy and Silik, was to bring them back after they lay low for a while. Maybe they weren’t actually involved in the TCW and FG was simply using it as a smokescreen. Manny Coto and Brannon Braga pretty much admitted at VegasCon ’09 that the shadowy guy was going to figure into the Romulan War somehow… probably instigating it and switching sides from supplying the Suliban advanced tech, to the Rommies instead.

56. Enterprise - December 5, 2009

52. The Federation doesn’t use money in the future.

57. ryanhuyton - December 5, 2009

Most Star Trek episodes and movies featuring time travel were pretty good. Some episodes are ranked as some of the best overall such as Yesterday’s Enterprise and City On The Edge Of Forever. The Voyage Home, First Contact, and this year’s “Star Trek” proved that time travel can result in a hit movie.

Here are some of my favorite time travel episodes:

Tommorrow is Yesterday
The City On The Edge of Forever
Yesterday’s Enterprise
Cause and Effect
All Good Things…
Past Tense
Trials and Tribble-ations
Far Beyond The Stars
Year of Hell
Timeless
Shockwave
E2
Stormfront

And there were others that wern’t so great such as Endgame. I always thought that episode was a poor man’s All Good Things.

58. Blair - December 5, 2009

You guys forgot about Smallivlle’s current storyline, about trying to prevent an alternate future.

59. Peter N - December 5, 2009

I bet V’s “fifth column” will turn out to be comprised of aliens who have traveled back in time to prevent the disaster that was/will be/would be the aliens colonizing Earth. Heck, they are going to need some sort of macguffin to clean things up, what with that huge fleet closing in!

My head hurts….

60. S. John Ross - December 6, 2009

#53 sez: “I think this thread may be mis-directed somewhat, as time-travel has been used successfully in films and TV these last few decades.”

That was my point in post #29, so I agree, obviously.

““Back to the Future” brings basic time-travel to the masses in such a perfect way as to be considered by many to be one of the finest genre films ever made. “Terminators” 1 & 2 certainly rank as well.”

Agreed, absolutely. Well, except for the “to the masses” part; that part sounds needlessly snooty.

“A story using time or alternate realities is good or bad on its own merits.”

That was my point in post #50 when I said “I agree that time travel (and alt-universe) aren’t _inherently_ bad.” We seem to keep right on agreeing.

“Complaining about it…”

Isn’t something I’ve done, so I’m not sure why you’re directing that comment at me. I did (with co-authors) a frickin’ book celebrating it, for chrissakes :)

61. StarFuryG7 - December 6, 2009

From the above article:
“Any regular TrekMovie reader will know that Star Trek co-writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman did their homework when they set up the alternate timeline in their new film, using time travel to create a point of divergence (the destruction of the Kelvin) and then relying on the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics to set up a parallel timeline/universe. Orci spoke about this at length in an interview here last year, and it was also covered in a follow-up article. ”

To which I reply: Too bad that wasn’t made clear and was in no way definitively spelled out in the actual film itself. On the contrary –the indications from the movie is that the original timeline has been replaced by this new one.

And what Orci says in an interview doesn’t quite constitute canon in and of itself because the movie doesn’t really bear it out.

A clarification that reflects the above article quote in the sequel would sure be nice.

62. Rod of Rassilon - December 6, 2009

//Is it just me, or is Star Trek-like time travel the new thing for TV? //

Hyperbole much?

Dr Who, running since 1963. the whole premiss is that the Dr has a time machine, the Tardis.

Star Trek like time travel, what a joke.

63. fansince66 - December 6, 2009

I just think of the “time-travel/alternate universe” elements in ST 2009 as useful story-telling devices for relaunching the Star Trek Saga (time-travel),but allow for the making of some interesting story-telling changes in the Saga (alternate, or altered, universe).

Not really a “time-travel/alternate universe” story, as such (thankfully).

64. JohnWA - December 6, 2009

57-

Far Beyond the Stars wasn’t really time travel though. I actually would’ve liked it better if it was straight “we went back in time.”

Instead, they turned into an allegory about the Devil. At least that’s not what the follow-up episode – Shadows and Symbols – implies.

It appears to have been a false genetic memory imprinted onto Sisko by the Pah-Wraiths. They wanted to use the disturbing images of racism in 1950s America to make him go insane and keep him from fulfilling his destiny.

65. AJ - December 6, 2009

60:

S. John Ross:

No. I did not direct that comment at you. Not my style.

Over the last year, so many have sighed terribly that ST09 uses time travel, when it’s almost as ubiquitous in Trek as turbolifts.

Look at how many good stories have been written with TT as the premise. If not TT, then the “what if?” maguffin of the week, say, the probe in “Inner Light.”

“For the masses” may be the wrong words. Maybe it’s ‘Fictional Time Travel 101.’ BOTF just makes it so easy to understand, and fun to comprehend. Gotta get my 9 & 7 year old to watch it with me these holidays, I think.

Star Trek does time-travel well. It has allowed the program to explore social issues (COTEOF, Gabriel Bell, Assignment Earth, etc.) and have fun with alternate realities (Yesterday’s Enterprise, as shown, Trials and Tribble-ations, etc.).

66. S. John Ross - December 6, 2009

#65: “No. I did not direct that comment at you. Not my style.”

Fair enough. You were responding explicitly to post 50 at the beginning, but I understand how a post can begin specific and then broaden to a general discussion; I do the same sometime (but that’s why I took it to be directed at me).

“Over the last year, so many have sighed terribly that ST09 uses time travel, when it’s almost as ubiquitous in Trek as turbolifts.”

And when there are so many other things about ST09 worth sighing terribly about.

““For the masses” may be the wrong words. Maybe it’s ‘Fictional Time Travel 101.’ BOTF just makes it so easy to understand, and fun to comprehend.”

Aye. I think Star Trek IV is also a good example of an accessible, audience-pleasing time-travel story good for sharing with the family. It remains the only Star Trek film I’d happily and proudly show random family members, really.

“Star Trek does time-travel well.”

It has done it well, and it has done it poorly. Just as there’s nothing inherently good or bad about a time travel story, there’s nothing inherently good or bad about a story branded Star Trek, and nothing inherently good or bad about the convergence of the two.

67. Jason - December 6, 2009

#48 – you totally don’t sound like me from Grade 8 at all, back when I totally wasn’t sarcastic…

good point though.

ps. the great difference for me (and I know many will disagree) about time travel in Trek 09, compared to previous Trek is that there was no reset. This time travel totally effed things up, permanent like.

68. Jason - December 6, 2009

ps. 61. Uhura says “an alternate reality” after Spock explains that it’s an entirely new chain of events etc. etc. / “whatever we would have been…” To me that’s pretty clear — plus there’s never any talk in the flick of the timeline being fixable.

69. StarFuryG7 - December 6, 2009

Jason, it simply is not very clear, since Uhura’s reference to it being an “alternate reality” in no way stands to indicate that the original timeline has not and is not being undone and rewritten.

Look at it this way: What happens in “City on the Edge of Forever” after McCoy jumps through the Guardian is an “alternate reality” as well, even though we only really get to see pieces of it through Spock’s tricorder once he and Kirk go back to the 1930s to try and stop McCoy from changing history by saving Edith Keeler. The same applies to ST XI, with the obvious difference being that Spock Prime doesn’t go back to when Nero and the Narada emerge from the rift twenty-five years earlier to prevent the ensuing destruction of the Kelvin that results from that time incursion by Nero. And there is NO indication by Spock Prime that the original timeline that he is from still exists.

This movie simply does not spell out and in no way that it’s an alternate universe, whether it branched off from the original Prime universe or not. And Uhura’s use of the term “alternate reality” would still apply even if Spock Prime decided to make it his mission to stop Nero the moment he arrives in the past, prevent the destruction of the Kelvin and the elimination of Vulcan.

I would also point to the Special Features Bonus DVD feature “To Boldly Go,” wherein J.J. Abrams makes very clear that he knew he was wiping out the original timeline, and that this was a serious concern for him when it came time for him to give Nimoy the script to read, because he was afraid Nimoy would turn down participating in the movie for that very reason.

70. Anthony Pascale - December 7, 2009

just to be clear, my point was not that time travel or alternative universes are new in popular culture, it is that in the last couple of years there seems to be a lot of it going on with network TV, which is unusual. I cant think of any time that so many shows on network tv were dealing with time travel.

RE: parallel
I knew this was going to be an issue when i did that interview with Orci a year ago. Orci, who wrote the film, contends that the movie sets up a parallel universe/timeline and that the other one continues. He belives that is conveyed in the film even though they didnt use the world ‘parallel’. It certainly is not stated clearly the other way, so why debate it, that is the way it is.

and in a practical matter, CBS, the owners of Star Trek, will continue to license product from the Prime timeline with stories in game, books and comics set before and after the Kelvin and Jellyfish left. And that is all that really matters because that is the only place the prime timeline is likely to ever exist. The film series is now in the new timeline and any future TV show would likely be in the new timeline, or possibly even in yet another or even a total reboot.

and its pretty pointless to worry about since I can see all my star trek prime timeline dvds and blurays on my bookshelf still

71. StarFuryG7 - December 7, 2009

“just to be clear, my point was not that time travel or alternative universes are new in popular culture, it is that in the last couple of years there seems to be a lot of it going on with network TV, which is unusual. I cant think of any time that so many shows on network tv were dealing with time travel.” -Anthony

Agreed –I’ve noticed it too. It’s hard to miss it actually. I don’t like all the new emphasis on the ‘Many Worlds’ hypothesis though. I have a problem with the theory in general, so seeing it now referenced so freely just kind of rubs me the wrong way.

“RE: parallel
I knew this was going to be an issue when i did that interview with Orci a year ago. Orci, who wrote the film, contends that the movie sets up a parallel universe/timeline and that the other one continues. He belives that is conveyed in the film even though they didnt use the world ‘parallel’. It certainly is not stated clearly the other way, so why debate it, that is the way it is.”

The reason it’s worth debating IMO is that it’s easy to rectify in the sequel with a simple line or two of dialogue, but if people don’t speak up and make an issue of it, obviously Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman won’t care either and will just continue on nonchalantly as though it’s of no real importance, whereas to me, and a lot of other longtime fans in fact, it’s of great importance. And there’s absolutely no reason they couldn’t have been clearer in this film if that’s really what they were intent on conveying to the viewers.

Frankly, I think they want to have it both ways (‘yes the original timeline was erased / no, it wasn’t'), and the film reflects that attitude on their parts.

“and its pretty pointless to worry about since I can see all my star trek prime timeline dvds and blurays on my bookshelf still”

Yeah, but if the implications of the latest movie are that they’ve been erased and wiped out, it takes a lot of wind out of the sails with respect to wanting to sit back and watch one of them, doesn’t it?

72. Anthony Pascale - December 7, 2009

what happened happened. Spock Prime experienced the Prime Timeline. Nothing said or done in the first film or subsequent films can change that. Nothing can be erased. Even if it is vague, there is NO WAY there is any implication that the movie ‘erased or wiped out’ anything and so even if it is grey, you have to go to the creators who have explained over and over. . By the way, i also forgot that the countdown comics also make it clear that the prime timeline exists after the jellyfish leaves, that should be enough.

So often i hear people say ‘all they need to do is put in a few lines of dialog to fix x’ or y or whatever. Well sure, but that assumes something is actually important, which this isn’t. Every page of a script is the equivalent of over a million dollars, every line every word is important.

It seems pretty clear to me that there is a parallel universe thing going on here and last time i checked i was an actual long term star trek fan.

And NOTHING can detract from my enjoyment of watching my DVDs and Blurays. Even if they did a total reboot i would still love them. Even if they explicitly said it was all wiped out I would love watching them. The notion that something that happens in a different movie changes my enjoyment of watching Best of Both Worlds or Balance of Terror is ludicrous.

I seriously feel sorry for anyone who would let something like this actually change their ability to enjoy all that has come before.

73. John from Cincinnati - December 7, 2009

Flash Forward, Lost, Heros are flops?

Where do you get your information?

74. John from Cincinnati - December 7, 2009

72. Anthony Pascale

I agree with you and furthermore I have the reply Bob Orci stated on here when I asked him if the original timeline still existed and here was his response:

“199. boborci – August 15, 2009
Actually, there is a bit of implied evidence that the Prime universe still exists, and that is the fact that Spock Prime does not disappear! Chances that young spock will fall into a black hole 100 years later while being pursued by Nero are VERY SLIM. In a linear universe, therefore, Spock Prime’s presence would likely be affected by changing his past. But it didn’t. Also, he jokes with young Spock about Kirk’s assumptions when he says, “He (KIRK) assumed universe ending paradoxes would ensue…” essentially saying Kirk thought it was all linear time travel, not QMMWI.

From the mouth of the writers of the new Trek explicitly saying the orginal universe still exists.

75. StarFuryG7 - December 7, 2009

“what happened happened. Spock Prime experienced the Prime Timeline. Nothing said or done in the first film or subsequent films can change that. Nothing can be erased.” -Anthony

Of course it can, Anthony –in fact, what happens in this latest movie actually goes against how time travel has traditionally worked in Trek historically. To use “City on the Edge of Forever” again as just one quick example to make the point, Kirk and Spock went back to 1930s Earth to prevent McCoy from changing the timeline the way he did as a result of his saving Edith Keeler from dying in a traffic accident the way she was meant to — if we go by the logic of this latest film in contrast, however, that was folly and there was no point in Kirk or Spock going through the bother of trying to stop McCoy from preventing her death, since the ‘Many Worlds’ theory should also have applied there too, and their original timeline should not have been affected at all, but rather two simultaneous timelines should have existed, in which case, Kirk and Spock need not do anything …supposedly. Yes, the Enterprise was gone, and they needed to get her back, but that shoiuldn’t have been the case either; Kirk and Spock shouldn’t have seen any effects resulting from McCoy’s action in the 1930s.

“Even if it is vague, there is NO WAY there is any implication that the movie ‘erased or wiped out’ anything and so even if it is grey, you have to go to the creators who have explained over and over.”

It doesn’t matter what they explained over and over outside of the film itself. If it’s necessary for them to do that, then what it means is that they didn’t convey their intent properly or well enough in the film itself. And of course the movie implies that the original timeline has been erased as a result of Nero’s actions in the past, or there would have been no point whatsoever for him to have acted in the manner he did by destroying the Kelvin, and/or 25 years later destroying Vulcan as an act of pure spite; at no point in the movie in fact is it pointed out that such actions would be in vain on his part …even the scene where he’s interrogating Pike doesn’t stand to indicate that because Pike is only relaying what he knows from their present rather than Nero’s future.

“By the way, i also forgot that the countdown comics also make it clear that the prime timeline exists after the jellyfish leaves, that should be enough.”

I have it, have read it, and have reviewed it in detail –I can provide a Link to that if you’re interested, however, I don’t believe that Comic prequel constitutes ‘canon’ material. Parts of it are also so terribly written (the Hobus star exploding affects not just Romulus, but also Earth and Vulcan? No way) that it’s difficult to take it as seriously as a Trek episode or movie. It just doesn’t quite measure up despite being somewhat enjoyable.

“So often i hear people say ‘all they need to do is put in a few lines of dialog to fix x’ or y or whatever. Well sure, but that assumes something is actually important, which this isn’t. Every page of a script is the equivalent of over a million dollars, every line every word is important.”

Then they should have done it right the first time, making their intent very clear, which they didn’t, because what they’re saying outside of the film and what the film itself actually conveys are two different things, so the money aspect that you point to in their development of a script is not the problem of the fans really, but rather theirs, although the way they wrote the first script also impacts the fans obviously. And the fans are paying to see the movie, so the expense that goes into the makeup of a script is being compensated anyway obviously, or there wouldn’t be any profit. Furthermore, I hardly believe that eight or ten seconds of screen time, which is all we’re really talking about when you get right down to it, will affect the overall length of the movie all that greatly. This latest movie is two hours and six minutes. It could just as easily have been two hours or two hours and five minutes had they wrote it that way instead –people would still have gone see it regardless, and they still would have turned a nice profit.

“It seems pretty clear to me that there is a parallel universe thing going on here and last time i checked i was an actual long term star trek fan.”

Again –how is it “so clear” supposedly, when there’s nothing in the film that actually attests to that as being the case? Where is it in any way stated through Spock Prime that his world still exists by the end of the movie, for instance, or anything to that affect?

“And NOTHING can detract from my enjoyment of watching my DVDs and Blurays. Even if they did a total reboot i would still love them. Even if they explicitly said it was all wiped out I would love watching them. The notion that something that happens in a different movie changes my enjoyment of watching Best of Both Worlds or Balance of Terror is ludicrous.”

Well, that’s where we see things different then obviously, because this movie relays to me that Pike’s life was radically altered from its original path, and if that’s the case, then I really don’t see the point of watching “The Menagerie” anymore as I’m being told to understand that it no longer applies. The same goes for “The Best of Both Worlds” for that matter –we know Vulcan is longer around in that era, having been wiped out in Kirk and Spock’s time by Nero (‘Countdown Comic notwithstanding), which changes virtually everything about that later period, so since it has in effect been ‘undone’, I see no point in looking at it.

And of course, that could easily have been avoided had Orci and Kurtzman been just a little clearer in their script.

“Even if they explicitly said it was all wiped out I would love watching them.”

If they no longer apply –if they have in effect been effectively wiped out, then seriously, what’s the point? We’re being told they no longer matter after all.

“The notion that something that happens in a different movie changes my enjoyment of watching Best of Both Worlds or Balance of Terror is ludicrous.”

Well, that’s where we’re different obviously. There’s no reason to think that “Where No Man Has Gone Before” will occur …after all, there was no sign of Gary Mitchell in this last movie, and we know the trajectory of Kirk’s career life has been inextricably altered, with him getting command of the Enterprise at least five years earlier than originally in the prime timeline, so watching “Where No Man Has Gone Before” no longer has the same appeal to me in terms of wanting to sit down and watch it. The studio has told me that it is now moot as a result of the implications of ST XI.

To me, that’s not “ludicrous,” but rather malicious, because it shows no real regard for what came before. It makes it valueless.

“I seriously feel sorry for anyone who would let something like this actually change their ability to enjoy all that has come before.”

I’m just pointing out how and why doing so has been rendered pointless. And again, Abrams knew he was doing that, as evidenced by what he states in the “To Boldly Go” Featurette on Disc 2 of the DVD Set, as well as the Blu-ray release. It’s not respectful, but rather dismissive.

And they should know that some people feel that way –it might actually move them to address the situation and do something rather than just ignoring it as though it’s of no concern.

76. Donn - December 7, 2009

Yes, as has been mentioned, Doctor Who was doing time travel (indeed, it’s one of the main concepts of the show) in 1963, and has certainly done its share of Many Worlds. The Third Doctor story “Inferno” comes to mind. A glimpse of an alternate future for Earth was seen in the Fourth Doctor’s “Pyramids of Mars.” And so on and so forth.

I grew up watching Doctor Who on public television, so by the time TNG was doing its time travel stories, it was old hat to me.

77. Anthony Pascale - December 8, 2009

starfury

it is clear you are a lost cause who seems to want to run around with his hair on fire. Regardless of all evidence to the contrary you seem to want to make yourself unhappy. Not sure what else is there to say to you except you are making your own problems

Do remember, that there is not ONE rule for the way time travel works, and as has been pointed out in our science article long ago, there are many ways trek has dealt with it in the past, includine the quantum format.

78. StarFuryG7 - December 8, 2009

“it is clear you are a lost cause who seems to want to run around with his hair on fire.” -Anthony

No, I’m a realist, and my view is based on what is actually in the film itself, that’s all, and I am most certainly not the only person who feels this way concerning the implications of this latest film and its affect on the timeline.

“Regardless of all evidence to the contrary you seem to want to make yourself unhappy.”

All the “evidence to the contrary” to which you refer is not in the film itself, and therein lies this very simple, basic problem, as it relates to how the script was actually written –intentionally I might add.

“Not sure what else is there to say to you except you are making your own problems.”

No, I’m not –Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman actually did that for is in how the movie was written and produced obviously. If I’m supposed to believe that it’s an alternate universe and the prime universe remains intact, why isn’t that conveyed in the movie? Why does Nero act totally in vain if it’s an alternate universe rather than his own prime universe?

“Do remember, that there is not ONE rule for the way time travel works, and as has been pointed out in our science article long ago, there are many ways trek has dealt with it in the past, includine the quantum format.”

And in EVERY one of those instances you mention, the story made abundantly clear exactly what was going on — nowhere did it rely on what a writer said outside of the episode or movie so as to explain to viewers what they were seeing …the scripts for those stories made it very clear. However, that’s not the case with ST XI obviously, and I’m pointing it out and am making an issue of it because I refuse to be an appeaser. I’m standing on principle based on what the movie actually conveys.

79. S. John Ross - December 8, 2009

#78: “Why does Nero act totally in vain if it’s an alternate universe rather than his own prime universe?”

Because structurally, the film is almost literally a farce (which is to say, it depends on unlikely situations driven by foolish errors and misunderstandings for the convenience of the plot, and is also characterized by an accelerating pace and dependence on humor, etc).

You might as well ask why Nero blames Spock for something Spock didn’t do. Because Nero is an idiot, because the contrivances of the story need him to be. Again and again.

80. Gummy - December 8, 2009

Time Travel seldom works in TV and/or Movies.

81. StarFuryG7 - December 8, 2009

“Because structurally, the film is almost literally a farce (which is to say, it depends on unlikely situations driven by foolish errors and misunderstandings for the convenience of the plot, and is also characterized by an accelerating pace and dependence on humor, etc).” -John

I wouldn’t disagree with any of that to be perfectly honest.

“You might as well ask why Nero blames Spock for something Spock didn’t do. Because Nero is an idiot, because the contrivances of the story need him to be.”

Nero’s action was one of pure spite, and I would agree with you that his singling out Spock and blaming him for the destruction of Romulus is far-fetched and ridiculous, especially given that Spock was working diligently to try and prevent that very catastrophe from happening at the time the Hobus star went supernova. (It’s also utterly ridiculous to believe that Romulan scientists wouldn’t have realized that the star was on the verge of exploding well in advance of it happening.) That said, Nero wasn’t rational — he projected his anger over losing his wife, child and world on Spock, and there is indeed a psychological basis for his irrationality and actions. The problem in accepting that premise in this case however is the duration by which it lasts: a quarter of a century, which is ridiculous. Not that Nero wouldn’t have been angry even after all that time about what had happened and the losses he suffered, but a quarter of a century stretches credulity even further given the premise the audience is being asked to accept in that regard. The Deleted Scenes show that Nero spent two decades on the prison planet Rura Penthe, and then one day, after those two decades of working his butt off and sweating profusely every day, he finally acts and breaks himself and his crew free from that wrongful bondage and imprisonment. So he sits in a Klingon prison for two decades just stewing and not thinking of a better way to spend his time, such as looking for a way to help his people and perhaps even save his wife and child being that he was now living in the past. And he knows exactly when Spock is going to emerge from the rift after twenty-five years stuck there so as to chastise and punish him rather than turning to Spock for a possible solution.

The movie has its moments –I enjoyed it to an extent as a popcorn action flick, but it can only be taken so seriously obviously. Clearly the script had serious issues, and if examined in even just a cursory manner it can literally be picked apart.

82. Jack - December 8, 2009

From a story view, why would characters in the next movie, six months or who knows how far from the events in the first, wonder (and theorize) what happened to a timeline that doesn’t exist for them? Okay, they might — over coffee and a chicken salad sandwich or a chess game, wonder about this (and, personally I’d obsess with what could have been and what-would-my-alternate self do, except my alternate self and I wouldn’t ever be in an identical situation) — but how does it help the story? And it’s spilt milk. How long can Kirk go “My dad shouldn’t have been killed, Vulcan shouldn’t have been destroyed, I shouldn’t be captain yet, we shouldn’t have red shirts for a couple more years!”? And how would you write that (the universe still exists) in a way that’s not clunky. Keep ‘em guessing, I say. Why does there need
to be a definitive answer. Spock Prime doesn’t seem to concerned about

alternate timeline, or getting back to the future: he’s concerned with what’s happening now.

83. Jack - December 8, 2009

Ps. I also get that some people are pissed off that the writers would, possibly, erase all that’s come before. Do original bag fans still complain about the reboot? Personally, I really dig that they didn’t just reboot and were really respectful of what others had done before — it’s smart because it opens up so many brand new stories and in a way that works within the existing Trek universe (ie all that still happened, or else Nero and Spock wouldn’t have existed, this is all now brand new, and this why all this looks different…). Rather than just changing things willy nilly (let’s make sulu a hot chick, give Spock tentacles and make all Vulcans really ripped and walk around shirtless because the kids love twilight and Calamari and, er, create a ship called enterprise nx-01 that previously hadn’t existed… Oh, wait), they started it in the universe we love. If it could all be reset, al la endgame, what’s the darned point?

84. StarFuryG7 - December 8, 2009

Jack, with all due respect, you seem to be missing the point.

One could argue that Spock Prime’s actions by letting things stand as is at the end of the movie is very out of character, and clearly, not just arguably, it very much is obviously, which is bad enough.

That aside, however –we’re being told two different things: one from and by the movie itself, and something completely different from the director, his two writers, and even Nimoy on occasion. The film clearly indicates that the past has been and is being rewritten as result of Nero’s incursion and his ensuing actions that disrupt and change the history of the existing timeline. The writers on the other hand are saying No, the original timeline still exists and hasn’t changed, with the problem being obviously, that that’s precisely what the film stands to indicate in contrast.

85. Jack - December 8, 2009

Ps. Lots of typos. IPhone. Sorry.

86. S. John Ross - December 8, 2009

#81: “That said, Nero wasn’t rational — he projected his anger over losing his wife, child and world on Spock, and there is indeed a psychological basis for his irrationality and actions. The problem in accepting that premise in this case however is the duration by which it lasts: a quarter of a century, which is ridiculous.”

Yeah, normally “He’s just crazy-go-nuts!” would be a paper-thin rationale to be pasted into the film in lieu of a more carefully-drawn one, but in this case the time-scale (not to mention the existence of the Narada crew) renders even that shopworn get-out-of-plotting-free card powerless to help hold it together.

“Clearly the script had serious issues, and if examined in even just a cursory manner it can literally be picked apart.”

I do seriously consider the possibility that Abrams made the pace as breakneck as he did for exactly this reason … the plot and character motivations bear no scrutiny, and due to the terms of the Writers’s Strike major changes were out of the question … the only available option was to film and edit it for such breathtaking speed that there’s really no time for the audience to do anything but grab the safety handles and ride it to the end (and no motivation offered for them to look back once it’s done). Bang, laugh, zoom, laugh, BOOM, laugh, credits roll.

A fun time, but I think the pace was as much about necessity as it was about stylistic choice :)

87. Greg2600 - December 8, 2009

In a discussion of alternate universes, you’ve missed the ONLY TV Show that has ever properly covered the concept throughout its run….SLIDERS

88. JohnWA - December 9, 2009

87-

It properly covered it for two seasons any way.

And that was great while it lasted.

By the time Season 3 rolled around, however, Sliders had become as formulaic as the rest of the genre. That was when the Ancient Egyptian Planet, Nazi Planet, Post-Apocalyptic Planet, and the rest of the science fiction cliches started popping up.

89. Jack - December 9, 2009

Good points – I AM kind of going by what I’ve read from Orcis. But going by the film itself alone: Uhura: “an alternate reality” Spock: “precisely” and then, paraphrasing, entirely new chain of events, whatever would has been has changed, unpredictable, yada yada. So, nothing in the film to suggest it isn’t parallel. So, at worst it’s open to interpretation. And, personally, I don’t think Spock’s attitude is necessarily out of character — if, say, he believes there’s no way to fix things, whether the original universe went on as is after he left or not. But his past (memories etc.) hasn’t changed. Maybe? And I realize I
defending Orci et al ad nauseum… So would it matter, to fans, if it all was being rewritten entirely (which is what, in reality, is happening), regardless of disclaimers from the writers or production of new original universe stuff within the franchise? To some it would, and does. If they spelled it all out for us, we”d have a) the Rick Berman years and b) nothing to talk about here.

90. Schiefy - December 9, 2009

@41: Interesting thing about Asimov is that he pretty much debunked the idea of time travel as possible–and then wrote a book using it anyway!

I remember a film from the late 60s called “Journey to the Far Side of the Sun” which falls into the parallel world universe (and, according to Wikipedia, also resembles an episode of Twilight Zone before it). Both stories deal with astronauts landing on a parallel Earth and describes the “discovery” by the astronauts that they have indeed landed on Earth–just not their own. The movie certainly made an impression upon a young teenager at the time and was a contemporary to Trek.

But, as observed earlier, time travel and parallel worlds/alternative time lines are nothing new to written sci-fi or even some of the great classics (A Christmas Carol as cited above). I also imagine many of the shows’ writers owe some measure of inspiration to any of that sci-fi they read (evidence the subtle references in Lost to PDK, for instance–sorry, I haven’t read enough of his works to know if he dealt with this topic but what sci-fi writer doesn’t as evidenced by Asimov, the hard science guy, who couldn’t accept the concept as a possible reality!

91. StarFuryG7 - December 9, 2009

Jack, the reason Uhura’s “alternate reality” line doesn’t mean a thing is because in any Trek story where a change in the past altered the timeline and had to be corrected, the changed period/era was ALWAYS an “alternate reality,” and that was the reason things needed to be fixed. So if Spock Prime decided at the end of ST XI that things needed to be changed back to their original order, without the Kelvin being destroyed by Nero or Vulcan being intentionally blown up, that past where things needed to be corrected would be an “alternate reality” regardless. So I don’t think the “alternate reality” line is open to interpretation actually –it’s meaningless beyond Uhura and Spock describing their present situation at that moment and knowing how and why they got there, as per Quinto/Spock’s explaining it to the bridge crew.

As for Spock Prime thinking it not possible to correct that chain of events, we know from past stories–episodes and movies–that time travel to correct exactly such situations is in fact possible. The original series demonstrated it, and of course, there’s also “ST IV: The Voyage Home”, where they went back in time for the specific purpose of bringing two whales to the 23rd century in order to repopulate the species.

92. StarFuryG7 - December 9, 2009

“I do seriously consider the possibility that Abrams made the pace as breakneck as he did for exactly this reason … the plot and character motivations bear no scrutiny, and due to the terms of the Writers’s Strike major changes were out of the question … the only available option was to film and edit it for such breathtaking speed that there’s really no time for the audience to do anything but grab the safety handles and ride it to the end (and no motivation offered for them to look back once it’s done). Bang, laugh, zoom, laugh, BOOM, laugh, credits roll.” -John Ross

You may be right about the Writers strike affecting their ability to revise their original script, which if correct, is a shame, because the script could have been tweaked in limited ways to make the story more believable without their having to do a major overhaul. You would think Orci and Kurtzman would have done that on their own for the integrity of the project alone.

93. Jack - December 9, 2009

Yep, that’s how it’s worked before. They changed it. A matter of taste, but I like that there’s no reset.

By the way, has anyone come from the future in Trek before, aside from voyager’s finale? Janeway changed the past, on purpose, so she could sleep better at night. Should they have been scrambling to set things right? Was Nemesis etc. not supposed to happen? Start the letter writing campaign! Back to the future! ;)

94. Jack - December 10, 2009

86. I totally agree that the script and movie had troubles. I wrote Roger Ebert an angry “you said it’s great fun so how can you not recommend it!?” email. And yet I pretty much agree with everything he said in his review. I had a great time in the flick, loved the characters, was totally along for the ride/melodrama — but it was pretty darned flawed (Nero etc). Even the best Trek relies pretty heavily on suspension of disbelief — not only the sometimes wonky science and continuity glitches but, at worst, the behaviour of the characters (for example, I never bought TVH because the characters weren’t behaving consistently to what had been previously established, especially their lackadaisical attitude toward interfering with the timeline, a la previous episode). But I really bought this Trek, despite my head going “bad choice” a few times… But I keep harping on the time travel stuff, I guess, because I think the way it was handled (again, no reset) really works dramatically. Or maybe I’m just lazy and like the simplicity — no temporal mechanics headaches…

95. Jack - December 10, 2009

Okay, I’m now going back in time and beating a dead horse. So, going by tos time travel, if Spock Prime (total typo, but I originally wrote Spock Prune) were to fix the timeline, when would he go to? Would he bring the new Enterprise to the Kelvin incident (let’s say getting there a week early and setting up an elaborate distraction so the Kelvin’s not there) and blow up the Narada hopefully and then what? What then happens to the new e in this now-returned-to-original timeline? It’s stuck there, changing the time line. Or Harlan Ellison gets a credit and Spock uses the Guardian… to travel where – to the bridge of the Narada as it appears in front of the Kelvin, with a bomb (and possibly destroying the Kelvin). He can’t go to the original future (and , say, kill Nero as a baby or prevent the destruction of Romulus) because it’s not his future. If they had accidentally killed the jet pilot in that first tos time travel ep, thus leaving them with no home to go back to (which is always the point in these episodes, to get them back to their lives as they know them) travel episode, how would they have fixed it – gone back in time and warned themselves leaving two enterprises to go back to the future, or destroyed ‘themselves’ before they blow up the pilot? Yes, one could write a really elaborate solution, but…? A good time travel episode (despite the reset at the end) was the voyager one where the federation president/70s show dad kept trying to change things to bring his dead wife back, thus wiping out entire civilizations in the process — old Spock is too wise and mellow for that, I suspect…

So, I change my position and say that maybe time travel isn’t necessarily as different in the new flick as I thought…

96. StarFuryG7 - December 10, 2009

Spock Prime is not the character you referenced from that horrible series “Voyager”, Jack. For one thing, he’s governed by science and reason above all else for the most part rather than his own passions, as was the case for the character you mentioned. Again, “City on the Edge of Forever” as one example, shows that Spock knew methodically what was necessary and what to do in order to correct the timeline and repair it. That’s what we’re talking about with “Star Trek” XI also since it being an alternate universe supposedly simply was not made clear in the movie, with viewers instead being led to think and believe that the original timeline has instead been radically altered from its intended trajectory.

As for whether a character ever traveled from the future in Trek, yes, it’s happened. In TNG there was a character named Rasmussen who stole a 26th century ship from its rightful owner back in the time he lived (22nd century New Jersey) and then masqueraded as though he himself was from the future to the crew of the Enterprise D, and of course there was “Future Guy” in “Enterprise,” who was supposed to be from the 28th century I believe.

97. StarFuryG7 - December 10, 2009

I should have mentioned “Crewman” Daneils also by the way, in “Enterprise.”

I take it you didn’t watch that show.

98. Jack - December 11, 2009

No, I know those guys — I guess I meant major characters. And I found Enterprise’s time travel stuff pretty pointless. My poorly-made point is that we haven’t seen our main guys, except Janeway (and Kim and Chakotay) go back in time to fix a bad decision or a catastrophe. The times in tng and tos that they’ve had to fix things is, I think, because they, or someone else, screwed things up by travelling back in time — and they’ve fixed things in real time (making sure McCoy doesn’t save Edith Keeler, making sure the Phoenix launches, and in tvh it was to fix the present). Doing what Janeway did just seemed really dishonest (and, as a story, a cheat). And maybe I just like this new universe and would like them to stick to it. What would be the point of fixing it all? We’d have no more jj-verse movies? We could really debate this forever – and then go back in time and do it again.

99. StarFuryG7 - December 11, 2009

“And maybe I just like this new universe and would like them to stick to it. What would be the point of fixing it all? We’d have no more jj-verse movies?” -Jack

Nonsense –all they’d have to do is clarify that it’s an alternate universe and not the prime universe in the sequel, and they could do that very easily in just a couple of sentences, taking virtually no time whatsoever away from the plot of the next movie.

And since Abrams, Orci and Nimoy have been saying for the last year now in interviews that it is in fact an alternate and different “Many Worlds” universe, based on the “Many Worlds” theory of quantum mechanics rather than the prime universe we already know, they should have no problem whatsoever codifying that in the sequel, should they? Unless of course their game is to say it in interviews only, without ever actually establishing it in one of their movies, which if that’s the case, means they’re simply playing games and are screwing with their audience in my humble opinion.

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