Reflections On 10 Years of Trek-less TV

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Once a franchise has been around as long as Star Trek – and seen so many highlights – the opportunity for milestones multiply like Tribbles on their honeymoon. 2012 was the 25th anniversary of TNG. 2013 was the 20th anniversary of DS9. This year is the 20th anniversary of VOY. Next year is the 50th anniversary of TOS.

BUT TODAY is actually a milestone of a low-light: the 10th anniversary since a new episode of Star Trek aired on TV.

On May 13, 2005, UPN aired the final episode of Enterprise (These Are They Voyages …). The reception to the episode at the time and its legacy since then have not been particularly warm, with Brannon Braga describing it as “crappy,” Jolene Blalock calling it “appalling,” and Jonathan Frakes saying it “stinks.”

The primary criticism is that by shoe-horning it into a TNG story, it made for a terrible ENT finale, which is true. But it wasn’t what the episode was supposed to be – the preceding two-parter (“Demons” and “Terra Prime”) finished ENT, fitting the modern Trek model of ending series with two-parters.

Rather, “These Are The Voyages…” was the finale for the unprecedented 18-year run of 600+ hours of a single TV franchise. And regardless of people’s reaction to the episode, honestly tell me you didn’t get a bit of a lump in your throat with this final montage of the three Enterprises:

I just wish they’d had Avery Brooks and Kate Mulgrew recite a line as well.

The question for the last 10 years of course has been: was “These Are The Voyages…” the final episode of that run OR was it the final episode of Trek on TV ever.

The hunch that many people have now is the studio will “wait and see” how the third Abramsverse movie does and go from there. If that makes tons of money, we’ll probably just get more movies. If it only does so-so, there’s hope that the franchise will get “demoted” back to TV.

Which really leaves people like us in a weird situation: we all want Trek 3 to be good, but we want it to do badly enough that we get another TV show.

I have gone on at length about how impossible it would be to bring Trek back to TV, but keep in mind that the TV landscape is much different now than it was in 2005, when Trek was still following the decades-old model of “get as many episodes as possible into syndication.” I am worried that the powers that be are still stuck in this model.

Because Trek should not return to TV – in the format we’re accustomed to.

Quality has long since overtaken quantity on TV. The prestige-format of modern TV, led by HBO then replicated by basic cable and now Netflix, is to take your time doing 10 to 13 good episodes of a series per year (rather than rushing out 20 to 26).

Moreover from a “thinking outside the holobox” standpoint, Trek could be resurrected as a cartoon again (as our friend John Champion at Mission Log has pointed out) – which would easily allow actors from previous series to reprise their roles in any time period. Trek could be reiterated in TV mini-series or made for TV movies like Babylon 5 did. Maybe an anthology series, where each season you recast the same actors in different roles like on American Horror Story (parallel universes, anyone?). Or high-concept video games with quality voice talent like the Batman: Arkham series.

Or a webseries of short films. Given the popularity of fan-produced movies, the easiest thing from a creative standpoint would be to create a Star Trek scholarship program and just let us do the work.

Obviously Trek’s business interest going to make a decision based on what is most profitable, which we shouldn’t begrudge them. What’s so teeth-gnashingly frustrating is that – from a business perspective – the profitability of a TV show or a movie or a web series is inconsequential compared to the profitability of Trek merchandising, which people will spend more money on the more excited they are about the property.

For example, when it was announced that Spider-Man would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, rather than continuing to appear in stand-alone films produced by Sony, sales of the web-slinger’s merchandise spiked – and note that in 2014 Spider-Man was already worth $1 billion.

Money is being left on the table by letting Star Trek lay fallow during this era of fandom explosion – especially given the inevitable trickle down that will come from renewed interest in the Star Wars franchise this year. It’s like one old country doctor said, “If you’re gonna ride in the Kentucky Derby, you don’t leave your prize stallion in the stable.”

So on this 10th anniversary of Trek sailing off the airwaves, raise a glass of Saurian brandy or synthehol or Romulan ale. And when it finally returns – in whatever format – we’ll all be able to say, unironically, that “it’s been a long time, getting from there to here / it’s been a long time … but my time is finally here.”

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Time doesn’t fly. It warps.

Easily the best Enterprise theme song references I’ve read. Nice piece Jared. :)

Star Trek needed to be off tv for a decade. The series had over saturated the market. Both the tv franchise and film series had grown stale.

I think Star Trek could still benefit from a few more years away from tv and allow Abrams and Company more time to grow the film franchise. They saved the series. I’d hate to go back to tv and make less than mediocre tv shows (every thing post TNG) that the general public couldn’t care less about.

I for one would much prefer to see the further adventures of Kirk and Spock on the big screen and from the box office returns so would the vast majority of people/fans.

I want no rehash. I want something new & modern, returning to stories that embrace a positive outlook about the future. Roddenberry stories. 100 years after voyager.

I am with Voodoo on this, I want GOOD Trek back on TV but I don’t want to harm what we have now in HOPES that somehow haming the Moives will incentivise CBS to make a TV Series it infact may do the Opposite….

*Harming is what I meant to say…

I have been watching Enterprise it has been 10 years since I have seen it. I am enjoying it so far. Sure, some of it is not great, but I find it easier to follow than the reboot Trek. I hope we will soon have some Star Trek on tv. A new ship, in the Star Trek Enterprise B time frame. I think we could have a good Star Trek with another ship. Perhaps if Joss Whedon is on a break from the Avengers he could give us a good Star Trek. Good Star Trek would have to be different than what we have seen. Every show now days is dark, and shows crumbling humanity, it would be nice to see something good again. Star Trek inspired me as a kid to do good, it inspired many people. People need to be inspired again.

Ne’er a true word was spoken ! We all know where the profits have gone .. Into the pockets of the hotshot Executives at Viacom – What did Ye say Laddie ?! Say it again , please , for the Readers ! Ah , I feel better !
Enterprise never seemed finished . Various excuses like a declining audience or running costs were too high . Ten years later , and other Scifi Franchises are thriving . All you need is a small group of quality writers and decent actors , and it’s a Go !
It reminds me when buying a car , especially that turbocharged Italian Stallion , just out of reach . But if you hold your breath , you can afford it in a few months . Except for your Lady-love who needs help to buy her Chrysler sportster ?! You know the Story ! Well that was Enterprise – never finished , and ended being the sad farewell to the Star Trek Saga !
So now we can desperately hope it continues in a cartoon series .

The fifth season finale of Babylon 5 was FAR superior to These Are The Voyages as it felt more like a reflection after the formation of the Interstellar Alliance and how everything lead up to that point. I’m sure there must have been a reason for Riker choosing the formation of the UFP and Trip’s pointless death to convince Riker to tell Picard over his involvement with the Pegasus, but in every way it felt forced and failed to show any connection between the 2. And it felt more like a self-absorption of the Federation rather than leading up to either Star Trek. Recreating the final days of the NX-01 before it got mothballed and how it lead to the Federation probably would have been more effective if Tom Hardy playing a young Jean-Luc Picard reviewing history and trying to understand why Trip took that kind of action with his friend Walker Keel. And even that sounded crappy. Probably a 134 year old Jonathan Archer reflecting upon how everything led up to this point as he saw the Enterprise being built at either the San Fransisco shipyard or the Riverside shipyard seeing the construction of the USS Enterprise with Robert April (not necessarily a white guy despite The Counterclock Incident) watching as well, or even a 157 year old T’Pol with less grey than Spock did in 2387 due to her being a full Vulcan. Yeah, it lack of reflection and the overpowering self-absorption of the UFP flag that is… Read more »

Some are not getting any younger so I vote to TREK-FORWARD! (dammit)

I loved Enterprise, even though DS9 and Voyager will always be my personal favorites, with TNG as the epitome of Star Trek and TOS as the show that started it all. But Enterprise was great too. They cut it short and ended it before it’s time. The finale though was awful, just truly horrible.

I love the JJverse Trek too. There a few problems, but name any Trek series without some problems. And for those complaining about them being action movies, would you mind telling me just what genre WoK and FC are in along with almost every other ST movie?

Ultimately, I believe Star Trek belongs on tv, not the big screen. That’s not to say that some of the movies aren’t great. It’s just the tv shows are much much greater. I don’t care how they make new tv shows (or internet shows if they are a decent length and quality). I just want Star Trek back on the small screen. It’s been ten years, and that is ten years too long. It’s time to boldly go…

Trek belongs back on TV, now more than ever since so much good dramatic writing is being done there. At least on cable and other non-network outlets.

I always love to see new Star Trek.

Among the things I recall which hooked me on the original future-set ‘Star Trek’ when I was younger, was the terrific look of the ship, bridge and crew uniforms to begin with.

Along with the excellent theme tune, these were the main things that distinctively made the show so good-looking to begin with, even before a single storyline was told. The show was colorful, and it’s crew looked instantly appealing to watch, regardless of how episodes turned out.

Hopefully, any new show would have some worthwhile stories and plotlines to tell, of course…but whether it’s brought back as a mini-series or other format, I just hope the main elements of it’s ‘production design’ can be instantly appealing once again.

Compared to the graceful lines of the original iconic design, the ship seen in ‘Star Trek Enterprise’ was especially disappointing…and a ‘boilersuited’ crew wasn’t such a great look either. And don’t even get me started about the theme the makers went with in this instance…

I hope any new show will up it’s game on those fronts to begin with, before a single line is written.

If the third Abramsverse movie fails they’ll probably just put the franchise “on ice” again.

I think the “Star Trek is tired” mumbo-jumbo is just that. Series 4 was some of the best Trek ever produced, though it had to recover from two seasons of crap and the resulting no-one caring after that (as well as spotty UPN geographical coverage).

Trek needs ultra-dedicated people once again to run the franchise, just as Lucasfilm has for SW. Fan-relations, merchandising, cartoons, etc—these are all areas which have been inexplicably ignored by CBS…they are seemingly afraid to make money off of something which has been a reliable property for 50 years, and which would absolutely boom today if managed properly on TV and in other forms of media.

Sell Star Trek to Disney, please!

I loved the ending; that was a fitting end scene!

It was roughly 13 years from the last animated Trek episode to the first TNG. While the enormity of TNG-ENTERPRISE is something to regard in marvel, it is a little premature at 10 years to hold that as some milestone that’s never been passed before in a span of Trek-less TV.

Seems like yesterday, I hope we get it back someday but it will never be the same style.

It was roughly 13 years from the last animated Trek episode to the first TNG. While the enormity of TNG-ENTERPRISE is something to regard in marvel, it is a little premature at 10 years to hold that as some milestone that’s never been pa$$ed before in a span of Trek-less TV.

STID, aka The Rape of Khan, has removed my faith in the JJverse. I like the cast. But I don’t think JJ “gets” Trek, and he is far more interested historically in Star Wars. With news that the studio wants another Guardians of the Galaxy, and Simon Pegg being a very unknown quantity in writing the script, I would just as soon see another TV series. I loved Enterprise. It was the second best series after TOS. TNG lapsed into boring jaw jaw jaw instead of war war war. Hopefully a TV series would bring back dramatic conflict with exploration a la Enterprise. If only we could clone Robert Justman and Gene Coon’s DNA, we might have something. Alas.

“Star Trek” deserved to be off TV for 10 years.

The concept is ready to be dusted off and refreshed by new people.

I’ll watch if it comes back.

New live action Star Trek hasn’t been seen on television since 1969.

Here’s a thought. If we want Star Trek back on TV. We can put it on ourselves. Yes, CBS owns the property that’s true but Star Trek belongs to the fans. The fan made properties have taught me what is capable when people put want to do something. CBS doesn’t seem to get it and for whatever reason are employing lots of imagination in not getting it. The Trek-verse is big and the opportunity for great characters and unknown stories is in front of us. I’m proposing doing it on a premium level like any other premium show. With premium actors, directors, solid writers etc. Perhaps we set up a site that goes after several Trek scenarios, past, present and unforeseen in various formats between live action and animated or unforeseen. Today’s business models have been erected to put the power back in the creators hands. Kickstarter supports this. The fan series quality has improved because of initiative and desire to see Trek again. Of course it means the fans have to have imagination as well and not be Trek historians to the point of constraint. The world has changed. The series shouldn’t depend on the movies. If CBS can’t step up. ####em. Let the fans come together and get it done. Remember the letter writing campaign anyone.

Writing. Characters. Themes. Not fistfights, cg & ‘splosions.
Would love to see a really great tv series.

While I’m offering solutions. What would a Chris Nolan inspired Trek be like. Where we see today’s realistic events inspire the start of the Federation. End global starvation, get rid of the financial system and step up to World Peace. Show us building realistic ships like or shuttle that evolve into the Enterprise at some point. Nolan has a real knack for grounding his inventions in realism with human characters.
One of the coolest Khan stories I saw on the web was Khan in our time (well 90’s that is) and escaping to the future. Great idea needing a great execution.

As far as merchandising goes where is the coffee table book of all the ships, uniforms, phasers etc. Hard model and digital images like George Lucas’s amazing books. Where are the collected scripts from previous episodes. There is so much Star Trek merchandise but not always the quality you want. Not like Star Wars. It’s like PC versus Apple. Just thoughts meant to inspire.

Technically it should be a lot easier to bring Trek back to TV now than at any time in the past. Look at the resurgence in superhero TV shows, showing that genre TV can still work, and which are benefiting from new visual effect technologies. Aliens can be made to look properly alien using the kind of technology which allows Mark Ruffalo to play the Hulk or Andy Serkis to play Gollum. We know that whole sets can be built digitally, as in Avatar or Gravity. We know that big name actors are falling over themselves to get onto TV shows, and that well-made revivals of popular TV from days gone by (such as Doctor Who) have a ready-made audience and gain new ones quickly. Great writers are writing for TV about interesting topics, looking at character depth and morality, which suits Trek. Trek has already been ‘reinvented’ for film, so we’ve already been through that process and it won’t be as hard if someone comes in and starts again. But time is needed to make a separation from the classic series, so that there is enough space for reconsideration and reflection. Trek has done this before – look at the first movie, or the second movie, or TNG, or DS9. I think a high-quality Trek series, with great writing, great effects, a series-long arc with complex interacting storylines, would be awesome. Maybe its wishful thinking, but it seems a lot closer than it did even 5 years ago.

Waiting for Star Trek Secret Wars where the JJ universe is obliterated.

19. Jonboc

You can go back into your cocoon now, old man.

13. AJ –

“Trek needs ultra-dedicated people once again to run the franchise, just as Lucasfilm has for SW. Fan-relations, merchandising, cartoons, etc—these are all areas which have been inexplicably ignored by CBS…they are seemingly afraid to make money off of something which has been a reliable property for 50 years, and which would absolutely boom today if managed properly on TV and in other forms of media.”

I remember some years ago the Battlestar Galactica reboot being heralded on the cover of Time magazine as “The Best Show On Television”. While I certainly don’t want a Trek show that’s a copy of BG it simply cannot be impossible for a new Trek show to be made that would be considered by the general audience and fans alike a great television show.

Yes the franchise sorely needs dedicated and talented guidance.

I disagree with those who says Trek (1)3 failing will bring the franchise back to TV. If anything, it’s failure will just tell CBS (who own the TV rights, not Paramount) that there’s no market. Keep in mind that it was the amazing success of Trek 4 that led to TNG. Had Trek 4 made as much as it’s predecessors TNG likely would never have happened. If anything, Trek (1)3 needs to be a MONSTROUS success and prove theres a market for expansion in order for the franchise to return to TV.

Unfortunately, I don’t see Star Trek coming back on TV anytime soon. Hopefully someone like Netflix takes an interest in Trek, but it would have to be done on a much tighter budget…something that they may not be able to pull off.

CBS should consider backing a web series like Star Trek Continues.These folks are able to do magic on a shoestring budget. It would bring new interest in TOS and really boost merchandising.

As soon as the truefans learned the setting of a new series, the whining would start right up. There are far more important strikes against it, too.

It’s not coming back to tv.

@ 23. Jonboc,

“New live action Star Trek hasn’t been seen on television since 1969.”

I second what Anthony Thompson said, you should go back to your cave, grandpa!

I don’t see a problem of having both the TV series & movies in the same time. They don’t need to be about the same crew or even be in the same timeline.

Disney is planning multiple SW movies as well as a TV series. Fox is doing the same with the X-Men franchise.

@27. Andrew Porter,

“I think a high-quality Trek series, with great writing, great effects, a series-long arc with complex interacting storylines, would be awesome. Maybe its wishful thinking, but it seems a lot closer than it did even 5 years ago.”

Agreed. TV landscaped changed so much from 2005. It could be done with the right team & a short season.

And lets not forget the current trend of reviving TV series like The X Files, 24, Heroes & Twin Peaks. It is makes perfect sense for CBS to revive Star Trek in 2016.

I’m one of those that believes the Trek format is fundamentally better suited to the small screen. I would love to see what a new writing and production team could accomplish.

STE went in the wrong direction chronologically . It try to rewrite the beginning , instead of continuing the story. It involved alien races the Pike and Kirk had never seen , and thus screwed up the timeline . I think Brandon Braga might have done this on purpose , to anger the fans and slam the door in the franchise . Of course, this was a risk because now that people see what he did , his is the biggest blame .

I thought “Star Trek” was cancelled in 1969. LOL

I love how the old-timey fans try to point to the successful movies instead of the complete and utter failure of The Next Generation and Enterprise in sales as the reason for no series.

With all the social issues in the world today, I believe we NEED Star Trek back on television. We need a show that can take on modern day problems under the guise of Sci-Fi just like TOS did in the 60’s. Not to preach or pander, but to play out both sides of an argument and engage the viewer to think for themselves to come up with their own stance and opinion.

I agree with most folks here that the show should take place post-Voyager (preferably a century or so after), and should have fresh new characters. I also think shortened seasons with some serial aspects would be interesting as well.

I’d love to see a new series with the heart of TOS, with a 21st century sensibility. The world is missing a positive television show. Everything now is so dark and gritty. We need something that promotes hope in this world. A show that showcases the best in humanity – not the worst.

Under no circumstances do I want to see a cartoon Star Trek, though.

It’s about time all Trek Licences are being hand over to VoD Networks. TV is dead!!! A VoD based Trek would be far more successfull because the true interest of people could really be measured rather than in a time-schedule based programm.

Trek needs the freedom to be watched and produced for the right circumstances!

“unprecedented 18-year run of 600+ hours of a single TV franchise”

It’s not unprecedented, since other shows have run longer than that.

I’d gladly welcome a new Trek TV show, as long as it was nothing like Voyager. That show had the worst cast of all Trek series. In my opinion, only Picardo, Ryan, Russ and Philips were great in their roles. Everyone else on that show was either a decent actor who was miscast (Mulgrew, Dawson and McNeill), or else just a poor actor (Beltran, Wang, Lien, Pomers and especially Intiraymi).

40)

Precisely. Does nobody in fandom read Forbes? Or even Variety? There are actually a number of sources available which clearly explain why CBS and Paramount continually make decisions which run contrary to fannish delusions.

Chief delusion being that failed movies lead to enthusiastic revivals of old tv shows which spawned said movie.

The only good thing about that final episode was the final shot of the three captains reciting the preamble. If I were to nitpick, I’d say Stewart had one line too many.

But was very happy they didn’t go the PC route use “…where no MAN has gone before” as opposed to the ridiculous “one”.

@ 43. Leon,

“Chief delusion being that failed movies lead to enthusiastic revivals of old tv shows which spawned said movie.”

Funny, this is exactly what happened with The X Files & Twin Peaks!

“The X-Files: I Want to Believe” was a big failure, yet Fox is reviving The X Files in a limited series.

“Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me” was another major failure, and Showtime is reviving the show next year.

If they don’t get more Trek out by 2017; Eaglemoss will run out of ships to model.

Don’t let this happen!

Speaking of reviving old shows, “Lost in Space” is also coming back.

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‘Lost In Space’ Series Reboot In Works At Legendary TV With ‘Dracula’ Writers

http://deadline.com/2014/10/lost-in-space-reboot-dracula-writers-legendary-tv-848901/

Say what you will about Enterprise… I miss the hell out of that show.

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