Shuttle Pod 29: The Five Ages of Star Trek

The Star Trek franchise has certainly changed over the course of its five-decades long existence. This week, the Shuttle Pod crew attempt to classify each “age” of Trek, in the style of the classical Ages of Man (as is done in comic books: golden age, silver age, etc). And, to do it, we use TrekMovie editor Jared Whitley’s series of articles, “The Five Ages of Star Trek” as a guide.

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Follow along as we dissect Star Trek through the ages and argue about where to draw the lines set by Jared in his original series of articles, “The Five Ages of Star Trek”.


Golden Age: 1966 to 1976
The Dilithium Age

Start: Sept. 1966 (Man Trap)
End: Sept. 1976 (NASA names shuttle Enterprise)
Episodes: 101 – 79 (TOS), 22 (TAS)
Movies: 0

tos_dilithium_chamber


Silver Age: 1977 to 1986
Transparent Aluminum Age

Start: May 1977 (Star Wars)
End: Dec. 1986 (Shatner hosts SNL)
Episodes: 0
Movies: 4

tmp_birth


Bronze Age: 1987 to 1996
Latinum Age

Start: Sept. 1987 (Farpoint)
End: Nov. 1996 (First Contact)
Episodes: 340 – 178 (TNG), 108 (DS9), 54 (VOY)
Movies: 4

bridgeandcrew


Iron Age: 1997 – 2005
Polarized Hull-plating Age

Start: Jan. 1997 (Star Wars special edition)
End: May 2005 (These are the voyages …)
Episodes: 284 – 68 (DS9), 118 (VOY), 98 (ENT)
Movies: 2

voyages3


Modern Age: 2006 – 2016
Vreenak Age

Start: July 2005 (Vreenak meme drops)
End: July 2016 (Beyond)
Episodes: 0
Movies: 3 

150226173956-07-leonard-nimoy-restricted-super-169


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If I wanted to nitpick (and I think I do) I would change the “Bronze age” to ending in 1995. 1996 is the start of the next age, I think, as First Contact is the first movie without any of the original cast, it debuted the new Enterprise, it was the year they introduced the new uniforms, and it was the season they added Worf to DS9, too (technically at the tail end of 95, but close enough)

Just feels like a cleaner separation if ’96 is the beginning of the next age rather than the close of the previous.

Torchwood, Re: nitpick Overall I think Jared did pretty well but we are here to pick nits: Personally I would have emphasized the import of STAR TREK, a television series, by dividing the Ages of STAR TREK along important milestones in the shows. But if you are visiting a site called “TrekMovie” and they keep calling it “the franchise” then I’d have expected clear divisions along the movies. Instead, the first Age covers the television, as I would have expected, and then he starts the next Age with STAR WARS, of all things, and continues with film demarcation (either start or end) to today. Now, using that other “franchise” might have set better with me if Jared had bothered to include how the two have been clearly quantum entangled from that Lucas film’s start as Lucas has said in many interviews on the importance of STAR TREK to his conceptualization of STAR WARS — a quote or two from the man on that would have been nice. Jared brings up GALAXY QUEST without mentioning that SPACEBALLS came into its own on DVD around the same time: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Spaceballs#Spaceballs missing another opportunity to not only to add to his deconstructionist contention but to compare and contrast to that STAR WARS thing he introduced, and contribute more along entanglement lines because while SW made money in that Age many regard that the SW product experienced a declined as well. I think if you are going to go with film demarcations then the Dilitihium/Transparent… Read more »

Generally I think the ages he picked worked for me, aside from my ONE nitpick. 1966-1976 is a neat 10 year period, and so he had to come up with SOMETHING that happened in 1977– hence Star Wars, and its relation to reinvigorating Trek.

But I agree with you, and I think sticking to the even 10-year mark was a mistake. Should have been:

1966-1978 (TV/Syndication) – 12 years
1979-1986 (movie era) 7 years
1987-1995 (TNG era) – 9 years
1996-2005 (SPINOFF era) -10 years
2006-2016 (Abrams Era) – 11 years
2017- (Discover Era)

Pardon my year numbering, which is off in a couple of places. Should have been 13 and 8 for the first two.

Thinking about it more, 1994 should have been the end of the TNG Age, with the release of Generations.

1995 should have been the beginning of the Spinoff Age, as Voyager debuted in January of that year.

In researching the air dates, too, it’s interesting to note that the episode of DS9 to air 3 days after Generations’ release was “Defiant” guest-starring Jonathan Frakes. Just as Unification aired right after the release of ST6… the latter of which I remembered, the former of which I had not!

Wow, looking at the Abrams era being 11 years, the second longest of any of the eras, implies some kind of achievement which I don’t think it can claim, and undermines the value of Berman era significantly, as well as the original movie era. Abrams era has spanned 11 years in no small part to dragging its heels. 3 movies in 11 years? The original film series managed 6 during that same time period. Not only that but 1966 through at least 2000 was a period of great growth for Trek in general. The Abrams era has been struggling to do much outside of the box office, and if anything, has seen Trek enter a decline after an initial burst of a revival in 2009. That’s a pretty big distinction.

Curious Cadet,

Re: …Abrams era being 11 years…

How did you come up with THAT number? Did I skip over a few years somehow? Hasn’t it only been 8 years?

Curious Cadet,

Re: …Abrams era being 11 years…

Sorry, apparently, I DID enter a BF moment. How did I forget what the demarcations were?

Torchwood, I see what you did there and yes, we agree. And your breakdown gels more for me. But I remind you, here’s what the Tenutos say the newspaper accounts reflect on the beginnings of the movie era and is as I recall it: http://www.startrek.com/article/did-star-wars-success-spur-paramount-to-go-on-sttmp ”By 1975, two years before STAR WARS was on the popular culture radar, STAR TREK was announced as a motion picture. A Bridgeport Post article from March 28, 1976, discusses that although Gene Roddenberry’s script (which we now know as THE GOD THING) was not accepted by the studio, a film was being planned and budgeted at $5 million dollars. Because of the work of the Reeves-Stevens and others, we know this is the film would have been STAR TREK: PLANET OF THE TITANS… written by Chris Bryant and Allan Scott, and directed by Philip Kaufman. A May 2, 1977, article by Los Angeles Times reporter Ronald Soble is very important. It shows that 23 days before the premiere of STAR WARS, the STAR TREK film is placed on hold. The article, titled “Trekkies Will Have to Wait A While for Movie” reveals that the script needs reworking. By June, the film is cancelled (after STAR WARS had become a blockbuster). A June 23, 1977, AP article appearing in local papers like the Hagerstown, Maryland The Morning Herald, actually argues for the idea that STAR WARS played a role in cancelling, not creating, a STAR TREK film. Gene Roddenberry is quoted in the article as… Read more »
I’m really frankly not interested in the connection between Trek and SW. I don’t even see why it is an important now in dividing the ages of Trek. I think the OP wanted neat 10 year periods, despite the fact that comic book ages (the concept he cited as the origin for breaking down Trek ages) were not even decades at all. Ages in comics are generally marked by MILESTONES not a neat grouping of years. In every case, they’re marked by something new and different that alters the state of comics for a long period: Golden age (1938)- First Appearance of Superman Silver Age (1956) – First Appearance of the 2nd Flash (Wally West) Bronze Age (1975) – Death of Gwen Stacy Modern Age (1985) – Publication of Watchmen/Dark Knight Returns I’m still kind of astonished that the “Modern” age is still going. I feel like we need to establish the modern age as ending in 2000-2005, perhaps with the publication of Avengers Dissassembled in 2002, or the publication of Ultimate Spider-Man in 2000. I would then retitle the 1985-2000 age, “The Platinum Age.” But to the point about Trek, it feels more like the OP wanted those neat 10 year periods, because not all of his era’s were marked by a landmark release. How is First Contact the END of an era, and not the beginning? And your point, why is the release of another franchise’s movie the determining factor in marking the beginning of a Trek age?… Read more »

Torchwood,

Re:..not interested in the connection between Trek and SW

Me neither, I was more interested in the history of the Trek movie productions that its debunking research produced.

But their article’s SW side did have the benefit of pointing out for others, other than ourselves, that SW probably killed a Trek movie more than stimulated one’s production and my point that if SW has to be dragged into it then it should be done the other way around: pointing out that STAR TREK gave much to STAR WARS in inspiring the Trekker Lucas.

Phillip Kaufman who was heavily into the squelched Trek film’s development and Lucas’ friend says Lucas tried to get the right to make a Trek movie. Lucas lore mentions a tremendous effort in attempting to acquire FLASH GORDON but the ST/SW angle makes more sense in light of the Kaufman revelation.

Re: Why am I obsessing over this?

Eh, it’s a fun way to introduce a bit of fun into a cold rainy winter’s day for me.

While I am obviously lobbying for a 75/76 beginning to the TMP Movie Era, especially since Paramount’s accounting apparently dumped all those other stalled projects’ costs on its ledger, I can’t really fault your ’79 as that’s what immediately came to my mind when Jared wrote the first Age article.

Ya’ done good [sic].

I don’t know, I still feel like the beginning of an age– of any kind– should be marked by a big momentous incident/happening/occurrence/etc. Nothing Trek related happened in 1975.

While behind-the-scenes stuff may have been going on, for the most part, the general public and most fans mostly had no idea. Likewise, we all agree 1987 is the beginning of the TNG age, but if we went by behind-the-scenes stuff, we could say it goes as far back as late 1985, when Paramount started exploring the idea of a new Trek series.

Btw, I also despise that the “iron age” of Trek (above) is marked as beginning with the SW Special Editions. Like… wtf… any connection is tenuous at best.

Torchwood,

Re: the beginning of an age– of any kind– should be marked by a big momentous incident/happening/occurrence/etc.

Ok, so what was the BIG momentous film thing in 2006 that marked the Abrams’ Age start?

In the grand scheme of things, the ONLY thing I could think of was the splitting of STAR TREK across Paramount and CBS which to me hardly seems more momentous than the death of Desilu and Paramount inheriting STAR TREK to begin with?

Exactly– upon closer retrospection, as I noted above, I amended so that 2009 is the start of the Abrams era.

TV Age (1966-1978) – Started by TOS Airing
MOVIE Age (1979-1986) – Started by TMP release
TNG Age (1987-1994) – Started by TNG airing
SPINOFF Age (1995-2008) – Started by Voyager Airing
KELVIN Age (2009-2016) – Started by ST09 Release
DISCOVERY Age (2017-Present) – Started by DSC release

Torchwood

Re: Exactly

But of course. However, I was hoping Jared might shed some light on why the Modern age starts in 2006 [sic]. For that matter, why does the Vreenak Age start in 2005 [sic]? Solely because that’s when the meme occurs?

I would hazard a guess and say modern starts in 2006 to him because it’s the year after Enterprise was cancelled. So rather than start an age with a positive landmark, as I would favor, he’s beginning this one on a negative event. Bad choice, in my opinion. While the cancellation was sort of the end of an era (colloquially) for TV trek, it also wasn’t the beginning of Abrams Trek either!

By that logic, why not end TOS era in 1969, and start the movie era in 1970?

I would prefer it if the logic of age separation were at least consistent, even if I disagree with it.

Torchwood,

Re: I would prefer it if the logic of age separation were at least consistent, even if I disagree with it.

Yep, me too. And I feel we’ve (mostly my fault) spent too much effort on patching up that STAR WARS…how did Alexander Courage put it? Oh yes,… marvelous malarkey.

The Star Trek I cared about died with the nineties. I’m actually just realizing that that may be it for me, I mean if Discovery is going to be in the line of the nonsense they slapped “Star Trek” on in the last 15 years, then I think it’s official, for me Star Trek was over in 2001.

Star Trek has really come alive for me since 2009. Before that it was just decade after decade of the same old boring crews sitting on their ships talking to various bumpy headed aliens on the viewscreen about whatever news story they could cram into a science fiction setting. Yawn. Trek is exciting now.

many old people seem to pick an era they love and nothing else compares. It’s always “it’s not like the good old days” For some it’s the original series for some it’s the next generation for some it’s these new movies. personally I like it all. But What fans love often depends on their age and when they discovered it. So You stick to old trek and new fans can enjoy new trek. The circle of life.

I grew up on TNG, and hated TOS. I loved DS9, and have grown to appreciate Voyager & ENT years later. To me, nothing will compare to TNG in it’s prime, but I still enjoyed the Abram’s movies and look forward to Discovery getting back to (hopefully) what I enjoy most about Trek and science fiction– exploration, discovery, social commentary, thoughtful stories, human drama, and interesting characters.

Love all Star Trek — each has its own merits and things to love.

I find it amusing how some people like to make it an old vs new argument, as opposed to good vs bad.
But anyway, this site is made for the nuTrek movies and so I accept the majority of folks here would be fans of them, just as if when I would go into a Sharknado fan forum and say that those movies are utter garbage, I would expect to get bashed by the vast majority of posters no matter how much what I stated is an undeniable fact.

raffle,

re: this site is made for the nuTrek movies

Where’d ya’ get THAT idea? As I recall the guy that pays the bills said this site exists to encourage and promote Trek movies, period, and NOT just the Bad Robot ones.

Well the site WAS started to cover the development/release of ST09, so I can see where one might get that impression. I do think the site could use a re-brand. “Trekmovie” isn’t quite accurate anymore, now that DSC is coming…

Torchwood,

Fact: Treckmovie existed September 1, 2005

http://trekmovie.com/2005/09/01/technorati-test/

The earlest anyone could have suspected Bad Robot might produce a Trek movie for Paramount and start the cheerleading was with this PR leak on April 20, 2006:

http://variety.com/2006/film/markets-festivals/trekkies-have-a-new-leader-1117941815/

But Pascale didn’t post anything about it until it was officially confirmed in July of that year.

It’s clear to me that Pascale was poised to promote whatever Trek movie, if any, that nuParamount cared to officially anounce regardless of whether or not Bad Robot was the production company.

I agree with the comments about ENT. And, while Season 4 is widely agreed to be ENT at its best, some of the Season 3 episodes——like the LeVar-Burton-directed “Similitude”—— are among my favorites. Additionally, the whole Season 3 arc——searching through the mysterious Delphic Expanse for clues to the whereabouts of the Xinidi, the mystery of the strange spatial anomalies, the dire nature of the NX01’s mission and the zero-sum choices that it forces upon Captain Archer——that whole premise is wonderfully exciting. Granted that some of the Xindi’s attributes——some of the species, in particular——come off a bit ridiculous at times. But, the Degra character alone makes the Xindi concept worthwhile. As a side-note, the actor who plays Degra (Randy Oglesby) played a total of 7 characters across every post-TOS Trek series. And he turns in a fantastically compelling performance as Degra on ENT. “Stratagem” (where they manipulate Degra into thinking that he’s a fugitive with Archer) is another oft-overlooked, outstanding Season 3 episode that I can watch over and over again, and enjoy each time. Lastly, while criticisms of the Season 3 arc too closely paralleling the “War on Terror” of the early 2000s may have been fair at the time, enough time has now passed to allow viewers to enjoy the premise and arc on their own merits. Moreover, since when it is a demerit for art that it imitates life?

In terms of ideas for an ENT article and/or podcast, I’d suggest:

> A top-ten (or whatever number) listicle of best and/or most underrated ENT episodes.

> A look at all of the concepts/characters/storylines/events in ENT that directly prequel/tie-into counterparts in other Trek series (TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY). For example, the whole Noonien Soongh & the Augments (Josie & the Pussycats) storyline.

> A look at purely original concepts that were introduced in ENT. Such as the Delphic Expanse, the Xindi, the NX01 and the “X” for experimental Star Fleet nomenclature, etc….

To me ENT was at it’s most enjoyable (if not it’s best, which I understand sounds like semantics) when it was doing standalone episodes. As much as I enjoyed the Klingon and Augment 3-parters, my favorite episode of S4 is in fact Daedelus, the standalone about the inventor of the transporter.

And I was NEVER a fan of the Xindi arc. Not bad, but very overrated in my opinion.

Torchwood
And I was NEVER a fan of the Xindi arc. Not bad, but very overrated in my opinion.

Overrated by whom?!?

All I’ve ever seen here is people panning it. I’ve never seen anyone besides myself express appreciation for it.

Really? Ok then. I wouldn’t say it was bad, so panning is certainly unwarranted. I think the one thing I can say about Enterprise is that unlike DS9 and TNG, Enterprise was never really TERRIBLE.

Voyager was also pretty consistent, barring a handful of absolutely stinkers. But Voyager also never reached the heights of the best TNG or DS9 episodes.

The worst thing about ENT/VOY is that the main characters were SO bland. It’s very telling when guest stars are more compelling than your main cast!

Actually, I dug the whole Xindi arc. For me, it helped reduce some of the blandness of the earlier episodes and was a sign that the show had gained some direction and identity. It was no longer one off stories about things that didn’t matter next week that felt like concepts we had already seen on previous ST shows. They finally found a more credible way to give Archer some depth. It wasn’t flawless by any means but I thought it was consistent with the supposed stakes and what kind of organization Starfleet was at that time. I remember being surprised by Archer’s deception in the Degra episode – a measure of how desperate they were becoming. Bakula did a good job of portraying someone in danger of abandoning his morals to serve his mission, caught between two choices that both carried a high cost. Made for much more entertaining viewing than trying to get Hoshi to stop being a space wuss.

Just my opinion of course.

As of now, you have met one other person who shares your view on The Xindi arc.
I hope someday we at least have a podcast that covers it in depth.

I would suggest a two-part podcast For Enterprise.
The first podcast covers the first two seasons in depth, the next on will cover the last two seasons of Enterprise.

That way, you could cover all four seasons in depth and they might be able to find some gems among the not so well known episodes for each season.

And, as for the issue of whether or not the Bad Robot Trek movies are really Star Trek, notwithstanding that they are labelled as such… IF the criteria for what qualifies as Star Trek is merely whether or not it has the superficial appearance of Trek-related things (as the example given of Leonard Nimoy wearing pointed ears), then a great many things with no dramatic, philosophical, scientific nor (Trek) canonical significance would qualify as Star Trek. By way of example, an appearance by William Shatner wearing his Kirk uniform in a TV commercial, or at a theme park, or in a Saturday Night Live parody, would thus qualify as Star Trek. But, would you consider those sort of nominally “Star Trek” things to hold the same value or to be on-par with an episode, even the worst episode, of TOS? I would not. And, as such, I do not consider the Bad Robot movies, taken as a whole, to be Star Trek any more than I consider Trek parodies on SNL to be Star Trek. In fact, the SNL Trek parodies are more closely related to Star Trek in that they are at least making Trek-like points in their comedy. There’s such little meaning in the BR movies that they’re more akin to comic-books. A sort of broad-brushed, generalized concept, with titillating visuals, into which readers/viewers can, by their imaginations, fill in the large blanks left by the deficit of writing. And, indeed, one only has to look back through… Read more »

Cygnus-X1

Re: …Star Trek was created with certain intrinsic values.

I agree and it always floors me when people want to willfully abandon or discard them in exchange for million dollar FX which it never had as part of that equation. I don’t mind blending it in, but to overwhelm the whole concotion in numbing more-is-betterisms masking all the subtle flavors that make it what one can readily identify as STAR TREK just leaves me with one singular sickeningly sweet flavor and the question: What’s the point?

Disinvited Re: the point? I think the point depends on who you ask. With the fans, there is clearly no consensus on what each of us gets out of watching the various incarnations of Trek. Some say it’s the allegories, some say it’s the optimistic view of the future and others will extol the virtues of pew-pew,space battle style of Science-Fantasy. Personally, I liked ALL of those as long as they balanced each other and had at least one “oh wow, I never thought of that before” moment. There may be a bit more agreement on the Production/Franchise-owner side. For them, it’s about employment and revenue first and foremost. If they can make Trek while servicing some artistic goal, well, that’s fine so long as it doesn’t shrink the audience or the box office. Artistic concerns are a secondary or tertiary concern. But that’s the problem with blockbusters in general; they have to set the bar pretty low so as not to alienate potential viewers. Its gotta appeal to everyone – or at least not annoy the majority. That makes for some bland, generic storytelling, unfortunately. The sad part is that given the choice between steady output at a lower price tag/smaller audience, versus one super-expensive installment every 3 or 4 years, well… we all know which way they went. For Marvel Comics, it was a lot more straightforward. They have been publishing this stuff for decades – they knew who their audience was and knew how to give them… Read more »

Cygnus-X1 and nscates

Re: …they are labelled as such…

Hmmm…Interesting, I wonder if I can live with that logic when it is carried over to ENTERPRISE which aired three of its episodes without THAT “Star Trek” label?

This would mean that I could ignore 2 BBgun written episodes and 1 BBgun inspired one. SOLD!

As for THESE ARE THE VOYAGES since most of it takes place on the holodeck, it’s pretty easy to dismiss a lot of it as holodeck fiction. Especially since the movie, FIRST CONTACT, establishes 24th century historical records are notoriously filled with inaccuracies.

nscates If they can make Trek while servicing some artistic goal, well, that’s fine so long as it doesn’t shrink the audience or the box office. Artistic concerns are a secondary or tertiary concern. You’re right, of course. But the secret (apparently it’s a secret) is that you can do both because there are enough people who appreciate meaningful stories, if they’re told in an entertaining style (the original Star Wars trilogy). But, in order to do both, the studio has to change its business model to have more front-end investment in the writing. The thing about writers is that they come cheap relative to what the digital FX contractor will charge for its 10,000 or so man-hours of high-tech labor. An additional investment of 500k spent on developing the script could easily yield 100X as much revenue in ticket sales. $50 million is actually less than the difference in domestic grosses between BEYOND and STID. And you can buy A LOT of creative writing with $500k. That’s actually a lavish expenditure. You can buy a lot of creative writing with half of that. If you consider the one Trek movie that is widely agreed to have achieved both artistic merit and mainstream entertainment value (TWOK), the big difference between it and all of the other Trek movies is in the front end. TWOK had the benefit of more creative writing, in that Nick Meyer re-wrote the final draft by compiling all of the best themes, scenes and ideas of… Read more »

I love shuttlepod, but it’s the hardest thing to listen to in the office lol. Fluctuating vocal levels and such.

Yeah the audio quality has been very uneven lately. We’re working on making it perfect. We appreciate the feedback and the support!

PEB & Brian Drew,

I know what you mean. When Kayla introduced herself, I thought “Cool, she’s calling in from her work exploring an extinct fumarole.” but a bit in and “Hello! Someone caught a shuttle copter.”

but paramount has always seen ‘trek’ movies as their ‘star wars’, happy when it went towards action with ‘khan’ and unwittingly developed a trilogy in the 80s.

say what you like about roddenbery but at least he opened the door to tv ‘trek’ regaining its core sf values again with TNG.

tony,

Re: …paramount has always seen ‘trek’ movies as their ‘star wars’

The Tenutos’ newspapper research shows that’s a fallacy:

http://trekmovie.com/2017/01/12/shuttle-pod-29-the-five-ages-of-star-trek/#comment-5332581

STAR WARS actually KILLED a STAR TREK movie.

Paramount thought SW had spent the field. Phil Kaufman even confirms Paramount thought science-fiction movies were dead:

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Bay-Area-Revelations-Phil-Kaufman-Star-Trek-No-Future-in-Science-Fiction-410686025.html

of course there was a future for sf thanks to SW and for ‘trek’ but paramount were lucky that they had the 80s/90s largely to themselves in terms of sf movie franchises.

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