LA Times Magazine Columnist Dan Neil devoted his regular ‘800 words’ column today to Star Trek. Of the franchise he caims that Trek is the "the most successful entertainment franchise in history." Although certainly in the top ten, it is unclear that this claim can be backed up. But he doesn’t stop there…
"Star Trek"—the horn-rimmed invention of an eccentric Hollywood scriptwriter—is one of the two or three richest, most thoroughly elaborated fictional narratives in human history. What comes close? The Vedas, perhaps. The Bible? In terms of the number of characters, story lines, the comings and goings of civilizations, the Bible is not even in the same ballpark, or quadrant of the galaxy, as they say on the bridge of the Enterprise.
Neil then goes on to describe and denounce the rumored plans for Trek XI being a prequel, using the religious metephor to the hilt….
The studio plans to make an 11th film, produced by J.J. Abrams, to be released in2008. Set phasers to milk! Early word is it will be something of a"reboot," a la "Batman Begins."The reboot is becoming a Hollywood art form all its own, as the film industry attempts to breathe new life into fading franchises. But what would a reboot of "Star Trek" be like? In the world of "Star Trek" fandom there is what’s called the "canon"—the official, Paramount-approved narrative, with internally consistent timeline, characters, aliens and alliances. To depart from any of that would be to invite geek insurrection. To revisit it is to court blasphemy. That’s all we need: Owen Wilson as Dr. Leonard McCoy.
So, my proposal: Leave it all behind. Set the clock running in the 30th century. In other words, "Star Trek: The New Testament." If Roddenberry’s creation was about anything, it was about human evolution. So, keepers of the "Star Trek" legacy, where will you take us next? More trade wars with Cardassians and tribulations with Romulans? The universe is expanding. Why would Star Trek’s world be getting smaller? The only continuity need be the name Enterprise, which still sounds grand in its ambition.
Forty years on, the greatest tribute to Roddenberry’s legacy would be to abandon it.
It is interesting to see the same ‘go forward not backward’ meme appear in the so called mainstream media, although with the ‘dump the canon’ twist (which ironically is far more of a ‘reboot’ than anything Abrams seems to be doing). It is interesting that ‘reboots’ and prequels are so easily dismissed, but the most recent examples like Batman Begins, and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith were both critical and financial succcesses. And the early Buzz on the the Bond franchise’s ‘Casino Royale’ is so good that MGM are already talking about the sequel. Regardless, as discussed here earlier, we are months before the film gets into pre-production and Abrams and his rumored approach still seem to have the media buzzing…and that is a good thing.