Editorial: JJ, Don’t Forget About the “Old School”

Since the announcement of Star Trek XI there has been a frenzy of both excitement and anxiety. Scores of people are speaking up with their opinion on how J. J. Abrams should craft the story, with some championing strict adherence to the Trek canon, while others wish he would throw it all out with the bathwater much as Ronald D. Moore’s re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica. But in all of this, the truth is that the Trek franchise began dying more than a decade ago as viewership declined from a peak during the height of Next Generation to the abysmal ratings of Enterprise and poor box office results for Nemesis. Mr. Abrams has a massive task ahead of him. He must breathe life into a franchise that has lost its fan base by finding a way to open Trek up to an entire new generation. However, I believe that in order for the movie to be successful, he must also find a way to also connect with ‘old school’ fan base. There are a lot of us out here with purchasing power of a demographic that spans every generation. J. J. Abrams will have to pull out those things that were great about Star Trek and “reboot” the franchise in such a way as to attract a mainstream audience. It is a monumental task, but one that could be accomplished simply by talking with the “Old School.” 

In with the New, but not out with the Old (school)
Who is the “Old School?” This group, of which I am a proud member, has been with Star Trek since the beginning. We started with The Original Series from the 60s, whether as it aired or in reruns; were some of the first to see The Motion Picture; and celebrated the rebirth of the television series with The Next Generation in 1987. We clearly remember when Gene Roddenberry was securely at the helm of the franchise and still get chills when we hear the name D.C. Fontana. 

Roddenberry’s vision still matters
More than anything else we “Old Schoolers” were attracted to Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry’s positive vision of the future. At a time when the Cold War loomed over us with the threat of nuclear annihilation and social strife seemed to permeate every level of society, Star Trek offered a breath of hope in a world that seemed to be growing increasingly dark. Mr. Roddenberry believed that humans were good, technology was glorious, and despite all of our problems, we would eventually work it out and become great. As the man himself said:

It speaks to some basic human needs, that there is a tomorrow – it’s not all going to be over in a big flash and a bomb, that the human race is improving, that we have things to be proud of as humans. No, ancient astronauts did not build the pyramids human beings built them because they’re clever and they work hard. And ‘Star Trek’ is about those things.
– Gene Roddenberry, "StarTrek" 25th Anniversary special, 1991

In addition, the positive, uplifting, and heroic message of the series spoke to us in different tones outside the dark vision of most contemporary science fiction. Compared to the New Wave and Cyberpunk movements in SF, Star Trek gave us genre fans a place to feel good.

In the annals of science fiction, where dystopias rule the imaginative roost, Star Trek stood nearly alone in telling us that our future would be better than our past, that our common problems could be solved, that we as a species were fundamentally good, and that the universe would reward us for our goodness.
– Mike Marqusee and Charles Shaar Murray, “The End of The Trek” Prospect Magazine (August 2001)


which future do you want to go to?

Then it all changed
But then it all changed. A new regime took over at Paramountand launched series after series that seemed to do more to drive audiences away, and many of us “Old Schoolers” stopped watching. Star Trek fell out of the mainstream, falling from a high of over 17 million weekly viewers in 1993 with The Next Generation, to less than a third of that by the end of the decade with Voyager and DS9. As I mentioned previously, the ratings catastrophe that was Enterprise and the abysmal box office performance of Nemesis helped seal the coffin. But by this time, many of us “Old Schoolers” were already gone.

What drove us away? Very simply it was the abandonment ofGene Roddenberry’s hopeful vision of the future—the core thing that brought“The Old School” to Star Trek.

The slide began with Deep Space Nine. As many can agree, it was a well written and well-produced television series, but even Ira Steven Behr admitted that many fans believed that DS9 had “gone away from the image of the future as a paradise.” It lacked the enthusiasm for what was to come, so we, along with the “mainstreamers,” stopped watching, and each subsequent series had difficulty attracting the throngs of viewers as did Next Generation.

The latter films also didn’t feel like Trek to us. RogerEbert said of Generations:

In "Star Trek:Generations," the starship can go boldly where no one has gone before, butthe screenwriters can only do vice versa.
– Roger Ebert, “Review of StarTrek: Generations” Chicago Sun Times(November 18, 1994)

In the end Generations performed adequately, but nothing could help Nemesis:

Star Trek was kind of terrific once, but now it is a copy of a copy of a copy.
– Roger Ebert, “Review of StarTrek: Nemesis” Chicago Sun Times (December13, 2002)

Nemesis only brought in $72 million worldwide, making it the worst performing of and possibly only money-loser of the franchise.

If you (re)build it…we will come (back)
To “reboot” the franchise—to make Star Trek great once again, it is as simpleas looking to the past. For a series to maintain such loyalty and passion overa forty-year span is unprecedented, but it’s slow death over the past ten yearshas been a result of ignoring those things that thrust it into the mainstream. For this, “The Old School” may be able to help. If we could encapsulate the three things that are important to us, that speak to the core of Trek and may help Mr. Abrams in his quest, they would be as follows.

First, stay true to the basic Star Trek canon.
For a series that has been around for forty years, it leaves a lot of impressions on pop-culture in its wake. In contrast, BattlestarGalactica was a one-season TV series from the seventies with little to no impact on pop-culture. Even so, Ronald D. Moore had to endure fallout from a legion of fans of the short-lived series when he re-imagined BSG in 2003. Considering the vast size of the fan base and popularity of Trek, manhandling what has come before would confuse tens of millions around the world who have enjoyed Star Trek for the past four decades. It would do more to alienate rather than create a welcoming film for old and new fans.

By adhering to the basic canon a lot of the groundwork has already been accomplished with regards to gathering an audience. For a filmmaker this allows the glories of a work that is almost self-promoting. When the mainstream thinks of Star Trek they have certain pre-conceived ideas — some good and some bad. But in the end all publicity is good publicity and if the film is as magnificent as we hope, this word of mouth will only encourage people to slap down ten dollars at the theater. This doesn’t mean that the canon can’t be bent. There has been a rich history of writers messing with some things minor, and some major,in order to craft Trek into their image:

  • In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Kirk orders one-quarter impulse while in spacedock. Seems a little fast to me. Thrusters maybe
  • Klingons change their appearance
  • Transwarp drive
  • Many Trek Alien Races come and go, depending on the serie
  • Character of Zefram Cochrane discrepancy in First Contact vs. TOS

Yet what didn’t change were the basic concepts of StarFleet, warp drive, the Romulans, Klingons, phasers, photon torpedoes, and all those things that seem to continue from TheOriginal Series through Enterprise. From an “Old School” perspective, keeping with the big picture and staying with the basic commonality that has existed throughout all incarnations of Trek will satisfy us and provide a great jumping off point for new fans

Second: Give us heroes.
Loyalty, honor, and integrity were all traits of Trek characters, especially those through The Next Generation. Sure they were conflicted and had personalflaws (Spock dealing with his humanity—Data dealing with his lack thereof), but they were heroic and the types of people we would follow to the ends of the universe.

Third, and most important: Stay true to Gene Rodenberry’s positive vision of the future.
This, more than anything else, is what defined Star Trek and drew us “Old Schoolers” into the franchise. The idea that we will work out our differences and journey out into space to unite different alien races into the Federation of Planets is powerful, uplifting, and compelling. It gives us hope. It allows us to see a bright future for our children in times as dark as these. It gives us faith in technology—that it is good and necessary for our survival. Humans are the only species that completely rely on technology to survive, so Gene found it important to sing its praises while others sought to demonize it. This is the essence of Trek and what made it so great. Yet, Gene Rodenberry’s vision was abandoned to the detriment of the franchise. Resurrecting this hopeful vision will have us “Old Schoolers” flocking to the theaters, dragging along our friends and families to share with them what we hope will be the rebirth of something that millions have enjoyed for over forty years. 20 years ago Roddenberry summed it up best when asked why the franchise had endured:

There is a tomorrow – we humans are going to make it – we’re something. To any young-minded person, that’s a very important statement
– GR, "Good Morning America"interview with Joan Lunden, 1986.

here we come to save the day…

So, Mr. Abrams, as the member of the “Old School,” if you want to open up Star Trek to a whole new audience, all the while keeping the old guard happy, stay true to the basic premise of Trek, give us heroes, and give us hope. Gene Rodenberry gave us hope — a hope for our future that was bright and compelling. It gave us faith that the human race will go on, thrive, and be a force for good in the galaxy.


NOTE: the preceding is one in our ongoing series of guest editorials, the opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of TrekMovie.com. TrekMovie.com will continue to support a diversity of opinion and discussion; and we encourages open minds. 


Michael L. Wentz is a writer and lifelong fan of Star Trek — a proud member of “The Old School.” His debut novel “Resurrection of Liberty” has been nominated for several awards,including the 2006 Prometheus Award for Best Novel. Find out more at his Official Website, or his blog: Phantom Reflections.

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Perhaps verbose, but eminently practical. I do not disagree with Mr. Wentz\’s points. I think the key is a good story, with good drama, and most important, the character and human touches.

If Mr. Wentz reads this, perhaps he\’s aware that Hugo Award winning SF author Robert J. Sawyer is a big fan, and had good things to say even about Star Trek V: The Final Frontier !

(As to his defense of William Shatner, they\’re both Canadians…)

I am not familiar with the work of the screenwriters; I did not see , although I understand it was action oriented.

I think Gene said all the major problems can be fixed best in the typewriter; as a writer, Michael, you know it\’s not an easy job.

Elsewhere on the forum, readers may have seen my advocating new technology that could bring Shatner and Nimoy back to act their roles, but a few years younger.

That is irrelevant to the story; and I didn\’t mind, for all its flaws, Star Trek V\’s point that in all the wonders of the universe, the most important and enduring was the familial bond between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, that “band of brothers”, to cite the Bard.

One point — I think the most popular film was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home . Perhaps a film that has the “fish out of water element”, humor, pathos would be embraced by audiences.

Good essay, good points, IDIC. I hope the “suits” read this.

Interestingly, Sawyer comments on Remastered; here are links:


Well, I got to see one of the sexed-up Star Trek: The Original Series episodes, with new CGI effects. It was “The Naked Time,” certainly one of the best episodes. There were a number of nice touches — Scotty\’s phaser cutting through the engineering bulkhead now has a visible beam; the PSI 2000 research station is now visible in the establishing shot of the snow-clad surface of the planet, the chronometer running backward on the bridge is now a nifty digital display instead of mechanical spinning numbers.

But I\’m not sure what I thought of the CGI spaceship shots. They actually looked like CGI to me (as opposed to the CGI shots added to the Director\’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which still looked like filmed miniatures); there was something flat, and too vivid, about the look (at least on my 50-inch monitor).

Overall, though, I\’m certainly intrigued enough to want to watch another one of the updated episodes.

One depressing thing was the advertisements that ran with this episode of STAR TREK, on WNLO in Buffalo, New York: bogus herbal supplements for penile enhancement and weight loss, dubious debt-consolidation services, and so on; it looks like advertisers think the demographic for the enhanced ST:TOS consists of suckers …


Also, having had one kid go bad, so to speak, might indeed explain why Sarek went loony and tried to make his second son, Spock, behave as a pure-bred Vulcan despite the obviously contra-IDIC nature of that, and despite the logical conclusion that if you mate with a human, you will have a child with some human characteristics. The existence of Sybok enriches our understanding of Spock/Sarek, rather than diminishes it.

As for Shatner\’s directorial prowess, I think he did a much better job first time out than Nimoy did. I think Star Trek III is the absolute dog of the movie series. Yes, Nimoy does a good job with IV, but not with III. I cringe every time I recall, for instance, the Trek-III Klingons whispering in each other\’s ears, “Share this with no one.” / “Understood, my Lord!” and the adolescent shoot-up-at-the-giant-boob angles used for the female Klingon spy.

Sure, Nimoy is a more popular human being than Shatner, but the composition of shots and the allowed interpretations by actors — which is what directors are responsible for — were far worse in III than they were in V. It\’s the way a scene is interpreted that the director can be blamed for, not the fundamental content of that scene or the specific words the actors say. Just as two examples: the opening scene between Sybok and J\’onn, and the delivery of the hostage tape are both, in fact, brilliantly directed.

I\’d gladly go to another Shatner-directed film. He certainly deserves a second shot at it more than Nimoy did.

verbose? coming from you?

Sybok I appreciate your enthusiasm but your comments are getting a bit too long. others have asked, so let me make it official…please stop pasting huge entries into your posts, links are fine, maybe a quote…but come on

Oops, the italics didn\’t turn off when I wanted it.

Here\’s info on the new writers:


Sybock…I warned you…I do not have time to go over all your posts…so stop it (APP)

Very well written article. I hope Abrams will follow the suggestions.

Yes well written. I as about to say the ame thing, just a little shorter. :)

Tony, no problem. In fact, the second post was before I read your comment. You can edit the first post too, if you’d like, and just leave the links.

To explain, I quoted at length from the New York Times article (on the technology to have actors play themselves but younger) because the site requires registration, and also, because the link expires after a few days. At any rate, I don’t expect Paramount to hire Shatner and Nimoy and the surviving cast to recreate their roles using that technology.

Regarding this essay, I think if the writers/director are able to craft a compelling story with good dialog, humor, and action, adherence to the “vision” is less important.

Why? The first film had all that Wentz wants, I think, and was not a success with the public.

I agree with Sybock.

Trek surpassed the norm of the genre when it had a great story with drama and action (and the unique touch of human comedy that played out when these characters interacted). This is not rocket science (no pun intended). You need a plausible problem that this talented crew come together to solve. Of course, GR’s humanist approach to Trek is a fingerprint of his (TMP being his most personal attempt) that you cannot erase from the series, but why linger on the obvious point that humanity made it out of nuclear war and its violent past? Boring! That’s as exciting as hearing a character tell his beloved “I love you.” Just saying it so explicitly diminishes the point.

You can best exhibit GR’s values by showing a smart, resourceful and courageous bunch of people fighting a difficult problem and risking life and limb to protect humanity (and by extension, other races) from annihilation. But what’s most important, even beyond the struggle I describe above, is solid writing, well-crafted character moments and charming actors. I don’t even expect the actors to be “good” in the general sense, because charm is the most effective trait that TOS’ actors shared. Even when TOS was not good, they were still “real” to us (look at ST: V as an example, you cannot deny that the Big Three were a family even amidst that movie’s shortcomings. Like I said, this is not terribly complicated in terms of structure. Execution, however, is very tricky. With a good writer like Abrams and Co., I feel hopeful that they will pull it off. But Wentz waxes too poetic about GR’s vision.

Story. Character. Action. Victory. That’s Star Trek.

Bring Back Kirk.



Seems fair enough, but I really hope the last thing JJ does is talk to this “Old School”. Paramount want Trek XI as a film to make money, so it should tell a good story and pull in the many millions of people (and their cash) who haven’t seen a lot of Star Trek, as well as the fewer millions who have seen a lot of Trek.

Some of Michael Wentz’s points are fair enough, and as has been said on this site many times already, we will hear lots more opinions on what Trek XI should be like before the film hits the cinemas (if it does!).

My own view is that we can all talk about it until we’re green in the face (that’s why we’re all here after all), but I’m happy to let JJ get on with it.

If JJ’s Trek XI can do for Star Trek what Ron Moore has done for BSG, then I’ll be happy.

After all, it really is just a TV show/film and not a way of life!

While the possitive outlook of the future is certainly a noble desire, to be honest, it had very little to do with this “old school” fan’s attraction to the series. As a kid I was attracted to the show because it was a) good fun b) had cool props/ships/music etc and c) it was good fun. Later on I grew to appreciate the fine acting, whe sweeping cinemetography, the great practicality of Matt Jeffries designs…but as a kid, the show “hooked” me because it was so much fun. I can’t be sure, but I bet JJ was one of those kids who used to watch Trek then go play it with his friends because it was fun….the bright outlook of the future probably took a back seat to Kirk drop kicking Wyatt Earp, saving the universe and always getting the girl…all in a day’s work.
While I appreciate the philisophical analyzations of Trek’s “possitive” look at the future, for many of the “old schoolers” like myself, that outlook was secondary to the sheer imaginitve fun that the show offered. It was a multi-layered show …great fun with great imagination and creative storys of the impossible that , while great fun for the kid, also offered multiple layers of goodness that one could unpeel with subsequent viewings. It’s certainly a show that doesn’t grow on you, it grows WITH you.
If JJ can get the kids to run outside and “play” his Trek while the teens are quoting it and the adults are debating it’s subtle social commentary, he’ll have a winner. It wont be easy, but I think he is up to the task.

I’m as “Old School” as it gets and I disagree with Mr. Wentz. I’m not a fan of Star Trek because of GR’s “Vision of the Future”. The more I find out about the history of Trek the more I appreciate the contribution of other writers, designers, and performers. I think Gene Coon, DC Fontana, Wah Cheng, and Matt Jeffries have more to do with my appreciation of TOS than GR. And it was Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer you saved Trek when it was circling the drain after GR’s ST:TMP.

So many of GR’s remarks (“Starfleet is not a military organization”) show he really didn’t understand what Star Trek had become thanks to the contributions of everybody who worked on TOS. Likewise his so-called “Positive view of the future” included a third world war and the aftermath hinted at in TNG Encounter at Farpoint. GR’s Star Trek is not my Stat Trek and it’s not what we saw on screen and fell in love with as youngsters.

Interesting article, albeit one rather in awe of Roddenberry. TOS involved a lot of major creative figures and the TOS films mostly kept him at a distance. I don’t think the TOS future was **that** ‘positive.’

Granted we had a a multi-racial crew, but there were still crooks out there, Dr Adamses and Kodoses creating havoc in deep space.

The attraction of the ‘positive future’ is something people babble on about, trying to sound intellectual. But, the truth is, a lot of us TOS fans were more attracted by strong characters and their exciting adventures, full of exploration, weird aliens, beautiful women, fistfights and space battles with a dash of philosphy.

TOS was full of energy and life. TNG had its audience for a time, but I only stuck with it out of a sense of loyalty to the Trek name. The other shows pushed me away!

What’s missing from Star Trek, in a word is – BACKBONE.

TOS had a tight crew modelled on the boys who donned uniforms for WW2, who stood on their own two feet, who knew what it was to face danger, knew how to have fun, knew who they were and just got on with it.

Trek from the 1990s and beyond, has been nothing short of Mary Sue storytelling. Reg Barclay, Geordi and that Chinaman from Voyager, Mayweather and Sato from Enterprise, good grief the list goes on and on with legions of wishy-washy, tentative awkward characters that have self confessed problems relating to women, that are filled with self doubt, that are in short mirrors of those dweebs who dress up at conventions.

If I wanted to see that crap I’d go to a convention.

I want to see heroes. I want to see real men and women of character.

Bring back Shatner and Nimoy

I want to see James T Kirk shoot things and have sex with green women. In other words I want Star Trek to be fun again. And not the PC bore that it became.

I agree w/ Stacy. Bring back Shatner and Nimoy.

MW’s views are nonsense. The reason trek has declined in popular interest is precisely BECAUSE they have been endlessly re-doing TOS and TNG episodes. In fact, Enterprise was a masterpiece of old-style TOS and TNG style. It told the same stories, with similar characters, and vastly superior special effects. If MW were correct, it should have been a hit. And Nemisis was superior to half of TOS films.

Popular taste in scifi has changed. Yong SciFi fans no longer want the Roddenbury vision. They want the action cartoon vision – XMen, BSG, StarGate – full of empty characters, flashy battles, cardboard whitehat and blackhat goodbuys and badguys, and great special effects.

If JJ wants XI to be a hit, make a BSG clone. If he wants it to be true to Rodenbury’s vision and to lose money, then make an Enterprise film.

The key is Kirk and Spock now. Old School still is Shatner and Nimoy grab them for that cameo now before its too late !

If you want Shatner and Nimoy ,pop em in your DVD player.Grow up.

I would just like to thank Michael for his well thought out editorial. I cannot say that I agreee with every point, those who read my \’Is JJ Abrams the next Roddenberry or the next Meyer\’ editorial know where I stand on GR. But he makes some good points and TrekMovie.com welcomes diversity. Plus there are a lot of fans like Michael out there and there voices should be heard too, what is important is that they are now looking back to Paramount and JJ Abrams after giving up on Trek years ago…and that is a good thing. Hopefully Abrams will find a way (some how) to keep the old school \’utopians\’, the DS9 dystopians, the TOS \’interventionists\’, and most importantly the mainstream movie audiences all happy

…or at least enough of them to bring the franchise back

Gotta love the fun.
I am going to say something that everyone knows… and everyone here dreads…..
Abrams will never be able to please you all, and still tell a good story.


Keep Shatner and Nimoy.
Keep Shatner and Nimoy but make them younger via technology.
All new cast set further down the time line.
Roddenberry’s Vision
Not Roddenberry’s Vision.
Anything but TOS..

I won’t go on, but you see where this goes.
It’s going to sound corny, but if you know what the IDIC is… think of that and be a little flexible in what you want versus what you may get…You might end up liking the results.

And I just saw Shatner again on the tube pitching Direct TV….. it would take a lot of technology to take that girth off and erase the years

Actually, it pains me to say this, but MichaelT is probably right… In the nebulous regions of my mind, I think it would be a blast if we were able to get a Trek that has action, adventure, some out of the box thinking and great storytelling. Imagine; no space battles, no Klingons… none of the usual hackneyed BLOCKBUSTER trek film formulas! Just a mindblowing ride into an undiscovered country! I know, it won’t happen… There will be some meglomaniac alien threatening to do what not and plenty of starship battling, I’m sure.
We’ll see.

Oh, btw, I’m not agains StarShip battles at all… I just think it would be a greater challenge to not WOW everybody without them as a crutch! The next installment… bring on some Starship carnage. ;-D

grrr, damn alzheimer’s fingers… that should have read “- a greater challenge to WOW “…. drop the not.

I think Nick Meyer got the appeal of the show. It’s Horatio Hornblower in space. I’ve posted this before, but if you want to see a perfect Star Trek movie, rent MASTER AND COMMANDER. Plug in the Big Three, change the setting to the 23rd Centruy and you’ve got yourself a smart, compelling action/adventure that meets all the requirements for a great Trek.

I wish they would just give Star Trek a long, long rest.

I don’t want to see 60- or 70-year old’s trying to behave like they were still 30 something. I don’t want to see different actors portray well-established characters from TOS.

I don’t want to see another Data twin, plots that continue to give Romulan qualities to the Klingons (TNG was the worst!), stories that create huge consistency problems with TOS episodes, or crappy story lines.

Enough is enough already!

Agree with you there, Adam (25). M&C is a great Trek film!! If only they could find a way to give the Enterprise masts and solar sails!!! ;)

Those claiming there was a “Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future”, into which they insert their own philosophy, are rewriting history. Roddenberry was an “idea man” (yep, that’s a quote from those who knew). He wanted a “Wagon Train to the stars” (his quote) so he could tell the kind of stories (all kinds, but masked in science fiction terms) that the TV networks didn’t want to handle,. He also hired and whipped into shape a circle of talented people to bring believability and common sense to his TV science fiction. That’s pretty much the extent of “the vision”.

The real heroes of Star Trek (story-wise) were REAL science fiction writers (you know … writers of science fiction novels), who were friends and acquaintances of Roddenberry, whom he tapped for scripts. For the first season of Star Trek, Roddenberry used only the good scripts and even there he did rewriting for his show’s flavor. The not-so-good scripts where held aside (the money was already spent so they weren’t going to throw them away) and used in later seasons. That’s the reason only the first season (mostly) of Star Trek had good stories, but it was good science fiction.

Thereafter, as Roddenberry’s day-to-day involvement lessened, Star Trek became just cheesy hack work the chessy hack writers thought it was. Late Trek starters saw more of those cheesy, but likable, shows (2 seasons worth) … and thought it was something like the ’60’s Batman show. Unfortunate.

If you want the facts about Star Trek, you’ve got to go the the guys who worked on the (1st season) shows — not the hack writers who, even today, are leeching a living off the Trek name and filling in their own ideas. Sorry …

If they want to appeal to the old school–bring in Shatner and Nimoy. Not the full movie, but a true torch pass. Let Shatner and Nimoy have one story in the 24th century, with an optimisitic ending for both characters, while the younger versions’ first meeting is central to the plot in flashback. Sequels could have the younger cast, and they take care of the single biggest blunder in Trek history–the death of Kirk.

Kirk needs an optimistic ending. Everyone wins. Come on Abrams–do the right thing.

Old school versus new school is a bogus premise. This only serves to pit fans of the newer Trek visions against the fans of the original vision.

I think you have to accept the fact that Trek has evolved – like it or not as a commercial product striving to sell to the largest audience. Whether or not the recent Trek team succeeded is open for debate.

I can tell you that Trek was dead in the late 80s until TNG came along and breathed life into the franchise. It presented a still optimistic universe, but with much more realistic negative overtones (the borg, Klingon Empire turmoil etc.)

Audiences demanded this touch of “dire realism” – it was an evolution of the Trek universe. Remember, next to “Jeopardy” TNG was the highest rated syndicated show on television at the time. I would argue that TNG was the most successful of the Trek iterations and probably was closest to Roddenberry’s vision.

My hope is that Abrams can find a happy medium, whereby the old optomistic universe of TOS can be balanced by a more realistic understanding of human (and alien) nature; bad things still happen, bad people still exist. Without this element, then the opportunity for drama and suspense are fewer and farther between.

I certainly do not want to see a “re-imagining” of Star Trek, on the level of Battlstar Galactica (the new BSG is working from way weaker source material so they really had no choice.) But I do expect to see a much more detailed, lived in, and ultimately, more dramatic universe as home to our favorite characters from TOS.

It depends on how you look at Star Trek.

I see it as an exciting, philosophically-intriguing science fiction adventure series that bustles with life and energy and leaves you with something to think about afterwards.

I don’t see it as some sort of quasi-religious text, I don’t want endless philosphical debates and I don’t want it preaching some sort of hippy-dippy, de-humanised lifestyle at me.

I always felt that TOS managed to balance action adventure and philosophy pretty well. TNG, for me, overdid the philosophy, at the expense of the action, to the extent that the characters often seemed little more than mouthpieces for the almost Hubbardian beliefs of Gene Roddenberry in his later life.

TNG might have been Roddenberry’s purest Trek, but TOS’s strength was that it came from the minds of several TV, film and literary science fiction writers. I mean, Arena wasn’t even a Star Trek story when it was written and Trek’s version certainly isn’t the only adaptation!

I just want J.J. to take his time on the new movie. I don’t want to hear two years after it’s release that the movie was rushed and that it wasn’t his vision for Star Trek. Take your time and do it right your way the first time J.J. Give me a great story and I’ll be there more than once.

I hope there aren’t too many “name” actors in key roles. If the movie does spin-off to a new series there would be casting problems all over again. Or do you think it’ll go as a movie trilogy as has been the trend lately?

One final thought/comment: IMO TNG did so well in the ratings was because it was new ST after so many years of waiting. Oh sure we had the movies but that’s besides the point. Plus they sold it (TNG) right. They sold it in syndication and not a particular network. This way the local channel could find a good slot they needed filled and keep it there and you knew where to find it. And some stations would show it the next day too so you had two chances a week to see the episode. When UPN came along that’s really when the trouble began because now you couldn’t find it. I was living in an area that didn’t have UPN so I missed VOY and ENT. Then I moved to an area that “had” UPN but it you weren’t up against the transmitter you couldn’t get it as it wasn’t on the local cable provider. Well that and UPN put it on at 9pm on a Wed and then eventually on Friday. Not understanding the viewing habits of their audience contributed to ST’s demise as well. Put any new series in syndication please, not on a network starving for ratings.

I hope someone can answer my question, does anybody know if TV Land will be showing the remastered episodes or the originals? There isn’t a station here in Columbus, GA currently showing TOS.

Long Winded: Can’t say for a fact, but I’d have to say no, but based on the fact TVLand showed unaltered eps in their marathon on Sep. 8 and the content of their original press release (http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-startrekontvland,0,7441486.story?coll=zap-news-headlines) . I’m pretty sure the ST: Remastered is available just to stations that were signed on for the “Enterprise” syndication package.

Long Winded: If you click the \’TOS Remastered\’ Tab above you would see the Remastered Section and FAQ for the project…it answers that question and many others, but the short answer is \’no\’. G4 and TV Land will (for the meantime) show Trek \’classic\’. There is a lot of info up there though so take a look. Also look at the the Trek XI Section for lots of info on that project. Both sections get updated regularly.




I agree with you assessemnet of TOS vs. TNG. Rodenberry, like Rod Serling, gave top sci fi writers of the time first crack at knocking out an episode – Harlan Ellison, D.C. Fontana and the like. This gave the show a varied and informed discourse.

But what TNG delivered (at leaset initially) that TOS could not (because of money technology, etc.) was a diverse and much larger universe. Whether or not this closer to Rodenberry’s initial vision, doesn’t really matter tom me.

My point is that Star Trek evolves – there’s really no going back, even when making a new movie about the early days. It will reflect us now and reflect Trek as it is now on some level. That’s why I don’t buy into this old school versus new school. It’s like asking me to buy into horse and buggy versus automobile, candle light versus light bulb or VCR versus DVD.

Note to JJ:
Beg/borrow/steal DVDs of the run of Deep Space Nine, the best written of all incarnations. I think few would disagree with that assesment.
After all, it’s all about the writing.
And don’t go overboard praising TNG- in retrospect, it had some really unwatchable stinker episodes, you must admit.

Hi seangh.

I agree. Just because the new film is set in the TOS era, doesn’t mean it should reflect the 60s. Part of the advantage of having a new cast is that TOS Trek can be looked at through a 2000s ‘lens.’

Along with that, there are issues that can be addressed such as Uhura, as a black woman, being relegated to being a sexy switchboard operator with little else to do, which wouldn’t happen now, I hope. I’m intruiged to see how some of the ‘minor’ characters might be handled in the present day.

Funny thing with the minor TOS characters, for me, though is that, for all their lack of screentime or some of them not even officially getting first names, they had a massive impact on me and were utterly memorable because the actors made so much of their comparatively small screentime.

JJ is a classic Trek fan, people can want and wish for him to incorporate elements of Berman Trek all day long, but it aint gonna happen. TOS is what started the phenomenon that has lasted 40 years and I just can’t see JJ watering down the formula with anything that even remotely resembles TNG or it’s many forgettable look-a-likes. It’s back to good characters, good stories, imagination, action and adventure! I haven’ been interested in any of the Trek’s produced under the Berman tent pole….for the first time since 1991 (The Undiscovered Counrty) this old school fan is excited again. Can’t wait for 08!

(great site by the way)


You and me both pal! It’ll also be nice to see the TOS scenario tackled as a modern concept again, rather than as nostalgia, as in Flashback, Trials and Tribble-ations, Relics etc.

I can wait for ’08 though: I ain’t getting any younger!!! ;)

What it seems that many later writers lost was the conception of even though in Roddenberry’s future we were better off, it does not mean that every portion of what made us commit atrocities to one another has been vanquished from the species.

I compare it too what Nimoy once said about playing Spock, where he once mention that for his character “it is not that he does not feel emotion per say, it is that he simply controls it as would any vulcan.” Nimoy even pointed out how he had seen later actors playing vulcans and doing it completely wrong because they were attempting to play it “emotionless” when that is only what is said about them from other species, not what is actually going on within them.

And just like nearly every actor who has attempted to play a vulcan “emotionless” in error, so has every writer and actor post TNG done Star Trek wrong as well. Just because it is set in a more utopian society, does not mean that humanity for what it is at every level does not exist. Anger is still there, resentment, even minor forms of bigotry. But what Star Trek well in TOS, TOS films, and earlier seasons of TNG was to show how the extent to how humanity allows those issues to control them or be driving issues is much more limited. Even though Kirk does feel bigotry towards klingons in ST VI, he still has a means of being open to seeing his mistake sooner once Gorkon is killed rather than letting it linger. Reflection and introspection are much stronger in Star Trek’s future than today, that is what makes it something to aspire to still.

All anyone ever wanted was “Star Trek”. The last
movies were not nor was “Enterprise”. Something
new and completely different doesn’t work if no one
is watching. Back to the basics.. hope, hero’s, and
the bad guys getting their butts kicked once in
awhile. Hard edged stories on occaision,morality
plays, and humor. Humanity as a whole is much
better than the bleakness around us. Let BSG do
bleak and Star Trek can take the reins of hope.

Star Trek is always at its best with character driven drama. Yes back to
the basics. As the director Nick Meyers said less visual effects and more
human stories. The original show didn’t have the special effects we have
now and relied more on the stories. With todays technology we can have
a balance between story and grandeur. Reality is what we make it. Hope
is something to reach for not dream about. Star Trek always let us set
that idea as a goal and no matter how bad things got for humankind we
still have hope to grab hold of. People need hero’s and Star Trek gave
us some good ones. Old fashion yes but these things are needed now
more than ever. Star Trek does live and hope is its canvas.

Hi Cafe 5.

In fairness to modern Galactica, it’s based on a rather different concept. The original 70s Galactica was a peculiar mish-mash; it opens with the genocide of the human race and by the end of the first story, they’re partying with alien singers and cracking jokes.

All Ron Moore’s done is take the concept that the human race has been wiped out and looked at in a more ‘realistic’ light. Galactica ***is*** bleak, but it’s also hopeful. Based on what I’ve seen so far (the miniseries and the first two seasons) humanity’s been mostly wiped out and is now struggling to find a way forward. All the characters are conflicted and finding a path, many still flailing about, following the horror they’ve survived, making both good and terrible choices.

Yet there is hope. So far I find Karl Agathon (Helo) and Caprica Sharon the most sympathetic characters, but we see the different factions representing the human race’s struggle to survive. We see the options presented to us such as the conviction command of Adama, who is still, however, willing to to be convinced that he is wrong, offset against the ruthlessness of Admiral Cain.

But, in the best tradition of Star Trek TOS (of which Moore is an avowed fan), there is the positivity of seeing humans trying to bury their countless prejudices and past animosities in order to keep alive, running a democratic government with a free press.

Indeed, I consider new Galactica to rank up there with TOS in terms of telling good stories about the human race, in a science fiction context, that reflects issues facing our present day cultures!

I believe the Galactica will find Earth. Then Kirk and the Federation will defeat the Cylons!

I was saddened to hear of the loss of Jane Wyman.she truely communicated maternal strength and grace.She died at 96 .Full of years.I hope they were filled with joy and blessing.

Adam, thanks for agreeing with me. Sometimes I\’m emotional, sometimes I\’m logical — I think here I was right.

Longwinded — hey, let\’s not get Tony P. going. I think he never got over that Shatner chose “Row, Row your boat” instead of the Dean Martin classic, “When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie” for the campfire scene in Star Trek V!


Glad Tony\’s got a sense of humor and I hope he\’s in a better mood today! (And not reading this post, that would be a help) :)

Longwinded, nice for me to pass the torch to someone else. But I agree with you.

I think the episoded that true fans like best really were the ones written by SF writers, and yes they were edited by Roddenberry et al., but were there any better episodes than Doomsday Machine, City on the Edge of Forever, Mirror, Mirror ?

I hate to bring this up, but since “Pirates” was the hot Summer movie I suspect the “suits” may want that “touch” in Trek.

The writers for this film have no SF background; they didn\’t even write “Batman Begins”. They wrote Zorro for crying out loud; I thought it was mediocre in the extreme; I don\’t remember a single memorable scene. I\’m embarassed I saw it. And was the Tom Cruise movie they wrote much better?

We\’ll hope for the best.

And speaking of SF writers and Trek, here on Sawyer\’s home page is a new book, Boarding the Enterprise


Tony, who loves ya baby? You\’re a good sport. Thanks for the website, it\’s fun!

Jon – well said. I do hope the new film does have actors of her caliber, and not just “cute” youngsters.

I have no idea why I’m stuck on bold. Tony, make with the “blue pencil” all you like.

Here’s an Obit of Ms. Wyatt from the New York Sun. Dr. Spock indeed, but well written!


Yes, JON. I’m always sorry when someone dies, not matter how long they lived. In my thirties now, so many of the entertainers I loved as a child have died, I feel like a part of me has fallen away.

Ralph, don’t be silly: we all know that when the Galactica reaches Earth, they’ll discover that William Shatner is the Cylons’ God! ;)

Thinking about what has been said of the various Treks and why they disappeared, I begin to wonder if it’s an issue of relevance.

In the 1960s, Star Trek was relevant, because it was was made in a time of great upheaval. Twenty years after VJ Day, it showed a future where a Japanese American was sat on the bridge of an American-style military vessel, along with (good gracious!) a black person, who happened to be a beautiful ***woman***!

Star Trek TOS was ahead of its time, picking on subjects such as communism, fascism, the mechanisation of society and the Viet Nam war. Star Trek was relevant – people ‘got’ where it was coming from.

TNG, equally, for all the aspects I’ve said I dislike, was relevant to its time. It was often preachy and reflected a lot of strange ‘lifestyle guru’ philosophy, but these things were very ‘in’ at the time! Although it was never quite as confident in confronting issues of its period, TNG still reflected many of the attitudes of the late-80s and early 90s and people embraced it.

But towards the end is where things start to go wrong. I’m not saying DS9 was a bad show, but it was the first Star Trek since TMP that wasn’t about our own civilisation on some level. Yes there had been and Israel/Palestine overtone about the Bajoran and Cardassian situation, but DS9 dealt with a fictional aftermath. Who were the Dominion like?

DS9 was the first Star Trek series that was about Star Trek. The issues affecting everyday viewer faded into the background. Instead, DS9 explored other aspects of the Trek universe. That’s fine for a series running parallel to a TNG, but not for a ‘primary’ series, as it was to become after TNG finished.

Voyager, again, was a Star Trek about Star Trek. It was about how a bunch of Star Trek characters fare in the far reaches of the Star Trek universe. It was inward-looking. And by that time, frankly, television production had moved on while the spinoffs of Star Trek spin-offs were still locked into an 80s template.

When Enterprise came out, the makers even admitted it was a Star Trek about Star Trek. Late in the day, they came up with a 9/11 parallel story, but that smacked more of desperation than an idea well-developed. Season four of Enterprise was a love letter to the fans and awesome for a spin-off running next to a ‘primary’ series, but it merely reflected Star Trek treading water.

This was the failing of the last four Trek movies, as well. Look at the earlier films: Star Trek II was a Cold War thriller about a ship and an enemy submarine. Star Trek III reflected developing technology and how other ‘sides’ feel threatened by it (a la the SDI Star Wars project) while STIV tackled environmental issues and STVI was about Chernobyl and the end of the Soviet Union. STV failed by that rationale because it took Trek off at an irrelevant tangent.

And what did ST:TMP reflect in our society? It was a lecture about what we should be, not what we are. What did Nemesis or Insurrection reflect? Insurrection could have elements of Irangate, but Irangate was old news. Trek was playing catch-up.

Much is made of Star Trek moving ‘forward, not backward.’

On reflection, I don’t think this is an issue of when a Star Trek is set and who is in it: it’s not about moving the setting of Star Trek a couple of hundred years into the future: it’s about the core concepts of Trek moving along with the era in which its made, dressed in Starfleet uniforms with a healthy dose of sex and violence.

It’s not an issue that Kirk, Spock and (possibly) McCoy come back for this new Star Trek. What matters is that their film reflects our present-day world, examines our present-day morality throws up new questions. The new Star Trek can’t reflect the era of Viet Nam and Martin Luther King: new Star Trek has to reflect post-9/11 views, the Iraq invasion, terrorism, paranoia about ‘enemies’ within. STTOS has to move forward on a conceptual level.

Star Trek isn’t about history or a fantasy future history: it’s about you and me, now, in the present.