on J.J. Abrams taking the helm of the Star Trek franchise
It was 40 years ago that Gene Roddenberry first taught the band to play. It was a seminal science fiction series called Star Trek. And despite having spawned a succession of spin-off’s and sequels, the original Star Trek, remains the most prescient and entertaining series of all by far four decades after it first aired on NBC. Ironically, while it’s nearly impossible to watch Next Generation or Deep Space Nine these days, both which seem hopelessly dated relics of the bland 90s; Classic Trek, with its 60s fuelled New Frontier zeal, despite its Styrofoam sets and dated visual effects, remains amazingly potent largely because of the inter-personal dynamics of its troika of leading men; Kirk, Spock and McCoy. It’s because of them I’d rather watch the worst episode of Classic Trek than the best of Enterprise or Voyager.
So now, in a time, where it appeared Star Trek had been buried under the apathetic aegis of Rick Berman forever, comes the news that a passionate fan and advocate of the original Star Trek is poised to resurrect it yet again by going back to the beginning and re-visiting Kirk, Spock and McCoy, the foundation and Mount Rushmore of the franchise that is Trek. 20 years ago fans were aghast at such a notion when Harve Bennett first proposed the idea of doing a Trek prequel, but there was one essential difference back then; the original cast were all still alive and young enough to get more tread from the tire. Two decades later, it’s almost impossible to imagine watching a new Star Trek featuring Shatner and Nimoy, not because they’re both septuagenarians, but because DeKelley and James Doohan are both gone and without them, a new Trek with the original cast seems futile (not to say that it couldn’t be done, but apart from die-hards like me it’s hard to fathom this being of much interest to a mainstream audience). Indeed, it was Kirk himself who reminded us that galloping the cosmos is a game for the young and while I don’t envy J.J. Abrams task in re-casting one of the most iconic characters of the 20th century (and certainly most distinctive), I wish him well. After his brilliant work on Alias and Lost, I can’t imagine anyone (other than the Free Enterprise creative team of Mssrs. Burnett and Altman) that could possibly do better justice to the legacy of the original series which is more relevant today than ever.
In a world overcome by cynicism, greed and pessimism; the timing seems better than ever to restore the luster of a franchise which celebrated optimism and heroism above all else. The great movies and television series of the 20th century were generally about heroes and people who made sacrifices for the good of the world, and in the case of Star Trek, the universe. Whether it be Alicia Huberman in Hitchcock’s Notorious or Vinnie Terranova in Wiseguy, popular culture celebrated those trying to make the world a better place. In the 21st, television shows like The Sopranos extol the mobsters and not the informants and government agents and it’s unfashionable in a political climate stoked by fear by its leaders to speak of optimism for the future and an embrace of other cultures when Republicans would rather build a wall, figurative and literal, creating a real continental divide between us and the rest of the world.
Star Trek was never about that and to me, even the reviled Starfleet Academy concept, always had the tremendous potential to tap into the importance of mentors in the formative lives of a man or a woman. Done right, I saw Starfleet Academy as The Paper Chase in space, with a Kingsfield-like muse (“you earn it, Mr. Hart”) imbuing our heroes with the fundamental decency and thirst for knowledge that would made them role-models toa new generation that has never boldly gone before.
J.J. Abrams, from what we can discern, intends to focus on an early mission of the Enterprise (don’t forget the “the” in Enterprise, Trek started going downhill as soon as they started referring to the ship as Enterprise instead of the Enterprise, BTW) with Kirk, Spock and McCoy, perhaps right after Kirk has taken command, maybe even earlier. Whatever it’s ultimately about, it’s a relief to have the franchise in the hands of those who truly care about Star Trek, respect its continuity and understand the significant place the original troika hold not only in American popular culture, but in the lives of those of us who grew up on it. Not unlike Ron Moore and Battlestar Galactica, J.J. Abrams and his screenwriters, Orci and Kurtzman, have the opportunity to jettison the shackles of the sci-fi stigma and musty cobwebs around the aged franchise and make Star Trek relevant again. Risky, sure. But, at the end of the day, risk is our business.
MarkA. Altman is the writer/producer of the cult classic, Free Enterprise (which begins airing on Showtime next month and is available in a Special Two DiscSpecial Edition DVD from Anchor Bay) and is co-publisher of Geek Monthly
I hope your right about JJ.
I am not entirely convinced that he its the IT guy everyone claims, though I think he has a better shot at doing it right than Berman et al.
It’s nice to have “real Trek” back (remastered, animated on DVD etc.)
Let’s hope this movie works out.
I agree about TNG etc being almost unwatchable now. It says a lot about the 90s that people put up with such blandness! I always stuck with TOS, even when it was unfashionable and the object of derision.
Now my patience has been repaid!
As portents of the PC movement’s imminent decline grow more obvious, a new time of heroes might be coming our way!!
While I also welcome a fresh approach, I’m not so quick to slam other Treks. I happen to find a lot to love in TNG and DSN. Voyager sold story and characters for a handful of cheap action. Even so, there are a number of very watchable eps. (GAD, did I just say eps?) Episodes. Enterprise desperately needed writers, but it had a few good moments. And TOS had a few turkeys. This is ever and always an ambitious enterprise (pun intended.) If Sci-Fi were easy, everyone would do it. Battlestar Galactica 1980 wouldn’t suck. The key is in the trying. I hope JJ Abrams is stoked. I’ll buy a ticket and find out. If so, then it’s another great addition to 40+ years of Trek.
“inter-personal dynamics of its troika of leading men; Kirk, Spock and McCoy. It’s because of them I’d rather watch the worst episode of Classic Trek than the best of Enterprise or Voyager.”
C’mon you’re saying they are better actors as Patrick or Spiner?
TNG was and still is better – in effects, acting, writing and drama – even Roddenberry was more satisfied with it.
Yes, that’s exactly what we are saying!!! :)
“C’mon you’re saying they are better actors as Patrick or Spiner?”
Not better, but infinitely more engaging and charismatic. Shatner blew Stewart off the screen in “Generations”. And it wasn’t by quoting Shakespear….it was by by being Shatner. And that, is where JJ will find his biggest challenge in casting the character of Kirk. Watching Shatner’s wonderful, strong, yet subtle, performance just yesterday in “The Corbomite Manuever” is a strong reminder of that. Finding an actor that can be charming while balancing a presence of strength, laced with good humor and compassion, will not be an easy task.
JJ has cast great characters in ALIAS and LOST and he knows what the character of Kirk should encompass. I just hope they give him enough time to find an actor that can do the character justice.
Deep Space Nine is hardly as “dated” as much of TNG. DS9 told wonderfully complex stories (“Duet” and “Past Tense” come to mind) and, for four seasons, had almost an epic feel to it. Also, it was the only Trek series to take religion, faith and the issues that come along with them seriously.
I could watch TOS over and over again… remastered or no.
TNG, however, I take in smaller doses. Some episodes are truly great (BOBW, etc) but generally, they just aren’t as exciting. Is it the fact that the 90s were so bland? I’m not sure. Is it the personalities/actors on TNG? Maybe. Was it driven into the ground by Berman? Certainly.
There is something about TOS that makes it superior. The fact that each episode could be seen as a simple adventure or as having a deeper meaning is certainly key to the appeal. Actors? Not necessarily better, but their characters were fun. Scotty- no real clearly defined character arc, but he sure was a hell of a lot of fun. Checkov- not at all complex, but I would rather see him than Gordi, Troi, etc. TNG characters were just not that interesting, except for Picard and Worf. Even Data is simply an inverse of Spock.
TOS is a better show, any way you slice it. I hope that a new movie can do it justice.
Mark Altman is the real deal.
I’ve been reading his stuff from way back, when Star Trek was a vibrant franchise. When I see his name popping up again in the mainstream, I know something good is taking place in Trekdom.
One thing I don’t think we as fans have talked about concerning this new project is that whomever they cast in these iconic roles, they will likely change our perception of the overall characters over time. Much like how Ewan MacGregor (who did a fantastic job as a younger Obi Wan Kenobi) carved out his own unique take on the “crazy old wizard”, the actors taking over Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc., will leave their own mark on our beloved TOS crew. Hopefully that will be a positive thing. But either way, Star Trek TOS is going to be changed forever by this movie.
Now that I think of it, I’m slightly apprehensive.
AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Next Gen blows and yes Shatner is a much better actor than Patrick Stewart. Count the Emmy’s and Golden Globes, Specifically for Star Trek Our Lord Shatner created a superhero who all women want and all men want to be, a modern day mythos that like Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, Horatio Hornblower , ect will always live. The Next Gen, Voyager and Enterprise (which was written and fimed and acted as if it where a bland assed Next Gen era show) are all more BLAND , technobabel filled, ASEXUAL, intraverted,
PSEDO- (not truly- there is a difference) INELLECTUAL, ULTRA LEFT WING SOCIALIST UTOPIA, BORING NONSENCE!!!! STAR TREK had real social issues wrapped up in a fun, action adventure romance drama with a real sense of preil of the terrible dangers of space, real villians, real tension between these friends and crewmates, Next Gen and Voyages had only made up self indulgent social issues of the early 90’s. Deep Space Nine was good, and when it hit it’s stride it was great in it’s own right. LONG LIVE STAR TREK (DS9 can come along for the ride, everyone else stay home and I am excited to have JJ driving our wagon!!!)
If I had written out a diatribe like that in the forums I would be chastised for “offending” fans!
Once again your right on the money about Star Trek.
I would wager that Bryan Singer is probably a slightly better choich to save Star Trek than J.J. Abrams, but J.J. is still a solid B+.
I just hope that one day you, yourself, embrace the ideals of Star Trek and the Fan in you.
Cynicism, Greed, Pessimism and Self lothing pretty much describes your attempt at a final edit of ‘Free Enterprise’ and the ultimate ownership of Mindfire Entertainment.
You really should treat your friends better, because at the end of the day thats all you have.
#11 – Josh
Agreed…. this guys is the perfect example of why I had editorialists…. ;)
It’s interesting to read the negative comments about TNG, DS9, etc. Particularly with TNG, it was hailed as the ‘best Trek’ in more than a few instances in its time. But time marches on, and so do our perspectives. I wonder if the draw of TOS today is not its enduring value (though I would acknowledge it has that), but that what it offered 40 years ago is what our society needs again — hope, relevance, relationships, wonder, and importantly, heroes.
Best of everything to JJ and his team … for all of us.
I can’t and won’t watch the “worst episodes of Classic Trek,” period.
Completist that I am, I own all three seasons of TOS on DVD and VHS and gods know what other formats but there are at least two dozen episodes of each that may have come defective from the factory and I’ll never know it.
I foundered on crap like “That Which Survives” during syndicated reruns back in the 1970s – well before there were other flavors of Trek to compare it to, I accepted that a certain percentage of “Star Trek” just wasn’t worthy of any time spent on it.
OTOH, there are good episodes of every other Trek series that I can certainly rewatch on occasion.
Anybody likes the show he grew up with better. I grew up with TNG and find it the best. There are certain but small differences between TNG, DS9 and VOY because of the standards of Federation set in TNG. TOS was a totally different universe – not better, not worse and not so refined. TNG evolved from TOS and that is why it’s better.
BTW I like the idea that Star Trek IS: “INELLECTUAL, ULTRA LEFT WING SOCIALIST UTOPIA!” And I believe that was also Roddenberry’s intention. But I cannot hate TOS. I love it! ;)
Here goes nothing….
For me TOS was always about the characters who happened to be caught up in intriguing and difficult situations. They had real science fiction writers and not studio hacks who were assigned to a team of writers who had to generate so many story ideas per season.
All Trek’s after TOS had their writing staff. They were not all neccessarily versed in science fiction. TOS didn’t worry about lengthy explainations about the technology and how it worked, but in TNG onward we always got the 30 – 45 second explaination about the “cascading warp core breach causing a interdimensional sub-space rift that will disrupt…” blah, blah, blah. Those verbose explainations were never neccessary in TOS and allowed just a bit more time for character development and well paced storylines.
All the Trek series have their memorible episodes, but they can’t touch what was done on TOS. Until they go back to the original formula… sci-fi writers writing TV science fiction they will never hit on the success that TOS has enjoyed all these years. They can resurrect the characters anytime they want. They just have to have the desire to do it correctly instead of just doing it the cheapest way possible.
I like “That which survives.”
There wasn’t anything wrong with it. It wasn’t the watershed end all be all episode guaranteed to alter your perceptions on reality, but it was a nice little mystery/horror story that emphasized the closeness of key characters-
and besides Lee Meriweather is HOTness.
If not for Losira and “That which survives,” we wouldn’t have the immortal
“I am for you Lt. Diamato” to qoute.
#11. Josh – This may mean not a wit to you but I want to congratulate you for showing enormous restraint and maturity for not jumping on the “bash TNG train.”
I am not going to deride any of the other Star Trek progeny or the actors attached… they all gave me moments of enjoyment. Certainly, some more than others.
I’ll simply say… We all know that there is only one Star Trek, to use the parlance of the industry that spawned them all, that has… legs.
#11 and #19
I agree with Herbert… kudos to Josh for keeping it light and fun in here! :)
Other than the episodes which featured the original Star Trek in some way, I can recall very little of Next Generation or Deep Space NIne. Also, I always tried hard to like Patrick Stewart and the Next Generation, but it just never seemed as exciting as the true original. I taped every episode of Next Generation for the first several seasons, but I can count on one hand or less the number of times I have reached for one of those tapes to watch an episode again.
I am not one to dwell on any inherent message in shows, so the argument about which show was closer to Gene Roddenberry’s vision makes little difference to me. Watchability is all that counts and Star Trek is rewatchable over and over due to its style, and particularly for the performances of Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley.
I have serious doubts that whatever the next movie turns out to be will capture the style of the original or that other actors will be believable in the roles originated by Shatner and Nimoy. I hope I am wrong, but I anticipate more of the irritating style of editing and pacing that permeates so many movies now.
Keeping the look of the Enterprise the same inside and out is also very important, and I’m sure that will be ignored as well.
And that’s my negative attitude story of the day and I’m sticking to it.
I really take the wholistic approach to Star Trek. I think all the incarnations actually help one another – TNG is made better by TOS – TOS continues to be relevant and interesting because of interest generated by Enterprise & DS9 etc. It’s the circle of life thing I believe.
That being said, TOS is the foundation and continues to be the MOST relevant interms of human struggles, conflicts and politcal turmoil. Beating a dead horse here, but TOS was heavily influenced by the era in which it was made, where the rest of the ST shows were more generic in there representation of current cultural and political events, focusing more the techno babble and sophmoric moral messages in my opinion.
And finally, I’m not conviced that JJ Abrams is the “best” person to helm the new old Star Trek – “Alias” and “Lost”, while impressive, are not what I’m looking for on a resume. Building Abrams up to something he is not can result in a horrible fall when details of the movie he is envisioning get out and some fans are not happy with what they see.
I will say that I’m pleased he has a strong vision and, most importantly, enough clout with the studio to allow independence in putting the show together – but that could be a double edge sword.
Don’t you guys think for one moment I wasn’t DAMN tempted! ;)
Especially when the topic and editorial ITSELF is inflammatory.
I never want to hear ANOTHER word from anyone about my being offensive or antagonistic to fans!
No need to bash Enterprise and voyager just because it wasn’t Kirk, Spock, and MCcoy. I’m glad other people are a lot more open minded then the idiot that wrote this article. Each trek produce great episode like Dear Doctor, Cogenitor, Damage, United, Babel, Drone, Scorpion, Line line to be honest I can go on longer then TOS.
I like how you devastated Drago and rendered him a quasi-vegetative chump. He had it coming for killing Apollo. The Bastard.
I have to agree that TOS is still the best Trek out there. It has become a cultual phenomenon in our country and an important piece of our pop culture. Hence the great ammount of attention it’s getting in its 40th anniversary year. Do you think there will ever be a TNG Remastered or a Voyager Remastered when they reach 40? Somehow I don’t think so.
#23 – It’s a deal.
(For this thread at least…) ;)
and #25… you crack me up sometimes… :)
#23. Josh – I don’t think the the topic or the editorial is inflammatory. Certainly, those flames can be fanned by an individual’s response but there is a substantive difference between discussion and debate and… well, offensiveness and antagonism.
More to the point (and case in point,) the thread that comprised “Happy Star Trek VI Day” was terrific. It could have turned ugly given the sometimes disparate feelings about the movie but it never did. It was a marvelous exercise and example in respectful exchange of information and opinion.
The discussion between you, darendoc, Adam Cohen and others was such great fun to read and, frankly, I was a little envious because every time I tried to jump in I would read your post or Adam’s or someone else’s and I’d think, “Damn, I was going to say that and you said it better.”
Contrast that thread with other posts where someone just continues to rant about “this sucks” or “that’s shit” or worse… or when name calling begins like “moron” or “penis-face” when someone disagrees with another… Anyway, it’s a dead-horse and I don’t want to hit the carcass anymore.
For what it’s worth, Josh, I am being sincere in my compliments.
At any rate, I just hope the tenor of respect and fun continues… for everyone’s enjoyment.
Star Trek is a cultural icon. It certainly was more popular with the public then any show that came after it. There never was a groundswell of interest in conventions for only, say, the next generation, as once was for the original. The spin-off shows could never sustain that, thus the multiple show conventions we see today. That’s just one small indication of the interest in these shows today. There really isn’t any intense interest from the general public for these series.
The original show did it first, the rest were copies. But the shows that came after never quite presented the concept as did the original.
The original presented it’s drama with sensibilities from men who grew up in a much different time with ideas and values which are sometimes looked upon as ‘liberal’ and also as ‘conservative’….. The show was positive about human nature, but also recognized the value of clearly seeing that to be human was a journey worth taking with some safeguards: the ship wasn’t portrayed as ‘greenpeace in space’ with children and families, nor was it a tightly wound military ship bent on the destruction of anything that stood it it’s way, but a pragmatic combination of those ideas that today many people see as ‘general common sense’.
I agree with Mr. Altman. And it’s now time again to revisit the original which set the standard for the spin-off shows. Let’s once again see what can be done with the original characters and concept. Let us hope that they can do justice to the original show. And that they present us with entertainment with original ideas, excitement and a thoughtfulness that the original Star Trek once did so well.
Cannot agree that TNG is unwatchable today. When all is said and done, I like TNG best of any of the treks, a shade more than TOS.
But I do admit that a resurgence of TOS characters would be far more commercially adept than TNG. I recognize I am in the minority here but I also voted Republican in the last election so I am used to that.
Personally, I feel Stewart is light years ahead of Shatner as an actor but Shatner is the far greater personality. Patrick could lose himself in almost any part (think Jeffrey) while Shatner is pretty much Shatner all the time. Comparing acting skills serves no purpose because they are each very strong in different ways. Shatner could nevcer have done justice to the Cardassian hostage episodes and Stewart just could never have been the macho womanizer Shatner played.
TNG remains the best but I am also very glad to see Abrams bringing back Kirk and Spock.
#28, Thank you very much for your compliments. It really does mean a lot to me that you appreciated the discussion we were having in that thread.
The one thing that has amazed me about this site (aside from the lightspeed-fast news and excellent content) has been the maturity of the commenters. I’m a veteran of some not-so-civil websites that discuss entertainment news (you can guess which ones I’m referring to) and coming here is like a breath of fresh air. I tip my cap to the lot of you for keeping the discussions interesting, educating and worthwhile. Anthony Pascale is to be commended too for setting the tone. I know that darendoc and Josh love Trek as much as I do, and having exchanges with them and otheres here is what makes this so much fun. If we all agreed, it would be pretty boring! And keep in mind, we are in the midst of some exciting developments as Trek fans, and being able to share in that with a few anonymous friends is fantastic.
As it turns out, this has been a TOS-centric site. For one, TOS is where the action is (Trek-XI, TOS Remastered, TAS DVDs). Still, I think that the other shows did their part to expand the mythos of Trek. Without Enterprise, and the last couple of TNG movies (and perhaps Voyager), I am certain that TNG and DS9 would hold up to scutiny better than it has, particularly among these discussions. I think we all had a Trek fatigue set-in a few years back, and we’re still recovering. There is certainly more nostalgia attached to TOS, but there have been good adventures in other Treks as well.
That being said, nothing beats TOS! ;)
I just spoke with J.J.
the current tentative title is:
Star Trek XI – A franchise divided.
Join the intrepid crew of the Divided Fanbase Enterprise as she boldy reinforces the concept of IDIC and seeks to return to a time when the T in Trek took us places that defy imagination.
TOS showed us humans (and others) learning to live in an expanding universe. TNG and its kin showed us a Federation existing mostly within its own borders, compelling us to live their way.
TOS preaches freedom and the desire to expand one’s knowledge. TNG preaches conformity.
The message of TOS thrills me. The message of TNG scares me!
Roddenberry might have preferred TNG, but he was a crazy Hubbardian lifestyle guru by TNG’s inception – a man who believed his own myth. Many of the most popular elements of Trek had nothing to do with him: the Kirk, Spock, McCoy dynamic being the prime example.
Oh, and I’ll ‘bash’ (within limits) TNG, because I always have, even when it wasn’t cool to do so.
I stood up for TOS when people who were supposed to be Trek fans routinely mocked it and hold it up to this day as one of the most important TV shows ever made and certainly the most important SF show ever made. I can even enjoy some of the truly bad episodes, like Spock’s Brain more than a lot of TNG Trek.
I’m an avid Star Trek fan. I agree it is the best of the bunch. I disagree that TNG and DS9 are outdated. I watch them regularly and find much that is relevant today. JJ isn’t going to be able to recapture the spirit. He may be good, but he isn’t that good. Why not just do something new? There’s plenty of room in the Star Trek universe for it. Makes no sense to go back and attempt to rework the original.
Just curious. How would you monitor the borders? Or would you?
Oh, but at the same time, I’m not gonna foam at the mouth and denounce fans of TNG and so on. Each to his own, but I just can’t bring myself to agree with them.
I have to throw in a thanks too. I stayed away from Trek for the best part of a decade, because I felt there was nowhere for a TOS fan to go anymore and had nothing to do with Star Trek fandom for a decade.
This is the first Trek site I’ve ever got involved with and it’s the first one that keeps discussion sane and news reporting positive. I’ve been on many a discussion board down the years and seen the seething hatred that people have for one another, known the endless bitchiness, the fear of writing a comment because of the risk of being flamed.
I feel welcome here and look forward to reading this site each day. Nice work by everyone involved!!!
Question for the gang: When did you first see TOS? Do you remember the episode?
My first episode was “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” which I caught in syndication on WPIX (Channel 11, NY) after school one day. To this day, that episode is a special one in my mind. The scope of that episode was excellent– time travel, historical implications, etc.
I think the reason there won’t be a ‘next’ Next Generation of Trek is that wider cinema-going audiences won’t be interested. You’ll get Trek fans going, but a film can’t only be aimed at them.
Like it or not, to a lot of people, Trek is ‘Beam me up Scotty!’ ‘Live long and prosper!’ the NCC-1701, Kirk, Spock and McCoy. It’s not about ‘Church of Roddenberry’ 1980s lifestyle guru philosophising: it’s about an archetypal group of characters and their exciting adventures in unexplored regions of space beyond the Federation borders.
Face it: the typical Next Gen story of the Enterprise-D on a routine diplomatic mission within or near Federation borders where it runs into something possibly dangerous that somehow traps the bunch of crewmembers who can sort it inside a holodeck simulation, requiring much browbeating about the Prime Directive, just doesn’t interest an audience outside the fanbase (indeed many of us fans would soon have our teeth drawn than watch another of those!)
Trek at its best isn’t niche audience. When Trek tries to be niche, we get Voyager or Enterprise. When Trek tries to be mainstream, we get Star Trek II or Star Trek IV, films Roddenberry loathed.
Dom…my name is Stephen. ;)
Paramount has always just assumed that if they make a Trek movie, fans will do. The last couple of movies should’ve taught them that that thinking is mushy at best. Trek fans are much more demanding then they know. Obviously.
Since when, does the mainstream support Trek, excluding saving the whales? Like you said, to the mainstream, Trek and it’s characters are no more than a joke. That being the case, to think that Abrams is going to magically change 40+ years of bias with a new back to the beginnings Trek is naive. But that is Paramounts basic flaw when it comes to the franchise…naive.
My Dad used Star Trek as a resource for bedtime stories back as young as I can remember. So that would be the mid-late 1970s.
The first stories I can remember watching (I was younger than 5, so the memory blurs as to which came first) were And the Children Shall Lead, Spock’s Brain, The Tholian Web, The Lights of Zetar and Operation: Annihilate. There was also one where Spock had a different colour shirt (Where No Man . . .) They were my core learning of storytelling, along with Enid Blyton novels!
I didn’t see the rocks as ‘styrofoam’ when I watched Star Trek: I saw them as ‘alien’ rocks . . . different from what normal rocks on Earth looked like. Star Trek made the universe big in my child’s mind. I saw the world in terms of its place in a larger universe, people of all races as ‘people’, the present in terms of a past I needed to discover and a future I looked forward to being part of.
Stephen (38). Apologies for the use of numbers. Just wanted you to know that it was you I was replying to, in the event that someone else said something while I wrote the reply!
However, when I was saying that ‘to a lot of people, Trek is ‘Beam me up Scotty!’ ‘Live long and prosper!’ the NCC-1701, Kirk, Spock and McCoy,’ I wasn’t saying that that was a joke. The public ***like*** those things, even if they send them up. They have a warm affection for those things. That’s what people want to see in Star Trek.
When Kirk bought the big one, the heart of Star trek was ripped out! TNG had one successful film after that, then no one cared anymore, because they weren’t attached to the TNG characters sentimentally or philosophically.
The mainstream audience supported Trek through its return as a cartoon, through its arrival as a disappointingly sterile feature film, was convinced by word of mouth to give the subsequent films a go and embraced all those until the disappointment of Star Trek V. Star Trek VI got smaller returns, but the promise of a good send-off for the crew brought back a lot of punters!
Bear in mind, the mainstream makes up the majority of Star Trek viewers on TV or in the cinema. They’re people who watch the shows weekly or occasionally . . . people who like the show and its characters but aren’t invested in the minutiae.
Star Trek fans are a small interest group compared with the main audience: useful to keep on-side, but not the core focus of who the producers need to please. Later Berman Treks strayed so far out of their depth, for example, that they couldn’t hang on to the fans, let alone the general public.
Why do you believe that the mainstream audience is the mainstay for Trek? I have never seen any evidence to support such a theory. Could you elaborate?
Because the fannish audience isn’t big enough to make producing “Star Trek” worthwhile for the studio. Never has been, never will be.
#16: Anybody likes the show he grew up with better.”
This is the only worthwhile truth unearthed in this discussion. ;)
The future of the Franchise will be driven by the marketplace, as it always has been. The only certainty is that those fans who view the current interest in the original “Star Trek” as some important kind of vindication will be unhappy and kvetching again in a few years.
Without TNG there would be NO DS9, NO Voyager, NO Enterprise and definetely NO JJ Abrams doing another movie.
TNG took Trek into the present. Acting was far more superior. Ever seen Shatner do anything Stewart did as in Chain of Command (the interrogation scene)??
We need a Star Trek Fan Census! How many of us are there in the world? Age demos? Does Paramount have any tracking on this?
I think if you take a show like TNG, which had 20 million people tuning in weekly at its peak, you figure that there’s a mainstream appeal happening there. During the early 1990’s, you saw Star Trek on the covers of mainstream magazines (TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, Time) on a regular basis. Dom cites the miserable handling of Kirk’s death as the beginning of the end to Star Trek’s broad appeal, and I have to agree with that statement. Generations was a bad movie, it was dull, dour and it had a terrible ending (Kirk’s death). And here, TNG left weekly television with a lot of fan support, only to squander it right out the gates.
I don’t know how much money “hardcore fans” account for in terms of box-office gross, but Nemesis’ $42 million take might be as good an indication as any of that figure. Even then, I had to be cajoled to see it in the theater by a friend (it was the first Star Trek movie I did not see opening day). I think I was dreading the experience… and I was right to feel that way.
Bart. No Shatner wouldn’t do what Stewart did in Chain of Command – he’d do his own thing. In his younger days, he was known as the ‘male Fay Wray’ because of his reputation for screaming!
Just because Patrick Stewart was an act-TOR who appeared in the RSC more recently than Shatner had done Shakespeare (Shatner was also a theatre actor, including the Shakespeare plays, before Kirk, and was well-regarded for his performance in Marlowe’s Tamberlaine) doesn’t make him better than Shatner. Shatner acted Stewart off the screen in Generations!
Stephen. You’re seriously telling me that the Star Trek fanbase is so huge that it alone can sustain profits for multi-million-dollar movies and TV shows? Star Trek fans are a relatively small interest group. No franchise is ever aimed soley at a fanbase. It’s always aimed at the mainstream audience or at least a major mainstream demographic.
You ***can*** make movies for a fanbase, like the farce that Serenity turned out to be where fans proclaimed it to be the second coming and made sure it won almost every public vote . . . even though no bugger went to see it and it still hasn’t made back its budget!
But Star Trek has always been about the mainstream. No studio would ever fund a movie or television show only to capture the existing fans. The fans can usually be relied upon to check out the film, but for the studio to make any money (and in the case of TV TX advertisers to support the show), it needs the people who occasionally look at Trek on TV and the people who never watch Trek, but feel like seeing a movie and the ‘Oh, let’s go and see a movie . . . look that new Star Trek film’s on . . . maybe check that out!’ crowd.
The mainstream is the lifeblood of all franchises.
#43: “Without TNG there would be NO DS9, NO Voyager, NO Enterprise and definetely NO JJ Abrams doing another movie.”
This is true; the old movies were running out of steam pretty quickly. No, “Starfleet Academy” wouldn’t have salvaged anything at that time.
Roddenberry may or may not have been a particularly brilliant producer at the time that he came back to help create TNG, but if it were not for his conviction that Trek was something with some intrinsic conceptual and entertainment value apart from the increasingly kitschy performances and stories of the film revivals “Star Trek” would most likely be remembered as a phenomenon that surged and waned in the 1980s along with Jane Fonda workout tapes, pastel legwarmers and big hair. And in that parallel world, they’d be planning a remake of it right now anyway — but that version would be starring Jack Black and Ben Stiller. ;)
Dom… please support your argument. I’d appreciate some facts. Thanks.
#44: “I don’t know how much money “hardcore fans” account for in terms of box-office gross, but Nemesis’ $42 million take might be as good an indication as any of that figure.”
Yeah, that’s probably a good place to start. Bump it up a little for inflation and the Kirk/Spock recasting factor and figure about a fifty-sixty million dollar take.
#47: “Dom… please support your argument. I’d appreciate some facts.”
I’m sure we’d like to see yours as well. :)
Kirk’s “risk gentlemen” speech to inspire the crew and remind them why they are out there was equal to if not superior to anything Stewart offered in his 7 year run. That little monologue inspired a many a Trekker including your truly as a child.
So yes, Stewarts three lights is interesting, Shatner’s mission statement is dynamic and empowering.