Star Trek scribes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are currently in production on their sci-fi western Cowboys and Aliens, which is shooting out in the New Mexico. But while there the pair are also working on putting together the story for the Star Trek sequel, and apparently the location his giving them inspiration. We also take a look at past "Star Trek westerns".
Star Trek sequel returns to Wagon Train to the Stars
Crave spoke to the pair of writers at the Saturn Awards in June, and Bob talked about how shooting the sci-fi Western Cowboys and Aliens at the New Mexico location could be a source of inspiration for Star Trek:
Crave: What does being on set mean for working on Star Trek 2?
Roberto Orci: Well, it inspires it a little bit. Star Trek was Wagon Train of the Stars. Isn’t that how Gene Roddenberry pitched it? So right now we’re just doing Stars Come to the Wagon Train and now we start turning. Once we start relaxing about what we’re doing here, I’m hoping that being out in the woods a little bit will kind of inspire the right decisions hopefully.
Read the rest of the interview at Crave Online, but bear in mind the interview is five week’s old so discussion about the status of the Star Trek script is a bit out of date.
Westerns and Wagon Train as inspiration
Bob Orci is referring to the famous story of how Gene Roddenberry pitched Star Trek back in the 60’s, when westerns like the TV series Wagon Train were very popular. Before creating Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry wrote for a number of westerns, including The Virginian, Boots and Saddles, and Have Gun Will Travel. Here is how the Museum of Broadcast describes Roddenberry’s pitch:
Like The Lieutenant [last show Roddenberry worked on before Star Trek], Star Trek episodes comment on social and political questions in a military (albeit futuristic) setting. Roddenberry described Star Trek as a "Wagon Train to the stars" because, like that popular series, its stories focused on the "individuals who traveled to promote the expansion of our horizons". Star Trek was the first science fiction series to depict a peaceful future, and Roddenberry often credited the enduring success of the series to the show’s positive message of hope for a better tomorrow.
Of course you can take inspiration from stories of the Old West without literally strapping on a six-gun. It would be interesting to see Star Trek once again return to the ‘frontier’ aspect of the show. Most Star Trek films tend to be centered around a crisis related to planet Earth, but the mission of Star Trek is to explore strange new worlds on the final frontier, just like those pioneers in the Old West.
An example of a sci-fi film that drew heavily from the Western genre would be the 1981 Sean Connery sci-fi film Outland, which was inspired by the classic Western High Noon, but set on a moon of Jupiter (see trailer below).
Trailer for "Outland" – A Western in Space
Literal Star Trek Westerns
Although all of Star Trek takes inspiration from the Western genre, the franchise has done some literal trips to the Old West as well. Here are some clips:
TOS: "Spectre of the Gun" (clip)
TNG: "Fistful of Datas" (various clips)
Enterprise: "North Star" (trailer)