EDITORIAL: Star Trek is broken – Here are ideas on how to fix it

At last month’s official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, I had the privilege to speak about “Treknology”. The experience was great – I was thrilled at the response of my fellow fans to my presentation. What struck me was the response from Jordan Hoffman’s “One Trek Mind” panel on the best Star Trek movie. The feedback from fans was pretty unanimous – the best film was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and the worst… was Star Trek Into Darkness.

Fans were more kind when a similar vote took place at the Seattle Star Trek Convention a few days later, where STID ranked 6th, but even then the fans were very vocal and very critical of the film. The sometimes-rabid criticism, much of which was echoed by some film critics and online commentators, gave me pause… and as I reflected on this reaction I came to a conclusion.

Star Trek is broken.

Star Trek, like all long-running entertainment properties, has had peaks and valleys – Some very high highs… and very low lows. In my opinion, Star Trek is at (yet another) turning point.

Star Trek reestablished itself as a cultural phenomenon with the 2009 reboot, and now the franchise is… not quite working. An noted above, lots of old-school fans are unhappy with the newest film, and after talking to some casual fans I doubt Into Darkness will have the same success in bringing new fans into the fold like the ’09 reboot did.

More than that, Into Darkness had underperformed at the box-office – while it was a moderate success and is in the Top 10 films of the year, it is nowhere near the billion-dollar blockbuster that Paramount had hoped. With many other competing geek-friendly properties on the market, Star Trek just isn’t appealing as it once was, and a lot of people are pointing their attention elsewhere.

What can be done to bring Trek back to the forefront, to once again be the seminal piece of entertainment it was before? Here are my thoughts on some things that could be done.

It’s about the Mission Statement

The best television series’ have a “mission statement” – a phrase that describes what the show’s premise is and what it’s all about. Decades ago, that premise was often expressly stated in the lyrics to the show’s theme song (The Patty Duke Show, Gilligan’s Island, etc.). Even today’s shows have an “elevator speech” description that the producers use to make sure they never lose sight of their premise (Breaking Bad’s is “Mr. Chips turns into Scarface”). Star Trek’s mission statement is clear and obvious, and we see it at the very beginning of every episode of the original series:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

The best episodes of Star Trek never lost sight of this very simple statement, and still provided excitement as well as provocative ideas. Where was this mission statement in Star Trek Into Darkness? At the end, just like in 2009’s Star Trek. The placement was appropriate in the first film, as it was less about seeing out new life and new civilizations and more about “putting the band together.” That they put it at the end of STID was also correct… because they STILL haven’t done it yet.

When you now have two films that don’t live up to the basic premise of the concept… you have a problem.

It’s about exploration and new ideas

In order to once again “live” that mission statement, Star Trek has to once again be about exploring the unknown, about going beyond what we are comfortable with. About moving forward, finding out what’s “out there.” It could be a Doomsday Machine, or the Horta, or the Guardian of Forever, or Apollo… or something new. Star Trek was a reflection of the “wanderlust” that is a key part of humanity, and how we continually strive to learn, to grow, to understand.

Actor Karl Urban recently stated in an interview that he wanted the third film to be “an original story” and not a rehash of characters or plots from earlier films.

“I really think that what we should do from here, in my personal opinion, is strive to be original. Strive to be something different and new. You know, let’s not forget that Star Trek as envisioned was about space exploration. And it would be really wonderful to harness the spirit of that and apply it to the next film, so that we do something different than a revenge-based picture.”

Hear, hear. Another issue that many critics had with STID was that the “fan service” references to The Wrath of Khan were not well done and made the new film look worse in comparison.

It’s about exploration

It’s about good characters

Making Star Trek once again about exploring the unknown isn’t enough. When you encounter the unknown, when you come across something that no one has ever seen before… how do you react? What do you say or do? That’s about character, who the people you see on the screen really are. The appeal of the best of Trek is when you respond to the characters and understand them – we all know who Kirk Spock and McCoy were on the original series because they were clearly drawn and well written. The outcomes of many episodes were informed by their reactions and decisions, and the best Star Trek – the best FICTION – is about character. Good character (and good acting) can elevate bad material and make it better.

The issue many had with STID was that several of the characters were either not the characters we are used to seeing (from the original series) or thin caricatures (Carol Marcus). You can gloss over that first criticism (it IS a different universe, after all) but the second is more of an issue. Trek without solid characters could end up being… well, a live-action cartoon.

It’s about breaking from the past

Most science fiction on TV before Star Trek was, effectively, children’s programming. Shows like Space Cadet or Lost In Space, where fantastical concepts and action sequences were more important than dramatic storytelling and strong characterization. Star Trek and other shows like it broke from that juvenile cycle and were adult stories targeted at intelligent viewers. Looking at Star Trek Into Darkness, one sees the same storytelling trend that other summer blockbusters are suffering from – an over reliance on action sequences and bombast, where visual effects supplant acting and story. It’s more like Space Cadet on the big screen than Star Trek.

Just as the original series broke from convention to tell adult stories, Star Trek needs to once again break from the past and stop being about the Enterprise and crew. Yes, I know, this might be a scandalous idea to many of you reading this, but think about it: We have had hundreds of episodes and almost a dozen movies about the crew of the Enterprise. We need to look at a new ship, a new crew, and explore new ground. Have a link to the past (maybe a crew member or two), but Star Trek needs to move forward.

And that means saying goodbye to what came before, in a clean break.

It’s about good writing

A lot of critical barbs were aimed at the writers of Star Trek Into Darkness about the script and plot of the film. I won’t join in that chorus, because writing a multi-billion dollar film is something I have never had to do. The pressure must be IMMENSE, and there are many hoops that you have to jump through to produce a script for such a project. That being said, Star Trek at its best has always had top-notch writing, no matter the series.

How can we once again elevate the writing in Star Trek? Simple: Go outside of the Hollywood bubble and hire some science fiction writers. Lots of science fiction writers are also Trek fans, and asking writers like Neil Gaimen or John Scalzi to write new Trek would immediately elevate the profile of Trek with many fans.

Having writers such as these working on a big-budget Hollywood screenplay is not the best idea. You need to let them play in a bigger, more expansive playground. Which is why the final and number one way to fix Star Trek is…

It’s about being on TV

Where is the quality writing coming from right now? No offense to the writers of Hollywood films, but the best writing is on television right now. Shows like Homeland, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and more demonstrate that the golden age of entertainment isn’t in cinemas, it’s on TV. Star Trek started out on TV, and it is the best medium for the property. Even William Shatner recently said that Star Trek is best suited to TV, and he makes the argument better than I could. Here’s the relevant quote:

“When you get into the small screen, you need stories… entertaining, interesting, vital stories that have a philosophy and also have an excitement about them, so that the viewer stays with it, but receives the philosophy as a byproduct. Those were the best of Star Trek, those kinds of stories. And that kind of thing, there is always room for that. That kind of imaginative approach that stirs young people into wanting to be connected with science.”

Right on, Mr. Shatner. Star Trek should be back on TV. Period.


There you have it, some very direct ideas on how to “fix” Star Trek and make it relevant and exciting once more. What say you? Respond in the comments with your ideas on how to make Star Trek the groundbreaking entertainment property it once was… to once again bring new blood and new viewers into the fold. To continue to boldly go…

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intodarkness worst st movie? i dont agree
its again your opinion not of everyone

$457 million worldwide, Star Trek Into Darkness is no flop and will eventually make money once Trekkies buy the Blu Rays.

Star Trek back on TV, Agreeeed!!!

I agree with everything.

Disagree…..think the movie was a good action packed movie and looking forward to the bluray.
and it was no flop……so deal with it

Think most fans agree even if you liked the new movies or not.

Great article..

The biggest issue I found with STID, was that from the very beginning that said that the 2009 film had given them the chance of doing their own stories. They even delayed the production of STID to “get the script right, which from memory was covered on this site at one stage.
Knowing this, I was thinking, great an original story. Good. So what did we get? A re-hash of one of the most popular movies. Why? There was no need, and Spock\Kirk don’t have the chemistry yet to accomplish it. In Wrath of Kahn, they had 5 years (or 10 depending on your view) plus the first movie to grow their friendship.

I agree with Karl Urban’s quote more than Shatners. They need to do more original stories. Yes, Star Trek does well on tv, and it’s where it started, but it can do well on both–as the good Star Trek movies, like Wrath of Kahn, etc have shown.

Bottom line: Original stories, please..

What a constructive article!

I do really hope everyone pays attention to the last few lines in which the writer requests that we focus on positive ideas for moving forward, rather than sharing your two cents on why the last film didn’t live up to people’s expectations NUMBER 3!!

I agree that the best move would seem to re-energise on TV; some of my favourite Trek memories definitely came from episodes, the premise of which would not work at all on the big screen. Metamorphasis comes to mind.

I really loved the continuing story line from ST: Enterprise season 3, would love to see something epic unfold like that again. The Iconians could play some part, with their wormhole like portholes which can take you instantaneously from one place to another… but I should admit that I’ve recently become obsessed with Stargate and maybe that’s why I like the idea so much :p

Wouldn’t mind a little Organian intervention, they certainly qualify as something new and unexplored…

The galaxy wide working transporters were really annoying. Section 31 could simply beam a huge bomb to Kronos and get rid of the Klingons there. That makes reviving Khan and building that huge black space ship completely obsolete.

I also think the whole Star Trek II rehash didn’t work so well. Spock’s Khan yell was an extreme caricature. It looks like what you would expect in a Star Trek spoof movie. Overall Spock going in each movie into rage mode and beating up people is just getting ridiculous. All the full human characters have more control over their emotions than him. It is also not particular entertaining. Bruce Banner in Hulk mode is more entertaining. In Avengers some Hulk scenes were even really funny.

The beginning of the last movie was the best part of the film. Niburu looked great. They should do more things like this. Something new. All the time earth being in danger gets old. And I hope this whole conspiracy crap will stop. Star Trek is about a better future. Earth being attacked all the time and the Federation/Starfleet being undermined by shady organizations is the opposite from positive.

I am pessimistic though. I suspect the next movie will be about a huge war with the Klingons and maybe other races. Earth will again be in danger. Section 31 will again do something shady. Spock will have a hand to hand battle with Kang, Kor or Koloth and the transporters will be used again completely inconsistent. Sometimes they will work, sometimes not, sometimes they are only able to beam a short distance, sometimes they will beam across the galaxy.

@ 4. Melllvar

“The Iconians could play some part, with their wormhole like portholes which can take you instantaneously from one place to another…”

We have instant travel already. It is called transporters. Khan could beam from Earth to Kronos.

It would also work if, instead of all the space ships shooting at each other, the reboot universe would focus on scifi ways of exploring and criticising social constructs, “morality”, race and gender roles the way most of previous Trek did.

its an enjoyable film.are they problems with the film yes,however name one trek film thats dose not have problems?and yeah the great and well not that great star trek 2,for real they never notice a planet missing, for that matter why were they even there!plus in all of the galaxy that was the only planet without life! i love trek 6 however Spock kind of mind rape someone on the bridge in front of everyone,kirk and sulu don’t even try and disable the Klingon ship and it seem don’t even think about it either.the thing is this film would never be in the billion dollar club,it should of made 300 million,and i wonder if it had would the story be a little different!!! i do agree that star trek lives better on TV,and homeland,dexter,bsg work become they have a arch,doctor who works because it has a arch,i wold love to see star trek back on TV with a season long arch like enterprise season 3 or do a ds9.but for the films its just going to be a fun ride

I´ve always read the books casually along the years, sometimes picking what was on the shelves, but now, with this Trek book “blackout”, i´m chasing over the hundreds of books i have missed.

So, in turn, it happens that I didn´t run out of Trek at all, it´s just that a lifetime seems short to read everything that was written out of Star Trek.

I think not everyone here read all the books or all the comics from all the publishers, most of them from the 1990´s a real golden age of published Trek. Maybe they should look them up as well.

#6 Mel

Yes, this is true over short distances (with of course the exception of the Kronos beam in the new film) — but the Iconian technique was not limited in any way in quantity and distance, or so I understand it. I remember in TNG they were in awe of that technology.

Oh and thanks for all of your positive ideas (sarcasm savagely intended) — I would like to refer you to the end of the article;

‘Respond in the comments with your ideas on how to make Star Trek the groundbreaking entertainment property it once was’.

I understand everyone’s frustration about the film, but is anyone else out there getting sick of constantly reading about how ‘i hated this’ or ‘i hated that’?

The next film could be bad or good, but I definitely DON’T think it’s necessary to assume the worst… hell, we’re the fans right? Let’s try to make this thread an amazing collaboration of what everyone WANTS in the future, as opposed to what we disliked about the past!

That is funny.
When I suggested that Paramount rid themselves of the current writing team and cull stories and ideas from real scifi writers just like the various series have done the message was deleted by this very site.
Probably because it was looked on as an attack…which of course it was.
Free speech has never been a trade mark here on this site any way.

Don’t worry, we will be seeing Khan vs. the Klingons. Vs the Federation for the third film. These writers can’t write any thing thought provoking and original…but will be paid huge sums of money for toilet water scripts.
Which is a shame, the cast is wonderful and very talented. what a waste it will be.

Also, you forgot to mention that Star Trek fans are cheap. They perceive TV as being “FREE”
They don’t want to “pay” to watch Star Trek.
This is the number one reason why Star Trek Toys have never taken off in stellar sales.
These part time fast food employees don’t have the loot to spend on movies and toys.
Besides they have to save their money to buy customs to play dress up and attend conventions.

“nowhere near the billion-dollar blockbuster that Paramount had hoped.”

If Paramount expected STID to do THAT well, they’re completely insane. I still liked STID for what it was, but there was no way it would make a billion dollars. I’m starting to see more and more that production companies like SquareEnix or Paramount/CBS completely lose touch with reality and expect blockbuster success when nothing points to it (see Tomb Raider, Deus Ex HR, and Sleeping Dogs to back up my SquareEnix reference). Plus, STID still did pretty well, making over $450M worldwide, which makes it even harder to swallow that they look at STID as ‘underperforming’. That’s well over twice its budget.

I’m rooting for the success of the new movies so it can pave the way for Trek to come back to TV, where it belongs. Hopefully that’s when the top notch writing comes back, too, because Trek won’t survive without it.

I’m really hoping that someone will bring Trek back as the type of shows that are critically successful these days, like Breaking Bad or House of Cards. That means shorter seasons (~12 episodes per season), focused stories, and high budgets per episode. I want to see someone come in and say something like “I know exactly what each episode will be for the first 3 seasons, and a framework for the two after that” so that we don’t have so many useless filler episodes that plagued Trek at times. If it gets the same old episodic, throwaway filler with nonsensical decision making and shallow characters (Voyager, Enterprise) then the show will fail and the franchise will truly die.

Constant cynicism from aged star trek fans is the thing that breaks trek.

They are unwilling to like anything. They remind me of a man i met that was absolutely insistent nothing existed after the original series. Like his brain would melt whenever anyone talked about tng or voyager.

At first i though yeah ok we all have our likes and dislikes. Then i thought well actually thats just sad and somewhat pathetic.

You don’t have to like anything but holy cow, the lesson across all 5 treks and all the films is one of tolerance. So why is it when people do not like something they abhor it. They spit poison into comments and forums as if it is the literal death of the franchise.

You know what has broken trek? Fans.

Good assessment, i must say i agree with just about everything. A TV series akin to some of the cutting-edge shows we’re seeing or have seen on TV, that’s what Star Trek needs.
If only…

#10 The Keeper

If you don’t like this site then why do you still come here, or better still, why don’t you just make your own??

What’s with all the negativity bro?! If your lack of confidence in the potential future for the Trek if truly so non-existent then perhaps you would be a happier person if you stopped visiting a site dedicated to this ‘dying franchise’. And I for one would be a lot happier with the site no longer being plagued by your unproductive depressing negativity!

Star Trek is supposed to be about hope for the future. I want to badly to live in the future depicted in the Trek universe for it’s refreshing optimism and positive outlook with respect to our potential as humans to throw aside all the capitalist bullshit and greed that seems to be everywhere in the present.

And so, my fellow trekkies, let us follow the example of this wonderful depiction of the future and at the very least approach the future of Star Trek in an optimistic fashion!!!

Rabid fans are the death of Star Trek. They are a reason you have lame episodes that use some contrived explanation for Klingon difference in appearance instead of actually doing interesting stories. I say no to a Trek TV show. Let the films do their stuff for a while.

You know what: I can take this summer blockbuster approach to the Star Trek movies as long as we have a TV series beside it. It doesn’t need to be on the same era or universe, just give us our TV series. I understand that Paramount doesn’t have the rights to produce anymore TV series, and they want to do something with their license, but please, CBS, bring back our Star Trek to the small screen too. I really hope that the 50th anniversary present to the fans will be a new TV series. 2 years and something to go, so get on with the planning. I don’t mind if it comes earlier, I want our TV series as soon as possible without being rushed …

I’m not convinced that the next movie will feature another ‘huge war’ with the Klingons. It appears the Klingon and/or Romulan conflict is the subject of at least the next few issues of the ongoing comics. Perhaps this will be dealt with there and enable the next movie to break into something completely different.

I think I would like the next movie to be a new storyline, however much the temptation to reimagine The Doomsday Machine or (insert favourite episode or villain here). Let the Enterprise boldly go and explore strange new worlds. Let’s not have another reimaginging of something we’ve already seen play out in the prime universe.

And yes, the best place for Star Trek is the small screen. The movies are, and always have been, a rather different animal. In my opinion, it is the episodic Star Trek that can inspire the next generation (pun not intended) with optimism for the future and the desire to be involved in making it happen.

To use a cliche-ridden metaphor here : Star Trek movies are the icing on the cake of the Star Trek universe; but without new Star Trek stories on the small screen, we end up with all icing and no cake…

I’m not a fan of the Original Series, and have no real knowledge about the original characters other than the most basic facts. I loved loved loved STTNG. And I can’t watch the original series without laughing hysterically.

I must say, I actually like the reboot movies. Having no preconceived notion of how the characters are and how they go about doing their thing actually makes it interesting for me, to see how they grew from movie to movie. I liked Khan as portrayed by BC. I like the new cast. Basically, I’m a fangirl of this alternate universe. Is it perfect? Of course not. Do I want original material in the next movie? HELL YES! But it’s not the disaster that everyone is moaning about. It actually converted a couple of my fans who were NOT fans of Star Trek in the first place. And that, to me, is what a movie is supposed to do. Draw you into another universe and make you interested to actually want to explore more.

I agree that Star Trek needs to be on TV. But to be frank, even my beloved STTNG had terrible episodes and movies. They have to do the next TV series right, maybe play in the alternate universe sandbox with a different ship and crew. A darker, more cynical universe but still having the same optimism to go where no man has gone before.

You are aware that the first ‘poll’ was basically strung along by the host of that particular event. I mean it was covered by Bad Ass Digest, lets not pretend this is some kind of AP Poll.

Even the second was conducted by ACCESS HOLLYWOOD! Good lord, these things inspired you to write an entire article about how Trek is ‘broken’?

We are talking about a very vocal minority here, and while they have a right to voice their opinions they are a very small representative of the whole.

Critically the movie did excellent and it made more than Trek 09 at the Box Office, and crushed 09’s overseas performance.

I would like for you to provide a source on your claim that Paramount thought Trek would be a billion dollar blockbuster. The only places I saw anything related to Trek and a billion dollars were Box Office sites that were speculating which movies COULD make that much money. Paramount did overreach on their expectations considering the circumstances, but even then they were never that far out of the park.

Star Trek is a brand, it is a business. I know people don’t like to think about that because big corporations are evil, but it is. And you judge how broken a brand is based on how it sells.

So far the last two Trek movies have been critically loved, and made more money than any Trek projects in history and continue an upward climb.

The exact flavor of Star Trek you love isn’t broken, it just isn’t being featured anymore, and that is what irks you so.

Trek has a lot of flavors, if this isn’t to your liking, then I suggest another flavor, there are plenty to choose from.

One thing you didn’t put on here is something that is also very vital to the franchise: Allegorical Stories. At it’s core, Star Trek Was and is an Allegorical statement about humanity. During it’s original run in the 60’s it talked about a wide variety of topics relevant to the day such as the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, and the Human condition.
Star Trek (09) had originality but it lacked, as you said, good writing and to an extent Allegorical undertones. The last film (and don’t shoot me for saying this) I liked more due to it’s allegorical statement. Where it failed was it’s lack of originality. What we need with this next film is an original, allegorical story that is truly relevant to our culture today and makes a bold statement.

I agree with Karl Urban, they should be doing more original stories. I liked Into Darkness, but I was let down when they revealed he was Khan. That was the ultimate cop-out I think, showed a lack of originality, and then that whole engine room scene. Total cop out. Khan is such a huge character, he held the world in terror in the Eugenics Wars, he held a starship in terror, and he stole the Genesis Device, which was the only thing that killed him. Not Spock, not Kirk, Khan set off a bomb and blew up. So turning a Section 31 agent into Khan is not only a disservice to Khan, it’s actually a huge disservice to John Harrison who in his own right was turning out to be a pretty good villain. That the writers seemed to have a need to make him Khan shows a lack of faith in their character, and that is never a good thing. The audience is smart, the audience will pick up on that. And the fact that this movie was criticized shows that there’s a weakness on their part to sell us on John so they made John Khan so we would accept that he is Khan instead. But, they had us up until they revealed Khan they had our attention, then they reveal he’s Khan and lost us. Now by having Khan work with Kirk to stop the Mad Admiral, okay, but then nope, Trek 2 obvious reference lost us again.
No, the next Star Trek movie has to not only wow the norms who go to the theater, but it has to make us Trek fans want to come back for more. Reboot 1 did that pretty well, reboot 2 not as much I think. The next Trek really needs to be about their 5 year mission at this point, Star Trek is not a giant blockbuster movie, it never was. And I don’t think Trek at the movies will ever really go away, I mean Final Frontier, Nemesis? No, I don’t think Trek is broken: Remember, Spock’s Brain. that TNG episode where the crew mutates. That Voyager episode where Janeway and Tom mutate. that Enterprise ep where some of the crew mutate? Oh how about Sub Rosa? What Star Trek needed was some off air time, time to reboot itself, and right now I think it’s being worked on, and it’ll take time. Star Trek has always been about reinvention and exploration, and sometimes you have to rework it. But in my opinion, Star Trek itself will never go away.

Thank you Mr. Dickerson! And thank you Trekmovie! These things needed to be said on this site in an article and not just in the comments sections. While I don’t agree with every single thing in the article – I’m happy to see new stories about the original crew – I’m in agreement most of what was written. In particular the need for SOLID science fictional ideas. The current writers have proven they can produce money-making blockbusters but they have not show they can write good science fiction.

And BTW, it’s ‘ Hear, hear’ not ‘here, here’… a little pet peeve of mine.

@ 9. Melllvar I made clear suggestion for improvement. Use technology consistent. They should make sense in the Star Trek universe. What transporters can or can not do changed constantly from scene to scene in the last two movies. That is bad writing. The characters should be better developed. I don’t buy Kirk and Spock being the best friends ever so far, when we haven’t seen a reason for that yet. I mean at the beginning of the last movie Spock clearly betrayed Kirk and cause him to lose his command. Not what you would expect from a really good friend. But Pike handily dies 10 minutes later and that conflict is soon forgotten and they are BFF again timely for the Kirk death scene. Spock should act also more like a Vulcan. He is showing more emotions on his face all the time than the rest of the full human characters. It makes the character far less interesting and less alien, which is a bad thing. There are enough other very emotional characters already. There is really no need to turn Spock into another one. And I want to see a POSITIVE future. No conspiracies in the Federation/Starfleet, no terrorist attacks, Earth should be save for once. I rather see new alien worlds like Niburu. Something new. Not Klingons and Romulans again. The Enterprise having to fight against a big bad black space ship controlled by a male baddy bend on revenge is also getting old. It has also nothing to do with exploration. Not that voicing opinions here will influence the writers in any way. If the clear majority of posters on this site will say something it doesn’t mean, that it will happen. There were for example many polls about Khan on this site in the past and he was still shoehorned awkwardly into the movie, despite hardly anyone wanting it. I posted those polls before. Here they are again: — Villain for Star Trek sequel? Kang/Klingons (40%) Khan (10%) Borg (6%) Other past Trek villain (8%) New character/race (36%) Total Votes: 1,293 Start Date: May 19, 2009 @ 1:57 pm —— Khan in Star Trek sequel? Good idea (10%) Unsure/maybe (29%) Bad idea (61%) Total Votes: 735 Start Date: June 26, 2009 @ 1:34 pm —— Khan in Star Trek sequel? Yes, he is the superior villain (6%) Maybe, but with a different spin (25%) No, been there, done that (twice) (69%) Total Votes: 780 Start Date: November 3, 2009 @ 7:32 pm —— Villains for Star Trek sequel Klingons (50%) Romulans (3%) Khan & Genetic Augments (5%) Other TOS era villain (10%) Borg (6%) Cardassians (1%) Other TNG era villain (0%) Internal Federation villain (8%) New race villain (10%) Force of nature villain (7%) Total Votes: 456 Start Date: October 26, 2009 @ 12:17 am —— Choice for Villain for STAR TREK 2012 Khan (11%) Klingons (37%) Other TOS villain (11%) Other TNG or ENT villain (8%) New villain (33%) Total Votes: 3,431 Start Date: September 11, 2010 @ 11:00 am —— Villain in Star Trek sequel? Khan (6%) Kor, Kang, other Klingon (29%) Romulans (2%) Tholians (5%) Gorn (6%) Borg (6%) Other TOS villain/entity (5%) Other TNG, VOY, DS9, ENT villain/entity (3%) New villain individual/race/entity (10%) New villain ‘concept’ (28%) Total Votes: 2,790 Start Date: April 5, 2011 @ 12:56 pm —— Khan For Star Trek Sequel? Yes (9%) Only if done in new way (25%) No (66%) Total Votes: 510 Start Date: November 18, 2011 @ 3:12 pm —— Guess what role Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Khan (7%) A Klingon (10%) Garth of Izar (4%) Gary Seven (5%) Q (12%) Other known Star Trek character/race (10%) A new alien villain (28%) A new human villain (24%) Total Votes: 2,382 Start Date: January 5, 2012 @ 10:09 pm —— Your guess for STAR TREK 2013 Villain Gary Mitchell (21%) Garth of Izar (9%) Khan (11%) Other augment/Botany Bay survivor (8%) Other known Star Trek character (8%) New character (43%) Total Votes: 1,079 Start Date: February 24, 2012 @ 9:46 pm —— Guess Cumberbatch Into Darkness Villain Gary Mitchell (47%) Gary Seven (1%) Khan (20%) Garth of Izar (10%) Charlie X (1%) Joachim (or other Augment) (6%) Other (15%) Total Votes: 3,614 Start Date: December 7, 2012 @ 4:15 pm —— (After seeing Trailers/preview) Guess Cumberbatch Into Darkness Villain Gary Mitchell (10%) Gary Seven (0%) Khan (38%) Garth of Izar (3%) Charlie X (0%) Robert April (1%) Joachim (or other Augment) (12%) Just ‘John Harrison’ (new character…nothing more) (32%) Other (4%) Total Votes: 3,288 Start Date: December 17, 2012 @ 2:12 pm —— A few polls are unclear without the article belonging to them. You don’t know for sure, if people were asked, who they think the villain will be or who they want as… Read more »

Hollywood makes my heart hurt.
$450+, number seven film (I think) of the year, and still Paramount is whining about how it didn’t bring home a billion dollars? Geez!

I agree with most of the points in your article, JD (can I call you J?). You see to be saying that a movie could launch a new crew, and I’m not really sure the audience would accept that with a billion-dollar hug. It would seem that that would take a slow build, a la TV series, to work. I’d tune in, but I’m not sure I’d buy tickets.

With all due respect to Bob Orci, YES, please bring in some radical minds. Or buy some property and adapt ’em! I hear Hollywood has had good luck stealing shamelessly from this Billy Shakespeare kid.

And I agree with poster that there’s no either/or as to whether Trek belongs on TV or movies. It can be both, if done right.

One thing you left out: promotion. Paramount ran a fairly conventional promotional campaign for this movie, with TONS of cast appearances and a fair amount of commercials. But where is the between-film stuff? I harp on a lack of toys… since it really is about constantly bringing in kids who buy tickets. But, there are other ways that people in these threads want: a cartoon series, for one.

I really hope Paramount is listening… or else that they SELL Trek to a studio that will do it right.

My hope is that maybe something will come from this “Star Trek: Renegades” project. Renegades on TV would be fantastic.

I just cant agree with the idea that Star Trek in “broken” some how. It doesnt add up, especially coming off the two highest box office grossing films of the franchise.

Is Trek broken on TV? Well ya, in fact it doesnt exist there right now. And that stinks. But it seems CBS is in NO rush to get Trek back on TV anytime in the near future (not even an animated series). Hopefully that changes, but I’m not holding my breath.

So yes TV Trek isnt doing so good at the moment, but film Trek is rocking. I just wish BOTH parties would work together! It would be a great benefit to the franchise as a whole if they did IMO.

Star Trek is NOT broken.

BR however… ;-)

In regards to #18 Beamer
“Where it failed was it’s lack of originality. What we need with this next film is an original, allegorical story that is truly relevant to our culture today and makes a bold statement.”

The story was original for Star Trek. As original as any story can be since everything is derivative of everything else.

Also I want to thank you for at least acknowledging that there is an allegorical tale told in STiD. You’d be amazed at the number of people who can’t see what is right in front them.

But I would disagree to a point. Back in the 60’s even up into the 80’s you could tell those kinds of stories because the number of people talking about them didn’t have a way to reach a larger audience. Allegory was powerful because movies were a way to connect people with ideas easily.

While I appreciate the allegory in STiD I also know that it is 2013, and there is nothing being said in that movie or questions asked that have already been debated a millions times over in a million places on the internet.

I mean the questions posed on STiD are good ones to ask, but people have been asking themselves those questions for years now.

It will be tough to be bold when movies take years to make and the internet already provides a tool for people to connect and discuss in real time.

Star Trek Into Darkness is one of the best films of the year — a tough-minded, modern take on the Star Trek universe. Beautifully made — it’s an amazing looking movie in a world tired of computer animation — and featuring genuinely strong story-telling (and this comes from a great admirer of WOK), and strong, impressive performances from Misters Pine, Cumberbatch and Ms. Eve. The Klingon sequences set me on edge and the revelation of Khan made an audience member behind me gasped. I think Mr. Abrams and his team should be congratulated on reinventing a classic.

@ Hugh Hoyland

I really wonder why they don’t even have an animated series. The way they market Star Trek now, it is only one big popcorn movie every few year, which are fast forgotten by most viewers after watching it and nothing else. Not a way to treat a huge franchise and especially not a way to gain new fans.

My young nephews, who haven’t watched any of the Star Wars movies yet, are still huge Star Wars fans. They watch the animated series, are collecting Star Wars cards, have Nintendo DS Star Wars games, etc. That is a way to get new fans.

They also do this with Avengers. There aren’t only the big movies. There are also animated series, toys for children and soon there will be even a live action series for adults with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Star Trek really need to be back on TV with a new series, at least an animated one, but ideally a live action series.

The new Star Trek movies are enjoyable as short time entertainment. The first one was a good start and some things, which didn’t make so much sense in it when you thought more about it, can be excused, because they had to established the characters anew. That was some effort.

But the second movie should have stopped with the numerous plotholes. A clear storyline should come first. It just feels like the writers had a few ideas and scenes in mind and then were trying to write a storyline around those, which didn’t always worked so well. And I really didn’t like this whole DARKNESS direction. Star Trek is about a positive future. Making the futures so bleak and humans stabbing each other in the back is exactly the opposite from it. They talked so much in the interviews about how it is a 11th September allegory. I really don’t think people hope that the future will look like a bad period of the past.

The last Star Trek movie was mostly nice in the moment you watched it and was blinded by all the special effects. But there was nothing lasting about it and when you thought more about it, it was a disappointing sequel. It wasn’t all bad, but it could have been so much better. I mean I am a huge Star Trek fans, but I was still more entertained by other big blockbusters movies from the last few years.

A new series would probably concentrate less on special effects and more on good stories, ideally here and there something thought provoking. If they make a new series I hope though, that they don’t go the DARK route there. It doesn’t suit the Star Trek universe. So nothing like new BSG or SGU, in which everyone is distrusting everyone else and everyone is scheming against the other.

I thoroughly enjoyed STID, but that’s because I’m a lifelong fan and knew who Khan was and ‘got’ the in-jokes. And that’s a condemnation because the parallel universe was supposed to allow new stories.

I disagree with the author about needing a new crew: for me Star Trek has always been about Kirk, Spock and McCoy, the archetypal warrior, priest and doctor as representatives of ‘us’ and they are Trek’s greatest asset. In the same way, the classic Enterprise with its historic naval name and uncomplicated design kept the focus on the mission, not the technology.

The last thing the Star Trek franchise needs is yet another new crew and another starship that is essentially the classic Enterprise with knobs on and thus over-complicated and ugly! Reboot it properly this time – no past actors providing cheat sheets. Just hire some good actors to play Kirk, Spock and McCoy, optionally use the other secondary cast characters, but feel free to replace them/regender them, get some great science fiction writers who can come up with concepts and explore them, rather than soap writers who write ‘tech tech’ as a cover for a pseudo-science fantasy plot. And actually, maybe ditch the Klingons, Romulans, Borg and so on. Start with a clean sheet: Kirk, Spock and McCoy on the Enterprise, far outside Federation space, away from Starfleet exploring strange new worlds.

I want to see a proper Star Trek series, not a series about Star Trek.

Where does anyone get the idea that Into Darkness is not a successful movie?
$460 million worldwide on a budget of $190 million. It did worse in the US but by far better overseas. Saying that it didn’t bring in new fans is absurd. With the advent of the internet and video piracy I’m sure many many others have seen it without paying for it and that’s unfortunate.
The movie has been number 1 on amazon.com since it was put up for preorder and will make plenty more from digital being sold since August 20th.
People have complained about extras for the blu ray being broken up into several different retailers as exclusive, but i’m sure youtube will take care of things people don’t see on the specific one they buy.

Face up to the fact that it’s hard to make the morality plays that Gene Roddenberry did back in the 60’s. TNG was less about morality and more on the aspect of exploring but there are still antagonists. It’s just reality that it takes more these days to make a tale like Star Trek into a motion picture that attracts all types. Core fans seem to not want to let Star Trek grow and move on with current times. It’s not going to happen where you introduce todays public to 1960’s Trek…They have no interest in it. The Star Trek being written now is not made for core Trek fans alone, but core fans want it that way. Sorry, move passed that.
Star Trek 2009, and Into Darkness were both great movies…You know how I know that? Not by my opinion, but by the all the critics and fans that made their own ratings and rated 2009 95% and STID 87% all despite the nitpicking by the die hards including myself.

Truth to tell, I am over it.

I’ll continue to give “Trek” my time in terms of new filmed material, but turning it into shit does not work like it did for Star Wars and Indiana Jones, which made billions even when they were presented in their latest incarnations to the public as unwatchable garbage. When Trek is unwatchable, it just loses money for the filmmakers, and the fact that it made $459M worldwide, and is still considered a failure by some is simply a testament to the quality of the final product.

No investment in the fanbase (cartoons, actually playable videogame tie-ins, toys for people under 30), and lying to the fans about Khan as the villain, and the reason for the film’s delay (it wasn’t to write a better film…it would’ve been better if that had been the reason) are both big minuses, let alone the major screw-up in the Blu-Ray releases’ extras content.

The only hope is the wonderful set of actors they somehow managed to get into the latest film series.

It would also be a wise move to get a “show-runner” type character back in the fold who would shape Star Trek’s vision for the future, rather than JJ and his guys-for-hire who seem to show up only when something else isn’t keeping them more importantly engaged. As someone important once said, “One man with a vision!”

“Star Trek just isn’t appealing as it once was…”

And, exactly, what aspect of the 400 million-plus worldwide box office dollars brought the author to this conclusion?? Into Darkness is the most successful Trek movie ever produced….yet “Star Trek isn’t appealing as it once was…”. Not really sure how to react to that. Lol. A case of sour grapes I suppose.

it isn’t appealing as it was….for a very few perhaps. Witness the forthcoming DVD sales. Trek IS popular, people DID love Into Darkness, they WILL buy Millions of DVDs…it WILL make even more money and there WILL be more movies.

Contrary to what Chicken Little and his friends are crying, the sky is not falling. Not by a long shot.

@27 Mel

Me to, and I think a lot of other fans have mentioned an animated series would be just what the Dr ordered for Television (at least for a start). But from what I understand CBS said nope, no thanks.

Which is why I dont see them making a new Star Trek series anytime soon. Because you would think CBS would have jumped at the chance to put out something connected to the surprise hit that Star Trek 09 was. Heck even Tron: Legacy got a short run anima series. Not to mention Star Wars, Tranformers, Batman, Superman ect. But Trek, nothing.

I’m no studio exec but it would seem to me if you want to grow a franchise you want to get kids to like it since they’ll be adults one day with money. So an animated series would be a great start.

Right now we have the comics, which are great. But thats not enough IMO.

I’m not sure I’d characterize Trek as broken, but more in need of a tune up. There were enough nagging issues in Trek 09 to suggest that focus might become a problem, and that manifested itself in STID. When the talking points of STID continue to be it’s mistakes, there are a few weeds in the garden….

Easiest one-step approach to improving Trek:

Give it to Joss Whedon.

Just because a movie makes a lot of money, doesn’t mean that it’s of the highest quality. See: Star Wars Ep: I-III. While I don’t believe STID is the worst film among the 12, I also don’t believe it is the best; it could have been much better. I agree with much of what the author of this article had to say in his critique. With that said, I also don’t outright condemn the writers of STID because I do think they delivered an entertaining movie, I just hope they gracefully take into consideration some of the constructive feedback for the next one.


Whether you agree with the article or not, it does raise some great questions as to what defines the Star Trek format and when does ST cease to be ST. Obviously the author has his own views on these questions, as do many of the commenters. This ongoing debate is partly driven by the fact that the original ST premise provided such a flexible format for telling all kinds of stories – it supported science fiction stories, pure action/adventure (aka space opera), comedy, romance, etc. Clearly some fans define ST by the characters and the universe they live in, whereas other fans – including the author – believe ST has to include the speculative fiction aspect (btw, if you’ve never seen Gene Roddenberry’s original ‘pitch’ of ST to the TV networks, it’s an interesting read – a copy can be found here: http://leethomson.myzen.co.uk/Star_Trek/1_Original_Series/Star_Trek_Pitch.pdf.)

I think those fans who pine (oops, no pun intended) for the original format can expect continued disappointment. First, as the author alludes, it’s pretty hard to do on the big screen – not impossible, perhaps, but hard to do well. By default, the stories on the big screen are more likely to focus on the character arcs, and thus are more likely to be of the space opera variety. The Abrams team has 3 2-hour films to work with, not 26 50-minute episodes. Second, and just as important, Paramount wants mainstream blockbusters, the current definition of which would seem to preclude the more thoughtful elements of the ST format. Today’s mainstream movie audiences are generally not buying (at least not in large numbers) what Gene Roddenberry was pitching in 1964 (although Inception might be a notable exception). So whether the two Abrams films fit your definition of ST or not, I do not think anyone should expect the third film to be any different. Paramount doesn’t want it, and the writers aren’t focused on it. The current ST ‘brand,’ as one commenter put it, will entertain you but it’s not going to make you think. You may or may not be satisfied with that.

Star Trek was brought back, on TV and the fans rejected it.

The series Enterprise embodied the spirit of Star Trek, as described above and was cancelled for its trouble.

For better or worse, the Abrams Trek is box-office success and the entertainment industry is a business, which will ensure at least another motion picture for this offshoot.

Hopefully, one that might kick off a television series that gives good writers a platform to bring thoughtful, exciting and above all, entertaining stories to the small screen.

A reboot worked for the excellent Battlestar Galactica, after all.

Star Trek is not BROKEN… BORED universe is!

just saying… anyway, I respect the article!

Btw, where’s AP these days? :-)

Go back to TV.

The movies were fun, but not as good as the shows.

Television has always been the best format for Star Trek because Star Trek was created for television.

I vote for an anthology series. ;D

What is wrong with the fanbase right now? Saying things like Trek is broken, Into Darkness wasn’t a true and faithful Trek film just seems a bit egregious to me.

JJ Abrams and his team have stoked the furnace of making Trek relevant again in pop culture. Having said that, the film’s aren’t supposed to be some methodical storyline that can only fit into a 2 hour window. The latest film did successfully channel the themes of friendship, losing a loved one, betrayal, etc That’s still pretty good for just a 2 hour running time, but sure, if you want the deeper stories, get Trek back on TV. And given how successful the latest two films have been, I don’t see why Trek would be “broken” to the point where a new TV series can’t happen.

Just seems like the so-called die hards are whining and complaining over too many things. There’s a lot to love about Into Darkness, you just have to look for it amidst the faster and relentless action scenes. It’s also a very well acted film.

Loosen up people! We managed to get two new Trek films in the past 4 years that I’m honestly surprised even saw the light of day considering……………. Trek WAS broken back in 2002! Nuff said

Agree with many but not all of the points.

A new ship and crew have also been done to death (VGR & ENT anyone?). People seem to prefer the classic characters and ship. Star Trek is about the family of characters, IMO.

And a return to TV.
Yes, someday perhaps… but I could wait a while longer.

The first part of the editorial made the most sense; the show has to return to its original mission statement; to explore strange new worlds, etc. ST at this point reminds me of NASA; an agency in search of a mission. A once proud thing that lately has had to serve too many public interests. In the process? It’s kind of lost itself.

ST, in it’s attempt to be the popular kid, has now tried to turn into a spacefaring super-hero/action movie (complete with super-villiains hell bent on revenge). It’s lost itself. The optimism and hope for a better future that once flowed through ST’s DNA is now a glimmer seen only at the very end of the show. Now? We have the crew battling terrorism and a villain who is a KINO (Khan In Name Only). I’m surprised Starfleet and Section 31 didn’t just flash the bat signal….

THIS is what’s wrong with ST; Star Trek is about more than just stopping terrorists or beating up super villains. It’s about reaching common ground; learning to live with differences rather than just hating and destroying them. I see almost NONE of that humanism in the latest incarnation of STID. Yes, Kirk finds out the bad guy has a reason for his heinous crimes, but guess what? He’s still a bad guy who needs to be stopped (and re-frozen) at all costs anyway! Again, it’s Batman not Star Trek….

TOS’ “Devil in the Dark”, “Arena”, “By Any Other Name”, “Spectre of the Gun”, “Day of the Dove” and yes, even “Space Seed” all had examples of ‘villains’ were weren’t just killed or stopped; they reached an understanding with our heroes. They each met on common ground, and learned to live together and not wipe each other out. That was the critical difference of old ST to the new.

And it’s this quality more than any other that new ST needs. In our current climate of paranoia and fear over terrorism, we need to demonstrate a future (however fictitious) where the best parts of ourselves can overcome our darker impulses.

I’m for a new trek series but I prefer the typical cable TV or premium channel model where there’s only 10 or 15 episodes a year. That’ll keep the quality of the shows higher. The show should be the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. And I’m all for a parallel theatrical movie every few years that’ll pull in more of the mainstream audience. Pulling in mainstream could increase the ratings of a TV series – worldwide.
It would be nice if someone from inside the business could talk about what is preventing Trek from coming back to TV. Is there a Snowden-like person working for CBS that can get the word out??? ;)