This week TrekMovie’s Jared Whitley is finishing out the 50th anniversary with a decade-by-decade look at the franchise’s history. Today he looks at the fourth decade and the post-TNG world.
As the 50th comes to an end we’re looking at the various periods of Trek history, decade by decade. Yesterday, we looked at Trek’s Bronze Age that started with TNG “Encounter at Farpoint” and ended with the movie First Contact. Given all the cash made in these years, we called it the Latinum Age. Today we’re looking at Trek’s fourth decade.
Iron Age: 1997 – 2005
While a big-screen battle between Starfleet and the Borg marked the end of Star Trek’s Latinum Age, fans were first greeted to what, at the time, seemed like a bit of comparatively unremarkable Gen-X nostalgia: the Star Wars – Special Edition trailer.
I feel a little disloyal starting off not just the Transparent Aluminum Age but this one as well with something from Star Wars, but it’s pretty hard to discuss the success of either franchise in a vacuum. (Rimshot) We went into the relationship of the two pretty well last year on an episode of The Shuttlepod. If Leonard Nimoy had to thank George Lucas for Star Trek’s second coming, then George Lucas absolutely has to thank Patrick Stewart for Star Wars’.
While Star Trek would continue to plug along in its fourth decade (almost 300 hours worth of new material!), it was obvious some of the holo-paint was beginning to crack. Yes, we had highlights like Seven of Nine, the Dominion War, the Las Vegas Star Trek Experience, and the sublime Y2K-inspired Q vs. Spock. Notable also is the creation of Memory Alpha, started in 2004.
People have talked about franchise fatigue until they’re green in the face, but it wasn’t just that. 1999’s Galaxy Quest gave the world a deconstructionist Star Trek movie that did to our franchise what Austin Powers did to James Bond’s.
A year later, the superhero movie frenzy would start with X-Men and, oh yes, they stole our captain and his perfect mate to do it.
DS9 and VOY both kept the seven-season TNG tradition, but both ended with lower ratings than they’d started. Insurrection was a disappointment and Nemesis was an embarrassment. George Takei’s attempt to get his own series failed. True, the Enterprise pilot roared out of spacedock … but then the series sputtered as though someone had gummed up its trans-warp drive.
The Enterprise pilot’s ratings were such an outlier for the rest of the series that, statistically, you’d conclude the pilot never happened.
Because the franchise was still resilient, but not tough enough to endure the photo torpedoes of the new era, I call this time the Polarized Hull Plating Age. It ended in May 2005 with last flight of the NX-01. “These Are the Voyages” saw more fans yelling to get Star Trek off the air than there were yelling to keep it on. It’d been a long time, but our time was finally … over. Or was it?
Polarized Hull-plating Age
- Start: Jan. 1997
- End: May 2005
- Episodes: 284 – 68 (DS9), 118 (VOY), 98 (ENT)
- Movies: 2
Return tomorrow for the fifth and final chapter, as we enter Trek’s Modern Age!
|Read the rest of the 5 Ages of Trek:|
|The 5 Ages of Trek – Day 1|
|The 5 Ages of Trek – Day 2|
|The 5 Ages of Trek – Day 3|
|The 5 Ages of Trek – Day 5|