Tuesday 6 December 2016

No sex please, this is Star Trek: 7 ways Star Trek must evolve to survive in current TV landscape

Published 04/11/2015 | 15:25

Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek. Photo: Getty
Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek. Photo: Getty
Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in Star Trek Into Darkness
Carol Marcus in Star Trek: Into Darkness
Star Trek The Next Generation holodeck
Borg in First Contact

Star Trek is set to boldly go where no beloved sci-fi saga has previously ventured with a move to streaming television. American network CBS has announced plans for a new Trek series, to be aired on its digital platform from early 2017.

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But, more than a decade after the deathly dreary Enterprise lowered the shutters on Star Trek as a small screen franchise, can it once again conquer TV? Here are seven steps Trek must take in order to reclaim its rightful place as sci-fi's most beloved property.

 

1: Season-long storytelling.

With the exception of the brooding Deep Space Nine, Trek favoured 'monster of the week' stories. That was fine in the pre-Sopranos/Wire/Game of Thrones era. But audiences nowadays demand drama they can sink their fangs into. Which means Star Trek 2.0 will have follow the example of Ronald D Moore's successful Battlestar Galactica do-over of the mid 2000s, with an over-arching narrative that builds tension episode by episode.

 

2: William Shatner MUST have a cameo.

The cheesy spirit of '60s Trek has been kept alive by the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner who, having apparently undergone a Vulcan mind meld circa Wrath of Khan, is nowadays as much Jim Kirk as Bill Shatner. If he's up for it, the producers simply have to crowbar him into the new series.

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3: Thank You For Your Work JJ Abrams - But It's Time You Moved On.

Abrams's two Trek movies have been moderately successful. They captured the gosh-wow zing of 'classic' Trek even as they glossed over the intellectual underpinnings that made the series so beloved. In other words, Abrams seemed unable to tell the difference between Star Trek (smart, nerdy) and Star Wars (loud, geeky). Now that he's moved on to his first love of George Lucas's Galaxy Far, Far Away, time to bolt the door and keep him away from Star Trek.

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4: No Sex Please, This Is Star Trek.

Genre television has over recent years tried to squeeze in as much r-rated "action" as possible, from Game Of Thrones (spiritual home of "sexposition") to Netflix's forthcoming Jessica Jones superhero drama. But this is Star Trek and, frankly, too much bared flesh is heretical. Witness the backlash when JJ Abrams's Star Trek: Into Darkness gave us James T Kirk's old squeeze Carol Marcus as a peroxide sexpot. So please, ensign – keep your shirt on.

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5: Go Dark.

If Game of Thrones has taught us anything it's that naked prostitutes can enliven even the drabbest scene. The OTHER thing it has taught us is that, when in doubt, the smartest option is to go dark. It's a lesson Trek would do well to follow. Viewers today enjoy their prime time entertainment with a side-serving of nihilism – a trend to which CBS's Trek will surely need to adhere.

 

6: No Holo Deck.

Yes, we all loved Next Generation. But the Holodeck was an easy get-out for lazy writers. Stuck for a  plot? Let's send Picard and crew back to Merry Olde England as Robin Hood and co (to be fair, that very scenario did yield the never bettered Worf line:  "Captain, I am NOT a merry man").

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7: Less Klingons, More Borg.

The shunning since the First Contact movie of Star Trek's greatest villains is an ongoing mystery.  A relaunched Trek could do worse than set the chilling machine collective up as Star Fleet's ultimate enemy.

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