Today, CBS announced that there will be a new Star Trek television series in January 2017, executive produced by Alex Kurtzman, one of the writers of 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness movies.
Suffice it to say, I had thoughts on this today, which is why I wrote about it on Facebook:
No one has asked me, but here’s what I would do if I were in charge of the new Star Trek series.
Go way into the future. I was thinking 31st-century, but it was pointed out to me on Twitter that Enterprise has shown us that, so go another hemimillennium at least. In other words, go far enough out that Kirk and Picard are little more than names and the narrative chalkboard is blank. (Plus, going out that far makes the question of which timeline this series takes place in meaningless. Go 1500 years past Picard, and it simply doesn’t matter any more.)
Go wild with the tech. Maybe the Federation, besides being a technological utopia, is on the cusp of becoming a Kardashev-III civilization. It would be more accurate to think of the people of this time as post-human, even post-Singularity, not unlike the Borg but far more benign.
Go someplace new. By this time, the Milky Way has been explored out, so let’s open up new galaxies.
Embrace arc-based storytelling. As late as Enterprise, Star Trek was still told in an episodic style that went out of style circa 1982. Modern storytelling moved on, and by the time the plug was pulled on Enterprise, Star Trek in general felt like a refugee from another time.
Those are the first four ideas that came to mind.
As I thought about it throughout the day, another idea occurred to me.
I would do a full reboot of Star Trek, rather than the partial reboot that the 2009 movie was. And I should say that I like the 2009 and 2013 movies, especially Into Darkness (though I think it should end about twenty minutes before it does). And a question on Facebook about the differences between Star Trek 1.0 (in other words, the original Star Trek series, the first ten movies, and the four spin-off television series) and Star Trek 2.0 (the 2009 and 2013 movies) and why I would create a Star Trek 3.0 (and what it should look like) led to write this:
I don’t think the tie between 1.0 (1966-2009) and 2.0 (the Abramsverse) is a bad thing, per se. I understand why the decision was made to make 2.0 what it is, to reassure fans that they were still in the same universe, just its history went a little different. But because 2.0 is built off of 1.0 in a very direct way, the puts some limitations on what can be done with it. 2.0, like 1.0, is still an alternate history rather than a depiction of our possible future.
What I would do with a 3.0 is to throw everything out and start with a blank slate. Pick a century. (I think the 31st-century sounds good, but maybe that’s my Legion of Super-Heroes fandom speaking.) Start with the characters everyone on the street knows — Kirk, Spock, McCoy. And start building from there. Maybe there were no Eugenics Wars. Maybe there wasn’t a Vulcan first contact in about fifty years. Maybe travel through the galaxy happens via hyperspace shunts. Maybe the Federation has existed for ten thousand years and humanity is a Johnny Come Lately. Take into account the world of today. Extrapolate body modification into the future. Consider how tied we all are to our smartphones and consider the line between man and machine and how they will merge over the next fifty or a hundred years — and then imagine what a society that springs from that would be like.
In other words, invent the Star Trek universe again, as if it’s brand new, for the 21st-century instead of trying to build on top of the forty year history of 1.0. When you look at 1.0 (and 2.0) now, what you see is a very conservative view of the future, specifically of humanity and what it will become; it’s like human society advanced to the late 20th-century and then stagnated. Inventing a 3.0 can take Star Trek places that 1.0 and 2.0 could never go, and make it relevant to today’s audiences in a way that 1.0 and 2.0 aren’t.
I would add one thing to that. Audiences are savvy enough to understand that the Superman mythos in next year’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is completely unreleated to CBS’s Supergirl television series. Or that the Spider-Man of Captain America: Civil War is unrelated to the Spider-Man of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or Spider-Man 3. Audiences would likewise be savvy enough to understand that the Kirk and Spock of next year’s Star Trek Beyond film are different than the Kirk and Spock of my hypothetical Star Trek 3.0 reboot.
At this point, it should be said, we know pretty much nothing about what the new Star Trek television series will be, except that it’s unrelated to Star Trek Beyond, it will debut on CBS, and then be streamed exclusively on CBS All Access rather than broadcast on the traditional network. Setting and characters are unknown.
Of course, the lack of facts and hard news won’t stop Star Trek fans from speculating or, worse, hyperventilating and fearing doom. Such things come with the territory.