Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Where Is Star Trek Going?

Just as the original series drops on DVD, some fans and even producers of the Trek franchise are calling for a halt.

The last two Trek movies didn't do as well as previous ones and "Enterprise," the current Trek television manifestation, has been struggling for ratings.

The Times(registration required) quotes Denise Crosby complaining about the relentless pace of new Trek stories since "Next Generation" came on the air in the early 90's.

"As soon as one series ends, the next one begins right away. How can you sustain that? The bar has been raised so high with sci-fi films. I'm not talking just about special effects but interesting, elaborate tales. You need to step back and refocus on what's pertinent to this moment in time."

Sounds like good advice.

I've seen every Star Trek movie, most of the original series and some of "Next Generation." I've never had much interest in any of the other stories. Apparently, I'm not alone.

The original series, driven as it was by fascinating characters with real inner conflicts, was able to comment on the human situation without coming off as didactic or pompous. This is where all the other Trek permutations have failed.

While fan fatigue may be one reason for lackluster interest, Trek creators need to look more deeply at creating complex characters whose struggles illuminate our own. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like this is the plan. The Times story says the plan to salvage "Enterprise" involves making it more political and, likely, more preachy.

Next season the series will feature "another arc of stories (that) will concern civil war on Vulcan, Mr. Spock's planet, which Mr. Coto (new co-executive producer) says will 'covertly examine the war in Iraq and the direction of the country.'" I'll be shocked if they can pull it off. With this kind of plan, the series, I suspect, is doomed.

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