Considering the current nerd friendly climate, it's no surprise that Star Trek is about to experience a bit of a renaissance. Simon Pegg is ready to win fan approval with his Star Trek Beyond script, and the most important news of all is that after years of waiting, Star Trek is finally getting a new TV show! But as exciting as the new Star Trek series is, there are many elements to consider.
With the weight of 50 years of Star Trek riding on its shoulders, this new show has a lot to live up to, as well as a lot to achieve: CBS is hinging the success of their new streaming platform on the Trek show. Everything from the plot to the production is under scrutiny right now, despite the show barely being out of the concept stage.
Boldly Going Back To Prime
The setting is definitely one of the most discussed issues for the new Star Trek series. JJ Abrams' movies had a huge effect on the fanbase: dividing veteran fans, the setting nonetheless brought in new viewers who weren't bogged down with years of Trek lore.
The new show has a similar problem to face. In order to win over old fans the quality has to be fantastic, but the new series can't dive back into plot threads from The Next Generation or Deep Space 9. The new Star Trek series also has to appeal to new fans who are familiar with the reboot. But that doesn't mean the Prime Timeline is out: in fact, it seems increasingly likely that this is exactly when the new show will be set.
"The new television series is not related to the upcoming feature film Star Trek Beyond which is scheduled to be distributed by Paramount Pictures in summer 2016." - Official press release.
One way to distance the new Trek series from the reboot films is definitely to place it in the Prime Timeline, but when is the crucial point. There are many options, but the most likely would be after Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant, after the destruction of Romulus (which started the reboot plot), or in the distant future. An even more futuristic setting would have the added bonus of ambiguity, as it could be connected either to Abrams' alternate timeline, or the original continuity.
But the success of the new Trek series doesn't rest on the setting alone: this will primarily be determined by the people who run the show, and how well they understand Gene Roddenberry's vision...
A Bright Future For Humanity
There are many many reasons why Star Trek has stood the test of time to engage both older viewers and younger audiences, and that is due in large part to the values of the franchise. Gene Roddenberry had some very specific aims when he wrote The Original Series...
"Star Trek was an attempt to say humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day it begins to not just tolerate but take special delight in differences of ideas and differences in lifeforms. If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there."
These ideals of diversity and acceptance were reflected in the casting of the shows, and Trek has continued to push beyond the boundaries of what was allowed to be shown on television.
Nowadays there's definitely a tendency for science fiction to lean towards dystopias and grim themes. But optimistic stories, ones which show humanity's capacity for love, are also vital, as they give us something to strive towards. Star Trek is important because the entire concept argues that humanity can be, and will be better. The ideals of The Original Series are firmly planted in social humanism, and while later shows pointed out the flaws of the Federation, the theme of each Trek series was the betterment of humanity.
It already seems as though the new Star Trek series will embrace the spirit of the original shows: we haven't had much information so far, but this statement is confidence inspiring.
"New characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception."
So... basically they're going to seek out new life and new civilisations, boldly going where no-one has gone before? Got it. But that was pretty much a given.
Star Trek is a strange entity, known for being camp and silly but also cerebral and challenging of social norms. This is a tough balance to strike, especially as many of Trek's tropes seem dated now. But as long as the new series keeps in line with the optimistic vision of the future, and is well written, makes sense with both the prime canon and the reboots, and introduces new races while showcasing the old favourites, then this show is bound to be great!
Ok, that's a really really tall order. Personally, I'm optimistic that the new series will be good, but then I also enjoyed Enterprise. So what do you want to see from the new show? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!