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 fan hopes at an all time high, and CBS hinging the success of their new streaming platform on the Trek show, the new series already has a lot of hurdles to overcome. One of the biggest challenges is definitely trying to update Star Trek so that the new show can become relevant in 2017. So how can the new show keep pace with modern sci-fi?
Staying True To Trek
Don't worry, I'm not going to go off on some tangent about how the new Star Trek series has to be gritty or glossy or deviate from the tropes that made Trek great. But there is something of a Catch 22 here - the new show has to be Trek, so it should be colorful, with phasers set to stun and plenty of (probably made up) technobabble.
And yet, these tropes are also somewhat dated now, which might turn off new viewers. So how to strike the balance? It's certainly a conundrum, and one which Paramount wrestled with when they tried to "move away from the essential Trekkiness" ofStar Trek Into DarknessWhile this might be worth trying for feature films, the worst thing for the new TV show to do would be to play down the space opera aspect, by featuring fewer aliens and focusing on the humans.
While it's true that Battlestar Galactica proved that you don't need rubber suited aliens to make a space-based show interesting, the continued popularity of shows like Doctor Who also prove that when it comes to sci-fi, you can't beat a whacky alien on adventures. Besides, long time viewers of the Star Trek shows are desperate to know what fan fave races like the Klingons, Romulans, and Bajorans are up to!
Tip for the new show #1: don't shy away from including lots of lovely aliens, fun adventures, and technobabble.
A Brighter Future
To consider the options, we have to think about the fundamental structure of the storytelling, and what made Trek so intriguing. Although it has a fun side, and boasts some impressive action sequences, Star Trek is ultimately very thoughtful.
Above all things, the new Trek series can't forget the principles of Gene Roddenberry's vision, that remain of vital importance today.
"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."
In a time of dystopian sci-fi, an optimistic look at the future is definitely something that we all need to see. Of course, that's not to say everything should be sunshine and roses, but Star Trek is a delight to watch in a large part because it is hopeful.
Tip for the new show #2: be optimistic!
Infinite Diversity In Infinite Combinations...
Just as Roddenberry fought to have a diverse cast in The Original Series, so we need to see all of humanity represented in the new show.
"Maybe you need to have a queer captain. LGBTQ representation in Star Trek is one area in which they’ve been most lacking. They have dealt with it, but they haven’t had a lot of main characters who had any sort of non-traditional gender roles or sexual preferences."
Queer representation in Star Trek has always been a struggle with network restrictions. Gene Roddenberry was reportedly trying to introduce in a gay character to The Next Generation before he died, and the commissioned episode featuring a gay couple ('Blood & Fire') was pulled before it aired.
Deep Space 9 broke new ground with Jadzia Dax, whose previous incarnation as a man allowed her to express attraction to several female characters on the show, but the episode received a lot of hate mail when it aired in 1995.
But this isn't the '90s, and in 2017 the new Trek show should feature characters that represent all of humanity! So with any luck, the new series will have plenty of characters of color, disabled characters, and even LGBT characters.
Tip for the new show #3: learn from Vulcan philosophy and don't shy away from diversity!
Streaming Services: A Boon To Trek
While many people are concerned that Star Trek will only air online, this might actually be the best thing for the story. Just look at Netflix's original shows for the proof: shows written for the internet have less restriction and tend to feature tighter storytelling.
It would definitely be good for Trek to move away from the episodic, procedural nature of many of its previous shows, and towards a more serialized narrative with season long plot arcs. Deep Space 9 and Voyager featured this kind of structure in their later seasons, and that only makes the story more engaging and enjoyable.
Tip for the new show #4: use serialized narratives!
Ultimately, there are a lot of challenges ahead of the new Star Trek show, but we're hopeful CBS's new series can be as trailblazing in 2017 as The Original Series was in the 1960s! But what would you like to see in the new show? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!
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