No S7AR WARS today. Only S7AR TREK(.com)
I have a confession to make: of the many gigantic properties that I’m a fan of, I was a Star Trek fan first.
My mother brought it up on a podcast I did where she took my place and talked to my Fighting In The War Room co-hosts: we used to watch it as a family. Watching Star Trek was something that my parents did together before they had me and my brother and something all four of us did together when episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation were new. I’m pretty sure my family will go to a Star Trek Convention after my dad retires. He’s a pretty no-nonsense guy, he grew up in California and worked his way up in the same cotton company for over 20 years. He’s pretty serious and likes his humor in the form of The Big Bang Theory. Just a normal guy that I will one day dress up like an Admiral from the Next Gen era and take to a convention center.
What do you remember about the summer of 1990? I don’t remember a ton, I was 6, but I do remember wondering what was going to happen to Jean Luc Picard after being assimilated by the Borg in between seasons. The great thing about being six for that is that I wasn’t disappointed at all in the conclusion of "The Best of Both Worlds" (separate the saucer section, “sleep”), it was perfect. I had literally never seen anything like it.
Star Trek is a television super-force. If you want to talk about television fans in America: you have to talk about Star Trek. The fans brought the original series back in the days of letter writing campaigns. They started their own conventions, they were frequently called out for being geeks before that was a good thing. Hell, you can got to Netflix right now and watch a handful of documentaries not about Trek, but about Trekkers (even William Shatner has cashed in on this a few times).
All of this is to say that no matter how enjoyable 2008’s JJ Abrams Star Trek movie reboot was (pretty damn enjoyable), Star Trek should only be in theaters as a secondary extension of the brand. There’s something great about the Gene Roddenberry universe, whether it be the conflict-free-but-still-sexist portrayal of the original series’ future to Deep Space Nine’s various politics and latinum obsessed episodes, it’s a world I want to check in with every week. The sci-fi series on TV was built around the original Star Trek’s groundbreaking model of using broad science fiction to discuss real world issues. Deep Space Nine and Enterprise never get enough credit for taking on big issues of their day, but re-watch now and realize you don’t need Black Mirror as much as you think with all this Star Trek available.
So, GREAT news, Trekkers, CBS is looking to bring Star Trek back to TV.
The last we heard of a Star Trek TV series, was around 2006 before the Abrams movie planted its flag and destroyed most of what we knew (except Spock and - presumably the plot of Star Trek: Enterprise) there were two competing versions: Bryce Zabel (writer, Dark Skies) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, but I like crediting him as the good writer on The Real Ghostbusters) pitched a version called “Star Trek: Reboot the Universe” that actually made it online in PDF form.
The second was developed closer to the JJ reboot and was written by producer Geoffrey Thorne, novelist and writer on things like Leverage and Criminal Intent and was called Star Trek: Federation and was conceptualized with producer Robert Burnett, Bryan Singer (the X-Men director and producer of TV’s House among others) and Christopher (director of Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation). This other series wouldn’t reboot the Star Trek universe, but would vault it forward past the DS9 and Voyager series timelines into a far flung future where the Utopia Federation that we knew from other TV series had become boring and complacent.
Federation would have seen the titular group reduced to a mere peacekeeping force as the old ways broke apart. Vulcans withdraw from the United Federation of Planets and reunify with the Romulans, the Bajorans of Deep Space Nine would have also withdrawn and become a planet full of religious monks, like a “Tibet in space.” The Klingons wouldn’t be as warrior-obsessed anymore, but would instead be warrior mystics. The Ferengi would have a female Nagus. The Cardassians would have abandoned war and become an artist/philosopher race.
In essence, Federation would have advanced the timeline of the Star Trek Universe far enough in the future to re-define some of the characters that had been the same since the original series’ inception.
We don’t have too many details about the new Star Trek series CBS is going to get working on, but I spent some time filling you in on Federation, because it seems like the same people who made that pitch could be involved. Bryan Singer's name has been mentioned for the new CBS Trek as a possible Executive Producer through his Bad Hat Harry productions. While "Star Trek: Reboot the Universe" was invalidated by 2008's movie Trek, Star Trek: Federation still has a trio of enthusiastic producers, a script and a writer ready to go should CBS decide to give Singer the ahead to develop this new series.
Robert Burnett is rumored to be working on a non-Trek project with Skydance Productions (Skydance worked with Paramount, McQuarrie and Bad Robot on M:I 5) and simultaneously keeping one foot in the Trek world. He's currently producing (one of the producers) a project independent of all previously mentioned parties, Star Trek: Axanar, a 90-minute fan-made feature film about "The Four Years War," as mentioned in the TOS episode "Whom Gods Destroy." The film has scraped up and impressive cast and released “Prelude to Axanar” last year to show how this great venture can be pulled off on a fan-donated budget:
That’s the sort of Star Trek product Brunett can use as an example of how producing a reasonably-budgeted TV series set in the Star Trek Universe this day and age should be a piece of cake.
Back to our Federation three:
CBS is interested in Bryan Singer developing (and Singer reportedly loves Prelude to Axanar) and Federation co-conspirator Chris McQuarrie was still game for the project as of last December, if Twitter is to be believed.
As far as when to expect some sort of official announcement about who snagged the NEW Trek production job, that’s a bit tougher to predict.
Star Trek 3 seems to be the Trek Paramount would like us to focus on (Elba for Mogh of the House of Martok, right Simon Pegg?), Singer is only tweeting about making the new X-Men movie and McQuarrie is wrapping up the edit on Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation for later this year. The Star Trek: Federation story document still exists, though, and I’m told Geoffrey Thorne might have taken that treatment all the way to a pilot script before the project cooled, which would allow this show to get off the ground much faster.
For the sharp-eye’d Trek fan, all eyes are on Star Trek: Axanar (official site here) to show off what Trek on a budget can look like. If that can work and CBS can see it work, then we might get a riff on Star Trek: Federation. Either way, CBS is convinced it's a good idea to probe the idea of a Star Trek TV show, so TV Trek’s likely on the way.
I’ve been saying it since summer of 2005…
...no, I’ve been saying it since summer of 1990: There should ALWAYS be Star Trek on TV