‘Star Trek’ Needs Saving, But This Isn’t The Answer

The Star Trek fan base is living in fear.

Fear that their 50th anniversary celebration next year will be marred by a third film in the reboot series that sort of seems all over the place right now, and that won’t be able to get an intelligent script together before it starts filming next month.

Already the death knell for this property is being sounded around the Internet, with Vox being the latest to get in on the virtual funeral wake. The site’s Todd VanDerWerff posted an intelligent, well-crafted piece on the current state of Trek, and how he’d save it if it was up to him.

In a nutshell, turn it into American Horror Story.

No, not with witches and killers and the like, but with a new story and new characters every season.

While I don’t agree with this overall conclusion for reasons I’ll touch on in a moment, I do encourage you to read it. You’ll probably find some things agreeable, but here’s why I ultimately couldn’t handle a Star Trek anthology series.

VanDerWerff recommends a 13-episode season format with a definite endpoint. This would probably work better with talent schedules and free up Star Trek to get some interesting guest stars and guest showrunners on board.

On that, I agree.

But I also feel it would defeat the essence of what made the property so appealing in the first place. When the original series premiered to audiences in 1966, it introduced us to colorful characters on a nomadic journey to seek out new life and civilizations. What made it such a wonderful bit of escapism and an optimistic look at the future is that we always had a new beginning to look forward to, and we got to see each of those beginnings through familiar characters.

What would Kirk and Spock and McCoy and the gang get in to next week? Turning Star Trek into True Detective would take away that prospect, and it would likely rob us of new characters just as we start getting attached to them.

(Thanks, season finale.)

Also, the long-form story arc, while effective in some cases within the Star Trek Universe, seems a little lazy and unimaginative.

Gene Roddenberry had audiences wrapped up in new and crazy situations every week (often with new and crazy solutions). Not every episode worked, but by gosh, the series was always trying to insert a healthy dose of wild-eyed imagination into the journey.

While certain properties are perfect for long-form storytelling, I don’t feel that to be the case with Star Trek. The characters are strong, but they’re driven toward exploration, not a specific endpoint on the trajectory of a story arc, which is what I fear VanDerWerff’s “fix” would become.

Of course, there could be interesting ways of incorporating new crews and new ships into a Star Trek TV show. One might be to increase the number of episodes in a season from 13 to 24, which would more closely resemble past incarnations of Star Trek television and give us more time to enjoy the characters.

Another might be to start with the original crew — even if you have to do some more recasting — and then spin off a Star Trek anthology and have two shows running concurrently.

What do you think, readers? Could American Horror Story or True Detective be good models for the next Star Trek TV show? Sound off in the comments section.