I was just recently introduced to a concept for a Star Trek TV series, conceived of about ten years ago to pitch to Paramount/CBS. It has re-entered the news recently since Star Trek is rapidly coming up on its 50th anniversary, and so many people would like to see a new Trek TV series on the air when the date hits.
Alas, this idea was never actually pitched to Paramount/CBS, as JJ Abrams came along and made his new movie, which did well enough that Paramount put aside the idea of creating a new TV show for the foreseeable future. Recent rumors, largely circulated by Latino Review, that this series idea was actually in development, apparently have no basis in fact.
And it’s a shame, because Star Trek: Federation, while maybe not being a perfectly fleshed out proposal, nonetheless has some great ideas for a new Trek series.
Some details and comments about the concept are at TrekMovie.com. The basic background is the most interesting part: Federation would take place about 600 years after the period depicted in Star Trek: The Next Generation, when the Federation has become comfortable but complacent, with no real threats or interest in further exploration. Many of the races known to Star Trek fans have evolved their cultures in those 500 years, and the alpha quadrant has evolved as a result of those changes.
I love this: It creates a brand new dynamic to the Federation, its allies and former enemies, and makes room for introducing some new characters and species that can become part of the new Trek’s canon. There are a few races introduced in The Next Generation that I always thought we should eventually see more of… the computer-expert Binars come immediately to mind (one of the only good things to come out of TNG’s first season). It could be interesting to see how the Borg develop, now that TNG has given them the ability to be individuals. And as I recall, the holodeck gave birth to a new life-form in one episode. Then there are the Shape-Shifters from Deep Space Nine, various races encountered by Voyager… honestly, it’s a nice list, and could really create a great new dynamic to the show.
The premise of the show would be a new threat to a Federation that really is no longer equipped to handle it. So the Federation builds a new starship Enterprise, the first in a few hundred years, and sends it out with a crew dedicated to finding out more about the new threat, known as the Scourge, and finding ways to defeat it. This opens the series up to a similar mission of exploration and occasional conflicts that were the hallmark of the original Star Trek.
Now, I’ve said in the past that I’d love to see Star Trek get away from the paramilitary ships and missions, and to showcase more of the civilian lives of the Federation: and I still stand by that opinion. In fact, a civilian Federation show set 600 years after Next Gen would work, too. But if we have to have the old “5 year mission” scenario, at least setting it that far forward, with a lesser Federation, will spice it up considerably.
In fact, the idea reminds me a bit of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda series, about a Captain and his ship, caught at the event horizon of a black hole for about 500 years (Roddenberry apparently loved the Buck Rogers’ “man out of time” premise—he reused it in many series concepts), to eventually escape and find his version of the Federation has collapsed, the other ships of the fleet are gone, and galactic civilization is on the wane. So the Captain sets out to collect a new crew and rebuild his Federation and its high principles with their help. (Andromeda ran for five seasons, and somehow got virtually no notice in that time.)
Much of the rest of the pitch involved the changes to many of the alien races common to Star Trek, most notably the Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians, Bajorans, Ferengi and the Borg. There are some interesting ideas, some predictable ones, and some which I just didn’t like (the idea of the Klingons evolving into “warrior-mystics” being high among the ideas to dump, in my opinion).
And there were a few notes about the main characters, notably the Captain of this new ship… whose last name would be Kirk, who had some prior but unknown experience with the Scourge, and who was later drummed out of Star Fleet following some conduct problems; but was forced back into service to deal with the Scourge. To be specific about why I don’t like this:
- Naming the character Kirk is kinda dumb—there’s no reason he should be a relation to the most famous and celebrated officer of Star Fleet, any more than the other Captains of the other series were named after past characters (the same goes for the ship… there are other cool names besides Enterprise);
- Having him just happen to have some prior knowledge about the Scorge—but buried in his subconscious and mostly inaccessible—is a lame old trope, and unforgivably lame for the main character of your show;
- Having an officer thrown out of Star Fleet for inappropriate behavior, bringing him back in to assist, and having him end up as Captain of the ship, is highly unbelievable.
So, yeah, the pitch needed some work. But overall, it sounds like a show I would’ve watched. Maybe even watched the crap out of. It definitely sounds better than the drek we got from Abrams’ movies; in fact, it could have been the basis for a trilogy of movies that really would have represented the best of the new and old elements of Star Trek to a new audience.