The Resurrection Of Kirk?By Michael Hinman
Posted at September 5, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT
In just a week or two, Star Trek: Voyager will be premiering its sixth season in the U.S. as the lone original-run Trek franchise. This time for Star Trek is a rather tumultuous one as fans impatiently wait to see what the next Trek series is going to be about, and if the big-screen crew can go back to the glory days of Star Trek: First Contact after the cold Insurrection release.
There are many fans with lots of different ideas, creating debate all across the Internet. Despite this influx of ideas, however, the one thing that most fans can agree on is that the franchise is slipping, and some kind of breath of fresh air has to be pushed into Star Trek, or its future could become history.
Probably one of the more expected ideas to come from all this talk is from die-hard enthusiasts of the original Star Trek, and its captain, James T. Kirk.
William Shatner is 68 years old, well past the age that many people retire. He quietly said good-bye to the character of Kirk in 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but agreed to resurrect the character in 1994's Star Trek: Generations, bringing fans the crossover movie between the old guard and the new that they had been screaming for since Dr. McCoy's cameo in 1987's series premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Shatner's time on screen was quite limited since his crew of the Enterprise-A signed off their long 28-year run. The much bally-hooed alliance between Enterprise-D Captain Jean-Luc Picard and an out-of-time Kirk was secondary to the threat of Dr. Soran and his Klingon accomplices.
Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore, who wrote the film while tucked away in a hotel room in Hawaii, came to the realization during the planning process that if they were to bring James T. Kirk into the 24th Century, they would have little recourse but to kill him in the end, or find someway to return him back to his original time or into the Nexus. It was a hard decision, but with Shatner making public comments about how he would like to finally shed the Kirk image from all of his other acting, the decision was finally made that the good captain -- who helped make Star Trek the cultural icon it is today -- would finally lose in his battle to cheat death.
The originally-filmed version of Generations, which is also featured in the hardback novelization (the paperback version was altered to feature the new ending), had Kirk meeting his death thanks to a disruptor blast in the back by Dr. Soran. Rumor of Kirk's impending death were confirmed when Malcolm McDowell, who played Dr. Soran, hit the talkshow circuit and proclaimed that he was the one who finally killed James T. Kirk.
When test audiences rejected the way Kirk died, the writers went back to the drawing board and decided to give Kirk a more heroic death ... falling off a damaged bridge while trying to save hundreds of millions of people he had never heard of.
As Picard laid the final rock on Kirk's final resting place, some TOS enthusiasts felt that this was a bit of symbolism, showing the cast of The Next Generation finally burying the original series. However, Trekkies as a whole felt this was a befitting end to the great captain, who couldn't cheat death forever, and who fulfilled his prophecy made in 1989's Star Trek V: The Final Frontier of dying "alone."
Was that finally the end of Kirk? Five years have passed since the American release of Star Trek: Generations, and suddenly, we are seeing a movement to resurrect the great captain. Supporters of this measure have taken great lengths to show their loyalty to Kirk by opening up a website at www.bringbackkirk.com, writing letters and sending email to the brass of Paramount Pictures, and even getting discussion boards opened throughout the Internet, most notably on America OnLine.
But, if the franchise really is dying, could Kirk breathe life back into it, or is it just a futile action that could actually do more harm than good?
When you think of Star Trek, what do you think of? I know that if I were asked that question and given just three seconds to respond, I would say "Kirk. Spock. Enterprise." If you ask fans and non-fans of Trek alike who they most associate with Star Trek, you will hear more times than not that Captain Kirk is what you think of when you hear the words "Star Trek."
For nearly 20 years, there was only one crew of the Starship Enterprise, and television sets were turned on all across the world 24 hours a day to watch those legendary missions unfold on their television screens, tickets were sold to see their new adventures take place on the silver screen.
But it is a new era of Star Trek. Younger fans associate more with Patrick Stewart or Avery Brooks as their Star Trek guide. Political series like Deep Space Nine has even exceeded ratings records set by The Next Generation. Voyager, despite its many problems, continues to be one of the United Paramount Network's highest rated shows. Paramount even rejected requests by James Doohan to resurrect his character in a recurring role for either Deep Space Nine or Voyager.
With the new Trek, and the possibilities of the future, there may not be enough room for the old guard. And many fans firmly believe that we have already said goodbye to the great man of James T. Kirk, and we have moved on with that closure.
Will we let the captain rest in peace? In the Star Trek universe, the possibilities are limitless.
Michael Hinman is the webmaster of Sci-Fi news site SyFy World.