The Franchise's FutureBy Jeff 'Koganuts' Koga
Posted at June 29, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT
Star Trek's Future? It's dead, Jim.
I'll be honest with you. I don't expect this rant to have any far-reaching effects whatsoever. After all, this is just an editorial I am just a regular geek and a Star Trek fan. And as a fan, I have supported the franchise for over 13 years now -- almost half my life thus far -- but recent events have led me to believe that Star Trek is dead. And I need to get this off my chest because it has been bugging me for some time.
So allow me to explain why I believe that the franchise is over.
Part of my sentiment is due to Ronald D. Moore's rumored (and still officially unconfirmed) departure from the Voyager production staff. I've always felt that Voyager, as a series, showed promise -- I've liked the premise, the characters, and the actors themselves, who definitely have chemistry and a sense of family -- -- but its key weakness has always been its writing. But when it was announced that Moore, fresh from his stint on Deep Space Nine, would be transitioning to Voyager (first as a writer and then as co-executive producer), I was quite pleased. However, according to TrekWeb and my own sources, Moore has apparently left the series due to irreconcilable differences with Brannon Braga. I have heard the actual reasons behind his departure but for the time being, I am not at liberty to say what they are. This development is quite a shock, because I felt that Moore could have made a huge difference in the direction of the series. And now that this won't be the case, I predict that Voyager will continue to be a lackluster series through the end of its seven year run. Will I still watch it? Of course, because it's Star Trek. But will I be excited about it? Nope.
Another part of my sentiment is due to the end of Deep Space Nine. DS9 was quite unique from the other Star Trek series because it was much more serialized -- at least as serialized as Paramount would allow the writers to be with the series. As Armin Shimerman aptly said, it wasn't about "boldly going," but "boldly staying." And in doing so, in not fitting the standard starship mold, it focused not necessarily on action, but on character development. On top of that, it also had large, sweeping mythological arcs -- a la The X-Files with its government conspiracies and alien abductions, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer with its villain-of-the-television-season -- such as the war with the Dominion and Sisko's role as the emissary. And like The X-Files and Buffy, DS9 had self-contained episodes, with each season going back and forth between those mythological episodes and those self-contained episodes. Now, it could be argued that Voyager has a mythological arc -- the crew's continuing journey back to the Alpha Quadrant -- but for me, it hasn't been as compelling as DS9 because there have been so many plot holes in its execution that at times, like Timothy Lynch, I've been very tempted to stop watching the series altogether. But as I've mentioned above, I've kept watching because it's Star Trek. At any rate, I don't forsee Voyager, let alone any future Trek series, carrying the same dramatic weight as Deep Space Nine. And that's too bad.
Yet another part of my sentiment is due to the future of Star Trek films. Based on what many of the actors, production staff, and Paramount studio brass have said, I forsee only one more film involving The Next Generation cast. And what's next after that? I can't imagine Paramount giving the Deep Space Nine cast a film, because they don't feel that DS9 won't attract as large a box office audience as TNG has thus far. And so I suppose the Voyager cast would then be given the torch after their seven year television run. But I personally don't think that a Voyager film would be as successful as TNG films either because Voyager is still not as popular as TNG. At any rate, the future of Star Trek films is questionable at best.
And this also brings up the next Star Trek series. Mind you, I was skeptical when The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager first hit the airwaves, but seeing how Star Trek as a franchise has been performing overall, I can't see the next series being "all that." Of course it's very easy for me to say that since the new series is very early in the preproduction stages, but from what I've been hearing thus far about its premise, I can't say I'm very excited.
And finally, part of my sentiment is due to DeForest Kelley's recent death. Death is inevitable -- that's a given. And it's obvious that The Original Series cast are getting older before our very eyes. On top of that, Star Trek's creator, Gene Roddenberry, died almost ten years ago. But knowing all that still did not prepare me, nor many other Star Trek fans, for the news that Kelley had died. While Deep Space Nine is my favorite Star Trek series, TOS will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was the first Star Trek series that I was exposed to. And I wasn't even born yet. I can't imagine the feelings that older fans, who grew up with the series, were going through when they heard the news. I think it's a given that both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy really personify Star Trek more than any other Star Trek actor. And at the risk of sounding rather morbid, can you imagine how sad the days when, god forbid, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy pass on, will be like? But going back to Kelley's death, for me it's a real sign that Gene Roddenberry's original vision of humanity and the future is dead.
You know, there was a time when any of the Star Trek series would be my favorite series to watch on television. However, that has since changed when I started watching The X-Files, and for the past three years, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With Buffy, creator Joss Whedon has developed a universe that I eagerly look forward to revisiting each week. But I haven't had that much eagerness with Star Trek in a long while. Yes, they're apples and oranges, but have I been as excited about Star Trek as I am with Buffy? Nope.
So, there you have it.
Jeff 'Koganuts' Koga is a regular contributor to the Trek Nation, as well as webmaster of unofficial fan sites for John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat, and Garrett Wang.