Our Beloved FranchiseBy Fred Shedian
Posted at May 14, 2000 - 1:31 AM GMT
In the summer of 1999, the "A Take On Trek" Column was launched. Since that time, it has been the only column running at the Trek Nation. To start this edition out, I would like to welcome Joe Beaudoin and "Controversial Stance." Although as you will see mentioned slightly below, I may not agree with the opinions expressed, but I do welcome the stance of yet another talented writer to the Trek Nation.
For many months, long time readers of this column have heard me discuss my feelings about the previously stated "void." This would be the gap between "old school" fans and "new school" fans. In essence, the old school were the folks who had fought in 1968 to keep Star Trek on NBC for another year. These are the individuals who attended conventions, watched reruns and packed movie theaters in 1979...after a ten year absence of their beloved crew. These are the people who grew in the 80's, wearing their "Save Spock" shirts proudly. It was in 1987 these people were faced with new fans, people who had never previously taken an interest in "that ear show."
As time moved forward, the Star Trek Franchise grew and grew. By Season Four of The Next Generation, it was indeed clear Star Trek was back...and back to stay. It was unclear at that point what the future would hold, with many believing the show would end with a movie or two. Yet, to many people's surprise that did not happen. Instead, Paramount Pictures made a business decision to start turning a serious profit and use the "Kill Wesley Campaign" to their advantage. And thus Deep Space Nine, and eventually Voyager, were born.
Star Trek's oldest fans are moving on with life, as regretfully time doesn't freeze like it does in a holodeck. As these people get older, the "gift" quality Star Trek held is fading. These are the folks who loved Star Trek for being Star Trek. This was a time Star Trek was written just to be Star Trek. These were people who had dealt with the ten year void of the 70's...and kept a "third rate TV show" alive long enough to re-spark the fire.
Many modern day fans do not fully comprehend the gift of "Star Trek." The loyalty to the franchise and show has fallen, as Star Trek is now written to generate ratings. Say what you wish, but this was never the solid motivation of Gene Roddenberry. Inside the new fans, the "gift" is now taken for granted. What can be done in order to make people understand what they have? Many, like Joe Beaudoin, believe that the show has to die in order for this to take place. I, however, think a harder move must be made.
A harder move, some may ask? Indeed yes, as simply canceling a show and giving up hope is not the answer. The best way is to take a deep breath, pause for a minute and make sure the saying "So deep in the forest, you can't see the trees" doesn't apply. Star Trek should take a brief break, the overkill of having two shows in production at the same time was a tactical error on the part of Rick Berman. It is one I do not think Paramount is planning to repeat, given the clear position from the beginning the next series would not start until after Voyager was off the air.
After the slate has been washed clean, it is time for Star Trek to get back to being Star Trek. The recent Voyager episode "Life Line" was a quality Star Trek episode. The outcome was uncertain, the comedy was present, the action was present and it made us as individuals look inside ourselves and say "Is that me?" These are some of the things that made Star Trek popular. It is indeed what the show needs to get back to.
As I have said in previous editions, I am appalled by the divisive nature among many Star Trek fans. People are indeed too busy being reactive to a situation instead of proactive. No letter campaign ever started when Voyager's writing dropped, no one ever complained that the "direction the writers are taking is too dark." This never happened...only a select group of individual fans who love Star Trek for being Star Trek made an effort. I ask, where was everyone else?
In closing, I would like to ask everyone to ask themselves a question and think about the answer. Would you have watched Deep Space Nine if the Klingon & Dominion War had never taken place? Would you have started watching Voyager if the Captain hadn't been a female, or a sexy Borg was added to the crew?
The answer does not matter, as if you say yes or even if you say no I now ask: Why?
The day all fans can say the answer is because I love Star Trek...not I love Sisko, the Borg, Seven of Nine, the writing....but Star Trek, is the day the franchise returns to it's former glory. This is the day that fans put aside their personal attacks and look at the greater good. The death of Star Trek is not an answer, but another tool to create another division.
Hard work and self reflection by fans and those who write the show is the only way we will continue to "Boldly go where no man has gone before." If we stray from this simple saying, we have strayed from what we proclaim to be "our beloved Franchise."
As always, your feedback is welcome. Feel free to submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time...
Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.