02 December 2006

Rebooting of Star Trek not a bad idea?

So, would a reboot of Star Trek be so bad?

It occurred to me, while watching the latest Bond film, Casino Royale, that maybe, just maybe, rebooting the franchise could work.

Batman Begins, Superman Returns and now Casino Royale. Three franchises that have had successful re-starts. And while SR is not so much a reboot of the Superman myth, it did well enough to give life to the creaky franchise after nearly 20 years. Which is why, there will be a sequel in the summer of 2009. A Batman sequel, The Dark Knight, will hit theaters in 2008, along with James Bond 22.

Since the failure of Enterprise, the future of Star Trek has caused a schism within the fan base and even with in Paramount. The biggest problem Enterprise had was it should’ve been a fully reboot of the franchise, not the half-hearted attempt that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga did. Whether it was fear of alienating the fans or financial issues, or "franchise fatigue" its cancellation after four disappointing seasons put its future in a fog.

Now that Lost creator JJ Abrahms has been handed the movie franchise, speculation on what direction he’ll go in has run rampant: should it be the long proposed Starfleet Academy film that has been around since Trek II? Should it show the early days of James Kirk and Spock? Should it start just at the beginning of the original TV series?

But the biggest issue where ever it starts, should you pay homage to the first TV series and its continuity or ignore everything that has come before -TOS, TNG, DS9, VGR, ENT and 10 films and basically start from scratch?

From TOS point of view, not much of the early days of the Federation and Starfleet was nailed down; there was plenty of wiggle room, so to speak. My guess is, the original idea of ENT was to sort narrow those plot threads that popped up in the later series and movies; flesh out those ideas and see what happens. Again, as noted, they failed to excite many long time fans due to the fact that neither Braga or Berman felt obligated to stay within what little continuity there had been established about that time period.

They kowtowed to fans who wanted to see Romulans, Borg and Ferengi. They changed the history of Vulcans and created a starship named Enterprise, even after it was established that the one featured on TOS was the first.

But, ultimately, ENT failed because their stories sucked. They were dull, predictable and boring. The miscasting of Scott Bakula as Archer also hurt the show, as his wooden performance and his ability to get beaten up every week annoyed everyone. Then there was the opening title song, which hurts the brain even to think that had one.

Still, all that being said, I think now -based on the success of Batman Returns, of Casino Royale and, maybe, Superman Returns maybe the wild idea of returning to the early years of Kirk and company is not such a bad idea.

But this would need to be a total reboot, and fans of the franchise will need to accept that the continuity they’ve grown to love and hold dear, will need to be ignored. Star Trek can come back, but it needs to jettison the baggage it came with.

It can take the myths that have been around for 40 years, but give it a new twist. It could be everything ENT should’ve been. Take pieces from those myths and other new ideas and see where it can go.

And while the toughest sell would be on hardcore fans, I see no difference updating Trek for the 21st Century as Barbara Broccoli has done for James Bond. The new Bond film starts the franchise in the post 9/11 era. The Cold War is over, but this Bond was never a part of it. Terrorist will be the franchise new bread and butter.

The same could happen to Trek. Launching the franchise anew, with modern day visual effects, with new stories that -while harking back 40 years of TV shows and movies - create new history.

But it all begins with a script. My criticism of VGR and ENT comes mostly from the poor writing and then bad acting. Abrahms can put all the women he wants in cat suits and have visual effects up the wahzoo, but it’s the script that makes a film.

Then again, one can look at X Men 3. Here was an example of a hugely successful film, grossing more than the first two films in the franchise, yet at the end of the day, the weakest film -creatively - of the three.

But done right, Star Trek can be saved. Rebooting it and jettisoning that hobgoblin known as continuity by saying this is the beginning and what has come before is from another era -like Casino Royale - and see where it takes us.

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