These ought to be wonderful times, The Internet. We're getting new Star Trek in theaters this year and on television by 2017. Something like that hasn't happened in more than a decade. And EVERY TREK FAN (who hasn't heard the advance buzz because they live under a rock) IS THRILLED.
Have mercy, you Headline Furies!
So since Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek With Doctor Who Graphics are about to hit our
screens laptops we pirate on, here's everything new Trek storytelling needs to be in the post- BushObama era.
It has been a WHILE.
4 Trek Needs To Be An Action Movie
Speaking of Obama, he happened to be president during the latest two Star Trek developments: the rise of streaming television and the explosion of lens flares. Not that Obama had anything to do with that; his administration wasted its time on fringe special interests like counter-terrorism, health care, and Star Wars.
"Is Trek Star the one with Professor X?"
As Netflix shipped their billionth DVD and then moved away from shipping DVDs at all, J.J. Abrams brought Trek roaring back into theaters. Unlike every previous Trek movie, Star Trek: The 2009ening wasn't piggybacking on a hit TV Shatner or Stewart. It stood on its own. It was also a reboot, and an action movie, and a departure from the franchise's noble tradition of timid, sweaty "stunts."
Enter the dragon, Captain Kirk. Enter the dragon.
So while Netflix beamed every heady TV episode onto devices nationwide, the movies made bar fights the true Starfleet Academy. And boy, did the fans ... not hate that decision.
But despite those Vegeta-percentages, fans really did hate it the second movie around. And rightly so. Into Darkness was big stupid piece of "Khaaaaaaan"-appropriating garbage, with a script in which Starfleet flipped Jim Kirk's rank four times, one-man spaceships made crews obsolete, and interplanetary teleportation made ... Star Trek obsolete?
"Beam me everywhere, Computer That Replaced Scotty."
So after the fans blinked the lens flares out of their eyes, they backlashed. If anything, that 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes heightened the Comic Book Guy-ing and convention insurrections and headline anger.
We weren't just mad; we were correcting the historical record. And we were urging Into Darkness's key creatives to realize that despite how much money we handed them at the box office, we didn't want Star Trek 3 to be Star Trek Into Darkness 2 Also Still No Colons Even Though This Kind Of Title Feels Like It Needs Colons. But once Into Darkness's key creatives told us to fuck off, in interviews and as comment section trolls, Star Trek Beyond only needed a whiff of creative trouble and one weird trailer to sabotaaaaaaaaaage our hopes.
This is about the Prime Directive now.
But I'm not surprised Simon Pegg told us to fuck off, kind of, if you sort of take it out of context. And I'm not surprised Paramount hired the Fast & Furious guy to direct the new Trek. That's not a sign that they want it to be even stupider than Into Darkness. It's a sign that they want an insanely hard-working big-movie director to fix their most cherished big-movie property. A property they know only needs two course corrections.
Okay, three course corrections.
When J.J. Abrams said he regretted the script and the lens flares of Into Darkness, he was right. The much-better 2009 movie was much better than Into Darkness in both areas. And if you remove Abrams, the guy responsible for both those things, what do you have left? A pop culture institution with an improbably perfect recasting of its original crew, and enough recent box office success to pay for more bold-going. And I'm sorry, Nerds Who Are the Real Life Version of This Onion Headline ...
... but "too Star Trek-y" is a valid criticism of a Star Trek movie script. In today's Hollywood and world, you can have a Star Trek action movie or you can have no Star Trek movie at all. The average American sees fewer than four movies in a theater per year. Disney is making sure that at least two of those tickets go toward an Avenger and a star war. So even if Paramount wasn't losing money hand over fist right now, they'd be insane to throw a $150 million budget at a movie not everyone thinks is worth their other annual drive to a theater.
"I'll miss you while I'm out, Giant Perfect TV Everyone Has At Home These Days."
Chris Pine is Action Kirk. You can't stop it. Just be grateful that you can stream your precious Thinky Trek on every device you own. Hell, be grateful you can stream it at all, because ...
3 Trek Needs To Get Lucky
Every Star Trek story originated on television, and the cruelty of the television business almost killed every Star Trek. The original series died in development, needing recasting, reshooting, and Lucille Ball's money hose to get on the air. If not for Lucy, Star Trek would be a forgotten failed pilot starring the other guy from The Searchers. It would be Leonard Nimoy's Fox Force Five.
Shatner Trek still risked cancellation every week. It only got convention-level popular because 1) Trek-alien-sounding Trek fan Bjo Trimble led a letter-writing campaign that kept it going for three seasons, 2) a company syndicated the show even though there weren't enough episodes for that, and 3) most of those syndicated reruns aired on late afternoons, so kids watched it after school, because video games weren't invented yet.
"Gosh, I wish this was a cutscene."
Without all those lucky breaks, there are no Star Trek movies, no billions in merch sales, and no Star Trek: The Next Generation. And TNG almost didn't cast an unknown British bald guy as Picard (Roddenberry hated the idea). It almost gave Picard an Inspector-Clouseau-style Fraaaaaanch accent (they made Patrick Stewart try it). It should've gotten torpedoed by a weak first season and a writers-strike-crippled second season. But somehow, all of that worked out, just like how Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) and Voyager (1995-2001) cannibalized each other's' audiences without getting each other cancelled, and how Enterprise was a weird dream we all had so who cares.
Odd how we all napped in front of TVs playing that Men Of A Certain Age marathon.
And if this new show was a bet on Star Trek's popularity, it'd be in great shape. But it's not. Instead, it's CBS's much-riskier bet that CBS can out-Netflix Netflix. Because CBS owns the Trek TV rights. Two years ago, they turned down Netflix's proposal for a joint CBS-Netflix Trek show. CBS also sat out while all their competitors built Hulu. Ya know, the thing you've used to watch every show that's not on CBS. Why did they make those decisions which CBS execs assure us were all on purpose? Because they launched CBS All Access, their own HBO-Go-type service. And it finally answered the question "How many people will pay six bucks a month for an ad-filled stream of CBS's closest thing to Game Of Thrones?"
CBS All Access doesn't have the network's NFL games, can't win enough subscribers with their other shows, and took on a comically overcrowded landscape of original scripted TV. How can CBS fix that? Well, right now, the plan is to air the first episode of your precious new Trek show on televisions, and then hide the rest of it on their streaming service, counting on hordes of passionate Trek fans to cough up almost-Netflix prices every month and resuscitate HBO Old. So this new Star Trek series will live in the most walled-off walled garden in modern television history, because not enough #YoungPeople are spending money they don't have to see The Big Bang Theory legally.
"Welcome to CBS, where it makes sense to us."
And unless CBS is cool with nobody watching Trek '17, you'd better hope this is the latest commercially lucky Star Trek show ... on top of hoping it's a departure from past Trek creatively.