There are many types of Trekkies out there in our world. Some fall into a specific series, which in turn became a gateway into the rest of the franchise. While others have been fans of the show since the original series. Wherever, or however you came to Star Trek, one thing has been creeping into the minds of fans since the end of Enterprise in 2005. “Where is Star Trek going, or Where should it go?”
With the end of Enterprise and for the first time in two decades, we have had a world of television without a Star Trek series. Fortunately, it didn’t take too long for a new person, JJ Abrams, to take the helm of the franchise.. Abrams gave us a rebooted movie franchise in 2009 with the release of Star Trek. Although it is set in another universe with a fork created by the insertion of Nero and Prime Spock (don’t think of the mirror-verse), this new Star Trek is for all intents and purposes a reboot of the original crew. Fan reactions were mixed, mainly because the movie seemed more action oriented and less to do with what made a lot of people become fans of Star Trek. Star Trek told both complex and simple stories that made you think about the world around you and asked difficult moral and societal questions. There were alien of the week stories as well as,episodes such as Darmok, which involved the struggles of understanding a completely foreign style of communication. Fortunately, this new rebooted movie universe created an alternate timeline, leaving the original canon in tact minus Spock. With that in mind, where should the franchise go? How can you balance the classic, slower paced storytelling, with action?
Star Trek has already had one series that did just that. Deep Space Nine did a pretty good job of balancing action with the deeper, more impactful moments that are a hallmark of the Star Trek franchise, at least after the second season. The show asked questions that before, weren’t really touched upon. We finally saw that Starfleet and the Federation have flaws. The utopia had problems. I know some will argue that in The Next Generation those issues had been touched on, but in all honesty they could have done more. For example, the episode “The Offspring” where Lieutenant Commander Data fought to keep his newly created daughter Lal from being taken from him by the Federation. You begin to see the cracks in the armor of the perfect society as questions of parental rights came up, as well as the question on where rights begin.
Deep Space Nine was able to give us a very action-oriented story arc with the Dominion War, but balanced it with the very personal struggles of officer Benjamin Sisko played by Avery Brooks.hroughout the entire series, Sisko had to balance his duty as an officer of the Federation, his whatever his role is as a religious figure of the Bajoran people, and finally his responsibility as a single father to his son. This dynamic created complex and rich storytelling,and frankly some of the best episodes of the entire franchise. Forthcoming Star Trek stories will have to play a balancing act that takes into account not only the differing paces of all the story arcs, but also, some that go on for entire seasons on the television shows. This can be very difficult for writers, and even actors to deal with, and if not done correctly it shows in the quality of the end product.
I became a fan growing up and watching the Next Generation., I’ve always loved the series. But, I also enjoyed Deep Space Nine after the second season because it was willing to spin a darker view of the Trek universe, and ask the questions that before, were only alluded to. I hope that they will continue going that route, while also looking back to strike an important balance. I believe that any new series should focus on the prime universe and leave the movies for the new Abrams timeline. You can have a healthy balance of smart action, with important character and thematic development.
Now, I ask you the original question, “Where should Star Trek go?” You can ask every fan, from old to new, and I bet you will get just as many answers as people asked. Should the prime universe be left alone, or should parallel stories be told while the new cannon is being written on the big screen? Can there be a happy medium? There are a million ideas, and I would love to hear them all. Where do you think Star Trek should go?