We’re excited about the new Star Trek series coming in early 2017. Unless you’re a Trekkie that has been marooned in the Delta Quadrant, pretty much the entire Star Trek fan community has reason to be excited! We don’t know much, but we do have good reason to believe that we’ll be returning to the series’ proper timeline, that Angela Bassett and Rosario Dawson are among those being courted to star, and it’s being produced by Bryan Fuller. We also won’t be joining in the voyages of Captain Worf either — at least not immediately.
Star Trek as a franchise will celebrate its milestone 50th anniversary this year with the release of Star Trek Beyond, the 13th film to carry the title. It is also the first Star Trek series to enter production since Enterprise ended in 2005 and will be the first to stream first-run episodes rather than air them on television. The timing couldn’t be better for a new series.
Since the beginning of the year, I have slowly but surely been making my way through the previous series on Netflix. Below are ten things I think are the most pressing qualities we need from a new series in the Star Trek brand!
1. Prime Timeline
In 2009, J.J. Abrams rebooted the original Star Trek cast in a new film that reintroduced the classic characters and the U.S.S. Enterprise to a new generation. The sequel Into Darkness followed up on this effort by retelling the classic Khan storyline and this summer’s Beyond will no doubt take it a bit further with Fast & Furious director Justin Lin taking the reins. This new era of Star Trek is adventurous and fun. It is undoubtedly the reason why a new series is now even possible after the fatigue the franchise suffered after Enterprise was canceled. But let’s be honest: These new films don’t really feel like Star Trek. Whereas Abrams understandably took Star Trek in an action flick direction, there are a great many fans wondering where most of the deep science fiction went.
Thankfully, it sounds like there is a good chance this new show may return us to the prime universe inhabited by the original version of the original crew and, later, Captains Picard, Sisko, and Janeway as well as their respective crews. The movies have always been fun romps, but Star Trek arguably works better as a regular series that explores the depths of the cosmos and those that inhabit it. This sometimes means things get fascinatingly cerebral, which is something that even reboot star Chris Pine thinks couldn’t happen in today’s marketplace. Maybe you can’t make cerebral stories work in a two-hour film, but they’re certainly the stories that are making today’s television landscape so vibrant.
Not to mention, it has been far too long since the release of Star Trek: Nemesis, which is the latest story set within the Prime Timeline. What has happened to the Federation and our favorite characters since then? We will hopefully find out soon!
2. Drastic Changes
While Star Trek is beloved by fans all over the world for its formulaic storytelling, the truth of the matter is that hardcore fans are salivating for more. We’ve seen a few different versions of the Enterprise exploring the galaxy, we’ve seen large-scale religious and political warfare, and we’ve had to join a long voyage home from the far end of the universe. Been there. Done that. We loved every bit of it. But now it’s time for something new.
We first started salivating at the hint Bryan Fuller dropped regarding the show following new crews. Crews being plural. That seems to indicate that perhaps the new series will follow the crew of more than one starship or station. While Fuller also indicated that it would be inaccurate to refer to the new series as an “anthology,” the series’ tagline does reinforce the idea that more than one crew will be present in the main story. It’s exciting to brainstorm the idea that we might be branching out from the idea of a regular crew. While we’re breaking the mold and coming up with new twists, wouldn’t it be cool to see a universe where the Federation has fallen apart? Maybe a series where we’re joining what few Maquis rebels survived as they attempt to rebuild? The possibilities are endless.
And in a world where possibilities are endless, why fall back on what we already know works just fine?
3. Strong Female Captain
One thing that did work wonders and that we sadly only got to see once in Star Trek‘s long history was a formidable woman in command. Sure, we got to see Dr. Beverly Crusher take command at the end of The Next Generation and Major Kira Nerys got her few moments to shine in Deep Space Nine, but it wasn’t until the introduction of Kate Mulgrew’s Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager that we truly got to admire a woman in command at all times. Mulgrew’s portrayal was brilliant and powerful but also vulnerable as she was often torn apart by her situation being stranded with her crew thousands of light-years from home.
Janeway fought against not only time and distance, but also the Borg and countless other Delta Quadrant species who sought Voyager‘s annihilation. While most Trekkies will argue the merits of Kirk or Picard as the superior captain, it’s definitely Janeway who has my vote. And we deserve another strong female role model like her to take up the mantle.
Quite frankly, we think Fuller’s first choice of Angela Bassett in the role would work out just perfectly.
4. Formidable Opponents
One of the greatest moments of Star Trek: The Next Generation was the introduction to the Borg, a massive and frightening collective of cybernetic humanoids hellbent on nothing more but destroying or assimilating all other civilizations and cultures into their own ranks. In “The Best of Both Worlds,” often times cited as one of Next Gen‘s best episodes and one of the best television cliffhangers ever, the Borg even manages to assimilate Captain Picard. This plot point left viewers at the time wondering if Patrick Stewart would return to the role the following season and also pondering just what their beloved Star Trek had become. This was the first time the enemy had ever actually won! The stakes had never been higher.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine later included a war with an enemy nearly as powerful called the Dominion. The Dominion War is considered one of the bloodiest in Federation history and spanned multiple seasons of Deep Space Nine‘s run. While they were certainly no Borg threat, they were not to be taken lightly.
A new Star Trek is going to need a new villain. A villain that will cause cries of “Red Alert!” the moment they appear on the screen. Whether that means revisiting a villain we’ve already met or one that has been lurking in the shadows all these years — it doesn’t matter. It just needs to be there and be more menacing than the threats initially made by the Ferengi or the Kazon ever were in their first appearances!
5. New Aliens
While this is almost something we can certainly count on, we can’t exclude it from this list! Star Trek wouldn’t be Star Trek without its mission to “explore strange new worlds” and “to seek out new life and new civilizations.” One of the coolest elements of the Star Trek world is being introduced to new fictional species that cause our imaginations to run wild. Throughout the past 50 years, Klingons and Romulans have probably received the most development than any other, having been both friend and foe to our heroic Starfleet characters. These races are now so iconic that even the most casual pop culture observer can identify what franchise a Klingon comes from!
Deep Space Nine built on this element the best with its major conflict between the Bajorans and the Cardassians. The central premise of the series is centered around the Federation finding themselves squarely between the two sides of this bloody occupational conflict when they arrive at Bajor to administer their new space station left behind by the Cardassians. This plot point drove a great majority of Deep Space Nine‘s stories and is certainly something the new Star Trek could draw inspiration from.
6. Familiar Faces
We already know that the new Star Trek won’t be following Worf’s latest adventures, but if we’re set in the Prime Timeline like we’re hoping, that could certainly open up numerous opportunities for beloved stars from the previous series to make a cameo or two. Should the new series be set shortly after the events of Nemesis, we could easily explain why many characters from the Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager crews are still alive and kickin’ out in space somewhere.
Some fans might bemoan the use of familiar faces as a ploy for ratings, but since the new series will be streaming in first-run rather than on a traditional broadcast network, huge ratings might not play a huge part in its definition of success anyway. And also, why shouldn’t the series feature at least one prominent former cast member? Every other series since the original has! DeForest Kelley appeared as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the first episode of Next Gen, Patrick Stewart appeared in the first episode of Deep Space Nine as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Armin Shimerman appeared as Quark in the first episode of Voyager, and both Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis appear as Commander William Riker and Counselor Deanna Troi in episodes of Enterprise.
Featuring strong links to your past is clearly a Star Trek tradition that would be only fitting for the new series to follow through with. Besides, are we the only fans still eagerly awaiting for Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes’ breakout Bajoran character from Next Gen) to make a triumphant return?!
7. New Technology
Star Trek is a series that has always been ahead of its time. Not only known for its strong civil rights stance, the franchise has also frequently had an impact on the world of technology in the 50 years since it premiered. Cell phones, touchscreen tablets, 3D printers, mobile language translators, and even the upcoming medical tricorder could clearly have been inspired by some of the futuristic technology in the various iterations of Star Trek. There are even scientists trying to crack the idea behind the technology needed for us to travel at faster-than-light “warp” speeds.
All the more reason for the new Star Trek series to start coming up with some other fantastic ideas for future tech. They may seem silly. They might even be difficult to believe for those of us who’ll be watching when the new series premieres. But consider that in 1966, when the original Star Trek first aired, hardly anyone could have foreseen that we would be using fancy touchscreen mobile devices to watch our cat videos on, right? So what better template than Star Trek could we use to develop even crazier, far-fetched ideas that might one day become a reality?
Plus, it all looks really cool, too!
8. More Comedy, Fewer Lens Flares
The 2009 Star Trek reboot was great. I think I’ve said that a few times now. But for as great as it is, it suffered from a tremendous amount of lens flares as part of Abrams’ artistic vision. A few were cool, but it arguably went a little overboard. J.J. isn’t in charge of the new series, so we may not need to worry about this point too much, but there is always the possibility that the new series will try to emulate the latest films’ style in an effort to replicate success. While we’re cool with the general look and tone of the films overall, we just hope that if Fuller does go for lens flare, he at least tries to dial it back some.
Incorporating comedy into the mix is something the reboot films had a bit more success with. The series had some funny moments, but none as funny as Kirk’s “numb tongue” incident or pretty much any scene with Simon Pegg’s incarnation of Scotty. While we would love to see a return to “cerebral” Star Trek, it’s always nice to have a little comic relief which will also help us to connect with the new characters.
9. Proven Tropes
It might sound a little contradictory given that I stated that we had “been there, done that” in #2 in reference to needing some drastic changes in the franchise, but Star Trek has also formed something of a successful tradition in recycling some of its classic stories. Mirror Universe episodes and holographic characters going haywire episodes specifically come to mind as classic examples. We’re going to need more Tribbles, too. We know that they’re dangerous, but that little trill of theirs is just too darn cute!
10. A Ship Named Enterprise
Though Deep Space Nine and Voyager both feature amazing casts of characters and beautiful stories abound, there is one vital piece missing from their puzzle: the Starship Enterprise! The original series, Next Gen, Enterprise, and all of the feature films have made us feel at home on the bridge of the Enterprise! It’s our home away from home in the cosmos. Nearly any iteration of the Enterprise is recognizable to even casual viewers. And quite frankly, it has become a popular character unto itself.
The Enterprise doesn’t necessarily need to be under the command of one of its more famous captains, nor does it need to be the central ship occupying a majority of the new series’ central characters, but it certainly needs to make appearances and be present and accounted for during major Federation events. Didn’t it always seem just a little strange that the Enterprise always happened to be largely absent from the large-scale battles against the Dominion? That’s what I always thought, anyway!
Whether it’s the center of the action or just simply shows up when it’s needed, the Enterprise needs to be there in some fashion or another.