– By J.W. Fox –
Trekkies will have to wait a little longer for their beloved Star Trek to return to television. This week, CBS announced the series premiere of Star Trek Discovery will be pushed back six months to mid-2017. Yet, most bloggers and fans seem to be breathing a sigh of relief rather than expressing frustration. I am one of them.
From the start, something was a bit off about Discovery. The show was to premiere on CBS All Access, a new streaming service rather than the national channel itself. Why would CBS take a valuable TV property, on the heels of three reboot movies, and relegate it to its streaming service? Second, why haven’t we seen a single trailer or preview? Sure, we got a 1-minute animation of the ship coming out of dock, but that isn’t much. It had strange theme music that more resembled war drums than the inspirational “Where No Man Has Gone Before” theme. The whole feel of the 1-minute teaser was that of power, not wonder. With no other information, it seemed the show was going to follow in the style of the reboots: no more heady themes exploration and scientific discovery (the name of the ship aside).
The U.S.S. Discovery isn’t exactly beautiful either. It looks old fashioned, clashing a simple triangle engineering section with the saucer. In contrast, the U.S.S. Voyager had a unique design with a flat engineering/nacelle layout and an arrow-head upper section instead of a saucer. Perhaps not awe-inspiring, but the ship was eloquent in its own way. The U.S.S. Defiant was another late design and a straight-up ship of war. It looked like one, robust, like a stocky scrapper that can take a punch. The Discovery design is a step backward and almost looks like it comes from an old Star Trek video game.
We know absolutely nothing about the cast, the characters, or a synopsis of the show other than it takes place a few years before the original Star Trek series and the reboots. The creators decided to avoid the alternative timeline altogether and set the show before the destruction of the U.S.S. Kelvin. It was a little disappointing that we are not seeing a “next next generation.” For a franchise that is entirely about the future, one has to wonder why it is recently so fixated on reliving or retelling the stories of the past.
There is a bright side. Creators Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman were excellent choices to build the newest addition to the franchise. Both have solid sci-fi credentials. Gene Roddenberry’s son Rod, is credited as a producer as well, providing some pure blood from the Creator. If they think the show needs six more months of development, then we should definitely give them that time. I believe they can create a worthy addition to the franchise.
The delay may also be an acknowledgement that the concept started on the wrong foot. Maybe (I am totally speculating here), they realized they should go back to the drawing board. Game of Thrones went through a similar experience after the first version of the pilot episode ended up being a total disaster.
The show will likely remain a prequel, which is disappointing. If I ruled the world, we would see a sequel series not a prequel. The original timeline ended with DS9 and Voyager. Last we saw, the Alpha Quadrant facing a myriad of new threats and challenges. It would be great to see a show that takes place after the Dominion War with perhaps a narrative connection to the Enterprise-E, similar to the DS9 pilot starring Captain Picard. Nothing more than perhaps a changing of the guard scene in the first episode would be needed to satisfy me.
A connection would also add some badly needed continuity with the strongest pillars of the franchise, namely The Next Generation and DS9. Most trekkies agree Enterprise was forgettable, and Nemesis was a bomb. Some would like to discard all the TNG movies. Plus, the reboot movies are basically a retelling of stories we already know, with a fast and furious style to it.
Will Star Trek look to the future, as it has for so many decades? Or, will it simply bask in nostalgia? Are we really so pessimistic about the future that we feel the need to relive the good old days over and over again through alternative timelines? I do not think Gene Roddenberry would be pleased.
He would challenge us to boldly go where we have not gone before.
Jacob Foxx is the Editor of Prescientscifi.com and author of two novels: The Fifth World and the sequel The Fifth World: The Times That Try Men’s Souls. When he is not reading or writing science fiction, he works as a regulatory affairs consultant for small biotech companies in Raleigh, North Carolina.