With all the hubbub around Star Wars, it is easy to forget that there's another sci-fi franchise that might be as important, if not more so, to the way we see the world around us, CBS has reminded us. The network has announced a new Star Trek series starting next year that will boldly go where no Star Trek series has gone before -- straight to live streaming.
I'll admit, the last two Star Trek movies (the reboot Star Trek in 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013) have soured my taste for the franchise a bit, much like the prequels did for the Star Wars franchise. But the announcement brought me right back in, because unlike Star Wars, Star Trek is the real IT geek series. Star Trek has influenced the real world around us in ways Star Wars never has.
Here is a small list of inventions (there are even more) Star Trek partially inspired. They include the cell phone, the tablet, voice activation, the tractor beam (which is close to becoming real), the iPod, Skype, and even Google Translate. It is no wonder that in 2014, a survey of more than 2,000 American adults chose Star Trek above all other science fiction as the one that most accurately reflects the promise of the next wave of technology
[It is still inspiring tech today. Read Consumer Tech Marches Closer to Star Trek.]
But Star Trek isn't only about the technology. It is also a mindset -- a desire to explore, to put understanding ahead of conflict, to seek out not only new life, but new everything. It is an attitude.
So, I'm a bit worried that a Star Trek series not envisioned at all by Gene Roddenberry might not hit the mark. It might be good TV without being Star Trek, much in the same way I felt about the recent Star Trek movies. With that in mind, I made a list of things that the new series needs to have in order to be "real" Star Trek. Take a look at my list, and then tell me in the comments if you are excited or worried about the new series. Also, tell me what you hope to see in the new series.
10 Things The New Star Trek Series Needs
1. Lots of cameos. The essence of Star Trek is the actors. Whether we're talking Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, George Takei, or newer cast members like Michael Dorn, actors on the show not only embraced their characters and the obvious bump to their careers, but also the legacy of the show. They cultivated it and built a community around the show that lasted long after filming. Most of the original series cast members made appearances in Star Trek: The Next Generation, reprising their characters when possible. I'd love to see the same happen in this latest version of Star Trek. Well, with everyone but Wesley.
2. A more active Federation. The United Federation of Planets is the core of Star Trek. It is the promise of peace and at the same time, it is the bumbling bureaucracy. It sets the rules so Star Trek captains can break them. Most of the best episodes of all the different series revolve around one captain or another telling the Federation to stick it in their torpedo tubes. The Federation is barely a consideration in the movies. Vulcan was destroyed in the 2009 reboot Star Trek and the Federation is mostly incapable of doing anything but watch.
3. Tribbles. Really, that's all I need to say.
4. A captain that realizes Q tells the truth. Every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Voyager that featured Q required someone yelling, "We've had enough of your lies, Q!" Here's the funny thing: Q never lies. Ever. Go back and watch. He tries to tempt people. He creates alternate realities, but he actually always does exactly what he says he'll do. Just once I'd like a Captain to realize that Q plays games, but he's the most honest man in the universe.
5. A Klingon captain. It'll never happen. But frankly I liked Michael Dorn's idea of a Klingon-based series. I think the No. 1 reason it won't happen is expense. The second is a racial bias toward humans in all Star Trek series. But how awesome would it be to watch a Vulcan take orders from a Klingon?
6. Humor. The original series had a fair amount of humor. Every show since then has gotten a little more stolid. It is time to make space travel fun again. Speaking of humor, here's a Star Trek joke for you: How many Klingons does it take to change a lightbulb? None. They're not afraid of the dark.
7. The next wave of inventions. Star Trek has repeatedly reinvented our world and must do it again. Here's a scary thought: Why does it take a large crew of people to drive the Enterprise centuries from now when in 2015 we're close to having self-driving cars on the road? That's the basic challenge of new sci-fi.
8. An actor who can do this:
Sure, Patrick Stewart is a much better actor, but Trek is at its best with a little bit of a kooky vibe. It is the spoonful of sugar that helps all those reversed tachyon polarities go down.
9. To be on TV. Forget this streaming business. I don't want to pay for yet another streaming service to see the darn show. The fragmentation of streaming services is making it very hard to be a fan of sci-fi. I need Netflix to stream Marvel shows, HBO Go for Game of Thrones, and now CBS for Star Trek. Soon Amazon Prime will bring back Buck Rogers or something.
10. Actually, it is all good as long as it has someone saying this: