Star Trek Update

The franchise that was king, and then suddenly went under. Star Trek, the sci-fi king of television had to confront serious competition over the last few years, and it started losing ground both on TV and in cinema. Last Trek film, Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), featuring Patrick Stewart, was going head to head with long awaited releases of LOTR and Harry Potter, choosing what could quite possibly be the worst date for a cinematic release. On top of which, Voyager’s failure to entice audiences, and then subsequently, Enterprise’s failure to re-invent the franchise, made fans disenchanted, and moreover, disenfranchised from their familiar turf, ultimately resulting in a demise of a show that continuously ran for over 30 years. Star Trek was eaten by Stargate.

Now, J.J. Abrams is hailed as the saviour of the Trek. His directorial career swerved from one big hit to another, starting with Felicity, then onto Alias, and finally, Lost. In the world of film, his directorial debut was Mission Impossible III. J.J. Abrams was defined as saviour of television in general, which is why he received the task of reviving the carcass of the now defunct Star Trek franchise.

From the beginning there was debate: to reinvent the show a la DS9, and head in an entirely different direction, or to go back to the source, and reinvent the show using its defining elements, its most popular original features. The executives chose the latter.

What it ultimately comes down to is “youthification” of old. Recycling nostalgia in newer, plumper bodies. Trying to build an audience by inviting back the old fans, and at the same time enticing the new fans who would swerve from habitually watching sexy young studs of Smallville, to newer, collagen-filled lips of teen Trek beauties and moon princesses.

Life is tough. For J.J. Abrams. Because inviting old fans is not as easy as it might sound. Because the fans of the old come with strings attached. And because Kirk is William Shatner, William Shatner is Kirk, and Spock is Leonard Nimoy, and Leonard Nimoy is Spock, and that’s just the way it was and will be.

But now, there are new kids in town. Rumoured to be the new Kirk is
Chris Pine, a 20+ nubile boy, whose major breakthrough role was in Blind Dating (2006) (huh?). He is to be joining an impressive cast, consisting thus far of Zachary Quinto, Anton Yelchin, and Eric Bana (Bana being the “impressive” part of the cast, of course.)

For the most part, they truly are new “kids” in town. And no, I am not being bity because I am getting older, but because I too am a fan of the show, and like many other fans, do not trust the sheen of the new, no matter what kind of packaging it comes in. J.J. Abrams may have saved the television, but only time will tell if he is the one to redeem the sins of Star Trek. That, and we’ll always have Shatner.