10 Things We Want From a New Star Trek TV Show

Illustration for article titled 10 Things We Want From a New emStar Trek/em TV Show

Two things happened in the past week or so: Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season came out in eye-popping high definition. And Roberto Orci said that talks about a new Star Trek TV show are "almost real."

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As legions of Trek fans, old and new, pore over the first year of TNG and revisit how exciting it was the last time Star Trek came back to television, it's worth contemplating just what it could look like, if Starfleet managed to warp back to our screens on a weekly basis. Here's what we'd like to see from a brand new Star Trek.

Top image: Darth Mojo.

Rewatching the first season of TNG, including the featurettes that discuss the creative process that went into it, it's striking just how high-minded the genesis of this show actually was. And that clearly comes straight from Gene Roddenberry, who exerted absolute control over the show's first year — partly as a compensation for the fact that he had zero control over the Trek movies at that point. You see the same kind of slightly ponderous philosophizing in Roddenberry's failed pilot The Questor Tapes, in a number of TOS episodes, and of course in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Star Trek always had two opposing sides: the "philosophical" side, and the swashbuckling, dramatic-but-optimistic "adventure" side. When Trek succeeded in reconciling and combining these two aspects, it's generally had a huge success. But when it's veered too far to one side or the other, it's fallen flat. So the real bottom line is that we'd love to see a show that pulls off the same miracle as the middle seasons of TNG, with great adventure stories that ask deep questions.

Obviously, a lot depends on what type of Trek series we get — a half-hour animated show may not be quite as complex as a one-hour live-action show can be. (Although both Clone Wars and the 1970s animated Trek prove you can do a lot with animation.)

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In either case, though, here are 10 things we'd really like to see:

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10) Some new aliens.

With interesting biology and distinctive cultures. In other words, not just the "rubber forehead of the week" thing. It would be cool to see some more aliens that look completely different from humans, "The Chase" be damned. But also, honoring the old Vulcan motto of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations requires having some more fully realized alien cultures to explore — and sympathize with, even when they clash with our own. (Especially then.)

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Illustration for article titled 10 Things We Want From a New emStar Trek/em TV Show

9) Some ethical dilemmas

It's no accident that almost every Star Trek show has featured the most powerful starship in the galaxy, with the most advanced technology — partly, it's pure wish fulfillment. But also, a big part of the Trek ethos involves having great power and not using it. That's what the Prime Directive is about, and it's also at the root of many of the most interesting Trek episodes. At the height of America's superpower status, Star Trek explored the idea that not using your full power is often the bravest response to a situation. In the era of killer drones, ubiquitous surveillance and other new types of power, it would be great to see a Trek that explored these ideas seriously.

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Illustration for article titled 10 Things We Want From a New emStar Trek/em TV Show

8) A new take on the "outsider among humans" trope.

A lot of the best science fiction asks what it means to be human, and Star Trek has usually done this best by including someone who's got human characteristics but isn't actually one of us. There hasn't really been a Star Trek series since the rise of the posthuman and transhuman movements, so the time is ripe for a new character who's not quite human.

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Illustration for article titled 10 Things We Want From a New emStar Trek/em TV Show

7) Cat and mouse games in space.

Not just space battles, but tricky, strategy-based space battles. Star Wars has dogfights, Star Trek has submarine combat — and a whole generation of nerds grew up playing games like Star Fleet Battles after seeing the intricate strategy in "Balance of Terror" and Wrath of Khan. Not to mention the Picard Maneuver. Space is very big and full of weird phenomena, so it actually makes sense that space combat would be full of tricks.

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Illustration for article titled 10 Things We Want From a New emStar Trek/em TV Show

6) Scripts by real science fiction authors.

The old tradition of having people like Theodore Sturgeon and Larry Niven write for Star Trek deserves to be revived. And luckily, this generation has provided plenty of likely suspects — just page through recent anthologies like Federations or War and Space. Seriously, hire John Scalzi to write an episode or twenty. (Especially after reading his latest book Redshirts, we're kind of hyped to see a Scalzi-written Trek.)

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5) Some cool gadgets.

Apple needs some new inspiration, right? They already made the PADDs from Engineering, and we already have communicators, and something approximating tricorders and hyposprays. We need Star Trek to inspire the next batch of consumer products.

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Illustration for article titled 10 Things We Want From a New emStar Trek/em TV Show

4) Failed utopias.

Morality plays were a big part of classic Star Trek, as well as TNG and DS9. And often, the best kind of morality play comes from the false utopia — a world where people think they've figured out the perfect society, but we can see from the outside that they really haven't. This provides a fascinating contrast with Star Trek's own flawed-but-workable utopia, the Federation. (And yet, at the same time, it would be nice to see more of the civilian side of the Federation, so we can finally get a sense of what it's actually like to live there and hold down a job, in a world without money.)

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3) Diplomacy.

This sort of relates back to the "ethical dilemmas" thing, but it's also different. The ethical dilemmas usually are more about dealing with less powerful cultures, but Star Trek has a long tradition of showing diplomacy with other advanced space-faring races. The earlier Trek shows portrayed a world with two opposing space powers (during the Cold War) and a complicated set of alliances and uneasy truces (during the post-Cold War era.) But now we need a Star Trek for today's even more complicated, tension-filled era.

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Illustration for article titled 10 Things We Want From a New emStar Trek/em TV Show

2) The Future

And now, we get to the more wishful part of the wishlist. It's sounding as though Orci, at least, wants to make a show set in the rebooted TOS era of the J.J. Abrams films. But it would just be more interesting to see Star Trek move forward, into the future, instead. We want to see what happens after Voyager and DS9, either in the original timeline or the Vulcan-less version. (Image by Darth Mojo.)

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Plus that way, any fears of stealing the thunder of the Abrams films could be allayed — in the same way that you had movies about Kirk and Spock, while TNG was on television. If there's one thing that's defined Star Trek at its best, it's moving forward and exploring the next thing. We're happy to see J.J. Abrams reimagine Kirk and his crew for a new era, especially if it's as fun as Abrams' first movie. But a Star Trek TV show should take us beyond what we already know — to, you know, boldly go where no-one has gone before. And that would allow us to see...

Illustration for article titled 10 Things We Want From a New emStar Trek/em TV Show
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1) More Artificial Intelligence

In many ways, this is the next frontier for Star Trek. The Original Series takes place in a future with no A.I. at all — although the ship's computer does become a bit amorous in "Tomorrow is Yesterday." And Kirk is constantly talking autocratic computers into self-destructing, and we meet the occasional android. And then, in TNG, there's an android in Starfleet — but only one android, in the entire Federation, and nobody's been able to duplicate Data's positronic brain. There are hints that holographic life forms could become aware (like Moriarty, and the planet of holograms in DS9.) By Voyager, there's a self-aware holographic medical officer who just runs on the ship's computer systems, and we learn there are others out there. Voyager also returns to Earth laden with stolen Borg technology. So the Federation is poised on the brink of a revolution in A.I. — and we've never gotten to see it.

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DISCUSSION

pessimippopotamus
Pessimippopotamus

I think a new show immediately following the destruction of Romulus, in the right hands, could fulfill all those points.

10) With the Romulan Neutral Zone no longer enforceable, the Federation or other powers can probably wonder into a whole new area of space and meet new aliens who may or may not have had dealings with the Romulans. Partners? The oppressed? Vassals?

9) There were plenty of ethical discussions that were never resolved in DS9 and Voyager. Eugenics, AI rights, war intervention and prevention, rights of the disenfranchised, terrorism, spirituality in an intensely science driven culture, etc etc. Star Trek likes bringing them up, so we'll probably get it if we get a good selection of writers.

8) As for trans-human characters, Seven, along with Picard, Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres, are as far as they've gone in terms of main characters. (the latter three's having been assimilated being never mentioned again after a two-parter) I think they could definitely go that route.

7) The thing I didn't like about DS9's battle sequences were that tactical maneuvers were said out loud, but when we look at the special effects, all the ships just seem to be flying straight in a single file, getting blown up. Hopefully the advancements in VFX and some creative rendering can fix that. I think because the show was made much later than others, Voyager, the ship, was shown in making some acrobatic moves.

6) That would be nice.

5) Borg technology, holo projectors from the 29th century, more tech from 25th century... When we leave off Voyager and the TNG movies, the Starfleet is brimming with weird technology.

4) The Federation being constantly undermined in the TNG movies and most importantly during DS9 already sets this up. The Federation is seen as an idealistic utopian society... then you learn about the covert black ops task groups and corrupt Starfleet officers... It does go against Roddenberry's vision, but if they wanted to show a broken utopia, it's all set up.

3) There's tons of diplomatic topics that could enter into play with the destruction of Romulus. What do you do with the refugees who hate the very people who can save them? Will the Vulcans take them? Will the Klingons take their chance to wipe out a race they've despised so long? Who will oversee everything? The Federation? Mix 3 & 4 and you can have some compelling plot driver.

2) I hate what happened to Romulus as a cheap writing device for the new franchise, but I admit that there's so much that could be done with it. I hope it doesn't get wasted.

1) AI. Yes. Data and the Doctor paved way for interesting AI stories. Data is a humanoid robot who seeks to understand humans and feel as humans do. The Doctor is capable understanding of humans and is capable of feeling emotions, but he's fully aware that it's all a computer simulation , which also brings up very interesting character play. Mix than with trans-human elements and you can have some very philosophical discussions that explore what it is to be alive.

I really think there could be a new Star Trek based on the one that we've enjoyed for 40+ years already.