Six Reasons Why Star Trek Should Stay Dead

Illustration for article titled Six Reasons Why Star Trek Should Stay Dead

Click to viewStar Trek was relevant twice: in the 1960s, and then in the late 80s-early 90s. But now, it's become a microcosm of everything that's wrong with science fiction. Here's our list of reasons Star Trek should rest in peace.

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6. Trek is a poison dart of nostalgia aimed at the hearts of aging fan-dudes. The franchise caters to a fearsomely loyal cadre of dorks who recite Shatner's Promise Margarine commercials to each other. They also obsess over every minor detail from the show's 40,000 year history, leading to...

5. Obsessive continuity and reveling in cheese. Rumor has it the new Trek movie will feature tribbbles and the Guardian of Forever, and god knows what other callbacks to ancient episodes. Trek also groans under the weight of cliches it can never outgrow, from "beam me up" to "warp nine" to "shields down to 59 percent."

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4. It's an out-of-date news flash. Trek's format is a Cold War relic, from the original show's running Soviets=Klingons metaphor to the post-Cold War "new order" of TNG and DS9. Most storylines relate to "our" superpower, the Federation, facing off against other superpowers or coping with third-world planets. Take away the Cold War as a reference point, and you have boring space opera.

3. It's no longer looking ahead. Like Star Wars, Trek is trapped in prequel-land. Enterprise bored us by filling in pointless backstory on the early days of Starfleet, but the J.J. Abrams movie looks to be twice as pointless. We already know everything we need to about young Kirk and the other Trek tots. Mining your own past is a prime symptom of idea bankruptcy.

2. We're tired of the clueless wanker with Aspergers who teaches us what it means to be human. Spock was sort of cute, so nu-Trek served up Data, Odo, that holographic doctor, Seven of Nine and T'Pol. It's not Trek without Rain Man trying to understand our human ways. We prefer the Cylons, who school us about humanity by screwing and killing us.

1. Sanctimonious preaching is in Trek's DNA. From the Prime Directive to the Captain's Log, the franchise was made for droning voices giving us lectures. Starfleet Academy must give would-be captains a special course in holding forth about the moral lesson in every conceivable situation. We're also sick of constantly hearing about how our heroes are too noble to share their advanced technology with other cultures.

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In a nutshell, the only Star Trek we've liked in ages was Galaxy Quest, and that was mostly for Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman and Veronica Mars' dad.

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DISCUSSION

farwent
Josh Wimmer

@annalee: TNG remains one of my favorite shows to this day, corniness and all. If I had to pick a single fictional character to spend the day with, it would be Jean-Luc Picard — and if he was on the bridge of the Enterprise at the time, all the better.

Nemesis was pretty awful, construction-wise, but it still had me crying harder than anything since Dead Poet's Society at the end. Say what you will about Asperger's wankers, it was the perfect culmination of a character arc.

And for what it's worth: Star Trek did stop being relevant awhile back, but it's interesting to note that its cultural valence, if you will, has been filled in by Law & Order. It's not that L&O replaced it, but the shows are very similar. What it means exactly that L&O picked up speed as Star Trek lost it might be interesting to explore, and might offer clues as to how Trek could regain its relevance.

(If I had my druthers, it wouldn't be a reboot: I'd set Captain Wesley Crusher of the Enterprise up against a Federation that's started to rot from the inside and become increasingly hypocritical and insular, and throw in a couple of feuding major religions. To kick things off, bring back John de Lancie as an aged Q who explains that he's, um, aging because Something Big is fucking up the fabric of space-time and that Wesley needs to take Amanda Rogers under his care: her powers aren't working right, but her anomalous conception gives her some kind of protection against the Something Big, and the untrustworthy Federation leaders want her for their own purposes. Have Wesley be suspicious of Q, in standard Trek fashion, until he gets some kind of OK from the now-retired Picard. And then send the crew racing off into space with all of Starfleet after them. Just my thoughts, just my thoughts...)