Friday, February 17, 2006

It's Not Dead Yet, Jim...

As anyone who knows me knows, I am more of a Star Wars fan than Star Trek. That being said, I do enjoy the Star Trek franchise but I have some issues I take up with the way it’s been run lately. Now, to compare and contrast, George Lucas heard what the fans were saying. We Star Wars geeks said that we’d watch GL sit on the can for an hour and fifty minutes and proclaim it good Star Wars. Well, unfortunately that’s close to what he gave us. Personally, I can live with what he produced in the PT. (Well, Episode One I could do without except Darth Maul. He kicked butt.) GL missed a lot of opportunities to make them great. He made the dialogue un-listenable. He made the story contrived. But in the end, he delivered lots of Storm Troopers, lots of Jedi and one really bad-ass ending with Anakin Skywalker getting his butt burned off by Obi-Wan Kenobi, which everyone has to admit is the only thing we were waiting for anyway.

Did GL rely too much on Special Effects? Yes. Was the gritty realism of the first film missing? Yes. Has GL (the Great One!) gotten soft in his old age? Absolutely. You do not have to look any further than having Greedo shoot at all in the Cantina scene to see that he’s been whipped into submission by old age and fatherhood. He once had an edge. Now he’s as smooth as a ball bearing. (I hope someone comes along to save Indiana IV for G-d’s sake!) But in the end, this was a vision on one man and he told his story, like it or leave it. And guess what? My kids prefer the PT over the OT… 'nuff said.

But, Star Trek. My goodness, what the hell are they doing over there at Paramount? IMHO they have lost it since they produced that awful mess that they called Voyager. What a monument to committee thinking this was. See, while Star Wars is one man’s vision and one man’s story, Star Trek used to be Gene Roddenberry’s thing. When he died, the board of directors at Paramount took over the helm and it all went to pot. Sure DS9 was good but since then the movies have gone downhill on a photon torpedo. Star Trek has always been a “reset” series. Meaning one episode ends and very little affects the next. Only the red shirts died on the original and TNG had stuck pretty much to that formula with very little variation. When they did get into a little soap opera type arc like the Borg, it kicked major Ferengi butt. Then something happened. TNG did not translate onto the big screen at all. None of the characters had that larger than life presence that the original cast had. They were too small and nerdy. Even Warf. And then they made a Borg Queen! I don’t get it. The strength of the Borg was that they were all a network, each individual piece no better than the rest. Assimilation, remember? Crap, all of it. They took the fundamental aspects of the series and they tried to explode them to become bigger than they were instead of working with that they had gotten right.

Like I said, the committee mentality destroyed Star Trek.

With the current leadership at Paramount, the Star Trek franchise is doomed. They need to hire a passionate, creative guy to lead the charge, give some of the other old timers a say in the creative aspect and then let them go. The series is choking, gasping for breath. It needs some new blood and a good old-fashioned kick in the pants to bring it back to life.

It’s not too late though. It can be saved. I also hate to say it, Star Trek needs a few years off. No Movies. No TV. No Nothing. Then bring in Directors who are passionate about saving the series. I’ve heard everyone from Bryan Singer to J. Michael Straczynski have said they were interested in reviving the Trek franchise on screen. I heard that William Shatner wants to do a Star Trek Academy series featuring a young James T. Kirk. I think that’s brilliant. Show how the original characters came together to form the OS crew. That’s gold right there, with the right casting. (Think: Smallville in Star Trek land.) Move forward with the series by going backward. I see it now, the moment halfway through the first season when young brash Kirk runs into a logical, cold, Spock. Imagine the possibilities of fleshing out the characters while they were still young and spry and naïve about the great big galaxy. What happens the first time Kirk spies a Klingon? What is his reaction to Uhura? Is there an initial underlying sexual tension? I think so. I know so. Have Spock really not understand human behavior but comes to learn all the while dealing with his human half. Or is Spock a little more emotional than the Spock we come to know and we see him learn to repress that emotional side while balancing his deep relationship and brotherhood to Kirk. One of the most dramatic, emotional and greatest moments in all of Star Trek is when Spock dies saving the Enterprise. How does he learn that sacrifice? Is it all really pure logic or was he also saving his best friends. Can’t you see it? See it with me, people, a hit series again, based on Star Trek. It’s what this country needs now. Remind us of the simple naïve idealism of Gene Roddenberry’s original series. Take it all back to square one and start over with this series.

It’s not dead Jim. Not yet…



:P fuzzbox said...

So much to say about this post. But I will keep it brief. Darth Maul did kick but but my favorite charector in Episode One was Qui Gon Jinn. Sorry about the spelling but he seemed to bring a certain humanity to the Jedi that was needed in the film. Secondly, I feel that you are correct about Star Trek TNG. It was a shame that it didn't translate to the big screen as it was my favorite of the series and in my opinion even outdistanced the original.

ObilonKenobi said...

Yeah, Qui Gon was a great character. I felt that Lucas would have done the story better if he let Darth Maul escape and have Obi Wan get an ongoing subplot of trying to find and kill the Sith who killed his master only to have his own apprentice take his place. Perhaps I will write my next novel with that plot in mind!

As for STar Trek, I think they still have potntial if only the movies would become more epic in scope and not like a really long episode of the serieses. Wrath of Kahn was the only one with that grand epic story. The rest were like throw away episodes where nothing changed about the crew (Except the one about the Klingon Peace Accord. That one worked too.)