9 Things We Want to See From the New Star Trek TV Show

Monday, 23 May 2016 - 12:17PM
Star Trek
Star Trek Discovery
Monday, 23 May 2016 - 12:17PM
The announcement that a new Star Trek series is set for January 2017 has ignited online forums and sci-fi conventions with excited discussion on theories and predictions. Understandable - considering it will be the first TV installment of the franchise since Enterprise met its end over a decade ago in 2005. Unfortunately, details regarding the upcoming series are scarce, and all we really know is that the show will centre on 'new characters' exploring 'new worlds'. Sounds good so far - just a little vague. Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote the last two Star Trek movies, is signed up for the project. We've also been informed that the new series will be the first show specifically developed for CBS All Access (a streaming service for US audiences). So, with such little information on which to base our expectations, let's make our hopes impossibly high with a list of ten things we'd like to see in the new series.

New Species

Relying on the classic Klingons, Ferengi or Romulans would be all too safe and predictable for the new series. Whilst these species' presence is welcomed, creators should introduce a new race to play a prominent role throughout the show. The show's first teaser has already told us we'll be getting 'New Aliens', but we're hoping that at least one of these new species will play a pivotal role in the production. An antagonistic species would stir things up and allow for plenty of long-term story development. The Borg, arguably the most iconic enemy in the franchise, are so downright terrifying exactly because of their complexity and mystique. The Borg aren't motivated by revenge or even evil - just mindless and merciless domination. Though introducing an enemy of this calibre will not be an easy task - it's something the new series could take a stab at.


Moral Conundrums

Even those who don't know much about Star Trek are aware of how ground-breaking the original series was to television in the 1960s. A black female lieutenant, an Asian helmsman, the first on-screen interracial kiss - all this just a couple of years after racial segregation had been outlawed in the US. The Next Generation continued the franchise's ethos of equality with thought-provoking storylines that discussed issues as controversial as gender identification, racism and colonialism without making the parallels distastefully obvious. Rather, the magic of TNG was the series' ability to portray inter-species conflict on distant planets in a way that cleverly mirrored contemporary political unrest and injustice on our own planet.

With Captain Jean-Luc Picard as the show's ethical quintessence, Roddenberry's liberal vision was explored in intelligent and tactful ways. Of course, that sentiment was somewhat neglected by Abram's reboot in favor of gratuitous shots of half-naked women, but for those who value Star Trek for the politics and philosophy which shaped its origins, a return to difficult themes and moral dilemmas is expected (and needed) in the new series.

Leisure Time

One of Star Trek's most characteristic qualities has been how well it typically depicts the interaction between crew members outside of the core battles and adventures, allowing for convincing character development. Take the cosy poker scenes in Enterprise, or TNG, where each character's traits come to play (literally) through the game. Worf gets enraged with his bad luck, Troi is able to read everyone's poker face, Riker is incessantly smug whilst Data struggles to comprehend the concept of bluffing.

The frequency with which these poker scenes are featured is a testament to how valuable they were for writers when it came to developing the characters' relationships to one another. Further examples of this can be seen in the USS Enterprise's bar, Ten Forward, where small talk between crew members help form our appreciation of their character. In short - the new series should tone down on the action and bring back the art of well-written dialogue. We don't need regular explosions or shoot-outs to stay interested in a story. 

Returning Characters

Think Spock in The Next Generation, or Worf and O'Brien in Deep Space Nine. When done right, series crossovers can make for excellent episodes. Bringing in a familiar face also gives a sense of continuity in the series and - though it sometimes results in contradicting timelines (consistency has never been the franchise's strong point) - there's no denying that the return of beloved characters in the new series would be a treat for most Trekkies. 

Planet Aesthetics

Sure, past Star Trek series have sometimes been cheesy in their now outdated vision of the future - and by 'sometimes' I mean 'regularly'. Unless shoulder pads and holographic spandex really do make a comeback around 2360 (fashion can be weird like that). Cheesy or not, the original series' creative take on planet landscapes has no doubt influenced subsequent science fiction franchises, and the retro vision remains iconic. For the new series, creators should be bold in their experimentation with surreal planet surfaces once again, bringing back the purple mist, crystal formations and silver trees which made TOS so dreamlike.



On a similar note, the new series should not take itself too seriously. It's possible to be relevant to the modern day, incorporate modern visuals and satisfy contemporary audiences whilst still maintaining some of the ridiculousness for which Star Trek has come to be known. In the past, the show's bizarreness has often provided comic relief to what might otherwise have been overly dramatic episodes. It has also resulted in some of the show's most memorable moments, whether it be Kirk wrestling a giant lizard man, the TNG crew turning into a bunch of lizards, or a lizard lady impregnating Trip Tucker (what is it with Star Trek and its reptile obsession?). Those implausible and over-the-top plots are as nonsensical as they are cringe-worthy, but it just wouldn't be Star Trek without them.


More Diversity

Just for reference, casting between one and two conventionally attractive women doesn't quite do it for female representation (looking at you again, Abrams). It's time for another female captain, and a more gender-balanced crew in general. It's difficult to believe that women still only account for a quarter of any crew several hundred years into the future. Also – is it too much to ask for a female character who doesn't have romantic relations with one of the male leads? Despite some half-hearted attempts at female empowerment in the past, no Star Trek series has done particularly well when tested against the Bechdel test. It's time for the new series to break that pattern and introduce not only more women, but more diversity in general.

New Technology

Since it is yet to be confirmed which ship will be featured in the new series, it's difficult to predict which technologies will be used. In The Next Generation and Voyager, the holodeck was a plot device of endless possibilities - including virtual time travel. It was an incredibly easy means for writers to explore practically any ideas they wanted - but with episodes like TNG: Ship in a Bottle - can we really complain? A new ship technology, around which a few episodes could comfortably be centered, would be an interesting concept for the new series. Though most people have by now come to accept Star Trek's infamous 'technobabble' as an inexorable part of the franchise - some Trekkies might prefer this 'new ship technology' to be founded on some credible science, too.


Episodic Structure

With the success of the reboot movies, it might be tempting for creators to take a season-long approach to plot writing, with each episode serving as the next step in the story. This would be a huge mistake, with most Trekkies hoping for a self-standing adventure in each episode. Though season-long subplots can work nicely in addition to single episode structures, the new series needs to be written for what it is - a series. 

The New Star Trek TV Show Will Air on CBS All Access in Early 2017
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