Star Trek, the 2009 film, made $385 million at cinemas worldwide, sold 5 million DVDs and a million Blu-rays in the first week it was available, and has a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The fans loved it. The critics loved it. Even people who hated Star Trek loved it. For a franchise that looked dead after Enterprise boldly went down the tubes like no Star Trek show had done before, it was an incredible recovery. The sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness, due out later this year, looks like it’ll do even better than the last one. But there’s a problem, which is where do we go from here?
It’s been four years between films, and they’re only on their second adventure. At this rate, if they adapted every story from the original series it would take 316 years to make all the films. I don’t see Chris Pine aging that well. Be thankful, if it had been The Next Generation it would take 712 years. Okay, I’m being ridiculous but even if they just do a couple of films, let’s say four, we’ve still got a chunk of time to wait. Despite the impressive figures of the last film it’s not exactly “rapid progress”, as Q would scoff.
Maybe the trick is a new show? A lot of fans have been asking for one. The problem here is that a reboot of the original series would be insanely expensive to make it look anywhere near as good as the last film. Also you’d need the actors, many of whom are establishing decent film careers. Convincing them to take so much time out of their schedules would be a massive burden, and again they’d cost a lot to keep. On the plus side, there’s no doubt it would be the best-looking Star Trek show ever, and would doubtless clean up at every awards show.
How about a parallel show featuring another ship and another crew, maybe doing some of the adventures based on things that Kirk and the gang did originally? Nice idea, and the fans would like it… but doesn’t that take away from the original stories? Some would be fine, maybe mixed with new stories, but the joy of the new films is that it’s the characters we know and love in situations that are familiar even if they are warped. A new crew and ship may take some time to get used to. It’s not a bad idea though.
What about a show set between the originals and Next Generation? Captain Harriman and the USS Enterprise B never got a fair shake, and it would be interesting. The same goes for the Enterprise C and its ill-fated crew. Both sound more appealing than a Next Generation reboot starring Ben Daniels as Picard, Ray Stevenson as Riker and Jim Parsons as Data, although that might not be as bad as it sounds.
There are the books, of course. Always a great read for the fans, but since they’re non-canon and not everybody reads them, that joy of mutual knowledge with other fans is limited. So what else have the fans got to keep them going while waiting patiently for the next installment? We have the private projects, of course. When Michael Dorn, Tim Russ and countless others are making their own unofficial (or slightly official) film and TV projects, there’s always that and fans can download them at any time.
But the question remains, where do we go from here? Is the future as bright as it seems on the surface? Once we start thinking about it, maybe it’s not. But that’s okay, because we’ve been there before. When the original series got cancelled, Star Trek died. Only the fans didn’t believe it, and they joined together with “Star Trek Lives” as their rallying cry. Until the first motion picture, the fans kept the faith for 10 years with nothing to break the silence except fan fiction and conventions. After the first movie proved so drab, it took Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan to jump-start the series. Then the fans were patient between films, until The Next Generation started up.
The trick is that we have each other. We have re-runs and DVD sets, Blu-rays and movies. We have Vulcan-like patience. We know that Star Trek lives. We just have to wait and see where it goes, because the only way to know where a path leads is to follow it to the end.