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Thursday, June 22, 2006
Various Star Trek rumors and thoughts
There are times when I read my good friend, Katherine Coble's blog and her posts about her great love of all things Harry Potter. And I have to smile to myself, because I completely understand her adoration, love, devotion and obsession as I share a simliar affliction. But while her devotion is to the young wizard and his adventures, mine is to to sci-fi related shows, Doctor Who and Star Trek.

There's been a lot of news about the Star Trek franchise the past few weeks and I've held off posting...until now.

So, if you're not really all that into Star Trek or hearing some insnae fan blathering on about, this post may not be your cup of tea. I'm just saying, you have been warned.

First up, there's a rumor flying around the Internet that newly appointed Star Trek producer J.J. Abrams wants to cast Matt Damon as the young Captain James T. Kirk. (The man is Kirk, William Shatner has come out and endorsed the choice.)

Sorry, J.J., but I really don't see it. I have nothing against Matt Damon as a whole, but if the intention of this entry in the Trek franchise is a Starfleet Acadamy type of film, then Damon is too old to play Kirk. Damon is in his mid-30s, which is about the age range we saw Kirk in during the original series. Since the series has established that Kirk was the youngest man to take command of a starship and he was in his early 30's when he did it, it seems to me that Damon is a bit too old for the role. (That's assuming they started filming today, which I doubt they're even close to filming).

Unless, you're going to go reboot...

Which is interesting in light of the memo of the proposed reboot of the franchise by J. Michael Stracysnki and Bryce Zabel that's been making the rounds of the Internet this week. I read the 14 page proposal and while it's an interesting idea, I'm not sure it's necessarily the best way to go. I will agree that what Trek needs is a return of the sense of wonder and exploration we got in TOS, early TNG and, to some extent, the first season of Enterprise. But for a number of reasons, I'm not sure a reboot makes sense.

My biggest is that a lot of what made classic Star Trek, classic Star Trek was the chemistry and relationship of the big three, Kirk, Spock and McCoy. I give a lot of that credit to Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley. I'm not sure you could neccesarily capture the "lighting in a bottle" that was the trio again, no matter how hard you tried.

Now, I'm sure some of you are saying--but Michael, look at what a reboot did for Battlestar Galactica.

To which I say--yes, but it's like comparing apples and oranges.

Battlestar Galactica was a successful and well-remembered show from the 70's. Also, it only lasted a year and while there was a loyal fan base who carried the flame for the show, it never was quite the same as Star Trek.

Star Trek lasted three years before it was cancelled by NBC but instead of just being well-remembered and having fans carry the flame, Star Trek went on to become a world-wide phenomon in syndication. (There was a time when an episode of classic Star Trek was airing somewhere in the world at any given moment). It became part of the pop-media consiousness in a way Battlestar didn't. And since we so associate Shatner with Kirk, Nimoy with Spock, etc. I can only imagine that rebooting and recasting is going to meet with greater resistance from the fan-base, who is larger, louder and more vocal. Remember the whole uproar over Starbuck being a woman? Yeah, multiply that times a million and you might have what you'd get here from some fans.

Which brings me to my final point of "If it ain't broke don't fix it."

This really doesn't relate as much to the reboot as to this conversation that crops up from time to time among Star Trek fans. Seems there is a vocal group that things the original series special effects should be redone and replaced since, well, the original series effects look kind of dated. One popular lighting rod episode for the re-doing the effects is the second season episode"The Doomsday Machine."

Seems a few years ago, Paramount looked into doing this for certain episodes of classic Star Trek. The results are in the highlight reel below, courtesy of You Tube.

OK, I'll give you that the results look very nice.

That said, I don't want the effects from classic Trek replaced. Call me a purist, but I actually like the grainy model shots of the original Enterprise as opposed to the CGI rendered ones here. Yes, the effects were limited back in the 60's when Star Trek was made, but you know what? That's part of what made Star Trek, Star Trek.

I realize that there are some who claim modern audiences won't watch the original episodes because the effects are too dated. I honestly feel sorry for those people who wouldn't watch the episodes because the special effects looked a bit dated. I guess that means they're gonna miss a lot of great movies and tv shows that were only filmed in black and white as well.

The thing is that while the effects for Star Trek were great for their time, it was the characters and the stories that drew in the fans and kept us coming back. When I think of "The Doomsday Machine", it's not the effects or the space battles that come to mind first. It's the superbly drawn characters brought superbly to life by the actors and the drama of the conflict that plays out between them. That is what made Star Trek great.

I think that is something that J.J. Abrams, or really anyone wanting to play in the Star Trek sandbox needs to remember when it comes time to make a new movie or launch the next series.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/22/2006 12:24:00 PM | |
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