Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Star Trek: Alternative Futures

by William S. Kowinski

Now that '>Star Trek: Enterprise has come to its premature end and the infrastructure that supported Star Trek on television for the past 18 years has disbanded, the future of the Star Trek "franchise" is in doubt.

As Leonard Nimoy reminded me last summer, laughing the entire time, Star Trek has been dead before. The original series was nearly cancelled after the first season, just about cancelled after the second season, and declared dead after the third. Then a decade later it was resurrected for one and only one movie '>("Star Trek: THE Motion Picture as Nimoy says). When the actors gathered for each of the next four original cast movies, they never officially were told there would be another one. Then came their sixth, and by then, there was no question that Star Trek was alive: after all, it had reproduced, and was considered very fertile.

Now several years after its first real big screen financial failure (although when the DVD and other income gets factored it, it's doubtful even '>Nemesis will have lost money) and its first series since the first to be cancelled before the ideal (for moneymaking) seven year lifespan, Star Trek is dead again.

There are so many factors involved in whether there will be new Star Trek stories on TV or at the movies that predicting a single future is unrealistic. Some of those factors are: judgments of new management at Paramount, creative leadership, the pros and cons of the established fan base, potential audience in the next several years beyond that fan base.

How these factors play out can lead to several different outcomes. So let's play a game of alternative futures, and reverse engineer them to create a supporting scenario.

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