Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Lots of people play the game of “what should the next Trek movie be?” I played it in some emails with Nick Sagan. I’m not going to tell you his ideas, because as a former Trek writer and producer, and the author of two terrific sci-fi novels and one more soon to come, he is in a much better position to actually sell his approach.

But I’ll tell you mine. It’s a premise and an approach, not yet a story. The premise is that some members of all the Enterprise crews suddenly disappear (not all of them—just the ones who agree to be in the picture.) They reappear on one of the Enterprises---perhaps Archer’s, perhaps Picard’s. They don’t know why. Until who should appear in their midst, but Q.

Next Gen movies have needed Q for some time, in my opinion, and he’s the perfect rationale for gathering available major Trek actors for this movie. (It would have been a perfect 40th anniversary premise, by the way.) Even DS9 and Voyager actors could be included---all of them have been on one Enterprise or another, even for transport or a tour.

The premise is that the universe is very confused, something major has happened to its very fabric, and even Q is confused. He tried to turn to Picard and his Enterprise to help him sort it out, but the space-time continuum is in such flux that he grabbed people from several Enterprises over several hundred years. Furthermore, he got some of them long after they retired (Captain Kirk, anyone?) and perhaps even some at a point in their lives before they served. Or, perhaps in the case of Kirk, they’re snatched from alternate timelines.

But the essence is Picard and Q solving the problem of what’s wrong with the universe, with the able assistance of Kirk, Archer and whoever. (In terms of casting, an additional beauty of this premise is that everybody doesn’t have to be in the whole movie. There could be surprises throughout.)

The approach to the story I would like to see does not involve the political emphasis of latter Trek, or big space battles that would turn Trek into another adjunct of video games, but a return to what was promised in Next Gen’s final episode.

Remember what Q said at the end? “That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence!”

I’m not talking about either psychobabble or technobabble. I mean an exciting, challenging story that involves concepts that arise from the latest ideas in quantum physics and related fields.

The truth is that for all its advanced technology, the Star Trek universe is basically Newtonian, with a lot of technobabble tap-dancing. Gene Roddenberry went for ideas and for nourishment to scientists as well as technicians, and it’s time that Star Trek went back to sources like that for new ideas.

So---where do I sign?

UPDATE 12/15/05: Ain't It Cool News and TrekWeb are reporting a story that apparently originated at Canmag.com that indeed the prequel story for the next film is dead, and that the new film is to feature Picard, Kirk and Archer. But the setting is to be the Mirror Universe, which is not an idea I find appealing at all. It was badly done on Enterprise and I wasn't fond of the DS9 attempts I saw either. (The original series episode worked but only as a self-contained allegory.)

Anyway, I hope this "news" didn't originate with this site, because it was all speculation and proposal here.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

This is a neat concept. Q is obviously an elegant way to bring together characters from different eras. He is a popular character himself, and--I believe--recognizable to casual fans. Also, with this scenario, you have the advantage of bringing the characters together somewhat at random, so that it's not as difficult to explain why only certain characters are there.

Of course, you run the risk of coming up with something that could repel casual fans or non-fans. How much time would be spent introducing the various characters, explaining which era and which crew they come from, explaining who Q is, what the threat is, etc.? If it wasn't sharply written, it could easily confuse the uninitiated.

On the other hand, this is only a problem if you're talking about a traditional theatrical release. Something like this might be better suited to a direct-to-video release. In that sort of format you can speak directly to the fans, since you don't have the pressures of filling theatres with people who don't really know much about Star Trek.

Direct-to-video, however, might rule out the participation of Stewart and Shatner, since (as I understand it) the budgets aren't usually big enough to accommodate A-list stars.

In any case, it's still a promising premise. My preference would be to see a lighter film, as Logan suggested. The TNG cast (as a whole) has always appeared to be much closer and much funnier than the other casts are. If that's true, why not give them something like The Voyage Home, where they can concentrate on characters and humor without worrying about huge battles and the destruction of life as we know it? We saw hints of this in First Contact, but I think a smaller, more intimate and light-hearted film might be just what TNG and the franchse as a whole need. (I don't think it's a coincidence that the "whale movie" was the most successful financially and with non-fans.)