Thursday, June 15, 2006

So what lessons might there be in this for Trek? Some may be tempted to do the “more like Galactica” mantra about a grittier series. But there’s really very little that’s transferable from this Doctor Who in terms of the Doctor’s character: the U.S. class system is too different, and the established Star Trek universe provides different opportunities, and different constraints. The sense of commitment to something larger is very Star Trek, though, and characters coming to realize it might be worth pursuing in a prequel. In any case, Eccleston does open some eyes to what a single actor can do, in conjunction with superior and sympathetic writing. But again, there are substantial differences: there were eight Doctors before him, but there has been only one Kirk, one Spock (at least with lines)-- one of all Trek's iconic characters. Everyone expects each Doctor to be different.

The actual lessons for a Star Trek revival, on the big screen or small, might be more like this: do it right. Give it the resources it needs, both for the show itself and for its marketing. If Paramount and whoever else is involved (like a TV network) isn’t fully committed, and is just trying to test the waters a bit, it probably won’t work.

In fact this Doctor Who revival’s success owes more than a little to the example of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They established the new people, in a new ship (the new Tardis), and then re-connected to the established universe (first, with the Daleks, and next season with other old heroes and villains.)

In terms of Star Trek XI, if indeed it is to be a prequel featuring younger versions of original series characters, this Doctor Who series may have provided an actor to play a young Kirk: John Barrowman, whose Captain Jack became a Kirkian hero. Captain Jack has his own BBC series now, but Barrowman could probably find the time.

2 comments:

Michael said...

As a fan of both Dr Who and Star Trek, I can see some lessons that Trek could take away when it is revived from the revival of Dr Who.

I think one reason the new Who was such a success was that it very deftly straddled the line of accessibility. In Rose, the series re-introduces itself to the world. It gives you enough informatin to enjoy the show, but it doesn't have long scenes of info dumps where you go....OK, thanks for the technobabbl but let's get back to the story. But while it was accessible to new fans, it had enough winks and nods to the old school fans who kept it alive while it was away for 14 years. There were small references to previous, popular episodes littered in the series. They were done in such a way that if you missed them, you weren't lost but if you got them it was another layer of added enjoyment as a fan.

That said, the series avoided too much continuity from the past. Yes, the series is still firmly Dr Who and it has that rich past to draw on--for example, the use of the Daleks. But the series isn't so bound by continuity that it allows it to bog things down or exclude some fans who haven't watched and memorized every episode from the past 40 years.

Also, the series had adapted to the storytelling style of the day. Yes, it's 45 minute episodes and at first it was hard to watch them and not look for cliffhanger moments..but that is just the old school Dr Who fan in me.

Captain Future said...

Hey Michael--thanks for your very astute observations. I agree completely. Also I want to emphasize how this Dr. Who is even more acute and relevant in weaving contemporary social themes and comment into these narratives, the kind of thing Star Trek used to do and should revive in its next incarnation.