What the New Star Trek Show Needs in Order to Triumph
This month CBS announced plans to launch a new Star Trek TV series in 2017. Few details are known about the show—which will be produced by Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote the last two Star Trek films—but that hasn’t stopped fans from speculating. Keith DeCandido, who’s written or edited dozens of Star Trek books, hopes the new show will emphasize optimism.
“At its best Star Trek has always gone with a message of optimism and hope,” DeCandido says in Episode 178 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It always comes back to erring on the side of getting along, of compassion, of people talking to each other and working out their problems in a civilized manner.”
Screenwriter Rafael Jordan credits Star Trek for his interest in science. He likes that the older shows were heavy on scientific jargon—even if much of it was made up—and laments how mindless and action-heavy the franchise has become. He hopes the new series features more problem solving.
“As a science guy I really loved all that stuff,” he says. “I hope they try to make it interesting on a scientific level, and don’t just make it about jockeying around the galaxy having fun and blowing things up.”
Science fiction editor John Joseph Adams hopes the new series will continue the tradition of presenting a diverse crew. In particular he hopes the series will boldly go where no Star Trek has gone before and put queer characters front and center.
“Maybe you need to have a queer captain,” he says. “LGBTQ representation in Star Trek is one area in which they’ve been most lacking. They have dealt with it, but they haven’t had a lot of main characters who had any sort of non-traditional gender roles or sexual preferences.”
Jordan is confident that if the new show stays true to the classic Star Trek values, the franchise will remain vibrant for years to come.
“Star Trek is the original,” he says. “It’s the template. It’s always going to be socially relevant and wildly popular.”
Listen to our complete interview with Keith DeCandido, Rafael Jordan, and John Joseph Adams in Episode 178 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Keith DeCandido on time travel:
“Time travel shenanigans is a well that Star Trek has gone to very often, and it’s definitely something that’s fun to do occasionally, but making it the focus of the show I think would be disastrous. They tried to do that with Enterprise, with the whole temporal Cold War thing, and it completely crashed and burned. Considering that time travel has been at the heart of far too many Star Trek stories at this point, it’s hard to find a way of doing it that will feel fresh—just because they’ve done it so many times, with The Voyage Home, with the whole setup of the first [J.J.] Abrams film, First Contact, ‘City on the Edge of Forever,’ ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise,’ ‘Future’s End’ on Voyager. There are just so many time travel stories.”
Keith DeCandido on crew size:
“One other thing I would like to see—and it probably won’t happen, but I really, really, really want to see it—is a ship that only has like 40 people on it. One of the most frustrating things to me is that we’ve got this ship with—I think initially Voyager had 250 people on it, the original Enterprise had 430 people, the Enterprise D has a thousand people on it, and it’s like, for crying out loud, you’ve got all these people on the ship and the same seven people do everything. It would be nice to have a smaller ship [where] everybody knows everybody else, everybody’s working together, and you don’t feel like there’s a whole bunch of extraneous people who spend their time wandering the corridors and not actually doing anything important.”
John Joseph Adams on CBS All Access:
“It makes a certain amount of sense. Star Trek fans and science fiction nerds are going to go and find it wherever it is. If we have to subscribe to some new service, I mean, we’re going to watch our Star Trek. We’re not going to be kept away from our Star Trek because of a $6 monthly fee. At least, for the first couple episodes, and then if it sucks we’re going to bail, and then we’ll tell everyone how much it sucks, and then they’ll rue the day. … The thing that scares me about this is that it’s so important for Star Trek. If this doesn’t succeed, we’re never going to see another Star Trek show for forever.”
Keith DeCanddio on diversity:
“I would like some real genuine thought going into the casting in making it look like it’s a cast of people—the humans, at least—who come from a united Earth. To not automatically default to the whitewashed stereotype. It’s supposed to be a united Earth, where the Asian population is considerably higher than the Caucasian population, and maybe reflect that, reflect that there are people with brown skin in the world, and have more of them in prominent roles. … One of the things that Star Trek has always been good for is showing a future where you don’t have to be a white guy in order to be successful.”