As I write this, the local UPN affiliate here in Tampa is showing a movie I never really heard of called "Sibling Rivalry." I just had it on as I was doing some other work, and really wasn't paying too much attention to the 1990 Carl Reiner movie.
But it ended up being much more interesting than I thought it would be. Not only was the Marsha Goldhirsch story interesting and funny, but it contained some interesting names from our science past ... and present.
The star of the movie is Kirstie Alley, who every knows got her first big break in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Also in the movie is Bill Pullman, who is probably best known for his role as the President of the United States in the 1996 movie "Independence Day," but also got his break in a Star Trek and science fiction spoof, Mel Brooks' "Spaceballs." And with a somewhat smaller role is one famous science fiction face -- Carrie Fisher, best known as Princess Leia from the "Star Wars" franchise.
But among those famous sci-fi faces is soon to be yet another Trek actor. His name -- Scott Bakula.
When I was a teen-ager, I have to say that I enjoyed "Quantum Leap" during its long run on NBC. I most especially enjoyed the final episode, where Bakula ran into a familiar face from Star Trek: Voyager, Bruce McGill (Capt. Braxton, "Relativity").
I think Bakula is a tremendous actor, but when I heard the announcement that he would be the next captain of Star Trek, I had some serious reservations. On top of that, I simply did not know how Brannon Braga and Rick Berman could pull off bringing fans a prequel series.
But after seeing some of the first video of the pilot episode, "Broken Bow," through a recent UPN promo, I had to admit, I am quite excited.
It's hard for producers to make the future look like Star Trek's past, especially when technology today has outdistanced some of the innovative ideas found in the original Star Trek. But it looks like it's going to happen, and Scott Bakula looks better wearing the captain pips than almost every other captain.
Judging by the quick 30-second promo, it appears that we are going to get away from the monotonous videography that has plagued Star Trek: Voyager for too long, and hopefully many of those dull storylines will go with it.
If you get a chance to look at the promo, watch the camera sweeps, for one thing. Yes, they've been exaggerated a little for the promo spot, but it's still making at least the pilot episode more movie-like than television like. And the images we see, including one of T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) looking up into what appears to be a snow drift, the images remind me more of some of the better-shot X-Files episodes than anything Star Trek has ever done -- both on the small screen and the large.
There are a lot of people who are not willing to give the new series a chance. I remember when I was 11 and "Star Trek: The Next Generation" premiered. I heard a lot of people -- including the likes of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy -- who said they didn't like the idea of a new captain and a new crew taking over "their" ship. And when you watch the first season, it looks like Gene Roddenberry and company did sponge off the success of the original. But through the second and successive seasons, we saw a distinct change -- a change that made a serious departure from TOS (which I feel is still one of the strongest of all the Star Trek franchises), and it became its own series, its own characters, its own formula.
I refused to watch "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" for almost two years (although I did catch episodes here and there) because I felt it was an even bigger departure than what TNG was, but now DS9 ranks as one of my favorite series of all time.
Is there a point to what I am saying? Probably not. I admit that I was one of the early harsh critics of "Enterprise," and despite the latest I've read, reported on and watched of the new series, I still have some serious reservations about the show. I know there will be some canon violations, which is inevitable when you have more than 600 hours of history to sift through, but I want something that is going to be compelling, something that is going to be innovative, something that will remind all fans on what made Star Trek so great in the first place.
That means we have to have stories that will not only be entertaining, but they also have to make us think, to make us ponder what our lives are like and how are society is going. We need to have characters we can relate to, characters we can cheer for, and characters we can cry for. We need to have something fresh and different as well. As great as TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager may have been, we cannot offer yet another series that takes too much from them. If that means a change in musical scores, if that means a change in stories, if that means a change in dramatic elements, if that means change in everything -- we have to have it.
The only way things survive is if they are able to reinvent themselves over time. While TOS is a great series, if we were to make a series exactly like it now, it wouldn't work too well. While TOS is timeless in its own respects, it could not use the same exact elements that worked in the 1960s and 1970s and apply them to the 2000s. If you cannot adjust to the changing times, you will be lost in the past, and Star Trek has avoided that fate simply by keeping up with the times.
Before we all pass judgement on the new series, let's take some time to at least give it a chance. We have to look beyond the pilot, and there's a chance -- like we've seen with other Star Trek -- we might have to look past Season 1. Let Paramount know what you want to see in Star Trek, let them know what you like and what you don't like. But if we learned anything from Star Trek, it's to keep an open mind, and that's something that should apply to Star Trek itself.
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