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When the planet Vulcan
imploded in J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek movie, an “alternate
timeline” was created, and the world of Trek fandom was
split in two. At first we were promised that this new timeline would
not invalidate all of our favorite stories from the original canon.
But some time has passed, and there has been no word on a
continuation of that original timeline in the form of a new series
set after Star Trek: Voyager.
The new Trek
movie is currently being filmed, which will continue the re-written
alternate timeline. Without focusing on that movie too much, there is
now the possibility that J.J.’s re-imagining of the universe could
very well be the death of the original timeline entirely. The
“alternate timeline” could become the new official canon, given
But why does the world
need the original timeline to continue? Why must Roddenberry’s
vision continue on, in some form, without re-writing history
entirely? Isn’t J.J.’s re-imagining enough? The answers to those
questions vary widely from fan to fan, but this article isn’t about
giving you both sides of the argument, it’s about justifying my opinion that the
original canon should continue,and that there must be a new Trek
Invalidation of Great
While there are many
good and bad things to be said about the new Trek, none of it
would matter quite as much if both timelines were to run
side-by-side, existing in separate harmony. A new Star Trek
series set in the original timeline, after the events of DS9
and Voyager, would keep both sets of fans happy. It simply
would not be worth hating J.J.’s Trek because it is set in a
totally different – yet parallel – universe.
As it stands, however,
J.J.’s Star Trek could very well become the only Star Trek.
Now, we know that the existence of this alternate timeline doesn’t
disprove all that happened in the original timeline, as it’s a
parallel reality and not a re-writing of history. However, ceasing
all continuation of the original certainly feels like history being re-written, particularly to all those fans who
invested so much love in the five television series.
if you take feelings out of it, killing all future possibility of a
new Trek series is a
nail in the coffin to that timeline. The existence of the new
Trek isn’t the thing which will invalidate everything that
happened to Sisko, Janeway, Data and Q. That will happen when
people decide there is no need to continue the original story due
to the popularity of the new
Trek. Perhaps it’s not
the death of a history completely, but it’s certainly the death of a
legacy at the very least.
Styles, Different Audiences
focusing too much on the new movie, it’s easy to pick out the
differences in the styles between it and the majority of Trek
episodes (yes, even those from Enterprise).
the cinematography was slightly similar to some of the more recent
particularly during the action sequences (although the mood and
lighting were significantly different). Also, the scores were quite
similar, with their large orchestras which ranged from powerful,
grand compositions to soft melodies, and the new movie deserves
credit for such attention to detail.
when you get right down to the styles of story-telling, character
building, dialogue, pacing, and frequency of over-exaggerated action
sequences, the two couldn’t be more different. Just as a small
example: J.J. has a propensity to tell stories with overblown focus
on large-scale dilemmas, forgoing – in this case – a lot of the
allegory and inspections of Human nature, in favor of complex,
of the defining hallmarks of the original Trek shows,
such as The Next
Generation, was that it often
built pace slowly, with a great deal of focus on character
interaction. The early episodes told personal stories about
individuals far from home, in the distant future, but with problems
similar to our own. Then, only once we had built an affinity with the
cast, the shows would launch into a series of episodes which were
quite heavy on the action, but very seldom were they over-the-top.
Trek’s strengths, while on TV, were helped by a solid foundation of
realism, which drew the viewer in and helped them relate to the
characters and the situations. The new Trek movie, on the other hand,
was far more interested in entertaining the viewer with impressive
action sequences and sharp, witty dialogue, so much so, that it lost
some of that aforementioned realism.
some would argue that science fiction does not need to remain
realistic, that was never the Trek
way, was it? Catering to the ADHD generation with this change of
pacing is a great tactic, but should this change replace the old
style entirely, when there are quite clearly groups of fans who enjoy
Original, Unique Vision
when it first aired, was unique. Star Trek,
when it died, was unique. Roddenberry created something special when
he first decided to give us a crew of mixed races and backgrounds, far from home,
and throw them into situations which would examine
problems we face on our own world today.
Star Trek continued
that, right up until the end. The Next Generation explored
themes of duty, freedom of choice, corruption, and more. Deep
Space Nine took an intelligent,
emotional look at terrorism, faith, and even our own history of war.
Voyager took us
further from home than ever, but used this plot device to remind us
how important our home planet is. Even Enterprise, as
flawed and disliked as it was, at least attempted to give us a
glimpse into what our future could be, and how human
nature was basically good.
some of those themes might have been heavy-handed at times, it was
in-keeping with the unique, original vision of the very first
episode. How many shows of even half Star Trek‘s
length can claim the same thing? Can the same be said for the
re-birth of Trek, with
its new movie?
Still to be Told
are stories still to be told in the original Star Trek universe.
Don’t believe me? Look up some fan fiction. The fans became so
invested in the original Trek
mythos that they have created some interesting stories about entirely new
crews, in completely different situations. Even official novels,
continuing the tales of the main characters such as Ben Sisko, were
pretty imaginative and should be examined by anyone who thinks that
the original timeline has no tales left to tell.
universe was created and shaped by some brilliant writers over the
years, who brought to life amazing races, cultures, concepts,
and characters. It’s surely a crime to abandon all of that, simply
because a trendier “alternate” re-imagining came along with
wider appeal and more glamour.
are people out there, like myself, who still believe that a new Star Trek
series will come eventually, and
it will continue the story of the original timeline. We might be
deluded, or even foolish, but the true Star Trek
themes gave us a glimmer of hope in human-kind, so you can’t blame us
for our naive idealism. As usual, you should blame TV.