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Why The Original Trek Timeline Must Continue

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 enough time.

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 series.

Star Trek, new and old

Invalidation of Great Memories

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.

Even 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.

Like Sisko's writer alter-ego, will our Trek memories prove to be a lie?

Different Styles, Different Audiences

Without 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).

Admittedly, the cinematography was slightly similar to some of the more recent TNG movies, 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.

But 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 traditional Trek allegory and inspections of Human nature, in favor of complex, universal dangers.

One 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.

Star Trek was always, first and foremost, about people.

While 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 both styles?

The Original, Unique Vision

Star Trek, 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.

And 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.

While 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?

Voyager was never Hollywood, and for that it was truly Trek

Stories Still to be Told

There 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.

The 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.

There 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.


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