Star Trek TOS Space Seed
The question of fatigue vs. dimension
There has been some question over the years as to whether franchise fatigue was truly the cause, personally it’s not a theory I’ve ever subscribed to. We had movies, and series on the air all the time, the end of Enterprise was not overload when we were down to a movie every few years and one show on TV. The truth is it was all about quality.
As much as I am a fan of all the series there was always something about Voyager, the characters felt shallow and along the way focus was only put on a few of them. We had a beautifully realized hologram, a deep and tortured Borg and a captain who would stop at nothing to protect her crew and get herself a cup of coffee, but who were they really?
Sure you know Chakotay was a spiritual man who respected the beliefs of his ancestors, but how deep did we really go into his mind?
Not very far, and he is actually a character whose mind we literally spent a whole episode inside. Pick a situation, it can be anything, the first day of school, the plot to Die Hard, a fight on a street corner, anything, now imagine Commander Riker walking into that situation. You have a pretty good idea of what he does right? Now imagine Chakotay in the same situation. Does he do anything or just stand there? Dimension.
Deep Space Nine had dimension, but by Voyager Rick Berman had settled on his formula and it wouldn’t change, you can see evidence of the same in the Next Generation movies, the only difference was a cast that fought for the characters they had spent over a decade establishing. In 2002 Rick’s formula had stalled the series In much the same way as Gene’s had almost done so in the 1970’s and 80’s.
J.J. Abrams directs Star Trek (2009)
Copyright © Paramount
J.J. Abrams and the USS Kelvin
When J.J. came aboard to make Star Trek 2009 he was truly awakening the giant, it was a monumental task, during the long sleep the rights to Star Trek got a little complicated with Viacom. Paramount, the new Viacom and CBS. It was a lot easier when all of it was under one roof.
J.J. faced more problems than just licensing though tasked with not only reviving Star Trek with its fan base, but also bringing in a whole new group of fans took a delicate balancing act, to get the original fans on board his take on it was to go back to. The Original Series, something fans had asked for many times over the years, but he couldn’t go back to the original series without risking damaging canon and causing himself a whole new problem for the series.
By creating an alternate timeline through the use of time travel and the destruction of the USS Kelvin he actually came up with a pretty elegant solution, the original, or Prime, timeline was maintained in its entirety and he gained a whole new sandbox to play in.
Don’t like the new sand box? no problem, stick to the prime. It works, it allowed for a new series of movies with a different tone and a different take while keeping a somewhat familiar footing and for three movies it was successful.