These three reveals are reinventing the legacy of Star Trek
2016 might need been Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, however 2017 was the yr when a minimum of three reveals reinterpreted, reimagined, or paid homage to Gene Roddenberry’s basic science fiction sequence. Each follows the present’s acquainted blueprint, becoming a member of the varied crew of a starship as they zip across the universe. However every present additionally has their very own new tackle what Star Trek means, taking the basic type of the franchise and molding it in some new methods.
Star Trek: Discovery, the primary official Star Trek present in over a decade, launched final fall on CBS, whereas Seth McFarlane’s interplanetary comedy The Orville debuted on Fox. After which there was Black Mirror’s darkish tackle the franchise within the episode “USS Callister.”
“USS Callister” is by far probably the most meta take, and it opens on a tonally excellent analogue of the unique 1966 Star Trek sequence. It’s not till later within the episode that we study that it’s all a online game that’s been lovingly crafted by a genius programmer with a childhood love of the present. Shy and underappreciated on the firm the place he works, he exorcises his office frustrations by cloning his coworkers into the procedurally generated VR universe, the place he can management and abuse them as each hero and god.
The obsessed, regressive fandom on show is a pointed jab about nostalgia and followers who resist altering their methods, making this episode a commentary not solely on the
Completely different takes, however every present shares one factor: a love for the unique sequence
present, however in regards to the poisonous people who inevitably emerge in any fandom. (There’s even a neat little nod on the finish to the newer Kelvin universe created by the J.J. Abrams films, the place the simulation receives an replace.)
Every present takes the basic type of the franchise and molds it in some new methods
When Household Man creator Seth McFarlane first introduced The Orville, it appeared like it might be a Star Trek parody within the vein of his animated present, packed filled with weak jokes and shallow characters. Now that the present is halfway by its first season, nevertheless, it has develop into probably the most devoted of the three to the unique Star Trek and its successors (and jogs my memory fairly a little bit of Star Trek: The Subsequent Technology). Reasonably than satire, it feels extra like an earnest love letter to a beloved, influential franchise, however with out a few of the moralistic bumpers that Gene Roddenberry put in.
My spouse described it greatest: it’s a extra down-to-earth model of what individuals aboard a starship just like the Enterprise would do had they not lived within the utopian world that Star Trek portrays. The crew watches previous films on the bridge’s central display, makes pot brownies within the meals replicators, and performs some fairly merciless sensible jokes on each other. It’s a “what if” reimagining of Star Trek that takes its parts and offers them a playful spin.
Conversely, probably the most radical departure from basic Star Trek is the most recent official entry within the franchise, Star Trek: Discovery. Whereas every successive sequence has modified up the canon in its personal means, Discovery overhauls not simply the feel and appear of the universe, however the best way the tales are informed. Discovery’s daring new step is a results of its format: a streaming present debuting in a contemporary tv atmosphere. The present famously eliminated some limitations set in place by Roddenberry, permitting characters to consult with God and use profanity. The showrunners additionally modified up the type of the present, abandoning the done-in-one episodic mannequin, which got here out of the present’s authentic pitch as an anthology, in favor of a story arc that builds from week to week. The present introduces daring new crew members like we’ve by no means seen earlier than, from the battle-hungry Captain Lorca to the disgraced mutineer Michael Burnham.
Regardless of the large adjustments that it’s launched, Star Trek: Discovery nonetheless carries its love of the franchise on its sleeves. The idealism of the Federation is entrance and heart within the pilot episode, the place Burnham and Captain Philippa Georgiou rescue a primitive species from destruction, whereas the episode “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” returns to the acquainted theme of the crew getting caught in a time loop. There are greater, basic Star Trek themes working by the present as properly: the stress between scientific discovery and exploration is consistently butting up in opposition to extra expedient and urgent risks for the crew, like struggle with the Klingons, and survival. At its coronary heart, Discovery is about sustaining the core mission of Star Fleet within the midst of adversity.
Completely different takes, however every share one factor: a love for the unique sequence
Whereas every has a unique tackle Star Trek, it’s clear that every present is rooted firmly in a love of the franchise. It’s notable that every of those initiatives got here out in the identical yr, after greater than a decade of the present’s absence. The final sequence, Enterprise, went off the air in 2005, and the final movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, aired in theaters in 2002. Trek had reached a degree of transition, and the final choices didn’t fairly meet the expectations of its followers. J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the franchise modified that, each by going again to the present’s roots with the acquainted characters of the unique sequence and updating the look and elegance of the universe with a extra fashionable face.
This yr’s slate of Star Trek-derived choices has completed the identical: Black Mirror, The Orville, and Star Trek: Discovery every put a definite spin on the present’s legacy by seeking to the previous, the current, and the longer term. There’s extra on the best way as properly: each The Orville and Discovery have been renewed for second seasons and Quentin Tarantino’s concept for a brand new Star Trek movie was compelling sufficient to start growth. Because of all of those new interpretations of an previous favourite, the way forward for Trek seems to be brighter and extra important than ever.
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