Why Star Trek (TOS) was a great franchise (and is now DEAD)

(warning, this is geeky and rambling)

Looking at this thread, I decided I finally needed to get something off my chest:

Star Trek was an innovative and inspiring show when it first aired. It sat un-visualized (animated what?) for ten years, after which we got a return of Star Trek, with a cast and production value that was more mature and sophisticated. The ‘look and feel’ of this ten years after Trek was consistent with the idea that it was taking place in the future in relation to the original series. As the characters aged, the themes of the movies directly and indirectly dealt with that fact. The look got more flashy as time (and presumably technology) advanced in the timeline of the show.

Is it possible that we two, you and I, have grown so old and inflexible that we have out-lived our usefulness?

The larger and compelling story of friendship and growing old was told wonderfully by actors with decades of friendship and strife between them, and held the series together through a few week movies.

The story is over.

That’s what the problem with a new Young Star Trek. There’s no compelling story to tell. Kirk, Spock, McCoy have all ready come through the ultimate challenge and have learned to look at a life that is closer to ending than beginning with humor and dignity. (Incidentally, that’s also why TNG failed as a movie franchise; there was no compelling character story. The only really compelling character arc in TNG was Picard’s post-Borg experience, and that has already been resolved.)

The new Trek movie might be a decent enough story, but there is no more material to be mined from these characters. It’d be like doing a story about Hamlet’s school days abroad. The great story of his life is already committed to paper, so anything following is going to be anti-climactic.

Ding! And if you have a “great story” to tell, why shoe-horn it into existing characters? Why not, gosh, I don’t know, create a whole new universe? Think how silly George Lucas would have looked if he’d shoe-horned the concept of Star Wars into Star Trek?

“Join me, Kirk, for I am your father.”

“No, Khan! Its not true!”

I don’t know that it’s really fair to say that TNG failed as a movie franchise. Lasting for four movies is not really something to sneeze at. TOS only lasted two more than that, and I’m sure there’s plenty of people who wish a couple of those didn’t exist (or are delusional enough to actually pretend they don’t;)).

Yes, but from what I can tell, the TNG movies weren’t worth watching. (I only saw 1.5 [2.5, if you count Generations] and was pretty underwhelmed.)

Having watched TOS from the very first airing, it was even more revolutionary than people coming to it later can realize. It was the first sf series with a fully realized universe around it, though it took half a season to develop. All previous shows were either anthologies, fairly mundane, or based around the easy to write for but frustrating “can they get home” premise. The galaxy by the time of TNG had gotten a bit too settled, and DS9 seemed to get intensely recomplicated (though I gave up half way through.) Roddenberry might have been a putz, but he was the guy with the vision. The further the franchise got from his vision, the worse it got.

My problem with this (or any other prequel) is the lack of dramatic tension on the part of the main characters. Kirk and Spock are in a life threatening situation. Will they survive?

Oh yeah, I guess they will.

And don’t give me that “messing with the timeline” crap. In “Spectre of the Gun”, Spock stated definitively that history cannot be changed. That’s good enough for me.

I’ve been working through TOS and I pretty much agree with…wow, what an apt name - Voyager. Anyway, while I am tentatively curious about the new movie, I also think it’s a little weird. Why do we have to keep fishing from the same well? Can’t we start a new space series, I wonder, or is that just too hard? A new exploration series, for a new generation of people?

Star Trek TOS was, I agree, pretty revolutionary. It was a non-anthology science fiction series that wasn’t aimed at kids – they made a big deal out of that in the original advertising, calling it an “adult” drama, meaning serious, not just sexual. I think they were distancing themselves from not only Lost in Space but also the 1950s science giction series like Captain Video that were aimed at kids.
One other way that Star Trek distanced itself was by using noted science fiction writers – Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Norman Spinrad, Theodore Sturgeon all contributed scripts. One was based (sorta) on Fredric Brown (who got credit for it). Nobody knew who the hell David Gerrold was, but he wrote two scripts (and reportedly worked on others) and later became a pretty noted Sf author. The old Twilight Zone series had used scripts by noted SF authors (Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont wrote a LOT of scripts. Ray Bradbury contributed one) and scripts based on stories by SF authors (like Damon Knight’s famous “To Serve Man”), but it’s a harder proposition to do it with a continuing cast. But they managed it, and I think part of the reason for the success was the use of quality material, with no pussyfooting around because they were afraid of alienating The Typical Viewer – they gave them straight science fiction, and found that people liked it. Despite Gene Roddenberry’s tendency to run everything through his Roddenberrry filter, and the way the network cut the budget in the last year, and the many cases of “hardening of the arteries” that Gerold described so well in his books on the series (How many scripts can you write where they encounter people being ruled by computers but don’t know it and have Spock defeat them with illogic?), despite all that, the series was immensely popular, to the point where there’s yet another movie based on it coming out now, forty years later.
I really couldn’t get into the later series as much. You didn’t have SF writers contributing scripts, or stories based on SF stories. At the beginning, it seemed too derivative. Now, after forty years of this, the franchise is beginning to collapse under the weight of its history.

But the name brings people in. That’s howcum there are still movies being made with “National Lampoon’s” in the title. Only it’s got nothing to do with the 1970s magazine – they’re just licensing use of that title now. Star Trek might eventually do the same.


ST succeeded (TNG, Voyager, DS9) where Firefly failed because it had a built-in audience *because *of the earlier incarnations. Firefly, while a great series, never had a chance to build an audience. Studio execs these days want money, they want it now, and they want it with very little work and with no risk.

Hell, look at BSG… a good series, but a perfect example of how studio execs hedged their bets by going with a known quantity. Sure, the current series is quite a bit different from the early series, but going into the series premier, the name recognition was there and they knew a LOT of folks would watch just out of curiousity.

Given that Battlestar Galactica is pretty much the brain child of a guy who was discontent with the limits of Star Trek, that show could be considered the prime successor.

Yes, really look at BSG. Because the upcoming Star Trek movie is doing the same thing that BSG did – re-imaging the original material.

People are kidding themselves to think that the new Star Trek movie is going to be retelling the same stories, with the same characters. The new Spock will be Spock-like, but not the same Mr. Spock. The new Kirk will be Kirk-like, but updated to modern sensibilities. We won’t be seeing movies that retell old TOS episodes – because the issues that those TOS episodes (ham-handedly) commented on have changed.

We’d laugh them out of the theater if they had a plot of two guys fighting, because one was white on the right and black on the left, and the other was white on the left. Or if they stole Mr. Spock’s brain to run a civilization, and Dr. McCoy hooked up his body to a tv remote control.

Yes, the TOS story is over. They’re not telling that story again. They’re using the Star Trek cachet to tell a new story. Only the names haven’t been changed.

So, he won’t be the shameless, overacting horndog we all knew and loved?

I thought about this. I can’t speak to Firefly as I’ve never seen it, but I think if anything firefly is probably the successor. BSG is responding to a set of crises. They took to what they are doing because of necessity not desire. Star Trek is exploration for the sake of exploration so I don’t think it quite matches up.

What is the central premise of Firefly?

Trying to keep flying.

You suck!

ok i laughed

Different shameless, overacting horndog.

… hopefully, without needing a girdle, too.

Anaamika, here. Its just the wiki page but it should help.

That sentence is two words too long.

I was being serious!

Sort of.

Watch the show and you’ll see I’m not that far off.



I get what you are saying, though, **Petrobey Mavromihalis

So not the same. Does anyone think that we could make another series, dedicated solely to exploration, that was not Star Trek? No “disenffranchised people living on the edge of society”, no “being rousted by hostile and extremely dangerous other”.