§ February 4th, 2005 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

Well, since pal Dorian outed me as a Star Trek fan, I thought I’d say a word or two about the demise of Enterprise, and the possible demise of Trek in its entirety. (With no mention of comic books…sorry about that!)

Now, do I think Trek is gone for good? No, of course not. Paramount has made a lot of money on the franchise over the years, but with diminishing returns and an inability to attract any kind of sizable new audience, I’m not going to hold my breath for any more TV series or movies for the foreseeable future. We’ll probably see the book lines continue, and I’m sure we’ll still see other merchandise, but it will all be bought by the same folks who’ve always bought Trek stuff. (Warren Ellis said it best, in an essay I can’t seem to find online anymore, but Neilalien thankfully quoted from.)

Dorian once said about a particular musician (I’m not going to say who…I don’t need to start that here) that you can tell the end is near for his career, as instead of producing new material, all that’s been happening is that his older material is being continually repackaged in more and more gimmicky fashions. This isn’t designed to grab new fans, it’s simply there to get more money out of the old fans this musician has left. I’m talking about things like “collectors box sets” of CD-singles, designed to look like 45s, complete with individual sleeves. It’s material the fans already have, but they don’t have it in this format, so they gotta get it!

The Trek books are kind of like that. The books are either part of a series (Worlds of Deep Space Nine Part 3, Starfleet Corps of Engineers) or they’re “written” by William Shatner. The books can’t stand on their own…they need to be shored up by some kind of gimmick. Enterprise, too, is playing solely to the fans, giving backstories to various elements of the Trek universe. The series was at its best when it left behind all the continuity-laden baggage and entered a year-long storyline away from familiar space for its third season (though Mr. Ellis again has thoughts worth considering on this very turn of events). However, with the end of that story, we’re back with stories about Vulcan civil wars, or Eugenics Wars, or Next Generation‘s Data’s grandpappy, or (forthcoming) an explanation of why “modern” Klingons have head-ridges and why “classic” Klingons didn’t…it’s all about why things are the way they are in other Trek stories. Using past continuity as a springboard for stories is one thing…Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan is probably the best example…but devoting your stories to minutiae that only your hardcore fans care about gives the appearance of insularity. It repels new viewers.

I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed Enterprise. I’m a lifelong Trek fan, so the series is very clearly aimed at me, and I think the series has shown a marked improvement over the last couple years, even despite my criticisms. (I’m probably also the one person on the planet who didn’t completely hate the theme song.) But, I believe, it’s about time to give it a rest. Like Ellis has said, and like Dorian has also noted, there just isn’t enough fan support for a Trek show any more. I would rather see Paramount pull the plug for the time being, rather than just put less and less money into a TV show they’re only keeping on the air for the few fans left who are watching it.

I’m sure we’ll see it back in live action sooner or later, hopefully with different people in charge so we can get a fresh take instead of yet another variation on the original ’60s series. A take that, hopefully, can grab new viewers instead of just catering to those of us who have watched Star Trek for so long. I like Trek…I want it to continue, but I realize that it won’t be able to without reaching out to people who otherwise wouldn’t watch the show.

(As an aside…please don’t protest the series’ cancellation at anybody’s offices…that’s just embarrassing.)

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