Last night was the series finale of Star Trek Enterprise. The media is all-abuzz with stories about the fact that for the first time in 18 years there is no new Star Trek on the air. It really made me think back over the years of watching trek.
Personally, I can’t believe it has been 18 years. I remember TNG when it first was announced. Granted, I have and always will be a fan of the Original Series more than anything, and despite their initial shortcomings, TNG really helped flesh our the Star Trek universe in ways that the movies and the Original Series never could. That being said, all modern Trek has been plagued by the first two seasons or so getting to know the characters and the writers getting a grip on them. Once TNG got past that (say seasons 3-5) the show was firing on all cylinders. The last two seasons were still good, but at that point there was definitely staleness.
DS9 really was the best of modern Trek in many ways. I remember I didn’t even watch it the first season and a half until Scott gave me tapes of the shows. There is something about watching a whole season in a week that really gets you involved in the characters. I think DS9, which was darker, and actually featured conflict among the characters made the show more realistic to me. DS9 really took three full seasons to find themselves. I know they had to shift directions from the whole Bajor thing to the Dominion conflict, but I think since the series was the most character driven of modern trek, it actually benefited from it.
Voyager was the series where it wasn’t cool to like Trek anymore. People bashed it from the get go and really was the first series that people started to think that maybe Trek should take a break. I think some of the criticism was unfair. It was mainly the same stuff that was said of TNG by the die-hard TOS fans. Overall the series wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but personally, I really enjoyed the show.
That leads us to Enterprise. I think the producers made some big mistakes early on, that really the show never recovered from. They waited too long to establish ties with TOS continuity as well as portraying the Vulcans all wrong (only to be corrected in later seasons). I think the producers should know by now – no one is interested in prequels: they always fall below fans expectations. Don’t believe me? Just look at the first two episodes of the Star Wars series. Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones were the victims of fans expectations just as Enterprise was. I actually liked the fact that Enterprise did not overlap any existing series. I really didn’t like that DS9 and VOY all had that issue. I will say that despite the fact that I never got “into” the series like the others, I thought it actually was pretty good. I think it had more to do with personal taste than anything.
Is that what is wrong? People my age who grew up with Trek just are not into it as we used to be? Do they need to appeal to younger people and skip us? Or do they need to somehow figure out how to appeal to us 30 somethings again? I am not sure what the future should hold for the Trek franchise. Should it take time off? Probably a year or so, but Trek can always be relevant because it has always been an allegory for our current times (at least at its best). Personally, I think fan films are the next big thing. I think Hidden Frontier has kept improving by leaps and bounds. The problem is that there is such an expectation of what a Trek series should be, that I doubt anyone will ever satisfy everyone. Does that make Trek doomed? I don’t think so, but I think it is do for a makeover (not an extreme one), but an infusion of new creative talent (like Enterprise had in its last two seasons).
Geez, I guess I am really a geek for posting this – so there is no harm in mentioning that I am going to the Midnight showing of Episode III with Lev next week to continue a tradition. We both miss Andy, Mike, and Oszie and wish they were coming!