The problem with prequels, retcons, and canon in recent Star Trek productions

I believe that Star Trek producers have made 3 choices since 2001 that have damaged the franchise:

  • Star Trek Enterprise
  • JJVerse / Kelvin Timeline
  • Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek Enterprise

Problem: prequel

All story lines have to account for known (by the audience) future canon. And the tech? Well, I can imagine how that meeting went down: “let’s just throw tech out the window, and buy all of the LCD flatscreens we can find.” So now we have a prequel with some better tech, like LCD screens, however our engines and weapons are a generation smaller and less effective. Great. Progress in reverse, with anachronisms.

JJVerse / Kelvin Timeline

Problems: alternate timeline, technology, costume and makeup, recycling existing characters out of context.

Starting in 2009, a series of 3 movies branded as Star Trek, but set in an alternate timeline where a random angry bad dude from 20 years in the future shows up and takes a misguided revenge by blowing up one of the 2 most important planets in a federation with a powerful military, and yet, insufficient orbital defenses.

Strangely, the producers felt the need to find alternate versions of characters in this alternate time line. In the other shows, each ship had a different crew with new characters.

Oh, and who decided to throw out consistent post-80s canon and change the look of known alien species? Oh, and if a portable transporter can send a person directly to a distant planet, why bother having a navy of spaceships?

Star Trek: Discovery

Problems: distribution strategy, prequel, technology, costumes and makeup

There is a lot to like about Star Trek: Discovery. It tries to balance between respect to canon and “let’s put on a show.” I would say that Discovery does this selectively. In terms of historical continuity, it tracks within the political and military facts of the timeline 10 years before Kirk’s taking command of 1701. The Enterprise is actually mentioned tangentially as the flagship. Discovery has completely abandoned any kind of technological continuity. It seems to have decided to simply be as advanced as current CGI allows, without fealty to “previous” design. And continuing on that theme, costumes and makeup for known aliens are different, and suspiciously close to JJVerse.

Can this be fixed?

Star Trek: Discovery will continue for some time. My guess is that CBS’s attempt to strong-arm US viewers to buy CBS all access will fail, and that there will only be a 3rd season of Discovery to make syndication easier, and its serial storytelling arc and dark mood make it unlikely to do well on reruns, although future Netflix binge-watchers may disagree.

Michael Dorn has been shopping Captain Worf. That project assumes a consistent TNG universe, post-Nemesis. That is where we should be going, people.

Suggestions

We need a post-Nemesis TNG canon sequel with updated costume and tech.

If producers wanted to start with 30 year olds for a new cast, they could at least put them 16 years after Nemesis, and show us an updated TNGverse, but with a new crew and slightly different tech and slightly updated culture.

My second elevator pitch is Federation Vice, set in the post-Nemesis TNG universe, but with civilians and criminals and a bit of Section 31: sort of a not-corny DS9.

 

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