'Star Trek' is officially coming back to TV. These 15 things could make it really, really great.
It's official. A new "Star Trek" series is slated to air in 2017...
...and the following reaction would not be at all inappropriate:
That's because the "Star Trek" TV series weren't just fantastic television. Although they were that.
"Star Trek" is a show that has long been committed to optimism, progress, and, perhaps most importantly, diversity. The original series featured one of the first black female main characters on a network TV show, as well as one of American TV's first interracial kisses. Racial — and gender — equality have long been established as part of the original series' vision of the future.
Like its predecessors, the 2017 iteration of "Star Trek" has a tremendous opportunity not just to be quality TV, but to uphold the franchise's tradition of breaking new ground as well.
In that vein, here are 15 things we'd be excited to see on the new show.
1. An LGBTQ character ... or several.
"Star Trek" has a history of breaking new ground in casting, but when it comes to LGBTQ main cast members, it not only hasn't boldly gone there, it's behind the times. The franchise has yet to feature even one non-straight, non-cisgender main character. It's high time to get one — or preferably more than one — on the crew, or in the captain's chair, and have it be no big deal.
2. Planets with diverse, complex cultures.
Let's be honest: In "Star Trek" captain-speak, "seek out new life and new civilizations," is often code for, "Let's go to the planet where everyone is greedy," or "The planet where the genders are flipped," or, "The planet where everyone is Benjamin Button."
Planets are big places! Full of all kinds of people! Religious people, secular people, liberals, conservatives, soldiers, civilians, good guys, bad guys, medium guys — and everything in between. Do all Klingons really like to fight? The whole planet of them? What about the pacifist Klingons? What about the ethnic minority Klingons? The conscientious objectors?
Let's see a few more planets that look a little more like Earth — and the way-more-interesting stories that come from landing there.
4. Darkness and moral complexity.
Remember the last two-and-a-half seasons of "Deep Space Nine" where the Federation got completely owned by the Dominion in pretty much every episode? Remember how Sisko straight-up committed a war crime to persuade the Romulans to join the fight and completely got away with it? Remember how Damar shot a child in cold blood but, by the end, we're all rooting for him?
That was kind of awesome. More of that please.
5. Gender parity.
That doesn't just mean a female captain or a smattering of women crew members. That means an officer corps that's at least fifty-fifty. And let's get some gender nonconforming people in there as well. Who says aliens (and humans!) exist have only two fixed, never-changing genders. It's the freaking 23rd century, people!
6. Fewer stereotypes.
I love Quark. Quark is the best. I would go to Quark's Passover Seder in a heartbeat. But no more weird stereotypes masquerading as "alien" cultures going forward, please.
7. No time travel. Not ever.
I realize this is controversial. Time travel has been a fixture of the Star Trek universe since the beginning. And ... responsible for some of its weakestepisodes (though shoutout to "City on the Edge of Forever" — never change).
Even "First Contact," an otherwise perfect movie, is rendered 40% more annoying by its time travel premise. It's science fiction! It is possible to comment on the world we live in today without actually, literally going back to it.
No time travel, please. Let's leave that to "Doctor Who." That show does it so well.
8. A diverse creative team.
While "Star Trek" has been far better than many of its peers at reflecting diversity on-screen, like so many other shows, its writers' room, historically, has been a white dude party. It's employed some great women writers for sure — D.C. Fontana! Jane Espenson! — but generally speaking, white dudes.
And there's nothing wrong with white dudes! Some of my best friends are white dudes! Some of them are pretty good writers too. But there are lots of good women writers and writers of color out there too, who have stories to tell that many white dudes might not think of. Getting them to the table could lead to some singularly great TV.
9. Ostensibly adorable aliens that create mass chaos.
Awwww. Aaaaaaaaggggh! Awwww. Aaaaaaaaggghhh!
While the vast majority "Star Trek" episodes have historically been self-contained, some of the best runs of the franchise — like "Deep Space Nine's" Dominion War arc and "Enterprise's" third season — have explored a single story for multiple episodes. In the age of binge-viewing, where most of the best shows on TV give their main characters a series-long arc, a "Star Trek" that joined the party could potentially be pretty amazing.
11. A serious exploration of the implications of the holodeck.
It's incredibly weird how infrequently it's remarked upon that, in addition to tri-corders, photon torpedoes, and emergency medical holograms, Federation starships are equipped with a magic machine that allows anyone on the ship to live out literally any fantasy they so desire.
Some fans hate the holodeck — and holodeck episodes — for this very reason. But I disagree. The holodeck is fascinating. The way people use the holodeck — and what it says about them — is fascinating to think about. The series doesn't explore this often enough.
The franchise already did one great episode on this premise. I hope the holodeck stays. And that there are more.
12. Cameos from a time-traveling Sulu.
I know I said no time travel, but come on. This would be worth it.
13. Searing social relevance.
This has been "Star Trek's" bread-and-butter since day one. The original series dealt frankly with race relations and civil rights. "Deep Space Nine" explored war, occupation and its complicated aftermath. "Enterprise" took on terrorism and post-9/11 paranoia.
History hasn't stopped happening. Let's hope with the new series, there's lots more where that came from.
14. A captain who breaks boundaries.
For a while, "Star Trek" was all over this. The franchise debuted its first black captain and first female captain in the '90s, before retreating in the 2000s and doubling down on the white guys. (Again, love me some white guys. Hey, Josh!)
Stoic, steely, TV-attractive white guys are a dime a dozen. We've seen it. Let's see an Asian captain, a Latino captain, a queer captain, or a woman-of-color captain. How fantastic would that be? Pretty fantastic, is how!
15. An optimistic vision of the future.
At the end of the day, what "Star Trek" does better than anyone else is show us a future we want to be a part of. It can still have moral complexity, darkness, violence, and sadness. But, ultimately, its vision of progress on terms that uplift all humankind and human resilience is what keeps us coming back episode after episode, series after series.
It's why we love it so much.
Even the Tribbles.