Saturday, July 23, 2005

Babylon Trek: The Next Incarnation?

Lately, a lot of angst is starting to build over the concept that the creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, hereafter referred to as JMS, wants to take over the Star Trek franchise.

Fine so far. He's fairly fan-friendly and can spin a good yarn. The fact that he's a Star Trek fan himself only helps, right?

Not so fast.

The key to his plan is that he wants to do a complete reboot. Start over, back on the old Enterprise with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc., etc., except "updated" or "reimagined" for a whole new generation of newbies.

That means someone else playing the parts of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and so forth, and a "kewler" looking Enterprise, 'cause, y'know, that old 60's stuff was fine in its day, but it's just sooooooooooooo cheesy now, isn't it?

The short answer is to go back and take a look at the Enterprise offering "In a Mirror, Darkly" and notice how good those designs actually look.

The more thoughtful answer is that it's not worth worrying over because it ain't gonna happen.

And I'm not even gonna mention how the Roddenberry estate or Star Trek minority owner William Shatner would never allow it.

No, it has to do with the enlightened self interest of that studio we all love to hate, Paramount.

Y'see, not even Paramount, that stuck with Rick Berman and Brannon Braga as they personally drove the studio's golden goose franchise right into the dirt with great enthusiasm, would be stupid enough for the full reboot that JMS is proposing. They've got too much financial interest in maintaining the established continuity.

But it worked for Ron Moore and Battlestar Galactica, some folks counter.

The reason it worked for Galactica is that there was only one and a half or two seasons of, frankly, very forgettable crap. Everyone's got very fond, warm-fuzzy feelings for the old show, but it's really for the characters and the general concepts, and most of us who actually remember the show were kids at the time, so there's a whole lot of childhood nostalgia involved, but let's face it, the vast majority of the individual episodes were crap. Fairly well acted, but crap nonetheless, especially when you throw "Galactica 1980" into the mix (here's where that "one and a half" thing comes in; I don't recall if "1980" ran a full season or was cut off at 13 episodes). What'd they have, ONE good episode (the one with Starbuck), and even that came with a heavy layer of cheese.

Let's compare that record with Star Trek's and count up all of Star Trek's onscreen incarnations:

TOS (3 seasons)
TAS (technically 2 seasons, but only 22 episodes, so I'm counting it as one)
TNG, DS9, & Voyager (7 seasons each)
Enterprise (4 seasons)

That's 29 SEASONS TOTAL.

And tha's just the television product. Add in the ten movies and all the ancilliary material that's been based on all that background, and it starts to dawn on even the dimmest bulb that that's a lot of material, aka merchandising opportunities, to chuck overboards for the sake of "a fresh start".

If JMS is signed, and that's still a mighty big IF, seeing as they've already got a list of names that have already dealt with this beast and done okay, it'll be with the condition that he play in the official sandbox with the official toys, not build his own and call them "official".

Otherwise, they might as well bring over Babylon 5 and let him have fun with his own sandbox and his own toys. It'd be a lot cheaper to but out WB for the rights than take the hit when everything they've produced under the Star Trek name for the past 30+ years suddenly "doesn't count".

4 comments:

rh'andi said...

The reason it worked for Galactica is that there was only one and a half or two seasons of, frankly, very forgettable crap. Everyone's got very fond, warm-fuzzy feelings for the old show, but it's really for the characters and the general concepts, and most of us who actually remember the show were kids at the time, so there's a whole lot of childhood nostalgia involved, but let's face it, the vast majority of the individual episodes were crap. Fairly well acted, but crap nonetheless, especially when you throw "Galactica 1980" into the mix (here's where that "one and a half" thing comes in; I don't recall if "1980" ran a full season or was cut off at 13 episodes). What'd they have, ONE good episode (the one with Starbuck), and even that came with a heavy layer of cheese.


Good Captain, I'd say that the original BG was strong from the original 3-hour pilot through "War of the Gods." Once Iblis was taken care of, it went in the crapper...except maybe for "Man with Nine Lives" (anything with Astaire in it has value!) and "The Hand of God." The rest, and all of '80 (With the exception of "The Return of Starbuck"!) was drek.

Not that Ron's saga has really caught my attention, either... (Sorry, Rohn!)

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