Via Catholic Ragemonkey, I learned that Paramount Studios is developing an eleventh (Yes, eleventh!) big screen Star Trek movie produced, and possibly directed by J. J. Abrams, creator and producer of the TV series Alias and Lost. I also learned that this year is the 40th (yes, 40th) anniversary of the Star Trek fanchise.
In my humble opinion, Abrams seems to be a good fit for the project. “Star Trek” and “Lost” have many similarities. Both shows feature a diverse group of people thrown together in a strange environment, strugging to survive and work together for the common good, and along the way learning about “the big questions:” the nature of good and evil, the reality of sin and redemption, and the meaning of life and death. Almost anybody would be better than the team of Rick Berman and Brannon Braga who gave us the anemic “Voyager” series, the downright pathetic “Enterprise” series, and the absolutely atrocious “Nemesis” movie. Ironically, B&B are capable of writing good Trek, because they gave us “First Contact,” which, in my opinion, is the best of the big screen efforts featuring the cast of “The Next Generation.”
Reportedly, the proposed story is a kind of “Kirk and Spock: The Early Years” vehicle, focusing on the first meeting of the two legendary heroes of Trekdom. This type of story has a lot of potential if it’s done right. Paramount tried a sort of retro-Trek project with “Enterprise,” but it was so abominable I gave up on it after the third season. I was so disgusted with “Enterprise” that I decided to try my hand at imagining the early days of the Star Trek universe, and I’ve been working sporadically for several years now on a story of my own featuring Zefram Cochrane and taking place immediately after the events of “First Contact.” It’s languished unfinished on my hard drive for quite a while now, mostly because I feared it would take a novel to adequately resolve the story, but I may give it another whack. I can’t seem to just leave it alone. I’ve also written a couple of original Trek stories that you can find here and here.
Besides the poor quality of recent output from The Powers That Be at Paramount, the other thing that’s diminished my enthusiasm for Trekdom is confirmation of my long held suspicion that Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, was an atheist. In one of his recent “Rock Solid” podcasts, Mark Shea quoted Roddenberry denouncing religion. I’m disappointed but not surprised. It wouldn’t take a pointy-eared Vulcan science officer to figure out that the Great Bird of the Galaxy took a dim view of matters religious. In several episodes of all the various Trek series and movies, our intrepid heroes meet various strange beings with apparently godlike powers only to find that the beings are only super-advanced life-forms of one sort or another. The Enterprise-D has a ship’s shrink, but not a ship’s chaplain. Yet Star Trek, at its best, continues to appeal to people precisely because it touches on moral, ethical, and spiritual issues. Roddenberry’s sci-fi universe is just as Christ-haunted as the rest of our postmodern world.