February 10, 2016

Can CBS and Bryan Fuller Save “Star Trek”?


CBS Star TrekYou know it’s out there, Ageists. Maybe you’ve heard the rumblings yourself. Despite the fact that 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, many long term fans of the property that changed American SF have declared it DOA.


I know, because I was one of those doomsayers after seeing the first trailer for STAR TREK: BEYOND


The overwhelming vibe of the first, full trailer,  something akin to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS in Space, left a lot of us Trek fans cold… And I mean a lot of us. It was such a chilly reception that Screenwriter/ New Scotty, Simon Pegg promised us that what we saw wasn’t a true representation of what STAR TREK: BEYOND was going to be like. That we we’d been “trailered,” which is the term which arose for some fans after seeing STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. But that’s an issue for another time.

I mean, I like Star Trek… I like James Wan… I like car chases… I even like Sabotage by the Beastie Boys… But, I’m not sure I like those things together.

But, the news broken by Variety on Feb. 9th has got a lot of old school Trekkies and Trekkers buzzing.  Executive TV Editor Debra Birnbaum reported that “Hannibal” creator Bryan Fuller will become the showrunner and co-creator of CBS’ new “Star Trek” series.

He’ll serve as executive producer alongside Alex Kurtzman on the reboot of the sci-fi classic.

A longtime fan of science fiction, Fuller began his career writing for “Star Trek: Voyager” (1997-2001) and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (1997).

The article quoted Fuller, saying, “ My very first experience of ‘Star Trek’ is my oldest brother turning off all the lights in the house and flying his model of a D7 Class Klingon Battle Cruiser through the darkened halls. Before seeing a frame of the television series, the ‘Star Trek’ universe lit my imagination on fire,” said Fuller. “It is without exaggeration a dream come true to be crafting a brand new iteration of ‘Star Trek’ with fellow franchise alum Alex Kurtzman and boldly going where no  ‘Star Trek’ series has gone before.”

 Set to debut in January of next year, first on CBS network broadcast and then on their online streaming service, hope have been raised significantly that a more authentic Star Trek will soon be back on the radar.

One of the major complaints of both of JJ Abrams’ reboot efforts, along with what little we’ve seen of STAR TREK: BEYOND is the creators now working on the franchise now don’t “get” the concept of Star Trek. That the idea of space exploration and the philosophical leanings of promoting a common human (and alien) destiny trumps flashy effects or big explosions.

Star TrekAbrams was raked over the coals by traditionalists for flatly stating he had never watched the various versions of the show before rebooting the franchise. And his shaky understanding of the premises of Star Trek; character development over plot twists, consistent, if exaggerated science claims,  understanding of how the core values of the Federation shape or at least influence the characters’ actions, led to weird plot holes and flat acting in his two attempts.

In fact, his total disregard for at least attempting to obey physical laws of motion and energy  in the Universe was so profound, it even bled into his version of STAR WARS, where fans traditionally have been more forgiving ( and it’s called “Hyperspace,” JJ).

The prospect of Fuller as a life-long fan and former writing staff member, being at the con for a new, updated TV series, seems to be much more palatable than directors who, on the surface, used Trek as an auditioning ground for other jobs.

Adding to the anticipation is the previous discussion that Fuller would like to cast acting veteran, Angela Bassett, (currently in stuck in Bad Role Purgatory on FX’s “American Horror Story.”) as the new adventure’s captain.  While the current announcement neither confirms nor denies such a development, fans of all backgrounds and eras seem to embrace this possible development.

So can long time Trek fans breathe easier? Has Star Trek been saved? Well, that may be premature. Let’s remember the last TV series attempt, “Enterprise,” was a bit of a dud with fans and critics alike. Also, this version of the show will be playing out mostly online and away from the medium that older fans have been used to consuming it.  And that it’s been almost 20 years since a successful week to week versionof the show has been in fandom’s consciousness.

Some argue that the fact the show is celebrating 50 years means that it’s already past its sell-by-date, that Trek is too old fashioned for today’s high energy audience. Despite my reservations, I’m not one of those people. Star Trek in all its incarnations still represents the ideal that tomorrow can be better than today. That’s an idea which will always be in style, in my eyes. Let’s hope Fuller, CBS and whoever gets cast for the show will share this commitment for “going where no one has gone before.”


About the Author

Jason Stewart
Jason Malcolm Stewart is a Northern California-based author, journalist and public relations/marketing professional. He holds degrees in Political Science and Comparative Religion, but can have a conversation without starting a small war. When he's not writing or reading, J. Malcolm spends his weekends talking about how to avoid being in a real-life horror movie. add blog



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