The Ministry of Shadows

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Boldly Going ...

Monday, May. 11, 2009 3:54 AM

The Star Trek franchise is a large portion of my fanboy core - it's what I grew up with.

But around the time of Voyager, the appeal of the franchise waned sharply. 'Where no man has gone before' became almost a self-parodying 'where we went last season' - with tired jaunts through time and Borg Zombies shambling through, or a visit from Q.

And Enterprise, despite an excellent cast, was Voyager with a fresh coat of paint: time-traveling nemeses, the sexy-but-emotionally-distant woman-in-catsuit, quirky alien crewmember to offer advice and/or comment on human condition. Plus it got off to the same lumbering start that plagued TNG, DS9, and Voyager.

When the series was cancelled after four seasons, producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga opined that it was because the fans were just tired of Star Trek. (In other words, it wasn't their fault, it was the fans'.)

SPOILER CONTENT IS IN BLACK. HIGHLIGHT TO READ.

This weekend's new film, titled only Star Trek, revives the franchise quite nicely, through the simple expedient of not-quite throwing everything out the window.

We're confronted by the seemingly-tired trope of a time-traveling villain out for revenge ... but director J.J. Abrams doesn't take the usual route of having the heroes confront the villain and 'restore' the 'correct' timeline.

He leaves it as-is, with plenty of room for new adventures and rediscovering characters we thought we'd already knew everything about. It takes away the predestination factor - we no longer know, for certain, that any given character or event will take place as previous films and series have laid it down.

This has always been an issue with iconic heroes and their stories; change something, and you inevitably get fans who insist on 'canon' exactly as it exists in their personal universe, that anyone who deviates from said canon is a hack or a retconner who should be drawn & quartered.

Abrams, I think, hit the right balance - it's all familiar, but it's also new. I won't get all gushy and suggest there's room for a new television series or more films, but it's an impressive work.


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