The new series “Star Trek” can not appear at a better time Entertainment
Rodenberry Jr. is the only son of the cult creator of Star Trek, but he never watched the show as a child. He was more interested in cars, heavy metal music and watched action shows such as “Starsky & Hutch” and “Knight Rider”.
“It wasn’t until I grew up and became more mature that I began to appreciate the depth and intellectual side of Star Trek,” says Rodenberry, who was 17 when his father, Gene, died.
Years later, Rodenberry had the experience of transforming Trekkie. He started watching reruns and talking to fans who told stories of shows that help them believe more in humanity. It was then that he began to cherish his father’s optimistic vision of the future, where people have learned to rejoice in differences, and “inclusion and equality are the norm”.
Rodenberry is now aboard Star Trek: Amazing New Worlds, which premieres May 5 on Paramount +. A prequel to the original series, which aired in the 1960s, it is based on the years when Captain Christopher Pike, a fan favorite who appeared in the original series, ran the USS Enterprise.
The new show, one of the many spin-offs of “Star Trek”, was declared as a return to the optimism and romanticism of the original series, which ran from 1966 to 1969.
Such an idealistic worldview can be hard to sell to today’s audience, beaten down by hateful politics, violence, war, and terrible warnings of rapid global warming. But this is a change that Rodenberry, the executive producer of the new show, welcomes.
“There’s nothing wrong with other shows, but that’s what excites me the most,” says Rodenberry, CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment, which develops science fiction graphic novels, podcasts, television and film projects.
“It will go back to formatting the original series. That’s what we need to do to give us hope,” he adds. “I understand it’s just a TV show, but it inspires countless people to live better.”
What to expect in the new series
Akiva Goldsman, the show’s executive producer, says the new series will be different and the same. Fans should expect more independent episodes, more optimism of the original series and exciting twists and turns, reminiscent of the “Twilight Zone”.
Another wrinkle is the focus of the new show on some of the iconic characters of “Star Trek”. The show will look at the evolution of characters like Spock and Uhura before they became mythical figures, Goldsman says.
“Our Uhura is young. She started as a cadet, ”Goldsman says. “Where is she from? What decisions did she make to allow her to be in Starfleet and become the heroine we know her for?”
Another big change is in the captain’s chair. Captain Pike’s character is vastly different from Kirk, Goldsman says.
“Jim Kirk is a youthful fantasy about Captain Star Trek,” says Goldsman. “He’s cheeky, impulsive – he knows the rules but doesn’t follow them. He’s cunning. Pike is a sensible man who builds consensus.”
In the universe of Trekkie there are countless debates about which TV version of “Star Trek” is the best and whether the next series is too far removed from the optimistic tone of the original. This optimism is reflected in Captain Kirk’s behind-the-scenes monologue at the beginning of each episode. He says the goal of the Enterprise – “to seek new life and adventure” and “to explore new amazing worlds” – is not to conquer civilizations or force residents to accept certain beliefs.
On the contrary, subsequent versions of the show, such as “Star Trek: Nine in Deep Space,” featured some characters who were morally compromised or sometimes made decisions that contradicted their values.
Ben Robinson, co-author of “Star Trek – Original Series: Holiday”, says he hopes that a return to the “original recipe” of the franchise will keep the hope of the first series, offering challenging characters with a moral struggle.
“I’m looking for an original series with a 21st century budget,” Robinson says. “If they can combine complex stories with beautiful special effects and energetic stories of ‘Right Things’ from the 1960s, then I will be free.”
Why a story with hope will never grow old
One of the vague questions in the new series is something you won’t see on many of the show’s discussion boards: will the optimism and emphasis on inclusiveness in Star Trek feel outdated in today’s cynical world?
It’s hard to believe in humanity looking at the headlines. Racial, ethnic and political divisions seem as deep as space itself.
Again, well-being series such as “Creek Sheets” and “Ted Lasso” have found a huge audience in the pandemic, a trend that many attribute to the fact that the audience has lost hope of stories.
“Dark times require stories with hope,” Goldsman says. “Many of us need optimism and faith in a better future.”
Goldsman says it’s a myth that the original “Star Trek” entered an era in a softer era that was vastly different from ours. He cites 1968 as an example.
“We were at war,” he said of US involvement in Vietnam. “The civil rights movement was still in its tense time of conflict. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were killed, not to mention the looming nuclear threat. The country was quite factional. The 1960s were a tumultuous time.”
The futuristic world of “Star Trek” allowed him to touch on some of the most explosive issues of that era, as no other show could, – says the author Robinson. The Enterprise crew itself was a call for tolerance, he says.
Note: The United States was involved in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, but one of the company’s main officers was a Russian (Chekov). The country ended a brutal war with Japan only 20 years ago, but the helmsman was a Japanese (Sulu). Black people could not vote in many parts of the country, but a black officer – and a woman – (Uhura) was a liaison officer on the ship.
Spock was an exemplary minority in the enterprise. He was an outsider who suffered from bias. Blacks and bisexuals identified him (there is a beautiful story about how actor Leonard Nimoy writes a letter to a girl of a bisexual race who felt rejected). One Star Trek fan called him “The Blackest Man on Enterprise” because he “never let a“ man ”see his emotions and“ was as cool as the best jazz musicians ”.
“It’s a metaphorical story that allows you to use science and fantasy to look at your own society,” Robinson says. “He is [Roddenberry Sr.] talked about race, having a Vulcan instead of a black guy ”.
“Restless Soul” by the creator of “Star Trek”.
A minor miracle that the creator of Star Trek so hoped for humanity. He has seen and experienced so many tragedies in his lifetime. Rodenberry Sr. was born in El Paso, Texas, and nearly died as a child when his home caught fire. He was rescued by a passing milkmaid.
As an adult he had closer calls. He was a pilot of the U.S. Army Air Corps, which performed combat sorties in the South Pacific during World War II. And he was a member of the crew of the Pan Am flight that crashed in the Syrian desert, killing 14 people. Later work as an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department put him on a more serious side of life.
And yet, despite all this, Rodenberry imagined a sympathetic and harmonious world of the future that was vastly different from the one in which he lived.
How can someone who has seen so many tragedies be so optimistic?
Robinson, the author, pointed to a quote from musician John Lennon.
“Lennon said I talk so much about peace and love because I’m really angry,” he says. “Maybe you’re looking for what you need for yourself. Gene, of course, was a restless soul.”
Rodenberry has turned his pain into a vision of the future that still inspires millions more than 50 years later. Phrases like “Live Longer and Prosper,” “Give Me, Scotty,” and “Warp Drive” have now become part of popular culture.
As well as the humane message of “Star Trek”, which continues to live in the new program.
“If people say, ‘Why does the Star Trek still exist?’ I’ll tell you why,” says Rodenberry Jr. “It’s because it’s an idea to appreciate everything that’s different, not just tolerate them, and that’s the differences we’re going to grow out of.”
The answer to “Star Trek: Amazing New Worlds” will show whether this vision is still echoing in people, or the barriers of cynicism and hatred are now too high for even the USS Enterprise to pass.