- 04 Oct 17
Star Trek is back on television. But can the iconic saga cut it in today’s world of cutthroat television, wonders Ed Power
Can Star Trek achieve warp velocity in this strange new era of prestige television? The sci-fi caper has returned to the small screen with Star Trek: Discovery – a new series set a decade before the original adventures of Kirk and Spock. But Trek’s rebirth is at an awkward moment, with Star Wars the dominant space opera and recent attempts to reinvigorate the Live Long and Prosper franchise falling short of expectations (last year’s utterly competent Star Trek Beyond, for instance, stiffed at the box office).
The omens ahead of Discovery’s debut on Netflix have not been positive. CBS, which is airing the series in the United States, refused to allowed reviewers watch the show in advance – usually a signifier that all is not well. Moreover, the production has been deeply tumultuous – with original show-runner Bryan Fuller allegedly fired from the production, and fans all but in revolt over the decision to depict the Klingon alien race as reptile-like monsters (these things matters if you are hardcore).
Yet the riskiest decision of all, surely, is to transition to joined-up storytelling. With the exception of the excellent but largely forgotten Deep Space Nine, Trek has always been about one-off stories told with verve and imagination. Even the iconic Next Generation arc in which Captain Picard was transformed into a member of the Borg took place over the span of two installments. Long-form narrative has never been Trek’s thing.