SciFi Weekend: Two Doctors; Star Trek; Heroes Villains; and Desperate Governor

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A preview of the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special was shown as part of the Children in Need telethon. The trailer (video above) shows both a second Doctor and Cybermen.

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A high definition version of a new Star Trek trailer is due out tomorrow, but many science fiction bloggers are too impatient to wait, with lower resolution versions such as the above being distributed. The HD version will be available here on Monday.

More stories are also coming out with information on the movie. Empire reports that the movie will feature Romulans as the bad guys, a Klingon subplot was removed, and Klingons will still have a presence in the movie. Entertainment Weekly features a look at the new Enterprise.

I am far from the only political blogger who has been discussing  science fiction and Star Trek. Yesterday Ross Douthat discussed rebooting Star Trek, setting up an unusual situation where I’m backing the more conservative position while Douthat is taking the radical approach.

A while back, in a debate with Peter Suderman that’s vanished into the American Scene’s lost archives, I argued that the Trek franchise needed a complete reboot – one that keeps the iconic characters, keeps the Enterprise‘s five-year mission, and keeps the basic outlines of the Federation-Klingons-Romulan political dynamic, but otherwise untangles itself from the burden of maintaining real continuity with the five television series and ten movies that have come before. I suggested Batman Begins as a model, and wrote: “If Star Trek is going to boldly go into the twenty-first century, it needs to consider becoming something a little bit more like the Superman and Batman stories – that is, a pop culture mythology that can be reinterpreted and refashioned every generation or so.” (And of course another obvious model would be the radical – and radically successful – reboot that ex-Deep Space Nine scribe Ronald Moore provided to Battlestar Galactica, which has basically displaced Trek as the gold standard for modern space opera.)

Interestingly, Babylon Five‘s J. Michael Straczynski wrote a proposal for a Trek series in 2004 that was conceived along precisely these lines, promising to completely reimagine the Kirk-Spock-McCoy Enterprise’s five year mission. But it looks like the franchise’s custodians decided not to take the leap: Based on what we know about Abrams’ Star Trek, it sounds like a straightforward, none-too-imaginative prequel to the original series – and worse still, one that’s sufficiently insecure about its relationship to the canon (and the fan base, presumably) that it’s shoehorned in Leonard Nimoy as a time-traveling Spock, in the same way that the first Next Generation film felt compelled to shoehorn in a quasi-time-traveling James T. Kirk.  Nothing soured me on the Trek franchise quite as much as its promiscuous use of time travel (culminating, of course in the absurd “Temporal Cold War” from Star Trek: Enterprise), and Abrams’ decision to haul it out immediately as an excuse for a Nimoy cameo is a pretty bad sign, both for this film and for any others that end up following.

I agree with Douthat on the problems time travel has sometimes brought to Star Trek, especially with the Temporal Cold War, but do not support a reboot as with Batman. Comics such as Superman and Batman have required reboots as they have had the same characters in multiple comics every months since the 1930’s. While there has been a lot of Star Trek shown, there has been far less than such comics. There is no need for updating as with comics stories which began in the 1930’s. Showing a consistent future history has been one of the characteristics of Star Trek which many fans have enjoyed. We can overlook some minor contradictions which come up with an occasional episode, but to rewrite features such as the Prime Directive as J. Michael Straczynski proposed is a different matter. (I previously discussed his proposal here).

If further movies are to be made they can easily take place in the final two years of the original five year mission, occurring after the original series ended. This could allow for entirely new stories while avoiding contradictions with previous episodes, leaving no need for a reboot. I also hope this could lead to a new television series taking place in the same universe after the events of Voyager and Deep Space Nine. This allows for changes in Star Trek without ignoring its past. Rather than rewriting the stories of Kirk and Spock, new series can develop entirely new characters within the established Star Trek universe.

Heroes has not been up to its earlier quality this season, with rating falling, but last week’s episode, Villains, was worthwhile for providing more back information, primarily on the older generation. I was also surprised by what we learned about Sylar. Back then HRG again looked evil, and I was surprised both that he was working with Elle (Kristin Bell) and that he was largely responsible for initiating Sylar’s killing spree.

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And finally, the television rumor of the week, even if untrue:: Sarah Palin to appear on Desperate Housewives. From The New York Post:

IS Alaska’s Gov. Sarah Palin headed to “Desperate Housewives”? Series creator Marc Cherry is “very hot to trot to have her appear on the season-five finale,” Hollywood p.r. man Hal Lifson, who’s not involved with the show, told us. “Marc is highly enamored of Sarah and sees her as the ultimate guest star [playing] a similar version of herself. The idea has gone over surprisingly well with execs at Disney, who see it as a blockbuster based on Sarah’s huge ratings on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ ” Cherry declined to comment. An ABC rep said, “There’s no truth to it.”

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    Hey Ron, you being a Sci-Fi fan and all, there’s something you may wish to check out this morning.  I’ve got it up on Libertarian Republican blog, (click link).  But a whole bunch of libertarian websites are also carrying it.

    It will absolutely blow your mind. 

    And may cause you to rethink your position on a certain hot female politician. 

    Let’s just say someone with great authority has just called her the ultimate Heinleinian Heroine. 

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Eric,

    Palin’s authoritarian views are not altered by her conning a handful of libertarians who are obviously thinking with an organ other than their brain. If I am going to rethink my position on anyone, it would be to lower my view of L. Neil Smith.

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