There are currently three animated takes on Star Trek, two of which are currently being made. Star Trek: The Animated Series was produced by Filmation and featured the last two years of the Enterprise‘s five-year mission if you accept it. (I do but whether or not it’s canon depends on who’s in charge of deciding that officially at any given time, or so it feels.) Currently we have the adult-targeted comedy (or so they claim) Lower Decks and the other kids show Star Trek: Prodigy.
However, there apparently would have been a fourth on this list had we gotten Star Trek: Final Frontier, which would have taken the franchise even further away from it’s roots and theme than even Discovery. First we’ll watch the video by CaptRobu, and then I’ll go over why I’m glad it never happened.
The host doesn’t say why Paramount rejected the idea of setting the show in the original time period. Considering how many fanfilms and fanshows do exactly that you’d think there would be a market for a second ship in the same period having their own adventures. As long as they remember the “Starfleet” logo used to just be the Enterprise emblem and other ships had their own emblem you’d be fine. The idea of doing a short episode web series isn’t without merit either.
Before Russel T. Davies convinced the BBC to bring the show back to television the people behind the official Doctor Who website had planned to do the same with the Time Lord, even producing one episode, “Scream Of The Shalka”, after a bunch of barely animated audio dramas had been posted featuring both Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, and Colin Baker in separate stories. McGann brought the unfinished episode “Shada” to life, though that’s been supplanted by the live/animated hybrid version using the recorded episodes before the strike forced them to cancel the episode along with updated animation. Colin Baker was part of a Cyberman story that had a almost graphic depiction of being turned into a Cyberman, while McCoy did the controversial “Death Comes To Time”. So conceptually there’s nothing wrong here.
Then you get into the version they ended up working on and I have problems. First off you ditch warp drive, so already you lose one of the things about Star Trek that other science fiction works have emulated: faster than light travel without the time dilation issue. Why not drop the transporter while your at it? Why would you take a show that has inspired real world technology and strip them of one of their biggest contributions to sci-fi? Then they basically ruin Starfleet until it’s a shadow not even of its former self but a shadow of corrupt space governments in other sci-fi shows like Firefly or Blake’s 7. Therein lies the biggest problem with this concept.
As an original work this actually sounds pretty good. If you don’t want to use faster than light travel maybe have the other worlds be colonies formed using hibernation ships. Star Trek has shown they were used at one point, the Aliens franchise started out using them, and so did Doctor Who. Maybe now that they have FTL travel you’re coming upon these other worlds. Have Earth be xenophobic if you want or just not very good. That’s also from Firefly or even Vandred. A universe at war? I don’t have enough space to list all the shows that do that without boring the audience. The hero being a captain who wants to return to exploration and unity? That’s my kind of hero. Andromeda did that. Nothing about this sounds like Star Trek but everything about it sounds fascinating and I’m not usually into the darker stuff. As far as the opposing opinions of the staff, maybe it would succeed where Voyager failed to use a similar dynamic with the Maquis members brought on board.
Even the ships look…okay. Personally I like the shorter actual “hammer head” design of Enterprise-Namesake than the flatheaded one that we see more often. As an original show this could have worked but everything I see, while maybe working towards the goals of classic Trek, start off in direct opposition. You might as well take place in the time period of the Enterprise TV show.
I don’t know if this is a case of “we can do it better” or “let’s slap a famous name onto project for cheap marketing” but it doesn’t sound like the creators wanted to make Star Trek so much as the journey to become what the Federation already was. As Star Trek it’s so very wrong, but if they had retooled it into an original concept of Earth going into space exploration, getting involved in a war, making a few allies, and trying to find their way back to exploring after a war, this might have been worth catching. Classic Trek fans look down on what Bad Robot and Secret Hideout have done with Star Trek because it doesn’t feel like Star Trek, but sometimes the best thing for a great idea is to not be tied down to an existing franchise and find it’s own place in the larger world of storytelling. They should look at retooling this as its own series, especially if Paramount/CBS/Viacom/whatever it is this week doesn’t own it. I think it would find more fans as itself than as Star Trek and unburdened by Trek’s vision it could actually be a really good show.