Boldly going sideways.

Film Excuse me while I geek out for a moment. Chud are reporting that the new Star Trek film isn't actually a prequel but a re-imagining. Hmm... why? They've no doubt looked at Battlestar Galactica and so forth and decided that in order to make the story relevant for today that they need to toss out forty-odd years of chronology and continuity so that they can write it they way they want to. Plus they've probably seen the hoops Enterprise often went through to try and tie itself in with a future story rooted in the past.

But hold on -- isn't the forty-odd years of continuity what makes Star Trek, Star Trek? Granted when the show started everything was parred back. It's amazing in the second pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before how little information there is about the world outside the Enterprise. But slowly episode on episode a universe was built, characterisations deepened and even in the often disappointing third season you still had a sense of a point of time in the future. Dropping all of this for the film, even for the latent fan and the disaffected will be a real wrench.

The prema example of a reimagined franchise is Doctor Who -- simply because Russell T Davies was clever enough to create something that didn't contradict the past but still managed to have a ring of now about it. So fans weren't pissed off because it wasn't the show they fell in love with and new viewers could see it as something brand new and for them. This also seems like a strange decision given how much money is being ploughed into sprucing up the classic series with new CG effects and whatnot.

Certainly they're probably scared shitless by the weight of that continuity and having to write something which doesn't contradict what we already know about these characters and unlike Doctor Who which regularly and charmingly contradicted itself on regular basis there is an accepted set of facts which can't really be changed. But it can be done. You just have to refocus yourself and actually enjoy the fact that some of the work has already been done for you and decide that you're adding to what we already know.

The decision probably has more to do with not wanting to create a film that has a retro look so that it's fits within what has already been seen. That makes sense. But I've never understood why the 60s style of the classic series has been such an albatross. And indeed in Trials and Tribblations the Deep Space Nine story were the crew went back in time for an adventure on Kirk's ship, Jadzia Dax, who'd been around at the time for various reasons, comments about how great the 23rd century design is with its sleek lines and minimalism.

In other words, design the film any way you like. It'll still make sense. The 60s designs aren't not cutting edge -- they're choices for the 2200s reflecting a particularly aesthetic. Later they became something else. There have been countless examples of wild design ideas being used and jettisoned when the application becomes more important than style. Just visit any design museum and look at the chairs.

So please JJ Abrams, make this the Star Trek that we know and some of us love before it's too late. I mean this could be Galactica, creating something that's even better than the original. But it would be all too easy to be stuck with another Lost In Space, trying to be many things to many people and turning out something that entertains no one but us Lacey Chabert fans.

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