I realize it comes as a shock to many of you that the guy who actually posed for his author photo *IN A STAR TREK UNIFORM* didn’t watch the last episode of a Star Trek series for the foreseeable future. It shouldn’t.
Interpret this as a statement of protest: Star Trek stopped being Star Trek long before I stopped watching, and it’s a testament to how far the franchise has fallen that even a hardcore Trekker like me held the current incarnation of the franchise in such low regard as to not even merit observation.
And, quite frankly, that’s not a bad thing. I’ll argue that the greatest Trek series ever was The Next Generation (TNG), and I’ll further argue that NextGen didn’t achieve that greatness until it put the demons of The Original Series (TOS) to bed. Face it, the first two seasons of TNG were a little clunky–Encounter at Farpoint, Justice, Haven, and Angel One are all painful to behold–mostly because they bear too strong a resemblance to the Western-esque camp of TOS. It wasn’t until TNG found its own legs and its own voice that we got greats like The Best of Both Worlds and The Inner Light.
Unfortunately, the Trek Franchise hasn’t been given a respite since 1987. That’s 18 solid years of unremitting programming, and despite all outward attempts to freshen up the basic concept–Deep Space Nine (put them on a station), Voyager (strand them far away), and Enterprise (set it in the past)–we’re still talking about the same people telling basically the same story for almost two decades. Star Trek has been on the air (1987-2005) for as long as it was off the air (1969-1987). It’s time to rest.
Moreover, as Warren Ellis has noted, Star Trek is ending on television, and Star Wars is ending in the movie theaters. The two most successful sci-fi franchises in history are finally clearing the decks–and both are arguably well overdue for it–and the sci-fi community has an unprecedented opportunity to try out new things, without the gravity of these two behemoths drawing in all the interest of casual fans. I, for one, am more excited about sci-fi than I’ve ever been, and that’s because Star Trek and Star Wars are wrapping up, not despite it.
Besides, taking a nap for a couple of decades could benefit Trek. I mean, just look at the new Battlestar Galactica. Now THAT’S a daring and inventive science fiction show. But that’s also a topic for another day…