We can all agree: Kurtzman era Star Trek has been godawful. There was no reason to think that Strange New Worlds would be any different, but then the first episode became available on YouTube. So I thought: “fuck it, I’ll give it a shot.”
Whoever’s running SNW had the right idea: just tap the ball into the hole. Don’t try to do too much.
It’s common to assume that Trek fans are notoriously hard to please . This is false. In fact, they’re a little too easy to please. Furthermore, I’d say that Star Trek is stupidly easy to write: minimize drama between the main characters, the Federation humanistic…almost utopian…ideals always win out, the “alien of the week” is analogous to current events, and everything can be solved using science…even if the science is totally pulled out of your ass.
This is also called the (Gene) “Roddenberry Box.” TNG writers initially struggled with it until Michael Piller turned staying within it into an art. The Next Generation is now considered one of the best shows in the sci-fi genre. It’s also the benchmark for which all other Trek shows are evaluated.
Hollywood writers, especially ones that aren’t familiar with Star Trek, might think they have to do MORE to make the story interesting. But they really don’t. You can “challenge” the box every now and then, but the optimism and science MUST win out.
So using this criteria, based on the first episode, Strange New Worlds is Star Trek…which is more than I can say for Discovery and Picard. Yes, that’s a low bar to hurdle but I guess third time is a charm. Maybe the rest of it will be shit, but as long as the show runners don’t try to do too much, they might have a pretty good show.
Still not paying for Paramount+ tho.
2 thoughts on “tapping into the Roddenberry box”
Though I watched a few episodes of the original Star Trek series when it first aired back in the 60s, I’ve never watched any of the later iterations of the franchise. Nor have I ever seen any of the Star Trek films. Just haven’t had the slightest bit of interest.
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I honestly can’t remember a time when Star Trek wasn’t in my life. It’s like a second language to me. I’m not one of those “trekkies” that goes to conventions or argue about canon all the time, and I’m perfectly fine with Star Trek dying with the conclusion of Enterprise nearly 20 years ago. But JJ Abrams/Alex Kurtzman Trek is not only bad Star Trek, it’s terrible TV as well. Alex Kurtzman especially is an example of people failing upwards in Hollywood, so I understand the frustration that many Trek fans have.
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