Dream Casting: J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: The Next Generation
J.J. Abrams' approach to making his 2009 “Star Trek” reboot (simply called Star Trek) was to look at the classic 1966 television series, and essentially pump it full of steroids, turning a lean and kind of goofy old TV show and making it into a slick and muscular action picture. He took familiar character tropes of well-established pop-culture characters – the ones that are well-known to Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike – and wrote them to be broader and more easily absorbed.
The Spock-McCoy-Kirk triune that so defined the series (a.k.a. logic, passion, and the balance between the two) gave way to a sexier and quicker hothouse of shouting and underpants. What's more, Abrams' elected to make his new Star Trek film about the Enterprise crew when they were younger and inexperienced, casting a whole new retinue of younger, hotter actors in roles invented in the 1960s by other performers.
Captain Kirk was now played by studly newcomer Chris Pine. Spock was played by recent TV star Zachary Quinto. Even the curmudgeonly Dr. McCoy was young once, and Karl Urban did a spot-on DeForest Kelley impersonation. How does Abrams explain his new story when we already know what happened to a young Kirk from a 40-some-year-old TV show? He reset the timeline with some time travel. Easy.
With the 12th Star Trek feature film, Star Trek Into Darkness, coming to theaters this
Friday Thursday, Abrams has elected to continue the continuity of the 2009 film using the same actors, still young and sexy, in new situations. I feel that Abrams kind of missed an opportunity here.
The 2009 Star Trek wasn't so much a prequel to the existing Star Trek films as it was a remake of the original TV show; it wasn't interested in continuing with any sort of established story, opting to make its own. I feel that making a direct sequel to the 2009 film would be far less interesting than perhaps telling an entirely new Star Trek story with an entirely new cast. Sure, Abrams could have gone totally meta, reset the timeline again, and had Kirk, Spock, McCoy and all the rest with a newer cast still, but I think that would be too much of a head-scratcher even for the most dyed-in-the-wool Trekkies.
Better yet, go with the following idea: Make the 12th Star Trek feature film a high-octane reboot of the popular 1987 spinoff series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Abrams already made Star Trek hip again by making the previously stodgy characters into broad, strong, young versions of themselves. Why not zip forward into the future another century in this new continuity, and see how it effected the lives of Capt. Picard, Data, Worf, and all the rest of the well-known Enterprise-D crowd. In this new version of the Trek universe, we can now have younger, stronger, sexier, trimmer versions of a crew that is just as beloved to Trekkies as the original crew, but with more advanced technology, more shouting, more underpants, and more sex.
Even though every member of the original “Next Generation” cast is still alive and working (Patrick Stewart, at 72, is still slated to appear in the next X-Men feature film), it's time to reconsider who might play their characters in a newer slimmer, younger, sexier version of the story. I have done just that.
The rules: The cast must be young, and only their best-known character traits need to be emphasized.
Witney Seibold is a featured contributor on the CraveOnline Film Channel, co-host of The B-Movies Podcast and co-star of The Trailer Hitch. You can read his weekly articles B-Movies Extended, Free Film School and The Series Project, and follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind. If you want to buy him a gift (and I know you do), you can visit his Amazon Wish List.