Earlier in March, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell launched a Kick Starter campaign to produce a movie spin off of the Veronica Mars series, which aired on UPN from 2004… and one year on The CW (which UPN became) in 2007. So far, they have raised $4 million dollars.
Then murmurings began on Facebook about a possible fifth season of Enterprise on Netflix – which has set a precedent for bringing back long dead series with a fourth season of Arrested Development which was axed in 2006. Netflix have also begun to create their own original content (House of Cards, Hemlock Grove etc) and are (according to them) “the world’s leading Internet television network with more than 33 million members in 40 countries.” (but not Australia…)
Those murmurings grew louder when Doug Drexler (VFX artist on Enterprise and makeup artist on The Next Gen amongst other work…) added his voice to the cause, and now the Facebook page has attracted over 1, 200 likes.
As I’ve said in the past, I work in the Australian television industry “in the real world” and there is one thing that I have seen since the invention of instant access to US drama series, that Australian networks love to import and place in prime time over here… and that’s a steady decline in ratings for episodes that are aired now days or weeks later.
Consumers have given up waiting, and being dictated to about when they are to watch a program. This leads me along the path of how that ratings data is collated, and it’s through a box that only a select number of households have. With the internet its different, you see instant and specific results. The stats monitor I have (on the left) can tell me right now who is viewing the site.
For video on demand (VOD) it’s no different, so when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation decided to pre-empt their own broadcast of Doctor Who by 7 days with their catchup service they saw instant and impressive results. It was easily the most streamed daily download in it’s history.
In an interview with TrekCore, Brannon Braga suggested if fans really want to see a fifth season, they need to prove to Netflix that there is audience for it. Watch the Enterprise episodes that are there and build their ratings. Those instant figures will give Netflix an indicator of how valuable a fifth season could be.
And just like David Wharton’s editorial at Giant Freakin Robot, this leads me to the question of should they produce it? And I have to agree with him, no they shouldn’t. Enterprise had become another stock Star Trek serial, the writing team tried valiantly in the fourth season to create interesting storylines – even hooking us in over three weeks for several plot lines. But, at it’s core these episode arcs were just gimmicks… designed to tell the stories in that final season that should’ve been told anyway.
The series needed to take a break, and in my opinion it should’ve been taken before Enterprise even left drydock, with the finale of Voyager. Paramount should’ve taken the money they had made (and continue to make on reruns) and been satisfied. Instead, in a move that television networks continue to make, they decided to flog the horse once more.
And yes, as much as I loathe J.J. Trek, he has been given the keys to the cabinet and allowed to run loose like a child in a candy shop… a bull in a china store. Creating improbable story lines and blowing up planets, giving the characters that we knew (and loved) stupid new personalities. He destroyed Trek for me. But unfortunately, not everyone agreed with me… and the movie succeeded in bringing in new fans (and $400 million.) That’s why another one is out next month.
And although he cleverly crafted a new alternate universe, so as to “preserve” existing Trek, we will never see it again. If a new series does get commissioned, it will be in J.J.-verse… where everyone is not as they seem, and time and reality jumps will be common place. Either that, or a starship will crash on an outer rim world… but after six seasons and several new characters implausibly appearing and disappearing, we’ll discover that they just crashed on Mars.
David Wharton’s editorial asked me to imagine a series in the hands of BSG’s Ron Moore or Farscape’s Rockne O’Bannon… but of the names he wrote, J. Michael Straczynski is the one I’d love to take the helm. Let Abrams lose on Star Wars… there isn’t as much back story there – those fans can whinge about him for all I care :P.
Give Trek to Straczynski, and then we can watch a five year saga with real emotions and real issues. Sure, it won’t be pure original Trek… but it’ll hone Deep Space Nine, it’ll be gritty and everyone won’t love each other. We shouldn’t go back and relive the past, we should move forward – in the prime universe – and tell the stories after 2386, when the Romulans are annihilated and Nero goes back in time. We know that happened, but what are the consequences? What happened to all the Romulan colonies that lost their homeworld? Would everyone in the Federation sit by while there were colonies vying for control over the tattered Empire?
What about the Cardassians? Their way of life, as a militaristic society, was shattered at the end of DS9… they allied with the Dominion and were resoundly beaten. Even the Dominion turned on them in the end… what happens to them? Would they swoop into Romulan space and occupy territory?
Eternal Night will touch on some of these issues in the forthcoming second season’s audio episodes, but imagine them on the silver screen with the big gun writers telling the tales…
That said, however, I will watch Star Trek XII, and I would watch the fifth season of Enterprise. I won’t be as engaged with them, but it is still new Trek… it is still (loosely) based on Gene Roddenberry’s original.
If Netflix does proceed, they need to consider the other countries that do not have access to their service… the people living outside their “border” shouldn’t be excluded from new Trek. TREKZONE.org does stand ready to provide server support – as I’ve said, I will watch new Trek.