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May 5, 2004

The trouble with Star Trek

I watch Star Trek. I don't love it but I watch it (you have to take what SF you can get on terrestrial TV). Star Trek is real Science Fiction, there are no debates abut that (unlike Star Wars). But Star Trek has one big problem. It is predictable.
Everything always get wrapped up at the end of each episode. Okay not always, there are exceptions but they are just that, exceptions. And before anyone starts quoting me the latter series of Deep Space Nine, yes they were okay, but yes they were still predictable.
What I'm taking as my benchmark is Babylon 5. Not season 4 or 5, but 2 and 3, the good old days. In those seasons anything could happen, I had no idea where it was going. It was brilliant, a true epic Sci-Fi series with a planned arc, none of the cobbled together backstory and arcs that were the norm. It was so cool. Admittedly it was let down by the uncertainty of not having a season 5 and cramming too much into season 4 and the fact that the ending was rubbish....but season 2 and 3 were genius.
Star Trek needs to take a lesson from that. No matter how much money is spent each episode, how much better the production is, how much better the acting is (debatable) or how "inspiring" the theme song is (yes Enterprise I'm talking about you) it needs a feeling of awe and mystery to keep you coming back. Can't say I'm getting that from the first two seasons of Enterprise. (Maybe if I was 60 years old then I would be amazed at automatic sliding doors?). So for the next series/season the challenge is this....a wonder Because that's been lacking, and that's the trouble with Star Trek.


If the predictability of Star Trek scripts can no longer be blamed on the budget, then the cause may be this: Network TV.

There are a lot of SF concepts that can't be done on network TV. Perhaps if Star Trek moved to HBO, we might see some really challenging content?

You may well be right there. I remember hearing with astonishment how US networks used to demand that a series could be shown in any order. Presumably that has changed now though. But the quest for ratings always seems to be a killer... which is a bit ironic really. They should concentrate on making a quality SF product and then the ratings will come.