Star Trek

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Star Trek collectively refers to six science-fiction television series spanning 726 episodes, ten motion pictures, in addition to hundreds of novels, video games, and other works of fiction, all set within the same fictional universe created by Gene Roddenberry in the mid 1960s. It depicts an optimistic future in which humanity has overcome sickness, racism, poverty, intolerance, and warfare on Earth, and has united with other intelligent species in the galaxy; the central characters explore the galaxy, discovering new worlds and encountering new civilizations, while helping to promote peace and understanding. "Star Trek" is one of the most popular names in the history of science fiction entertainment, and one of the most popular franchises in television history.

Television series

Star Trek originated as a television series in 1966. There have been five live-action Star Trek series and an animated series, altogether comprising (as of May 2005) a total of 726 individual aired episodes (not including the original unaired pilot) and thirty seasons’ worth of television.

Star Trek (1966-1969)

File:Enterprise orig.jpg
The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701
Main article: Star Trek: The Original Series

Star Trek debuted on NBC on September 8, 1966, having aired in Canada some days earlier. Created by Gene Roddenberry, starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley, and co-starring James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and (later) Walter Koenig, it told the tale of the crew of the starship Enterprise of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet and their adventures "to boldly go where no man has gone before".

The first episode aired, “The Man Trap”, was actually the fifth produced. Originally, Roddenberry had created a pilot entitled “The Cage”, with a very different cast, led by veteran actor Jeffrey Hunter, which was rejected by the three major television networks of the time. However, the NBC network liked the pilot enough to commission an unprecedented second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, which featured an almost entirely new cast led by Shatner. Only the character of Spock remained, at Roddenberry's insistence. “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was the third episode aired, while “The Cage” was reworked into a two-part episode, “The Menagerie”.

The last original episode, "The Turnabout Intruder", aired on June 3, 1969. The series subsequently became phenomenally popular in syndication, ultimately spawning the film and television sequels that followed. It has in recent years become known as Star Trek: The Original Series, abbreviated as ST:TOS or TOS, to distinguish it from its sequels, although all following films and television series, except the animated cartoon series of the 1970s, already have subtitles as part of their original names.

Star Trek (Animated) (1973-1974)

File:Tas 1701 03.jpg
The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 in animated form
Main article: Star Trek: The Animated Series

The series was aired under the name Star Trek, but it has become widely known as Star Trek: The Animated Series (or abbreviated as ST:TAS or TAS). It was produced by Filmation and ran for two seasons, with a total of twenty-two half-hour episodes. It featured most of the original cast performing the voices for their characters. While the freedom of animation afforded large alien landscapes and exotic lifeforms, budget constraints were a major concern and animation quality was poor. A few episodes are especially notable due to contributions from well known science-fiction authors. The series is not considered to be canon, which has caused controversy among some fans. However, the episode "Yesteryear" is considered a partial exception concerning the events depicted in Spock’s youth. In addition, elements of the animated series have worked their way into canon, such as Kirk’s middle name, Tiberius, first revealed in TAS and made official in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Star Trek: Enterprise has also incorporated several TAS concepts into canon. So, while the series itself is not strictly canon, it has been used as 'canon fodder'.

Star Trek: Phase II (1978; unproduced)

Main article: Star Trek: Phase II

Star Trek: Phase II was set to air in 1978 as the flagship series of a proposed Paramount television network, and 12 episode scripts were written before production was due to begin. This series would have put most of the original crew back aboard the Enterprise for a second five-year mission, save for Spock, because Leonard Nimoy did not agree to return; a full-blooded Vulcan named Xon was planned as a replacement, although it was still hoped that Nimoy would make guest appearances. Sets were constructed and several minutes of test footage were filmed. However, partly because of the popularity of the recently released Star Wars, Paramount decided to make a Star Trek film instead of a weekly television series. The first script formed the basis of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, while two others were eventually adapted as episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

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The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D
Main article: Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation (also known, colloquially, as The Next Generation, NextGen, ST:TNG, or TNG) is set nearly a century later and features a new starship (also named Enterprise) and a new crew, venturing where "no one has gone before." It premiered on September 28, 1987, with the two-hour pilot episode, "Encounter at Farpoint", and ran for seven seasons, ending with the final two-part episode, "All Good Things..." on May 29, 1994. The show gained a considerable following during its initial run. Even during that time, the show was produced solely for syndication.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was the highest rated of all the Star Trek series, and was the number-one syndicated show during the last few years of its original run. Many fans, both casual and "hard-core", often treat The Next Generation as a kind of 'golden age' of Star Trek, primarily because of its broad acceptance, its viewer base, and the active influence of Roddenberry (who was alive during the first part of its run).

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)

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Space station Deep Space Nine (DS9)
Main article: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (ST:DS9 or DS9) ran for seven seasons and was the first Trek series to be established without any direct input from Gene Roddenberry. It introduced Avery Brooks as Commander (and, later in the series, Captain) Benjamin Sisko, the first African American in the commanding role of a Star Trek series. It chronicles the events surrounding the space station Deep Space Nine. In the first episode, the crew discovers the presence of a nearby stable wormhole, which provides nearly immediate travel to and from the distant Gamma Quadrant. This immediately makes the station an important tactical asset, as well as a vital center of commerce with the largely unexplored area of space.

Deep Space Nine sheds some of the utopian themes that embodied the previous versions of Star Trek, and focuses more on war, religion, political compromise, and other modern issues. Although its ratings were never as high as those of The Next Generation, DS9 remains the most critically acclaimed of the "Trek" spin-offs.

Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)

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U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Main article: Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager (also known as ST:VOY, ST:VGR or VOY) was produced for seven seasons, and is the only Star Trek series to have had a female, Captain Kathryn Janeway, as a lead character. Essentially, the U.S.S. Voyager and crew were 'lost in space': the series follows the adventures of the starship Voyager and her crew, joined by Maquis resistance fighters, who have all become stranded in the Delta Quadrant, seventy thousand light years from Earth by an entity known as the "Caretaker". Unless they can find a shortcut, it will take them seventy years to return to known space.

Although Voyager's ratings were initially solid, they fell dramatically as the show progressed. It was during this show's run that criticism towards producer Rick Berman began to mount, coinciding with the growth in popularity of online discussion forums that amplified the message of a vocal group of fans who felt Berman was no longer welcome as the franchise leader. With the threat of cancellation, the character Seven of Nine was added, replacing Kes, which, in turn, increased ratings and allowed the series to continue for four more seasons.

Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005)

Main article: Star Trek: Enterprise

Star Trek: Enterprise (named simply Enterprise during its first two seasons, the first few episodes of its third, and abbreviated as ST:ENT or ENT) is a prequel to the other Star Trek series. The pilot episode, "Broken Bow", takes place ten years before the founding of the Federation, about halfway between the events shown in the movie Star Trek: First Contact and the original Star Trek series. This series depicts the exploration of space by the crew of the Earthship Enterprise, a new, NX-class starship, which is able to go farther and faster than any humans had previously gone.

Star Trek: Enterprise is not entirely unfamiliar to Star Trek fans, as it allows its characters to face events during the formative years of the Federation and unencumbered by the experience and rules that have been built up over the following years of "Trek" history. Ratings for Enterprise were never particularly strong; and, as it had done during the initial airing of The Original Series, fan support during Enterprise's second and third seasons helped keep the series on the air. The series' showrunners (Rick Berman and Brannon Braga) handed their position to season three writer Manny Coto. The show was no longer aimless and now had a purpose - a return to Trek's roots ala the Original Series. However, Paramount announced cancellation during the fourth season which was arguably the series' best.

Motion pictures

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The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E, from films VIII-X

A total of ten Star Trek movies to date have been produced by Paramount Pictures.

A common urban myth among fans is that the even-numbered Star Trek films are superior to the odd-numbered Star Trek films. This rule of thumb is most easily applicable to the first few films: Star Trek II and IV are usually at or near the top of the fan favorites, while I and V are usually at the bottom (though I has since received quite a bit of positive re-evaluation in the wake of an acclaimed "Director's Edition" revision released on DVD). This is not wholly applicable, however; III followed on from the success of II, which continued into IV, and VII (Star Trek: Generations) is regarded as a firm fan favorite. Another exception is X (Star Trek: Nemesis), which is one of the most critically derided Star Trek feature films, many critics accusing it of attempting to imitate the plot (and success) of Star Trek II. Despite fetching the lowest revenue at the box office in Star Trek history, it sold well on its DVD release in 2003.

Although North American and UK releases of the films were no longer numbered following the sixth film, European releases continued numbering the films.


Star Trek films
Poster 75px 75px 75px 75px 75px
Film The Motion Picture II: The Wrath of Khan III: The Search for Spock IV: The Voyage Home V: The Final Frontier
Year 1979 1982 1984 1986 1989
Director Robert Wise Nicholas Meyer Leonard Nimoy Leonard Nimoy William Shatner
Poster 75px 75px 75px 75px 75px
Film VI: The Undiscovered Country Generations First Contact Insurrection Nemesis
Year 1991 1994 1996 1998 2002
Director Nicholas Meyer David Carson Jonathan Frakes Jonathan Frakes Stuart Baird

Other storylines

Main article: Star Trek, other storylines

Although The Animated Series, books, comic books, video games, and other material based on Star Trek are considered "non-canon", there are several which deserve mentioning, including a number of fan-made (or "fanon") productions set within the Star Trek universe have been created for distribution over the Internet. None of these projects are licensed by Paramount, however the studio has reportedly loosened its stance on allowing them. See Star Trek, other storylines for more detailed information about these productions.

Uncertain future for the franchise

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The Enterprise boldly going where no man had gone before.

Predictions of the demise of Star Trek are nothing new. As early as 1993-1994, when Star Trek: Deep Space Nine failed to generate the high ratings of its predecessor, magazines such as Entertainment Weekly predicted the end of the franchise. The near-cancellation of Star Trek: Voyager in the mid-1990s led to more such predictions. Enterprise, which scored the lowest ratings of any Trek series to date, was widely reported in the media to be on the verge of cancellation after each of its first three seasons and a "death watch" of sorts was maintained throughout its fourth and final year.

However, due to the cancellation of Enterprise and the poor box-office performance of the 2002 film Nemesis, executive producer Rick Berman has stated that Paramount intends to rest the franchise (film and television) for at least three years.

Many Trek fans want Berman and the other executive producer Brannon Braga to be replaced. Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, former Star Trek writer Ronald D. Moore, and current Enterprise executive producer Manny Coto have been suggested as possible replacements, and Straczynski has expressed an interest in taking the helm of Star Trek. In an ironic twist to the fan-based efforts to bring back Trek in the 1960s and 1970s, there are groups of fans who feel that the concept has run its course and who are actively seeking the end of Star Trek.

Reruns of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine are aired regularly on Spike TV in the United States. Spike TV will also begin airing reruns of Voyager in the fall of 2006, as part of its original deal for all three series. TOS, TNG, and Voyager air daily in Canada on Space: The Imagination Station, which has also purchased Enterprise for daily rebroadcasts starting in the fall of 2005.

Cast members and fans have suggested that even if there are no further Star Trek series or movies, the franchise may continue in television movies, mini-series, specials, and other forms of media.

Future sequels to the original series

There is some desire among fans to bring back the character of Captain Kirk, as played by William Shatner, to give him a more dignified end than that shown in Star Trek: Generations.

George Takei and fans have made frequent attempts to convince the studio to create a series based on Captain Sulu's voyages on the Excelsior, but, despite support from fans, it has enjoyed little success. Sulu and the Excelsior originally appeared in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as well as in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager ("Flashback") but this did not lead to a new series. Sulu later appeared in the video game Star Trek: Shattered Universe set in the Mirror, Mirror alternate universe.

Future sequels to The Next Generation

Next Generation stars Marina Sirtis, Patrick Stewart, and Jonathan Frakes have suggested that no more TNG films will be produced; Brent Spiner is also no longer interested in reprising the character of Data. However, Spiner portrayed Arik Soong, an ancestor of the creator of his character Data, in Enterprise's fourth season, and Sirtis and Frakes reprised their TNG roles for the Enterprise finale.

Continuation of Enterprise

There is some consensus among Star Trek fans that the fourth and final season of Enterprise was better than the previous three seasons, and that continuation of the program under the new "mini-arc" writing style introduced in season four would have stood a chance of the series acquiring better ratings during a fifth season.

A campaign by Enterprise fans was mounted to have the show aired on the Sci-Fi Channel, which was rumored to be interested in the show at one point (although TV Guide reported otherwise). Berman, however, stated that Paramount is not interested in shopping the show around to other networks.

One campaign, Trek United, attempted to raise funds to finance a fifth season, raising pledges and cash donations of more than $3.1 million (U.S.) but its proposal which would have seen a fifth season jointly produced by Paramount along with Canadian and British production houses, was rejected by the studio. It has been reported that the decision to cancel Enterprise after its fourth season may have been made by Paramount as early as the 2002-2003 season, while lead actor Scott Bakula has gone on record as stating that management changes at Paramount in 2003-2004 left the Star Trek franchise without strong support at the studio. In April 2005, he claimed that up until 2003-2004 Paramount had actually intended for the cast of Enterprise to become the focus for the next Star Trek film. [1]

New feature film?

Rick Berman revealed in 2003 that preliminary work had begun on an eleventh Star Trek feature film. Rumors circulated that this film would be a prequel, perhaps titled Starfleet Academy or 'Starfleet Command, involving Spock, Captain Kirk, and Dr. McCoy played by new actors. With The Next Generation film series over, the possibility also exists that the next film could be based on Deep Space Nine or Voyager, and Kate Mulgrew has stated that she would play Janeway in a new movie [2]. Other rumors suggested the film would take place between the events of Enterprise and TOS, perhaps involving the Romulan War and featuring a new cast. However, rumors of such a prequel have circulated several times throughout the history of the franchise, shortly after TOS's original cancellation, and again in the 1990s, both without results.

In late 2004, Paramount indicated that no plans were in place for a new film, and it was reported that the studio had rejected Berman's idea of a film featuring a new cast and crew, indicating that it preferred a film featuring familiar faces.

In late February 2005, Berman told Variety that pre-production of an eleventh Star Trek film was underway and that screenwriter Erik Jendresen, producer Jordan Kerner, and former Paramount Television president Kerry McCluggage were attached to the project. [3] Berman said the film would focus on new characters, rather than any from previous series, and would take place in a time period before the original Star Trek (as Enterprise did before it). Jendresen has since confirmed such reports. However, it is still uncertain whether Jendresen's script will be approved by Paramount executives; in January 2005 it was reported by some websites that the studio had rejected a similar proposal, though Berman denied this. [4]

In a May 2005 interview for the UK Star Trek Magazine, Berman stated that he does not expect Trek XI, if it is actually produced, to be released for several years.[5] Some sources such as the user-edited Internet Movie Database have given the film the working title Star Trek: The Beginning, and have suggested a 2007 release, however Paramount has yet to announce any official title, or if it will actually produce an 11th Star Trek film. In a follow-up interview for the September 2005 issue of Star Trek Magazine, Berman stated that planning for the film is still "in its infant stages".[6]

The announcement of Paramount's new DVD Premiere division, devoted to direct-to-DVD original productions and franchise spin-offs, has led to speculation as to whether a future Star Trek film might also be produced in this format.[7]

Video games

In 1998, Viacom entered into an agreement with Activision to produce Star Trek video games. Many games were released under this agreement, but in 2003, Activision filed a lawsuit against Viacom stating that they were not holding up to their end of the bargain because the Star Trek franchise was not as valuable as it once was. None of the games produced sold well. Activision cancelled the contract and sought compensation for losses. In March 2005, an agreement was reached and all lawsuits were dropped, but the other terms have been deemed confidential [8]

In 2004, Perpetual Entertainment announced plans for an MMORPG based in the Star Trek universe. This will be the first game of this type to be based on Star Trek. Currently, the game is tentatively titled Star Trek Online and is expected to be set roughly 20 years after the events of Nemesis. More detailed information regarding the game can be found in Stography, a wiki dedicated to the game.

Novels

Pocket Books, current publishers of officially licensed fiction based upon all the series (as well as numerous original "Trek" series of its own), plans to continue publishing original novels for the foreseeable future.

However, soon after Enterprise was cancelled, the company announced that it was halving the number of Star Trek novels it would be publishing, down to only one mass-market paperback per month, plus several trade paperbacks and hardcovers throughout the year. Although book line editors stressed that the decision to reduce the number of books was made a year earlier and was not related to popularity/ratings problems within the franchise, the announcement was seen by some as another indication that the Star Trek franchise is on the wane.

Despite this, however, the company maintains that it has ambitious plans for the line, including (in May 2005) the confirmation that an Enterprise Relaunch series of novels is in the planning stages.[9]

See also

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References

Star Trek may be the most documented entertainment franchise in history. Here are a few of the major reference works related to the production and influence of the franchise.

External links

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