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Varying degrees of info on the new Roddenberry series (("Phoenix Rising", "Andromeda", and "Starship")) !!!

Glen here...

...with a follow-up to last week's request about the new "Gene Roddenberry" series (plural) in various stages of development through Tribune Entertainment. I gotta tell you, I wasn't exactly expecting the response I got. Quite voluminous, and very much appreciated.

Interestingly enough, there was a surprising lack on consistency between the reports, save for info on one of the titles - Gene Roddenberry's PHOENIX RISING. All of the reports about this show said pretty much the same thing. Thus, the Phoenix Rising information should be considered rather reliable, although please be aware some changes will likely come down during the show's developmental process.

The other two shows ( Starship and Andromeda) mentioned below are still in a state of fluctuation, and while their complexion isn't likely to change dramatically - there might be some variation between what you read here and what ends up on-screen. What is covered below represents the clearest & most accurate information (about) I could cobble together from what I had to work with.

So, in no particular order, here's what I've come across about these "Roddenberry" series so-far:


You might notice I put the word "Roddenberry" in quotes in the above paragraphs. This is a very minute but very critical detail. It seems that a couple of these series are only loosely based on Roddenberry ideas.

Don't get me wrong, some Roddenberry ideas are definitely being incorporated into these shows (the humanist nature of the stories; the "one man can make a difference" mentality...a recurring Roddenberry also present; the notions of everyone struggling to be the best they can be is also incorporated -- for example). But in many ways, each series will feature only a few genuine Roddenberry ideas, and are actually being developed by folks who are pretty much stuffing the series with their own ideas - and throwing Roddenberry notions into the mix.

Does this make the possessive in these titles misleading? Guess that depends on how much Roddenberry is actually in these "Roddenberry" shows. A difficult notion to gauge, although some reports indicate these new shows contain much more Roddenberry "spirit" than Roddenberry concept and actuality.


Gene Roddenberry's PHOENIX RISING. Phoenix Rising is being developed by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine alumni Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

FLASH BACK: Remember Roddenberry's two series pilots from the '70s (Genesis II and Planet Earth)? Both featured a man called Dylan Hunt being frozen in (more or less) modern day, then revived on an Earth that has fallen to great savagery and barbarism. The point of the proposed series would have been for Hunt and his sidekicks to work towards reuniting and re-unifying mankind. Remember this concept for a moment, and the name Dylan Hunt.

PRESENT DAY: Robert Hewitt Wolfe conceives of his "perfect" Star Trek series: a series set thousands of years in Star Trek's future. The galaxy is in turmoil, all of the governments to which Trek fans are accustomed have crumbled and imploded. The galaxy is a really screwed up place: Vulcans have renounced their logic and are now savage enemies of anyone who crosses them. Homeless Klingons roam space in violent packs of attack ships. The Federation is long gone - but it is an ideal not forgotten to those living in this untamed reality.

A Federation "Enterprise" from a bit further down the ship's discovered drifting in space, its Captain (and maybe a few crew) are frozen in stasis. Ship and crew are revived, and are horrified by the galaxy to which they awaken. Using their Enterprise as an icon for the cohesion and strength that used to be (but is now lost), Enterprise and her rag-tag crew set out to restore the Federation to what it once was, and restore peace and balance to the galaxy.

It is unclear if Wolfe ever formally approached Paramount with this Trek series concept. None the less, the basic idea for his series is finding its way into a new (non-Trek) "Roddenberry" series called Phoenix Rising.

Take the Genesis II / Planet Earth scenarios mentioned above...throw them together with Wolfe's "ideal" Star Trek series...and you get Gene Roddenberry's PHOENIX RISING. PR is the tale of a spaceship and captain found drifting in deep space. They are revived into a galaxy that is all messed-up. They set about trying to restore peace and order to the way of things - by trying to re-unite the galaxy and resurrect the glorious old days of solidarity and (relative) peace. It's a tough job in a tough place, but somebody's gotta do it.

Given this formula, one significant question sticks out: this "galaxy in decay" notion would have worked magnificently on Star Trek - as viewers would already have a general frame of reference for what Trek history looks like & feels like. Thus, we can understand what has actually been lost, and are able to visualize what our heroes are trying to resurrect.

But Phoenix Rising does not have the benefit of dealing with such solid and established notions of what has come before, because its back history (on which the entire series is predicated) has never been seen or experienced by the audience. As such, one concern regarding Phoenix Rising is that our heroes will be struggling towards a "new order" / "golden age" which has no resonance or point of association to the viewer. Thus, the "goal" of the series might seem tenuous or abstract, unless the show (somehow) conceives of a brilliant & effective way to convey the coveted age of hope which our characters are striving to bring back - so we can associate with what their endgame really is.

As far as I can tell, Hercules' Kevin Sorbo has expressed great interest in playing the revived captain in Phoenix Rising, although no final decisions have been made on this. I am told that Sorbo will either go for PR, or Gene Roddenberry's ANDROMEDA (see below).

Phoenix Rising is currently being developed with an eye towards a Fall 2000 premiere.


Gene Roddenberry's STARSHIP. This is a series being developed through Mainframe, the CGI folks who brought us Reboot. I am told there was some discussion about converting this series into a live-action format, although I have received indications this is somewhat unlikely due to budgetary consideration (the plans for the CGI series exceed the budgetary capacity of live action).

Starship is described as being about a couple of humans (and a lot of aliens) who are learning to live together on a giant, living starship. Seems that a series of events unfold which set this group on a pointed mission.

This is where things get hazy: some reports suggest the missions will be more "troubleshooting" in nature, often with an environmental theme. Other reports indicate their mission will be more peacekeeping in nature - as the starship and its crew must unite warring alien races, and convince them that all creatures are more or less brothers capable of living together in peace.

Like Phoenix Rising, Starship is very strong on elements of humanism and expresses support for collective cohesion. Even though it is a CGI series, Starship is described as being "very adult".


On a far way planet, an apocalyptic catastrophe (a war, I believe) separates a scientist from his family - possibly via some sort of time displacement. The thrust of the series: the adventures of said scientist as he tries to find those he loves, looks for a way home, and tries to rebuild that which has been destroyed in the process.

Andromeda is, I am told, the other "Roddenberry" series of interest to Kevin Sorbo (besides Phoenix Rising) - although recent interviews with the actor have indicated his excitement over following in the footsteps of Captains Kirk and Picard - so think "spaceship captain" in Herc's near future.

Speaking of starship captains, it should be be noted that either Phoenix Rising or Starship will feature a captain named Dylan Hunt.

It all comes around...


So there you have it, folks.

I know some of this information is rather spotty at the moment. Given the conflicting data which poured in after my initial request for information about these series, I'm more than sure that there are a few details out-of-whack herein. Reversely, I am rather sure that the essence of today's report is functionally accurate.

Once this gets posted, I'm hoping (and guessing) that greater clarity about these shows will be forthcoming - so keep checking COAXIAL for more details...

Questions? Comments? Praise? Ridicule ?

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