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All About TREK!!!

Star Trek. Is there another Trek? Don't answer that.

First off, there's a weird story on SF Crowsnest, supposedly with insider info about the new series in the works. My initial impression? Well, I hope it's going to be reworked a bit. Okay, a lot. The way I envision it, I'm not sure I'd care for it at all. Of course, there's a big difference between leaked concepts and a finished show. If someone wants to send me the pilot script I'd be really happy... Anyway, check it out and see what you think.

Next up, we have a fine article from the folks at Salon. Definitely a good read. I don't really have a lot to say about it except that I think all of the junk that's going on around this franchise is a real shame...but it wouldn't be the entertainment business if it wasn't full of crap, right?

Okay, soon we will be onto my last bit of info, from a source that I've finally confirmed to be kosher. What can I say, I'm a little wary of anonymity. Sorry for the delay, Mr. Source! Anyway, before this last bit, let me just chime in with my own opinions on the franchise.

I think it's lost its edge, and the characters aren't strong enough anymore. In the original series, you had a show that revolved around a core of two or three strong characters...Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. All the time. The other characters were great, but the show wasn't about them. No offense to the other fine actors (or characters), that's just the way it was. There was a strong relationship between the three, and they were just plain interesting people. To me, as it is with a lot of people, it's all about the captains. Kirk was interesting because he was, for lack of a better word, hard-core. Way out of line, screw the prime directive, and have sex with EVERYONE. Yeah, the guy had nuts. Big ones. He got the job done, with style. Over-the-top acting never hurt either. IT'S SCI-FI for crying out loud. It made stuff exciting. Ditto on the wacky music. That music kicked MUCH ass, up and down and all over the place. The show had freaking STYLE.

I don't want to go on for too long here, so here's my super-quick opinion of the more recent shows. I liked the Next Generation okay, and enjoyed it a lot at times, but I always felt it was too sterile, that the ship looked like a hotel, and that the captain was too good of a captain...too inclined to go by the book. Just the way I feel.

Deep Space Nine got off to a similarly slow start, but by the end of the show, it had become my favorite of the modern series. Why? Avery Brooks has always kicked a lot of ass, and he always will. It's just a truth of the universe. DS9 was the only one of the three modern series that really ever tried to put a lot of focus on a main character...and on his development. Also, the relationship with another excellent actor, Cirroc Lofton, aka the Sisko Kid, was really REALLY freaking well done. One of the best bits of father-son writing and acting I've seen in a good long while (especially that wacky time-travel episode that follows Jake into old age trying to save his good 'ol dad...priceless!).

Okay, finally, there's Voyager. I don't see enough focus on the command leadership, I mean, there are a good number of episodes where Janeway is a side-note in the script. I want to know, who is this show about? It's just not quite right to me. I want character development! AAAHHH!!!! Okay, the truth is, I just want different characters.


That being said, here's the last bit of Trek fun for the day.

"Dear El Cosmico:

I've been following events inside the besieged Star Trek franchise for quite some time now, and thought you'd be interested to know the latest developments regarding Voyager, Series 5, and the rather nasty politics going on inside the Paramount Lot. All of these findings have been confirmed by multiple sources, some of them quite highly placed. I'm sorry I can't reveal my identity, but doing so would unfortunately put my sources at risk.

First, a little background. As you probably know, the Trek franchise has been hurting for some time. Deep Space Nine ended its financially successful seven year run in June, the struggling Voyager's ratings continues to sink in the ratings despite being the only Trek series on the air, and the most recent feature film, Insurrection, was neither a commercial success nor a fan favorite.

Meanwhile, the media which once fawned over Trek now rarely covers it except to run stories about the franchise's sad decline. Recent stories in Entertainment Weekly (on how to fix Trek) and Salon magazine (asking who killed the franchise) were supposedly quite galling to the powers that be at Paramount.

And behind the scenes, the Paramount lot was the site of a very nasty battle this summer in which Ron Moore, the popular and acclaimed scribe for Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, was brought over to help the struggling Voyager only to be forced out after a month by his former best friend and writing partner, Brannon Braga. Moore had been promised a role in developing the next Trek series by main honcho Rick Berman, and walked after finding out he'd been frozen out of the development process by Berman and his protege Braga (who's earned the nickname "Mini-Rick" for his slavish devotion to his mentor and boss.)

To plug the hole suddenly created in Voyager's writing and production staff, Braga brought back Ken Biller, a veteran staffer who'd walked at the end of the previous season after complaining that Moore had been promoted over him.

Fast forward to the present. Early this week, two of my sources (neither of which know the other) called to tell me the latest: Rick Berman and Brannon Braga had just pitched Paramount their concept for Series 5, the new, unnamed Trek series set to begin in Fall 2000 or January 2001. The concept was evidentally a Trek prequel set around the time of the Federation's birth. And Paramount turned them down cold.

What's more, another source revealed that this was the SECOND series 5 idea which Paramount turned down. The first, pitched about six weeks ago, was described as "an X-Files meets Star Trek" pastiche, probably involving time travel. So, with two of their series ideas turned down, Paramount honchos beginning to publicly speculate on a change of direction in the franchise, a moribund feature franchise and anemic surviving series, Berman and Braga are beginning to feel quite under siege and insecure in their positions.

And they should. For one, Berman's contract with Paramount is based not on a particular number of years but on the number of ideas he brings them which they use-- no ideas used, no contract. And for his part, Braga's position as show runner for Voyager runs out at the end of this season. As part of his return, Biller negotiated into his contract that he'd become Voyager show runner at the beginning of season seven. So if there's no series 5 for Braga to step over two come this summer, he's out of a job. This might explain recent reports that he's begun to isolate and undermine Biller in the same way he did to Moore before squeezing him out.

So is this the prelude to the venerable 33 year Trek franchise finally winding down, or perhaps a wholesale leadership change by Paramount? It's too early to tell, but the next few months at the Paramount building promise to be verrrry interesting."

Post yer comments, you bastards!:)

Hasta "GET A LIFE!!!",

-El Cosmico

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