Thursday, December 12, 2013

#650. Next Generation Rewind: 7 points to keep in mind for an Abrams style movie reboot

I personally love the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot.  I never thought that I'd love any reboot.  I dreaded the idea.  But the two Abrams films, I love them, I really do.  Half the reason is because they figured out how to make character-driven material out of characters who had previously only been able to manage that, basically, when Spock died.  And, again, that's with characters who previously had not had a lot of definition to them.

The major difference between the original Star Trek and everything that came after it is that the later crews were all stooped heavily in background material, starting with The Next Generation, even if a few of the biographies were taken from past Gene Roddenberry projects.  Besides the material that came prepackaged, the second Star Trek crew was also the first to have adventures that actively added to their stories.

Assuming this is ever attempted, and if any Star Trek after the original ever gets this treatment this crew's the most obvious beneficiary, these are the points that would help make a truly stellar movie (series):


  • Jean-Luc Picard - It can sometimes be forgotten, because after the first season it was not really considered relevant anymore, but Picard had a command before the Enterprise-D.  It was called the Stargazer and he famously lost the ship in the first recognized encounter with the Ferengi.  Not only that, but there was also a whole family of Crushers involved, including one we never met (but more on that later).  The younger Picard was constantly pictured as more rebellious than the stolid man we would come to love.  That journey alone could carry a whole film.  But you could also center the story on the most famous incident of his career, being assimilated by the Borg, which was something First Contact revisited because it was immediately considered the hallmark of the series.  You can't go wrong here.
  • The Crushers - Beverly and Jack Crusher were lovers in a career that doesn't often see that done successfully.  Jack died tragically in an away mission under Picard's command, and there was always the suspicion that Jean-Luc had always harbored a crush on Beverly, a potential romance that left its mark throughout the series.  Toss in Wesley the boy wonder, and his whole Traveler saga, and you have a completely different and equally full-bodied story to center a reboot on, in a place fans don't often look.
  • Tasha Yar - I'll bet part of the reason Denise Crosby vacated the spacedock so quickly was that she was as aware as anyone could be that Yar had one of the most interesting backstories of the whole series, growing up on a ruthless colony world she barely escaped, which was barely acknowledged while Yar herself was in the series.  Her sister shows up later and has the episode that could have been done much better with Yar herself involved.  Keep the character in perspective and you have a far bigger winner than fans ever realized.
  • Data - From his creation to the shenanigans of his "brother" Lore concerning the Crystalline Entity to joining Starfleet to the fight for his very existence, Data is ripe for storytelling potential, a point the series always liked to keep in mind.  So there's plenty there to exploit in a reboot as well.
  • Worf - Like Data and Yar and Picard and the Crushers, Worf has a tragic origin story (I literally just realized all the tragedies in this story!), his Klingon parents murdered and later framed for treachery, raised by humans who did the best they could but were never, well, Klingons, and being the only Klingon in Starfleet not so long after Klingons were the blood enemies of the Federation.  So, reboot material in spades.
  • Riker/Troi/La Forge - This is a whole generation in itself.  There's the Riker/Troi romance, always ripe for exploiting, and the fact that La Forge was more or less originally Riker's best friend.  Clearly that relationship would put both their careers in better perspective.  You may notice that La Forge doesn't actually have his own story, because for all intents and purposes his artificial vision was his tragedy.  I'd keep the visor in the reboot.  Distinctive images are always handy, especially when they already exist.  Plus his learning to become a master engineer is distinct from Scotty's version in either guise, and the later bond with Data is another thing that could use better defining.
  • Q/Guinan - Whether together or apart, they're essential to the Next Generation story, one as Picard's opposite number and the other his guiding light (a truly interesting reboot might not even make it clear which is which!).
The challenge would be adequately representing all of them.  But then you might not have as many people wondering if this is really Star Trek.  Because it's all there already, and all of their journeys reflect the central message of the franchise, the trickiness of the human condition and the challenges of the unknown.  Maybe center it around Q once again, but this time maybe avoid the whole Farpoint business...

13 comments:

DAVID WALSTON said...

The Next Generation was my favorite. That would be quite interesting to see!

Maurice Mitchell said...

There's a lot they can take from TNG, and with the new timeline some things could happen sooner with others! (Cough Cough...the Borg)

Pat Dilloway said...

I doubt they'll use much of TNG. It's not as much a part of the public consciousness and since the reboot is courting the PG-13 crowd most people probably wouldn't make much of a connection.

Remembering Grace said...

OMG the world just opened up... the mysterious Guinan/Picard thing! A real LaForge story...we know his parents were Starfleet and he grew up on starships, and he was born blind. That's all. I would love to see something more!
The Tasha thing, awesome! And more Worf is always a good idea!
I could care less about the Crushers, though...
I think the best idea, though, is Picard. He wears his authority like a cloak, so that in a room full of people, all dressed alike, there is still no doubt that he is the Captain. How did he get here? That's what I want to see...

Tony Laplume said...

David, it stars a British dude. Of course it's your favorite!

Maurice, don't make the Borg appear sooner!

Pat, TNG was probably Star Trek at its most popular. Unfortunately it also helped lead the sinking ship downward. But that doesn't make it also true that people don't still generally fondly remember these characters.

Grace, give the Crushers some credit! Maybe with some different actors and/or presentation, they could grow on you! And to make things even weird, how about Wil Wheaton cast as Jack Crusher?!?

Rusty Carl said...

TNG was my first love, but I doubt any but two or three characters would get any real focus in an Abrams style reboot. Probably Picard and Data, who I think were far and away the most popular characters on the show when it aired.

I suppose Worf was third by the end.

But LaForge's tragedy for me was his desperate need to find someone to love. It bordered on the pathetic on the show, I thought. But I suppose the goal was to make me like him, and it did. That episode with him and Ensign Ro getting trapped in that moment of time when she thought they were dead... one of my favorites.

I'd be thrilled to see a reboot. I'm totally cool with throwing out established canon and starting over, mixing things up, whatever. I'll still have my TNG episodes, I'm ready for something different, but still familiar enough that I can fall in love with it all over again.

Tony Laplume said...

Rusty, that's a good point, and a counterpoint to La Forge's connection with Riker. La Forge and Ro was memorable, but the Leah Brahms relationship was better. That's his tragedy!

I agree that if it can down to it, the movie would have to center around Picard and Data, as the original movies did, but finally throwing Worf into the mix would be great. The rest of them could fight it out, the way Abrams does it with the rest of the cast in the new movies as it is.

Pat Dilloway said...

In reply to your reply, TNG ended its run almost 20 years ago. The only way younger people would remember it is from that "Family Guy" episode where Stewie abducts the cast. I can't see where they'd do more than include a winking reference here or there to TNG or other series.

The Armchair Squid said...

TNG really is the stronger series, isn't it? Just as with the originals, the actors deserve a lot of credit for the development of their characters and a reboot would undoubtedly involve recasting at this point. Patrick Stewart is one of a kind, of course, but it's just as difficult to imagine anyone other than Michael Dorn as Worf (my favorite, for the record), for instance.

Tony Laplume said...

There hadn't been a new original series crew movie in twenty years until the Abrams reboot. Anyway...

Tony Laplume said...

Any new actors for the TNG set would probably have to create their own legacies. You can't really duplicate Michael Dorn or Brent Spiner, and even Tom Hardy could do Patrick Stewart. That's another way TNG is markedly different from the original series. Although the tunic tug would most certainly have to stay...

The Armchair Squid said...

As you point out, character development is much stronger in TNG. It could be fun to watch new actors dig into the roles.

Tony Laplume said...

Perhaps this is heresy, but perhaps the French Picard could actually be played by...a Frenchman?

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