After the success of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter, crowdfunding is currently the go-to pipe dream for fans hoping to resurrect their favorite cancelled TV shows. Before that, it was “Maybe Netflix could bring it back.” Before that, it was “Maybe [INSERT RANDOM CABLE NETWORK] could bring it back.” As if to remind us all that Kickstarter is not a magical panacea capable of granting new life to everything from Firefly to Welcome Back, Kotter, former Trek writer/producer Brannon Braga has hinted that, if there is any chance of Enterprise rising from the ashes, it rests with Netflix.
The ruddy-hued streaming giant led the pack among non-traditional media companies moving into the world of original content with last year’s Lillyhammer and the recent, extremely high-profile House of Cards. It’s got several other irons in the fire, including Eli Roth’s supernatural thriller series Hemlock Grove, which premieres on April 19th, and — even more importantly — a fourth season of the cancelled 2003 – 2006 sitcom Arrested Development. That latter series set the precedent that many a fanboy has pinned their hopes on, with Netflix rumored as a possible home for series including Jericho and Terra Nova. So could Netflix bring back the last Trek TV spinoff? Braga thinks…maybe. He told TrekCore:
The best possible thing the fans could do is, if they want to see another season of Enterprise, is watch it on Netflix…My neighbor produces Arrested Development, and they’re making a new season of Arrested Development. I recall him telling me that it’s because for that show, they know they’re gonna get… they have data! They know a certain number of people are going to watch that show. I’ve heard rumors in town that the CBS show Jericho might get another season, because the numbers on Netflix are big! Watch Enterprise!
So back to that hypothetical question. Could Netflix resurrect Enterprise? It’s possible. Should it? No.
Love it or hate it, Enterprise ended for a reason. While it still has fans, by the end of the show’s fourth season the problems with televised Trek had become glaringly obvious. With the notable exception of Deep Space Nine, Trek had settled into a deep and long-lasting rut. With an enormous franchise to keep chugging along, the Trek shows stopped taking chances. Another spinoff, another starship boldly going, yet another calculatedly diverse cast seeking out new yadda yadda yadda. While Deep Space Nine was bold enough to try to explore different facets of the Trek universe, Voyager and Enterprise, for the most part, returned to business as usual.
Don’t misunderstand me: I’d love to see a new Star Trek series back on the airwaves (or Netflix, or the internet, or whatever). But nothing could interest me less than bringing back one of the previously cancelled series. For good or ill, they’ve come and gone and their time is past. If Trek is going to warp back onto the small screen, it needs to be something daring, something new, something to get Trekkers passionate and excited again, and hopefully bring in some of those eyeballs who only took notice of Trek because of Abrams’ rebooted feature film.
That also brings up another point. Like it or not, Abrams’ big-screen take on Star Trek is what’s currently carrying the franchise’s banner, and will likely continue to do so unless Into Darkness defies all expectations and becomes a box-office bust. That being the case, it seems extremely unlikely that Paramount is going to set Trek’s inevitable return to TV in the original timeline. The whole purpose of the reboot was to reinvigorate and renew interest in the decades-old franchise, and while there are plenty of Trek fans who fume at the mere mention of Abrams’ name, the film made nearly $400 million worldwide. Paramount is going to keep chasing that money.
But a Trek series set in the new timeline doesn’t necessarily have to be the “Abrams style” of Trek that some devout Trekkers despise. The one biggest positive thing the rebooted timeline brings is the chance to make Trek unpredictable again. There’s no longer five decades of Trek canon standing between the franchise and newer fans lured in by the recent films. One of the things I liked the most about Abrams’ admittedly troubled film was the destruction of Vulcan, simply because it demonstrated the potential of the new timeline to drag Trek out of that rut it had been lodged in for years.
Imagine a new Trek series in the hands of an experienced genre veteran like Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore or Farscape’s Rockne O’Bannon or Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski. Imagine a series that returns to the model of the original series, enlisting the talents of some of science fiction’s biggest modern talents, the equivalent of the classic series’ usage of folks like Harlan Ellison, D.C. Fontana, Robert Bloch, and Theodore Sturgeon. Imagine a new Trek series that could use the launching pad of the movies to run with what works and fix what doesn’t, a show that could make Trek truly exciting again, and return the intelligence, heart, and sense of wonder the franchise lost sight of somewhere along the way.
It’s a given that Trek will return to TV at some point. When that time comes, does it make more sense to take a risk on an ambitious new Trek series, or to grant another season to a cancelled series that represents the sputtering out of the long-running franchise?
I think we all know which one is more logical.