Before JJ Abrams Star Trek’s Prequel Was About Kirk’s Ancestor In An Earth-Romulan War

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TrekLogoOnly a few years ago, Star Trek was in bad shape. Nemesis had been a box office disappointment, bringing in only $67 million worldwide, against a production budget of $60 million. And with the cancellation of Enterprise, for the first time since 1987, there was no new Trek series on the air. Needless to say, it was time to try something different. We all know that this road eventually led to J.J. Abrams’ “alternate timeline” reboot films which have, in spite of a lot of vitriol from long-time fans, still mostly been a critical and financial success for Paramount. But speaking of alternate timelines, there are many different paths the franchise could have taken before Abrams landed the gig. One of those paths was Star Trek: The Beginning, the first of a proposed trilogy of films which would have been set between Enterprise and The Original Series and would have explored the war between humans and Romulans.

We recently found a copy of the Beginning script caught in the pattern buffer of our transporter and were able to give it a read. Sit back, get comfortable, and let GFR be your guide through a Trek that could have been…

KirkIt’s set in 2159 and involves mostly new characters, including an ancestor of Kirk.
The main protagonist of STTB is Tiberius Chase, a top-gun starfighter pilot in the United Earth Stellar Navy. This is the early days of the so-called Coalition of Planets, and the Earth military has yet to merge with Starfleet, which is still strictly an exploratory organization at this point. While most of the cast is brand-new characters, there are appearances from a couple of familiar faces, including the Andorian Commander Shran (played by Jeffrey Combs in Enterprise), and Vulcan Ambassador Skon, who is the father of Sarek (who is, of course, the father of Spock). Enterprise‘s Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) is referenced but not seen: once hostilities break out with the Romulans, it’s mentioned that the Enterprise is visiting Risa and too far away to be of any help.

The script opens with Chase competing in a sailboat race against several other UESN cadets, and we see Chase demonstrate both the leadership and the cunning refusal to lose that we know so well from one James Tiberius Kirk. Unfortunately, while Tiberius is a brilliant pilot, he’s being held back by his family: he grew up among some hardcore Earth-first xenophobes, and the brass of UESN don’t trust him or intend to let him forget it. We meet several of Chase’s friends and peers over the course of script, but Chase is by far the major player, and it’s his actions — and his disregard for the chain of command — that eventually turns the tide in the brewing war between Earth and the attacking Romulans. The script also has Chase romancing Penelope Gardner, the daughter of Chase’s commanding officer, and she is described as a “school teacher from Iowa.” You might recall Iowa as the home state of James Kirk…

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  1. PoppaAl says:

    Thank heaven that never happened!

  2. Tim OBrien says:

    Sounds terrible. Article shows that J.J. and the recent Paramount institution just do not understand the source material and have no business being anywhere near it.

  3. jodeo says:

    Time for a Star Trek reality show. Wayyyy overdue. Followed by Star Trek’s Got Talent and Trek Dynasty.

  4. Chris Adams says:

    The screenwriter seems to have forgotten that the connection between the Romulans and the Vulcans was not widely-known at the time of the Earth-Romulus war – in “Balance of Terror”, the crew of the Enterprise sees a Romulan for the first time (played by the same actor who played Sarek) and are shocked to see that he resembles Spock. Spock then has to explain the deal, and face the prejudice of a dude on board whose family died in the war.

  5. MrSatyre says:

    Why does Hollywood always try to make everything and everyone connected? Here we see an ancestor of Kirk. Why? Because they believe Star Trek fans are incapable of getting involved in a story that DOESN’T include names and faces they are familiar with? Shows just how incredibly narrow-minded and prejudiced they are against the very people who they depend on. Still, when there are 7 Fast & Furious movies and four Transformers movies, I guess the movie-going public IS pretty stupid after all. 😉

    • jimpeachey says:

      That’s very true, even the JJ franchise, which i really do not like, has to to keep referencing original names and themes to keep it going! Why did we need a Khan reference at all as there are plenty of other themes that could have been used.

  6. Jake says:

    This idea could have been awesome. And if they were smart they could have said that Enterprise was set in an alternate timeline and this movie was set in that timeline, thus meaning the only canon they had to follow was Enterprise. They could have done it nicely, if they wanted to capitalize on the name Kirk, they simply had to say ok its not Tiberius chase, its Tiberius Kirk. The Spatan could have been the ring ship enterprise. And none of us trekkies who despise the JJ films would be pissed off

  7. Justin says:

    Eight movies and thirty years between appearances of the most popular antagonist of the franchise isn’t long enough? I respectfully disagree. Kahn belongs in every second film of any Star Trek franchise. He should have been leading the Borg in First Contact. Just imagine Montabáln seducing Data.

  8. Pani B says:

    If you ask me I’d say this could work but not as a prequel but as a continuation of the current timeline. It is quite fitting with the first one, though a few tweeks need to be made obviously. Tiberius would just have been another run of the mill Kirk so why not just use Kirk? Fanboys are never happy but always part with their cash regardless so they’re already on board. An all out Space War epic with Trek is defo a route worth taking!

  9. similarly says:

    Here’s an idea: instead of going BACKWARD, why not go FORWARD? Show us the next-next Generation. Show us Starfleet another 50 years in the future. Predict new technologies and new ships and new ideas. Maybe the reason Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise each had a smaller audience and shorter run is that we didn’t see that much that was NEW! Maybe STOP with the prequels and reboots and go FORWARD, not back.

    • lightalpha says:

      Deep Space Nine introduced a whole lot of new shit, it actually took Star Trek as far as it could go, hence reboots and prequels.

      • similarly says:

        Actually, to be honest, I LIKED DS9, and I even liked the CONCEPT of Voyager, even if I wasn’t so drawn to how it actually played out. I even really enjoyed Enterprise, even if it had problems.

        However, I still think they could show a NEW Starship Enterprise that could be as different from Enterprise D and E as D was from Enterprise A.

        Voyager did that a little bit with The Doctor. I think it was a brilliant character and concept, brilliantly played by Robert Picardo.

        • JR says:

          I like the idea of a new Star Trek series set some decades after TNG/DS9/VOY, with a new Enterprise crew. We saw a leap in AI technology in VOY with holograms becoming sentient, and I believe in TNG there was an episode where the ship itself was becoming sentient. I think this would be the leap forward – a sentient Enterprise as part of the new crew. The sentient Enterprise would be the Data/Spock/Doctor-type character.

          • JR says:

            I forgot to mention Vic, the hologram singer in DS9 – he became sentient too! It seems like a natural progression that eventually Starfleet would have sentient ships.

          • Irish Sweetness says:

            Ships with a mind of their own? Not very military.

          • nm_guest says:

            That angle was explored in the very different series with Hercules star Kevin Sorbo (sp?)and ROM-ie in Andromeda: big ship with small crew, post Galactic-war.

          • cynic44 says:

            Which was based on material by Gene Roddenberr.

    • ProfZed says:

      Yes, forward! The Enterprise-H and her crew. And let the characters grow. Let “Picard” and “Dr. Crusher” get together and see where it goes over episodes. Let major characters die – have “Picard” stay a Borg! I’m using these names as examples. I really mean the new Captain, the new Doctor, the new characters. If the ship gets into trouble and has to adapt Borg-technology in one episode (like what happened in Voyager), then that Borg technology stays forever on the ship (unlike what happened in Voyager.) Trek can do what shows like “Dexter” and “Fargo” did/do. Bring the Trek production and Trek mindset into the 21st century of television. Oh, and leave JJ’s version/events on the big screen. Real Trek – telling real stories – belongs on television.

  10. BoruBrian says:

    In the end, I think they chose wisely, even though digging up Kahn again was disappointing. New timelines should yield new bad guys. Casting has been spot on.

    But, Star Wars is “…high octane action…:? Really…and I can understand with that dialogue. Lucas can create a CGI world like no other, but his writing was subpar it was a distraction to the CGI..

    I wish someone would have talked him out of Hayden C to play one of the most pivotal characters in Sci Fi.

    I can still recall that terrible exchange in 6 (film #) about why the Sith Lord was taking over. It was brutal and distracted me from the rest of the movie.

  11. hornacek says:

    A big problem with this script is that TOS established that humans had no idea what Romulans looked like – Kirk and his crew were shocked when they first saw a Romulan and realized they looked like Vulcans. So in this movie, you would have a battle between Earth and Romulus where the two sides would never get to interact in person (unless any human that met a Romulan was immediately killed before he could tell the rest of Earth what they looked like).

    This worked for a single episode of Enterprise where they encountered Romulans without actually seeing what they looked like, but for a movie (and a trilogy no less), this would have sucked out a lot of drama and tension.

  12. Johnny Bloomington says:

    That would have sucked! I liked the first reboot but Darkness sucked so bad! From the beginning you had the Enterprise coming out of the water….wtf

  13. JR says:

    Fascinating. The reboot was probably the most profitable option because, as you said, everyone knows Kirk, Spock, and Bones. However, that brings to mind one of the reasons the reboot movies don’t have the same charm as TOS – McCoy has essentially been booted from the trinity and replaced with Uhura. Somehow, a lover’s quarrel between Spock and Uhura is not nearly as interesting as the sarcastic (and philosophically interesting) banter between Bones and Spock in TOS.

  14. oldman says:

    Ever watch an old war movie, we all now the outcome but!

  15. honestann says:

    These analyses are silly. Why? Because there is absolutely NO reason that new StarTrek movies OR TV-series need to be prequels. The fact is, the smart move at this point is to develop movies or series set about 30 years after STNG and DS9. This takes advantage of the same perfect dynamic as the next three StarWars movies… you have older versions of familiar characters from earlier movies/series (Picard, Jordy, Data, OBrien, Worf, etc), played by the same actors as before… PLUS plenty of new young characters created to play out over the next 30 years.

    The JJA reboot was a travesty, and a slap in the face to all past fans of the franchise. The fact is… the entire notion of “reboot” is STUPID… unless the creators and writers have some very specific reason.

  16. Jim says:

    I hope we get some real Star trek on tv. I dont like the JJ verse. When i watch the movies i think, whats happening in the real universe lol? JJ had the right idea with the action. I always wanted more action in star trek which is why i liked DS9 so much. But JJ changed stuff for no reason. Enterprise looks weird and insides are all messed up.

    And please lets stay away from the past. Whats going on post picard? Even if they did a show 200 years in the future, they still can get Data, Sisko, Guinen, Q and even Wesley to make a cameo. Who knows maybe even Dr Bashir since he is Genetically engineered. Im just sayin.

  17. James Hoge says:

    Dear CBS,
    PLEASE begin production on “Star Trek : Federation,” a new anthology series based in the world of Gene Rodenberry’s “Star Trek.”
    Shows could include a three episode story arc featuring Captain Sulu and the Excelsior crew, a two episode story arc about Captain Riker on the Titan, a single episode about Jake Cisco dealing with the loss of his father, etc… etc…
    Please and thank you,

  18. bradley says:

    Acually the could adapt this and use references from the latter(after enterprise books) to fix the whole not seeing romulans they did an excellent version in.those books plus gixed the whole trip.dieing aand.made him a section 31’operative spying on the romulans thats why h had to.fake his death to go undercover(always hated they killed him off and.this was a better reason)