With Star Trek Into Darkness hitting DVD this month and a third film in the rebooted series roughly slated for 2016, it's pretty safe to say the Star Trek movie franchise is in the best shape it's been in years, possibly all the way back to the days of The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home. Prior to these recent J.J. Abrams movies, there were never even two great Star Trek movies released back-to-back, and Paramount is obviously thrilled by the box office results.
But the success has come at a cost. The new movies completely destroyed any chance of more Star Trek: The Next Generation films. Granted, they have only themselves to blame after releasing the horrid Insurrection in 1998 and the even more horrid Nemesis in 2002. Those two bombs ensured that Star Trek was out of the multiplex for seven years, and J.J. Abrams was forced to reboot the entire Star Trek universe in order to get things flowing again.
Unfortunately, no Abrams-like figure came around to save the Star Trek TV franchise. It's been off the air ever since Star Trek: Enterprise got yanked in May of 2005 after just four seasons. Audiences never warmed to Scott Bakula's Captain Archer, and the idea of a show taking place 100 years before the original Star Trek was better in theory than actual practice.
In the last eight years there hasn't even been any serious attempts to put Star Trek back on the air, and everyone seems entirely focused on the movies. This is a horrible mistake. At its core, Star Trek is a television series. There are countless of hours of amazing Star Trek TV episodes, and only six or seven great movies. (We're on the fence about The Search for Spock.) Gene Roddenberry created a vast universe, and a movie every three or four years just isn't cutting it for the fans, especially since those movies essentially take place in an alternate universe.
With all this in mind, we have a modest proposal: bring Star Trek: The Next Generation back to television. That might sound crazy, but in the past few years everything from Beavis and Butt-Head to Dallas have come back from the dead. Why not Star Trek: The Next Generation? The show clearly left a much bigger mark than Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and it's hard to imagine it wouldn't generate huge ratings from the get-go. What's the downside?
We're not saying this would be an easy feat to pull off. Patrick Stewart will almost certainly refuse to come back as Captain Picard, but this shouldn't stop anything. It makes sense that Picard would be an admiral by now. It's time for Riker to become captain of the Enterprise. Stewart can hopefully visit once or twice a season, like how Barney Fife stopped by Mayberry once a year after Don Knotts quit The Andy Griffith Show to conquer Hollywood.
The rest of the cast will likely return. Not to knock Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes, but they aren't exactly on top of the Hollywood chain at the moment. It's very tough to move on from iconic roles on Star Trek, so why not just embrace that and get back into character? Hell, we can even bring back Wesley Crusher. (Some might want a new captain, but it would make little sense for Riker to be a number two these days.)
The situation with Brent Spiner and Data does present a bit of a problem, though. Most fans have blocked Star Trek: Nemesis completely out of their minds, but Data actually died at the end of that movie. He did transfer all his memories into his long-lost brother B-4, though, so that isn't much of an issue. The bigger problem is that Data is an ageless android and Brent Spiner is an aging human being. The actor has said many times he was uncomfortable with the idea of portraying Data when he was older, and even by the latter TNG movies he clearly looked a bit, um, heftier than he did on the series.
There can't be a Star Trek: The Next Generation without Data, though, so they simply have to come up with some sort of explanation for his appearance. Maybe, as part of his endless quest to become more human, Data creates an aging chip. They could explain that in about one minute of dialogue and the problem is solved. If they want to bring back the actual Data as opposed to B-4, they just have to travel back in time and save him. Anything's possible when you open the door to time travel.
What could they call this Picard-free show? Star Trek: The Next Generation sounds a little silly considering we've already met generations after this one. Star Trek: Generation Next sounds like a Pepsi slogan. This one has us honestly stumped, but we're sure there's an answer.
Guys, the ball is in your court. Start working the phones.