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Word broke just this week that genre veteran Bryan Fuller will be helming the new Star Trek television series set to hit the CBS All Access streaming service in 2017. But did you know that in 2004 another well-known sci fi name–Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski–put together his own pitch for a reboot to the franchise that unfortunately never took off?
After seeing the fourth Star Trek spin-off, Enterprise, struggling in the ratings and feeling like the franchise had run out of steam, Straczynski collaborated with Bryce Zabel (Dark Skies, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven) to put together a proposal for a new Trek series. In the proposal, they noted that the franchise had grown stagnate and lost its spirit of adventure:
Over the decades, Star Trek has become so insular, so strictly defined, and placed so many layers upon itself that some of the essence of what made us love it in the first place has been lost. The all-too-reasonable desire to protect the franchise may now be the cause of its stagnation.
Thus, their idea was to go back to the beginning and start all over again. But not by creating an alternate timeline like the recent movie series did, just reimagining the show from the start (sort of like what Battlestar: Galactica did, though not as drastic of a change). They would return to the early days of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (“warrior, the priest, the doctor” as the proposal dubs them) and find out how they got started in their careers in Starfleet, how Kirk became the youngest captain, and how he was awarded the fleet’s flagship.
Straczynski would also take a page from his Babylon 5 book and build in a five year story arc for the series. This of course fits seamlessly seeing as the Enterprise was originally on a five year mission. But he would add a specific purpose to this mission and a reason that the Federation’s flagship was off exploring deep space far from its home base. This involved the discovery of the existence of a lost race that may have had a hand in the origins of many of the intelligent species across the galaxy, including humans, Vulcans, and Klingons. The Enterprise would be secretly tasked with uncovering more information about this lost race which would eventually lead to the entanglement with “forces of darkness who may view our activities with more than a little hostility.”
But like Bablyon 5, this new Trek would have its share of stand-alone episodes as well. And the proposal suggests that–just like the original show–well-known science fiction authors would be brought in to pen these episodes (or adapt their own stories to the new series). In addition, the other familiar characters from the series such as Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov would return, and all of the principal roles would be portrayed by new actors. This plan would allow the reboot to blaze bold new paths and present challenging stories, just like the original did back in the sixties. But it would have broken from the canon established by the shows that preceded it and would no longer have that baggage weighing it down. And the proposal does take a bit of a dig at the TNG through Voyager spin-offs with this comment:
The original Enterprise never needed a holo-deck so that the characters could have exciting adventures because there were more than enough adventures, more than enough excitement, to be found in the real world they occupied every day. If you need a holo-deck to make an interstellar starship on the bleeding edge of the unknown interesting, something is seriously amiss.
This proposal took a similar approach to what J.J. Abrams would do several years later in movie theaters, but it would have returned the series to the small screen in an updated and revised format “re-born and re-tooled for a new millennium, applying hard lessons and building in new thoughts that shake things up creatively.” Unfortunately, nothing ever came of it and we can now only imagine what this series would have been like. Star Trek meets Babylon 5 in a new-meets-old series that brings us “The Best of Both Worlds!” Maybe Mr. Fuller should consider bringing JMS onboard this upcoming series, or would that cause a collective, apocalyptic geek-gasm across the sci fi community? You can read more about the origins of Straczynski’s idea and see the original proposal at this link.
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Did you know that Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski wrote a proposal for a Star Trek reboot years before the J.J. Abrams movies came out? Did you know that Han Solo was originally supposed to be a green-skinned alien and some of the early actors considered for the role included Billy Dee Williams, Al Pacino, and Chevy Chase? How about that FOX originally wanted someone more like Pamela Anderson to play the roll of Scully on The X-Files? Or that in 1974, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke predicted the Internet? Ever hear of Varney the Vampire?
Find out the truths about these and more in Sci Fi Trifles. Trivia, anecdotes, little known nuggets and more that present an addicting glimpse into the story behind the story of sci fi. Once you’ve started reading them you will wonder how you have managed to live so long without knowing them!