The Best Star Trek Shows in the Last 25 Years Have Been Non-Star Trek
In the world of nerd-dom, I’m a Star Wars guy. But Star Trek was the first nerdy sci-fi thing that I ever loved and it will always have a place in my geeky heart. I haven’t been impressed by the recent Star Trek offerings. In fact, I was and still am OFFENDED by the treatment of the beloved franchise at the hands of J.J. Abrams and company. Abrams reset the entire franchise by creating an “alternate timeline” of events. Essentially, he obliterated 50 years of canon, lore and character relationships just so he could create the Star Trek universe to his liking. I don’t even think the movies (at least the first one) are terrible and I thinking the casting is superb. But this whole scorched-earth retconning has been, IMO, a slap in the face to the fans. I agree that the Trek canon had become bloated and confusing but the whole “push-a-button-and-it-all-disappears” approach was not to my liking.
Interestingly, there have been a few Trek (inspired) projects over the last quarter century that outshine the official Trek stuff.
I’m not even talking about Star Trek: Discovery or Picard (both of which, I assume, are still set in the Abrams timeline? At this point who even knows?)
Here are my 3 favorite Star Trek things of the last 25 years, none of which are officially Star Trek. What they all have in common is a deep respect and love for the franchise as opposed to the Abrams/Kelvin/retconned Trek stuff.
1.) GALAXY QUEST
This 1999 movie starring Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver is a loving homage to the original Star Trek AND Star Trek: Next Generation. It focuses on the washed-up actors of a beloved sci-fi series who are suddenly thrust from the world of conventions and mall grand openings into inter-galactic war.
One of the reviewers back in ’99 said that the only way this could have been BETTER is if they’d gotten the actual surviving members of the cast to reprise their roles.
2.) THE ORVILLE
This Seth McFarlane homage has had two seasons so far and I’m hoping for at least 5 more. It is clear that McFarlane has a lot of love for the original series. It keeps to that respectful nostalgia while poking fun in a respectful and genuinely entertaining way. J.J. Abrams should watch The Orville to see how you freshen up a franchise without totally pushing reset and slapping your core fans in the face.
3.) BLACK MIRROR’S USS CALLISTER
We’re talking Black Mirror here so it probably goes without saying that this Star Trek tribute episode is creepy, philosophical and rife with disturbing implications of the misuse of technology. I don’t want to say too much because the terror you feel when you finally realize what’s going on with this USS Enterprise stand-in deserves not to be spoiled. Suffice to say that Jesse Plemons (aka: Creepy Matt Damon) doing his creepy-ass William Shatner riff is way more memorable than any official Trek Movie since they rescued whales from Earth.