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Star Trek: 5 things we want to see in Alex Kurtzman's new Trek multiverse

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Jun 19, 2018

Earlier on Tuesday, news broke that Star Trek: Discovery creator Alex Kurtzman is developing at least four new Star Trek series for CBS. Unlike more recent franchises, Star Trek already has an "expanded universe," so there's a pretty big sandbox for Kurtzman to play around in. Rumored concepts include a series set at Starfleet Academy (nice!), a series based on Wrath of Khan (because two Khan movies apparently weren't enough), an animated series, and according to THR, a series in which Patrick Stewart resumes the role of Jean-Luc Picard (if it's half as entertaining as his Instagram, it can't lose).

But with a great development deal comes great responsibility: The identity of Star Trek is on the line. Kurtzman must honor the show's past while pushing it further into the future, and while that's no doubt a challenge, it could create terrific opportunities for the franchise to evolve. Here, six things this longtime fan would like to see in the new Star Trek shows.

The actual future. Enough with the prequels already! Star Trek is by definition a show about the future, but the last two TV series, and Abrams' rebooted film franchise, have all not-so-boldly gone into the series' past. Let's see how the crew of the Enterprise NCC-whatever-the-heck-it-is is faring in a post-Sisko, post-Janeway era.

Visits from old friends. You might call it fan service; I call it a Star Trek tradition worth continuing. Just as original series characters guest-starred on TNG, DS9, and Voyager, characters from those series are now perfectly aged for cameos on a new show. Or heck, even lead roles, as in the rumored Captain Picard series. We all want to know what Worf has been up to, right?

Stories that matter right now. Social justice was important to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and over the years the franchise has been able to make some striking political allegories (and some clunky ones, like the racism-metaphor aliens painted like black-and-white cookies in the TOS episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield").

Star Trek has always been in a unique position to explore social and cultural issues — in fact, one of the all-time best episodes of the franchise, TNG's "Darmok," is entirely about the power of metaphor. Sadly, the Abrams films discarded this particular Roddenberry directive. Discovery is a step back in that direction. At a time when the personal is political, this idea should be foundational to any ST series.

Multiple timelines. Time travel has been part of Star Trek since its fourth episode, when Scottie steered the Enterprise backward into a time warp to erase the past three days. Subsequently, some of the best ST episodes and films have explored the idea of alternate realities and timelines. Yet the storytelling has remained linear. Why not apply these quantum-level concepts to an entire show? Maybe we watch the same crew through two simultaneous alternate realities, which result in two very different journeys for each character — like a bigger version of Discovery's Mirror Universe arc. Or characters could be trapped in a wormhole that carries them randomly through space and time. It could be an opportunity to experiment with story structure in a way that's light-years beyond other series.

Explorations of technology. The holodeck, androids, universal translators — these futuristic Star Trek ideas are all becoming a reality, in one way or another. The ST storylines featuring Data probed some deep ideas about the boundaries between humanity and technology. Now that real-life technology has progressed so drastically, these conversations are not just an interesting thought experiment — they're important. More androids and holodecks, please.

An all-female crew. When it comes to gender representation, Star Trek hasn't always aged well. Among its cringe-worthiest elements: the skin-tight uniforms of Troi and Seven of Nine, "pleasure planets," the "ha ha, he tried to rape Yeoman Rand!" version of Kirk, the "ha ha, they're sexist!" Ferengi. Not to mention that on every single Enterprise crew, male characters have outnumbered female characters. So what better way to correct for this than making a show about the women of Starfleet? Maybe even the first all-female crew? (I'd make an exception to the no-prequel thing in this case.) I don't see it happening, but hey, an Annihilation fan can dream.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal. 

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