Thursday, December 29, 2005
You only miss something when it's gone
Some survey somewhere (let's face it, there are thousands of these things happening at any given moment) has determined that British television watchers rate Star Trek as the series they most miss on television. Poppycock! If they missed Star Trek so much, wouldn't the retro series Enterprise have done better? Of all the recent Trek incarnations, it was the only one to get cancelled after year seasons, instead of earning itself the previously obligatory seven-season run. Me, I never watched Enterprise but then I lost the knack of watching Trek during DS9 and Voyager. They were entertaining enough if I stumbled across them, but the basic premise of those series never gripped me enough to make me watch every week.
There's a delicious irony in the fact that shortest-lived of all the Trek TV series (excluding the animated run - hell, have you ever watched any of that? Me neither) was the 1960s original version a.k.a. Star Trek The Original Series. Or Star Trek: TOS, if you prefer unfortunate acronyms. That almost got canned after two years but an early example of fan power got it renewed for a third season. No such luck for Enterprise, but I think people were simply weary of the formula by that point. You need only look at the problems Doctor Who faced at the back end of the 1980s to see a similar problem. The BBC was making the show and couldn't seem to care less. That's not to say the programme makers themselves weren't passionate about the show - but the suits upstairs had Who marked for death.
Now Who proves there is a way back for Trek, given enough time for the soil to lay fallow and fresh creative energies to be found. Of course, the success of the 2005 Who revival has to be balanced against the misfire of the 1996 Who revival when Paul McGann became the 8th Doctor. Get your resurrection wrong and it's back on the scrapheap for you. But good ideas are still good ideas, as long as you've got somebody with the talent, passion and revision to breath new life into them.
I'm waiting for the Inspector Morse spin-off Lewis with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. It'd if the new story proved a success, establishing a new franchise from the ashes of the old. I'd love to see something on British TV with the quality of writing, acting and directing that Morse had. But is Lewis the solution? I guess we'll find out next month. According to the les than totally reliable website Wikipedia, Lewis: Reputation is due to be screened on January 15, 2006. Watch this space...