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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Star Trek: a Worf TV Show? (Some Thoughts)

A few weeks ago, the Huffington Post released an interview with Wil Wheaton and Michael Dorn, who played Wesley Crusher and Worf (respectively) on Star Trek:  the Next Generation.  I recommend reading the whole thing, but for now, I'm only concerned with one quote from Dorn:
Business things got in the way in terms of the JJ Abrams movie coming out and CBS/Paramount and their relationship with JJ Abrams. I don't think they wanted to step on his toes by putting a new series on, but it's not dead yet. I've finished the script and hopefully someone will take a look at this and say "we can do this."
Basically, we're not that far off from seeing a Captain Worf TV show.  Let me say that again:  a Captain Worf TV show.  By "not far off," of course, I don't mean "next year."  This is Hollywood, after all, and even getting into talks with the studios still means you're about as far from production as we are from going to Mars.  Still, in production terms, that's a lot closer than "I've got the rights" or "I wrote something" or "someone answered my phone call."  In other words, yeah, we're really not that far off from a possible show.

The big questions are these:

How exactly are they going to fit this show into the universe everyone now knows (Abrams')?  And if they're not going to integrate Worf into this new universe, how can they justify the character to a new viewing public?
First, there are big problems with sticking Worf into the Abrams universe.  Even taking into account the ridiculous time travel changes that have occurred, the character of Worf doesn't appear until well after the events of the first two ST films.  He's from an entirely different era, and his character is so defined by that era that to try to artificially shove him 100 years forward would entail an entirely different set of political conditions, most notably the fact that the Federation and the Klingons haven't even begun their war in the Abrams universe.  Star Trek Into Darkness takes place in 2259 -- eight years before the Federation-Klingon war took place in the original universe.  And the film makes clear that war is pretty much inevitable, as it was in the original universe.  Since Worf's character is partly defined by the post-war period, after which the Klingons eventually sue for piece (as in The Undiscovered Country), it doesn't make much sense to shove him into the immediate universe of the Abrams film.  That said, I wouldn't be surprised if they did just that, since this film series seems incapable of inventing new characters; instead, they borrow liberally from everything that came before.

One of the other problems has to do with which ST TV shows people are most likely to remember.  The Abrams ST films are probably more popular with casual or non-Trek viewers than with the traditional Trekkie crowd.  As such, its primary audience likely knows about TOS, TNG, DS9, and Voyager, but their most recent ST experience would have been with Enterprise.  The good news:  STE doesn't violate Abrams' new canon, since its events, more or less, take place before Kirk's birth (in fairness, I haven't finished STE yet, so there may be stuff in there that contradicts this).  You could easily suck STE into Abrams' canon without much problems, which is not something you can easily do with a Worf TV show which springs off of TNG and DS9 (as the title, Captain Worf, suggests).
A show set in the Next Gen universe will also have a hard time competing with the film universe precisely because its characters aren't the dominant representation of ST anymore.  They may be some of the most recognizable non-TOS characters in the ST canon, but the universe we're playing in now would, by its very nature, have to diverge significantly from the world we learned about in TNG.  After all, the Vulcans aren't really there to help out anymore.  They're a decimated species who might, in 100 years, get some semblance of interstellar control back, but they're basically out for the count right now.  And that means Abrams has to take into account that the Klingons will likely have more of an influence on the Federation than they would have had before -- they're minus one formidable opponent.

Right.  Wandering.  This is the problem.  The Abrams universe has become, in my mind, *the* ST universe.  It's the one we're all really talking about as a culture.  As much as I want a Captain Worf show set in the TNG universe, I worry that it will only confuse new fans of ST.  After all, part of the reason the new ST movies are so action oriented is to snatch up younger viewers.  It's not designed for Trekkies, as much as they might hate the idea.  And the worst thing you can do to a newer, younger (and, hey, possibly older-but-never-been-into-ST-before) crowd is confuse them with ST stuff that doesn't fit.  Well, maybe not the worst thing, but it's a legitimate concern.
But who am I to say it won't work?  I'll watch the show regardless, as will most Trek fans.  Worf is a beloved character, and watching him grow as a formidable captain would be pretty awesome.

Bogh tlhInganpu', SuvwI'pu' moj, Hegh!

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  1. Anonymous2:06 PM

    I don't think that a tv series that featured Worf as captain is in conflict with JJ Abrams reboot of the Star Trek franchise. In fact there are three characters from the original time line that can appear in the new time line without any conflict. One is Guinian. She was in Times Arrow, establishing her as being on Earth well before the time line changed in JJ Abrams reboot. The second is Wesley Crusher. By the end of TNG, he began his training as a traveler. He can now travel not only through time, but into other dimensions, and other realities. The third character of course is Q, who can appear anywhere with the snap of his fingers. Times Arrow, the two part episode of TNG in its fifth season cliffhanger brought much of the crew back in time before the time line changed in the reboot.

    1. I don't think constantly using time travel is a good idea. One of my problems with the Abrams universe is its incessant need to be incestuous with the original canon. Using time travel an excuse to include past characters who otherwise shouldn't be there because they haven't been born yet just seems like cheating to me.

      But even so, we're talking about all these other TNG characters, some of whom have been around a long time. Worf hasn't. He wasn't born until nearly a hundred after the original series (i.e., the same timeline Abrams has fiddled with). So trying to fit him into this universe would be too much of a cheat, too. This universe isn't the same one that we're used trying to include all these other characters in that universe just seems like more incestuousness and lazy thinking. Abrams would be better off creating new characters.

      And, as I noted above, it depends which Worf we get. If it's TNG Worf, then he *is* in conflict with the Abrams universe.

    2. If they aren't giving us TNG Worf, its not really Worf. Worf is too young to be contemporary with Kirk and Spock (although his *father* is, if you remember Star Trek VI). I can't see them doing a TNG serie, that universe is gone gone gone.

      The ship has sailed.

    3. Which raises the question: if the studios are interested in this show, how are they going to make it work?

    4. I don't actually think any studios ARE interested in this show. The quote that you quote here basically states that no one has yet looked at the script and said "We can do this". Which means no one in specific is yet interested. The "it's not dead yet" part only means they haven't exhausted their options/people to take it to.

    5. Alright, Mr., just you stop trying to ruin the fun for everyone else :P