CBS is launching a new Star Trek series in 2017, which they promise will be “exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966.”
Let’s face it, many of the worst Star Trek episodes ever were when they took on contemporary social issues. Frank Gorshin made up like a black-and-white cookie to ham-fist the point that “Racism is bad” in the original Star Trek, for example. Or on Star Trek: The Next Generation, when — in a tortured analogy to Global Warming — Star Fleet ordered its starships to slow down because Warp Speed was destroying the universe. By the end of Star Trek: Voyager, things had gotten so silly that we were treated to multiple episodes demanding equal rights for holograms; that’s akin to saying the characters of ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ and ‘The Brady Bunch’ should be treated like real people and given voting rights.
Sometimes, the social justice episodes were so inept, they ended making the opposite of the point they intended. The Next Generation’s single most boringest episode ever, “The Outcast“, was an hour-long lecture on LGBT issues, that, oddly enough, ended with the “homosexual” alien being cured through psychological treatment. A similar misfire was Voyager’s single-payer health care propaganda piece, “Critical Care,” in which a state-run medical system gave the rich and elite top-shelf treatment while letting the poor suffer and die. This was supposed to get us to embrace Hillarycare?
Of course, it’s a new era, now. So, I guess, we can look forward (teeth-gritted, stomach knotted) to new Star Trek episodes taking on contemporary 21st Century social issues (ripped from the headlines, like ‘Law and Order’).
- Tired of being beamed into dangerous situations as decoys for the senior officers, the crew of the Enterprise forms a #RedShirtLivesMatter movement and burns down major parts of the ship in protest.
- The New Transgender Commandant decides to take on the Rape Culture at Star Fleet Academy by having all male cadets implanted with devices in their heads that explode unless they ask for consent every two minutes. Feminists are still not happy.
- A Bajoran refuses to make a Rokeg Blood Pie for use in a Klingon ritual, citing deeply held religious beliefs. His business is confiscated and he is sentenced to re-education treatments to cure his intolerance. Finally, to appease the outraged Klingons, he is eaten alive by Tribbles.
- The Federation enters into a ill-advised Treaty to appease a hostile alien species, conceding them virtually everything they want in order to secure peace. The Treaty ultimately emboldens the enemy leading to the most destructive war in Federation History. Oh, wait, they already did that.
Maybe the New Star Trek series will be okay. If they use the cast from Firefly. And set it in the Firefly universe, and hire the writers from Firefly. And call it ‘Firefly.’