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Can Nicholas Meyer Save Star Trek a Second Time? And News Around the Net!

February 29th, 2016
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I was of course excited several months back when news broke that a new Star Trek TV series was in development for CBS All Access.  I have loved many of the big-screen Star Trek adventures, of course, but Star Trek belongs on TV.  Star Trek began as a TV series, of course, and the vast majority on canon Star Trek adventures, hundreds and hundreds of hours, have been on TV.

We still know nothing about what the TV show will be about, what era it will be in, even what timeline in will be in (the “prime” timeline of all the previous TV shows and movies, or JJ Abrams “nuTrek” timeline from the past two movies).  But my excitement raised by many notches when we learned a few weeks ago that Bryan Fuller would be the show-runner of the new show.  This is an amazing choice, probably the best possible choice.  Mr. Fuller has a lot of actual Trek experience.  He was a writer on both Deep Space Nine and Voyager.  In the years since, he has become a phenomenal show-runner, helming a number of critically acclaimed shows such as Dead Like Me and Hannibal.  This makes Mr. Fuller a seemingly perfect combination of someone who has deep Trek love and Trek experience, while also very much being a new, fresh voice at the helm of a Trek show.  I couldn’t be happier.

Or so I thought.  Because then last week the news broke that Nicholas Meyer would be joining the writing team of the new show.  This is unbelievable, jaw-on-the-floor, earth-shattering news.  Mr. Meyer is, in my opinion, the very best writer to have ever worked on Trek in any of it’s many incarnations.  He is responsible for the very best Trek, the Trek that most feels to me like my most beloved incarnation of the series.  Let me explain.  Mr. Meyer wrote and directed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  He wrote most of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  (He wrote everything that takes place in 1986.  Mr. Meyer takes over the story with Spock’s classic line: “judging by the pollution content in the atmosphere, we have arrived in the latter part of the twentieth century.”)  He wrote and directed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Has Trek ever been better than those three films??

Mr. Meyer truly saved Star Trek back in 1982 with The Wrath of Khan.  Remember, Star Trek was cancelled after only three seasons on NBC in 1966-1969.  It was something of a miracle that the series was resurrected in 1979 with Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  But that film didn’t quite get the tone of Star Trek right.  It looked beautiful, but was slow and very talky and didn’t set the world on fire.  It was also massively over-budget.  That might have been the end of Star Trek.  The two men who saved the franchise were the late Harve Bennett, who was brought in as a producer (and who produced Treks II through V — so three amazing films and one dud), and Nicholas Meyer.  Mr. Meyer isn’t credited as the writer of the film, which is a shame since all accounts agree that the film that was produced was completely re-written by Mr. Meyer.  And, of course, he also directed.  Mr. Meyer totally GOT Star Trek.  He understood how to tell a story that was a riveting action-adventure that was also deeply rooted in the characters.  Khan was an enormous hit, a film that is still beloved today.  The success of Khan paved the way for the entire Trek film series that followed it, which of course paved the way for Trek’s return to television in 1987 with The Next Generation, which then led to three additional Trek television series.  None of that would have happened without Nicholas Meyer.

So the idea that, after twenty-five years away, Mr. Meyer is returning to the Trek franchise is extraordinarily exciting.  Does he still have it?  Certainly we have seen many examples of once-great creators losing their mojo and their magic.  Star Trek itself wasn’t able to succeed in the eighties until Gene Roddenberry stepped back, from both the films and from The Next Generation.  Star Wars needed to rid itself of George Lucas, and the recent X-Files revival (about which I will have a LOT to say later this week) demonstrates that Chris Carter doesn’t seem to have the ability to write a decent X-Files episode anymore.  But hope springs eternal.  The idea that Nicholas Meyer — who has not had anything to do with any previous Trek TV show — is involved in the new show is thrilling.

Can he save Star Trek again?  Trek is certainly in need of saving.  J.J. Abrams’ first Trek movie was fun but flawed, and Into Darkness was horrendous (and far from the box-office smash the studio had been hoping for).  Trek hasn’t been truly great on television since the end of Deep Space Nine in 1999, and hasn’t been truly POPULAR on television since the end of The Next Generation in 1994.   It’s way too soon to make any predictions about this new show.  But right now, with Bryan Fuller and Nicholas Meyer on board, I could not be more excited.

So, what else is happening around the interwebs?

Chris Rock had a lot to say about this at The Oscars last night, but a few nights previously John Oliver had already said everything there was to say about Hollywood Whitewashing.  This is a must-watch:

This is a great, nerdy article reminding us that there are in fact THREE notes in John Williams’ classic Jaws theme, not two.  This is important stuff, people!

I loved these two trailers for Daredevil season two:

Interesting how those trailers look like previews of two entirely different shows!  I am curious to see how these two major new story-lines — the Punisher and Elektra — work together in this new season.  I thought season one was spectacular, so obviously I am pumped for season two.

The third (and it looks like final) Wolverine solo film is going to be based on “Old Man Logan”?  If that’s true, that is a genius idea.  Written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Christopher McNiven, “Old Man Logan” was a terrific story of an old Wolverine living in a world in which the supervillains had finally defeated and destroyed all the superheroes.  Logan had survived and sworn off all violence, living in seclusion, but finds that he could only hide away from the world for so long.  This would make an extraordinary movie, if adapted properly.  Crossing my fingers.  (I wish Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film, rather than just borrowing liberally from The Dark Knight Returns, had instead been a direct adaptation of that classic “last Batman story” by Frank Miller.)

Meanwhile, Batman v Superman still hasn’t come out yet in theatres, and the rumor is that the DVD/blu-ray release will see an R-rated extended version of the film.  I’m not someone who flips out in horror at the thought of an R-rated version of a superhero story, but nor do I think that is automatically something great.  I’m very curious to see what Zach Snyder has put together.  (By the way, Devin Faraci from Birth.Movies.Death has a terrific analysis of this story here, in a piece that also provides a wonderful short history of the superhero film.)

New Alien and Predator films are both in the works?  Both have high-pedigree talent attached, with Shane Black writing and directing The Predator, while Ridley Scott is directing Alien: Covenant.  Boy I’d love for these films to both be great.  But it’s been a long, long time since either franchise has been any good.

I’ll leave you all with something wonderfully random: a super-cut of every time that Alec Baldwin’s character says the name “Charles” (Alec Baldwin’s character) in The Edge:

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