An Argument Against The Prime Universe

By Ensign Cody L. Martin

By now most Trek fans have heard the news that a new series is in the works. That news alone got us excited. Then the showrunners were announced: Bryan Fuller, Rod Roddenberry, Alex Kurtzman, and Nicholas Meyers. All names familiar to fans. It sounds like a great lineup.

Speculation is running rampant, and the question that seems to pop up the most is: “What universe will this be set in?” In the Prime Universe, the setting for every TV series since 1966 and ten movies? Or the alternate timeline created by the J.J. Abrams movies, sometimes called the JJverse or Abramsverse? Most of the fans I’ve come across seem to favor the Prime Universe. They want a return to the familiar and the well-loved; what some have called “the real Star Trek.” That moniker gets under my skin but that’s a different topic.

While we discuss the future of Star Trek, let’s look at the history. Five TV series. Gene Roddenberry ran TOS for three seasons in the 60s. After nearly 20 years, it came back on the air in 1987. From then until 2005, when Star Trek: Enterprise ended, nearly the same creative team was behind the camera and in the writing room. Don’t get me wrong, they created classics that are much beloved today. But over that 50 year time span, Trek gained a mythology, a history, a universe. It gained weight.

Now in the 2010s we are getting a new series. And Trek needs to lose weight. It needs to lose the history and start fresh. It needs new twists on known classics. It needs to be reinvented like it was when TNG first aired. And this is the perfect opportunity. New scientific ideas and discoveries have been advanced since Trek began. New social issues and technologies have arisen. Trek has a chance to do what it does best: tell stories that explore what it means to be human. To show that we can better ourselves. Also, new advances in film making will let the series do things they couldn’t previously because of time or budget constraints.

I see three options for the new series’s setting: set in the Abramsverse at the same time as the movies but focusing on a new crew. Perhaps the second starship to start the Federation’s five-year mission. Or set years in the future from the current movie, with plenty of storytelling distance between them, like what TNG did when it aired. We could have a TV series and let the movie crew do its thing without interfering with the two. Another possibility is a third universe: an absolute complete start-from-scratch reboot with absolutely no ties to either of the previous two universes.

I’m hoping for the second option. I enjoy the Abramsverse and since it is already partly established in the movies, there won’t be such a need for set-up. I’d like a new crew with a new ship, another set of characters to love and get to to know. The third option is exciting as well, as long as it isn’t another iteration of Kirk’s crew. We don’t need another set of actors playing the same characters.

All this is speculation. We’ll have to wait until 2017 when the final product flickers across our screens. Until then, we’ll have to be content with the 700 plus hours of Trek we already have. But the future is looking bright.