This year marks ten years since Star Trek: Enterprise went off the air, and ever since, fans have been wondering when a new Star Trek series would come back to television. Sure, the J.J. Abrams movies have been successful, but the Trek movies always seemed like something extra, the icing on the cake for Trekkers, but not the cake itself. The cake is Star Trek as a regular, ongoing television series. And with the franchises’ 50th Anniversary next year, fans have been hoping that some kind of announcement would be made about a return to TV for the franchise. Now, a new rumor has surfaced that suggests it might very well be happening… and details on what it could be about have actually been available online for years.
According to the report, back before the 2009 movie reboot, there were two competing pitches for a Star Trek TV revival. One was developed by Babylon 5 creator and comics writing legend J. Michael Straczynski and Dark Skies’ Bryce Zabel, which would have rebooted the original Kirk/Spock/McCoy trio with all new actors. The details of that pitch are actually all online and make for a fascinating “what if” read.
The other pitch, which in my opinion was far more interesting, was from novelist Geoffrey Thorne, along with X-Men’s Bryan Singer, Free Enterprise director Rob Burnett, and Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie. It was called Star Trek: Federation. This one was set in the timeline of the original five shows, but set much farther into the future, where the United Federation of Planets has become a “fat n’ happy” bloated empire, with the age of exploration (and heroes like Kirk and Picard) far behind them, with a Starfleet made of old ships just patrolling the borders. All the classic races form Trek canon like the Vulcans, Klingons and Ferengi have evolved into interesting new cultures as well. An attack from a new enemy shocks the Federation out of their complacency, and an all new, very advanced Enterprise is built. There are full details on that pitch here, and it also sounds like this would have been a very solid foundation for a new Trek series that doesn’t invalidate all the others, but built upon it.
So what happened to both of these pitches? Well, CBS, which owns the rights to Star Trek on TV, wanted to let the franchise cool off after Enterprise was cancelled, and let sister company Paramount focus on bringing Trek back to movies. Ultimately the Abrams movies were very successful, which rendered the J. Michael Straczynski original series reboot moot.
But what about Star Trek: Federation? Well, it seems the same people who made the pitch for Federation are involved with making a new pitch for CBS, as Bryan Singer’s name has been mentioned for the new CBS Star Trek as a possible Executive Producer through his Bad Hat Harry productions. Meanwhile, Rob Burnett, who is one of the producers on the fan-funded Star Trek: Axanar, (which shows how great a Star Trek project can look on a micro-budget) is said to still be involved. And Chris McQuarrie, who is directing this summer’s Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, is another name from the original Federation pitch who seems to be in the mix as well. Could they be pitching an all-new version of Trek, or could they be digging the Federation pitch out of mothballs?
The original report suggests that whatever the new Trek TV project is, they want the focus right now to be on next summer’s Star Trek 3, but once that has come out, expect an official announcement to be made. It’s been a decade now, and CBS knows that Star Trek is far too valuable a known IP to leave off television for too long. I’m sure we’ll be learning more details in the months and years ahead.