A Galaxy Quest Television Show: Dom-Jot Hustler Special Editorial
Welcome back to Comic Booked’s irregular Star Trek column.
Today’s topic might be about something that made people laugh, but, when you boil it down, it is a rather serious one, at least to me.
About a month ago, the powers that be at Paramount (the studio that owns Star Trek, among a few other franchises) announced that they were developing a Galaxy Quest television series based on the 1999 comedy film starring Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver.
I might be the only one who thinks that this is not really a good move for Paramount. (“He is!” – Editorializing Aaron)
First, I will say that I love that movie. It’s a bit of a roast of the Star Trek franchise from the ground up, and it came right at the time when there was bit too much Star Trek around (four shows, with a fifth one to come, and nine films at the time). Yes, Galaxy Quest was a healthy and welcome spoof at the Star Trek culture as well as the conventions that are used all the time throughout the history of the franchise. I particularly like how there’s a character whose sole job is to recite to the captain what the computer has just told her with regard to the ship’s condition.
Yeah, Galaxy Quest was a killer film, and Trek needed it at the time.
Does Trek really need it now?
I’m going make this as short as I can: I don’t think so.
I remember those days when Paramount valued this franchise as on of the studios crown jewels; through the highs and lows, the studio was proud to carry this franchise forward. Star Trek worked best as a television show, and Paramount has given us a lot of quality hours of television. The fact is that it is really hard to write and produce an hour of Star Trek that is just good, let alone one that might be considered a classic, is something remarkable. It’s harder still to create a new series that will be able to carry the torch. Remember that, when it comes to it, Star Trek was always about the exploration of the human condition. Now, instead of actually working damn hard to create a new television show that will both challenge and entertain the audience as only Star Trek can, the studio seems eager to merely entertain it’s audience while slighting and even poking jabs a franchise that, in its heyday, was always on the cutting edge. What’s more, while I would agree that it’s okay to poke healthy fun at the franchise on occasion, Star Trek has a lot of comedic episodes, and some are hilarious while others are simply just absurd. The show dared to play with it’s own self-awareness: the good writers knew how to poke fun at Trek itself in the midst of a Trek show. Trek doesn’t need anyone to make fun of it, let alone on a weekly basis, it did that itself on a regular basis. What about the greatest episodes of the franchise, those utterly unforgettable episode and you realize just why it was that Trek was such a huge inspiration for millions of people: you realize why Paramount needed this franchise to thrive.
Trek might be an easy target for everything from pure satire to smarmy put-downs, but that doesn’t mean it should be targeted regularly. I wouldn’t be complaining now if the studio announced another Galaxy Quest film. There’s a whole generation of kids and young adults who have probably never seen classic episodes like “City on the Edge of Forever” or the “Inner Light,” and, more than likely, it’s tough enough for this new generation to acclimate itself to the photography and style of those old shows without having a new, more modern and more energetic show making fun of how episodes from “back in the day” were made.
Galaxy Quest, the film, was a bit of a brilliant novelty project. To make a show would require a huge commitment on the part of the studio’s television department as well as their audience’s time. Collectively speaking, the franchise has challenged our culture as a whole and pushed the boundaries of television to story-telling to new heights. After all that, does it really need someone throwing a pie in it’s face each week with regularity? Does it need another show to show young people how cheesy and sometimes rather cheap Star Trek has been on occasion? I can’t say I think so.
Making Star Trek – good Star Trek, is not easy. I’d rather see the powers that be challenge themselves instead of spending a lot time (even in the name of respect, reverence, and good fun) dissing it. The way television is run today, the special effects and the story-telling pace will be much closer to the liking of modern audiences than any of the five series Trek has produced, so wouldn’t that make it more difficult to convince people to check out the older films and shows? I think it could, even in a small but nonetheless significant way, play a part?
While Galaxy Quest has a full narrative on it’s own, I’m not sure that it could sustain a show of it’s own. This is my opinion of course, but a lot of the humor and appeal of GQ depended on novelty and at least a working knowledge of Trek. GQ doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s a property that does ape it’s own existence off another, even when can all see how it is unique as well.
Star Trek always challenged our notions of humanity’s place and importance in the universe. I want to be able to think about that as opposed how nonsensical and trite some of those old episodes turned out to be.
It’s easy to make arguments as to why this show should go forward, not the least of which is fun and entertaining. In this column, I had the more difficult argument, and it might be the case that no one reading will actually see the point I’m trying to make. Our culture today is that people want, want, want something to come to fruition if they hear about a proposed project that they happen to like, with no regard to how it would affect the big picture. A Galaxy Quest show? want want want, make it make it make it. A bigger Avengers movie? want want want, make it make it make it. There’s no restraint anymore; it reminds me of when I was a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons (remember those?) while shoving cereal in my face. It’s fun but not really good for ya! I believe that, in the next decade, when we look back at this one, we will be scratching out head at the size and scope of the narratives that people all wanted to see no matter what while wondering what happened to the substance behind it all.