It wasn’t that long ago that the thought of someone other than William Shatner playing Captain James Kirk in an incarnation of Star Trek seemed impossible.
But what about someone other than LeVar Burton playing Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge?
Now that J.J. Abrams has successfully re-imagined the crew of The Original Series, the question becomes: What should franchise owners Paramount and CBS do with Star Trek: The Next Generation?
We already know there will be at least one more movie from the Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock universe, following up on the events of Star Trek Into Darkness. J.J. Abrams won’t be around to direct — he’ll be off shooting Star Wars Episode VII — but the franchise reboot he kicked off in 2009 will continue, for at least one more film.
But what about TNG?
It seems inevitable that sometime soon, we’ll hear something about Star Trek returning to television, in one form or another.
Maybe it’s a television series set in the same time and universe as the Abrams films.
Maybe it will be a return to the era in which The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager were set.
Or maybe it will be something else entirely, like a show about a young Jean Luc Picard making his way through Starfleet Academy.
Michael Dorn, best known for playing Lt. Worf on TNG, is apparently trying to develop a series that takes place after the events of TNG and DS9, where Worf takes command of his own starship. It’s called, appropriately enough, Captain Worf.
While others have called for a new series starring the original TNG cast – Captain Riker anyone? — there are many fans who would like to see a full-on reboot of TNG with new actors playing Captain Picard, Commander Riker and the rest of the bridge crew of the NCC 1701-D Enterprise.
It could happen. Brent Spiner (Lt. Commander Data) believes a reboot of TNG is “likely,” and there’s even a Facebook page where fans are trying to get Tom Hiddletson (who plays Loki in Marvel’s The Avengers universe) to take over the role of everyone’s favourite Starfleet android.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to sit down with LeVar Burton, who played Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge on TNG. While the majority of our conversation focused on Burton’s work with Reading Rainbow, we did have a quick chat about his thoughts on what he would like to see from the future of Star Trek.
Burton said he’s not sure what Paramount and CBS will choose to do with the franchise, but no matter what form Star Trek takes in the future, he’d like to see it embody a greater sense of hope as a central theme. Here’s what he said:
“I’ve enjoyed JJ’s movies and I’ve seen them a couple of times. However, I’m missing Gene’s vision. I’m missing the hope. For me — and I’ve been a long time fan of Star Trek, since I was a kid — what was always prevalent in Gene Roddenberry’s vision was the sense of hope that we had in the family that we were following. That bridge crew — the best and the brightest — and that they were literally out there on the edge of civilization, representing humanity in as best a way as imaginable. In an increasingly dystopian world, I think we need as many opportunities to indulge ourselves in hope as we can get, and Star Trek has always, until very recently, been a primary source of that in the genre. And I’d like to see that come back no matter what cast you’re focusing on.”
It remains to be seen what Paramount and CBS wind up doing with the Star Trek franchise after the sequel to Star Trek Into Darkness wraps up. But if there’s a Captain Worf show seriously in the works, you’d have to think that “Captain Geordi” would have to make an appearance on the bridge of his own ship at some point.