Babylon Trek

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Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski has written up his plan to save the Star Trek franchise. When I saw this on the mailing list of everything he posts to newsgroups, I was incredibly surprised. He never wanted to have anything to do with Star Trek. Apparently they asked him to take over Enterprise, and he refused but was willing to tell them how to improve their franchise with a plan for a new show. I'd love to see such a show, even if he wouldn't be willing to produce it himself. I consider Babylon 5 to be the best TV show ever, not just the best scifi show ever. His followup Crusade was canceled before it ever aired, and they only made 13 episodes, but what they produced together with the scripts released on the internet that were never filmed gave a sign that it would be equally good.

Still, I'm not sure what needs saving. The last film was the worst of the even-numbered films, but it was still better than all the odd ones, even Insurrection, the best of the odd ones. Enterprise is going strong with an excellent season. It's not as good as DS9 near the end, which was the best Star Trek stuff ever made, and it's not as good as TNG or Voyager were in later years, but it's far better than either of the last two series were by the third season and probably even DS9 at that point too.

I just hope they don't ruin Enterprise now just when it's getting good. They've figured out that a good scifi show works best if you have continuity and development in the storyline. B5 did that, as did Andromeda before they fired Robert Hewitt Wolfe and ruined it, who had learned his techniques on DS9. Stargate seems to have done well with this also (probably my second favorite show, since I have to disqualify Andromeda even though I thought the first year and then some was as good as B5, the end of DS9, and anything from Stargate). X-Files tried, but they failed to be as good at it once they had a few years under their belts. (B5, Andromeda (while it lasted), Stargate, and even DS9 to some extent have or had at least some plan for how things would proceed in future seasons, though most of them far less than B5, which was all laid out from the beginning and would read like a novel on the order of the Lord of the Rings. X-Files made it all up from conspiracy episode to conspiracy episode, and most of the later ones orally extracted the fluid from a hen's egg (to quote somewhat loosely the Beast from an issue of X-Factor).

I suspect that the new management won't provide the same sort of continuity, however, and it will be another return to the episodic Star Trek in which everyone goes back to normal at the end of every episode, and no real progress occurs except in season finales and premiers (and not even then most of the time). That would be unfortunate, but at least it would be better than what happened to Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda, the other two Roddenberry products developed by his estate. Changing producers every season doesn't make for a good show, and hiring people who can't even write a coherent story that a devoted fan of the show is even worse, especially when the most creative and interesting characters become caricatures. That's pretty much what each did, respectively. An episodic show like Voyager or TNG with good writing and interesting scifi that raises interesting philosophical issues from time to time would still be better than either of those fates. I suspect the two Stargate shows will be my main favorites from here on, though, with Atlantis replacing Enterprise in the number two spot.

3 Comments

Stargate is definitely terrific, probably the best of what's in production right now. B5 and Crusade are easily some of the best television ever made, in any genre.

Enterprise has been terrific this past season, but there is a LOT to be saved. The franchise as a whole has been tanking, led by bad box office numbers for "Nemesis" and dying ratings for Enterprise. (To be fair, I think Trek TV series ratings have been steadily falling since the late days of TNG ... but they've never fallen so far that the network debates whether or not it's worth continuing, as UPN did this year.)

But I have high hopes for Manny Coto, who came over from Showtime's short-lived "Odyssey 5" to write some excellent Enterprise episodes this year. He's probably going to take over as show-runner next season. God be praised that Brannon "I use to have imagination but I've been suckling the Star Trek teat for too long" Braga is stepping aside.

Sorry if that posted a half-dozen times. MT is giving me an error when I hit "Post."

I'm not sure what happened. I had to rebuild the site just to see the comments. The extra ones are deleted now, anyway.

I went and looked at which ones Coto wrote, and you're right. Those were all among the best of the season, and some of them developed the key themes of the season that I enjoyed so much. So maybe he will do a good job continuing what I've liked while also getting rid of whatever it is that other people don't like.

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