One of the biggest things that bugs me about Star Trek fandom sometimes — and trust me, I’m part of this fandom, just like you, so we all can judge — is that no matter what you do, people just aren’t going to be happy.
Since 2005, fans have been clamoring for a new Trek television show, and we would have to wait for more than a decade. Then, last year, CBS announced it was bringing Star Trek back to television, well more or less. And it’s the “more or less” part — CBS All Access — that had people up in arms. Why should someone pay $5 a month to see Star Trek, paying a whopping $1 per episode (not including all the other programs that are a part of the network’s over-the-top streaming service).
Now the latest is outrage that, for the first time in Star Trek television history, its primary filming base will not be in Los Angeles, but instead in Toronto. On the largest single soundstage in North America, most likely at a price that is far less than what CBS could’ve found comparably back home.
Even David Gerrold (remember him? He hasn’t done much since “The Trouble With Tribbles”) has insinuated that this is such a non-Star Trek move to make, and that it will somehow alienate fans.
But why should it? First, Toronto is a beautiful city to film, and it has an amazing film infrastructure that really rivals what can be found in Hollywood. Sure, there is a studio space shortage in the city right now … but that’s a good problem to have, right?
Some fans have lamented about how different Star Trek would be in Canada. Well, Star Trek is going to be different no matter what. It’s not going to be “Star Trek: Enterprise,” or “Star Trek: Voyager,” or even “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” It certainly won’t be the original series, because it’s impossible to go back in time and recreate that specific magic.
No, the new Star Trek series will have to make magic of its own. And it can, whether it’s filmed in Hollywood proper, or Hollywood North. OK, Hollywood Northeast.
The less money CBS has to spend on the show, the lower the subscription threshold will have to be for Star Trek to continue being made. Remember, even with today’s technology, creating a science-fiction show like Star Trek is going to be costly. I really don’t want the show to have a short life, simply because there was a chance to save some unnecessary spending in the production budget, and CBS chose not to do it, because they didn’t want to anger fans by moving filming to Toronto.
The funny part is, you probably won’t even realize it’s being shot there. Seriously. Think about it. How many shows do you watch right now that are filmed in Toronto?
Let’s take a look at a partial list of some current and past shows that had at least some primary scenes filmed in Toronto:
• 12 Monkeys (Syfy)
• Beauty and the Beast (The CW)
• Dark Matter (Space, Syfy)
• Defiance (Syfy)
• Earth: Final Conflict (Syndication)
• The Expanse (Syfy)
• Forever Knight (CBS)
• Fraggle Rock (HBO)
• Hannibal (NBC)
• La Femme Nikita (USA)
• Lost Girl (Showcase, Syfy)
• Nikita (The CW)
• Orphan Black (Space, BBC America)
• Warehouse 13 (Syfy)
I remember when I first started watching “Earth: Final Conflict,” and there was something familiar about the church used as the base of the resistance. According to the show, that church was in Washington, D.C., but to me, it looked like something I had actually seen and admired before in Toronto. So imagine my surprise when I realized that “E:FC” was not filmed in Washington, D.C. — it was filmed in Toronto.
Toronto has such vast architecture, that it can double for many different places, including D.C., Chicago, and many northern and Midwestern cities. It also makes location shoots much cheaper — imagine some of the interesting locales that can be found in and around Toronto?
One fan told me that they would be able to tell that the new Star Trek series is shot in Toronto. I wondered if it was because all the actors would be smiling, because they would have decent healthcare. But then I got serious, and asked if I showed him an episode of “The X-Files,” would he be able to tell me if it was an episode shot in Vancouver or in Los Angeles. For those who followed the original run of the show, many of its early episodes — like the first several seasons — were shot in Vancouver. However, star David Duchovny was able to get production moved to Los Angeles in later seasons.
Fans didn’t know the difference. In fact, when Fox brought “The X-Files” back for a limited run earlier this year, many probably didn’t even realize that production had moved back to Vancouver.
A more recent example is the cult-favorite “Fringe.” If you watched the series, you would think it maintained the same home throughout its run, right? Nope.
The pilot for “Fringe” was shot in Toronto. The first season was shot in New York City. When incentive money ran out, the remaining seasons of the show were shot in Vancouver.
Did you notice? Probably not. Even if you go back and try to see if there are differences in the sets, you won’t see it.
Toronto offered a great deal to get Star Trek into Canada, and before we judge it, why don’t we just wait and see how it all turns out? And in the meantime, let’s be happy (well, for the people living in the United States reading this) for our friends and neighbors to the north.