While thinking about what Alex Kurtzman might be cooking up for his new Star Trek series planned for CBS Interactive, I started to get anxious.
This show is set to premiere in less than a year. But has Star Trek on television evolved enough to compete with how television itself has evolved?
The last time there was a Star Trek series in production, it was 2005. There was no such thing as "binge-watching," unless you were rich and could afford massive DVD sets. Amazing shows, like SciFi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica," was getting hammered because it ditched episodic stories for much larger story arcs. And while "Star Trek: Enterprise" did play with mini-arcs in the fourth season, it was too much ahead of its time to save a show that was desperately on life support by the time Manny Coto took over.
I thought back to about two years ago, when I whipped something up for 1701News that talked about how you could bring Star Trek into the 21st century. Some of what I wrote was a bit tongue-in-cheek, like the captain learning of a red alert while on the porcelain throne, and where they should move the bridge from the most vulnerable spot on the ship. But I also had some serious points as well, like getting away from technological fixes to every story, and creating true Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations among not just humans, but aliens as well.
"When we think of Klingons, all we think about are warriors," I guess I said a couple of years ago. "When we think of Romulans, all we think of are scheming politicians or military leaders. But there has to be more to all of these species than that. Someone has to cook. Someone has to clean. Someone has to develop technology."
And yes, some episodes of Star Trek did touch a bit on the diversity of our aliens. Both "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Voyager" (including the latter's series finale) touched on the fact that not all Klingons are bred for war. But it's so glossed over and rarely ever talked about.
I think it was around 1999 or 2000, I was just amazed at how having a foreign-language film could get you an Oscar nomination you probably wouldn't get otherwise. And back then, young and naive, I dreamt about someday getting an Oscar. I mean, I was white, so I was halfway there (sorry, couldn't help but knock the Oscars a little bit).
I thought how cool it could be to write a foreign-language film. I don't remember researching the Oscar rules on foreign-language films, but for some reason, I believed that a film didn't have to be from a foreign country outside the United States to qualify. And that Oscars didn't specify how it defined a foreign language.
As far as I could tell, Marc Okrand's and James Doohan's Klingon language was officially a "foreign language." It was a completely developed language, even if it was fictional, and thus should be allowed to qualify, right?
My idea was to have a Star Trek story that was not really Star Trek. No Enterprise. No Kirk or Picard. None of that. It would be a story that was set on Qo'noS, and just be about Klingons, as if the story was written and filmed right there. The entire story would be in Klingon, with English subtitles, and tell a tale that was pretty much outside the standard storytelling universe.
But what would this film be about? At the time I had the idea bouncing around in my head, a movie from Ridley Scott premiered that I absolutely loved. Starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, I absolutely loved "Gladiator." I knew it was historical fiction, but it was so beautifully shot, so amazingly written and so well-acted, I probably watched it at least 15 times in 2000 and 2001.
That got me thinking. What if there was a "Gladiator" version of the Klingons. Not actual gladiators, but some type of period piece. Maybe it could focus on a major historical figure ... you know, Khaless?
So who is Khaless? He's like the Abraham of the Klingon warrior class. The one every Klingon aspires to be like.
The warrior class of Klingons weren't always dominant, but what if something happened during the time of Khaless that changed that? I felt there could be tremendous political intrigue, lots of battles and even a love story thrown in. And there would be key events that would be included as well, like the forging of the first bat'leth, and other things established throughout the Klingons' uneven canon.
Making such a movie is near impossible, especially without CBS' or Paramount's backing. And I always had a rule that I don't like to write in other people's universes, because I didn't want to be limited in that way.
So the idea never really evolved beyond that. But then, thinking about it again, it would be pretty interesting, wouldn't it? A "Gladiator"-style epic film based in the Trek universe, somehow finding a way to promote the Gene Roddenberry philosophy of Star Trek, but providing something completely different. I mean, even non-Star Trek fans might be interested, and who knows, it could be a gateway drug into the main franchise.
And, of course, it would have controversy. Primarily from the fact that, just like all the non-Egyptians in "Gods of Egypt," I wouldn't actually cast real Klingons to be in this film. I'm sure there would be uproar in the Klingon community, and of course, there would be blood. But blood, in this case, would equate to ticket sales, so hey, who needs advertising?
"Khaless" will never happen. But maybe, someday, with no other good ideas to knock around ... maybe some writer will think back to this very column, and suddenly exclaim, "I got it!"