It’s been more than 24 hours since I saw the new “Star Trek” movie and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.
Background: I’m a “Star Trek” fan who has seen every episode of the original series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and all the feature films. The franchise lost me at “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Enterprise” wasn’t good enough to make me a regular viewer again.
In other words, the new movie wasn’t made for me.
Sure, the new movie includes numerous references to the original series and its spinoff movies, and those are welcome and obviously included for people like me. But director J.J. Abrams, the mind behind the hit television series “Lost,” was charged with rebooting the franchise, and I believe he achieved that successfully. I think people with less attachment to the source material than me are more likely to enjoy the new movie.
That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie, because it kept me entertained and never bored me. But there are some significant departures from “Star Trek” lore that raised red flags (or at least yellow ones) for me as a viewer. I won’t reveal those departures because I’m not a spoiler kind of guy, but — and please pardon the pun — Abrams boldly takes the “Star Trek” franchise in a new direction, revamping the classic characters and the universe they inhabited for the past forty-some years.
And at the end of the day, I may embrace the new version of the “Star Trek” universe. But I think I need a little more time to get over the end of the first “Star Trek” era.
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At its best, “Star Trek” often provided analogies to current events. So it seems appropriate that as I gathered my thoughts about the new “Star Trek” movie, it occurred to me that the “Star Trek” universe is analogous to the newspaper industry. Both had great runs but now find themselves in need of a reboot.
Paramount had the guts to reboot its flagging franchise by reinterpreting a classic sci-fi universe in spite of a potential falling-out with hardcore “Star Trek” fans, some of which have followed the main characters since the first series aired in the late 1960s.
Likewise, the newspaper industry needs to reboot its flagging franchise, so to say, though it faces a much harder task than making a movie. The livelihoods of thousands of newspaper employees hang in the balance. But for those who are in charge of making the necessary changes, it is worth noting the example of the “Star Trek” reboot. The changes may not be popular with hardcore fans (older readers and old-school editors, for example), but a drastic change is needed. Not a complete change — the characters (editors, reporters, etc.) remain the same but are tweaked to provide a new experience that is attractive to a new and future audience of consumers.
It’s not too late for newspapers, though the zero hour is quickly approaching. Tinker with the old model now. Change it, make it better, or at least different and more fitting for modern times. Do it now.
And, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” would say: Engage.