Maybe I’m Not A Prequel Hater. Really.

As listeners know, I recently outed myself as a prequel hater. Mr. Lucas fired up the tractor and hitched up the bandwagon by choosing I, II, and III over VII, VIII, and IX, and it seems like everyone with a hand in long-running franchise script development has climbed aboard since. And though I happily suffered the Binkster to see Vader don the last suit he’ll ever wear, I haven’t enjoyed most of the ‘wagon crew’s offerings.

Specifically, I really didn’t get Enterprise. And it really, really ticked me off when franchise execs blamed the show’s eventual failure on “the public having their fill of Trek for now” and vowed to return Trek to the vault until the “public is ready for more.” It’s as if the idea that they simply made a bad decision with Enterprise — or just created and produced a mediocre show — fit in among their other thoughts like oil and water; I mean, Voyager eventually worked out, right?

So, as you can imagine, when I heard news that the next Trek flick would be a — wait for it! — prequel, I dealt with it in my normal fashion: I whined and bitched about it to everyone in hearing range, including (eventually) our podcast listeners. But I read an Ain’t It Cool News post this morning that cooled my jets — at least a bit.

Note to spoiler-sensitive readers: the AICN article offers a lot more information than just what I’m going to discuss here. If you want to read more about this, but don’t want heavy (if early and probably inaccurate) spoilers, try the Slashdot story instead. That’s how I found the AICN bit, and it’s much safer for you.

Here’s the skinny: AICN’s “Moriarty” suggests that rather than simply following the adventures of a “young” Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, Trek XI may walk a Back to the Future II-style alternate timeline path — both allowing the participation of original TOS actors in earlier events and cracking open the door for future series in the alternate universe.

Incredibly, I think this might actually freshen Trek in exactly the way everyone hoped Enterprise would. It’d offer new writers and producers full run of the best the franchise has to offer, yet free them from the ties of canon. That’s fertile creative ground. In short: if Moriarty’s dirt is true, it sounds to me like Trek’s “prequel” might actually push Trek forward instead of just navel-gazing about the past.

Then again, this concept treads dangerously close to the loved/dreaded “mirror universe” theme. That bandwagon is getting a bit crowded, too, carrying “transporter accident” victims from every single Trek series. And the last thing I want to see is Nimoy in a leather cat suit.

Star Trek Rumors [AICN] Nimoy May Be the Star Of The Next Trek Film [Slashdot]

18 Responses to "Maybe I’m Not A Prequel Hater. Really."
  1. The Alpaca Herder says:

    Enterprise was good when Manny Cotto took over as showrunner. Before that…it was very reflective of This American Life as it was stumbling around trying very hard to find the dominant narrative while not yet succeeding. Unfortunately it found the narrative far too late to do any good. It was not a case of being full of Trek for a while…it was just because the stories were lacking in life.

    As to this next movie…I reserve judgment on my part for a while yet.

  2. Number 13 says:

    Okay, good to see you’re not a prequel hater. I was reading an interview yesterday where George Lucas was telling his people way back in 1992 that a lot of people were going to be upset with making Anakin a kid, but that’s where the story starts.

    I’d like to watch Trek, but there’s so much that it’s overwhelming. Not to mention that the ones on Netflix for the original series have a total of 2 episodes per disk and they’re apparently not really in order.

  3. Wolfshawk says:

    The only problem I had with Enterprise was the graphics. The story takes place before TOS but yet the ships were sleek and more modern. What happened to technology from the time of Ent. till TOS? I understand that TOS was produced in the ’60s and that was cutting edge back then, but thats not what I mean. When Lucas did SW I, it seemed that he “retro fitted” all the ships graphically and made them look “old”. I think that by ST not doing this it detracted from the show. Other than that, the episodes that I have seen I enjoyed.

    P.S. This is my 1st post here, so please be gentle.(LOL)

  4. The Alpaca Herder says:

    Wolfshawk: The only out I can think of to explain the tech difference issue is the intervention of the Romulan War. Such could have resulted in a scenario akin to the Colonials where their tech was beaten back so far that they had to build back up from scratch.

  5. Dave says:

    Like you Chuck – when I heard prequel, I thought “nail i the coffin”. Flashbacks of that Harve Bennett attempt to doa Starfleet Academy thing really irked me. Still angry at Lucas for I, II and III. He had 20 years to pull together a really good story. have some good writers involved, butnoooooooooooo we get served with Jar Jar Binks and lines like “Yousa people gonna die?” **Sigh**
    Then I started hearig things that peaked my interest about the new Trek.. The gettig rid of Rick Berman, bringing in JJ Abrams, the fact that Nimoy read the scipt and loved it (which is something he rarely did), and the rumor you brought up reagardig an alternate timeline which could restart (and reenergize) the series. And it doesn’t have ot be an entirely different timeline, just one that can make you look at the old characters differently.
    However, I do agree that at one point when franchise execs blamed the show’s eventual failure on “the public having their fill of Trek for now” – what they should have said was “the public has had it’s fill of BAD Trek for now”. Enterprise was completely unneeded, as (in my opinion) Voyager. Don’t get me wrong – liking hte 7 of 9 in silver, but there was no invest in any of the characters (except in a select few episodes). DS9 was the last REALLY good Trek (also my opinion). But it just seemed liek once they did Boyager and DEFINITELY when they did Enterprise, it felt liek they were say ing “hmmm..there’s an empty timeslot here….let’s put Trek in there…..what kinda Trek?…hmmmm…Let’s do a prequel and screw up the canon…yaaaaayyyy”

  6. Battlestar Gigzlactica says:

    No offense, but I am going to have to disagree with you about Enterprise…. I’ll admit that I didn’t really watch it the first 3 seasons because I could never find it on while I was at school, so I really don’t know how the quality was. And while it obviously took a while to gain any footing, I think the final season was AMAZING…. because it took so much from the canon of star trek and found a way to explain it in a way that hadn’t actually ever been done…. Between making a connection from the genetically enhanced supermen of Khan to the eventual creation of Data… explaining the change in the Klingons’ ridges…. even hinting at the eventual romulan wars…. the 4th season was incredibly well done, but it was a case of too little too late…. And the canon was never screwed up because there was very little official canon that was known before Kirk’s time…

  7. Mike P says:

    Battlestar Gig., that is exactly the point. Enterprise didn’t do any of that cool canon examination and exploration in the first three years. They were total wastes of time. The fourth season was when it finally got good because they realized, “Hey, this show is supposed to be a prequel to Star Trek! Whaddya know?”

    I wish the new movie were a reboot, not a prequel. I will still go see it and probably enjoy it, but, c’mon gang, we’ve got 40 frakking years of continuity to deal with at this point. Let’s hit the big red reboot button and let Trek breathe free again. It is stifling under its own canonical weight. Audiences have proven they are hungry for science fiction that has grown up and is more mature than what most of Trek, as much as I will always love it, has to offer. Even Trek audiences have proven it with DS9.

  8. LawyerBill says:

    The problem with Enterprise was not that it was a prequel (although that didn’t help). The problem was BAD SCRIPTING!

    Every episode of the first two seasons could be summarized by: “(insert name here) is lost/captured/trapped and the crew must find/save/free him/her.” These horrible scripts made for a dull first two seasons. By the time season three came around… no one cared.

    Also, there was not one single courtroom scene in the whole show!

  9. Phil says:

    The thing that they did to advance the downfall of Trek that really annoyed me was releasing Star Trek X in December of 2002. It really wasn’t a bad movie, but I think it did worse that it should have because they wedged it in between the second Harry Potter movie and The Two Towers. There was no way it was competing with those two genre juggernauts. I always thought if they had waited to release it in the following February or March that it might have done better.

  10. Audra says:

    Wolfshawk – welcome to the ‘cooler. Glad to have you here!

    LaywerBill – Hey, you’re back!

    All – I have never seen a full episode of Enterprise. But, I’m going to throw my two cents in anyway, and you know to throw it over your shoulder with the salt. Or whatever they do. 😉

    In the bits and pieces of Enterprise I saw the thing that stood out most to me was the return to the all-white-male in charge cast. I know some people will be rubbed the wrong way by my saying so, and I know it may not be reflective of the series as a whole. But regressing in terms of gender and ethnicity so they could better simulate “early Trek” is a real disappointment for me. And it’s not because I always politically and socially evaluate my TV shows. It’s because that world doesn’t feel anything like the world I live in. I can relate to Klingons and Vulcans and such more than a human world of the supposedly better-off future that reeks of 1950s attitudes. Blecch.

  11. Challabuck says:

    Re: the Trek reboot, I agree wholeheartedly with Chuck. This won’t be your grandmageek’s prequel, and it has the markings of a stellar reimagining. The team behind it has fabulous pedigree — JJ, Damon Lindelof, and a gaggle of Lost writers. Lost is a fantastically compelling show, with a deep mythology, rich writing & acting, and that aching relevance that great sci-fi always seems to have (sound familar?). We should give these dudes the benefit of the doubt IF ONLY because all of us here are obsessed with a show that just happens to have been reimagined itself. I’ll admit that the Starfleet Academy idea had me down when I first heard it, since I too want to go FORWARD with the mythology, not backwards (Enterprise was never more than a four year groan to me). It sounds like JJ & Damon have found a way to push things forward even by going back. Plus the best Trek in the latter series almost always had to do with time continuum hicups. Remember how great “Yesterday’s Enterprise” felt when you first saw it? Give ’em a go, I say.

  12. Mike P says:

    Challabuck — I agree with your sentiments, the only problem is, the creative team has announced that they do not *intend* to do a reboot or a reimagining. I wish they would but, instead, the script writers have loudly proclaimed how they want to honor Trek canon and mythology, etc., and so we are likely to be stuck with another story that tries to dovetail with 40 years of continuity and will only end up making more irreconcilable mistakes. I wish they would just feel free to go ahead and reinvent the frakking thing — we don’t need Nimoy (and I’m a big Nimoy fan) or Shatner or anyone else. Just take the basic premise of going where none have gone before and run with it in new directions.

  13. Browncoat_Bryan (aka McFrakkin) says:

    Okay, Enterprise bugged me because there was the obvious thing with using pseudo-attractive women to bring in young guys. I mean, come on, a Vulcan woman wearing nothing but a tee-shirt and bikini panties??? Let’s not be too frakking obvious and let’s not use taste.

    As for the Star Wars prequels, I cringed when I first heard the Niemoidians (the bug-eyed people who tried to trap Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan). What was this, Star Wars Episode I: The Return of Fu-Manchu? And what was with Jar-Jar Binks? Hmmm…. Let’s make the clownish character into a very poor caricature of an ignorant Jamaican. I thought Return of the Jedi was not so hot, but DAMN! And don’t get me started with Attack of the Clones. Okay, I’ve already started….

    First, the title. Attack of the Clones. What was Lucas trying to do, mimic Steven Seagal movie titles? Second, I’ve never fallen asleep in a Star Wars movie before, but there’s always a first and Attack of the Clones will have a special place in my heart for achieving that feat. A frakking 1950s style diner, A DINER, on Coriscant (sp). The cheesy ass lines uttered by Tyrannus, “I see that this duel will not be settled by our knowledge of the Force, but by our skills at the lightsaber.” WTF? And Anakin. Damn that boy!!! “I can’t breathe.” What??? You’re Darth Vader, dude!!! Say something special! Choke Padme for not wanting to kiss you. Speaking of Padme, she just heard that Anakin killed a whole tribe of sandpeople, and what does she do? Oh, I’ll hold him and tell him everything’ll be alright. And why is it that Obi-Wan can hold off a gazillion droids with his lightsaber, but can’t take down Jango Fett? And what was up with his sorry-ass scaggly beard? Poor script, poor execution. Poor movie.

    As for Revenge of the Sith, I have to say that the novel is tons better than the movie (although the Obi-Wan v. Anakin battle was worth it). Watching the movie, we never understood why Anakin turned. “Man, I’m having some bad dreams and the Jedi Council won’t make me a master. Frak ’em, I’m going evil on the mother-frakkers. Take that bitches!!” The only good character in that whole movie was Palpatine. They even made Chewie look bad.

  14. Mike P says:

    Agreed Browncoat — The prequels were one heckuva missed opportunity. I do get what Lucas was *trying* to do with the titles, I think — there is some vague parallel structure to “The Phantom Menace” / “A New Hope” — both sort of vague, anticpatory concepts, one downbeat, the other upbeat; “Attack of the Clones” / “The Empire Strikes Back” — both aggressive middle chapters; “Revenge of the Sith” / “Return of the Jedi” — both verbs of reaction, again one downbeat, the other upbeat. If only he had put as much thought into his frakking plots as he did his titles!

  15. Dave says:

    Browncoat.MikeP et al – did anyone see teh special they did onteh making of the Str Wars series onteh History channel> This is the one thing that irked me more than anything else and showed me how crappy a writer and director Lucas really is. If I saw the History channekl special before seeing the prequel trilogy, I would have expected an ENTIRELY differnt set of movies. I would have expected elemetns of Faust vs the Devil,etc. How could he have such huge ideas adn yet be so far off the mark in execution??

    also Browncoat_Bryan (aka McFrakkin) Says:
    I mean, come on, a Vulcan woman wearing nothing but a tee-shirt and bikini panties???
    well…she was pretty damn hot actually 🙂 giggedy giggedy….

  16. Mike P says:

    Dave, yeah, that History Channel show was a hoot. Lucas is a legend in his own mind.

    And, sorry, but T’Pol in various states of undress doesn’t hold a candle to Jadzia Dax in the old-style uniform in “Trials and Tribbleations.” 😉

  17. Audra says:

    Jadzia rocked. She was the coolest chick on DS9.

  18. Chuck says:

    Especially in that old-style uniform in “Trials and Tribbleations.”

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