I’ve been making the same mistake I made four years ago of going to TrekMovie.com and StarTrek.com and reading comments about the new movie. Just like four years ago there’s been comments saying that JJ Abrams brought Star Trek back from the dead. I’m sorry my friends, but that’s bullshit. Star Trek had been around for 43 years when Star Trek 2009 came out, it still had a solid fanbase that was still growing. Just because Enterprise had been cancelled and four years passed before JJ’s movie came out, does not mean Star Trek was dead.
If the fans had been like this back in 1969 when Star Trek The Original Series was cancelled, Star Trek likely would be dead and forgotten and by all rights it should have been. But guess what, it didn’t die. After cancellation it became stronger, gaining new fans. Those fans were rewarded a decade (ten years) later with the first of what became many motion pictures. TEN YEARS folks with no new live action shows and yet it survived and thrived.
These fans who are so quick to proclaim death to something just because there’s nothing for a short time really bother me. I would even say they aren’t fans of whatever it is they claim to be fans of at all.
Would these same fans have considered Star Wars dead since it took 16 years before we got a new film? Star Wars fandom has always been high and always continues as new generations are exposed to those films.
I guess Doctor Who was dead since, except for one TV movie, it was off the air for 16 years as well. No, wait, I do believe the fan base continued to grow and then really exploded when the show came back in 2005. The Doctor was still kicking during that long time off the air, only to come back better than ever. He only needed a break for a bit, since he’d been on for 26 years prior to the break.
Likely Firefly is dead right? I don’t think so. A show that lasted 14 episodes, had one feature film, continues to gain in popularity almost a decade later.
Now, what was the problem with Star Trek? After an 18 year run, which included 4 different incarnations, 25 seasons, 624 episodes, it needed a break. Likely it needed the break to occur right after Voyager. Give it a few years, then bring in Enterprise. Enterprise might’ve been welcomed a bit better had there been a few years between it and Voyager.
But, JJ brought Star Trek to the masses. Yes he did, and yes he did it in a blockbuster like way by making a movie that made a lot of money. However, Star Trek has never been able to depend on the “masses” to keep it alive and it can’t. The masses move on, they end up going and seeing the next big and shiny movie that comes out, leaving the fans (newcomer and old) to carry the flag for Star Trek.
To put it simply, it’s the fans who’ve always kept anything alive. As long as there are fans who pass their love of, whatever you love, on to the next generation…nothing can die. Considering the way movies are going, these young fans will someday be the ones making new adventures of Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly and the like.
Just remember it’s the fans who dictate the life and death of a show. JJ did good by bringing buzz back to the franchise, but he’s not a miracle worker. He couldn’t bring back to life something that wasn’t dead in the first place.
Originally published May 17, 2013