- After the success of Star Trek: Picard Season 3, Paramount has a chance to build on the most universally beloved modern show.
- Showrunner Terry Matalas spoke about his idea for a spinoff called Star Trek: Legacy blending new stories with familiar characters and settings.
- With no new Star Trek until 2024, greenlighting the series, or even a pilot, would help Paramount not lose the momentum the franchise built up in 2023.
The biggest danger facing film and television franchises is overstaying their welcome. With Star Trek, even when it “goes away,” the fans who love the universe created by Gene Roddenberry never let it stay gone for long. So much so that 2023 was one of the most significant years in the decades-old franchise. This is why Paramount should again listen to the fans and greenlight Picard spinoff Star Trek: Legacy right now. The fans have helped guide the studio to success before, and their demand for more 25th-century adventures is no different.
It’s not often any storytelling franchise endures so long. Doctor Who celebrated its 60th anniversary, and the USS Enterprise is only three years behind the TARDIS on that journey. Yet, fans might think it was Star Trek‘s milestone anniversary after how great 2023 was for the fans. Season 4 of Lower Decks was another triumph for the animated comedy, which is becoming increasingly like “real” Star Trek each season. Star Trek: Prodigy was rescued from cancelation, ensuring a new generation will fall in love with Starfleet. Strange New Worlds‘ second season struck a balance between serious and silly episodes like the classic Star Trek of old. And Star Trek: Picard‘s third and final season reunited the heroes from The Next Generation and passed the tricorder to a new generation on a brand-new USS Enterprise. However, with only the final season of Star Trek: Discovery on the horizon, Paramount needs a series like Legacy in the works in order to capitalize on the momentum and get fans excited about the future.
There’s Not as Much New Star Trek Coming as There Should Be
Star Trek’s themes are personal and complex, meaning narrative games are perfect for capturing the heart of the series, as demonstrated in Resurgence.
Television is very different with the advent of streaming and “Prestige TV” than it was during the 1980s and 1990s resurgence of Star Trek. Already, the new regime at Paramount has produced more individual series in six years than Rick Berman and company did over a span of 18 years. Of course, back then, each show ran for multiple seasons of 26 episodes. Only Prodigy‘s first season of 20 episodes came close to matching that number. More importantly than episode count, the new series followed the example Gene Roddenberry set with TNG. The new shows were far different from what came before.
As is typical for Star Trek fans, they met the new series with skepticism or, in some cases, hostility. In the early 1970s, fans literally picketed NBC to save the show, but when Star Trek: The Animated Series was announced, they tried to have the cartoon killed before it debuted. Currently, the only live-action series in development is Starfleet Academy, set in the 32nd Century. A show following Starfleet cadets is an old idea, floated in the 1970s, 1980s and the early 2000s after Enterprise‘s run on UPN ended.
However, unlike past new iterations, fans are eager for Star Trek: Legacy in a way they usually aren’t when a new series is floated. After Captain Pike showed up in Discovery, the fans demanded what eventually became Strange New Worlds, including starting an online petition that garnered over 30,000 signatures. A similar petition for Legacy has more than twice that number. The series’ premise is perfect for Paramount+ because it allows them to draw on nostalgia for the past and give audiences new characters and settings to be excited about.
Why Star Trek: Legacy Is the Right New Series for Paramount to Greenlight
Star Trek’s canon developed in fits and starts, leaving a lot of odd questions unanswered. That includes a strange detail about Andorian physiology.
The idea for Star Trek: Legacy came from Terry Matalas, the showrunner of Picard and an alumni of the second-wave era of the franchise. It would follow the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-G as she boldly goes on new adventures with Captain Seven of Nine, First Officer Rafaela Musiker, and the next next generation of Star Trek heroes. The show can tell brand-new stories while also using its early 25th-century setting to tie up dangling story threads left over from the 24th-century era of the franchise.
To compare it to that other “Star” franchise, Legacy could be for Paramount+ what The Mandalorian was for Disney+. That series introduced new characters and settings while seamlessly including locations and characters Star Wars fans love. This formula has already worked a bit with Strange New Worlds, but Legacy would be free of the continuity problems the former series’ prequel status creates. Unless they go the “alternate timeline” route, Captain Pike and his crew’s adventures have a clear end date. Legacy could last forever.
Also, like The Mandalorian has done, Star Trek: Legacy could help grow the universe in authentic and interesting ways. The show could bring back characters with stories left to tell and then spin them off into their own adventures. The series could also be a feature film testing ground, allowing Paramount to finally put the franchise back on the big screen. The best Star Trek films, after all, are born from television. 2023 was one of the best years for this universe, and greenlighting Star Trek: Legacy would send the signal the studio is only just getting started.
Fan Demand for Star Trek: Legacy Ties It Even More Closely to Tradition
Russell T Davies wanted the Doctor to meet the crew of the Enterprise. Now that he’s back on Doctor Who, a Star Trek crossover can probably happen.
Anyone familiar with the history of Star Trek knows it has survived in spite of the studio’s management. When The Original Series was canceled, everyone thought the sci-fi party was over. Instead, it went on to become the highest-rated syndicated series for decades despite being some 20 episodes short of the 100 usually needed for success in that field. Star Trek conventions were the first to focus on a single property. With no new stories about Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the others, fans continued the adventures themselves, essentially creating fanfiction. Each time Star Trek has returned, it’s because the fans demanded it.
When Star Trek: TOS was almost canceled in its second season, Bjo and John Trimble organized their fellow Trekkies and Trekkers to write letters to NBC. The response was so overwhelming, the network put a message on-screen before new episodes announcing the renewal. They did this, according to The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek, to stop the flood of letters. Even though it’s the age of online petitions and hashtags, a “Letters 4 Legacy” campaign is underway to both encourage Paramount to greenlight the show and remind the studio they’ve been here before.
It’s not just the fans who are eager for Star Trek: Legacy. The cast, like director and Will Riker actor Jonathan Frakes, are eager to reenlist in Starfleet. This is also a huge sign to Paramount, considering how fraught some past productions were. The people who worked with him on Picard can’t stop talking about how great Terry Matalas was to work for. Someone who can deliver satisfying stories for the audience while also keeping the cast and crew happy only further ensures Star Trek: Legacy would be a massive success.
Time Is Running Out to Get Star Trek: Legacy Off the Ground
Star Trek doesn’t often incorporate religion into its stories or central characters’ lives, but Deep Space Nine made room in the galaxy for faith.
Perhaps the most fortunate thing for Paramount is how much audiences still adore the second-wave series’ characters. Some actors, such as Deep Space Nine‘s Aron Eisenberg and René Auberjonois, have tragically passed away. Yet, many of the iconic performers who brought Star Trek‘s second wave to life are still working. Star Trek: Legacy could give them their second acts just as the first series of films did for the The Original Series cast. Fans could get proper closure with their characters while also drawing direct connections between their era and the new golden age of Star Trek. Of course, the most important person to Star Trek: Legacy is Terry Matalas himself.
The excellence of Picard and his previous series, 12 Monkeys, is sure to draw the attention of other studios. In fact, Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige is nuts for Star Trek, so he or some other studio hoping to give a franchise a breath of fresh air is sure to come calling now that Hollywood is back to work. Yes, Star Trek is expensive; it always has been. However, Paramount can’t lose by continuing to invest in the franchise. Star Trek fans have proven time and again that they never watch these stories only once.
The streaming wars have upended the entertainment business. Yet, with Star Trek, Paramount has the kind of franchise that gives them an edge over the competition. Shows like Discovery and Starfleet Academy are important to continue evolving what “a Star Trek story” looks like. However, the studio needs a series to bring in fans, new and old, with exciting adventures that also make them want to revisit the past series, too. If Paramount doesn’t greenlight Star Trek: Legacy, the studio will have missed its best chance to do just that.
The complete Star Trek: Picard is streaming on Paramount+ and is available to own on DVD and Blu-ray.
Star Trek is an American science fiction media franchise created by Gene Roddenberry, which began with the eponymous 1960s television series and became a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon.
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