Sunday, 20 August 2017

Mey-er Be Khan Again?


When I think I've seen the most stupid thing the internet has to offer around Star Trek and then it pumps out another.   

Seems there's some thought out there that Nicholas Meyer might be working on a Khan Noonien Singh series that would take place following on from the Space Seed story from season one of The Original Series detailing his survival on Ceti Alpha V. The other strand to this rumour was that this was being prepped should Discovery bomb as an immediate replacement.   

Now I think we can eject that latter consideration faster than a critical warp core but the former might hold some stead. Meyer and Khan are intrinsically linked thanks to his directorial and six-day rewriting skills that turned out the Star Trek masterpiece which is The Wrath of Khan. Thanks to him a one episode villain from The Original Series is as well known as Kirk, Klingons and the USS Enterprise, so much so that he was rebooted for Into Darkness.   

Here's my beef with this idea and there are a few slices to work at. One; is it too soon to be thinking of another Star Trek series when Discovery has yet to air and gauge audience reaction. Two; Won't a Khan series be a little restrictive? Thirdly; Khan - again?   Latter day Star Trek always took a few years to introduce a new show with Deep Space Nine coming six years after The Next Generation debuted, Voyager two years after Deep Space Nine and six months after The Next Generation ended and Enterprise went solo the TV season after Voyager came to an end. 

There's always been spacing, a good spread but two running almost simultaneously might not be a great move. We do know that Meyer is working on a new Star Trek project but it needs to give Discovery time to gestate before launching to the audience. It might work as a one off six or ten episode mini series and that could be a further way for the franchise to expand. 

We know Fuller had an anthology concept for Discovery originally but this might be the evolution of that.   Over the next few years Meyer might be developing an anthology of series based on Star Trek guest characters exploring their stories further (cant you just see that Garth of Izar story happening....?!). 

A Khan one would definitely be a popular choice to kick off such a series but its the content which is then the issue. After six months Ceti Alpha VI exploded and "...everything on this planet was laid waste..." to quote Khan himself. This would mean that should the story be taken beyond that point its going to be focusing a lot of time on a group of people sitting in cargo carriers from a DY-100 sleeper ship.   

Khan will always be a fascinating character in the franchise, even when messed about with for Into Darkness - as a side line i have a friend who watched this for the first time with only exposure to the 2009 film previously and absolutely loved every minute of it. Perhaps proof that Khan is a villain for all times.   

Having Khan as a replacement series ready to go if Discovery flops just cant be right. I cant think of a worse idea nut it does work as a side line one off although fans of the expanded literary universe will probably grumble when it goes against the series of books which documented that whole period. Just be thankful (for now at least) that Discovery isn't obliterating the whole universe developed by writers since the end of Nemesis.   

I just don't see how a Khan series would work long term. There can only be so many episodes of him brooding, reading Moby Dick, brooding some more, feeding his Ceti eels and dealing with soap-opera level issues amongst his superhuman collective that we could deal with i think. For me it just doesn't work unless its got a restricted time frame and number of episodes as a companion series to Discovery

Hey, Meyer might not even be working on a Khan series - he might be looking at a show that parallels events in Discovery for example in another part of the quadrant. Then there's that third point. Khan - again. Yes, he is superb and highly regarded character in Star Trek lore who is often referenced in every frame of the franchise but a fourth appearance may further dilute the power of the character.

For example, take a look at the Borg. The more that we saw of them the more I believe they were neutered and their power and impact with the audience was reduced. They were overused and the same might now be turned to Khan. Space Seed and The Wrath of Khan are excellent. The former establishes a fantastic villain and one who is a clear match for Kirk while the movie sequel is without question the pinnacle of the Star Trek movies and one of the greatest stories ever told in the whole of the franchise. It is probably my go-to comfort movie and has been watched more times than anything else in my collection.   

Khan is, you could say, a safe bet, a security blanket but isn't Discovery using enough of those already with the inclusion of Sarek, the Klingons and Harry Mudd? Isn't Meyer better going in a totally new direction and, dare i say it, somewhere no one has gone before? We know the mixed success that reboots can bring given how well 2009 was received and performed versus the dire reaction to the re-imagining of Khan's story for Into Darkness. Cumberbatch is a fine actor but sadly he ain't Ricardo Montalban...he hasn't got the pecs for it at the least.  

Using Khan again suggests that the franchise would rather play it safe and retreat to familiar ground than go out there and explore. Need I note that Discovery is itself exploring an event previously mentioned in The Original Series and in an area of the franchise's 23rd Century history that is already well packed with material. We all know what happened to Khan so do we need to revisit it? Probably not but what other characters might benefit from a mini-series? 

If we keep it focused to those around The Original Series there are a few that jump to mind. First there's the obvious Harry Mudd option and given his nine episode inclusion in Discovery this could well be set up for Mudd to go put on his own (perish the thought...although I have some more on this shortly). What about that Gary Seven series that was backdoor piloted with Assignment: Earth? How about a series looking at the story of Cestus III and the Gorn pre-Arena?    

I think that might make an interesting spread but it might change perceptions of the original show and retread already established lore. I would hope Meyer is working on something totally new - maybe something from the 'lost era' after the launch of the Enterprise-B and before Encounter at Farpoint. Surely there are a few flashpoints in those intervening years that could do with some more exploration? I'm convinced that whatever this project of Meyer's that is confirmed as being Star Trek related but not linked to Discovery will be of the greatest quality given his (limited) track record. Ok it might only be three entries now but we will get to see more of his input during season one of Discovery which we know now is up to completing the script for episode 13 of the planned 15.   

Ultimately would another turn on Khan be an error? I strongly say yes. Time to loosen the reins and let this new team take the franchise forward on TV truely into new territory?


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