On Saturday, Marina Sirtis, who played ship’s counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), joined her former costars Jonathan Frakes (Commander William T. Riker) and Denise Crosby (Lieutenant Tasha Yar), at a panel hosted by GalaxyCon. The virtual panels held by GalaxyCon and other event organizers have replaced the regular convention circuit during the pandemic.
The TNG stars chatted about their experiences on set, what Star Trek has meant to them and how it transformed their lives, and their thoughts on other series and movies within the franchise.
The discussion started out with their remembrances of Richard Arnold, the Star Trek archivist who worked with Gene Roddenberry until his death. Arnold died earlier this week. Frakes, Sirtis and Crosby each shared about the times Arnold had gone out of his way to help them. They also spoke about how when no one knew the answer to a Trek question, they asked Arnold.
This prompted Siritis to comment that the people who worked on the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies must not have talked to Arnold before making them. When her costars asked her what she meant by that, Sirtis really let loose.
Sirtis Really Doesn’t Like the Abrams Trek Movies
Sirtis said that she was really bothered by the way that Abrams and the crew of the Star Trek reboot chose to totally change Star Trek history. She complained that they had gone against the lore that was so important to the series and upon which the rest of the franchise was built.
Frakes broke in and pushed back, reminding her that Abrams had created his own timeline in the movies. He continued, saying that the timeline and history she was talking about still existed and that Abrams created something separate.
Sirtis shot back that she felt that a lot of creators felt like they could do anything they wanted with the Star Trek universe. She finished by saying that she didn’t think they were acknowledging that Star Trek had been around for several decades before they wrote their stories.
Abrams has Admitted That he’s Unfamiliar With ‘Star Trek’ History
Abrams’s own comments actually support Sirtis’s assertion that he wasn’t entirely respectful of Star Trek’s existing history. In an interview with The Guardian just days before the premiere of his Star Trek movies, Abrams admitted that he didn’t really like the original Star Trek. He also candidly admitted that he never watched some of the previous Star Trek movies and that he didn’t know how many of them existed.
“I didn’t want to become a student of Star Trek,” Abrams told the publication. “I felt that was actually one of the few advantages I had. I was trying to make a movie, not trying to make a Trek movie.”
Abrams insisted that his faithfulness to Trek history lay in the details, like his inclusion of familiar one-liners, easter eggs for classic Trek lore and Leonard Nimoy’s cameo as Spock. However, he plainly admitted that the alternate timeline he created was a way to get around the established Trek canon and make his own story.
Though Sirtis’s opinions about Abrams’s movies clearly weren’t shared by Frakes, it seems they have some basis in fact given Abrams’s own statements about established Trek lore.