Say what you want about J.J. Abrams’ entry into the “Star Trek” story; he brought the franchise back to life after a very quiet period. Unlike when “Star Wars” went on hiatus from 1983 — at the height of its popularity — “Star Trek” went dormant because of “franchise fatigue.” This is what Trek boss Rick Berman said after “Star Trek: Enterprise” was canceled after its fourth season.
Thanks to the Abrams’ movies, “Star Trek (2009),” “Into Darkness,” and “Beyond,” the franchise was reinvigorated and is now flying at warp speed on Paramount+ and should soon be back on the big screen as well.
Bennett Saved ‘Star Trek’
Before Abrams came along in 2007 to bring back “Star Trek,” there was a different person who was credited with saving the franchise. That guy was Harve Bennet, who Paramount hired to right the Trek ship after the expensive disappointment that was “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
Bennett was at the helm of Trek for three very successful films — “The Wrath of Khan,” “The Search for Spock,” and “The Voyage Home” and one disappointment — “The Final Frontier.” This last picture, for which he served as a producer along with Trek star William Shatner, is the lowest rated in the series. According to ScreenRant, Trek creator Gene Roddenberry disliked “Star Trek” 2-4, but he “hated” the “The Final Frontier.”
A New Idea from Ralph Winter
After surviving the unfortunate aftermath of “Star Trek V,” producer Ralph Winter pitched a prequel for the franchise. Bennett liked the idea and wanted to restart with a new, younger cast to play the iconic characters. He planned to set the stage for a new, younger Kirk and Spock in their days as Starfleet Academy students.
Bennett hired David Loughery, the same guy who wrote “The Final Frontier,” to pen a script based on this idea. According to an article on StarTrek.com, Bennett was excited about this new idea. He even had actors in mind to play the starring roles. Ethan Hawke would play a young Kirk, while John Cusack would portray Spock. Bennett had parts planned out for “The Original Series” actors as well.
Loughery spoke to Mark A. Altman and Ed Gross for their book, “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years.” Loughery told Altman and Gross that the studio was having trouble getting the original cast back together.
Star Trek V’s Aftermath
“Harve always had an ace up his sleeve, which was if we can’t get everybody together for one the ‘Star Trek’ movies, we should do a prequel,” Loughery said.
According to Loughery, the film would center on Jim Kirk, who was a cocky young cadet who encountered a brilliant and aloof Vulcan named Spock. If this sounds familiar, that is because fans saw this play out in “Star Trek (2009),” where Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) meet at the Academy.
Paramount decided not to make “Star Trek: The First Adventure” instead of making “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.” According to StarTrek.com, this decision ultimately caused Bennett to retire from the “Star Trek” business.
New Trek Series In Development
Now, according to an interview with the New York Times, current Trek czar Alex Kurtzman says that he and his team are developing a show called “Starfleet Academy.” The article states that the show will be aimed at a younger audience.
If the show takes place in the Prime Universe and not the Kelvin Timeline, Kurtzman could take the script written by Loughery and turn it into a series. Even though fans saw the events between young Kirk and Spock play out in 2009, that was technically not part of ‘real’ Trek history, as it happened in a parallel universe.
Kurtzman and company could make something entirely different. Nerdist recently compiled several ideas that Kurtzman could choose from, including a series about Worf as a cadet, or Wesley Crusher’s Nova Squadron, featured in the episode “The First Duty.”
In Comics and Video Games
There have also been at least two comic book tellings of Starfleet Academy stories — one by IDW and one by Marvel Comics. The IDW series focused on the Kelvin crew and introduced a series of new characters as well. Fans might remember a 1997 video game of the same name, available for Windows 95.