It’s fair to say that some people just don’t like change. This is not a new phenomenon or feeling. Some of us don’t like when the world does something that people are not used to.
In a recent article in The New Yorker, writer Jill Lepore chronicled the rise and fall of Volkswagen. Volkswagen seemed unstoppable from its perch atop 1960s culture with its famous vehicles like the Beetle and the Bus. But as the years rolled on, Volkswagen got away from its old ways and got into trouble with the United States government by falsifying efficiency numbers concerning their diesel automobiles.
Lepore spoke with fans of the original Volkswagen Bus, who drove it back in the ’60s. This new bus, which Volkswagen calls the “ID.Buzz,” has been completely redesigned and is powered by electricity rather than diesel or gasoline. Though the Buzz is — by all statistics and measures — utterly superior to the old ’s VW Bus, those original fans aren’t interested.
The VW ID.Buzz
It might not be too much of a stretch to compare the VW Bus to “Star Trek,” which are both iconic in their own right. Trek ushered in a new storytelling style and a positive view of the future. These stories were broadcast on television while the U.S. struggled with many issues of the 1960s and provided comfort and escape to millions.
Interestingly, the original VW Bus even guest starred on an episode of “Star Trek: Voyager” as the vehicle of a 1990s hippie and scientist played by actress and comedian Sarah Silverman.
There is no doubt that many fans of “The Original Series” do not like the new era of shows or films. Like the new electric VW Bus, they say that “NuTrek” has strayed too far from its roots and is “Star Trek” in name only. Many fans have turned to the FOX/Hulu show “The Orville” for their space adventure fix.
“Orville” Executive Producer David A. Goodman told CBR why he thought some Trek fans liked his show so much.
Sarah Silverman and her VW Bus
“I think the difference for us is that Seth [MacFarlane] was very much aware… he’s making a show for everybody,” Goodman told CBR in 2017. “That’s what gets lost in the discussion of ‘Star Trek’ fans liking and not liking a show.”
“The original ‘Star Trek’ was a show that millions of people watched all over the world,” Goodman said. “A subset of them — like me — are super passionate ‘Star Trek’ fans. I’ve written three ‘Star Trek’ books. I’m a big fan, but we represent a very small, tiny part of the audience that watch that show.”
“Orville” creator Seth MacFarlane is also a big “Star Trek” fan and obviously modeled his show on the franchise. Many feel that he’s done a better job at capturing the spirit of “The Original Series” and even “Next Generation” as well.
It’s often that when so-called “NuTrek” shows are promoted, fans go out of their way to recommend “The Orville” instead. These fans usually blame “Star Trek” executive producer Alex Kurtzman for ruining the franchise.
‘The Orville’ vs. ‘Star Trek: Discovery’
An excellent example of this attitude was a recent post on the Heavy on Star Trek Facebook page, where one fan said of “Star Trek: Discovery” and Kurtzman:
“The concept of jumping to the 32nd century is a great idea but executed by the worst group of writers ever brought together. It’s an absolute dumpster fire. With good writers, Kurtzman gone, and post-Burnham being shot into space, this show could be redeemed.”
Fans like this have taken it upon themselves to try changing the franchise’s direction by creating petitions. One petition in particular aims to replace Kurtzman with MacFarlane. The petition says:
“Alex Kurtzman has little respect for the wealth of information and progress that the ‘Star Trek’ universe has built up over more than 50 years. He repeatedly ignores what the fans want to see for ‘Star Trek.’ Seth MacFarlane, on the other hand, is a lifelong Trekker who has shown that he can create a compelling story that respectfully and meaningfully looks at some of the problems ailing our modern world. His work on the Orville is a testament to his creative genius and respect for fans.”
MacFarlane on ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’
It’s unlikely that this petition (or the many others) will move Paramount to make a change at the very top. Kurtzman recently extended his contract with the studio until 2026, and he was at the helm when the massive hit “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” took Trek to new heights.
In many ways, “Strange New Worlds” is to the ID.Buzz as “The Original Series” is to the original VW Bus. SNW looks a lot like TOS, but the guts inside are very different. It’s a matter of time if Anson Mount’s show will have the staying power that William Shatner’s does today.