By Вen Li
The final frontier will become smaller with a new Star Trek series this fall.
Although Paramount has not confirmed the details of the unnamed Series V, industry experts and a leaked casting sheet suggest the new series will take place some 100 years before the adventures of James T. Kirk (William Shatner). Leading the starship and the show will likely be Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap) who will play Captain Jackson Archer, a curious explorer in his forties who has "a little trepidation about the strange things he will encounter."
Fear of the unknown is the least of Archer’s concerns. If the series does indeed take place in a smaller, less-well-explored region of space, writers can’t rely on Kirk’s Klingons, Picard’s diplomatic missions, Sisko’s Dominion or Janeway’s alien-anomaly-of-the-week to provide plots. Instead, Archer and his crew will have to carry what’s anticipated to be a seven-year series using good writing alone. And unlike Voyager which had the momentum of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to push it forward, Series V will have only the tired Voyager and Dr. Sam Beckett to draw and retain viewers in the face of a declining franchise.
On the other hand, confining Series V writers to a defined period of Star Trek history–according to what happened in the other series–may help keep the series fresh in terms of story ideas. Instead of finding new ways of becoming trapped in the Holodeck every few weeks like the Voyager crew, Archer will have to explore and expand the young Federation’s space, keep his crew alive and kick some ass along the way. In contrast to Voyager’s Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) who relied too inconsistently on the Prime Directive as her only conscience, and TNG’s Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) who rarely left the ship, the rebellious Archer will have to dispense his own brand of peaceful exploration.
For Archer and the series to be successful he will need to set himself apart from all the previous Star Trek captains. He can’t sleep with every alien woman he encounters like Kirk, find some inspiring passage to solve the problem at hand like Picard, try to play god like Sisko or stop to look at every pink cloud like Janeway. On the final frontier, Archer will need Captain Sisko’s righteousness, Picard’s diplomacy, Kirk’s daring and Janeway’s fluid personality to survive.
He will also need a good dose of luck, since starships were primitive and technobabble was lacking in the early days of the Federation. Captain Archer can’t count on quantum torpedoes, slip-stream drives or even the safe transporters found on Voyager If the producers do their job right, all he’ll have is a ship with cardboard walls and some exploding console hazards to steer her by.