The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
'Galaxy Quest'
is better trek
than 'Star Trek'


January 20, 2000
By Franklin Harris

MEMO TO: Paramount Studios

FROM: Franklin Harris

If your clipping service out there in Hollywood is doing its job, you know I'm no fan of the current creative team behind the "Star Trek" television and motion picture franchises, as they're called.

Rick Berman, executive producer of the past three "Star Trek" television series and the latest three Trek films, has indicated on numerous occasions his dislike for Gene Roddenberry's original "Star Trek." And he has surrounded himself with writers and co-producers who share his tastes.

To be blunt, the folks in charge of "Star Trek" just don't get it.

Even the fact that you refer to Trek as "The Franchise" indicates a certain lack of respect for the property you own. It's the "franchise" mentality that gives us reeking piles like "Wild Wild West" and "Wing Commander," as if anything even remotely artistic can come from the same paint-by-numbers thinking McDonald's uses to guarantee that every Big Mac, from Milwaukee to Moscow, is the same as any other.

I'm aware that one of your spokesmen has denied the Internet rumor that Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner (Capt. Picard and Lt. Cmdr. Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation") have made a pitch to take over production of the next Trek film. Replacing Ber-man and his crew is a good idea, but, given their past statements on the future of Trek, Stewart and Spiner are hardly suitable replacements. It was Stewart's input, after all, that helped make "Star Trek: Insurrection" such a clunker.

If anyone is going to resuscitate "Star Trek," they are going to have to understand what made the original Trek the cult favorite that spawned all of the follow-ups of the '80s and '90s.

I have just the people in mind.

You may have noticed that your rivals over at DreamWorks SKG have a film currently in theaters called "Galaxy Quest."

It stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman as actors on a beloved sci-fi television series called "Galaxy Quest," which, like a certain other real-life series, maintains a large and devoted following years after its cancellation.

Allen plays Jason Nesmith, the William Shatner of the bunch, who is barely tolerated by most of his fellow cast members and seems to be the only "Galaxy Quest" alum to maintain a career apart from attending boat shows and mini-mall openings.

Rickman is the humiliated Shakespearean actor, forever doomed to have fans asking him to utter "The Line" for which his character, Dr. Lazarus, is known.

And Weaver is the eye candy. Her character's only role on the show was to take up space and repeat everything the starship's computer said.

They're just a bunch of washed-up actors until real extraterrestrials, who've seen "Galaxy Quest" broadcasts and mistaken them for historical documents, come to Earth seeking help. After all, who better to save the aliens from a viscous, interstellar threat than the legendary crew of the starship Protector?

Soon, the actors find themselves playing their iconic roles for real aboard a ship designed to operate exactly like the one on the TV show.

The director and writers of "Galaxy Quest" trot out every sci-fi cliché imaginable, but never to ridicule. "Galaxy Quest" shows a real love for "Star Trek" and other sci-fi series like it. As a result, "Galaxy Quest" is, in a way, the best "Star Trek" movie since "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."

I'm not saying that the next "Star Trek" film should be a comedy. In fact, forced comedy is a major flaw of the last Trek film.

I'm just saying that "Star Trek" deserves to be in the hands of people who actually care about it. Is that so much to ask?

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