If I had rebooted Star Trek

I hear rumors they’ll be starting to film the second rebooted Star Trek film in January.

I watched the original Star Trek (the classic edition) as a child, mostly on afternoon repeats. Bones was my favorite, but as a girl, watching Uhura every week be an officer on a starship meant a huge amount to me because it meant I wasn’t crazy to think that was something I could dream about.

In later years I watched The Next Generation and what came to be my favorite of the Treks, Deep Space Nine. I even watched as much Voyager as I could stand, although I’ve never seen Enterprise. I’ve also watched all of the films. But of course the original Trek had the greatest impact on me because it was unusual in its day. It pushed the envelope.

So you can imagine my disappointment when “rebooting” Star Trek really didn’t mean rebooting the vision. It just meant most of the same 20th century conceptions only with young actors, better CGI, and a plot that didn’t quite hold up.

Did I really reach this age and be forced to watch the young James Kirk as a rebellious, impulsive boy racing a car in a chase scene down a road? Seriously? That’s it? That’s my reboot?

I wish they had let ME reboot Star Trek.

Let me start with my fantasy cast.

 

Ensign Jamie Kirk should obviously be played by someone young, smart, kickass, tough, and hot. A bit of a rebel. Yeah, like this.

 

(Zoe Saldana)

 

Spock is always a difficult choice, and in this case older than the others, but that’s okay as the most important qualification is present: She’s Jewish.

 

(Sophie Okonedo)

 

Given Hollywood’s evident belief in the interchangeable nature of Asian-Americans, I thought for Sulu it would be okay to go for a Korean-American with some martial arts experience.

 

(Jamie Chung)

 

As for Scotty, since no one can really replace James Doohan in that role, I felt the best bet would be to insist the person actually be Scots, to get the accent right.

 

(Katie Leung)

 

As I mentioned above, Bones (L. McCoy) was my favorite character. Who should play the doctor?

 

(Freema Agyeman)

 

That leaves us with the iconic Uhura, a name taken (according to Wikipedia, so correct me if I’m wrong) from the Swahili word for freedom, Uhuru. I loved Nichelle Nichols in that ground-breaking role. So I’d like to make sure that the role is played by someone the writers will give a lot of screen time to, so the role isn’t given short-shrift or downplayed as a love interest. Uhuru it is.

 

 

(Chris Pine)

 

You’ve noticed I’m missing Chekhov (Walter Koenig was so safely CUTE to my pre-teen eyes). Probably because the whole OMG-they-have-a-Russian-guy-on-the-same-ship-despite-the-Cold-War vibe isn’t quite so startling now.

That’s where you come in. Whom would you cast as Chekhov? And why? Or would you change out Chekhov for a different character? And if so, why?

37 thoughts on “If I had rebooted Star Trek

    • Hi, Star Strek original could be viewed as “counter-cultural” item.

      It truly travelled into the unknown frontiers of US cultural taboos of the 1906s and before back in time…and from our back in time 2012 perspective-even more so.

      We take for granted many of the accepted views and values of today but these were sensitive issues of the past and some still are.

      Star trek tried to take Americans out of their conservative strictures of American values to the beyond.

      That was and is the value of the series. Open minded….

  1. Pingback: MA in advanced linguistics. PhD in badass. at Feminist SF – The Blog!

  2. I think that for the same ethnic impact today you should make Chekhov Hispanic (or, probably more aligned with the original ethnic intent, make Sulu Hispanic (the supposed-to-be-a-friend-but-still-somehow-threatening race nowadays) and Chekhov Chinese, North Korean, or Middle Eastern (the sure-we’re-friends-but-we-don’t-trust-you-a-bit race)). Sulaf Fawakherji or Michelle Rodriguez would both fit nicely.

    • I love Michelle Rodriquez.

      Hadn’t heard of Sulaf Fawakherji, but she’s a good choice — and Syrian. I was picking from a pretty limited pool — British and American actresses — mostly because I wanted people that a general reader would have heard of and been familiar with, but a a truly international crew would be even better.

    • You weren’t alone. I thought the actors were all very appealing. But the script was awful, and the retro-ness made me very sad and irritated.

  3. This is fabulous. What a great opportunity it would have been, to recapture that same groundbreaking spirit with the Star Trek reboot. I love this idea and want to see more of your ideas, which is why I will go pick up one of your books at the next opportunity =D

    I’m no good with fantasy casts, but I’m very intrigued by the suggestions for a Middle Eastern Chekhov.

    • Yes, I wish I would have thought of an Arab or Middle Eastern Chekhov. But I also like the idea of an Indian science officer, and there are tons of Bollywood actresses, both Hindu and Muslim.

  4. My prior comment is in response to aurora, not sure if it went through that way….

    Also:

    Personally I’d like the officers to be balanced men and women, that would be pushing the envelope in today’s hollywood, where casts are frequently mostly male, or mostly female, even with the more modern star trek iterations. But we’d have to have a captain Jamie Kirk. Who is as much of a womanizer as James Kirk. ;)

    • My preference is for balanced casts. In fact, one of the things that so annoyed me about the reboot of Trek is precisely that they could have balanced the cast more by gender. But somehow those 1960s gender choices were “essential” to the characters. So I just flipped the cast — to make that point.

    • Good question. That I have to think about a little more. A more balanced cast, and I wish they had actually done a story that had to do with the academy and training and not a huge faux crisis whose denoument I simply did not believe, and which ended up with them as the new crew of the Enterprise, when that is just not how it would work in an institution based on our military.

  5. What a great idea!
    Ahh the reboot: “How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.” It was bloody awful and aimed at all the fanboys and was so lacking in what made me love the original.

    As to Chekov – it would be nice if Chekhov were to actually be played by a Russian – surely there is a Russian actress who could fit the bill.

    • Given that it was JJ Abrams, I think it was also aimed at him and to his taste. Fits his other work.

      The Russian aspect of Chekhov is part of what struck me as unnecessary. Just not an important plot point. And I wasn’t convinced that a strong Russian accent would still be around. But, having said that, I thought at the time that switching Chekhov to a female character would have been an easy flip. Yet, no: Had to be another guy.

  6. An undocumented character is a great idea. Maybe actors clearly showing their religious affiliations, since the national affiliations will no longer be so meaningful.

    • Yes, it does seem national affiliations might be less important in the Star Trek future. Many people have suggested a Muslim science officer, which fits with the history of Islam and would fit with our current cultural anxieties as well.

  7. Embarrassingly I do not know any by name, but I think Chekhov should be an Islamic woman and that she should wear a hijab. Not so she is wearing a badge of her faith and therefore easily identifiable, but because many people I speak to say this is what bothers them about Islam or the number of Islamic people in our community. Possibly even someone of western european descent who has converted to Islam and has chosen to wear the hijab. I feel like people have a lot of preconceived notions about women who wear the veil.
    I have to admit it’s kind of abstract for me as I’ve rarely watched Star Trek *blush*
    Maddie
    ps. I have been watching a lot of Sophie Okonedo in ‘The Slap’, a series currently on ABC T.V. in Australia. She is a brilliant genius of an actor.

    • Yes, there were a number of other commenters who have suggested that Chekhov be a Muslim woman, possibly of Arab descent. Or an Indian Muslim. Both cultures with a deep tradition of science.

      I’ve not seen or heard of “The Slap” — what’s it about?

      • “The Slap” was a lauded novel by Christo Tsiolkas a couple of years ago. It centres around the repercussions amongst a group of friends and family when one of the characters slaps another’s child.

          • I have noticed a number of good shows are remade for U.S. audiences. It seems a bit redundant if the show was good in the first place. I feel it doesn’t give the audience much credit, and also it encourages viewers to only appreciate stories as viewed through an Americanised lens.

            I think the ABC website puts up each week’s episode online for the week after it airs on TV. That’s what my sister told me anyway . . .

  8. I’d watch it only if it was an entirely female cast. Heck, make it so that a late 21st century disease renders all males dead and the Federation is made up of lesbian explorers who fight and love…often. I’d watch that.

    • I’m curious about how Katie Leung is “barely” Scottish, though. Maybe it’s just that it’s different in the USA. If you are born in the USA and raised in the USA, you are American.

    • I asked Charles Stross (who lives in Edinburgh) and he said that Scots can be used to say, forex, “he is Scots” in the same way one would say “he is Scottish.” Just a data point.

  9. Loving the idea, if we want to make it fun they could meet via a parallel universe intersecting/alternate reality (can’t remember the episode but sure they did this in DS9 with Kira).

    • The alt universe episodes in DS9 were some of my favorites (and DS9 is my fave Star Trek of the various series). If only they would do it!

  10. Fine post. Point of trivia from a compulsive proofreader: it’s “Chekov,” not “Chekhov.” Assuming you’re not trying to cast the Russian writer, Anton Chekhov. :-)

    For what it’s worth, Roddenberry strongly believed that in his future Earth, religion would have vanished; he was an emphatic atheist, and believed that all humans in the future would be, just as we’d learn to quit wanting money when our needs could otherwise be met, inter-human war would be obsolete because rationality would prevail, etc.

    One of the few references to religion in TOS is in “Bread And Circuses,” where they refer to “sun worshippers” who turn out to be “son worshippers,” and it’s clear Christ is meant. But that’s about it, and it’s an outstanding oddity in the canon. (Also, they weren’t Earth people worshipping, and Kirk’s remarks could be taken simply as awe at history repeating itself, though that’s debatable.)

    But Roddenberry was very hostile to religion, which is why it otherwise went about completely unmentioned, other than as alien, or obsolete human, superstition — in all the Trek made while Roddenberry was alive. Even the Bajoran religion created around his death that was central to DS9 was given a clear scientific explanation as being based on aliens outside our linear time.

    On the other hand, slavish adherence to Roddenberry would be stupid; he had plenty of flaws in his ideas. (He was also a notorious womanizer, himself, as I understand it.)

    This is my roundabout way of saying that having any of the characters in a reboot be of a particular current Earth religion would distinctly be revisionist, but I see no reason why it couldn’t be done, if handled well. Blowing up Vulcan is more than a little revisionist, after all. It would distinctly require an overall significant revision of standard Trek future for Earth, though, in which worship of gods or a God has specifically vanished and is dismissed as past superstition. Roddenberry continued to hit this point hard in TNG in a variety of episodes while he was still alive.

    • Gary, thanks for the correction. I am ashamed to say that I did not look it up (as I could so easily have done) so I probably just went with the literary spelling which would have been the first one to pop into my head.

      That is a really interesting point about religion in Star Trek. I really liked the Bajoran religion and how they dealt with it but you’re quite right that it is an anomaly in the serieses. One of the ways in which I felt the new “rebooted” Trek failed so miserably (for me as a viewer) was its lack of any coherent vision beyond let’s make these characters young again and put in more fights and CGI and up to date jokes. There was no there, there, as it were.

      And I find I do expect some “there” in my Trek; whatever my disagreements may have been with Roddenberry’s vision, he had one, and I value that aspect. I do think he was in certain ways not so much ahead of his time as someone who was trying to really imagine a different future not just tech-wise but culturally. To my mind he did a better job than, say, Heinlein, in that sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>