Yes, we’ve all heard the Federation’s party line: ”Star Trek doesn’t need saving. Voyager is a UPN ratings powerhouse.” But taking solace in the fact that a 33-year-old, billion-dollar franchise routinely outranks the likes of Shasta McNasty (while getting smacked down by the WWF) isn’t going to change the reality on the final frontier: Voyager viewership is down from last year, even though it’s now the only Star Trek show in town. So allow us to help you chart a new course:
Go home already
If I see another of ST:V’s we’ve-finally-found-a-way-back-home-ha-ha-just-kidding episodes I’m gonna kick someone right in the dilithium crystals. One of the most engaging elements of Star Trek is the idea that each series could impact the other, like when Next Generation mainstay Worf joined Deep Space Nine. But with Voyager taking place on the far side of the galaxy, the show feels irritatingly insulated. Why not make Voyager a part of the big cosmic picture, instead of leaving them to wander around like kids lost in a really big mall?
Star Trek: The Sex Generation
The injection of the skintight Seven of Nine into the Voyager fold was a masterstroke, especially for all the lonely male fans. But why does everyone else have to look — and act — like space monks? If the U.S. naval fleet comes in looking for love round every hot dog stand, then a crew that’s spent five years cramped together in a dimly lit saucer should be more than a little randy. Not that they should try to make it with every biped they bump into, but a healthy dollop of libido would be stellar.
Laser in on a subculture
For the new Trek series that’s rumored to be on the horizon, take a page from the Law & Order playbook and, a la Special Victims Unit, focus on a specific section of Starfleet. There have got to be great stories to tell that don’t involve captains, starships, or discovering new civilizations. What about those ground troops that get deployed for Federation wars or Starfleet’s internal affairs division? And if you don’t think that anyone would be interested in the exploits of military lawyers, check out where CBS’ JAG ranks in the Nielsens.
Recruit some new cadets
Too many of the same staffers have been boldly going for too long now (some date back to the launch of Next Generation), and the show’s quality suffers for it. That is to say, vitality has been assimilated by complacency. Hire some talented folks who’ll think outside the Trek lines, who won’t be afraid to learn from brave mistakes. Fresh blood should put some kick back in the ol’ warp drive. Make it so.