Many Star Trek fans (including this one) did not like Star Trek Into Darkness, especially because of the way it appropriated the main villain and half the storyline of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in such a sloppy, arbitrary way. But that doesn’t mean that other episodes of The Original Series couldn’t be either sequelized or even remade as movies in the so-called Kelvin Timeline, in which the current movies starring Chris Pine and company all take place. After all, wasn’t The Wrath of Khan itself a sequel to a TV episode?
So maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but it seems like a number of stories from The Original Series could either be redone as first-time adventures for the Kelvin Timeline crew or continued/expanded, taking the initial premise into a potentially interesting new direction (my apologies if any of these have shown up in the many Trek books out there — I’m strictly a TV and movie guy when it comes to the franchise). While the box office for Star Trek Beyond means that the jury is still out on Star Trek 4 no matter what the studio has said recently, below are 10 possible candidates for such treatment. Do you like any of these or should the Star Trek movies leave the past behind once and for all?
“The Doomsday Machine”
This is an idea I’ve had in my brain for a while: what if a Star Trek 4 based on this classic episode takes the show’s original narrative — the crew of the Enterprise must stop an automated, planet-destroying weapon that has wandered into our galaxy — and adapts it into the first half-hour or 45 minutes of a feature film. The rest of the story could follow Kirk and the gang as they encounter the remnants of the alien race who sent the doomsday machine out in the first place — and want their robot back. Action and space battles would be balanced out by a moral theme about war and an encounter with a truly new alien species. Sounds like a money-making machine to me.
Although a Gorn showed up briefly in episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series and Star Trek: Enterprise in addition to the race’s first season debut on the original show, the warlike reptilian race from this fan favorite could definitely be explored in greater detail. And while we’re at it, what about the Metrons? The immensely powerful, unknown beings who placed Kirk and the Gorn captain in combat in the first place (in the original episode) have also remained out of sight for five decades. Perhaps the Gorn return for a rematch and Kirk has to ask the Metrons for help. Or maybe the Metrons themselves become hostile and we have to join forces with the Gorn and other races to stop them. Either way, this is one large arena to play in.
“The Tholian Web”
Like the Gorn, the Tholians have shown up a bit here and there in the Trek universe since their debut in this third season episode, but I always wanted to see one of the show’s weirdest alien races explored a lot further (maybe I just have a thing for crystalline forms of life). No real strong ideas come to mind, but like “The Doomsday Machine,” “The Tholian Web” could be adapted with minimal stress into the first act of a feature films and act as the springboard for a bigger story. Would Kirk vanish into a dimensional sink again and be presumed dead? Would Spock have his command questioned by Dr. McCoy? Maybe, maybe not. Don’t ask me, I just like Tholians!
“Where No Man Has Gone Before”
Some of you who follow the development of the Trek movies avidly may recall a rumor that was around for a minute suggesting that Star Trek Into Darkness was going to feature Benedict Cumberbatch not as Khan but as Gary Mitchell, the navigator who became a godlike being in the second Original Series pilot (it turns out the source of the rumor was Karl Urban, the Kelvin Timeline’s Dr. McCoy, who misspoke). Frankly, that might have been a better gambit than Khan, who is much more iconic than Mitchell and already had a movie to his name. The story is a solid one — Mitchell’s newfound powers drive him insane, forcing Kirk to decide whether to kill his friend or not — and a big-budget film could really show the extent of Mitchell’s mutation (in the show he just sort of threw some styrofoam rocks around) while expanding on the nature of the “energy barrier” at the edge of the galaxy.
The “evil parallel universe” concept behind one of the most popular Original Series installments also proved irresistible to the producers of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, both of which visited the Mirror Universe at one point or another. Seems reasonable that the crew of the Kelvin Timeline could cross over as well — and since Paramount Pictures has announced that the alleged Star Trek 4 will feature Chris Hemsworth as Kirk’s father, perhaps he could show up as a Mirror Universe version of himself? Or maybe the Mirror Universe turns out to actually be the Prime Universe…there are all kinds of possibilities but right now they’re starting to hurt my head so I’ll let you discuss them from here.
“Errand of Mercy”
We have yet to see the crew of the Enterprise in the Kelvin Timeline really cross paths with the Klingon Empire, although such a confrontation has been rumored ever since the franchise was rebooted in 2009. This ingenious episode, in which all-out war between the Feds and the Klingons is thwarted by an infinitely more powerful race called the Organians, could be the springboard for the same basic story, only played out on a much larger feature film canvas. We could really see the Klingons and Starfleet go at it, while enhancing the Organian storyline as well. Or, conversely, a sequel could find the Organians called in when the peace treaty they negotiated breaks down, only for the benevolent superbeings to be betrayed in some way.
“Balance of Terror”
One of the great Trek episodes of all time, “Balance of Terror” is a retelling itself of the wartime naval drama The Enemy Below, in which a submarine and a destroyer play a game of cat-and-mouse on the high seas. There are a number of subplots on the show as well, including that of Navigator Stiles (Paul Comi), who exhibits outright bigotry and suspicion toward Spock when it turns out that the Romulans and Vulcans may be distant relatives. Seems like a storyline about bigotry during wartime would have a lot of relevance these days, and you can’t go wrong with a main narrative that deals with the Enterprise and the Romulans on the verge of mutual destruction. As with others on this list, using the original plot as the basis for a bigger story could pay off.
The second Original Series episode to feature the irascible space con man Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) was a much lighter, more farcical affair than his first season debut in “Mudd’s Women,” but you could still turn the story of an irresponsible loser lording over a planet of androids into something more sober without sacrificing all the comedic elements. And modern day visual effects could do a lot more with the androids themselves than just filming two models and superimposing them over and over and over (although the ladies themselves were quite lovely to look at).
“The Squire of Gothos”
Trelane, the little alien boy who looks like a 16th century lord and treats the crew of the Enterprise like his personal playthings, was last seen being scolded by his energy being parents and sent to his room without supper. Recreating such a beloved character carries almost as much risk as rebooting Khan, but what if Trelane snuck out of his room and decided he wanted to make the whole galaxy his personal sandbox? A far more inventive writer than me could really go over the top with the idea of a child rampaging through all of civilized space — because how can you control a child?
“The City on the Edge of Forever”
I don’t dare to suggest that this Harlan Ellison-scripted masterpiece, a highwater mark of not just Trek but televised sci-fi, be remade for the big screen. But the Guardian of Forever is out there, waiting for someone to use it again, and this makes me think once more of Paramount’s promise that George Kirk would be back in Star Trek 4. Could his impetuous son use the portal to travel in time and meet up with his dad, only for their actions to inadvertently have catastrophic effects on the timeline? If done right, such a story might be a worthy successor to “City.” Only time will tell…