Last week. Many news outlets reported that a Starfleet Academy TV series was in development. The series, which is being developed by Paramount will be aimed at younger viewers. This news was broke by the New York Times, which didn’t specify whether the series would be live-action or animated.
To older Star Trek fans. The fact that a Starfleet Academy series has been brought up is hardly a big surprise. The concept of a Starfleet Academy series or movie goes as far back as the 1990s. Which was when Harve Bennett first broached the idea with a script titled ‘Star Trek: The First Adventure’. The plan was to release the film, which would have focused on a younger Kirk in time for the 25th anniversary back in 1991. The idea was kyboshed and instead, we got Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country.
Media Tie Ins
While the idea of a TV series or movies based on the famous Academy was knocked back by the powers that be. It didn’t stop other forms of media from running with the idea. Indeed, we got a ton of tie-ins, which gave us fresh young characters as they went through their freshman years.
Marvel Comics had a stab at it back in 1996 when they released a Starfleet Academy comic book, which ran for a short 19 issues. The comic book was written by Chris Cooper with artwork from Chris Renaud and John Royle. The 19 issue run went for two years until its eventual cancellation in June of 1998.
The comic book followed Nog and Omega Squad as they went off on their adventures. The comic even had a special Klingon Language edition for issue 18.
Since then we’ve seen IDW have a stab at it using the characters from the 2009 Star Trek movie reboot.
Over the years. PC Gamers have seen an absolute shedload of games based within the Star Trek Universe and one of the most loved and frustrating ones was Starfleet Academy, which was released back in September of 1997. The game featured guest Appearances from William Shatner and George Takei as they shepherded a new group of cadets through their paces.
The game featured a number of simulator-based missions in which you took command of an element of ship operations. Or even took the Captain’s chair. The game had had a fairly steep learning curve and didn’t really favor the casual gamer. The storyline saw you and other cadets take advice from various characters from the classic trek series and included full-motion video cut scenes between the various missions.
Star Trek Books
The 1990s and early 2000s also saw a series of Starfleet Academy books set within the Next Generation and DS9 universe. Some of which I remember reading and quite enjoying. However, there are simply too many to mention off the top of my head. So I shall leave this topic for the time being and perhaps revisit it in a separate article at a later date.
What Possible Storylines Might a TV Show Present Us With?
So, assuming these reports prove to be correct and are greenlighted by Paramount. What sort of things might we see in a series about Star Trek’s famous Academy.
It stands to reason that the show would have to be based around a young cast of people in their late teens and early 20s. But that doesn’t preclude the inclusion of characters from the Next Generation or Deep Space Nine. In fact, it might encourage older fans to watch if a character from one of the legacy shows were to have a recurring role as an instructor.
Throughout the TV series. We have had flashes of young fresh-faced cadets or officers fresh out of the academy struggle to fit in. Indeed, we got a good look at the famed Academy in a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled ‘The First Duty’. We get a good look at how the judicial system works for cadets when Wesley and his team are discovered to have covered up important information, which led to the death of a fellow cadet.
In another episode called ‘Lower Decks’, which is not to be confused with the animated series. We see a group of fresh-faced officers from the Academy compete with each other for promotion. They are guided by Riker and Troi.
And of course in Deep Space Nine we saw a series of episodes in which Nog struggled to gain acceptance as the first Ferengi to go to the academy. His adventures with the much-hyped Red Squad being probably the best example.
Of course, these are all examples of stories that Star Trek has already done. There are indeed tons of other issues that a new show could explore. As well as aspects of Trek from the other shows that could be incorporated. For example, it would be cool to see a bit more on Red Squad. Maybe even see what it takes to learn about ship security. The internal politics of Starfleet. How do the cadets relate to their instructors and vice versa? Do the cadets actually get to do actual missions?
We’d also see what it takes to become an officer. What sort of mistakes do these people make along the way. The Legendary Captain Picard often talked about his academy days and his youthful arrogance. Particularly the incident with the Nausicaans and of course the Upper Classman Picard winning the Academy Marathon, which Admiral Hanson mentions in ‘Best of Both Worlds’ part one.
Of course much will depend on what era of Star Trek the writers choose to go with. But I personally would hope for a show set within the Next Generation, DS9, and Voyager Timeline. Pick up from where those shows left off and show us the future officers as they train to be the best of the best.