Fan-fiction has a very iffy reputation for a very good reason: Most of the time, its pretty terrible (at least Nick’s Guardians of the Galaxy fan-fiction is also informative on how to properly remove body fluids from tree bark). And even worse, occasionally terrible fan-fiction goes on to become terrible international bestselling novels and terrible box-office record setting movies. The same is very seldomly said though for that more elusive of finds: good fan-fiction. But thanks to Paramount and major Star Trek fan Michael Gummelt, that may just change in the near future.
For the last 20 years Gummelt has been crafting Star Trek Uncharted – one of the most in-depth pieces of “fan-fiction” I’ve ever seen – as an idea of how the much beloved sci-fi franchise can return to its roots as a TV series again. Ever since JJ Abrams rebooted the universe with 2008’s Star Trek, fans have been calling for a brand new TV series, and over the years since we’ve heard reports of a number of studios, screenwriters and filmmakers all thinking about various ways to accomplish just that. Grummelt is of course none of those things (though he was a game developer who worked on “Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force”), which makes this bit of news extra special, as Paramount have called him in to officially pitch his TV show idea to them. Grummelt explained to TrekMovie:
“I can now officially announce that I do, indeed, have an invitation to come pitch Star Trek Uncharted at Paramount this summer! As far as I know, this is the first time a fan (not an established industry insider) has been invited to pitch a Star Trek TV series. This is, obviously, extremely exciting and I’m doing my best to get support for it from industry professionals. One of my concept cast members has read the script and expressed interest in supporting it, which is fantastic!”
There are tons of Star Trek fan-fiction created, so why did Paramount single out Grummelt for this unprecedented opportunity? Well, for one thing, if you visit Grummelt’s official site you will immediately see that the amount of detail that he has gone to with envisioning this series is staggering, even down to already casting the roles. Also, it may just have come down to a fortuitous coincidence involving a name; specifically, the fact that Grummelt’s idea was originally called Star Trek Beyond, but he had to change it earlier in the year when it was rumoured that that’s actually what the official new Star Trek movie was going to be called.
“I think when the rumors of the naming coincidence came out, Paramount saw my website and the passion I had for Star Trek and the idea of it returning to TV, and for my specific concept. I think they felt I would gladly jump at an opportunity to come in and pitch it… which, of course, I did!
I’m not under any illusions about my chances (and I realize CBS has the rights to produce any new Star Trek TV series), but it’s a chance of a lifetime and I have nothing to lose. I have a great job and a great life, so why not take the chance?
I was a film school student before getting my job at Raven Software. I literally just emptied my dorm room into my car and just left my classes (and my TA job) to go to Raven. Getting to write Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force was a fantastic opportunity I never expected to get. And now, having been an aspiring filmmaker and lifelong Trek and sci-fi fan, this pitch opportunity is a dream come true. So I plan on making the most of this opportunity!”
But what’s Star Trek Uncharted actually about? Well, you can go peruse this entire world over at www.StarTrekUncharted.com, but here’s the cliff-notes version of the series, which is set 200 years after the time of Captain Kirk and the original Enterprise:
A mysterious signal is received from the Andromeda Galaxy, claiming to be from the creators of life in the Milky Way, and inviting us to come meet them.
A new “space folding” technology developed– a Hyperwarp Gate constructed to warp jump 2.5 million light years to the Andromeda Galaxy.
Probes have returned successfully with data about Andromeda.
A new USS Enterprise is built. It is the first ship to bear the name since the original Enterprise was destroyed in the Galactic War.
The Enterprise is the first ship assigned to the new galaxy. Its Mission:
- To explore strange, new worlds.
- Seek out new life and new civilizations.
- To chart the Andromeda Galaxy and its inhabitants.
- Establish first contact.
- Form alliances and diplomatic relations.
The Enterprise will occasionally return to Milky Way for staffing changes, refits, extended leave.
Meanwhile, Starbase A-1 is being built, will be complete at end of first year and two more ships will join the expedition. Admiral Oviedo San Lagos will be the commander of Starbase A-1.
If you’re wondering how that setup and timeline fits into the current continuity being explored in the rebooted modern films… well, it doesn’t. Not quite. And that’s intentional.
“This concept has gone through a lot of different incarnations over the past 20 years since I first started working on it. But the way I look at it now is: it should, first and foremost, be a show that can stand on its own. It shouldn’t rely too heavily on any deep, intimate knowledge of every past Trek show and movie. It would be very tempting to put in all sorts of references and trivia that only fans like me would get. But for Trek to return to TV after so long, it needs to be reinvented for a new generation. Not a reboot, that’s already being done in the movies.
What I want for this series is for it to be the future – a Star Trek TV series that feels modern and feels futuristic relative to our current times. So, as I see it, “Star Trek Uncharted” is set sometime in the future, distant enough that it doesn’t really matter which universe it takes place in. It’s universe-agnostic. In my fantasy world where the series actually gets made, it would need to establish itself as its own show, with its own identity. Only once it’s accomplished that would it need to establish its place in the lore.
In any case, I imagine it would be up to Paramount, CBS and Bad Robot to decide if they wanted to use it as a “shared universe” show along the lines of Agents of SHIELD.”
What we know about the upcoming third new Star Trek movie is that franchise newcomer director Justin Lin and co are trying to get back to that more exploratory roots of Star Trek, all about discovering new worlds and new civilizations. This “five-year mission” is something that JJ Abrams’ two films kind of ignored (option for lots of lens-flarey action instead), but which fits in perfectly with Gummelt’s ideas here. That makes the proposed title of Star Trek Beyond for both properties such a good coincidence.
“Well, I loved the title “Star Trek Beyond” and what that evoked in terms of the mission of both the show and the Enterprise, itself. That’s why I picked that name out of the hundred name ideas I had back when I wrote all this up last year. But when the rumors came out that Paramount might name the next movie the same thing, I knew I would need to change it to avoid confusion.
I went back to my list and one of them just really jumped out at me that I hadn’t really given much serious thought to. “Star Trek Uncharted” really gets at the essential mission of the new Enterprise – to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. to boldly go, and so on. To bring back that frontier “wagon train to the stars” spirit of the original series. A real journey into the unknown.
But I also think it describes well the goal of the show: to bring Trek back to TV in a way it’s never been done (as a modern, premium cable format series with a modern dramatic structure) and to touch on current themes, sociopolitical topics and new sci-fi ideas that Trek hasn’t been able to address for the past 10 years. My vision for the series would be to take Star Trek into uncharted waters in several different ways.”
The last Star Trek TV show we had was Enterprise, which had some great ideas (plus a really catchy theme song and Scott Bakula!) but was not wholly successful in its execution. But that was 2005. Ten years later is enough time to iron out those kinks and get it right this time around. The fact that Grummelt has already done so much of the grunt work in building this world, should make it an even easier sell for Paramount.
But even if the studio still passes on this opportunity after listening to him, the simple fact remains that we badly need a Star Trek TV show again. Make it so, Paramount!
Last Updated: June 23, 2015