Mr. Locke, You Have The Bridge
UPDATE: In an interview with Empire Online, J.J. Abrams hastily clarified that he's only producing the new Star Trek movie, with an option to direct it. Oh, good, so he'll only be mostly distracted from his existing TV shows!
Abrams also insisted that the movie won't necessarily be about young Kirk and Spock, although he then almost immediately began musing dreamily on how cool it would be to revive those characters. This reminds me a bit of when the ubernerds at Ain't It Cool News leaked Abrams' since-abandoned script for the new Superman movie -- a script that, while admirably novel, was roughly as faithful to the source material as an Alias movie in which Sydney Bristow is a five-headed Neptunian nun struggling to raise a boxful of abandoned puppies -- and he had to scramble to insist that all that stuff was totally from an old, discarded draft that would most definitely never be used. Yeah. Totally.
Original post follows...
Oh, J.J. Abrams, why must you toy with us like this? The talented creator of maddeningly uneven TV shows has spent the past season or so in Movieland, toiling for the greater glory of Tom Cruise and his latest Mission: Impossible sequel. And while it looks like a far better movie than either of its predecessors -- which isn't the highest hurdle to clear, exactly -- Abrams' absence has taken a terrible toll on the TV series he created. While he's been gone, the once-amazing Alias has mostly collapsed into a twitching heap, and the initially thrilling Lost has begun to wander around in narrative circles.
With M:I:3: Attack of the Colons finally done, Abrams was making noises about finally getting back to that little ol' smash-hit television show about island-bound castaways he kinda sorta helped create. You know, just for a change of pace. And I'd begun to hope that just maybe he'd give it the creative kick in the pants it's starting to need. Ha! Was I ever a sucker.
The news broke today that Abrams will be making a Star Trek prequel movie for Paramount, focusing on the lives of young Kirk and Spock. I have no doubt it'll be entertaining; Abrams' stellar directorial work on Alias and Lost made for spellbinding TV. But creatively, it's a stupid decision on so many levels.
Already, many die-hard Star Trek fans are howling for blood like a horde of crazed Klingons, certain as only small-minded Internet nerds can be that this film will totally be TEH SUXXORS!!!1!!! (Even an eminently reasonable friend of mine expressed grave reservations that any young actor could possibly match up to her beloved William Shatner.) Abrams goes into this project faced with unreasonably high expectations, and watched like a hawk by a lot of people with a surplus of both righteous indignation and free time.
In addition, Abrams is playing with other people's toys, rather than creating anything entirely new. That was the whole fun of Alias and Lost -- at their best, both series gave us a spine-tingling thrill of novelty. At least Joss Whedon made the jump to the big screen with a direct continuation of a cancelled series -- and if he's since moved on to Wonder Woman, well, she hasn't already appeared in six well-known franchise films, has she?
Worst of all, Abrams is poaching Lost's co-creator Damon Lindelof, who wrote some of this season's liveliest and most intriguing episodes, to help with the movie. I'm not exactly seeing how that's gonna help Lost any. (Even if its writing staff will be joined by Buffy, Angel, and Alias vet Drew Goddard, who I suspect will one day unleash some form of televised greatness upon us.) Congratulations, J.J.! You just left Lost in the hands of Carlton Cuse, the man who created Nash Bridges. I hope you're proud.
I don't begrudge Abrams the chance to play with a bigger set of toys and a flashier budget for a larger potential audience. I just wish he weren't leaving his preexisting and perfectly good TV series to rot in the process. If you've got to abandon your supposedly beloved creations, J.J., at least be honest about it -- I'm not sure I could stand one more facetious interview where you pretend that you're really eager to get back to work on that one show you created, whatitsname, you know. With the people on the island. That one. Yeah.
On the plus side, I am looking forward to the cameo by Security Officer Greg Grunberg.
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