Three monumental franchises turned 50 within a couple of years of each other. In 2012, it was James Bond, and MGM celebrated by revisiting the back catalog for home video, licensing the character out to help shill for endless products, and releasing Skyfall. In 2013, it was Doctor Who, and the BBC doled out a half-season of new episodes, a theatrically-released and globally simulcast 50th Anniversary multi-Doctor special uniting Matt Smith and David Tennant, and a Christmas special bringing Smith’s time as the Doctor to a close. Along the way, there were canonical cameos from prior Doctors like Paul McGann and Tom Baker, a hilarious meta-fictional short movie chronicling Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy’s bumbling efforts to work their way into the 50th Anniversary special, an original TV movie about the making of the first couple of seasons of Doctor Who and plenty of other awesome ancillary materials.
Damn, Doctor Who. You made Star Trek look bad. In 2016, all Paramount has planned to celebrate Trek‘s 50th is a new movie, Star Trek Beyond. Sure, a lot of people didn’t like the last movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Beyond‘s remarkably rushed production schedule is especially discouraging. However, we are still getting a new movie in time for the anniversary, and unless you’re someone who rushed out to buy all those re-mastered James Bond Blu-Rays in 2012 the main thing MGM delivered to celebrate that franchise’s anniversary was an insanely successful movie which neatly acknowledged the franchise’s history and advanced it into the future in a way which didn’t alienate relative newcomers. That seemed to make a lot of people happy the same way a good, new Star Trek movie will next year.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…but what else are they doing? This is mother f’n Star Trek we’re talking about! This is America’s version of Doctor Who just as Indiana Jones is our James Bond (note: I know that Star Trek has transcended America and is a global phenomenon, but it is still an American-produced product just as Doctor Who is British-produced). Surely, Paramount is going to give us something more than a hastily written, somewhat rushed movie, right? Until now, there were no real signs that Paramount had anything else on tap, though.
Then this happened, straight from The Hero Complex:
A symphonic tribute to the music from the legendary sci-fi franchise, “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage,” will tour 100 North American cities next year. The concert series will debut in Florida in January, with stops scheduled throughout Canada and the U.S. through April 2016.
Presented by CineConcerts, CBS Consumer Products and Paramount Pictures, the concerts will touch on major themes from composers Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner and Leonard Rosenman, with a symphony orchestra performing live as footage from various “Star Trek” movies and TV shows is projected onto a 40-foot screen. The concerts will include music from the films “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” and “Star Trek: Insurrection,” alongside selections from the soundtracks to “Star Trek: The Original Series,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager.”
That’s more like it. Gorgeous, often riveting, sometimes annoyingly tear-inducing orchestral scores have become so closely identified with Star Trek that when Enterprise used the Rod Stewart-impression pop tune “Where My Heart Will Take Me” as its theme song fans started multiple petitions to get it off the show. Some people just flat-out hated that specific song. Others rejected the mere idea of breaking from tradition and not using a Jerry Goldsmith orchestral score as the theme tune. One assumes “Where My Heart…” will not be part of “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage.”
These types of movie-score orchestral shows (e.g., “The Scores of James Horner,” “The Music of Lord of the Rings”, etc.) seem fairly common in larger cities, and it’s not dissimilar to the multiple times Doctor Who actually put together its own live shows to showcase the musical scores of its composer, Murray Gold, usually with some kind of appearance from the cast of the moment and people in Cybermen and Dalek costumes showing up to add a bit of live theater to the experience.
I have personally been listening to a lot of James Horner’s work form Wrath of Khan lately, noticing how much of it he re-used for Aliens, and really learning to appreciate Leonard Rosenman’s different, but familiar score for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. As such, “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” is tailor-made for someone like me. Unfortunately, at the moment there is no information on ticket prices, sale dates or a list of cities.
Update 2/17/16: Head here for tour dates.
In 2013, the BBC gave us that fantastic 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Book. Can we get something like for Star Trek, too? Of course we can! It’s just not technically coming to us from Paramount or CBS. In fact, the book’s very title acknowledges that it’s technically unauthorized. Co-written by Edward Gross and Free Enterprise’s Mark Altman, The 50 Year Mission: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek will be exactly what it sounds like: An oral history covering every era of Star Trek’s history, from TV to animation to film back to TV back to film.
Altman told 1701 News:
“I could not be more excited; it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that working on this book totally made me fall in love with Star Trek all over again because we were just talking with such a diverse array of people who have phenomenal stories to tell. And we have unearthed and discovered things that have never been revealed about the franchise, and about stories that are charming, and daring, and horrifying and wonderful. It’s going to be a great book.”
They interviewed nearly 500 different television and film executives, programmers, creators and stars — including every Star Trek captain. Of course, these types of books do already exist, like Mark Cushman’s unparalleled These Are the Voyages books chronicling the behind the scenes story of every episode in each season of The Original Series, or Preston Neal Jones’ Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
“The advantage that this book has, which is not to be overlooked, is the hindsight that people have had. It’s always been the case with original series looking back, but now that people have had a perspective on ’The Next Generation,’ ‘Voyager,’ ‘Enterprise’ … it gives them a little distance by which to critique their own work and reflect on their experiences. And I think that is what is going make this so much more interesting than any of the books that were written at the time these things were actually being produced.”
He also teases that the stuff they’ve discovered about Enterprise will surprise most readers.
So, maybe sometime next year you’ll be able to read The 50 Year Mission while waiting in line for “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” around the time the first trailer for Star Trek 3 arrives. You don’t know – it could all line up that perfectly.
Update 2/17/16: Oh, such optimism. The dates didn’t really line up like that. Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage will ends it run on May 5 in Houston.The 50 Year Mission is due out June 8. Star Trek Beyond is due out July 22. In the time since I originally wrote this article, CBS has announced it will make a new Star Trek TV series, but it won’t debut until sometime in 2017, at which point it will only be available through CBS’ streaming app which charges a monthly subscription fee.
What about you? Are you looking forward to any of the Star Trek 50th tie-ins? Can’t wait to get your hands on that dang book? Wish that Paramount/CBS would go back and re-master Star Trek: DS9 with improved special effects for Blu-Ray? Upset that I failed to reference any kind of 50th Anniversary Star Trek convention? Or is your main concern above anything else that the next movie they make not suck?