For a variety of very complicated legal reasons, Star Trek remains a film-only franchise, despite the occasional rumor that CBS might be taking pitches for a new Trek series. So, Paramount Television has moved forward with the next best thing: a TV series adaptation of the 1999 comedy Galaxy Quest. It’s been shopped around town since April, and EW exclusively revealed yesterday that the project has landed at Amazon Studios, likely delighting the fans who consider Galaxy Quest an honorary Star Trek film. In fact, Trekkies who attended the 2013 Official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas voted Galaxy Quest as the 7th best Star Trek movie of all time, better than Generations and The Motion Picture but not quite as good as the first JJ Abrams Star Trek or The Search for Spock.
Of course, Galaxy Quest is no more an actual Star Trek movie than Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is an actual James Bond movie. However, it is still a fantastic, loving homage, introducing us to the cast (Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub, Daryl Mitchell) of a cheesy Star Trek-like series who are kidnapped on the convention circuit by aliens (led by Enrico Colantoni) who mistook the show’s fiction for documentary. In the film, the aliens present the actors with a working replica of the space ship they observed on the show, and the actors choose to go along with it for as long as possible, outer space fights with evil aliens and all. By the end, a classic Star Trek red shirt-type (Sam Rockwell) becomes a hero, and a superfan (Justin Long) back on Earth proves instrumental in saving the day.
Can that premise be stretched out to fill an entire TV series? Of course. Part of the fun of the movie is observing the actors so thoroughly in over their heads, and through sheer repetition you’d figure they’d actually grow closer to something resembling competent at their pretend jobs throughout the course of a series. Plus, much of the drama derives from the William Shatner-type played by Tim Allen struggling to come to terms with what’s truly become of his life, and a lot of the tension is connected to how long they can keep up the ruse and fool their worshipping aliens. All of those things can be stretched out over multiple episodes of a series instead of wrapped up in a single movie, and beyond that point you can come up with all sorts of crazy new ideas. I’d be particularly interested to see what other TV shows the aliens might have completely misunderstood.
But that’s jumping ahead a little too far because, honestly, there’s very little in the way of actual concrete news to report here. What do we actually know?
Who’s coming back?
The behind-the-scenes talent remains intact, with the movie’s writer, Robert Gordon, doing the same for the TV version. He’ll also executive produce as will the movie’s director (Dean Parisot) and producers (Mark Johnson, Melissa Bernstein).
What about the cast?
No idea. There’s been no word on Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni and Missy Hyatt, and several of them would seem like huge gets for an Amazon series.
Will it be a sequel to the movie or a re-telling of the same story?
Are they at least getting a guaranteed pilot?
Nope. Amazon is simply developing this thing along with Paramount. There has been no pilot order let alone a full series pick-up.
So, wait, should we really be that excited about this?
Maybe. It’s at least further along than any official Star Trek series right now.
Ultimately, this is just the latest film-to-TV adaptation, and many of them get announced before going unheard of again for many, many months, if at all, forever at the mercy of TV’s arduous development process. However, considering the smartly observed humor Robert Gordon brought to the movie I’m optimistic about what he might manage to bring to a TV series. What about you?