by Gene Turnbow, Station Manager
Paramount is about to hear a pitch for a new Star Trek series, called Star Trek: Uncharted. Remarkably, the pitch is coming from not an industry insider, but from a fan. This marks the first time Paramount has given audience to someone not already well established in the industry.
Star Trek Uncharted was created by Michael Chang Gummelt, and he’s been working on the concept for over fifteen years. He started in 1993, and based his work on the original Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry and the subsequent Star Trek TV series and movies. He’s a writer, filmmaker and video game programmer, and no stranger to Star Trek. He currently works for Raven Software, a game studio purchased by Activision in 1997. Gummelt conceived the characters and wrote the script for the PC computer game Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force video game as well as other uncredited rewrites, and he’s a member of the Writer’s Guild of America. The point is that while he’s not a television industry insider, he’s not just some guy from nowhere who suddenly got the attention of Paramount. There’s some history there, and some significant achievement there too.
Exactly when the pitch will happen, we don’t know – just that it will be some time this summer. The new Star Trek movie being developed by Paramount is called Star Trek: Beyond, which was the original name of Gummelt’s proposed series. Gummelt thinks that this might have been what got Paramount’s attention in the first place. His concept is set far enough in the future that it doesn’t have to rely on previously established canonical characters or situations. In this new concept, the new Enterprise finds itself in another galaxy entirely – not because there isn’t plenty of room left for exploration in the galaxy we’re currently in, but because all the previous Trek series have made the Trek universe feel small. Taking the story to a completely new galaxy opens up the potential of completely new story arcs that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. We think this may be the reason the pitch for Star Trek: Uncharted is being given audience at Paramount. It doesn’t depend heavily on existing story lines, and allows the creation of a new kind of Star Trek for a new generation.
The new series concept sets the new Trek about 200 years in the future beyond Captain Kirk’s time, in a scenario where the galaxy has been devastated by a far reaching conflict initiated by the Romulans. 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 is developed, and a Hyperwarp Gate constructed to allow a ship to warp jump 2.5 million light years to the Andromeda Galaxy. Probes having 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, and is the first ship assigned to the new galaxy.
- 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 will be built in the Andromeda galaxy being built, to be completed at the end of the first year, with two more ships joining the expedition to find the Progenitors, the race that seeded intelligent life in our galaxy.
As Gummelt said in an interview with Trekmovie.com:
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 ten years. My vision for the series would be to take Star Trek into uncharted waters in several different ways.
Gummelt may actually have a chance here, where pitches by such luminaries as Jonathan Frakes, Tim Russ, Michael Dorn and others have been received with indifference. The odd bit here, though, is that Paramount doesn’t hold the rights to new television production for Star Trek. CBS does – but does that licensing limitation necessarily apply to episodic series that are not actually on network television?
Gummelt suggests it might be better served by putting it on Netflix or some other streaming service, as it would free screenwriters from the standard four act, forty-eight minute show structure. Perhaps Paramount has enough control over the license that they feel they can act as a conduit or influence on CBS and facilitate getting this made. Make no mistake, if they didn’t smell money, they wouldn’t be asking to see Gummelt’s ideas.
You can visit Gummelt’s Star Trek:Uncharted web site and read his scripts to get a better sense of what the new concept is all about.
Good luck, Michael. It’s not every day Paramount invites you to pitch a concept, especially on such an important cultural tentpole as Star Trek.
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