Since 2016’s Star Trek Beyond, the Star Trek film series has hit a dead end. The reboot of Gene Roddenberry’s original Enterprise crew developed by J.J. Abrams was greatly embraced by established fans and ushered in newcomers to the franchise when it started in 2009. However, its momentum seems to have gone over the wayside within the past five years. As a fan of Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk and the rest of this rebooted Enterprise crew, I still hope to see the Kelvin timeline progress. If Paramount is out of ideas, there’s a number of great episodes from the original ‘60s series that could serve as inspiration for the next movie.
Since the release of Star Trek Beyond, there’s been a number of legitimate roadblocks in the way of another installment. Initially, Star Trek 4 was going to be a time travel storyline involving Chris Hemsworth returning as James Kirk’s father, but that fell through due to a contract situation. Since then, we’ve heard a number of developing ideas filter through, but none of them are substantially moving forward yet.
One of the most exciting ideas to come out of Star Trek in the last few years is Quentin Tarantino’s R-rated take on the franchise, which would adapt an episode from the original series, “A Piece of the Action.” Even if the Pulp Fiction filmmaker doesn’t make his alleged tenth and last film Star Trek, Paramount should consider adapting these Original Series episodes into bigger ideas.
The Naked Time
A particularly fun storyline the Star Trek film franchise could reboot for the big screen is the fourth Original Series episode ever, “The Naked Time,” which had the Enterprise crew being infected with a virus that lowers the crew’s inhibitions, thus creating madness on the ship. Sulu famously went shirtless and behaved like a swordsman in The Three Musketeers, but other notable happenings within the episode include when Spock becomes infected and his human side runs rampant. “The Naked Time” is a simple idea for an episodic format, but if Star Trek adapted this while the crew is also facing some other problem, it could be a really interesting way for the movie experiment with these characters and to explore the episode’s theme of who we can become without hindrance of logic.
The Enemy Within
Just one episode after “The Naked Time,” Star Trek also explored human psychology in another wacky way with “The Enemy Within,” which had Captain Kirk channeling his own version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when the ship’s transporter malfunctions. In “The Enemy Within,” William Shatner gives his most Shatner-crazed performance when he gets split up into his good and bad side and goes loose on the ship. The concept was treated a bit hilariously in the Original Series, but if adapted into a movie (also with a larger subplot involved), it would be interesting to explore Chris Pine as a good vs. evil captain who becomes an enemy of the Enterprise because two extreme versions of himself are in control.
Another Season 1 episode that serves as a character study for the Star Trek crew, but takes them off the Enterprise, is called “Shore Leave.” In the 1966 episode, the crew land on a planet that crafts their fantasies into reality on the planet. “Shore Leave” is a great episode for the movie franchise to adapt because it combines the fantasy elements of the original Star Trek with its seminal science fiction structure. “Shore Leave” could also be a great way for Star Trek to inject some horror imagery into its universe and deepen its characters through the crew becoming stuck in their fantasies without knowing their subconscious is trapping them. Think Fantasy Island and LOST meet Star Trek.
Tomorrow Is Yesterday
Star Trek 4 could also play around with its roots in the ‘60s in a really interesting way by adapting “Tomorrow is Yesterday.” The 1967 episode had the Enterprise crew visiting the US Air Force in the then-present day through some mistaken time travel through space. At the time, the episode allowed Star Trek to ground its series in what was happening in the actual world, when the U.S. was very much enamored in the space race. If a future movie took the crew to Earth in the ‘60s, it could be a really interesting commentary on how exploring off-planet has changed since Star Trek’s inception, from our current perspective and from the perspective of an imagined future where Starfleet exists.
The City on the Edge of Forever
Star Trek also explored time travel with its Season 1 finale “The City on the Edge of Forever.” It’s often referred to as the best Star Trek episode of all time, so Trekkies wouldn’t mind revisiting it. In the episode, an accidentally drugged-up McCoy lands on a planet and discovers an archway to any time and place. He ends up going to New York City in the 1930s and changes the timeline. Spock and Kirk go in after him to repair the timeline and track McCoy down. These days, time travel has definitely been explored a lot, but the idea of the “City on the Edge of Forever” could certainly surpass the reaches of Depression Era and Eart,h and take the crew to other planets and times with a larger storyline.
On the superhero side of things, we’ve been talking a lot about the multiverse, whether that be through Spider-Man’s Spider-Verse or The Flash’s ability to meet multiple Batmans in Flashpoint. Way before that, it was explored on Star Trek with a Season 2 episode called “Mirror, Mirror.” Similar to “The Enemy Within,” the incident of the episode gets set off by a transporter malfunction, but this time, Kirk and his crew find themselves in a parallel universe where the Enterprise is not part of Starfleet. The multiverse is an exciting concept from a Marvel/DC standpoint as is, but in the context of the greater universe and how different cosmic events could affect a “mirror universe,” this would be an awesome idea for Star Trek 4 to delve into.
These are just six episodes out of 79 in the original Star Trek series that might add some intrigue to the film series after years of radio silence from that corner of the franchise. Each of these episodes allow for some world-building that would need to race past its original idea, so either way, Trekkies would be getting something new from a movie, if not several. Which of these episodes would you like to see Chris Pine and the crew tackle in the next Star Trek movie? Vote in our poll below.