A while ago I wrote a blog about "Star Trek", mostly how I liked the latest movie, liked "Deep Space 9", and that I felt other ideas (especially that of a new series) should be kicked around to keep the franchise going. Today I am going to do what all Trek nerds do and suggest a list of actors I think would make for a strong cast, not only because they are good actors, but also because they have a lot of what I call genre juice, credibility within the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and super hero genre that would bring in a lot of people to trying out the new show.
I have heard that they are trying to make a new series, it will be following the "Star Trek: Nemesis" timeline rather than the new movie's timeline, it will be based some time in the future, but as far as story or action, or look of the series is concerned I have no idea. Regardless, here are some of my ideas for the core 7 (the 7 members of the crew that get the most screen time and are typically the highest ranking people in the crew) and 3 recurring characters.
New Uniforms wouldn't suck either.
1) The Tie Back: as strange as this may sound "Star Trek" as a series ties itself together as much as possible. Deforest Kelly appeared in the first episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Patrick Stewart appeared in the first episode of "Deep Space 9" along with Chief O'Brien getting promoted from recurring character on "TNG" to main cast member on "DS9", and the entire Maquis vs Federation set up for "Voyager" was talked about thoroughly on "DS9", and "Enterprise" had stuff too but who cares it was worse than "Voyager".
The Tie Back is a character from a previous series that comes in to keep a level of continuity to the show, doing two things: honor the past for the old fans, and let new people know there is a past. My pick for the Tie Back is Avery Brooks as Captain Sisko from "DS9". This will be the big opening story for the series too. See, "DS9" ended on a sort of cliffhanger, with Sisko leaving our plane of existence to study the nature of reality with the Prophets, a race of godlike aliens that live in a Wormhole (very, very similiar to the ending of "2001: A Space Odyssey"). The aliens can time travel and having an older Sisko appear to herald the coming of a new threat to the Federation would allow the new series to tie back to the old, and give a real threat for them to face, because Sisko was very much like a Space Jesus to these Godlike Aliens, this would be like Space Second Coming.
2) The Contentious Authority: this is a carry over from other modern sci-fi (or Sy Fy) series. This is an authority figure that will acknowledge what the crew is saying, will give them leeway to act on their initiative, but will still insist that certain goals, principles, or political red tape get in the way. This is a popular arc type in "Star Gate SG-1", these two authorities bonking heads was the whole pathos of "Battlestar Galactica", "Babylon 5" was all about this as the show was about a United Nations in space, and even shows not about the fate of the world like "Eureka" have made use of corporate stooges to great dramatic effect. I should mention that the only Trek that has made real use of this was "DS9" in the form of Bajor's leadership, and to some extent the Ferengi.
The Contention Authority should be a Federation Admiral that has served his entire career in the peace that followed the Dominion War. He is docile, and sees the greatest threat to the Federation as a disruption of the peace, he has attained rank and authority by playing it safe and advancing that agenda, it is counter to the ethic of exploration key to Star Trek, but still has merit (the argument that, "Why spend money going to the moon or Mars when we have starving people down here we could feed instead"). I think he should be played by Ron Glass (who played Shepherd Book on "Firefly"). Glass has been upfront about avoiding work in science fiction because he didn't like the idea of lots of make up and forehead material, but "Firefly" being about humans in space turned him around. I think that having him play a recurring role of a human in authority who wants to stunt exploration for the sake of maintaining peace would be something he could pull off with charisma enough to make his position appealing and understandable.
3) The Alien: this is a pretty obvious type or modifier of type, this is the character that is not human, possibly not in Star Fleet, and maybe not even from the Federation. They offer an outsider's perspective and usually come from an officer or medical exchange, are a diplomat, or a drifter that has become part of the crew through being useful. Quark and Odo from "DS9", T'Pol and Phlox from "Enterprise", Worf and Data from "TNG", Spock of "TOS", and "Voyager taking the medal with most entries having Neelix, Seven of Nine, Kes, and the Doctor. Each show has different levels of success with this idea.
Now this character has a lot of levels, and usually takes a job on the crew that has been vacated by a more traditional crew member, or they are a recurring character that helps to emphasize the complexity of a situation by adding a new view point. The character can be literally anything, so I am going to tie it down for the sake of my casting. Since this is the return of Sisko, and it deals with a threat that is important enough for Godlike aliens to send Sisko-Space-Jesus to town I think that the Aliens should be an expert in wormholes, and the de facto science officer for the series, using the Astro-metrics lab from "Voyager" and being very much about big hard to visualize math that the alien uses to help the situation, sort of like how Data and Seven of Nine were both knowledgeable about everything. Who could play someone who thinks ideas too big to think and manages to make it look easy? Christopher Lambert, the original "Highlander" and guy who played Rayden in the "Mortal Kombat" movie. He has the ability to play a character with a fundamental difference to humanity, but at the same time gives a shit, and projects an aura of intelligence and wisdom. He is perfect for playing a character with weird contacts in his eyes who sees the universe differently enough to inherently understand something like Wormholes.
4) The Counselor: this is the type of character who is supposed to be a source of motivational exposition. When a character is taking certain actions, acting erratically, or just wants to develop their character frankly and in the confidence of just their therapist and the audience the Counselor can be a good dialogue heavy character who has to be receptive, encouraging, and able to read people really well. Sadly this role is notoriously useless because they failed to give Marina Sirtis anything to do or say in "TNG" when she played the telepathic/empathic Deanna Troi. And when Nicole de Boer played Ezri Dax on "DS9" she had no time to develop the position beyond an episode, and she was the rookie of the in-show crew and the real-life cast so again this is not a job that has been given the best breathing room.
I like the idea turned on its head. Rather than saying the obvious about the state of mind on the other end of the view screen the character uses his ability to read people to help put on a cool capable persona, and since he has all the secrets of the entire crew and is generally good at manipulating people he comes off as the guy who can beat everyone at cards, lie really well, talk his way out of every situation, and Kirks up the ladies. What is more this can be another tie back character, being the son of Commander Riker and Troi from "TNG" and deciding to go into Starfleet during an insanely long peace time he feels he is not getting a chance to measure up to his hero father, so his persona of the untouchable ladies man is constructed, with a little bit of empathic manipulation from his mother's side of the family he thinks he can at least make people think he is as good as his old man. I think someone who is really good at portraying competence in spite of living in his father's shadow is Jamie Bamber, who played Apollo on the latest incarnation of "Battlstar Galactica", where he was the heroic and capable son of Commander Adama, the last military leader in the entirety of humanity.
5) The Doctor: Really this is the guy who gets screen time whenever space viruses attack, alien biology becomes an issue, or they have to save someone from a phaser blast or bat'leth slash. This job varies vastly with each series it has appeared. In "TOS", Bones was the #3 character on the show, being the cynicism to balance out Kirk's Humanism and Spock's Stoicism. But on "TNG" Beverly was the old friend and love interest to Picard, and the mother of Wesley, the Mary Sue author avatar of Eugene Wesley Roddenberry. Bashir had a hard time finding his place on "DS9" until it was revealed he was actually a genetically modified superhuman, before that he was the ineffectual ladies man, the naive altruist, the guy who liked corny holo-deck adventures. On "Voyager" the Doctor was the second or third most important character, with the same character arc as Data, but starting off as more of a dick. On "Enterprise" Phlox was written as so eccentric as to confound, and was not really all that good a doctor when it came to ethics.
So the Doctor can be anything, so how about make her the less adventurous one? Make her the member of the ship that tends to intelligently advise (again, intelligently advise) that the crew play it safe and follow the directives of the Contentious Authority. Showing that not everyone, especially the healer who is very much enjoying the age of peace and prosperity, might not want to journey into the unknown and poke it with a stick. And I think that she should occasionally win over the Captain with her arguments, playing the "everyone lives if we just walk away" card. Who can play the adviser who gets people to do what is good for them, but might be pulling a bit too hard on the straps? Salli Richardson, who played the corporate liaison Allison Blake on "Eureka", and was the voice of Elisa Maza on "Gargoyles". She is really good at talking sense to people who have rank on her, or who are just too determined to see a problem with blazing forward with what they think is a good idea.
Wow. Okay, I am heading toward the 2,000 word mark talking about "Star Trek" and this blog is only half-ish over. Hell, I haven't even talked about the roles of Captain and First Officer. Which are kind of important. I'll break this into two parts and hopefully I will get out part two when the mood strikes me, but not so far into the future that whoever actually manages to give a damn stops giving a damn.