In this series, we speculate on what actors would be the perfect choice to play an upcoming character, or what type of character a particular actor is best suited for. Feel free to
unilaterally agree with all our picks voice your opinion in the comments!
That bastion of recycled television premises, CBS, has announced that their combinations of CSIs, Laws and Orders, and NCIS people are not igniting the imaginations of the average viewer. Therefore, rather than greenlight a provocative new series about something that hasn’t already been five different shows, they’re doing a new Star Trek series.
The good news: it’s a new Star Trek of some kind. Yay. The bad news: American network television has been sucking lately, and that’s bound to bleed into the Star Trek universe now. The polarizing implications: this show could be in the old timeline or the new Abrams timeline. Or both!
I submit that the new final frontier should be alternate dimensions or timelines. How about a ship that can travel between them? But who should crew such a dangerous five year mission that may only last two seasons?
1. Captain – Maggie Q
Traditionally, the captain of a Trek vessel or station is the face of the Federation. That can manifest itself in the daring of Kirk, the resolve of Janaway, the wisdom of Picard, or any number of traits that should embody the future society. But above all, this is the person of ultimate authority aboard a ship of thousands. So the actor required must be capable of holding the respect and obedience of any crazy crew.
Maggie Q would be the most rough-and-tumble Captain since Avery Brooks as Sisko. Her starring role on Nikita shows her aptitude for a leadership role and her capability to lead an away team. Meanwhile her performance in the Divergent series and her stint as the voice of Wonder Woman on Young Justice have belied a vulnerability and inner conflict, even when a strong veneer is required.
I can picture Maggie Q taking the Kobayashi Maru with grace, dignity, and fearless initiative. Then possibly getting into a fight at a bar afterwards. That’s a Captain right there.
2. Science Officer – Naveen Andrews (as a Klingon)
Every version of Trek comes complete with a relative outsider who examines the human condition from a disconnected perspective. You have your Spock, your Data, your Seven of Nine, and their backgrounds always seem to allow for them to be dispassionate and lacking sentiment (thus making them intrigued/puzzled by human or Federation behavior). But what if that scientist were a Klingon? Then, he is confused by a relative lack of aggression and submissive tendencies from the rest of the crew. Not in a charming Worf-the-lummox way, but from a devil’s advocate philosophical standpoint.
Andrews would certainly fit the bill. Best known as Sayid on Lost, he spent years playing an emotionally-scarred soldier without the will to fight. He also has played an unhinged scientist in the fantastic Planet Terror, as well as a live-action Jafar and a mysterious mentor character on Netflix’s Sense8. So he’s no stranger to the pomp and circumstance of Trek-style dialogue and characters. Besides, it would be fantastic to see a charming, sophisticated Klingon the likes of which only Christopher Plummer has played in The Undiscovered Country.
3. Engineer – Christina Ricci (as a Vulcan)
This sounds silly on paper (or rather, on your screen), but it works. I swear. Ricci’s resume has pulled back into the realm of TV recently, and I’m sure she must be aware of the fanbase surrounding her early career as a member of the Addams Family. Just search for “Christina Ricci as Morticia” to see what I mean. So, imagine the acid-tongued dry wit of Wednesday Addams delivered in a dead monotone by an adult Ricci. Only now, add Spock ears and a Starfleet uniform. Then drool, justifiably.
It really surprises me that the “Head Engineer” role has never been filled by a Vulcan character. Their relative lack of social skills and penchant for black and white logic would be suited to the job. It seems like a real slam-dunk to design a character to appeal to those of us who prefer working alone in the dark with machines, and feel a pang of anxiety when others speak to us. And it seems like the kind of character with room to grow.
4. Security/Tactical – John Lithgow
Between Worf and the short-lived career of Lt. Tasha Yar, the security station on the TNG Enterprise seemed to be a young person’s job. But you know what social stigma Trek hasn’t gotten into enough? Ageism. There hasn’t been a regular character that represents the bright future through the eyes of the folks who helped build it.
Lithgow, who is a brilliant actor capable of making techno-babble sound like poetry, would transform the role from a stock warrior trope to a brilliant old tactician who plays chess and poker viciously. By proving himself capable, he’s vindicating an entire generation being marginalized on television. His work on season four of Dexter is a revelation of subdued menace, and the years as Dick, the commander of an alien expedition on 3rd Rock From The Sun have given him ample experience with humor and playing arrogance as a redeeming feature.
5. Student – Kiernan Shipka
This is a broad generalization, but a Trek show sometimes uses youth as an outlet for some basic life lessons. If it’s not Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher, it would possibly go back to Walter Koenig’s Chekov. The need for someone young and naïve aboard a Starfleet vessel is paramount; without such a character, there is no voice for the earthbound 21st century audience. When a weird alien race comes aboard and we see their disgusting or sometimes barbaric way of life, there should always be some dumbass kid nearby to say, “Hey! That’s not the way the world works… as far as I’m aware!” This is necessary so the Captain or another learned crewmate can point out that things are different all over. This is part of what a Star Trek series is always about.
Shipka, the recent Sally Draper on Mad Men, would make a splendid addition to the Trek canon. She’s a tremendous actress, can keep up with veterans of stage and screen, and she has this rarity of underage performers: she plays teenagers like real people. Too often, adolescents are written as simpering, whiny brats who have some sort of layer of static around their heads when being spoken to. Shipka, as Sally Draper, speaks like an intelligent adult. Sure, she’s petulant and narrow-minded, like a rich teenager in the 1960s would be, but she’s a far cry from the voice cracking and Saved By the Bell-level of lesson learning that TNG forced on fans.
Agree? Disagree? More ideas? Let us know in the comments.