2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek and while there's a new movie set to drop this year (Star Trek Beyond) and a new television show on the horizon for 2017, other than that, there's been a dearth of fanfare around the half-century mark for one of science fiction's most storied franchises. While Doctor Who had worldwide celebrations and an epic, multi-Doctor special to mark their celebration, Paramount seems to be dropping the ball when it comes to Star Trek.
A recent article at io9.com sums it up perfectly: Why the hell aren't we hearing more about Star Trek Beyond? Cinema-Con was last week and new footage and new trailers dropped in its wake- but nothing for Star Trek Beyond. Paramount's official explanation is that new footage would be premiering at a massive fan event set for May 20th- but still, there seems to be a dearth of official commemorations to mark the anniversary. While a documentary celebrating the life of Leonard Nimoy (directed by his son) is set for release, Paramount seems more preoccupied with squashing Axanar, an excellent looking fan film that was gearing up for a full length-feature release.
There's an argument to be made that with a new television series coming and a movie being released this year, that perhaps that's enough to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. What more do people want? Doctor Who had a multi-Doctor special and a biopic on the making of the show released. Star Trek seems to be getting much the same treatment.
So is their a growing perception of benign neglect out there in the internet? It could be that Star Trek fandom has become notoriously prickly about the state of the franchise- with some people enjoying the new era of Trek movies and others being vocal in their dislike of J.J. Abrams-era Star Trek. But there is also an element of truth to the charge: with franchises like Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and the launch of promising series, The Expanse, Star Trek needs to demonstrate relevancy and the ability to think outside the box. Paramount, however, seems to be intent on shutting the box down completely- and it's hard to see how that benefits the franchise overall.
Release a movie. Launch a television show on a streaming network that few, if any people seem all that interested in joining. (At least so far.) But there's no sense out there that this is the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek. If a new movie and a television show weren't coming, would we even know?
It might not be too late- we now have the first hints of where the next Trek series might fall into the timeline: namely between the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek: The Next Generation. There are whispers of a group of villainous Klingons being bad guys and there was a fresh buzz of excitement around the prospect of a new series once again- the news that it might be an anthology show like American Horror Story only increased the buzz- that would be something that Star Trek had not attempted ever before.
We've got about a month or so before the next trailer for Star Trek Beyond drops- and we'll see if that massive fan event generates some hype for the anniversary and if it does, great. Fifty years of Trek will get the celebration it deserves. But if it doesn't, then people will keep right on asking the question: where is the fanfare for 50 years of Star Trek?