When Star Trek Beyond released earlier this summer, it didn't make the impact many would have hoped from a film marking an acclaimed sci-fi franchise's 50th anniversary. The film was well received by both fans and critics, had a solid earning at the box office, but was quickly overshadowed by other summer movies. Star Trek Beyond wasn't a failure (or was it?), but it's possible some might interpret the lukewarm response it earned as a sign audiences are bored with Star Trek.
Then again, it might just be time for the franchise to try something
new old by returning to where it all began: television. Star Trek has enjoyed a great resurgence thanks to the recent films, but the premise of a continuing voyage based in space exploration is able to really flourish when given the many hours of a TV series (as opposed to the few of a movie). That's what makes Star Trek Discovery so exciting - it's the first new Star Trek television series in over a decade premiering on CBS All-Access in early 2017.
Helmed by longtime fan and former Trek writer, Bryan Fuller, Star Trek Discovery will in many ways be the Star Trek fans are familiar with - the voyage of a star ship and her crew as they explore the universe. There will be a few differences, though, like the decision for its story to be serialized rather than episodic and the shift in P.O.V. from the ship's captain to another member of the crew - but overall, Star Trek Discovery is a return to form for the 50-year-old franchise.
A series that pays homage to Star Trek's roots while also keeping an eye towards the future is itself a fitting tribute, but finding a way to include a cameo from the Federation's most famous star ship captain wouldn't hurt either. And were Discovery interested in giving Captain Kirk a cameo, consider William Shatner interested (he was, after all, rather miffed when he was passed over for a cameo in 2009's Star Trek).
Speaking with EW about the possibility of a return to Trek, Shatner said:
"Am I up for it? I’ll get up. If I said, ‘I hardly think so,’ that would be the beginning of negotiations. If I were asked, I might consider it."
Now, just how Shatner could reprise his role as Captain Kirk isn't really clear since Discovery is set some ten years before The Original Series and Shatner is now 85 years young. But being that this is Star Trek, where there's a will there's a way, and seeing as time travel worked so well when incorporating an older Spock as played by Leonard Nimoy, it's conceivable a similar scenario could work here. That would certainly be the better option than say, giving Shatner a digital facelift with CGI.
Then again, he wouldn't necessarily need to play Kirk. When asked what he'd want to do on the show, Shatner deadpanned: "Get the girl." And for as neat as it'd be for Discovery to figure out some way for Shatner to return as an older Kirk, the idea of Shatner returning to play a Kirk-like character, some aging Lothario looking to recapture his youth could be even more fun. It'd be a role that would allow Shatner to poke a little fun at Kirk's many romantic conquests while not bothering to explain how future-Kirk could appear on a show set years before he ever became captain of the Enterprise.
Either way, including Shatner in Star Trek Discovery would be a nice nod to the show's history, and Fuller has expressed interest in former Trek actors returning (though probably not until season 2). Still, great care would need to taken so the cameo wouldn't overshadow the USS Discovery and her crew. And when including someone with Shatner's level of fame and notoriety, that could prove difficult.
Star Trek: Discovery debuts on CBS in January 2017 and stream exclusively through CBS All Access thereafter.