Like Captain Kirk, actor William Shatner has never been too keen on diplomacy. The Star Trek legend’s latest controversy came at San Diego Comic-Con when he asserted that Trek creator Gene Roddenberry would be “turning in his grave” over the current state of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry’s son Rod has now waded into the furor.
There’s no denying that the modern iterations of Star Trek have divided long-time fans. The J.J. Abrams movie trilogy set the franchise on a more action-orientated path, with many comparing the movies unfavorably to Star Wars. Some of these traits were carried over into Star Trek: Discovery, where the show dispensed with its traditional format of following an entire crew across “planet of the week” missions.
However, Paramount learned from their mistake, and many have called Star Trek: Strange New Worlds the best Star Trek since Deep Space Nine in the mid-late 1990s. Yet the latest series doesn’t seem to have impressed Shatner. Rod Roddenberry weighed in with his take in an interview with Screen Rant.
“I think he’d be very proud of it,” said Roddenberry of his father. “I think something that surprised me a bit is the uniqueness of each episode of Strange New Worlds. I’m impressed that they’re doing that.”
While Roddenberry doesn’t address Shatner’s words directly, he likely was aware of them when making the comments. However, it should be noted that Rod serves as the show’s executive producer, so he has reason to speak well of it.
It kind of shocked me at first because we’ve got some comedic episodes – or at least, certainly some comedic moments. And these things I would initially say when reading scripts that I don’t know how this is going to play out. I don’t know how the audience is going to receive this. But they’ve nailed it. And fans are going crazy for it. And I’m so proud of all the creators. They’ve done an incredible job with Strange New Worlds. And I’m thrilled for them.
While it’s impossible to ever say with 100% certainty what Gene Roddenberry would have thought of Strange New Worlds, the show has undoubtedly attempted to return to the more hopeful outlook of The Original Series, with a focus on exploration and the “strange new worlds” of the title. That said, Roddenberry objected to the militarism and violence seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and also objected to the darker tone and internal conflicts of Deep Space Nine. So perhaps, in a way, both Rod Roddenberry and Shatner have valid points!
However, no matter what Gene Roddenberry would have thought, Strange New Worlds remains popular with audiences, holding an 8.2/10 rating on IMDb and 99% on Rotton Tomatoes. We like it too.
A second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will air on paramount+ in 2023.