Why The Planned ‘Galaxy Quest’ Amazon TV Show is a Bad Idea

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Dreamworks)

Fans of Galaxy Quest have plenty of reasons to rejoice.

After a series of scheduling conflicts and the untimely passing of Alan Rickman, it seems that progress is finally starting in earnest on an Amazon Prime series based on the cult sci-fi comedy.

Paul Scheer will be writing, taking over for Robert Gordon, the original writer of the movie who had been attached to the TV revival, but has had to drop out. The show has been described by The Hollywood Reporter as an attempt to bring “a new take on the cult movie”, which should be music to the ears of anyone who enjoys a good Star Trek parody.

That said, maybe this is one Nineties revival project that’s better off staying off air.

It feels like sacrilege to suggest this – the original Galaxy Quest is a fantastic piece of satire that also creates its own rich, diverse universe that while inspired by Star Trek, is filled with unique ideas and aliens.

The possibilities afforded to television shows in the modern era means that a Galaxy Quest TV show could easily outstrip the still fairly solid special effects of the 1999 movie, and with Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing show cancelled, it’s not like he doesn’t have time for a new longrunning series.

That said, the question has to be asked as to whether this new show will do its source material justice. There’s no denying that there are more Galaxy Quest stories to tell, but with so many years having passed, is a revisit to this universe going to be meaningful and fulfilling, or a quick nostalgia-grab for a series that doesn’t need to become the kind of big, multi-tentacled franchise that it parodies so well.

It’s hard to tell how much of the magic of the original Galaxy Quest comes from its cast, but it’s safe to assume that they bring a lot to the movie and are a big part of the film’s enduring legacy.

Tim Allen was still vaguely a big deal in Hollywood in 1999, while Sigourney Weaver was already established as the poster woman for all things sci-fi. Then there was Alan Rickman, who had yet to become the focus of teenage emo crushes across the world as Snape, but who delivers a fantastic performance in the film as the world’s most bitter Spock impersonator.

Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest
Source: Dreamworks

The plan had been to get all three of the Galaxy Quest triumvirate back together, but without Rickman, it just doesn’t feel right. There’s something that will be lost from any stories set in this universe that lack this key character, and it would bring a mournful sadness to the show that we really don’t need to see.

Perhaps it’s better to let the crew of this ship ride of into the sunset, without revisiting them as they grieve for a fallen comrade, either implicitly or explicitly, throughout the show.

Besides, let’s face it – Galaxy Quest exists to mock Star Trek, and fan culture in general. We don’t really need this particular group of characters back together in order to achieve this.

The coming fall will see the debut of The Orville, a very Galaxy Quest-esque show starring Seth McFarlane which may or may not be any good, it remains to be seen.

What doesn’t need to be proven, though, is the fact that Star Trek parodies don’t need to be confined by the Galaxy Quest formula – we can have plenty of adventures that lampshade Trek tropes without resorting to a Where Are They Now formula that doesn’t suit the characters in the original Quest movie.

Considering how few of the original creative team will be showing up for this series, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be able to maintain the same vibe.

Perhaps, instead of trying to recycle an already popular Star Trek parody, we’re better off getting more new, fresh sci-fi comedies for fans to fall in love with. The original Galaxy Quest will remain a classic, its reputation untarnished, and fans will be able to find a brand new show to fall in love with, that features new characters that aren’t bogged down by continuity and the suspicious absence of a beloved cast member.

If we really must revisit Galaxy Quest and run the risk of polluting the movie’s legacy, maybe now is an opportunity to do something akin to The Next Generation, with a bunch of new actors who can make the show their own, rather than getting Tim Allen back for more, long after his star power has diminished in Hollywood (especially if he keeps making problematic statements on live television).

Modern television – especially streaming services – relies far too heavily on nostalgia when it could be trying new ideas. Let’s see a new, fresh sci-fi comedy rather than something that needlessly rehashes a popular movie just for the sake of brand recognition.

Sure, the Galaxy Quest TV show might be fine, but we’re better off taking a chance on some new ideas, than trying to cling onto a former successful parody – no matter how well the original holds up twenty years after its initial release.

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