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Promise of a 'Galaxy Quest' TV show makes fan go a little crazy

Commentary: They're talking about a TV adaptation of the classic "Star Trek" parody, and Crave's Kelsey Adams isn't sure she wants it to be real. Whatever "real" means...

Kelsey Adams Senior copy editor / Reviews
CNET senior copy editor and contributor Kelsey Adams was raised by computer programmers and writers, so she communicates best by keyboard. Loves genre fiction, RPGs, action movies; has long, fraught relationship with comics. Come talk to her on Twitter.
Kelsey Adams
3 min read

Clearly one of the greatest movies of all time. Video screenshot by Kelsey Adams/CNET

"Galaxy Quest," one of my favorite movies, could be spawning a TV series, Deadline reported Tuesday. As a fan, I should be happy, but I'm also nervous. The writer named is one of the people credited with the original screenplay, so that's a good sign. But it needs to be done right. It needs to be special.

Because "Galaxy Quest" isn't just any "Star Trek" parody -- those have been done lots of times and they're easy enough. It goes beyond that to the cultural impact of Gene Roddenberry's series, and the meaning of being a sci-fi fan in general. (It's more common these days to see fans spoofed on TV, but "Galaxy Quest" still stands out). It takes a satirical approach to the actors and fans alike while being completely loving and clearly written from the inside. And it's also a real story about people with character development and themes and, well, it's a really funny "Star Trek" parody.

Above all, it takes the negative stereotype of fans as naive children who can't tell fantasy from reality, and has the nerve to admit there's some truth to it. And celebrate it. Yes, these fictional worlds are very real to some of us...and therein lies our power.

Re-creating the clothes, weapons, vehicles, rooms and languages of other worlds may seem weird and even dangerously unbalanced to people who've never had that urge (but it's normal to strip down, paint yourselves blue and wander the streets chanting sports slogans?) "Fan," after all, is short for "fanatic."

But that imaginative intensity drives us to write, to draw comics, mod drones and robots, code games and make movies. It prompts us to create and share beautiful things, from video game armor to subcultures that live on for generations.

Just as the gullible, literal-minded aliens in "Galaxy Quest" poured their resources into a false idea of reality, and in the process built incredible technology and worthwhile lives, something doesn't have to be literally real to be important. (Like this baby's Iron Man costume. Of course it's worth it.)

When actor Jason Nesmith brushes off an earnest fan -- Brandon, a young Wesley Crusher type played by Justin Long -- with a warning to come back to reality reminiscent of William Shatner's famous "Get a life," you know Nesmith is the one who's wrong. The kid isn't doing himself any harm being a fan; he's got a group of friends and a fulfilling hobby.

Video screenshot by Kelsey Adams/CNET

Later, Nesmith needs Brandon to navigate him through a real spaceship using blueprints based on the TV show. The kid tries to assure him that he's gotten over all that silly nonsense and of course he can tell fiction from reality, and the captain's forced to interrupt: "It's all real."

Instantly: "Oh my god, I knew it!"

In the framework of the movie, they're both right. And on some level, it feels so true. We talk about suspension of disbelief, but aren't some of us also pretending that we don't believe?

OK, maybe not you. Personally, I could pass a test on what's fiction and what's reality -- this table is real, that transporter isn't -- but I don't so much feel the difference deep down. That's what makes me a little crazy, and that's what makes movies, books, games and my life so enjoyable.

"Star Trek" got old, got rebooted and lost vital crew members, but it's still here. Fans have just never let it die. Do we need more "Galaxy Quest" too? Or is it enough to imagine "Galaxy Quest" versions of "Next Generation" and DS9 or the daring, sexy, infuriatingly stupid "Quest" reboot? There are already a couple of comic book sequels, apparently, but a lot of people hoped for another movie.

Done right, an adaptation would be hilarious and touching; done in an average way, a good-enough way, it would be one more mildly amusing sci-fi comedy. To my mind, dragging the concept out to series length almost guarantees it wouldn't be as good. On the other hand, the movie's all about second chances, and it's a natural fit for a TV series -- imagine the episode inspired by "A Piece of the Action," say.

What do you think -- will you be screaming "Whoever wrote this episode should die!" or are you hoping "The Journey Continues"? Go on and say it, optimists, you know you want to:

Never give up, never surrender.

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