In recent years Dr Who and Battlestar Galactica have been successfully reinvented and given a much needed creative boost. The original ideas had run their course and had been relegated to nostalgic archives to all but the faithful. The same is just about to happen with Star Trek as the new movie is released around the world.
- How have these franchises managed to reinvent themselves?
- What can I learn in my own creative journey?
Dr Who successfully returned to the small screen in 2005 after an almost twenty year absence. But it also had an unsuccessful return in 1996. Why was the 2005 version a success?
The original Dr Who was characterised by its poor special effects and cliffhanger endings. When it returned advances, and reduction of cost, in computer graphics allowed it to step into the same league as films like Star Wars. It also changed the format from half-hour cliffhanger episodes into the popular hour long length. It replaced the cliffhanger with the story arc. So along with good characters and writing it was set.
Battlestar Galactica returned to our screens after a similar break in time. This series hadn’t had any abortive attempts to revive it beyond the extension of the original series with a few TV specials. When it did return it came back with a radical reworking of the original. Gone was the glitzy, safe, middle of the road TV series. In its place was a hard hitting and edgy series that pulled no punches and surprised its watchers week in, week out.
And finally we have Star Trek. Its success is pretty much guaranteed. JJ Abrams has taken control after several other successes, he’s on a roll. But he is also about to tweak the untweakable and mess with a story that has been filled in by the fanatical fans of this Sci-fi franchise. But that is why it will work. Star Trek has faded from popularity with the masses because it became tired. The new film will pull away the fat from the original kernel, and breath life once more into Roddenberry’s child.
So what can we take away into our creative journey?
- Use new tools as they become available – open source is great for cheap or free software
- Change format, learn from what else is popular
- Be prepared to go against what everyone is used to
- Don’t be afraid to change things from what people expect
- Get back to your basics, why are you creating. Live your dream