JJ Abrams: Blind Trust in a Name?

J.J. Abrams

In just a few short months, the newly reimagined Star Trek movie will be coming to screens everywhere, courtesy of J.J. Abrams. What I donít get is the blind faith in which fans, Star Trek fans and Abrams fans alike, have managed to put into this television ďgenius.Ē Iím sure a lot of Abrams fans will immediately assume that Iím being overly critical so I want to say from the start that this is purely my fascination with what makes J.J. Abrams such a success.

Iím gonna say upfront that Iíve never seen Alias, but I donít believe that I need to see Alias when Iíve seen Lost and Fringe, to understand the fans craze over Abrams. Looking at Abrams credits, he wrote the screenplay for Armageddon but he didnít get noticed until he created Felicity. Iíve only seen one episode of Felicity all the way through (an episode that was a riff on the Twilight Zone which was actually pretty good) so I canít really comment on it. I do, however, notice that while heís credited as one of the showís creators (Matt Reeves was the co-creator) and writer, and he directed 2 episodes of the show, not one of the scripts was specifically written by him.

Taking a look at his next major credit, Alias: He created the show, directed 5 episodes of the show, but again, not one of the scripts says the words ďwritten byĒ or ďteleplayĒ byÖ So moving on to Lost, this is a show I really have a problem with Abrams getting credit for. Itís a fact that while Abrams is busy making Mission Implausible movies, the actual show runners who are writing the scripts and forming the direction of the show is Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindeloff. Of the episodes listed on IMDB for Lost, Abrams directed only the pilot and wrote the teleplay for the pilot and one other episode. So, in regards to Lost, we basically have a writer who created a story about a group of people who crash land on this mysterious island and the characterís mysterious backgrounds will be shown via flashback. Am I the only one that thinks thatís not the most original concept? In fact, the only show that Abrams has really been involved with is Fringe, a show about an FBI agent investigating strange phenomena, which so far, out of 13 episodes, heís written 5 episodes.

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Now I know what youíre thinking, it can be hard work being a hot young producer/television creator. Not everybody has to write almost every single episode of his show a la J. Michael Straczynski. No, absolutely not. And Iím sure he has a great deal of influence on his shows. However as a comparison, looking up Joss Whedonís credits, I saw well over 20 episodes of Buffy directed by him, plus over 20 scripts written by him. Not as many with his other shows, but anybody watching a Whedon show generally can tell that itís a Whedon show because he is directly involved with the story process and the rewrites. Aside from absurd conspiracy theories, I donít see that same continuity in Abrams shows. As for his movies, people constantly connect him with Cloverfield, but did he write Cloverfield? No and he didnít direct it either, that was Matt Reeves. In fact, the only big movie heís directed is Mission Impossible III. How does this qualify him to re-boot a series?

A lot of people are saying it worked with BSG so why not Star Trek? But BSG was a failed series in the first place. Star Trekís a legacy, not to be taken lightly. Which, judging by the trailers (Iím thinking now of the awful car chase sequence) is the direction he went with the movie. Believe me, I want to be wrong about this movie. Iím a huge fan of a lot of the actors involved, and I think theyíll probably do amazing in their roles, but whether the movie will do justice to a legacy remains to be seen.

Iím sure people think Iím being alarmist. But honestly, this is a guy who publicly stated that he was never into Star Trek. One person who didnít put blind faith in Abrams was Bryan Singer. As I said, people think Iím being alarmist, but before Abrams touched Star Trek, he decided to completely re-write another legacy, the Superman legacy. He penned a script for Superman Returns which had Superman be a Kryptonian prince sent to Earth as a child to avoid civil war between his father and his uncle. Clarkís in high school, in love with his sweetheart, Lois, when his uncle invades Earth helped by CIA-agent Lex Luthor. The script ends with Superman returning to Krypton to rule over his people.

Yep, and people thought my concern for Abrams directing Star Trek was unfounded. Iím not saying donít trust Abrams. But I do urge people to think about why they immediately put their trust in a name.

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