In some ways, every science fiction show that’s come along in the last 60 years owes something to Star Trek. The original series created by Gene Roddenberry is simply that influential, but of course some shows owe more than others, and in the case of SYFY’S upcoming original sci-fi epic The Ark, there are certain very specific connections that co-creator Dean Devlin feels deeply.
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On the surface of the show, of course, there’s the focus on the adventures of a crew dealing with adversity and danger aboard a single ship, the title Ark 1, which suffers a catastrophic disaster four years into its mission, forcing young crew members to take over for their deceased senior officers and try to finish the voyage. That’s a gripping enough premise all by itself, but for Devlin, it was also an opportunity to, like Star Trek, use the environment of the ship and the variations within his ensemble cast to say something more about the wider world.
“On Star Trek, they were able to talk about the Vietnam War, about race relations … but they did it in the context of sci-fi, so people who couldn’t have that discussion in real life could suddenly have that discussion [about the series],” Devlin told The New York Post. “What I love about the concept is that it’s our whole world in a microcosm: we just went through a giant pandemic and life-threatening situation and saw various ways that people reacted to it … and by having these people in this contained space, where every decision is life and death, we can really talk about a lot of things out of context that are difficult to talk about in-context.”
But the connections are more than thematic. For Devlin, who co-created the series with Jonathan Glassner, the Star Trek ideas inherent in The Ark are personal. His career has reached from Stargate to Leverage, from Independence Day to The Librarians, and it all began with the day his mother, actress Pilar Seurat, brought home a prop from her guest starring role on Star Trek.
“She was in the ‘Wolf in the Fold’ episode and she plays a psychic princess on this planet who gets killed by Scotty when he’s possessed by the soul of Jack the Ripper,” Devlin said. “She actually came home with the stunt man’s phaser — it was rubber and kind of beat up, it was the phaser they threw all the time — and that’s what started my whole [sci-fi] addiction.”
We’ll see what other Star Trek connections we can find when The Ark premieres Wednesday on SYFY.
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