Back in 2003, while Star Trek: Enterprisewas struggling on the UPN, William Shatner pitched his idea for a new TV show to replace it. It would have revolved around a young Kirk and Spock as they made their way through Starfleet Academy.
Longtime Trek fans may recall that Star Trek movie producer Ralph Winter had a similar idea back in the late 1980s. Following the disappointing performance of Shatner’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, producer Harv Bennett pitched a version of that for a new film. It was envisioned as a way to produce a new Star Trek movie for the 25th anniversary that would have saved the studio millions by casting unknowns instead of the classic cast.
Theoretically, Shatner’s Kirk and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock would have recalled the tale and been featured in “bookend” scenes. Word leaked out and most fans reacted negatively. Paramount ultimately decided to produce Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country instead.
Years later, Paramount also rejected Shatner’s vision for a new series and waited several years before producing a new Trek project, JJ Abrams’ Star Trek picture.
Shatner didn’t want to waste his premise though so he turned it into a novel, with the help of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Collision Course (Star Trek: Academy) was released in 2007. Here’s the publisher’s description:
If you think you know how it all began, think again…
Young Jim Kirk wants nothing to do with Starfleet, and never wants to leave Earth. In the summer of 2249, he’s a headstrong seventeen-year-old barely scraping by in San Francisco, haunted by horrific memories from his past.
In the same city, a nineteen-year-old alien named Spock is determined to rise above the emotional turmoil of his mixed-species heritage. He’s determined to show his parents he has what it takes to be Vulcan — even if it means exposing a mysterious conspiracy at the heart of the Vulcan Embassy, stretching to the farthest reaches of the Federation’s borders. There, a chilling new threat has arisen to test the Federation’s deepest held belief that war is a thing of the past and that a secure future can be forged through peaceful means alone. But it is in San Francisco, home to Starfleet Academy, where that threat will be met by two troubled teenage boys driven to solve the mystery that links them both.
In time, the universe will come to know these young rebels as Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock…two of the Federation’s greatest heroes. Yet before they were heroes, they were simply conflicted teenagers, filled with raw ambition and talent, not yet seasoned by wisdom and experience, searching for their own unique directions in life — a destiny they’ll discover on one fateful night in San Francisco, when two lives collide, and two legends are born.
Star Trek: Academy — Collision Course sets the stage for an exciting new era of Star Trek adventure, and for the first time reveals Kirk and Spock as they were, and how they began their journey to become the Kirk and Spock we know today.
Based on the final paragraph of the description, it would seem that a series of novels was planned but wasn’t released. Rumor has it that Shatner felt Pocket Books under-promoted the first one. It may have also been because the Abrams picture was on the horizon and since then, the publisher has started releasing a line of Starfleet Academy books that are based on the new version of the characters.
What do you think? Would you have been interested in seeing Shatner’s idea for a new TV series?