Thursday, February 9, 2017

Happy Anniversary... Now Make Me Want to Go Buy Some Stuff.

I'm going to break my formula of "talk about what you enjoy instead of bitching about what you don't" for a moment and complain a bit.

Doctor Who turned 50 in 2013, and oh what a celebration it was. Eleven months of non-stop celebration of every Doctor, starting with the First Doctor William Hartnell in January and then covering a new Doctor every month all the way up to the then current Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith. Each month we got new TV specials, eBooks, comic books, and audio dramas focusing exclusively on that Doctor's era, culminating in a multi-Doctor TV special for the newer Doctors and a multi-Doctor audio special for the classic Doctors. (And even a humorous multi-Doctor video for the other surviving classic Doctors!) It was a year to remember.
A small sampling of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary merch.
 And then came 2016, the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, quite possibly the biggest most wide spread science fiction series ever. But the powers that be decreed "This is not the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek as a whole, it's the 50th Anniversary of The Original Series." And a movie came out in June which was going to come out anyway, and a version of Risk came out which included all the shows but (probably for legal merchandising reasons) left out the current film incarnations, and there was a book trilogy focusing completely on TOS, and an audiobook version of that same TOS trilogy, and a comic book that on the plus side does cover all the different eras of Star Trek but on the con side started in September and is being published bi monthly so it's mostly coming out during the year of the 51st Anniversary instead of the 50th. 
Pretty much the complete Star Trek 50th Anniversary merch.
("But Fer," I hear you counter, "Doctor Who was all one TV series! Okay, two TV series. Well, two TV series and a TV movie." True, but to my perspective it makes no difference. In both cases you have many people who watched all of it or alternatively stopped watching when they lost interest in the current incarnation.  With the exception of Deep Space Nine, from 1987 onward each version of Trek voluntarily left television with the full intention of the studio to immediately replace it with the next version during what would have been the outgoing show's next season, which is essentially the same as recasting the Doctor and taking the show into a new direction (and even redesigning the TARDIS set as they currently often do). If anything, one can argue that Star Trek has a more consistent connection than Doctor Who has had, because The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise were all still run under the direction of Rick Berman, while Doctor Who frequently changed who was in charge and had control of the show. But I digress.)

Here we are now in 2017, the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars, which has spawned three trilogies, a spin-off series of anthology movies, three TV cartoon shows (four if you count the Droids/Ewoks Adventure Hour as two), some very nice Ewok movies, and a Holiday Special everyone loves to hate, not to mention built probably the most in-depth Expanded Universe through books, comics, and games in tie-in history. And once again, the powers that be seem to have decreed that this is not the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars as a whole, but of that film the kids today like to call Episode IV. Marvel Comics is doing a bunch of variant covers showing scenes from A New Hope. Hasbro is doing a new "Titanium" line of action figures giving us the same characters in the same outfits from A New Hope that we've already bought a dozen times, but this time with fancy display stands featuring backgrounds from A New Hope. And we've got a movie that would be coming out this year anyway. Granted, this is just a ruby anniversary and not a golden anniversary, but... still! Doctor Who set a great precedent that Star Trek and Star Wars could have learned from!

Someone in a forum once complained to a friend of mine that the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary was only good if you were willing to pay for it. 12 monthly comics at $3.99 each, 11 monthly eBooks at $3.99 each, 11 monthly audios at $11.99 each... technically I didn't have to pay for each monthly episode of "The Doctors Revisited" on BBC America, but I did have to pay the cable company for BBC America or alternatively pay $39.98 per DVD box set, each covering three to four Doctors. But we paid it, because getting to immerse yourself so much in each era of Doctor Who each month was fun.

I wanted to have that same sense of fun for Star Trek's 50th Anniversary,  so I had to make my own celebration. Each month I read a book and a comic and listened to an audio from a specific era, preferably ones I'd never read or heard before. And just like Doctor Who, the actual anniversary month (in this case September) lined up with what was the current incarnation:

January: The Original Series
February: The Animated Series
March: Films I-VI
April: The Next Generation
May: Deep Space Nine
June: Voyager
July: The Next Generation Films
August: Enterprise
September: The Kelvin Timeline films (aka the JJ Abrams reboot)

...But you can't release a summer blockbuster in September, so Star Trek Beyond was released in June. But I did still get to see it again on September 1, at the film's final showing at my local theater.

And you know what? By deciding to do my own celebration, I still spent money on getting novels and audiobooks that I hadn't purchased the first time around. Many of them I had to buy used because they've been long out of print. So that's sales that could have gone to CBS/Paramount and their licensees if they had just put out an anniversary line of new books, comics, and audios following this formula like Doctor Who did. (Heck, Enterprise doesn't even *have* any comics or audios, since it come out during Trek's twilight years. I had to listen to a fan audio and read a comic that focused on a different NX ship set during Enterprise's time period.)

Star Wars could've gone like this:

January: A New Hope
February: Empire Strikes Back
March: Return of the Jedi
April: Droids / Ewoks Adventure Hour
May: Ewok Movies
June: The Phantom Menace
July: Attack of the Clones
August: Revenge of the Sith
September: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
October: Star Wars Rebels
November: Rogue One
December: Last of the Jedi / The Force Awakens

(Or alternatively you could do each trilogy in one month and give the other months to various Expanded Universe elements; Star Wars has had many games, novels, and comics that derived from each other.)

Tell me you're doing a year long celebration for each with new comics, new books, and new audios all focusing on each different corner of the Star Wars universe that month and I'd have been all over it. But it didn't even occur to me until I saw this article today.

So to Star Wars I say, you've got ten years. When your golden anniversary does come around I hope you make it a celebration of everything that Star Wars has become, and not just one movie.