Interesting reading Monday morning. Apparently J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, submitted a proposal for a new STAR TREK series back in 2004. Straczynski proposed a "reboot" of the ST universe. Take the story back to the original series and start again at the beginning of the first five year mission of the USS Enterprise under the command of James T. Kirk. Follow the link above to a PDF file of the outline.
Bruce Zabel was kind enough to post this outline, and to discuss the history behind it. You can read his blog here:
Straczynski had some good ideas, but also some bad ideas. He believed that the way to make the new series engaging was to have a 5 year story arc, similar to what he did with B5. In the pilot episode, we would learn about a highly advanced alien race that disappeared one million years ago. The Enterprise (and the other starships on 5 year missions) are out looking for traces of this ancient civilization.
Excuse me Joe, but this VERY idea was the plot to a STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION episode. So, ditch that idea....or at least remove it from being the central narrative device for the series. I don't have a problem with an advanced race out there...after all, we had a variety of hyper-advanced energy beings out there...any new Trek series should make sense of those: the super beings in "Charlie X," Trelayne from "The Squire of Gothos," the Organians from "Errand of Mercy," and a hand full of other advanced aliens should be better explained. Either they were all the same race, or there were a series of ancient races that have since retired from active politicking around the galaxy (very much like the ancients in David Brin's Uplift War sagas).
Of course, it could just be as simple as that...there were lots of civilizations that have retired to their home worlds and would prefer to be left alone; the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, and other young races are tearing about the galaxy and occasionally bumping into these advanced races...at their own risk. This would make an excellent subplot (one of several) for the entire series...but I don't think it would work well as THE central theme for a five year story arc...too melodramatic...and it was already done in B5.
In fact, now that I have thought more about it, I think Straczynski is on to something. But it would not be just one mystery, but many. There have been many ancient races that have ruled the galaxy and died out or disappeared. The investigation of these disappeared races (and the possibility that some of them may still be out there lurking in the great unknown...or the possibility that there is some great evil force that comes out every few million years to destroy the galaxy) is an important, but covert part of, Starfleet's mission to explore the galaxy. You could have a "great unknown" that Kirk and company are occasionally picking up pieces of...that would be fine. But don't try to tie it into a "war of the gods" like Straczynski had for Babylon 5.
Ok, I edited out the rest of my comments...this post was just TOO long!