I'm a freelance writer, designer, and game developer. My name is Will Hindmarch, and this is a notebook I keep on the web.
A tricky one, this. I’m trained as a writer to locate and deploy my own ideas rather than spend time pining away on IPs I am unlikely to ever get to take charge of myself. Thus, rather than work toward the renovation of a classic TV show, I aim to create new spec features and script pilots for original series in the hopes that they (a) get made themselves or (b) land me a writing gig on a quality series somewhere. Once that’s done, it seems, I can pursue gigs that’ll give me influence on beloved franchises like Star Trek or Mission: Impossible.
That’s a long and difficult process, though, so instead let me say that I’d like to return Mission: Impossible to the air (perhaps alongside the continuing feature films) as a weekly action-drama series with serious peril and a bit of its original premise as an antho series with a rotating cast. Put it on FX, maybe. I wouldn’t make it any soapier, exactly, but I’d put more emphasis on the unusual sorts of people drawn to the IMF’s original methodology of non-official-cover agents, have agents get disavowed a little more often, and maybe do one 2-3 ep arc per season that sees multiple impossible missions undertaken in series (or in tandem!) to bring down a big villain.
That said, I’d happily bring the new Star Trek universe back to television, too, since you’re offering.
Edit: Another reason to put Mission: Impossible back on television? The music of the theme and “The Plot” recorded for every episode in some new way.
1. Space: Above and Beyond (1995-1996)
Why it’s unsung: Like many of the shows on this list, it only ran for one season, on Fox. And like the other shows on this list, it often gets ignored when people are talking about the enduring classics of the genre.
Why it rules: As veteran TV writer Jesse Alexander wrote for us a while back, this show blazed new trails and helped prepare the way for other gritty shows about space combat. The show featured “relatable, almost ordinary characters overcoming extraordinary challenges through teamwork and sacrifice.” And it dealt with tough issues like the rights of genetically engineered people, artificial intelligence, and war against an alien species.
Srsly, Space: Above and Beyond was AWESOME. I’ve got the DVDs if anybody wants to do a rewatch with me.
Not only do I still hold this show dear, but I gave it as a Christmas gift as recently as yesterday. A bunch of what I learned about how to write and tell stories came from this era of television, frankly, for better or worse.
—Matt Zoller Seitz, "The Problem with American Remakes of British Shows"
(We’ve talked before, I think, about this conflict between the art and the venue, between the show and the system, as a form of meta-suspense for the audience: How long can a good show maintain its high-wire act? What trapeze stunts can a series perform before it falls to the net below?)