June 20, 2024

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Star Trek’s Closest TV Cousin Isn’t Sci-Fi – It’s Law & Order

It’s also important to remember that “Star Trek” established early on that its universe is much larger than anything audiences got to see. When a “Star Trek” series ended, it was rarely final, implying that the characters would continue to have adventures that we, the audience, simply weren’t allowed to see. Captain Picard may have been the captain of the Federation flagship, but there were hundreds of other Starfleet vessels out there in the galaxy, each presumably having adventures all its own. It could be argued that Trekkies invented this kind of “expanded universe” canon, filling our heads with a vast and complicated network of adventures that we only occasionally glimpsed. 

The thing binding together all those adventures, though, was Starfleet. The rules of the space navy, the hierarchy of rank, the technical specifications of each ship, and the way the crew functioned — all of the things that defined Starfleet — were going to be present, no matter the “Star Trek” show, book, or movie. We Trekkies merely wanted to see more and more officers comfortably within the future version of the “Law & Order” criminal justice system. 

Of course, there is a general appeal toward any show that depicts professionals devoted to professional acumen. This might be why stories of killer spies or assassins are so popular; we like to see people doing their jobs well, even if that job is murder. “Star Trek” is mostly about professional people doing their jobs well, living in a system that functions near-perfectly. 

“Law & Order” is the same. We’re here to witness a fantasy of the system working as it should. Lord knows it doesn’t always in real life.

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