If Sal Lagonia, president and producer of Project: Cardinal, a whole new concept in Trek lore, has his way that possiblity seems promising with “Star Trek: Cardinal.” While Lagonia admits to having no prior experience as a producer, he does claim to be a semi-professional screenwriter, having “done a great deal of production work for various series and movies, as well as owning a film degree,” according to the project’s creator.
I am hoping to make further contact with him to verify what other projects he has worked on in the past.
His attempt at revitalizing the 40 year franchise back on to the small screen will concentrate on the crew of the USS Cardinal, a small vessel which is charged with the unglorified job of maintaining the Ferengi border, a small rectangle that also happens to connect the Romulans to the Cardassians in a smugglers corridor. The crew would be charged with chasing criminals and would-be invaders.
If this were the be all and end all to the series, some Trek fans might burn the studio down in protest. However, it is not the be all and end all. The creator of this unique concept is not just giving the crew a mission and leaving it to the writers to decide what random aliens they will encounter every week. Instead, the crew of the Cardinal is inadvertently placed in the center of events that will change the entire galaxy.
From the very beginning, the crew is faced with mysteries that don’t have solutions, mysteries that are causing powers to challenge other powers. The Federation Starship USS Cardinal is placed in the unenviable position of stopping a war, something that becomes increasingly harder until they are no longer able to accomplish that particular mission and war becomes inevitiable.
The show’s creator promises a series with a beginning, middle and end stating that a definite plan for seven seasons of storylines, with the plots changing direction from time to time leading in alternate routes. “Instead of blindly moving forward, we have a definite plan that is brought to a logical conclusion at the end of Season Seven,” stated Lagonia.
Basic Seven Season Outline
Season One would involve introduction of themes and include increasing tension on a weekly basis.
Season Two would begin a small, localized war with an old familiar race. But even as the war is waged, the mysteries only increase until a new enemy is introduced.
Season Three continues with the war growing in scope and begins a massive story arch that will truly be the hallmark of the series.
Season Four is something never seen before in Star Trek – It’s the USS Cardinal and its crew who breaks a cease fire, and becomes stuck behind enemy lines, with a government unwilling to help them.
Season Five begins a more character driven look into the war, and how it is effecting the lives of the show’s heroes.
Seasons Six and Seven begin to close the concepts that were opened and carried through the first five season in a proper fashion, without just throwing something together at the last minute (which seemed to occur far too much with the last series “Enterprise”).
“While the external factors remain planned, internal factors must not be forgotten,” explained Lagonia. “It is easy to attempt a grab at ratings by creating a spontaneous romance, or a random attitude shift in the crew, but it alienates fans in the long-run. Instead, character interaction must be well planned, especially in a series so focused on character.”
For the crew of the USS Cardinal, this will involve a more realistic view of family than we are used to. Longoria’s contention is that one of the largest complaints about “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was the lack of conflict among the crew. The crew of a starship is a family, but families will hardly come together instantly after being placed in a difficult situation.
On the USS Cardinal the crew is filled with characters that are constantly in conflict. Family is not chosen, after all, it is thrust upon you, and you need to make good with what you have. With each character in direct conflict with at least one other character, and a ship that forces interaction among the crew, we are left with a crew that must work past its problems with each other to solve the external problems facing the ship. As old conflicts are closed and forgotten, new ones arise to take their place. There will never be a lack of character conflict with a crew of this nature.
The crew in question is also not the best and the brightest we are used to seeing. Instead, they are those who could be the best and the brightest, if only they were given the chance. There are those plagued by their past, or fearful of their future, or perhaps even fearful of themselves. They are from different cultures, ages and sexes, and many of their differences cause a great deal of friction among other members of the crew.
The ship serves as an analogy of the crew. It is also a ship that simply was never given a chance; a cramped, glitchy ship that was not deemed worthy enough to serve as a front-line vessel. It is a mix of different technologies that were never designed to work together, and without much effort, considered irreparable.
The more the crew learns to work together, the better the ship begins to perform. Troubles set aside between crew mates coincide with mechanical problems being fixed on the ship.
Longoria has plans to pitch the idea for a CBS weekly series that will begin with a two-hour pilot episode which will introduce a number of mysteries and deal with tension growing between powers. Surrounded by warships, the crew must stop one power from invading another. The stakes are high, any mistake could lead to war. The USS Cardinal is out-gunned and has almost no hope of succeeding, and can only rely on the wit of its crew to succeed.
The action-oriented pilot will bring characters and concepts together in a way that will grab the attention of the fans and hold them for the coming episodes. With well-defined, “fan-inspired story archs” following, the enormous base of Trek fans will gladly spend an hour every week watching CBS.