Crossovers have been a comic book industry staple for decades. There’s nothing terribly objectionable about in-house mergers, like Marvel’s Avengers Vs. X-Men, which currently sits atop sales charts. After all, Captain America and Wolverine exist in the same continuity, and have interacted countless times before. Even a title as blatantly money-grabbing as Dark Horse’s original Aliens Vs. Predator has some appeal. There is some gratification to be had from seeing these two formidable extra-terrestrial species throw down in a Darwinian battle of gnashing teeth and slashing blades; although subsequent instalments, including two big-screen flops, have fallen prey to the law of diminishing returns. These pulpy fusions certainly have a time and a place, but the launch this week of IDW’s Star Trek: TNG / Doctor Who crossover, smacks of pandering fan-fiction.
Trekkies, because they’ve weathered so many shoddy incarnations, can be an understandably fickle bunch. They’ve had to suffer a film franchise where every odd numbered entry disappoints beyond belief. Not to mention the entirety of Enterprise, a show that didn’t even last long enough to earn syndication rights (a first for Trek). Despite being a cash cow for Paramount, the studio habitually treated Star Trek like a sacred one instead. The series stagnated as each new version drifted further and further away from creator Gene Roddenberry’s core conceit, to the point where it scarcely resembled the original television mission Captain Kirk and his crew embarked upon in September of 1966, three full years before man landed on the moon.
The franchise spent more than a decade languishing in suspended animation until J.J. Abrams injected some much need Red Matter into the mix, and rebooted the whole damn universe. Abrams has had to dodge a lot of flack, lens-flares notwithstanding, despite delivering the invigorating shot in the arm the franchise so desperately needed. His version might have rubbed raw some lifetime fans. It’s more space-operatic, but less didactic, than it’s predecessors. It's also, dare I say, a helluva lot more fun. Now, just as Star Trek has begun to reclaim a relevant place in contemporary pop-culture, along comes this crossover.
And it's embarrassing for everyone involved. Not because Doctor Who isn’t worthy of association; it’s a great show, by all accounts, and more vital now than it's ever been before. All this ill-conceived cross-pollination does is cheapen both parties. It plays like a lame marketing stunt, and a last-gasp gimmick normally reserved for properties that have been put out to pasture. The point is, both franchises are robust, and what this multi-panelled mind-melding does is disservice both Trekkies and Whovians. Besides, is anyone really clamouring to see Picard, Worf and the good Doctor stuffed shoulder-to-shoulder inside a blue police call-box, zipping Bill & Ted-like trough time and space?