Re: If big budget/shiny SFX space opera is out of the question...
The OP's proposal is reasonably similar to the original concept for Enterprise
"I think [J.J. Abrams has] done a great thing for Star Trek. Iím very grateful to him. We all owe him a lot. When someone comes along like he has done and picks it up and elevates it, we should be grateful." - Leonard Nimoy