I'm serious in the question I'm asking: why? Why does it need to be more than that? Why does it need to be anything more than a fun romp?
Well, I prefer Star Trek when it makes me think. Just my own personal taste. I know there are fans that prefer it when it is frothy action-adventure but I'm not one of them. Any show could do that kind of stuff.
As opposed to TOS, which got 9 movies and 5 television series based on it.
Wrong. The 4 TNG movies, DS9, VOY and ENT are all due to the success of TNG. DS9 is obviously a TNG spin-off.
TNG was a TOS spin-off, even if there was about 17 years between the end of the one and the beginning of the other.
TNG probably didn't happen if it weren't for the confidence that Paramount's people had in the soon-to-be released fourth TOS-based movie, The Voyage Home
. During the summer of 1986 they were so happy with that thing that after two reasonably successful films that failed to increase the audience for Trek above a certain ceiling - TWOK and TSFS - they believed that Trek was a property with growth potential.
Of course no one would ever have made a TNG movie without the track record of six TOS movies. The studio saw TNG as a sequel series from the beginning (they even planned to add it to the TOS syndication package as a "fourth season" if the sequel had failed to catch on) intended to extend the life of the property as Shatner and the other actors aged.
Now that the studio has seen that Star Trek
can be successfully restarted using the core characters and setting and that this approach yields much bigger box office returns than the older model we can expect them to do it again and again - as others have with Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, James Bond and so on. The old faux "future history" is an additional source of characters, premises and story situations (did I mention Kirk versus the Borg
), not a template to be followed again in "evolving" Trek forward.