Star Trek Returning To Television In 2017, But Only On Digital Streaming
Star Trek is headed back to television, but you’ll only be able to find it on a subscription streaming service:
“Star Trek,” that venerable outer-space adventure, is boldly going where it’s been before, but hasn’t been seen in more than a decade: back to television. The science-fiction program that chronicled the voyages of the Starship Enterprise and its intrepid crew will return to TV in 2017, CBS said on Monday, in a new series that will be introduced on the network but will be shown primarily on its digital subscription video service.
This latest “Star Trek” series will focus on “new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception,” CBS said in a news release.
It will be executive-produced by Alex Kurtzman, a writer and producer of the rebooted 2009″Star Trek” movie and its 2013 sequel, “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Mr. Kurtzman has also been involved with other popular works of geek culture like the TV shows “Alias,” “Fringe,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Xena: Warrior Princess.”
The original “Star Trek” series, created by Gene Roddenberry, ran on NBC from 1966 to 1969. It introduced audiences to heroes like the hot-blooded Capt. James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner) and his serene half-alien officer, Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and was distinguished by storytelling more focused on social themes of the 1960s than on the (minimal) special effects of that era.
A motion picture franchise followed, as did the TV spinoffs “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (which ran from 1987 to 1994); “Deep Space Nine” (1993 to 1999); “Voyager” (1995 to 2001); and “Enterprise” (2001 to 2005). Each of these series focused on different crews and eras in future history.
CBS said that the new “Star Trek” series would begin in January 2017 with a “special preview” episode shown on the network. That premiere and subsequent first-run episodes would then be shown on CBS All Access, its subscription video site.
There aren’t any details about what the show will be about, however the fact that it is being produced by someone involved in the production of the “reboot” movies that began in 2009 with the release of the J.J. Abrams Star Trek and it’s sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, which was not very well received by long time fans, would suggest that it will be based in that universe of stories rather than in the one that has been the setting for the television shows that we are all familiar with. While that is likely to disappoint many long time fans who have talked for years about the idea of a Star Trek series based on everything ranging from Captain Sulu’s years on the Excelsior to the adventures of Lt. Commander Worf after Deep Space Nine, it is understandable. Whatever the fans might thing about the two movies that have come out in the past six years, they are the two most financially successful Star Trek films ever released, out-earning the previously most-successful, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home by more than two-to-one, so it’s not at all surprising that producers would want a new series to be consistent with the world created by the “new” Star Trek.
Speaking as a fan, I tend to share some of the concerns expressed by Matthew Yglesias that a show based in this new reality will share many of the weaknesses that have plagued the movies, most especially the second movie which inexplicably chose to retell a story that had already been told in one of the best movies in the entire franchise rather than coming up with an original story. If that’s any indication of what we’ve got to look forward to, then I’m not sure how good a reboot of old story lines from the original series or any of its progeny will actually be. At the same time, early reports about the upcoming third film, Star Trek Beyond claim that it will be more original than the second movie so perhaps they’ve learned their lesson from that experience. Additionally, since we won’t be seeing the characters from those movies, perhaps a new canvas will provide an opportunity for new stories that are closer to what made the series fun to watch.
In any case, the most interesting thing about this venture is the fact that the show will be featured primarily on an online subscription service rather than online. In reality, this is probably the best avenue for a show such as this since it removes at least some of the pressure for high ratings that would plague a show that would be broadcast over the air, and it follows on the heels of shows like House of Cards on Netflix, or the Amazon adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s alternate history novel The Man In The High Castle, whose first season will be available later this month. CBS understandably will run this show on their subscription service, which premiered last year, in the hopes that it will bring in new subscribers to rival those that Neflix, Amazon, and Hulu are attracting with both their library of pre-existing content and original material. The future, it seems, has arrived.