The cosmic ballet goes on.
Ever since JJ Abrams’ excellent Star Wars film “Star Trek” raked in a mountain of cash, I assumed a new TV series wasn’t far behind. After all, Trek has always made a bigger impact on TV than film, as its ever-aging stars and talky subject matter lent themselves more to weekly dramas than two hour ‘splode-em’ups.
Well, it took six more years after that 2009 film to get that good news, but hey, today we did in fact learn CBS plans to release a new series in January 2017. It will debut on the actual CBS network (labeled as a ‘special preview’) and then all subsequent episodes will debut on CBS All Access… which yes, means the show is essentially a “Web series” or “digital only” or whatever other kiss of death we normally slap on these kinds of things.
NORMALLY I would groan alongside the rest of the internet, and writhe in agony over a TV show that’s still over a year away… but this digital thing may (MAY) not be too bad, and it’s somewhat in line with how The Next Generation was announced.
Of particular note: “[The show,] to be distributed through Paramount’s Television Division, will bypass the big three networks and go straight to first-run syndication on channels now carrying the original ‘Star Trek’ reruns.”
“I’m not surprised,” said Woodworth. “I don’t think any self-respecting executive would touch something as iffy as this.”
So, even in 1986, there were fans immediately assuming the worst… and the show would then go on to air seven seasons of excellent, award-winning, meme-generating television. For fans and even reporters in ’86 though, all they had to go on was, “Here’s a new show based on something old that you love, and no network is going to actually air it.”
That sounds a lot like this 2017 show, hm? We may wonder about the budget, or how much time and attention the network may give it beyond that first airing, but to be honest, the first season of TNG had to go out in random markets at random times throughout the week and made it work. This time around, people are super connected to their phones, tablets, PCs and whatnot, meaning the show is available… all the time. Only this time, they DO have a network airing and promoting the show.
So yeah, I would prefer CBS actually have the guts to air this thing as a prime time deal, but even if it’s digital-only, we’ve seen what shows like that can achieve. Daredevil, Man in the High Castle, Arrested Development… uh, other shows I haven’t watched… all technically have the same “only on your mobile thingy” yet deliver on their promises. If CBS gives the first season a modest, but smartly managed budget, then it’s possible for this new Trek to soar and perhaps earn even more leeway in the financial department.
It’s worth pointing out the show has no connection to the Abrams movies (or at least the upcoming Beyond, which they name specifically) and it will be executive produced by Alex Kurtzman (co-writer and producer of Trek 09 and Into Darkness). Hard to say what that means, as producers can be very hands-on, or very hands-off. Trek also needs someone to “get” what makes the show work, otherwise it’ll fizzle fast.
An interesting development, for sure. I’m hoping for the best, and have to believe CBS will give this the spotlight it needs to succeed. If they get it right, they could be looking at a revival of a series that remained consistently popular from 1966 to either 02 (when Nemesis barfed) or 05 (when Enterprise ended). Either way, that’s at least 40 years of merchandise and reruns, and who wouldn’t want another crack at that?