This morning, CBS announced a new Star Trek series debuting in January of 2017. Yay!
Well, maybe yay. Hopefully yay. But, of course, since we’re geeks, and since many of us feel that Trek hasn’t been treated terribly well lately, there’s a lot of trepidation mixed in with the general surprise at the news. So, a few thoughts on what little we know so far.
- Yes, the executive producer is Alex Kurtzman, notorious among many for being part of the team behind the recent reboot movies, which were successful but are regarded by many as being more than a little problematic. (Personally, I enjoyed the first and thought that though there were some issues, it did a good job of rebooting the franchise for modern times while still respecting its roots; the second is a big dumb summer action flick that is very, very questionable from a lifelong Trek fan’s standpoint.) However, Kurtzman is listed as executive producer, and his work as a series producer has often been on shows that have been worth watching (Alias, Fringe, and Sleepy Hollow are particular high points), and his greatest travesties have been as a film screenwriter (the Transformers franchise, the Trek reboots).
- Kurtzman’s aforementioned screenwriting problems (Transformers, nuTrek) were done in concert with Roberto Orci (notorious for essentially telling Trek fans critical of the new films to fuck off). Since the two decided to go their separate ways, it’s possible that he might do better shepherding a Trek show on his own than in partnership with Orci. (It’s also interesting that Kurtzman is doing the new show for CBS, while Orci is still part of the production team for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond for Paramount. Maybe that will help us figure out which of the two has a better handle on Trek?)
- I think it’s a safe bet that the new show will probably be part of the reboot universe. With three movies in the new universe out by the time the series debuts, and another planned for 2019, that simply makes the most sense. But that’s not definite: all we really know from the announcement is that it will “introduce new characters” and that “is not related to the upcoming feature film Star Trek Beyond“. This makes sense, as CBS controls Trek’s TV rights, while Paramount controls the feature film rights. So, while I think keeping it in the new universe (even if it doesn’t directly integrate with the films) makes the most sense, there’s no way to know for sure at this point.
- I’m in agreement with Ron Moore (and others) that while the films are fun, Star Trek works best on TV.
I think that Star Trek, in its DNA, is a television show. The features are great. They’re a lot of fun and they’ve certainly opened it up to a lot of different audiences, but the features all are basically atypical episodes, if you think about it. The features are very big action-adventure movies, lots of spectacle, run and jump, shoot-em-up and blowing things up. The fate of the Earth, or the universe itself, is always at stake. It’s always about the captain, and one other character has a strong B-story, and everyone else sort of has very small roles beyond that. But Star Trek, as originally conceived, and as you saw play out in all the other series, was really a morality play every week, and it was about an ensemble of players. They were exploring science fiction ideas, sociological ideas and moral ideas. That’s really what the shows are about….
- It’s still over a year away. There’s a lot of time for rumors, speculation, hopes, fears, and everything else. I choose to remain cautiously optimistic.