By Kenneth Shipp
A week ago, Star Wars fans were crying unashamedly from the final trailer before The Force Awakens premieres in December. Now, fellow Trekkies everywhere can rejoice. CBS has finally announced a new show will debut in January 2017. Here’s the details so far…
Co-writer and producer of the past two Star Trek reboot films, Alex Kurtzman, will be executive producer for the new series along with Heather Kadin. They both have recently been working on CBS “hits” Scorpion and Limitless with Roberto Orci. I used quotations with the word hits because I’m not very impressed by either of those shows, although I haven’t been able to give Limitless a fair shake. Just because a bunch of people watch those shows, doesn’t mean it’s actually of high quality. It’s been a trait of CBS television lately: large viewership, mediocre TV series.
Several Star Trek alumni, especially Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker from TNG), have been clamoring and pitching new show ideas for years. This deal shows that Kurtzman has had CBS’s ear for a while. It’s likely their relationship with his other shows like Limitless, Scorpion, or Hawaii Five-0 gave them more confidence in selecting Kurtzman. While it’s great that we will receive a new series, it raises a few questions:
- Is Kurtzman a mediocre writer? This still remains to be seen, especially given that the past two Star Trek movies were great, but not because they were good Trek films. Let’s be honest, it was a highlight reel for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars audition. (It’s almost like he didn’t like Star Trek or something.) I’m not sure how much they contributed to the lack of Trekkie-ness in the current movies, but it’s something to be concerned about. Especially when he only has 4 movies in the positive on Rotten Tomatoes (Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Mission Impossible III, Ender’s Game). Did we mention he was also involved with Transformers…..
- Will Damon Lindelof sneak his way in? CBS probably wouldn’t hesitate to add him, but if Kurtzman, and by extension Orci are question marks on quality, there are no doubts on Lindelof. He not only embraces the “Mystery Box” concept, he lives inside of it and refuses to come out, to the aggravation of many fans. His writing style lacks a certain…what’s the word I’m looking for….substance, cohesion, common sense, logic. Okay, that was 5 words. Are you starting to get the point?
- Will we be restricted to the CBS service only? Oh, you should definitely know this as well. The premiere episode will debut on television and online. Then, the rest of the series will only be available on CBS All-Access. I’m not sure how eager fans will be to pay for an additional monthly service fee ($5.99) when we have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Go, Sling TV and a whole host of other streaming services. We love Star Trek and maybe that’s what they are banking on, but I could also see this move hurting the numbers significantly. Considering Enterprise was cancelled due to poor ratings and it was on normal publication for its time, restricting access further by asking people to pay extra to see it will only further limit the reach of the show. The only people who will pay to see it are people who are already Trek fans. Growing new fans will be increasingly difficult.
- Who will direct? For TV, we usually see a multitude of directors for the same show, and while the Star Trek alumni may have been shut out of the inception phase of this deal, hopefully Kurtzman will reach out to them and get their buy-in with the new series. Getting an experienced Trek director, like say Jonathan Frakes for example, could fix a lot of issues and improve the quality of the show. If Kurtzman really has different values than most of the fan base and it’s veteran actors, than this will not happen and the show will suffer as a result. The potential for amazing collaboration is here and should be pushed fervently.
Okay, I’ll quit being a Negative Nancy. It’s been a decade without a new Star Trek series to sink our teeth into. Nothing has been stated about plot or story and no one has been cast yet. According to startrek.com, we know it will not be related to the new film Star Trek: Beyond coming in 2016. How it fits into the larger universe remains to be seen in the year leading up to its release. Be assured, I’ll be among the many fans clamoring to see this new show when it releases January 2017.
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