This week, science fiction fans everywhere received the news they’ve been waiting on for nearly a decade: that Star Trek is finally returning as an ongoing television series. Produced by Alex Kurtzman and set to debut in January of 2017, this new Star Trek is being made for parent company’s CBS TV’s subscription streaming service, CBS All Access. That means that after the premiere episode, the show is going to completely forgo any regular broadcast channels when it arrives.
Ever since the original series was cancelled by NBC back in 1969, every subsequent Trek show has broken new ground in how it reached its audience. Star Trek: The Next Generation was a syndicated series in an era when big budget dramas were only made for broadcast networks. When its spin-off Star Trek: Voyager premiered, it headlined the brand new network UPN. So the series going to a streaming service is only in keeping with Trek’s history of finding non-traditional venues to reach its core audience.
Besides when and where the show is premiering, right now, all we know about the new series is that it “will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes” and that the series won’t be related to the upcoming film Star Trek: Beyond. So with an all-new Trek series a little over a year away, here are five burning questions we have about the franchise’s much anticipated return to the small screen.
1: WILL THE NEW SERIES BE SET IN THE NEW OR ORIGINAL STAR TREK TIMELINE?
Unlike Marvel Studios, which has a shared universe with its movie and television properties, or Lucasfilm, where the Star Wars story group coordinates between the new movies and the animated series Star Wars: Rebels, the rights for the current Star Trek movies and the television shows are split up between two companies. Paramount Studios has the rights to produce new Star Trek films, while CBS has the rights to make television series.
So while it’s not explicitly stated in CBS press release about the new show, the implication is that the TV series won’t be related to the movies currently being produced by Bad Robot for Paramount, including next year’s Star Trek Beyond. So that means no Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, characters who seem to be totally in the domain of the movie franchise.
So if Kurtzman and company can’t use the new versions of Kirk, Spock, etc, will they even set this new show in its alternate timeline of the movies? Or will the show be set in the classic timeline of the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, etc? Remember, the JJ Abrams film did establish that the “old” universe was still out there. It would definitely be cool to show us the future of the Federation in the fifteen years since Star Trek: Nemesis, the final voyage of the Next Generation crew. Of course, If they do decide to produce this show in the classic timeline, it brings us to our next question…
2: Can We Expect Any Of The Actors From Previous Trek Series To Show Up?
If the new series is indeed set in the classic Star Trek universe, Trekkers have got to be wondering if any actors from the various classic series will make an appearance. With shows like X-Files, Twin Peaks, and even Gilmore Girls making comebacks after years being away from television, a new Trek series would a great way to give proper sends offs to the likes of Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and many others. It would no doubt get a lot of curious fans returning to see their favorite characters as well. Certainly Michael Dorn, who played Worf on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, has been clamoring for a return to his Klingon role for years now. Could the new Trek show be the right opportunity?
3: Will This Series Be The Continuing Voyages Of The Starship Enterprise? Or Something Else Entirely?
The most beloved (and well rated) Star Trek series have been about on the continuing voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Will the new series be set on an all new U.S.S. Enterprise, or does the split between the Paramount and CBS mean that the new show will have to be without the Federation Flagship?
There have been Trek shows that didn’t use a starship named Enterprise as their primarily locationm of course, like Deep Space Nine, which was set on a space station, or even Voyager, which was set on a starship, just not the Enterprise. But after twelve years with no Trek series on the air, it might be smart to feature something familiar to Trek fans, and nothing is more quintessential Star Trek than a show that starts with “these are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.”
4: Will This Be The Star Trek Series To Finally Incorporate An LGBT Crew Member?
Ever since Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek almost fifty years ago, it has always been about a hopeful vision of the future, where people of all races, shapes, and sizes put their petty differences aside and built a better future for humanity. The original series broke all kinds of ground by having as Asian man at the helm of the ship and an African-American woman as an officer, despite protestations by network affiliates. As the decades rolled on, Trek was an even bigger champion for diversityin Deep Space Nine and Voyager.
But despite all that, Trek has dropped the ball by not having that diversity extend to including an LGBT character as a main member of the crew on any of its series. While that certainly wasn’t possible back in the 1960s (or really even in the ’80s when Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered), it was by the time the most recent series Enterprise hit the airwaves in 2001. It’s actually kind of embarrassing there wasn’t an LGBT officer on the series by that point. When the new show premieres in January of 2017, it will be high time for that oversight to be rectified.
5: Can CBS Really Expect Fans To Pay For A Streaming Service Just For New Star Trek Content?
This is the biggest question of this whole endeavor. While Star Trek fans are a loyal lot, can they really be expected to shell out that much money for a streaming service to just watch new episodes of their favorite franchise? Of course, the CBS All Access service has other programming to offer, but as of right now, it’s all older programming. 90% of fans would be signing up for the $5.99 a month service just for new Trek.
One way to spice up the package will be to finally upgrade both Deep Space Nine and Voyager to full HD. Three years ago, CBS Home Video began a long process of rebuilding and re-editing Star Trek: The Next Generation for Blu-ray, as the old standard definition edits were not up to modern standards. The process cost a reported $20 million dollars and three years to complete, and apparently wasn’t a big enough success sales-wise to warrant the same restoration process done for DS9 and Voyager. But having the entire Star Trek television catalog in HD all in one convenient place just might be the impetus CBS needs to freshen up both of those series for CBS All Access. And that, along with new episodes, might be something Trek fans will feel justified in spending their money on.
What are your hopes for an all-new Star Trek series? Chime in and let us know in the comments below!
IMAGES: CBS and Paramount Pictures