With The X-Files and Twin Peaks already in production, it was only a matter of time before someone got around to reviving Star Trek. The beloved sci-fi franchise is on its way back to TV with a new series set to air on CBS All Access in 2017, all thanks to the same, um, talent (yeah, let’s go with talent) that brought you the walking pop culture reference that was Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Alex Kurtzman – best known for co-writing the recent Star Trek films alongside Roberto Orci – will serve as the executive producer for the new series. It’s theoretically great news for Star Trek fans that have had to go without regular installments of Star Trek since Enterprise went off the air in 2005 (my Twitter feed is certainly excited).
Me? I’m more skeptical. I don’t have any particularly strong feelings about Star Trek, but Into Darkness was a bad movie, which made it a bad Star Trek movie by default even if the Star Trek was incidental to its badness. It was a poorly written mess that confused fan service with dramatic tension and tried to convince viewers that Captain Kirk was going to die in a random space jump halfway through the movie (spoiler alert: he was fine).
The point is that the current Star Trek movies offer no indication that Kurtzman and/or Orci are able to deliver any kind of meaningful character development or introspection, which seems like it could be an issue in a medium (and a franchise) with longer story arcs that demand some kind of growth over the course of several seasons. The new show will feature new characters and will not be tied to the ongoing Star Trek film trilogy, but I’d still expect it to have a more action-oriented tone than its small-screen predecessors.
In fact, the most futuristic aspect of the announcement might be the distribution model. CBS will air a single preview episode in January 2017 before moving the show exclusively to CBS All Access (at least in the US), making it the first show developed specifically for the premium on-demand/streaming service. It’s unclear how that affects viewers here in Canada, but CBS has announced that the show will be “distributed concurrently for television and multiple platforms” for its international fans.