“Star Trek” is coming back to television – and then boldly going to CBS All Access, as a come-on to get people to subscribe to CBS' digital subscription service.
CBS just announced plans for a new “Trek” TV series to debut in January 2017. It'll be produced by Alex Kurtzman, who's co-written the recent “Star Trek” films (the actual head writer on the project is still TBD), and will, according to CBS, “introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966.”
That “Star Trek” is returning to television isn't terribly surprising. TV is gripped with remake mania, “Star Trek” is one of the medium's most enduring brands, and it's been a decade since “Star Trek: Enterprise” had its final voyage for UPN.
The surprise – though, in this day and age, it probably shouldn't be – is that CBS isn't developing the show for itself, or even for a broadcast network competitor, but for CBS All Access. The first episode will air on regular TV, and after that, you have to be an All Access subscriber to see the rest.
Welcome to the new normal in television, where even the most traditional of all broadcast networks sees that subscription video is the future, and is leveraging perhaps the strongest brand it has lying around (NBC aired the original “Star Trek,” but CBS owns the rights produce it) as a means to get people to subscribe. It's the same reason Netflix and Amazon have spent so much on original programming (including revivals of popular catalog titles like “Arrested Development”): you have to give people a reason to pay for your specific service, even when there are so many other streaming libraries out there.
CBS and Kurtzman have nearly a year to find a writer, figure out how much the show will tie into the recent films (or whether it will take place in the timeline of the previous TV series), what to call it, etc. But they've already figured out where and how the new show can provide the greatest value to the larger CBS empire.
What does everybody think? If you're a Trekker, would the existence of a new series get you to subscribe? Any particular hopes or dreams for the first new “Trek” show in a dozen years?