This is the longest we’ve gone without a Star Trek series since The Next Generation premiered in 1987, and it appears the drought is finally coming to an end. That’s not to say that Trek hasn’t been around at all - the new series of films managed to bring it back to the global mainstream in a big way, with the third installment due next July, and it appears that’s not the only new Enterprise mission on the horizon.
In January 2017, CBS will launch the new series on its $5.99 streaming service CBS All Access, which will be the show’s exclusive home for American audiences. So when I say ‘television’ I mean it in the looser, modern sense of the word. It’s also going to be made available on television channels and other platforms globally, but the big story here seems to be its American distribution, making it the first streaming/VOD-only Star Trek series. CBS All Access also streams every Star Trek episode ever produced, so if Netflix happens to pull them sometime in the near future, All Access will be the home for all things Star Trek, at least on the American side of things. The shows are currently licensed in one form or another in over 190 countries, which is almost all the countries.
Star Trek is a series that belongs on television, so that’s where the optimism comes in. The caution however stems from the fact that Alex Kurtzman will be on as executive producer. Kurtzman co-wrote the two J.J. Abrams Trek films with Robert Orci (the duo has since parted ways), and they were also the team behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, titles that don’t exactly inspire confidence. Then again, maybe Kurtzman’s television experience on the likes of Xena and Alias will come in handy. I certainly hope so. It’s also worth noting that the new series is not related to Star Trek Beyond, so we needn’t worry about the film functioning as a backdoor pilot. Whether it’ll take place in the new timeline or the same one as all the other Trek shows remains to be seen.
Star Trek celebrates its 50th anniversary on September 8th 2016, so the timing is pretty much perfect. There also happens to be no major theatrical release planned for that weekend, but maybe that’s just a coincidence. Either way, here’s hoping the new series captures a new generation of audiences the way the original did back in 1966. It already seems to be off to a smooth start, as #StarTrek is currently the top trending hashtag on Twitter – a sentence that wouldn’t have made any sense 50 years ago, but one I hope Gene Roddenberry would’ve been excited about.