When news broke yesterday that Star Trek was returning to our television screens, I was positively giddy. It’s been over a decade since we had new Star Trek on our television screens and I was delighted to see it would be back.
That euphoria lasted about an hour as details broke on the new series.
Putting aside that Alex Kurtzman is in charge of this and that he helped script the last big-screen installment Star Trek Into Darkness, I felt like someone let the air out of the balloon when news broke that this new series wouldn’t air on a broadcast or cable outlet but instead of CBS’s Digital streaming app. Suddenly much of my enthusiasm for the show was gone — most of it related to the way in which CBS is choosing to allow fans to access the show.
I’ve downloaded the current CBS digital app for my tablet and have been underwhelmed by it. For the cost of $6.99 a month, you can have immediate access to shows aired on CBS (otherwise you have to wait a week to see new episodes) and you have access to a back library of shows that, quite frankly, I’m not that interested in. In world where there is a lot of competition for the funds I have for entertainment, the CBS digital app isn’t a good value for me. Nor will it be when it offers the new Star Trek series starting in 2017 (as much as I love Star Trek).
And it’s not like CBS is Amazon Prime or Netflix, where I’m offered original content and a lot of other things. Amazon Prime gives me two-day shipping, access to a music library and access to other television shows and movies to stream. Netflix offers their content as well as other TV shows and movies. And here’s the big selling point — both services have agreements with streaming devices that allow to view their content on my TV. As far as I can tell, CBS digital doesn’t offer the same service now — though they could get on the ball to do it in the next sixteen or so months, I suppose.
Some people on-line tried to argue with me that Netflix once only offered House of Cards as their original streaming series and no one complained. But to me, this is like comparing apples to wooden apples. When Netflix began offering House of Cards, their streaming service included movies and TV seasons as well. Also, all of Netflix’s content streams to my TV set or device ad free. I can’t help but wonder if CBS Digital is going to charge me $7 to watch the new Star Trek and then turn around and have commercials within the episodes as well.
I can see how in the next sixteen months, CBS Digital is going to consolidate the streaming rights of Star Trek from the many services its available on now to just their site. It certainly makes a good deal of sense for them to do so. I also figure that this new Trek series will eventually hit physical media for a price point that is about the same as what I’d pay for the streaming rights to it and I’ll just get it then. It will look nice on the shelf next to my physical copies of all the other Trek shows and movies.
Putting aside my rant on how the new show is being delivered, I started thinking about what I wanted to see from the new series. And here are some thoughts:
- I’m going to assume the series won’t have the big budget the last two JJ-verse movies have. And that could be a good thing. The movies were all style over substance and I hope the smaller budget means we get some stories that have a bit more thought behind them than — oh, let’s bring back Khan. I don’t necessarily think every episode has to have a deep message, moral or meaning. But it’d be nice to see stories that allow us to think a bit.
- Along those lines, please don’t try and retell the stories I’m familiar with. I don’t want a new take on any of the classic episodes.
- Don’t set it between two series or as a reboot of something. I’m not saying the series has to be set aboard a starship named Enterprise, mind you. But I also don’t want a series that is tied into the reboot too much. I don’t want to see a special episode that has Zachary Quinto guest star as Spock.
- We need new writers. One thing TNG did in its early days was try to bring back the original writers from classic Trek and TAS because they knew Star Trek. This didn’t necessarily work (witness seasons one and two) as well as it could have. I know there was a LOT of behind-the-scenes stuff that contributed to this, but for Trek to be fresh I think we need fresh new writers. And a lot of this depends on who they get to serve as show runner.
- Take a page from the new Doctor Who. Love him or hate him, Russell T. Davies did a lot of things right when it came to reviving Doctor Who. He found the right balance between welcoming in new fans and keeping old school fans happy. He knew which elements of the continuity the show needed and which things it didn’t. For all my complaints about how his era as producer ended, he got the series off to a marvelous start and really worked to build the audience back for the show. Star Trek would be wise to do something similar.