SyFy Wants A New Space Opera – Should It Be A New Star Trek TV Series?

Yesterday, to much fanfare, the SciFi Channel changed its name to SyFy. Many took this as an attempt to distance itself from ‘real science fiction’ but yesterday network executives were on the record saying they are actually looking for a new ‘space opera’ to fill the void left by Battlestar Galactica and Farscape. TrekMovie wonders, why not a new Star Trek TV show?


SyFy wants another space opera
The admission that SyFy wants to go back into space came an interview by io9 held at the network rebranding event in New York yesterday. When asked what the future holds for SyFy one of the more interesting comments from network president David Howe was the following:

we’re actively looking into developing the next space opera hopefully for the next year or the year after

io9 also talked to Mark Stern, SyFy’s creative director of original programming, who was asked to elaborate on the plans.

You know it’s so early days, I don’t have anything really specific. We’re talking to a lot of people that we already work with, about ideas. We don’t want to do something that is the same old. You don’t want it to feel recycled. So that’s the challenge of doing that. I’m a huge fan of Firefly, and shows that take that idea and take that part of the genre and reinvent it in a whole new way. I’d love to find our version of, not specifically Firefly, but similar to what Joss [Whedon] tried to do with that in terms of, "lets recast the Western in space." Love that idea, and I love that show. What’s another way to approach that? We’re talking to a number of people about that, but at this point honestly it’s about getting Warehouse 13 on its feet, getting Caprica on its feet, getting Stargate Universe going. This is a really big time for us, we haven’t really had time to think about next year.

Time for Star Trek back on TV?
Although all the buzz these days for Trek is about the 11th (and 12 & 13th) feature films, at its heart, Star Trek is a TV franchise. Star Trek’s last period on TV started with Next Gen in 1987 and ran until 2005 with Enterprise (two shows that SyFy still air in reruns, by the way). There have been 5 live-action series with 28 seasons and over 700 episodes in total.

Although the new feature film has shown that Trek can fit into the realm of summer action movies, the core idea of Trek is better suited to the TV format. Star Trek is about seeking out new life and new civilizations, and using the future to tell complex stories that teach us something about ourselves. A TV show gives you the time to explore the core themes of Star Trek, and Trek’s penchant for continuity makes it ideally suited for today’s arc-driven dramas.

Star Trek is the quintessential ‘space opera’ for television. If SyFy seriously wants back into space, is there any place better than the final frontier? And is there any better time then after the franchise has been revived with a new feature film? (and more to follow) If SyFy is thinking long-term, then a new show could be on the air in the same year or the year after the second JJ Abrams produced Star Trek feature (or around 2011-2012). No other property could really bring SyFy the built-in buzz and fanbase that a new Star Trek TV show could. 

SyFy (formerly SciFi Channel) may be the home to such shlocky classics as "Mansquito" and other low-budget fare, but is also the channel that launched the award-winning Battlestar Galactica and the well-regarded Dune and Taken mini-series. There is the capacity for them to put quality science fiction on air.

The same network that brought you "Mansquito" also successfully rebooted "Battlestar"

But, if SyFy did want to bring Trek back, there are a few hurdles.

1. Would CBS sell the show to NBC/SyFy?
Even though Paramount Pictures is currently in development for a second JJ Abrams-produced Star Trek feature film, it is CBS that really ‘owns’ Star Trek. TrekMovie has confirmed that the decision to bring Trek back to TV now lies solely with CBS. Any deal to do a new Trek show would be one where NBC Universal (SyFy’s parent) would buy episodes from CBS Studios (CBS would still own the show for DVD, syndication, merchandising, etc). NBC has bought shows from other studios before, Stargate is owned by MGM and The 4400 (which ran on NBC Uni’s USA Channel) was owned by CBS. However, Star Trek is one of the crown jewels of CBS (which is now worth even more) and so there is a question as to whether or not CBS would want to share the spoils with NBC or whether they would prefer to hold Trek for their own network (CBS) or their joint venture network (CW). And, even if they were willing to partner up for a new Star Trek series, would they want it on cable, or would they prefer more lucrative revenue from a network TV partner, like NBC, ABC or FOX.

NBC Uni has bought shows from other studios, including "The 4400" from CBS and "Stargate SG-1" (and others) from MGM

2. Could it be done on a cable budget?
Picking up on that network revenue point — to date all the Star Trek TV series have been for broadcast TV, either on network (TOS on NBC, VOY & ENT on UPN), or in syndication (TNG & DS9). Viewership on network TV is larger, and therefore the shows have larger budgets. Star Trek has always been an expensive show to do. The pilot for Voyager is said to be one of the most expensive TV shows ever shot (and not just for all the reshoots). Setting a show in an alien-filled future (presumably on a space ship) means lots of special effects, sets, make-up and likely guest stars (if they stick to the exploring new worlds idea). Other cable SciFi shows have worked around this, but most BSG episodes would be considered ‘bottle shows’ for Trek as they require few or no new sets to build (and few guest stars). And did you ever notice how almost every planet they visit in the Stargate universe looks a lot like British Columbia, Canada? To do space opera right, it has to be ‘operatic’ meaning big and grand and that means spending some money. It would be a challenge to do Trek right on a cable budget, but Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer is fond of saying that limitations are good for artists.

Can Star Trek be done on a BSG or Stargate budget?

3. Could they come up with an original spin on Star Trek?
SyFy’s Stern said they did not want the ‘same old’ or ‘recycled’ ideas. They are looking for something fresh, and likely something that will get them the kind of buzz Battlestar Galactica brought the network. The idea of Star Trek on TV is likely to be seen as the ‘same old thing’. If you look at Next Gen, Voyager and Enterprise, the shows were the same good concept recycled with fewer and fewer fresh ideas as the years progressed, which resulted in consistently reduced ratings. However, JJ Abrams has proven that an ‘old’ concept can be reinvented for a new generation, while still bringing along the core fan base. So the trick would be to find someone (or a team) that could do the same for Trek on TV.

The key to this would be a talented creative team that knew Trek, but also had a proven track record in creating and/or running modern TV shows. There are many potential candidates for show creator/show runner, including Trek vets like Bryan Fuller, Ron Moore, Michael Taylor, Rene Echevarria, Ira Steven Behr and Manny Coto as well as Trek’s new masters, JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (although one wrinkle with Abrams is that he has an overall TV development deal with Warner Brothers and bringing them into the mix could be one too many studios at the table). Coto and Fuller have already expressed interest in getting their own cracks at a Star Trek show. There are also certainly non Trek vets who would be interested (for example, J. Michael Straczynski and Bryce Zybel pitched a Trek TV reboot back in 2004). Of course a big question for Trekkies would be which timeline/universe to set a new Trek show in (Prime, JJ-verse, or new), but that is secondary to coming up with an original spin on Star Trek.

Producers on innovative shows like "24" (Coto) and "Pushing Daisies" (Fuller) have ideas for their own Trek shows

Trek will be back on TV…someday

There are no answers to these questions, yet. But it is reasonable to assume that history may repeat itself. Star Trek The Next Generation (which began a 17 year run of Trek shows on TV) was spawned in midst of the successful series of TOS era movies in the 80s. The new Star Trek movie has moved the franchise back into that level of popularity so it is inevitable to consider bringing it back to TV. I have no doubt that Star Trek will eventually be back on TV, the only questions is where and when. 

A new crew made Trek work for the movies again – why not another crew to make it work for TV?



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No! SciFi (SyFy) should not get the next Trek series. They’re poorly managed and have no real idea of quality scifi (BSG notwithstanding).

New Trek + SyFy = DISASTER!!
(First, btw.)

I sure hope they create a new Star Trek! It would be so awesome to have a new generation of Star Trek, something for the new fans to enjoy! If only Orci and Kurtzman could get on board for this! Screw Fringe. Let’s see some Star Trek!

SyFy deserves what’s coming to it, and so will Star Trek if it should mingle with the mutts.

Umm, has SyFy forgotten the Star Wars tv show on the way??
But obviously New Trek shouldn’t go to something like defunct UPN

It would be worse to see trek on CW than on Siffy

As long as it’s post-Nemesis, in the original timeline, I’m down

Given the… umm… material… that SyFy makes, I’m not sure I would want them to go near Trek…

They should keep the re-runs on for sure though!

Here’s an idea for them:

Sy-eye for the Fy-guy

Let the new Star Trek series replace Lost, Fringe and Heroes. There is more than enough talent and stories waiting to be told. Would be cool to see a different ship in this new universe, intersect with movie events of the Enterprise ship. I wonder what makes more money, a successful 5-7 season run of a tv show or a few good money making movies.

Would be nice to see TOS type tv show updated like how Star Trek 09 was done in the theatres.

We just got a good version of Star Trek back…let’s not screw it up by running it into the ground mere weeks after it emerged.

Besides, they should let JMS do a Babylon 5 reboot, this time with a real budget.

If Star Trek is brought back, I’d say CBS, Paramount and Bad Robot put their heads together for a Prime Time series based in the new Trek universe.

The sets for the Enterprise are built (sans Engineering), and a style has been establushed that can be replicated fairly inexpensively.

It may not be quite as action packed as the new Trek movie, but technology has moved along enough to make a 13 or 20 part series possible. Galactica was not as much of a Bottle show as it would at first appear, there are several very well realized planets involved.

Perhaps a new series based on the Kelvin, progressing from 2233, but without Nero’s timeline, and centering on George Kirk, Captain Robau and other characters to be written. The Bridge set already exists, and the costume design is basically done, as is the design of the ship and it’s shuttles.

Trek was always great on TV. I’m all for it. But they should wait a little. Let them do a few decent movies, and then we’ll see.

I don’t EVER want to see Star Trek on cable. And nowadays (that Star Trek is a big hit) it wouldn’t be.It would be where people can see it — on a real network.

Forget it- I can count the number of original Scifi channel series that weren’t cheesy on one fracking finger…

I think Star Trek on the little screen with a little budget would be lampoon worthy. After the grand spectacle of Star Trek itself, a small show (a la Enterprise but without the budget) would be too risky. Star Trek will be back on TV for sure, just be patient. That said, remember that Sci Fi also did Dune and other good mini-series on the relative cheap. I agree with other posters that the beauty of Firefly, BSG, and many other shows is great writing, great characters, alot of humor and their mix of relatively inexpensive CGI (no people in the shots) and relatively cheap or few effects where the people are. I can imagine any number of imaginative sci fi or fantasy stories that could be told this way. I think it’s antithetical to the expectations of modern Star Trek– you have to have ridges on Klingons’ foreheads these days…

Umm… Stargate Universe? Just sayin’.

My only issue with SyFy is that most scripted shows don’t tend to last more than 4-5 seasons before being canceled. Granted that’s more than a lot of other shows but when you’re talking about a franchise that has mainly dealt with 7-season arcs in its recent history, plus that whole cable vs. network thing, it probably would not be successful, compared to its predecessors.

I dunno.. why not FARSCAPE again?

Star Trek would be “safer” on SyFy in terms of longevity because if Networks did not get the numbers they wanted, they wouldn’t hesitate to cancel it.

The only thing that scares me with new Trek is “does it have a chance in the new tv world?”

The reason I say this is because if you look at the new tv shows now, a lot of them take off at Season 1 and either go a little up or down from there in ratings. I find looking at majority of the Trek shows it always took at least 3 to 4 seasons to find its legs. Next Gen was 3 seasons when the Borg took Picard, Deep Space 9 was around 4 with the Dominion war got big plus the Worf addition and Voyager, most fans jumped on board in Season 4 with 7 of 9. As for Enterprise, I thought if they let it come back for season 5 it would of been awesome because Season 4 was great. Check out some of them at memory-alpha (you have to scroll down)

You don’t have to be a fan of all shows to see what my point is and feel free to disagree but a new Trek would have to be hugh in Season 1 to have staying power on tv.

Please don’t get me wrong, I still like/love the early seasons but from a rating point of view this has been the track record. What do you think?

I’m with #11!

I hope they do bring Trek back to T.V some day. If it’s on the SciFi, excuse me, SyFy channel that would be ok. It’s a channel I get, and I don’t think it’s going to go belly up. I remember when VOY and ENT came out, they were on UPN, which I didn’t get, and I bet a lot of others didn’t.
And I hope if a new Trek is made it will be in the Real/prime universe. If they want to make another movie or 2 with this new crew and universe, ok, but please keep TV Trek in line with the other series.

I love me my Star Trek, but I don’t know if I could do another series at the moment, especially not on the identity-confused SyFy network. The only person I could see doing it, and doing it well, would be JMS, but inevitable clashing of cultures would just be too unnerving.

I want there to be another sucessful Star Trek series on TV- but I don’t think this is quite the time, and SyFy is not the network. They are so concerned with being seen as mainstream and hip, it would be called Star Trek, and end up being Gilmore Girls in Space. With the success of the movie, we don’t need to settle for a cable show.

SyFy has the right idea, go the Firefly route- it has a rabid network of fans that will follow it to the network and stay with it, it has a single creative force behind it that is used to working on a cable-sized budget and making it work (and has said that he would come back to it any time), and IMO would fit more in their realm of SciFi but not SciFi. Plus, the rights belong to Warner Bros (who loves it) so getting it back to being active would be easier too. The danger is they need to actually try to *do* Firefly, and not just do something *like* Firefly. Big difference- and the wrong decision could backfire with fans even more than the ridiculous name change has.

#12. That’d be a great way to alienate people who liked the new movie by completely ignoring its implications.

The Prime universe exists in 10 movies and five series….

Let is stay there and let’s move on with the amazing new world J.J. gave us.

No Star Trek on TV for, at least for a while. Part of why Voyager and ENT were unsucessful because people were over exposed to Trek, at least in part. Having a new series would distract from the movies and saturate people with Trek, potentially tarnishing the franchise once again. Let JJ finish his work before a new series is started.

yes yes, Capt Sulu series Please :)

The Invisible Man?

No. SyFy may want to pretend they’re new and improved, but they’ve become a bunch of hacks who are never satisified and KILL good television series. They should completely keep their filthy hands off of Trek before they start to bring the franchise down again. They have no respect for science fiction or its fans. Let them ride high with their “Goat Hunters International”, or whatever it is they think passes for “fatastic television”. They’re too cheap, too unfocused and will kill whatever Trek was handed to them, no matter how good.

Frankly, there’s no place for Trek on television these days, with the possible exception of premium channels like HBO or Showtime that have been showing for years that they are where it’s at. Imagine how nice a limited annual run of a new Trek series could be on one of those networks, even if it was only 6-13 episodes a year.

And to those who think it’s impossible to do an expensive effects-heavy show in that format: Doctor Who and Torchwood.

There you go. Give Trek to the Beeb. How cool would that be?


I couldn’t agree more. I thought the ideas for Season 5 were very interesting. I enjoyed the firsts couple of Seasons but if they have started out with Season 4, they would of made the standard 7 season….in my opinion of course.
The new show, when/if it happens will have to catch the audience right away! Hope it happens!!

I think as successful as Battlestar Galactica was, and also with the success of the Stargate shows, they’d be careful with Star Trek and be sure to get it right. And so would CBS. They’ve got a huge hit on their hands with the movie this year, so they would want to make sure it works out. If it ends up on Syfy it’ll surely be good because they wouldn’t let Syfy touch it unless they were going to do it right.


SyFy, get the rights to make seasons 5,6,7 of Enterprise… PLEASE!!!

SyFy, get the rights to make seasons 5,6,7 of Enterprise… PLEASE!!!

I’m all for a new Star Trek series, and I think I could handle a little bit of Trek saturation… but PLEASE not on SciFy! Reasons:
1) I don’t get SyFy and wouldn’t be able to watch it right away, I do get networks
2) Star Trek deserves the network treatment. As much as I enjoy the Stargate series after SciFi got ahold of it, Trek is way out of cable’s league. The budget and attention it would get just wouldn’t make it worth the while. Trek would be relegated once again to genre television and not get the mainstream attention it so richly deserves
3) Network TV desperately needs a breath of fresh air. After all the grim cop shows and drama, a good optimistic Sci-Fi show would be a godsend. If executed right, Trek would KILL on network tv (but please not on ABC, that would be worse than SyFy)

I don’t think Star Trek is ready to return to TV yet. In the past one problem was over exposure, people get bored when they see the same franchise everywhere… not us, but other people with good minds that could actually like ST. I have forced a couple of friends into DS9 and they can’t believe they just missed it.

A retro how comeback could be cool. I’d like to see Space:1999 or UFO redone nicely.

Eh Gad, I can see all of the major networks and studios sitting around a huge table with fork and knife in hand waiting to carve up Star Trek. i hope CBS will keep them at bay long enough to decide whether to show it on CBS and CW…although CW hasn’t done much to show Star Trek: Remastered in the state. One can wish for a Star Trek television series in the future.






@ #37

I agree with you on Space:1999! That series just ended BLAM! Not much explanation except from the short video for a convention. I really hope someone sees merit in the great show which is Space:1999 and puts it back on the air with NEW series shows


Someone with big clout and you know whats sees potential in making a Space:1999 or Space:2025 FEATURE LENGTH FILM!!!


Get the right writers –> Points to Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman!

A new trek series would be great! Although a lot is being said about placing it on a network, I think that would be a mistake. Although the budgets would be bigger, networks don’t seem to be able to handle big sci-fi. They tend to only last 1 or 2 seasons, if that, because they don’t get the ratings the network execs want. I think SyFy would be the perfect home. “Battlestar”, “Farscape” and “Taken” were incredibly produced! They tend to give shows a little more time to catch on.

NO. No Trek show yet!

They have the perfect idea right there in their interview. SERENITY FTW!!!!

You want a nice, simple, easy to shoot show? How about something like The Incredible Hulk or Quantum Leap? Use a handful of core characters in a real world setting, new locations every week, new guest stars every week; the budgets are under control, use existing locations or a few standing sets, a few recurring props, costumes that aren’t so out of the ordinary that you can get them at retail stores… Maybe not a flagship series idea, but it’s an idea. Haven’t we heard people toying with a re-launch of Quantum Leap for some years? A few cameos of Scott and Dean in a handful of episodes and you’ve passed the torch.

But yeah, I love Star Trek on TV – who doesn’t? Economically, this is not the best time for it. Enterprise reused the heck out of sets from every series since 1987 and those pieces were made for shows depicting the 24th century. This was a good thing because the art department was incredible, but those pieces are gone. The costumes were recycled from one show to the next but those are all in the hands of private collectors now. The molds for the alien character make-up as we knew them are gone. The blueprints for set design are gone, the props are sold… Patterns exist for these things of course, but relaunching in ANY time period would be a total relaunch.

I am not so sure about placing Star Trek on cable. With a network, you have better potential of a good market, especially if you own both the network AND the series. Lots of brand recognition and money to be made from commercial spot revenue. Now why would CBS wish to “oursource” its crown jewel Star Trek into the unknown on another network? I woudln’t if I were CBS. It’s too valuable and with the new sequel looming in a year and a half, I am sure, if successful, all bets are off to it going to another non-CBS network or cable.

Hmmm, start Enterprise from where it left off (sans that darned finally!), I like that idea…

In all honesty, though, CBS would be out of their minds to even float the idea for a ST television show right now. I have no doubt about it.

So, I suggest SyFy (it’s even lame to type!) buys Virtuality from FOX and lets us know if they survive the 10 year journey! Who’s with me?

Hmmm, what if they “REBOOTED” ENT? Fixed the problems and continued where it left #44 mentioned. Alot of people liked it but the production was full of problems and glitches. Production design didn’t match-up well (from overly used sets) with what was expected from that time period.

You could even include the “temporal cold war” which was never fully exploited fully to be consequences of repercussions of events which were changed in the new Star Trek Universe. Could work, if a solid reasoning system were developed which is believable and theoretically plausible.



SyFy changes several key shows to ‘better integrate their marketing strategy”

In a special marathon they call “SyFyDy” airing this friday, Sy Fy will change it’s current shows and a few others’ names permanently for airing on SyFy.

Eureka is now Yryka

Warehouse 13 is now Wyrhys 13y

and after a marathon of these shows, SyFy plans of airing every single award-repellant movie it has ever made.

One of the movies SyFy has grown famous for is the infamous “Mynsqyto” or “Mansquito” which will air continuously on a marathon coming up in the next month.

Other shows such as They Came to Boogie from Outer Space and Night of the Mosquito will air continuously.

SyFy has also announced the cancelling of att Styr Tryk and Styrgyt: Ynyvyrse shows as they seem to have been ‘too populous’ and their quality is ‘unacceptable to our current standards.’

The Vice President of SyFy, Mr. I. M. Monotinee said “The standard we have set is constantly challenged by shows made with budgets of more that $100 per episode or $1000 per movie. We cannot afford to have such an unusual quality of product, and we know the viewers will be pleased with the SyFy Yrygynyl Myvyes [Sci Fi Original Movies] we have produced in mass quantity over the last ten years, and will continue to do so.”

Mr. Monotinee also said that they will follow ‘time-proven’ examples of ‘altering the bar’ as they have done so many times by removing so-called “Fan Favorites” such as Stargate SG1 which ran for 10 seasons, being the longest running science fiction show on television, Mystery Science Theater 3000, the Anime block-programming of Saturday mornings which garnered a reasonable viewership, Stargate Atlantis, and all Science Fiction cinematic movies that garnered over 100 million.

“These sorts of programs will continue to challenge us to create more elaborate programs and look outside the small-town acting agency that we’ve grown accustomed to doing business with. We simply can not allow that to happen.” said Mr. Monotinee as he drove away in his Rolls Royce, garnished with “I love NBC” across the back, etched in to the paint.

We later found out the car was stolen from Paramount Executive Leslie Moonves.

As SyFy continues to alter it’s programming, prepared for what Mr. Monotinee described as “Quality Entertainment for the Whole Family” which will include Pro Wrestling Marathons twice a month, the complete removal of all sci fi classics such as the Twilight Zone, and replacement programs such as “ShamWOW in Space” and a variety of paid programming that Mr. Monotinee calls “an absolute exhilaration” to watch.


OK it was a joke. But that’s where SyFy’s going. Trek needs to go to CBS.

Since when the Sci-Fi channel announced it’s change to Sy-Fy around the end of March 2009 (and then the name looked just as bad) they stated with things like No-Star Wrestling trying to connect more with the reality people (i.e Reality Shows). They need a show that will show us how the Future can be.

How about fantasizing about NASA’s return to the Moon by 2020. If they are looking for funding they could become NASA’s how the future will be channel.

I’ll ask my brother who is working on the electronics or as they label it computronics of the Aries Launch rockets. See if he can not plant the idea that may help return Sy-Fy to Sci-Fi from the preplanned body holds & Punches and the pain screams of the No-Star Wrestling.

LOL, man that is some “onion-ey” post there….here’s some chewing gum for your breath.

Funny tho…:)

“Prime” Trek is long overdue for a shot. The new movie series is its own universe. The closest we got to the original series was the “Through a Mirror Darkly” episodes of Enterprise. Each sequel series from Next Generation departed more from the vision. To me, the simple sets, costumers, and ship designs of TOS still look more futuristic to me in their simplicity than, for example, the brewery engine room of the new movie. Technology displayed in TOS had progressed so far that the simplicity took on its own life and believability. I’d love nothing more than an original series spinoff on another ship…maybe the Exeter? And if all else fails, Captain Sulu comes to mind albeit with a design scheme that logically would have to be based on the early Trek movies.

It’s too early in the new ST universe for a series, as it’s not clear yet where will the movies go. They should wait a bit, maybe after a few movies, and then make the series. OTOH, they can always turn to the prime universe, where everything is established already. Continuation of Enterprise with a proper ending this time would be cool.