The past few months have seen a flurry of activity with reports and official announcements of a number of Star Trek shows in development for CBS All Access. A new interview puts all of this into some perspective, showing how CBS is playing a long game with Trek.
Mining Star Trek wisely
Speaking to The Wrap, CBS All Access Executive Vice President of Original Content Julie McNamara pointed out they are not planning on rushing a lot of Trek out all at once, saying:
“There’s no benefit to just pushing out into the marketplace tons of ‘Star Trek content. That’s not our intention. We’re looking to mine it wisely and effectively.”
Echoing comments made by Alex Kurtzman, the producer in charge of expanding Star Trek on TV for CBS, McNamara talked about the goal of offering variety within the Star Trek shows, and in spacing them out:
“In an ideal world, ‘Star Trek’ fans would be interested in great ‘Star Trek’ shows that could be a variety of talent and subject matter. They have to [feel] right, and the timing has to feel right.”
Scheduling Trek’s future
So far the only show in development that has been given a date has been the Picard series featuring the return of Sir Patrick Stewart, which is targetted for late this year, although Alex Kurtzman has acknowledged could end up being early next year. The Wrap article offers some clues for other planned shows, noting the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks “won’t air soon” as the “animation alone will take a year.”
As for the Section 31 series starring Michelle Yeoh announced earlier this week the Wrap article notes how it is just “in development” at this stage and by the time the show premieres, Discovery may be over. As noted in our interview with Kurtzman posted earlier today, Yeoh is expected to return to Discovery for a third season. Today a report in Variety described a third season renewal of Discovery – which has not been officially announced – as a “fait acompli” with Alex Kurtzman expected to return as showrunner, telling Variety “I feel such a debt to the cast and crew of this show — I don’t feel like I can leave it.”
Putting this all together, it seems reasonable to conjecture that the Section 31 show would premiere some time after the Picard show and the third season of Discovery, with 2021 as an educated guess.
The longer-term prospects of Discovery are unclear. Alex Kurtzman has recently said he could see the show running for a number of years, but seven season runs, like the ’90s Star Trek shows, are now more the exception than the norm for peak TV drama.
How long Discovery and the Picard show might run is unknown, McNamara takes the long view, seeing the development slate being worked on by Kurtzman as giving her options when it comes to future programming, telling The Wrap:
“Some of these can be considered as replacements as opposed to additions. These ‘Trek’ shows take a lot of incubation, because they’re very prep heavy, visual effects heavy… we’re seeing it more as we’re getting a good jump on making sure that there is a good fulsome stream of ‘Trek’ material.”