CBS Television Studios Launches Star Trek Global Franchise Group

CBS today has announced a brand new dedicated Star Trek division, a global franchise group “that will manage and maximize the expansion of the “Star Trek” brand beyond the traditional boundaries of linear broadcasting and streaming.”

This is something that we at TrekMovie been expecting for a while, with the relaunch of the official StarTrek.com website a few months ago, jobs posted at CBS about helping to build the Trek brand, and key people like (Trek merchandise boss) John Van Citters getting promotions, it was clear something big was brewing.

Leading the new team is Veronica Hart, Executive Vice President, “Star Trek” Global Franchise Management, who will manage the “Star Trek” global brand strategy to support the content development plans being developed within CBS and under the stewardship of Alex Kurtzman.  The new business unit reports to David Stapf, President of CBS Television Studios.

Veronica Hart

The unit’s goal is to invigorate and broaden the “Star Trek” fan community through additional branding opportunities, such as podcasts, a reinvigorated StarTrek.com and new digital spaces, consumer products and gaming, as well as live experiential events and global attractions. These endeavors to further grow the brand are designed to complement the Studio’s expansion of the “Star Trek” universe, which now includes two live-action series, two animated projects and multiple “shorts.”

“Veronica and her team are not only gifted brand strategists and veteran consumer products executives, they are also experts on the ‘Star Trek’ canon,” said Stapf. “We are excited to launch this new business unit because the brand has an enormously rabid fan base, and we look forward to expanding its reach even further.”

“As we expand the Trekverse, Veronica’s team and Secret Hideout are dedicated to broadening ‘Star Trek’s’ brand reach by amplifying its core values globally: empowerment, inclusion, imagination, and above all, the exceptional storytelling that’s inspired generations of fans,” said Alex Kurtzman.

The new franchise group will be based out of Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout Productions in Santa Monica, Calif. Kurtzman, who is under an overall deal at the studio, is the executive producer of the various “Star Trek” series.

The new group will work out of Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout offices. Shown here with Michael Chabon. (source Michael Chabon/Instagram)

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Gary 8.5

Star Trek continues its campaign of global domination!

Emperor Mike of the Terran Empire

Long Live The Star Trek Empire.

Max

Wonder if I could get my Discovery podcast affiliated with this somehow.

Just Another Salt Vampire

“as well as live experiential events and global attractions”

Does this mean that they may finally replace the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas like they said they would for the last decade?

The River Temarc

I’d really like that. I went to the Star Trek experience twice and really enjoyed it. We’ve seen that a theme park works well with the Harry Potter franchise. Amp it up and the re-opening should be a winner.

Dillan

There’s more money in a touring exhibition, but yes, definitely something will be announced.

DIGINON

If this is truly a global Franchise group their focus may well lie outside the US.

TG47

If so, Ms. Hart will need to bring in some experts in non-US marketing and branding.

Her LinkedIn suggests she’s been New York based…which isn’t necessarily a good thing for marketing to Canada, let alone Europe, Asia and Australia.

DIGINON

They may not have announced every single person working in that group, just the top brass. Plus, I’m guessing they will work with local partners in different countries

PEB

If that means I get to sit on the bridge of the Discoprise somewhere AND recreations of various bridges then Make it so! Give me the Discoprise, Discovery, Enterprise A and Enterprise E bridges. Yeah I know, I’m asking for a lot.

Maybe that’s why they spent real money on that Enterprise bridge. Not for a Pike show, but perhaps for a road show. :-P

MGmirkin

I’m thinking another Star Trek ‘Con like STLV, but yeah, a new Star Trek Experience would be cool, too. :)

David Moss

Lets really hope that this includes the licensing of legitimate and semi-professional fan films.

Herb Flynn

Yeh, like that would ever happen!

Is Marvel, Disney, or Universal doing that?

Matt

Fox (who is now Disney) did for Alien’s 40th. There are a series of (semi)professional shorts that have been doing the rounds

PEB

They’re pretty good too Matt. I’ve been getting youtube alerts about them. You can find them on the IGN youtube page.

alastair87

It probably makes it less likely that will happen. The heyday of those was when CBS weren’t producing any new Star Trek content.

David Moss

I think they heyday was a few years ago for sure, the guidelines where the reason for the downturn, not the fact of new content. Star Wars has new content for years but the fan-films thrive.

Star Wars fan films live under very similar guidelines as those presented by CBS. So, it was not because of the guidelines either… :-P

alastair87

Yes, but I think CBS were more likely to tolerate third-party content when they weren’t competing with it. Now they probably see it as competition to their own new material. Hence they move to a harsher legal stance.

David Moss

Unless they can make money from it. They’re smart enough to know that if I watch a fan-film that is not going to stop me from watching CBS products.

If it were me I would find a way to license with revenue to CBS areas of Star Trek that CBS will never touch. A good example is Star Trek Continues. CBS would never recreate the 1960s TV show, but there is an audience that would pay a dollar or two to watch it. Same goes for stories in the TNG, or DS9 playbook. Something that makes no sense for CBS but certainly could still produce a few million dollars of additional revenue, and to be honest tie the fan base closer to their new content.

People have been saying for years one form of media will destroy the other. It was said that movies will destroy broadway. Or that TV would destroy movies. Or that Netflix would decrease ever having blockbusters (Avengers – really!!!). Good quality licensed fan or indie films will not stop people from watching Discovery, Picard, or anything else.

dennycranium

I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. If ever…..

PEB

At least something closer to what Lucasfilm is doing. I’ve seen some really creative, awe-inspiring work from those fans and I want to get back to that with Trek, even if that means they can’t produce 2 hour or 1 hr films/episodes. Do a fan shorts panel at STLV or something. The sky’s the limit.

JAGT

To me it sounds more like CBS has the intention of pouncing on stuff like “unlicensed” podcasts… but I might be getting a tad cynical there.

Agreed!

Good. Ten years too late, but maybe I’ll get to see another feature film now before I die.

DIGINON

Star Trek feature films are probably still in the hands of Paramount.

Yes, they are, but one of the figurative anchors around the film franchises’ neck was it’s lack of viability in the foreign market. That’s one of the reasons why Kelvin and Tarentino Trek died on the vine. This is a step in the right direction to solve that problem.

Ian

Into Darkness seemed to do well enough overseas, they promoted it very hard. First Trek film to gross more overseas than domestically. Seemed like they took their legwork for granted with Beyond though and did worse in almost every market save China.

Tiger2

Well we don’t know if the Tarantino project is ‘dead’ since the man himself said its still viable. It doesn’t mean it will happen but it sounds like they are still considering it at least.

Marc

Would this include retail items? Basically CBS has faltered here plain and simple, I’m old enough to know that you need to go underground to get anything Star Trek of quality. Yes, it’s changing somewhat, but basically I’m at a point where I’d say CBS should sell the rights to Disney – Look at how they market Star Wars, (and even before how much store space is devoted to it everywhere – go anywhere and make a comparison).

michelle

downside is even star wars toys are not beeing stocked that much in walmarts anymore about this time a year ago they took up at least 1 forth of the action figure isle shelve currently it takes up only a quarter of 1 forth of the action figure isle shelve and thats mostly just lightsabers and a few 6 inch figures even pokemon toys take up more isle shelve space then star wars does now and marvel and dc and wwe take up the rest along with toys for king mong or jurassic park or summer blockbusters like that though half of the lego isle is all star wars sets then the rest being a mix of lego city, friends,creator and lego movie and overwatch sets

dennycranium

CBS got a lukewarm reception from licensees about merchandising opportunities.(If rumours I’ve heard are true) They were concerned it wouldn’t sell. Why do you think the D7 showed up for S2 Disco finale?

They are not true. There’s a lot of product out there already, and more to come. You’ve been listening to the wrong guys. :-P

Rick Ludwig

I don’t know if that rumor in particular is true or not (especially the one related to the Picard series), but in general Discovery merchandising HAS been a disappointment. While there are some licensees willing to jump in, there’s no where NEAR what they were expecting – especially in certain categories.

Mass-produced toys are for kids. Discovery is an adult premium series. Do you see many toys from Game of Thrones going around? Wait until they get to the Nickelodeon cartoon, and then we’ll talk toys. ;-)

t0ni

Actually I do see a lot of merchandise for Game of Thrones. Not actual toys, but stuff like Funko POP figures, McFarlane “action” figures, calendars, etc.

But where is Discovery stuff? Mcfarlane tried to get some Discovery figures going on, but gave up. Not sure what that was about.

dennycranium

What product are you referring to? Other than the Eaglemoss ships I haven’t seen much. Anovos is a joke. I want a phaser and communicator. I’m not paying $500 for a prop with no real delivery date. You can buy some TShirts from CBS store. I haven’t seen much else?

HubcapDave

If its the same rumors ME is peddling, then they’re not.

TG47

The release says that Veronica Hart is a fan and knows Trek canon.

It would be great to know what other Trek-related projects she’s been involved with.

I’d agree with the critiques of Trek merchandising, especially for kids. There really hasn’t been good quality and sustained production.

Our kids had Star Wars Lego even though they’re not really fans of that franchise. It was definitely an entry point.

For Trek, I’d really like to see Playmobil get the license. Our kids actually played a lot with Playmobil, including its Future Planet line, although they aged out in middle school.

The hyperrealism and faithfulness of Playmobil design would really work well for Trek settings.

And, while there were issues in the past, Playmobil has made tremendous progress in offering diverse human figures. In fact, I can see Playmobil offering a large diversity of alien humanoids too.

Rick Ludwig

I wonder if she has the same “expertise” as the people they hired to check Discovery’s canon…

Curt

Like Alex Kurtzman? Ugh.

TG47

Rick Ludwig there is no doubt that Kirsten Beyer (Executive Story Editor) knows her canon.

Those of us who read the Trek Relaunch novels know she’s totally solid.

But if TPTB have had the view that canon shouldn’t hold back what they think is a good story idea, then it sounds as though they listen and then do their own thing.

Beyond which she was focused on creating the Picard show for much of Discovery’s second season.

Pablo

Ojalá vuelva el comic “The Trek Life”

Dan Newton

Could they start by properly devoting attention to Deep space nine and Voyager on Blu-ray? I’d happily keep my CBS Subscription all year long (vs me cancelling now while I wait for Picard show…) if it meant DS9 blu-ray and amazing bonus features (although that may not be AS required with the new documentary about to come out…) (Edit: i apparently can’t spell my own name correctly)

DeathOfTrek

“brand strategist”.

This is extremely bad news for anyone even vaguely familiar with Hollywood.

kmart

I didn’t know if it was just me or not, but I had the same immediate first thought. Turning formats into formulas, etc.

Vulcan Soul

kmart, they already pioneered a highly successful formula in the past two seasons: the millennial “the universe revolves around me” formula ;)

kmart

Okay, gotcha. Actually the ‘egocentric model’ view of the universe predates millennials — there is artwork of it in the highly recommended (and hugo award winning, if I’m not mistaken) SCIENCE MADE STUPID, which shows how the Keplerian and Galiean and Copernican views of the solar system and universe were superseded by one with a teenager at the center of all things.

This is the same book that has a periodic table of elements that includes Velveeta, dilithium and Kryptonite, and features a drawing of a dinosaur with a book coming out of its back that is ID’d as a Thesaurus. Highly HIGHLY recommended if you come across it, there are even fake ads in the back of the book, like one of those mail-in education plans for how to become a quantum mechanic. There is also a CULTURE MADE STUPID book, but I think I was too culturally illiterate to appreciate that one. This book will really cheer you up if you take it out at desperate times; I just realized I haven’t had a copy for awhile, so I’m going to have to buy my nth copy of it from someplace online again.

UAB

Yes, because Boomers are so altruistic.

Tezna

I know its just a BS fluffy nonsense role. This whole era just has so many worthless positions.

Vulcan Soul

“I know its just a BS fluffy nonsense role. This whole era just has so many worthless positions”

Right? “Brand strategist” comes right after “diversity consultant” ;)

Boze

Well, rich kids don’t want to flip burgers, but they don’t qualify for anything else with their humanities degree. So their parents invent fluff positions for them, and the consumers pay for it.
They would set the world on fire if they were able to make a “world fire consultant” position for their daughter or nephew.

It’s almost comically scary how similar they are to the Communist Party leaders in this aspect. No matter how times change, the “elites” remain the same. :P

Vulcan Soul

“They would set the world on fire if they were able to make a “world fire consultant” position for their daughter or nephew”

Aren’t they already? Those who cry fire the loudest are the chief arsonists.

albatrosity

I’ll chalk this one up to a joke, cuz it’s a laughable idea that this is somehow the doing of rich kids lol

UAB

No, brand strategists are actually a thing. You just know them as “marketers” or “ad men”. Brand strategists are responsible for consistency across the brand and they develop marketing plans through analysis of current market data and trends. In essence, CBS has put together a team to help market Trek, boost the fanbase, and ensure consistence of quality for Trek products.

TG47

Well, given how Kurtzman and Paradise’s interviews to promote the season finale were more a negative than a plus with the fanbase, CBS has likely seen that they need some professional marketing folks embedded at Secret Hideout’s offices.

But they report directly up the chain to CBS…basically Kurtzman is going to have CBS management on site all day every day protecting the value of their lead franchise.

Vulcan Soul

“basically Kurtzman is going to have CBS management on site all day every day protecting the value of their lead franchise.”

It’s hard to say if that is a good thing or a bad thing these days. On the one hand, Voyager and especially Enterprise were neutered by UPN, OTOH, the divisiveness (in every respect) that the previous showrunners of Discovery ran off with unchallenged in season 1 and parts of season 2 that is at the very least detrimental to international appeal and business requires some hand-holding by the adults in the room, which, it seems, only exist in the network.

J.L.J.

“And their first order of official business is to announce a Captain Pike led series on board the Enterprise!” OK, am I the only one who checks back every day in anticipation of a headline with that announcement? Seriously. I am waiting and hoping it comes, and every day I come here have that faint hope that today will be the day.

Martin

I don’t think we will hear until STLV, unless, there is enough activity which makes it impossible to wait until August. I don’t see where even preproduction could start by then…

Maybe ME will have a rumor on it. Haha

You are definitely not the only one!

John

Star Trek Discovery is an STD but it is not contagious.

UAB

You are so clever.

Vulcan Soul

It’s been more of a mental disorder really but lately I’ve been gaining resilience by overdosing with BSG ;)

Tiger2

LOL, brutal.

c d

we are already rabid, apparently

Gorkenspork

Say what you will about the direction he goes in one way or the other, Alex Kurtzman gets paid to make up Star Trek Canon. There’s a part of me which is really jealous of that that job description

UAB

For real! I’d kill for that job.

DataMat

Lol
I didn’t even know startrek.com had been relaunched; goes to show how little that site interests me!
That site hasn’t been any good for over ten years in my opinion.

Harry Ballz

When they say the new team are “experts on the ‘Star Trek’ canon”, I hope that means they have watched (and loved) it over all these many years, and not just binge-watched everything in the last few weeks to get up to speed!

ML31

I thought about that as well as I read that line. To me, it sounds like they just watched a handful of episodes from each series and think they have a handle on things. I would say give the job to a fan who is in the business but that is a bit of a double edge sword, too.

Brian

So, basically CBS is copying Sony’s Ghost Corps idea for Star Trek?

UAB

It’s really not a bad idea at all. Some sort of task force that oversees the brand and helps promote Trek with a unified strategy. They’re taking the Ghost Corps/Star Wars/Marvel Studios approach – and I’m about it.

A34

Best of Luck Veronica

Betty

Thank you, CBS!

Ted

Experts on Star Trek canon? Really? Is anyone even remotely hopeful that this groups can finally get it right?

Michael Hall

Did you enjoy THE WRATH OF KHAN? Because Nick Meyer was no expert on canon, to put it mildly.

Rick Ludwig

Unlike today, there wasn’t a lot of ‘canon’ to go around. At that time, Star Trek was still an unstable property that performed ‘meh’ to ‘okay’.

Besides, Meyer did something amazing with Wrath of Khan and has earned a lot more leeway than anybody working on Discovery.

Legate Damar

Wasn’t he working on Discovery?

Jay

They hired him and then nothing happened. Not sure why nothing moved forward. He was going to be working on Discovery and a second project. Such a big talent, Wrath of Kan is the favorite (or the top 5) film for the majority Trek Fans.

Wrath of Khan was 37 years ago. Meyer has done precious little of note since (Star Trek 6 being an obvious exception). Odds are good that he simply doesn’t have the needed levels of talent and/or drive anymore.

alphantrion

I think he always had the talent, but really the way I read between the lines was that Meyer was considered a little too old school for Discovery and that his ideas probably didn’t mesh with the more “modern” approach that Discovery writers were taking.

He wasn’t; that is true.

But he did have the sense to not muck up existing canon, and that’s more than can be said for what the current team is doing.

ML31

Was it Meyer or Bennett who when dreaming up STII went back and watched TOS to see what episode they could to a feature sequel to?

Brandon

Maybe this means we might get a line of action figures. Star Trek needs to do a line like Star Wars Black Series 6” line. That covers all series and movies.

TG47

The question Brandon is whether you’re interested in real action figures for kids to play with or yet another niche market collectors’ set.

Brandon Giles

TG47 I would like to clarify I am not the same Brandon from the prior post, but I would love either a Star Wars Black Series approach or maybe even a return to Playmates Toys popular 4.5” 90’s figures. Playmates modern lines Ben 10 and TMNT are doing cool toyetic things with that scale right now. We also really need a return of Micro Machines. Go deep into the franchise like Eagle Moss but go for the more affordable to collect model.

TG47

As a parent whose kids were really into imaginative play just a few years back, I think Playmobil is a better fit for Trek.

The market isn’t what it was in the 90s.

I can totally see them doing great bridge sets, transporter rooms and shuttlecraft. So many stories to play.

And given Playmobil’s hyperrealism, I can see collectors wanting those too.

The figures are fairly dorky, but better than lego minifigs, and definitely more diverse this point. And kids definitely seem to be more focused on the settings and vehicles than the realism of action figures these days.

Check out what they’ve done with Dragons.

Brandon Giles

I have Playmobil sets of the Old West and Knights and I’m not saying that those would not also be great, but I think there is plenty of room for both to exist. I wouldn’t mind also seeing Magee or SH Figuarts of Star Trek characters. I just feel like Playmates Toys already has Nickelodeon and Star Trek connections so it might be sensible to give them another shot. As for Micro Machines, who doesn’t want starships to collect by the dozens? Being that Hasbro owns that brand maybe they might also consider Star Trek action figures. I think Hasbro’s connection to Disney would make that a conflict of interest for them. Mattel’s had a bit of a downswing of late. Sure Jurassic Park was cool but the loss of DC Comics might be a bit of a sting. Maybe a successful Star Trek line could pull them out or maybe be the final blow. I expect if anything Mattel it will be in their Megaconstrux figure sets and maybe a couple of Hot Wheels ships. I think Playmates Toys is the safest bet.

Tiger2

Anything to make Star Trek to feel big again like it did in the 90s. I miss those days you can walk into a store and Star Trek was all over the place or it was always being talked about. Thats when Star Trek felt like it was everywhere because even as a non-fan you couldn’t avoid it completely like you can today because now its basically all online including the shows themselves.

Dom

Maybe they should expand into non-English speaking territories. Making localised Star Treks in the native language with a cast and creative team sourced from that country might help with Star Trek’s poor image outside of English-speaking territories.

TG47

Not sure which non-English language group your referring to.

Trek has been huge dubbed into French.

But high quality dubbing, rather than just subtitles is key.

That said, it seems as though the creative side has narrowed to Americans only…not even Canadian or British writers in the room, and no spec scripts to pitch diverse stories.

I’ve commented before on how just about every human in Discovery seems to be from the US…even when it means the actors put on a US accent….which seems inappropriate to the extent it’s happening now.

The Picard show has a somewhat more international cast, but they’ve got a way to go to match The Expanse.

Vulcan Soul

Internationalizing Star Trek is about much more than language, and frankly they are moving in the opposite direction in that regard. Star Trek these days is so caught up within the bubble of American partisan politics and cultural wars which seem completely alien and offputting to non-American, especially non-Western viewers. International appeal is much more about cultural connotations than decent dubbing. You can watch the recent Chinese movie “The Wandering Earth” to get an idea just how diverse the THINKING regarding even the small matter of what constitutes culturally relevant science fiction is.

I’d say look at Marvel for global success in that regard but I’m afraid that’s exactly what Kurtzman thinks he’s doing, but he’s drawing the wrong lessons with regard to preserving anything that resembles Star Trek (explosions, time crystals, timesuits. Did I mention explosions?)

alphantrion

As a Trekkie from a non English speaking country, you are absolutely right about this Dom, but I also agree with Vulcan Soul in that because there is so much cultural and understanding differences between different countries that it would be very difficult in its current format to localize Trek for international markets.

Trek in a Cafe

It may be a different issue but the ingredients of Trek include turning exploring into metaphor, and that means colonialism and adult fairy tales (to simplify). Internationalizing Trek in the current era so that it’s new world-wide audience appreciates a new kind of narrative is a long term process.

Jay

The technobabble in certain languages, such as Spanish, is a challenge. Every Spanish country has their own words and expressions. I have get used to learn science in US English.

AJinMoscow

This is great. Judging from the corporate announcement, we’re getting ‘veteran consumer products executives.’ This, I hope, means merch for the masses, and not just ship models and action figures for adult collectors. Star Trek has long lacked a visibly apparent KPI-driven business unit approach at both CBS and Viacom, and now with all the new streaming properties, it’s time to make some cash. Assume, if the merger comes through, that the Trek movies will also be run by these guys. Trek needs to be poised to grab the next generation with a Disney/Marvel/Star Wars-type approach to the money-making power and longevity of Trek as a brand. It has a long way to go before it produces its first gangbusters worldwide smash a la “Iron Man,” which launched the MCU, but it will get there if given the proper resources and eventual ability to generate profits. We fans will grumble the whole way through, but that’s what we do.

Brainulo

Are you SURE it’s in the arm? I’m just sayin’…

Adrenalin hopefully. Rather than embalming fluid.

Jason

Great news! But please don’t make any more prequels!

Vulcan Soul

What Kurtzman says Star Trek is about:
empowerment, inclusion, imagination, and above all, the exceptional storytelling that’s inspired generations of fans

What Kurtzman does:
emotions, explosions, emotions, explosions, emotions, explosions, emotions, explosions, emotions, explosions, emotions

I don’t know about you, but I see Discovery as the only Star Trek series that balances women and men equally, which says a lot about empowerment and inclusion. Those are things you can count, so they are objective. Exceptional storytelling is subjective, so what he feels it is you feel it is not, and that’s okay. Nobody is wrong. I for one think Star Trek never did a more complex time travel story before Discovery’s Season 2. That counts as “exceptional” in my dictionary. To each its own, though.

TG47

Salvador the time travel story was good.

But the science beats weren’t explained well enough for even an audience with a strong science background, let alone for casual fans.

For many fans, unexplained and buried science ended up looking to much like magical thinking.

I recently rewatched the entirety of Season 2 with our kids.

I found the lost threads…including Mama Burnham’s speech “Time is fierce, time always wins”.

Not to mention the inference that the Kelpiens had experienced a greater passing of time due to the time tsunami of episode 7, such that they could master Baul fighters.

On the replay, I realized that they were going with the same multiverse concept Beyer relies on in her Trek-lit, wherein there are almost fixed events across the multiverse, so that changing the stream of event is next to impossible.

I also clued into the Klingons role in protecting the timeline…which explains why the Klingons that came to stop Mama Burnham’s use of her time suit were wearing uniforms from 30 to 100 years later…and why Mama Burnham could never get around that fixed point.

But while the story may have been broken that way, we as viewers were barely given the clues, let alone the explanation to parse these storypoints.

Instead we got L’Rell on the bridge of the cleave ship saying that the Klingons will always fight to preserve their timeline.

Some of the problem lies with the midstream change in showrunners, but a lot of it has to do with a focus on getting the emotional beats and spectacle, over making sure the audience can follow the plot.

Vulcan Soul

“unexplained and buried science ended up looking to much like magical thinking.”

Thank you, that’s it! We have Marvel, Star Wars and Harry Potter for this line of thinking already, so why the need to turn Star Trek into fantasy fiction franchise number 47?

One of the things I love about BSG is how it’s really anti-(moden) Trek in terms of technology as well; the technology is as real world as it gets and extremely grounded (more than is believable for the setting even). Apart from that one episode where they DID use “magical blood” but the fact that this was sticking out so much as “Trek intrusion” proves how much Treknology has decended into the realm of anti-science fantasy by now.

UAB

Dude, TOS has an episode where Spock’s brain got stolen by aliens and Dr. McCoy drove Spock’s body around like an RC car. BSG had Hera, a somehow possible human/Cylon hybrid baby? Man and machine made a baby together? Really? Science fiction is just that – fiction. The writers can invent anything and write the explanation away. Just go with it and have some fun.

Vulcan Soul

UAB, I thought the “consensus” of the Discovery proponents was that TOS is hopelessly outdated in every way and needs to be modernized? So justifying modern fantasy gizmos with TOS fantasy elements is kind of backtracking (I’d also not rate brain control as the same level as “time crystals” in terms of scientific plausability).

Regarding BSG, incidentally I have watched until your referenced episode and my impression up to now is that Cylons are simply biological machines, the hardware being organic matter and the software being a programmed “mind” (of course the question is how they are then much different from humans but I think this is an intentional philosophical question of the series). Since these biological machines were designed by the original Cylons and not by humans, they may have designed them specifically with human compatibility in mind. Bottom line, biological machines are not at all implausible or anti-science. Time crystals as defined by Discovery are.

There ARE clear boundaries between science fiction and fantasy (otherwise we’d just all call it “fiction”) and what is an acceptable science fiction technology and what is a fantasy magical element and as such, we should try not to mix the two like Discovery wants to.

UAB

It’s not that everything from TOS is outdated. Most Discovery fans agree that the visuals from TOS are outdated – and they are. To make a modern series exactly match TOS aesthetic would just be silly.

I suppose your theory on Cyclons might be right. That’s a good point.

The point I’m trying to make is that Star Trek has stories where people travel through time by sling-shotting around the sun. Stories where breaking warp 10 turned people into salamanders. Dr. Crusher boinked a space ghost. Move Along Home is somehow a story that got made. Star Trek has had goofy stuff – not every episode can be City On The Edge of Forever. Wacky elements are fine, it’s not like they’re new or any more ridiculous than when Captain Kirk encountered space America troglodytes fighting against space commies.

Vulcan Soul

@Salvador The thing is this is not actually what Star Trek is ABOUT, it’s supposed to be a built-in feature so to speak, not the overruling agenda. So even Kurtzman’s premise is questionable, but you can see the result. Having “emotions, explosions etc.” and sophomore writing with a “gender-balanced” cast does NOT make Discovery a better Star Trek series, or better drama, for what it’s worth.

I’m happy for the show to be gender-balanced. i’m happy for the show to be entirely female, or entirely male, or entirely trans, or entirely sentient pufferfish. I just want it to be good, and it’s been that only rarely. I just can’t bring myself to be enthusiastic over a gender-balanced show that is also a thorough mediocrity.

Granted, that’s only MY take. Many people love it, I can’t deny that; good for them!

Vulcan Soul

Bryant, I realized they (and we) keep coming back to these tangential topics because there really is nothing else of relevance to talk about in the show. TOS had more to say about algorithms ruling our lives (50 years before they actually did!) in its various “alien civilization controlled by computer” episodes than the inane” Evil AI kills all life” plot we just watched.

To stay with my recent “haute cuisine” metaphor: a cheeseburger doesn’t become foie gras just by replacing the beef patty with goose liver ;)

Nothing about Control made a lick of sense. It’s roughly as compelling a villain as Dr. Evil in the “Austin Powers” movies, except they at least gave Dr. Evil SOME motivation. Ridiculous motivation; but still.

I continue to be shocked that any Trekkies are giving this mess a passing grade.

ML31

I suspect the passing grade some many are giving it are a direct result of only being better than what they got in season 1. I agree that the 2nd season was better. But it still wasn’t good. In fact, I still saw it as below mediocre. But that is STILL better than the train wreck known as season 1.

I liked things in both seasons, and even loved things here and there in the second. But there was so much else that frustrated me that I found the good parts almost made it worse overall; as if they were teasing glimpses of what could be if the show ever got its act together.

Which hopefully it will in the third season. I’m not optimistic about that; but you never know.

Mel

Discovery had in its 2nd season 2 women and 5 men in its main cast. They tried to balance it out a bit with recurring and guest actresses, but on the other hand Spock and Leland got a lot of screen time, too.

There is no real balance between women and men in Discovery so far.

TG47

Actually Voyager had a better gender balance than Discovery… especially when the focus on Janeway, Seven and Torres is taken into account.

But like Discovery there was a bias to men in recurring or guest characters.

Vulcan Soul

Folks, this isn’t a simple counting exercise because unlike previous Trek shows Discovery is NOT an ensemble show and apparently has no intention to become one. With everything being centered around “Michael”, who despite the “edgy” naming clearly is a female, saying Discovery is male-centered or more male-centered than Voyager is a tad ridiculous. For an analogy, imagine a series cast with 3 female commanders and 5 male deck scrubbers. Clearly not a male-dominated series.

Second, scifi in general and Star Trek in particular has demographically always skewed male, so there was and is nothing wrong with tailoring more to that demographic. Nobody has any problem with women-only or black-only shows geared towards those demographics, so I don’t see the difference here. Clearly the makers of Discovery think different about this and that they must end this big sinister conspiracy towards that “bright” future where we are all homogeneously identical but in reality we don’t all like the same stuff and we don’t have to either.

So is Veronica the one we need to inundate with pleas for a Star Trek: Pike series?

Asking for a friend.

TG47

I’m hoping an exec with the ability to use market research data will help Secret Hideout with a real reality check.

I actually think it’s great that Kurtzman makes what’s got to be a discomforting effort to follow the trending views on the boards.

But what he takes from that feedback, and the narrative he puts around that will be filtered through his own thoughts on Trek.

Marketing and branding specialists will be able to provide CBS and Kurtzman a solid and neutral picture to inform the go forward.

But they really need to get beyond the US market with their research. CBSAA is running in Canada and Australia so far. Hopefully they’ll engage domestic research expertise from those countries… and beyond.

I would not be at all surprised if that market research data was the genesis for the (still untitled!) Picard series. I work in that biz and lemme tell you, it is amazing the width and depth of data that you can collect from properly-formulated studies.

Vulcan Soul

TG47, do you think Canada and Australia are the countries that can provide any sort of new input that would help diversify Trek?

Maybe Kurtzman should follow (some) of his own writing, such as when Spock was told “search for your opposite”. It isn’t just the logicians that need to broaden their horizon, Mr. Emo ;)

TG47

Hi VS, yes certainly Canadian and Australian would only be a start. But the current American-centric thinking is not going to get the brand where they need it to go.

Certainly UK, European and Asian perspectives are needed if they really intend to market globally.

But yes, Canadian productions have a different flavour than American ones. And it may be that the creative team needs just that step of distance to start.

Canadians have a different sense of humour, love irony and oddities.

If I look to Canadian programming for kids (e.g. Sinking Ship Entertainment) it’s got better diversity – not only in terms of people of colour, but social background – is woke, but still has great writing and doesn’t talk down to kids. In fact, Sinking Ship distributes into Latin America (for more than their own shows) so they would be a good partner for understanding the STEM kids market.

Quebecois productions do reasonably well in France, and provide good insights into where language is a barrier.

Say, did anyone else receive a satisfaction survey from All Access a few days after the second season ended? I did, and among the questions was something along the lines of “Which character did you most enjoy watching?” I selected Pike, and would have done so twice if I’d had the option.

ML31

I did not. But then, I canceled one day after the finale aired.

c d

‘enormously rabid fan base’

Vulcan Soul

Noticed that too. Maybe I don’t know all the connotations of “rabid” but are there any that don’t mean MAD? Rabid like dogs ;)

TG47

Thanks cd and VS.

It isn’t encouraging when the PR folks who wrote the news release choose derogatory language to describe their base clientele / audience.

Folks here are taking it with good humour, but I’m wondering if Ms. Hart is cringing.

I certainly wouldn’t want to be introduced with messaging that insults the people I’m supposed to be working with.

Gary Neumann

How can I join them?

“they are also experts on the ‘Star Trek’ canon”

Insert image of me making a skeptical face here.

Vulcan Soul

If this was The Orville I’d wager they probably meant cannon. Talking about their personal head cannon ;)

Danpaine

That phrase made me wrinkle my nose as well.

JAGT

Expanding the brand “beyond the traditional boundaries of linear broadcasting and streaming”, eh… Will there finally be new Star Trek lunchboxes?

UAB
Cygnus-X1

This kind of branding talk seems willfully ignorant to me. Star Trek is no longer one brand. Or, put another way, there is a schism in the Star Trek brand. I can’t imagine CBS not knowing that there’s a large chunk of Trek fans that have no use for the JJ movies or for Discovery. And it’s not just that we have no use for it, it’s that those nominally “Trek” products are antithetical to what we love about Star Trek. And I’m sure that CBS doesn’t care about such opinions from the likes of us — we don’t even rise to the level of a nuisance. But, they have tarnished the brand.

Maybe it’s a mostly age-based demographic phenomenon, where people too young to remember when Star Trek stood for something different than it does today either have no interest in Trek or just consume anything with the Trek label. Obviously it’s the latter constituency who are of greatest value to CBS. What’s not to like about people who are unconditionally willing to buy whatever you offer them? But, I’m not like that. So, all this talk about “brand building” seems very odd to me. CBS is building a brand that shares a name with a brand that I’m very fond of. But, they’re not building the brand that I’m fond of.

A brand is not just a name and a logo. A brand represents a set of values that a product stands for and an emotional relationship between the product, its values and the consumer. All this talk of “brand building” now is based on a show that, by the average account, is mediocre entertainment, at best. To say nothing of its lack of original Star Trek values. And, yes, there’s more to Star Trek than “diversity.” I suppose CBS’s plan is for the old Star Trek brand to gradually phase out, eventually settling into a set of items for collectors and licensing fees from streaming the pre-JJ movies and pre-Kurtzman TV shows. And, when the JJ/Kurtzman-Trek demographic gets a bit older, when mindless “diversity” is no longer exciting, and a new ideological fashion comes along, I suppose that CBS will re-brand Star Trek again. So long as population growth doesn’t become excessively negative, CBS can continue re-branding Star Trek for each subsequent generation that comes up, and to hell with the fans who helped build the previous brand identity.

TG47

Cygnus-X1 I’m hoping that CBS will through good market research develop a better sense of what the brand is, not just in the US but globally.

What’s missing in the description from CBS cited above is some of the Trek values of reaching for and showing a better society.

Trek wasn’t afraid to show people struggling with ethical decisions, struggling to reconcile cultural and biological imperatives, struggling to slow down and think and understand, rather than just emote, and go ‘bang bang’ for the last 10 minutes of every episode.

Others are noting below that many of the things they are mentioning, including diversity and good storytelling, are built-in features of the brand that come out of these values.

But TPTB are going to go off the rails if they mistake the ‘features’ for the values that define the brand.

Cygnus-X1

TG47

But TPTB are going to go off the rails if they mistake the ‘features’ for the values that define the brand.

This is a good point.

The Enterprise in TOS had diversity in its crew because that was a natural by-product of rational or secular humanism. Diversity wasn’t an end in itself; there was just no good reason not to have it. Diversity, as a feature of the show, was simply the natural state of things when racial prejudice is eliminated. Episodes like “Balance of Terror” and, of course, “Let that Be Your Last Battlefield” specifically took aim at racial prejudice, but the show never called attention to its own “diversity.” Diversity was portrayed as so normal that it didn’t bear mentioning.

Danpaine

Very thoughtful post, Cygnus. There’s a lot I agree with in there, the ‘shallowness’ of the brand as it ages. Absolutely. And you’re right, ‘we,’ those who grew up with TOS and TNG and the pre-JJ films, don’t matter to TPTB anymore – we’re not even on their radar. And what we’re seeing on screen now barely resembles what we’ve known and loved for decades. Perhaps “Picard” will be a bright spot – time will tell.

Cygnus-X1

And, by the by, what CBS is doing is more the rule with franchises than the exception. That’s just how it goes. A visionary entrepreneur creates a wonderful thing that truly means something to him or her. The creation has values and sensibilities built into it. The product stands for something that has been lacking in society and develops an emotional relationship with its original fan base, the early adopters who pride themselves in having sort of discovered this great, new product before the mainstream got clued in. The early adopters are intensely loyal and help build the brand of the new product, because they share its values and want to see it flourish.

But, at some point that typically comes much sooner than the early adopters expected, the brand that they helped build gets sold. Now, a soulless corporation has all of the rights to exploit the brand without having contributed one iota to its creation. The corporation typically doesn’t understand what makes the brand special — not really — because they’re not required to share or even understand the values and sensibilities of the brand’s creator in order to acquire it. The corporation has done none of the work to create the brand and now has full control over it. The implicit promise of value-fidelity from the brand to its original fan base instantly evaporates. That was an arrangement with the former owner which the new owner is not obligated to honor.

The corporation then begins exploiting the brand in every way conceivable to recover their investment, without regard to the brand’s original values and sensibilities. The corporation is essentially just a money-making machine. It doesn’t need to understand what makes the brand special at this point, because there’s already a consumer base attached to it based on its former glory. Inertia and emotional attachment to superficial attributes will keep enough of the consumer base loyal to maintain profits while the brand transitions to a younger consumer base. This is the rule, not the exception, with entertainment and other products.

TG47

Excellent analysis Cygnus-X1.

I’d add however that with Trek, there was such a gap between the fading out of the 90s series with Enterprise and the launch of Discovery that a whole generation has virtually no experience of Trek.

The Kelvin movies just didn’t have the necessary reach and impact.

So, to exploit the brand, CBS has the challenge of marketing to a generation with no attachment to the franchise.

It seems however that they’ve learned that they’ve got major downside risks if they ignore the ageing bast market.

Ticking off the social media savvy ‘rabid fanbase’ that’s in their late 30s at the youngest, can apparently be very damaging to the brand…or the creatives wouldn’t be making efforts to appease the fans.

I’d also note that the fanboards do seem to influence the professional critics to some extent, and that many of the high status professional critics in the US and UK seem to know the franchise better than several of the writers.

Bottom line: CBS may have thought they had a classic situation, but the Trek fanbase, that arguably established fandom as a factor in the industry, still presents an exceptional challenge for marketers.

Zinc Saucier

Since we’re getting all these new Star Trek shows, apparently made for all different types of fans, can we please get just one that’s not wall-to-wall melodrama? You know, a “boring” one? That’s all I ask.

But I have a feeling the answer is “no”. I don’t think these writers know how to do anything else.

PEB

You just gave me flashes of the classical concerts that always seemed to be happening on the Enterprise D. It always felt out of place to me. It felt totally different than the actual great use of opera in the First Contact scene with Picard and Riker.

I do think fans are going to be surprised at how serious and probably much less action-oriented that Picard series is going to be. Might be exactly what you’re looking for. Just a good drama.

Kev-1

Just make good shows that hit and all this will follow. On the other hand, if the shows aren’t good, no amount of executive strategy will make it work. Nobody’s twisting anybody’s arm to get those NCC-1701 kits moving.

TG47

Sorry Kev-1, it doesn’t just follow.

Yes, there’s been a good deal of niche collectors merchandise, but not a lot of mass market.

It’s fairly accepted that Roddenberry didn’t really get that side of the business, and to be fair it really didn’t fully take off until Star Wars was heavily merchandised. But Trek wasn’t even keeping up with the adventure shows of the era.

There was such a lack of strategic thinking on this that Trek didn’t even get the toys out when TAS was on the air. Who knows, TAS might have been renewed if a major toy manufacturer (Mattel at that time) was on board.

I had a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea lunch kit while TOS was running, but a Star Trek one wasn’t on offer.

The Uhura Barbie would have been a great addition to our imaginative play, but it was so limited in distribution as to be unavailable.

Kev-1

What does not follow? Alladin made a TOS lunch kit during the 60s, available concurrently with Voyage. Both Voyage and TOS were merchandised by REMCO. Star Trek merchandise expanded heavily during the 1970s, during which time TOS was #1 in syndication. The MEGO dolls sold in the milliions during the 1970s. Mego recently reincorporated and are making TOS figures today. You’re saying they couldn’t get merchandise during TAS — that came out in, I think, 73, which is when the boom in Trek merchandise started. Seriously, every Trek book during the mid=late 70s hit the NYT best seller list. The Star Trek Technical Manual was #1 for a time. Type “Star Trek”1975 on Ebay and see what you find. What doesn’t follow? They’ve been selling Enterprises since 1966. And by the way, Roddenberry began Lincoln Enterprises to sell merchandise during the series. It’s been reported he created the IDIC pendant for resale. What’s missing from Trek today is heavy demand by consumers. Until that’s there, you can’t do much.

Captain_neill

Eh this sounds pointless. CBS already markets Trek and this feels like it will be run by people who have no idea what Trek is.

Its quite sad that I am seeing my favourite universe being mismanaged.

It sounds good but come on we already have loads of merchandise and marketing.

Please can’t they just concentrate on giving us good Trek?

Lope de Aguirre

That’s not bad but what’s with DS9 + VOY on Blu-ray, Star Trek I-X and Discovery on UHD or the Dcs of I + VI on BD?