Since the launch of Star Trek Discovery three years ago, CBS has expanded what it is now calling the Star Trek Universe of TV shows to include several live-action and animated shows. In a new interview, the man in charge of it all discusses the philosophy behind the growing slate of Trek coming to CBS All Access and beyond.
Expansion not just for expansion sake
As part of his Emmy campaign for Star Trek: Short Treks, executive producer Alex Kurtzman talked to Deadline about the shorts and his expanding universe of TV shows. Kurtzman gave an overview of his approach to differentiating the shows:
There are quite a few, and I think the idea for us is that it isn’t just about expansion for the sake of expansion. It’s actually about exploring different corners of the universe, in the same way that the Short Treks explore different corners of the world of Star Trek, the idea being that each show should have its own unique identity, and you should not be thinking that you can get from one show, what you can get in another.
Everything has to feel different, unique, special and specific, and yet you want it all to be of a piece, and tie into the larger Trek universe. So, it’s been a very coordinated effort, on a lot of people’s parts, to make sure that the shows feel different, and are about different things, and are saying different things, and feel different, and look different, and sound different. So, that’s been really fun and really rewarding.
An obvious example of this approach can be seen in the recent launch of Star Trek: Lower Decks. As the franchise’s first half-hour animated adult comedy, it is differentiated by the two current live-action shows: Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard. While both of those shows share a serialized format with darker tones, Discovery is more focused on Starfleet action and adventure with Picard being more intimate and personal at a slower pace.
As for what is to come, last week Kurtzman outlined the approach to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the live-action show set on Pike’s USS Enterprise that goes into production next year, saying it will return to Star Trek’s roots of more episodic and optimistic storytelling. The show promises to return to the planet-of-the-week stories, making Kurtzman’s new comment about “exploring different corners of the universe” literal.
Kurtzman has also said that work is still ongoing for a Section 31 series. It’s likely that the Discovery spin-off starring Michelle Yeoh as an operative for the secretive Starfleet organization will have more of an espionage show vibe. The final show that CBS has confirmed is Star Trek: Prodigy, a CG-animated series targeting kids set to debut on Nickelodeon in 2021.
Roddenberry’s vision in the era of COVID
When talking about guiding inspirations for the Short Treks, Kurtzman spoke specifically about “Children of Mars,” and how it tied into the first season of Picard, as to how it exemplified how the shorts are trying to express Star Trek’s core message:
So with, for example, “Children of Mars,” which I wrote with Jenny Lumet and Kirsten Beyer, and was directed by Mark Pellington, we said, “Let’s do a silent film. Let’s see how much story we can tell with no dialogue, and let’s use this as a setup to a major storyline in Picard that would typically have felt like backstory.” By allowing the event to be experienced through the eyes of children in a totally surprising way, where you don’t actually realize what you’re watching until you get to the very end, and you see this extraordinary connection that emerges from people who, up until that moment, had really been enemies, I think it’s profoundly moving. But it also speaks to the core essence of what Star Trek is, which is about people overcoming their differences to come together, and recognizing that in the face of tragedy, and in the face of triumph, we really are all the same.
Certainly, when you think about analogies to what we’re experiencing now globally, with coronavirus, everyone’s realizing that nobody is immune, and therefore, we’re all in it together, and I think that’s something that Star Trek has been saying for a really long time. It’s been speaking to that very fact since its inception, and I think all of these shorts, in one way or another, look to capture the spirit of what Roddenberry was trying to express.
Recently Kurtzman has talked about how there are currently multiple Star Trek writers rooms actively working remotely through Zoom. In the years to come, we will see what impact, if any, working in the era of coronavirus pandemic has impacted the storylines for these Star Trek series.
Keep up with the Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.
Star Trek is growing in every direction and that’s great. I’m excited about every new Star Trek show right now. I don’t have to like all of them but it’s nice to see Star Trek on television again.
Star Trek helped me get through the COVID lockdown. That’s a testament to Roddenberry’s vision of a optimistic future for humanity.
My faith in humanity is restored every time I watch Star Trek. Alex Kurtzman exploring a different corner of the universe.
I wish most fans had such an evolved perspective. The hatred and vitriol on the facebook page stinks.
When you order slow roast beef and they bring you defrozen horse meatloaf for the same price, you have every right to complain; that’s not hatred and vitriol, that’s simply customer’s feedback.
Not raising a complaint when you get cheated doesn’t make you look evolved. It makes you look foolish.
So does complaining you’re been cheated, when you haven’t.
I guess if one likes horse meatloaf then perhaps one might not feel like they were cheated. But most would.
I’m lending my support to the all of the voices decrying defrozen horse meatloaf. I won’t eat your defrozen horse meatloaf, CBS!
I predict Alex Kurtzman will one day become the president of the United States. He eloquently says at every turn that he loves Roddenberry’s optimistic, inspiring vision of humanity and pledges to up hold it. Then he makes Star Trek TV shows with darker tones that many (not all, but a very large percentage) find very much against Roddenberry’s hopeful vision. First Discovery, then Picard.
Before each series he stays on message and talks beautifully about doing one thing, then he does the opposite. But he keeps talking the same way, and people believe him.
I don’t believe a word this man says anymore. But because of this, I do think he will be elected president.
Alex Kurtzman and Trump have something in common. I don’t believe a word they say.
The president of the United States can’t be taken seriously anymore. All the prestige is long gone.
I hate politics and I’m not trying to be political but Kurtzman is no politician.
Vote for Berman–I mean Biden!
Faze Ninja, I’m a little bit confused by the difference in tone between this comment and your post at top of this list which seemed very positive about modern Trek in general, including Kurtzman “exploring a different corner of the universe.” Here you seem to be comparing him to Trump. Just curious, but how do you actually feel?
And yet there are still so many idiots online who keep claiming Kurtzman has been fired–and there are even bigger idiots who believe it.
Must people inject politics into EVERYTHING???
Unfortunately politics is in everyone’s mind for obvious reasons. One should be advised to keep his or her opinions to oneself, however frustration will eventually come out in different ways and that’s just human nature. I could think of a very good reply to His Name Is Rios here above, but in deference to you ML31, I will abstain, because it would reference politics.
I don’t mind too much. But good grief… Some people could be talking about fixing the kitchen sink and suddenly throw in some political comment that has zero to do with what was said. I mean absolute zero.
But the real problem is, and I have been guilty from time to time taking the bait (many have) that it gets brought up and the conversation gets completely derailed as a result.
Come on, Kurtzman isn’t the first to make Trek darker. What about Wrath of Khan or even The Search for Spock? The former features a one-dimensional, yet incredibly well-played villain who wants revenge and has space slugs invading people’s brains and ripping it apart, the latter the death of Kirk’s son and destruction of the Enterprise! Star Trek VI features highly bigoted characters (including Kirk, though he overcomes it), First Contact (and episodes of TNG and VOY) feature space zombies who gruesomely take over entire species, and Deep Space Nine featured an interstellar war for 4 of its seasons (first against the Klingons then the Dominion). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need another eye-ripping moment and I think the new shows have their issues when it comes to pacing and using its characters (Elnor, you were literally space-Legolas and nothing more), however the same is true for a lot of Star Trek episodes. And the reason why the franchise “died” in the first place was because it Became stiff and repetitive and lost its creativity and it was a hard push from the studio that forced the producers and writers to re-think things for the latter half of ENT.
So, I’m all for more diversity in the shows and the style of the shows, as long as they keep giving us good characters and show us how to overcome your flaws (even if the entire crew is made up of broken people like Picard) and be a better version of ourselves AND have some fun along the way.
I find most of the complaints about new Trek being too “dark” are just bullsh1t gatekeeping nonsense.
I watched TOS, “Gamesters of Triskelion” this morning, an episode in which an attempted rape takes place just off screen, and which contains multiple scenes of violence. Such violence may be cartoonishly dated, but that’s kind of the point. Trek has always been plenty “dark” for its time, and that darkness has been balanced by lighter moments.
Despite all the trash talking about post-Enterprise Star Trek, the shows and films have all had moments of darkness and moments of levity, with the Abrams-verse in particular, over the course of a trilogy, beginning and ending in a positive and hopeful place.
Discovery is probably the one that takes the most bashing, but I submit that it’s more about aesthetics than thematics for most of the DISCO haters. The way I see it, the Federation of Kirk’s era was a bit more rough and tumble than Picard’s era, so it stands to reason that Pike’s era was even more rough and tumble than Kirk’s era. Moreover, we know that the Federation and the Klingons went to war at some point, and DISCO managed to explicate that period in a way that made sense.
It made sense because it showed how the Federation got to where it was in the century between Kirk and Picard. It wasn’t always idyllic, and there had to be a process and a period where things were bad and then improved. Frankly, I thought it was brilliant from the very first episode, and would have been annoyed if it had been just another planet of the week show. They also teed up SNW beautifully in that regard.
DISCO did for the television franchise what TMP did for the film franchise: it made the big leap, stretching the canvas of TV Trek to fit the 21st century aesthetic. After TMP made the big leap and redefined the visual aesthetic for 1980s audiences, they were able to establish credibility and then dial it back for TWOK. That’s what DISC did for SNW, PIC, LD, PROD, and SEC31, carving out a whole new television universe for these new shows. Now there are shows set in Pike’s era, Picard’s era, and also a millennium in the future. They gave themselves so much room to play in, and as far as I’m concerned they nailed it. If DISCO had turned out to be a planet of the week, bridge crew adventure of the week show, I’d almost certainly have stopped watching after the first episode. Been there, done that. By establishing the new Trek universe the way they did, the Pike show will now seem like a breath of fresh air instead of like a cheesy ripoff of previous Trek shows.
If you want to equate Gamesters of Triskelion’s cartoon fights and “off-screen almost-rape” with ripping out eye balls in gory detail and the likes, I can’t help you. Nobody can ;)
Complaints of Kurtzman’s tone violations or canon violations, in fact, give him too much credit. The first question to ask is, is he competently overseeing compelling and well-crafted serial dramas (regardless of tone, regardless of upholding traditions)? I would argue the answer is no. The first bar of serial quality has not been met, so we need not get bogged down in secondary and more murky domains of darkness and the Roddenberrian. These are worthwhile discussions once the first bar has been met- is the dang thing any good as a respectable entertainment product worthy of a subscription fee in an ever-multiplying marketplace of on-demand platforms? (My post isn’t referring to Lower Decks, which is more under the aegis of Mr. McMahan.)
Well said. SNW to work has to be a fundamental shift to work.
Why do I shrug my shoulders with dismay whenever I read a headline inferring Kurtzman understands or respects Roddenberry’s vision of the future – he doesn’t. He talks the talk, he doesn’t walk to walk! Every show he has made stands testament to his lack of understanding or care for the essence of what Trek is about; regardless, as powerful as he’s become, he is NOT a talented artist, he does not have a talented team of creatives behind him. PLEASE VIACOM hand Trek over to people who are 1. true Trek creatives & 2. talented creatives – who you ask? Well you couldn’t pass on Ronald D. Moore or Naren Shankar or Isa Steven Behr if they were available! My point is there are quite a handful of very talented folk who truly understand Trek who have the track-proven ability to make fine television and therefore take this franchise back into space again and make it go to warp!
Alex Kurtzman is the perfect example of failing upwards in Hollywood.
Where have I seen that before? Oh, yeah, AK has been fired by being promoted. Gotcha.
Do you have poor reading comprehension skills? I said he has failed upwards….you do know what that means don’t you?
Don’t presume I don’t know the source of this quote. It’s not origonal, nor is it clever.
So you’re not knocking the quote’s veracity or applicability, just that the poster didn’t originate it himself? Wanted to clear that up.
No, it’s a stupid quote, too.
That’s why it is listed as a corollary of the Peter Principle in business quote books, right?
To clarify for the literalist, it’s a stupid quote in this context.
I would to love to see a Star Trek series done in part by Mike Sussman. A lot of the better Enterprise and even some of the better Voyager episodes were at least co-written by him. He has a true reverence for Star Trek.
I’d add Manny Coto to the names you mentioned as well.
Of the names mentioned I suspect only Coto might be interested. The others I think may feel like they have a “been there done that” sort of feeling towards Star Trek.
Alex Kurtzman is a bad liar. I don’t trust him at all. I shrug my shoulders and roll my eyes with dismay everytime he mentions Roddenberry’s vision and that nonsense.
Star Trek has lost its soul to the Hollywood industrial complex.
Faze Ninja earlier: “I’m excited about every new Star Trek show right now.”
I’ve tried to keep shut up and not pile on, but come on Ninja, find some consistency in what you say or say less so you can avoid contradicting yourself. You’re not doing yourself any favors with all this self-contradiction here.
Yeah this guys is getting to be pretty bad with his own coherence.
There’s nothing wrong with an opinion on something evolving – but you’ve gone from “I’m excited about every new Star Trek show right now” to “Alex Kurtzman is a bad liar. I don’t trust him at all” over the course of less then two hours. Personally, I don’t get the people who pile on AK at every turn, but they are at least consistent with their criticism.
Yes, not wanting to pile on, I’ve commented on this before on Ninja, because I find his constant contradictions extremely disingenuous. It’s like he’s writing whatever just to get a reply and this irks me no end. However he is constant in his inconsistency… so I guess that’s just the way he is. This falls in the “it takes all kinds” category.
This is the same routine he went through before the current series airing. I don’t think it will end well at all! Waste energy filling it with as many winks, easter eggs, and trite nods to classic (quality) trek, instead of spending that effort on making the main story worth the time at all. I have seen every episode of classic trek a dozen times, and get new things out of it still, rewatch and episode of nutrek and reach deeper and deeper levels of disbelief and revulsion. No thank you kurtzman. I would resign my commission in starfleet and join the maquis to try to stop this heinous aliens path of destruction. Begone.
I’m sure Alex Kurtzman must be good at something — maybe even great — but I certainly don’t know what it is or where he demonstrated it. If he managed a Burger King you’d be lucky to ever get an order filled correctly at its drive-thru.
Yeah, if you ordered a whopper he’d give you a pizza and act like you should be grateful that he’s “exploring all the different corners of burgers.”
And then a certain segment of the customer base would be all like, well, this is how burgers are made now, and anyways, it’s got bread and cheese, so what even are you complaining about?
Or he would just bu**sh*t you and spin it to try to convince you that he did give you exactly what you asked for.
They’d also claim NuCoke is just like Classic Coke, how Coke has always been, tasting like sour candy ;)
My take is that they should stop it with the optimism talk because they are confusing the realistic optimism of TOS for the pseudo-mysticism of TNG and in doing so making their shows nonsensical outside of comedy and parody.
Roddenbery in the 60s basically set out to make fun show that could tackle issues as a Western in space. Unlike other attempts to tackle issues it was going to be action packed and fun to watch. Like the exploration of the Western America, flawed people came together and did challenging things that lead to new discoveries, some good some bad. The “optimism” was NOT that people were so perfect aliens are going to emulate us. It was that we were going to learn about our flaws, work together and overcome them. That’s the optimism, that DESPITE our flaws, we were going to work together and slowly build a better world (learning from aliens and the unknown a requirement).
This is in contrast to tomorrow’s humanity is going to BE PERFECT. That all aliens are going to one day bow before us perfect humanity because we are sooo perfect and do everything right and have no internal conflict. This is 90s Roddenbery who decided he was a visionary and that his vision was so important it would override the need for his show to be fun (and erase everything that hinted it was a “western in space”.
Here is the problem.. if you accept optimism b we are PERFECT. Aliens learn from us, even the Q that comes from other dimensions. There is NOTHING to learn because we are PERFECT and thus know EVERYTHING. We have free energy. We all love each other equally and we are all equal because all are PERFECT. Now… what’s the “Star Trek?” If you are perfect and you don’t need anything aren’t you just seeing the same stars over and over again? Are you just trying to teach people that they can perfect too? It ends up being lame and nonsensical.
And ironically there is one species which would argue it is destined to be perfect by incorporating all minds into one where all know everything and are equal and that is the unimind. Of course, TNG when extrapolates ends up with the Borg being the only race that can challenge us because it IS us. Powerful lesson there which ironically TOS.
Look to the TOS writers guide: “believablity of characters, their actions and reactions is our greatest need”, “IF YOU’RE ONE OF THOSE WHO ANSWERS: “THE CHARACTER ACTS THAT WAY BECAUSE IT’S SCIENCE FICTION”, DON’T CALL US, WE’LL CALL YOU.” and from the pitch “The time is somewhere in the future, it could be 1995 or maybe even 2995. In other words close enough to our own time for our continuing characters to BE FULLY IDENTIFABLE AS PEOPLE LIKE US, but far enough in the future for galaxy travel..”
If you look around you do you identify with everyone as perfect?? Do you believe YOU are perfect?
Now that being said, you. don’t. have. to. be. perfect. to. do. amazing. things. In fact no perfect person has ever done so and I say never will. That is the real optimism of Star Trek, is that it will keep going and we will infinitely get better (despite never being perfect). That disconnect is what is wrecking Trek today in my humble opinion.
No. The optimism is around the amazing society we can live in if we evolve past our barbaric instincts and learn to work together as a single race. That society can reach for the stars, united in purpose, and discover secret wonders that are waiting out there for the day we, the human race, are finally mature.
While I agree we need to work together, I don’t think we need to end up a single monolithic culture. Why can’t we be one species with different peoples? Why can’t we embrace diversity?
What’s so bad about Chekov being proud of being Russian, Scotty a Scotsman, Uhura from United Africa so long as they learn to work together?
What about Spock?? He is half-Vulcan, does he have to reject his Vulcan half to end up in your “one race” too to be as perfect as you?
What’s so bad about our instincts? Our instincts to explore? To develop? To go where no one has gone before? To be free?
The idea that we need to end up the Borg in a unimind united in everything where only the collective matters I think is actually dystopian.
Good God. You do understand that there’s no such place as “United Africa” and that lumping all African people together makes about as much sense as lumping Bulgarians, Spaniards, Norwegians, and Hungarians together and calling them “proud Europeans”?
Well yes, exactly. Why lump them together? How is that “optimism”?
In the case of Uhura I only did that as a lot of the old literature I enjoy referred to her as being from the “Bantu Nation of United Africa” (or something like that, United Africa, there is no way I made up Bantu nation just now). Back when 6-10 in the 80s I used to live off that, FASA, technical manuals, etc.
That being said, the more diversity the better (as opposed to forcing everyone into one generic entity).
Not once in my lifetime have I ever heard anyone say there was anything wrong with Chekov being Russian, Uhura being African, etc…. Back in 1966, it was a novel idea to have characters of different ethnicities all working together on a TV show. It was something that viewers could take pride in. It meant something. You could feel good about yourself for appreciating and even for supporting the diversity in the show, such as it was. At some point, diversity became “diversity.” It became mandatory, and the absence of an amount satisfactory to a shadowy network of social police became punishable by loss of ad revenue at best and blacklisting and loss of personal livelihood at worst. Today, one can no longer take the least bit of pride in appreciating or supporting diversity, because, realistically, one has no choice. In A Clockwork Orange, the protagonist, Alex, is forced to undergo a form of Pavlovian conditioning whereby he learns to reflexively feel pain whenever he gets the urge to act violently. While government bureaucrats applaud the effectiveness of the treatment, a priest stands alone in protesting the methodology: Choice! The boy has no real choice, has he? Self interest, fear of physical pain drove him to that grotesque act of self abasement. Its insincerity was clearly to be seen. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice.
Anthony Burgess’s story was thematically prophetic. When the punishment for lack of “diversity” in your TV show is the loss of your livelihood, you’re no hero for making half of your cast female or minorities; you’re just self-interested. And one is no longer enlightened for touting the “diversity” in the show when it’s the reigning orthodoxy, the violation of which is punishable by being cancelled or worse.
There are elements there I do agree with. I find I prefer the optimism of TOS to the optimism of TNG. In TNG the overall subtext permeating the show was “humans are the greatest and most fantastic creatures in the galaxy. And we have overcome nearly every single one of our flaws as a species.” As you said, even the Q end up learning from us. When the reality would be more like we could learn from THEM. In TOS, we didn’t teach the Metrons anything. They were a little surprised when Kirk refused to kill the Gorn. But they still looked down on us, as they should have. And that is the optimism I preferred. Humans weren’t the greatest. We have overcome a lot but we still had a long way to go. And more or less were on the right path. In TNG, we already achieved this. I know there are TNG fans who disagree and I understand that. For most of them, that is the show that introduced them to Trek and see it differently than I do.
Spot on. “We can admit that we’re killers, but we’re not going to kill today.“
“So, that’s been really fun and really rewarding.”
For him, I guess. I’m still waiting for the fun and reward. I deserve one for finishing Picard.
Yeah. Picard really didn’t work. There were some beautiful (and some not-so-beautiful) world-building/-expanding details, though.
Oddly enough that’s the one thing I thought they really got right on, was the world building. People can argue the tone of the universe changed but it really felt like an extension of the TNG era versus Discovery which felt like it was a show in another universe at times.
Yeah okay, that’s fair, I’ll give it that. That stuff worked fine for me and could have been cool if the story they were appearing in matched up.
I’m sure people who find fun and reward in writing and directing ripped out eyeballs belong somewhere, but at the head of television franchises is not it ;)
But it’s no longer a television franchise, it’s a streaming show now.
All I will say about this is that someone who doesn’t have an issue with Kurtzman as apparently so many do here lol is that I wish he would just STOP TALKING about the whole Roddenberry, ‘vision’, optimism, etc because it only (ironically) brings division and cynicism when he says it. I guess everyone has to mention these things to prove they ‘get’ Star Trek and that deep, deep, deeeeep inside their vision of Trek is the same as Roddenberry’s while we have to ignore what we actually see on our screens. Just make what you want to make and trust me, if its GOOD then most people won’t care eitherway. I’m being honest. We all know TWOK (an example used a million times) is not the kind of thing Roddenberry wanted and yet it WORKED. Worked just fine. No one has to use the same buzz words to talk about it and it didn’t really focus on those things.
Sure you can argue its there if you really really want to, but I don’t think people really cared one way or the other, it was just a fun adventure story to most and felt Star Trek enough. The issue with Kurtzman is he’s constantly reminding us of these things and all it does is make people more aware as they watch. Discovery was talked about in this broad sense in season one and that it was going to be optimistic about war and the approach to the Klingons and I didn’t get a sense of that at all. And again I wouldn’t have cared if the story they were telling was just a more gripping story on its own. It only made it more obvious it was anything but that unless you really want to believe threatening the Klingons of bombing their planet unless they surrendered was about working through your problems with your enemies and coming to some peaceful resolution?
And one of the things I really liked about Rick Berman (but I know others hated) is that he would constantly say they did PLENTY of things Roddenberry may not have approved of, but because they simply thought the story or character called for it. I’m sure 80% of that dealt with DS9 lol but its nice he was just honest about it. He too would constantly say they were always aware and tried to maintain Roddenberry’s vision as much as possible but it was so rigid at times, eventually they would just ignore it if they thought the story called for it. The whole perfect human and no conflict thing was basically ignored in TNG by season four basically. And he WORKED with the guy. He was the one Roddenberry passed down to see Trek boldly go. And he knew how hard that was. They all did.
HE was also the guy who made DS9 which in so many ways went AGAINST what Roddenberry wanted, but guess what, it was good, so most of us stopped caring. And yes, you can certainly argue there is optimism and all that there but I don’t think poisoning a planet to catch a terrorist is the stuff Roddenberry saw his heroes doing either.
Now Kurtzman is just doing his own thing since he never had those attachments. And I’m sure in his mind they are trying to honor it as much as possible. But yeah so far, not as good as he seems to think. I DON’T CARE personally, I can really care less, but if you’re the one constantly bringing it up, its not a shock people will challenge you on it when your shows mostly feels like they are doing the opposite most of the time.
He keeps playing this one false note because it is his only way in or out of the conversation with fans, Tiger2. If he stops invoking GR, then what has he got to offer that relates to TREK in general, outside of a few familiar character names and the props and locales being used?
BTW, I wouldn’t credit Berman with much of anything DS9 related, pretty sure that was mostly all Behr, because he didn’t listen to them — going all the way back to his short TNG tenure, where he earned the respect of Melinda Snodgrass at a time when she hated being there owning to Berman and co — and usually did what the story merited be done.
I see what you’re saying obviously, it gives him ‘credibility’ with some fans and validates what he does. But I’m sure most will argue just making good stories and shows will do the same if he never said a single word about GR either. And I’m not as cynical about Kurzman as many others are, I DO feel he wants to get it right and he wants fans to like it obviously. But I also think he wants his version of Star Trek to feel different from what came from before and in doing so that’s partly creating this conflict. Picard is a great example of that. People were completely behind this show at the beginning and he said tons how he wanted to honor the TNG spirit but kept saying over and over again its not TNG. Again I think most were on board with that and accepted it. I certainly did. But after seeing it, I don’t know how much the ‘spirit’ of TNG was there either and many would argue hardly any. But everyone who worked on it talked about it like they did just that. So there does just seem to be a disconnect between how fans think about these things versus the people making it. So when he invokes GR then yeah it feels a bit hollow. But then again if the first season was truly a run away hit and fans really loved it, it wouldn’t have mattered much because most just want to be in the era again and see some of the old characters.
As for Berman I was mostly referring to the fact that he allowed Behr to do what he wanted even though even he was personally against some of it. The best example is the Dominion in general. Berman said in interviews he was originally against the idea of creating a series long war arc because he knew Roddenberry would be against that but ultimately trusted Behr. That was an example of going against GR vision in a huge way. Yeah it was Behr’s vision but Berman had the final say on all of it at the time. When people say things like Behr just ‘ignored’ them and did what he wanted, we know that’s not literally true. Behr could’ve been fired at any time like anyone else or at least denied what he wanted to do (and Behr himself said there were some things they were denied of doing but most was allowed). No one is going to keep giving him money to make it if they really hated what he was doing. Paramount and Berman obviously were persuaded by what he wanted to do.
Writers were fired left and right in the early TNG days if they swayed from what Roddenberry wanted in any way. DS9 was able to experiment a lot more because the show itself wasn’t suppose to be TNG from the beginning. I seriously doubt DS9 would’ve even gotten the green light if Roddenberry was still in charge and certainly not all the crazy things that happened with it later on.
Behr wouldn’t back down with his ideas, the guy is a champ for standing his ground with Berman, it’s a shame the voyager writers didn’t have more backbone, a season of a year of hell could have been far more interesting than another tng show revolving around the same 3 characters.
Again to be fair Behr said the difference with DS9 and VOY is that DS9 was basically overlooked once VOY went on the air because it was created to prop up an entire new network and there were a lot more strict guidelines and expectations UPN had with VOY. DS9 didn’t have those issues and because it was already seen as the black sheep of the franchise for not feeling like traditional Trek it was easier to do other things with it. Of course I have no doubt Behr fought hard to do things on the show and made it what it is but the circumstances did sound very different between the shows. But he actually said he didn’t think DS9 could’ve been serialized with Voyager’s presence ironically. But UPN just wanted another TNG since that was the biggest Trek show ever at the time and wanted to keep to that model as much as possible. DS9 was literally made NOT to be TNG.
Even Berman made that point in one interview I read where he said with TNG and DS9 he had only one boss but with VOY and ENT he had two bosses and that complicated things. Again I’m NOT excusing him for the lack of quality the shows may have, but that there were more rules applied for the network shows and what couldn’t be done. The irony is VOY would probably be more like DS9 today if it got on the air….like Discovery felt more like its first season.
And personally I’m glad the Year of Hell didn’t last an entire season. I like a bit more variety, especially when talking about 20 episodes a year.
<i>“Now Kurtzman is just doing his own thing since he never had those attachments. And I’m sure in his mind they are trying to honor it as much as possible.”</i>
I’m not sure if this is actually the case. Kurtzman is basically acting in a “Sales” capacity (if one wants to be charitable) or like a dodgy televangelist (if one wants to be less charitable) or like a snake oil quack (if one wants to be even less charitable). He has a pattern of inflating his product, describing it inaccurately, and simply telling his audience what they want to hear.
Good from an amoral “salesman” perspective, I guess. But after a while, such people lose credibility. Especially when they keep being, shall we say, somewhat less than honest towards the intended consumers.
This is not a good thing.
Having said that, there are now multiple Trek shows underway, each with different tones and subjects. So hopefully at least one of them will turn out to be great. If none of them do, and especially if they turn out to be mediocre at best or completely crash & burn, that will give the most accurate picture of Kurtzman’s real abilities (or lack of them). But until then, I agree that a cautiously upbeat attitude is probably better for now.
I see your point but Kurtman is not just the salesman when he is literally making the products he is trying to sell as well. That’s the thing about all of this, he really has the power to make Star Trek in any image he wants. CBS doesn’t seem to give him much restraint about anything from what I can tell, at least in terms of his ‘vision’. I don’t think they care either way, they just want shows people will watch. They leave all of that stuff up to the creators and since we have stuff like Lower Decks to possibly Section 31 clearly proves that. He’s probably given way more free reign of what he is allowed to make versus what Berman was since streaming is a very different animal from network TV.
But I have to believe if he keeps saying he’s trying to honor what GR wanted then he does believe that at least or why talk about it at all? I think the real disconnect is how he perceives that idea though. From what I can tell the only thing that feels ‘optimistic’ about these shows is that the good guys win out in the end. I mean I don’t know exactly what in season one of Discovery was suppose to be ‘optimistic’ other than they beat the Klingons…sort of.
Take Picard. That show set up the entire synth story line as this huge racist notion people had against A.I. life, but was never TRULY resolved in any thoughtful way. Basically the synths decided bringing in the evil A.I.s to wipe out the galaxy of all biological life was not the way to go, they shut down the portal and for that the ban was lifted? That’s all it took? But at least it ended on a high note, right?
I think that’s a big part of the problem. They seem to think they can just make it however they want but as long as they get to the end and put a cherry on top somehow no matter how superficial then Roddenberry’s vision stays in tact. I mean they have done this for literally three seasons now.
Funny I’m trying to defend Kurtzman here but I’m doing a bad job of it lol. Because as I said, I’m not bothered by him wanting to do something different, even if its out of line what GR would want. But same time if he’s really trying to honor what Roddenberry would want, it feels a bit hollow because I never feel like anything is learned by the end of the season. They find a way to resolve the plots in the most convoluted ways ever but its rarely goes beyond that.
So maybe in Kurtzman’s head that’s all it takes but fans want something with a little more depth and thoughtfulness and not getting it; which is a shame because every season actually feels like we are going to get just that only to end with a lot of action stuff but very little insight.
Tiger, if he had one solid show under his belt, one show that felt like it channeled Trek properly, I suspect people (myself included) would be more forgiving and more open to explore and experiment with other aspects of the Trek universe. DS9’s change of tone was tolerated and eventually accepted because there was always a more “conventional” Trek show running alongside it between TNG and VOY.
Timelines/canon issues aside, there was always an opportunity to make Discovery that show. Plenty of potential creative options to even keep it set in that period and just give it a little distance from bumping into anything we’ve seen from before so we could have some original storytelling and adventures without upsetting the canon apple cart. It’s supposed to be a big universe, after all. If Discovery headed out into unknown space and did her seek out and discover thing, I’d have been perfectly happy with that as a show. I’ll even cut everyone some slack regarding season one seeing as we know Fuller got ousted/quit and I’m sure that was an utter shitshow to keep going and make some sense of. (Ironically, I’ll happily take season one over season two, looking back.)
For me, the problem – oft-spoken here, I know – is it feels like Kurtzman and his crew don’t care about or don’t understand what a traditional Trek show is supposed to look or feel like. I’m sure he’s a nice man! Haha! But he doesn’t get it. Two seasons of Discovery and Picard have displayed that to me and interviews like this just sound tone deaf. As if he’s got a bunch of keyword and phrases he has to work in to convince me.
Finally, I don’t feel like there’s any great genius in turning SNW back to an episodic exploration format. He didn’t have a choice. Look how divided the fanbase is on here alone regarding these shows. That is NOT what CBS execs want to see or hear (and like it or not, they get a huge say here) for one of their flagship properties. They want a happy, supportive base of fans and sometimes, that means going back to basics and starting over and giving them what they want.
Sorry. Bit of a ramble there.
Just my two credits here…
Your comments regarding STD’s first and second seasons and the issues in them and in hindsight you prefer season 1… To me that is like deciding if you want to be dipped chest deep in excrement or naval deep. I guess navel deep but at that point really what difference does it make?
By the way, I don’t think we should be too hopeful of SNW as well since they are saying Akiva Goldsman will be running that show. This is the same guy who was laughing like a teenager when he introduced the two-penises to the klingons.
Not hopeful at all with any of these guys attached. They haven’t a clue. Lower Decks isn’t perfect but the difference in creative teams is painfully obvious to see.
With Goldsman, Is it an extreme case of penis-envy … or just a double dose of being a d*** to the fans?
I’m with out regarding Kurtzman should just stop talking about the Roddenberry “vision.” I’m so very tired of this. It seems that EVERYONE who works trek since Enterprise feels they HAVE to say it. Newsflash…. The DON’T!!!! Just make the show you want to make. It’s your universe now. I wholeheartedly agree… If the shows are good then no one will ever care about what GR would have thought of it.
I never really had an issue with Kurtzman per se… But at this point it has become very apparent that if he really wanted to have different takes and different Trek genres out there (a very good idea IMHO) then he needs to have COMPLETELY different people behind the scenes for each show. None of them should be sharing producers or writers. Share production design only because they are all part of the same world and should look that way. (while respecting Trek origins if that is where the show will be) Only then will they get truly different results with different styles and different takes. Isn’t that what he keeps saying he is trying to do? Yet every show seems to share a handful of producers and writers. The one that has the least overlap so far has been LDX. And while it is not the greatest comedy out there, it’s still easily the best Trek SH has made. Kurtzman needs to learn some lessons here. He has some decent ideas but seems completely incapable of implementing them.
Well, as I see it there are only two ways of going forward. First: go full speed in every direction, and hope something makes someone happy. That is something Kurtzman can and does. Second: make the one 100% happy show which enough people love to make it a success. That is the way they tried with Enterprise – it failed. Nobody knows what is needed to get an big enough Star Trek audience behind one show. You might fail the mainstream, you might fail the fanbase.
I dont like Kurtzman, he sacrifies to much along the way imho, but I dont see an alternative. With Disco and Picard you clearly failed the fanbase, and especially with Picard, you made bad television. But did it fail the mainstream? Is the audience big enough to make to show a win? I dont know because the numbers are a secret.
I do like Lower Decks, its asking deeper questions in one episode than Disco or Picard in one season. I dont bother with canon as I always do my own Star Trek canon.
I suggest everyone calming done and just see if there is something in this big star trek universe what is to be liked. I am quite sure every show is loved by some audience so it is not for nothing.
Universe doesn’t have corners, he of all people should know that space-time is curved – or maybe warped is a better term, more in keeping with his style of awkward, often stupid storytelling.
Tim E. Crystal
Ok, great. Respectfully, may we go to a corner which is exciting and full of good characters and compelling stories for a change?
One name should take over, Jonathan Frakes.
I don’t know about that. He seems to be a competent director. But does he have the creative vision to run an entire series? I’m not seeing it. If they go with someone “in the family” then I would suggest Coto. But ideally I think they would be better off going with someone who is much better at spotting talented behind the scenes people. And give them the freedom to run their own shows without producer overlap from three other shows.
I thinks Frakes is content with just directing and he considers that as his main job. I don’t think he would really want to deal with everything that showrunning involves.
Wow, what a blast of negativity on this thread. Everyone is piling on.
Even some of the usual balancing voices are really down on this interview.
I listened on the other hand to the full Deadline interview last weekend and felt quite upbeat about it. I don’t think that TrekMovie has misrepresented it, but the reaction here is a bit more what I’d expect from those who’ve been campaigning against Kurtzman since the start.
Yes, some of it was his usual spin, but there is a certain openness to try new things in the franchise that’s genuine and essential to its survival.
I respect Kurtzman’s strategic thinking, risk taking and ability to engage top notch talent even if the shows have been uneven. A good part of the Deadline interview was about the Short Treks that are uneven by design, and that’s fine, but the interview also underscored that everything they are trying to do with the franchise is somewhat experimental at this point. I even get the feel from Kurtzman of s certain level of humility.
As I’ve said previously, there’s been a lot of wonderful episodes, moments and performances even if the serialized sum of Discovery and Picard have been less than their parts. I know I find that deflating at times. However, if we aren’t open to pointing out the great stuff along with the cringy, we aren’t really contributing to improvement. Kurtzman says that SH management reads everything and looks for views that are held bt more than one commentor. So if we want better Trek, we need to engage not just say we want him gone.
And as Tiger2 keeps pointing out, did we ever think that this much Trek would be in production again at one time after the demise of Enterprise?
Last thought, my spouse and I rewatched part 2 of the Picard season one finale this past weekend: it really stands up on its own. My spouse’s reaction was: “That was really great!” Any of my “but…” comments were waved away with a firm comment that in a serial we can’t expect everything to wrap up at the end of the season.
Yup, there have been some good and interesting elements in the new shows. Ultimately, I feel they were drowned out by some horrific storytelling and writing blunders. Ironically enough, they need to take one of these shows and do less risk-taking, less wondering how they can put a different spin or take or view on it and just concentrate on making something solid and consistent instead. That will require a discipline I don’t think this set of writers and showrunners have though. As for how much Trek is currently in production, truthfully I’d rather have one good show than a bunch of mediocre ones. I suspect most people here would settle for that too. Get that right, then concentrate on spin-offs.
“As for how much Trek is currently in production, truthfully I’d rather have one good show than a bunch of mediocre ones. I suspect most people here would settle for that too. Get that right, then concentrate on spin-offs.” My thoughts exactly.
I honestly can come up with ONE engaging episode in three seasons of STD and PIC. ONE. So to be fair, Lethe was a good episode. Not brilliant. But good. Yet that show’s writer bailed SH. I’ve always claimed that AK’s ideas are not without merit. The concept of different types of Trek shows is a very good idea. As is the concept of the Short Treks. Kudos to that. The problem has been his ability to find the right talent to implement them. And he has WAY too much production overlap to make the shows unique. STD and PIC had very similar problems. Probably stemming from staffs of the two shows had a lot of people working on both. That right there has to stop if he really wants to have shows with a different feel about them.
BTW… I am envious that your spouse will even watch Trek with you. Mine has ZERO interest. As does our son. Such is life…
My SO only liked Lower Decks.
I’m fortunate, but it’s also true that my spouse and I first connected with a long conversation about scientific fiction (books, television and movies) as a safe harbour at a truly awful social event that we’d coincidentally both been guilted into attending.
I definitely have my mum-in-law (a long-time fan) to thank for my spouse’s interest. That’s why I think about her, and how she read sci-fi and watched Star Trek and other series faithfully for decades with few role models, whenever we get into the representation discussion.
As much as many of us feel like we’re old fans, it was folks who are now in their 70s, 80s and 90s who watched TOS in first-run and included their kids who established the audience.
Hack Trek – The Wrecked Generation.
That’s called the Orville.
ORVILLE is at least watchable, and sometimes even rewatchable. That more than I can say for any new hour of TREK from this whole CENTURY thus far, outside of the best parts of BEYOND in ’16.
Spot on, kmart.
I can’t believe anyone actually believes anything Kurtzman has to say about adhering to the Roddenberry vision of Star Trek. His main priority is establishing his brand of messaging as opposed to telling good character driven science fiction stories within the Star Trek idiom.
Kurtzman spouted the same ideas of hopefulness and optimism when asked about the second season of STD and the first season of STP, being more optimistic, more hopeful. We got consistent plot and character inconsistencies, convoluted plot mechanisms, murder, body dismemberment and at best a skin surface representation of Star Trek. There is a picture of the characters from the Picard show on the bridge of the hero ship of the show and half of the characters are outright murderers and the other half are apathetic or at least complicit to it. How in any way is this Star Trek. This is just one example of many, but these Kurtzman shows are antithetical to every and anything Star Trek has ever represented.
This guy and the people under him do not know the fundamentals at the core of Star Trek and do not care to know them. Their priority is milking the Star Trek cow for as long as they can. The poison pill contract Secret Hideout negotiated with Les Moonves as he was being escorted out of the building is a license for Kurtzman to keep throwing mediocre efforts up against the wall and seeing what sticks.
Huh, I would have thought expanding Trek shows was about squeezing the sponge for every last drop.
Glad to see Section 31 is still in “development hell”. Not looking forward to more Dark Trek.
Odd timing — I found the TREK 3 script — wonder how it is. Will read it tonight.
Nice to see you’re still dropping by Bob.
Nice to be seen;)
Be nice to see that old Trek 3 script see the light of day as well. Preferably on a screen but there’s still plenty of other mediums to present a story…
Could it be done to potentially link the Kelvin universe to the Pike show – providing a way for the excellent Pike ship/sets to be used with the excellent Kelvin cast? Maybe even as a miniseries or a stand alone multiverse series? Or spin off into a stand alone Kelvinverse CGI animated series like your excellent Transformers Prime?
Was it the early script? As I recall, the earliest scripts were mostly the same story, with slightly better “Wrath-of-Khan-esque” dialogue (wonder what happened there?) Romulans instead of Klingons, and a love scene between Saavik and Kirk. (Ugh.)
I think he is talking about his unmade III, not TSFS
Curiosity got the better of you, I see. If you’re perusing this thread watching folks pile on your former associate, remember that some things left in the past should perhaps belong there.
wise words. I’ll just delete it.
Not here to watch anyone pile up on Alex — wanted to read what he had to say. I’ve taken a lot worse then he’s getting.
That you have, sir. I understand there will be hits and misses in creative endeavors , as a consumer I’m just appreciative of the fact that someone is trying.
Bob, don’t delete what you have in the virtual “trunk” please.
But Phil has a point. I’m not sure what set off the pile-on in this particular thread, but there it is.
Just hope that there will be a better time to share soon. I’m curious and I know there are others.
I really enjoyed your work on “Fringe”. It was quite entertaining and intelligent. My iTunes season subscription was a welcome presence during a difficult few years in my life. Thanks.
Fringe was awesome.
I hope you can share it one day like how MCG shared his Star Trek Uncharted concept.
Would be great if they’d resolve The Sisko storyline that was left hanging at the end of DS9. :)
Hard to do without Avery Brooks. Would love it if he came back to Star Trek, but he has gone on the record as being done with that universe. Benny Russell is dead. :(
Easy fix with Sisko. Keep him in spirit form a la David Bowie in TWIN PEAKS THE RETURN, then hire a guy to imitate his voice or synthesize the dialog from existing sound recordings of Brooks.
Read the banner, and assumed people would be piling on. I see I’m not wrong on that assumption. Personally, I have no issue exploring other corners of the Trek universe, either light or dark. In a creative endeavor, there will be hits and misses, but if nothing is attempted, then nothing is gained or explored. The folks at CBS like the job he’s doing, it is recognizable as Trek, but if you’re butthurt that primary colors, plywood sets, and GR’s unique brand of sexism isn’t on full display, well, TOS is being streamed somewhere….
“In a creative endeavor, there will be hits and misses, but if nothing is attempted, then nothing is gained or explored.”
Totally agree with this point Phil.
If only they’d do some actual EXPLORING of different corners of the universe already, outside the animated comedy! Does anyone remember the times when we used to be explorers?
TNG was explore this system where everyone else already surveyed or visited 80% of the time.
DS9 had stuff come to them most of the time.
VOY was going home exploring because you couldn’t really avoid it but somehow avoided the more interesting stuff.
ENT explored the Vulcan database most of the time but at least it was new to them.
…so no, not since the time of Star Trek.
Even half the episodes of TOS was just going to developed Federation colonies or planets other starfleet ships had been to eons ago (and usually had the plot to undo whatever they did). So in reality that show wasn’t really about real exploration either, it just talked more about it than anything.
I would say out of the 80 episodes, maybe 20 of them had anything to do with actually finding strange new worlds. That was always the irony of TOS and TNG, they had the moniker where no one has gone before but they actually went to the least new places out of all the shows….until DIS and PIC. ;)
Voyager is the show that did the most exploration for obvious reasons and why I love it so much even if ironically DS9 is my favorite.
Dreadful little…I won’t use the word I’d like to, but I’m definitely thinking it along with many others.
I hope that Strange New Worlds actualy gets created and delivers what has been explained by Kurtzman. IMO it sounds like the fix thats needed. STD, STP and lower decks to date isnt for me.
What makes you think he is telling the truth this time? He made nearly the identical statement when describing the direction they were going to take with STD season two and STP season one.
I always wanted to see a Star Trek show devoted to either the Klingons or Vulcans. I’d love to see a Star Trek: Vulcan show with the main character of Surak. It’d be about how Surak led his people away from barbarism to a way of logic, the formation of the Romulans and how they left Vulcan, and a deep mirror to our own Earth problems.
The Klingon show would be similar with the main character of Kahless, but perhaps also tie in to how Klingons first got warp travel and first explored space.
Other Star Trek shows I wanted to see:
-a comedy based on Harry Mudd and Cyrano Jones. They would go swindling and conning people all the time. Maybe they could time travel and meet the Ferengi.
-An animated Star Trek involving multiverse concept to combine characters from all the shows/movies. It would be a straight action/adventure
-A short 5 or 6 episode mini series about the NX-01 crew. Wrap up their stories better than that show’s last episode. (and not have Tripp die)
-Another space station show. We’ve had many starship shows but only one space station show. I’d like to see another. But no wormholes this time.
Sure, expand the universe. Make things I might not like.
But don’t screw over the core of Trek with shows that are utter crap like Disco and Picard compared to everything that has come before.
Get the golden formula show running, then experiment with fringe shows after. Not the other way around like you’ve been doing.
He confessed he is using Star trek merely as a platform for his stupid political agenda.
kurtzman is a tireless liar. He started by saying that the second season of Pisscovery would have a more optimistic tone. Then he said that the Section 31 series would be in production. Then he said that the Picard series would have a more optimistic tone. There are people who still believe in liars like this incipient producer who is unable to create something new. It acts like a parasite that uses consolidated brands to merely make money. But there are people who accept anything that uses the Star Trek label, which is a pitty because we are loosing time with such bad written series as these insipient productions. Kurtzman´s trek is depressing, has no thoughtful plots, it´s an empty shell surronded by eater eggs and some Star Trek symbols, that´s all. Those people who is enjoying his work, I won´t critisize them, it´s their opinion and I respect. But this doesn´t mean that I should keep silent regarding current Star Trek direction. That´s the meaning of diversity. I don´t hate anyone, I just want a quality product.
I’m looking forward to Strange New Worlds and Discovery Season 3. I want them to restore optimism to science fiction. So sick of Dystopian sci fi. It was fresh when New Galactica did it. Its old now and worn out its welcome.
Please, just bring ENTERPRISE back and conclude the story.