Earlier this week, we shared the exclusive news about writer/director Nicholas Meyer’s pitch for a new Star Trek movie at Paramount Pictures. But his extended TrekMovie interview included an update on another Star Trek project he has been hoping to get going: the Ceti Alpha V television mini-series, which he believes is not dormant.
Ceti Alpha V may be too mini for Paramount+
Decades after acclaim for his work on Star Trek II, Star Trek IV, and Star Trek VI, in 2016 Nicholas Meyer was brought on as a consulting producer for the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, and in a 2017 TrekMovie.com interview he first revealed that he was also working on a separate Trek project. This turned out to be a 3-part mini-series titled Ceti Alpha V, which would tell the story of Khan Noonien Singh in exile before the events of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
In the last few years, Meyer has periodically spoken about the Ceti Alpha V project, confirming he completed a script for all three parts but the project had been put on hold. Meyer suggested one issue for the hold was related to the splitting of rights between the Trek films and TV shows, and would be resolved by the re-merger of Viacom and CBS, which was completed in late 2019.
Now in his new TrekMovie.com interview, Meyer can’t say for certain why the project hasn’t moved forward at the remerged ViacomCBS, but he believes in part it has to do with how streaming has changed things:
Well, I don’t consider it dormant because I think it’s it’s a terrific project. I think what happened, or up to a point what happened, was that the business model for streaming was changing really fast. And what was originally commissioned as a three-hour or three-night event, by the time I finished writing it, three hours was not enough. They wanted longer stuff. And somewhere between those two imperatives, the thing sort of fell between two stools. And I still don’t know why they’re not doing it, even if it’s to say, ‘give us ten episodes instead of three or whatever.’ I don’t know why.
It is certainly the case that executives from CBS as well as Alex Kurtzman, the executive producer in charge of the Star Trek Universe, used to talk about limited series being part of the mix of their streaming plans for Star Trek. In fact, when Star Trek: Picard was initially announced, it was reported to be a limited series (or a “10-part movie”).
Meyer revealed to TrekMovie that it was Alex Kurtzman who originally proposed the idea of the Khan miniseries:
The whole idea of it was Alex’s idea. He came to me and said, ‘What do you think about this?,’ and I was over the moon about it. I just thought it was such a great idea. And couldn’t wait to do it.
In the years following Meyer writing the Ceti Alpha V script, Kurtzman and CBS have moved away from talking about limited Trek series, and by late 2018 Kurtzman confirmed with TrekMovie they were planning for Star Trek: Picard to be an ongoing series. Even though CBS All Access did recently air a 9-part mini-series based on Stephen King’s The Stand, the plans for Star Trek as outlined last month by Kurtzman and Paramount+ executives focused on ongoing series.
Meyer’s Gilligan paradox
When asked by TrekMovie if he believes the Ceti Alpha V project could be expanded beyond his 3-episode plan and possibly turned into an ongoing series, Meyer was skeptical:
Well, that may be a defect of imagination on my part. I think if it went on and on and on about Khan and Ceti Alpha V it risks becoming a kind of Gilligan’s Island. Which I think is a wrong idea… It was commissioned as a three-hour thing and there were certain parameters that were put down, to which I adhered. And they’re all fungible.
The dilemma appears to be about finding a way to spread costs and maximize revenue by extending beyond just three episodes, while still making the story work without repeating itself. A longer series would also have to fit with Star Trek canon, which established the genetically enhanced crew of the Botany Bay remained in exile and the Federation was unaware of the explosion of Ceti Alpha VI.
Of course, there could also be other reasons why Kurtzman and Paramount+ have chosen not to move forward—at least not yet—with this project. While Meyer still feels strongly that the Ceti Alpha V project is a good idea, he confirmed that he still has not heard anything about the status of it.
Listen to excerpts from the interview
This week, the All Access Star Trek podcast discussed featured clips from Meyer’s interview. Listen to the episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.
More to come from Meyer
There is much more to come from TrekMovie’s chat with Nick Meyer, including a discussion about the new audiobook release of his memoir The View from the Bridge, his reflections on his time with Star Trek, and more.
Find more news and analysis on upcoming Star Trek feature films.