CBS plans to saturate the market with ‘Star Trek’ – here’s why they shouldn’t
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a lot to answer for, ladies and gentlemen. As well as inspiring just about every “franchise” movie to throw in an obligatory post-credits sequence, now every major “franchise” also needs to be part of some overblown extended universe.
There was the disastrous recent attempt at the Universal Monsterverse (which was thankfully trampled down with all the gusto of Tom Cruise jumping on one of Oprah’s couches) and then there’s the frankly baffling current mess of the DC Extended Universe (and its many Joker movies).
Now Star Trek looks eager to become the next big overblown extended franchise sure to oversaturate the market.
In an interview with Deadline, CBS TV Studios president David Stapf unveiled his goal “that there should be a Star Trek something on all the time on (CBS) All Access.”
Stapf was joined in the interview by CBS All Access’s Marc DeBevoise and executive vice president of original content Julie McNamara, who were all too happy to divulge their plans for Star Trek to become an all-consuming powerhouse of programming.
The news arrives hot on the heels of the exciting announcement that Patrick Stewart (X-Men) is reprising his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a standalone series. It also follows the announcement of Star Trek: Short Treks, the Discovery shorts that will air before the next season.
For most fans, this is surely enough. Discovery is already doing a fantastic job as the latest iteration of the Star Trek canon and is capably pushing the franchise forward in intriguing and enigmatic ways.
And we’re genuinely excited to see Captain Picard back on the bridge drinking his Earl Grey and making the sort of inspiring political speeches that we honestly need to be hearing during such fraught times.
But there’s definitely such a thing as overkill and CBS seems eager to achieve it, as McNamara explains that they have even bigger plans to expand the franchise.
“We’re looking at limited series for some Trek shows, and we are looking at ongoing series for some other Trek shows. We’ve obviously announced the one that’s coming next with Sir Patrick Stewart, but we have more in development there.”
While no further details are given as to what these shows could be, McNamara does suggest that nearly every Discovery character has been considered for his or her own show.
However, one idea that’s currently off the table is for another series based on a former Star Trek franchise – aside from the one featuring Picard said to be taking place 20 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis.
At least, for now that is. Stapf jokes to “never say never” about William Shatner (Haven) reprising his role as Captain James T. Kirk. Which honestly makes us want to do a solid Picard-esque facepalm at the prospect.
There are obviously a lot of options for what form these shows could take and we’ve no doubt some fresh, original, and even exciting ideas could potentially come of it. In such an infinite universe, there’s also infinite potential for great storytelling.
But it isn’t so much the ideas behind these shows that has us the most concerned about the whole thing. It all just sounds too much, too soon.
We’ve no doubt that there are fans who would likely jump at the opportunity to be able to watch all the Star Trek content the network plans to stuff CBS All Access with (like a bulging, soggy burrito) all day, every day as Stapf suggests.
But we’d also argue this audience is likely in the minority. For most of us, we just want to see some solid storytelling (like on Star Trek: Discovery) and the occasional flash of nostalgia (like with the upcoming standalone Picard series).
To add several more shows on top of these is to completely dilute the franchise. At some point, having such a cluster of similar shows could also lead to a severe reduction in quality.
You need only look to how unhappy some Star Wars fans have been with Disney’s recent over enthusiastic handling of the iconic franchise. Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t do too great at the box office and a lot of fans didn’t take too kindly to the film either.
When the film drew a disappointing box office, just about every entertainment publication possible dothed their professor tweeds, stroked their fair chins, and speculated it was due to “Star Wars fatigue”.
As CNN pointed out, “We’re experiencing Star Wars saturation. When the first movie came out in 1977, fans had to wait three years for each new film. Another 16 years went by until the prequels. It was yet another decade before the franchise was reawakened by The Force Awakens.”
But Solo arrived just five months after The Last Jedi. And as a result, something that was once such a special event was reduced to being ubiquitous and slapdash.
It’s something CBS would do right to pay attention to.
In a market already saturated by choice and where Star Trek fans are already being well catered for, it’s unnecessary to keep adding more additions. Especially when the production of more shows seems like little more than an exercise in cocky network grandstanding.
The truth is, CBS is boldly going where many men have gone before. And aside from Marvel, most of these missions into franchise expansion have ended with a harsh lesson about the need to correctly pace content and of less being more.
A note to CBS – don’t be hitting warp drive when you’re coasting along just fine at sublight speed. You might just end up in a place you (and Star Trek fans) don’t like.