As posted on StarTrek.com, and many other places: "CBS Television Studios announced today it will launch a totally new Star Trek television series in January 2017. The new series will blast off with a special preview broadcast on the CBS Television Network. The premiere episode and all subsequent first-run episodes will then be available exclusively in the United States on CBS All Access, the Network's digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service."
This is a significant development. And probably a logical one. Star Trek has been away from television for a full 10-plus years now. And with the television landscape having changed so radically in the past decade — and especially the past five years — it's interesting to see CBS make this move in this particular way. As far as I can tell, this would be the first for a major broadcast player: Using a flagship franchise property to drive people toward a digital subscription service — clearly their second tier at this point, but possibly an acknowledgement that this is the way of the future — rather than putting it on the airwaves that are their primary distribution vehicle. It is the Netflix/Amazon/Hulu model, plain and simple, to be performed by a traditional TV player.
So Trek is going to be a trailblazer again.
I've never used the CBS All Access service since it was launched last year, so I can't make any sort of useful comment on that platform. To me, among the admittedly very few streaming services I use, Netflix is still the gold standard because of its ease of use, widespread integration with other platforms (for example, Google Chromecast and most smart TVs and Blu-ray players), and its high streaming quality that is good, but still not as good as a cable broadcast. I am still a cable subscriber first and foremost. I know that probably makes me a quaint relic, and I hate forking over all that money to Comcast every month — but in my experience, the quality of the product is still superior and you get the most content for your money. If new Star Trek is going exclusively to a digital streaming platform, I hope that CBS All Access is a top-tier service that can be viewed on a large HDTV without feeling like a second-rate bitstream. I still do not watch television on a phone or tablet. Like I said, I realize I am a dinosaur and a quality snob.
I won't get into the speculation of the showrunners and so forth and what all that means. Alex Kurtzman has the distinction of having co-written and co-produced both the J.J. Abrams Trek films, which I'm sure will prejudice a lot of people from the start. I will say that won't factor into my opinion. What will factor into my opinion is what I start seeing on the screen in 2017. And I must also say that in this stage of the game, I have very little in terms of a preconceived notion of what a Star Trek series in 2017 should be. I really think it's wide open at this point. Hopefully they can come up with something that is new and also familiar and builds on at least some previous lore, whether it's the original universe's or the rebooted one.
So, then. Will I be reviewing the new Star Trek? Who knows? 2017 is quite a ways off. Maybe by then I will have figured out the work/life/hobby balance. Then again, maybe not. It is far too soon to say. I'll get back to you on that. Besides, I still have to finish that Into Darkness review, which is two-and-a-half years late. It's coming someday; I swear.
Discuss your thoughts on Trek 2017 in the comments.
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