Thursday 25 February 2021

Paramount reveals more information on STAR TREK's future on TV

On 4 March, US streaming service CBS All Access will be rebranded as Paramount+, a move that the company hopes will attract a swathe of new subscribers. The streamer is weaponising nostalgia on a formidable scale, recently announcing plans to reboot shows such as Frasier and Rugrats in an attempt to attract new (or old) viewers.

CBS All Access itself has enjoyed surprising success, wracking up 20 million subscribers in its first three years on air (reportedly a target the streamer had not expected to reach until several years later). Although not troubling the likes of Netflix (who have more than 100 million more subscribers), it's an impressive performance for a service with a limited roster of shows only available in the United States. Much of this success has been credited to the Star Trek franchise: every legacy episode  of the original series and spin-offs is on the service, along with new shows Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks, and the forthcoming Prodigy and Strange New Worlds.

The Star Trek team, led by Alex Kurtzman, has also several more shows planned, with one announced: Section 31, to be headed by Michelle Yeoh. However, that series has been delayed several times, reportedly being gazumped in the production schedule by Strange New Worlds. In a new interview with Deadline, Kurtzman has confirmed that Section 31 is currently on hold pending one of the existing shows finishing. The feeling was that the fan hunger for Strange New Worlds was greater than for Section 31 (fan anticipation for which is, it has to be said almost non-existent).

In the same interview Kurtzman also confirms that they have decided that five is the sweet spot for Star Trek shows in simultaneous production, and will not bring in a new show until one of the current shows finishes. Discovery is currently shooting its fourth season, Picard and Lower Decks are both filming their second years and Strange New Worlds is just about to start shooting its debut season, whilst Prodigy is wrapping production on its first season ahead of an anticipated mid-2021 debut.

Intriguingly, Kurtzman also confirms that Picard has a relatively short shelf-life, determined by the availability and health of lead actor Patrick Stewart, who turns 81 this year. What that shelf-life is, is unclear, but it indicates that the plan might be to wrap that show after two or three seasons rather than it being an ongoing concern, as Discovery and Strange New Worlds are.

Kurtzman also indicates that will no MCU-style big crossover plans for the franchise, with the plan being to keep the shows separate for the time being.

The move may be part of a decision by Paramount - which re-merged with CBS last year after a decade of separate operations - not to put their eggs all in one basket. CBS All Access was seen as being too reliant on Star Trek fans, whilst the plan now seems to be to bring in other shows and franchises to help boost Paramount+'s success.

Star Trek: Prodigy, is the next show to debut on the streamer. A 3D-animated series aimed at a younger audience, the show will have the first-ever all-alien cast in Star Trek, and will see Kate Mulgrew reprise her role as Captain/Admiral Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager in a recurring role.

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