Bryan Fuller wants to do one. Seth MacFarlane wants to do one. So why isn’t there a Star Trek television series on our screens right now?
The lack of weekly Star Trek on the small screen is, on the face of it, almost inexplicable. Not only does the franchise come from television and have a history of working in almost every television incarnation (We’ll ignore Enterprise for now, like most people did when it was being broadcast), but it’s currently under the watchful eye and ownership of JJ Abrams, a man who isn’t afraid to lend his name and talents to television shows, as Lost, Alias, Person of Interest, Alcatraz and even the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Undercovers ably demonstrates.
Plus, there’s no shortage of people who’d be willing to work on the show; Fuller, who cut his teeth working on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine way back when, has spoken multiple times about his desire to work on a new series, and just recently, the uber-successful McFarlane also admitted that he’d love to run a new television version.
Considering the potential for expansion a new Trek series would have – Remember when Deep Space Nine joined The Next Generation on the air, and there were two series running weekly simultaneously? Star Trek was Law & Order way back when – and the chance for networks to have a plug-and-play science fiction show with a guaranteed audience in these days where a new genre drama making it to three seasons can be seen as a big deal, a new Trek really seems like a no-brainer. So why isn’t it happening already?
There are three potential reasons:
#1: The Movie Guys Don’t Want To Weaken The Franchise
While a new Trek television series would be unlikely to feature the same cast as the movies – Unless Chris Pine, Simon Pegg and Zoe Saldana want to lower their asking price to television money anytime soon – it would probably exist in and around the movie continuity… but that could be problematic for the current people in charge of the franchise, who have taken two years to agree to a comic book continuation of that timeline from IDW, and canceled an announced novel series expanding the universe with all-new adventures. It makes sense from their point of view to keep Trek off the air: Why would people get excited about the idea of paying to see a new movie if they could see a version of the same idea on television every week for free? The scarcer new Trek is, the better for them.
#2: Who Has The Television Rights To Star Trek Anymore, Anyway?
The rights to the TV shows that already exist are owned by CBS, but the rights to the movies are owned by Paramount, even though Paramount made all of the shows all along. Confused? It gets stranger when you discover that CBS isn’t involved in the Trek movies at all, despite “owning” the franchise, and actually being known as CBS Paramount Television officially these days. So does Paramount own the rights to make new Star Trek television? Does CBS? And if it’s the latter, do they have the rights to base it on the movies, considering they don’t own those…? It’s possible that the reason that no-one has forced the issue of new Trek television is because no-one really wants to try and untangle the rights issues.
#3: Would New Trek Television Even Succeed Without Losing Its Trekness?
I’m not sure that what makes Star Trek the television show that it is would necessarily work on modern television without losing what made it so great to begin with. But… Well, let’s wait until tomorrow to explain this one.
Until then, use the comments: Would you want to see more Star Trek on television? And if so, who would you like to see run it? McFarlane, Fuller or someone entirely different?