Discovery. The word itself can tantalize the imagination of learning something new. The word can terrify the soul with the revelation of what is better left unknown. This past weekend at San Diego Comic Con, we the public discovered that this powerful word will also be the title for the upcoming CBS television series, Star Trek:Discovery.
To address the large elephant in the room, CBS is taking a huge risk by launching the pilot episode on network television, but then switching the remainder of the season to their own streaming service, All Access. It is a gamble, relying on the strength of the fan base in order to secure subscribers to another streaming site that just adds to the saturated landscape of the Netflix, Hulu, and Amazons of the new frontier. Will viewers pony up yet another monthly fee to watch the 7th television series in the franchise? Only time will tell.
Getting back to the topic at hand: it has been more than a decade since Trek has graced the small screen, with Star Trek: Enterprise having been cancelled in 2005. I would argue that the franchise needed a break, after what was to me the weakest link in the Trek chain. Three motion pictures have been released since, including this month’s Star Trek Beyond to both critical and box office success, and with 2016 being the golden anniversary of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future, the time was right to introduce a new generation to the adventures of a Federation-led crew.
As I have previously written on Star Trek is the very definition of discovery, on many levels. Discovery of new worlds and new civilizations is of course the mission, but the discovery of the human condition is essential. Love it or hate it, no one can deny that the strength of the franchise is in its characters. Space, adventure, and exploration are the backdrops for learning what makes these people unique. Kirk is brash, egotistical, and at times reckless, but there is nothing he wouldn’t do for his ship or his crew because they are more than comrades, they are his family. Picard is stoic, diplomatic, and an unshakable leader in times of crisis. He may seem cold to the casual observer, but he too will stop at nothing to defend the rights and honor of his Enterprise family. The differences that threaten to tear our world apart are celebrated within the scope of the shows timeline. This is discovery, a new perspective that tells us that we are far stronger together as a whole than we are apart.
For me, the most intriguing aspect of the new show is that the entire season will be one story , which sets this program apart from any other Trek show. Steering away from the mission of the week format will simply enhance the character development of the new Captain and crew, adding a vested interest in the audience that could help jump the hurdle of the pay for streaming issue. Once again, Trek is exploring for itself new avenues in the pop culture landscape, which is essential when a franchise reaches half a century of the same formula.
In the coming months, the cast, plot, and production notes will be revealed. In the meantime, it is time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek on Thursday, September 8, 1966. It was a little story about a shape shifting salt vampire (The Man Trap) that captured the hearts and minds of my parents’ generation, and inspired their children and grandchildren to also discover the future.