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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Netflix streaming is great. Especially for Star Trek. As of this writing, the service has every episode from all six series and seven of the 12 movies to watch at any time as many times you want. It is wonderful for a Trekkie (and extremely useful when writing this column). There was a rumor earlier this week that Netflix was considering producing a new Star Trek television series. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, it is probably not going to happen. At least anytime soon.
I am pretty sure that this rumor has been shot down by now. The Star Trek franchise already has enough confusing legal wrangling. Paramount has the rights to make new movies while CBS and Viacom co-own the rights to create new television shows. Adding Netflix in there would be another headache as, according to the first link above, CBS and Viacom have been known to not playing nice with each other when it comes to shared projects. While CBS has a friendly relationship with Netflix, Viacom has a relationship with Hulu. Even if Netflix might want to do a Star Trek series, there are other factors at play preventing that form really happening.
Plus, original Netflix series are still a very new thing. While there has been some initial success with House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, it still is to be seen if this is just a flash in the pan or if this type of programming will have legs. I think more of a solid answer can be made within another year or two (perhaps the success or failure of the in-production Marvel series will be the determining factor).
But, let’s pretend for a second that Netflix will be doing a Star Trek series. What kind of series could they do for it to be successful? Sure, the current movies are popular, but how will they translate that popularity to the small screen? After thinking about it, I have come up with four possible scenarios. Please note: this is pure speculation. I cannot stress this enough!
1) A Star Trek series that features the cast of the current movies going on adventures. The probability of this is likely low. Even though the reputation of television have favorably grown within the last ten years or so, given that all of the actors involved are in demand and will likely not have time to do episodic television.
2) A Star Trek animated series. This could feature the same characters as in the movies going on adventures (but not necessarily the same actors doing voice over work). I’m honestly surprised that this hasn’t happen yet. Many superhero franchises do this between movies in order to keep interest with kids between movie installments. With Star Trek considered “cool” now, this could be a slam dunk. Then again, why use Netflix to deliver an animated series?
3) A Star Trek series that features a new cast of characters on a new ship. Would likely take place in the current JJ Abrams universe. This would likely be one of the stronger options, but would people care about a new crew? One of the problems with the Rick Berman era of Star Trek was that each series, regardless of quality, drifted further and further away from the more iconic elements of Star Trek. The “pop-culture name recognition” wasn’t there so much which led Paramount to do a rebooted Kirk and Spock movie series. Then again, people probably thought the same thing when The Next Generation premiered in 1987 and that was a runaway success. I guess it could be a rebooted The Next Generation. Speaking of which…
4) A Star Trek mini-series that serves as a reunion for The Next Generation crew. I’d say the possibility for that is a 50/50. On one hand, the JJ Abrams reboot series is going strong. Why go back to the past in a previous continuity to make things confusing for the casual viewer with characters that haven’t been seen since 2002? The theory being : go forward, not backwards. On the other hand, The Next Generation was pretty popular in its day. While not at the level of Kirk and Spock, Picard and Data are pretty strong pop-culture icons in their own right. Viewers might want to revisit these characters, and the actors seem pretty positive of their time with Star Trek. I would not be surprised if they were willing to sign-up for a reunion. Plus, it would be on Netflix instead of network TV, with the rest of The Next Generation a click away for new viewers to check out. The idea of confusing evaporates immediately. Things like Arrested Development or Star Wars: The Clone Wars suggest this can be successful.
These are just my ideas. If (and that’s a big if) Netflix does create a new Star Trek television show, what would you want to see? Sound off below!