Thursday, 21 June 2018

Changes for S2; Kurtzman's Five Year Mission

A busy week in the world of Star Trek thanks wholly to the continuing adventures of Alex Kurtzman.

Already a major Star Trek writer after involvement with the stories for both the 2009 film and the Into Darkness sequel, Kurtzman has now taken full control of the show with a particular focus on the writers' room following the unceremonious removal of producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts.

When we say unceremonious, it appears - from news reports - that tensions mounted in the writers' room with Harberts getting increasingly verbal and confrontational leading to potentially serious Human Resources involvement. Lovely stuff.

Not just that but costs for the sophomore season of the CBS All Access show have allegedly spiralled uncontrollably. The series is now drawing to a hiatus in production after episode five with suggestions that there will need to be some harsh recouping of costs in the remainder of the season - watch out for a lot of bottle shows at the back end of the year in that case and tons of reused sets.

I'm not going to dwell too much on the ins and outs of the Berg/Harberts withdrawal from Discovery but it does mean that Kurtzman is now in full day to day control of the TV franchise and his hold on Star Trek is only tightened furthermore with the news that he has signed a five year deal with CBS.

This five year deal places Kurtzman in a position to create new live actions shows, mini series, online content and even - could it really happen - a new animated series all under the Star Trek banner. Perhaps there's a certain satisfaction with this news if you're not so inclined towards Star Wars since it appears all their spin-off plans have now been ditched to focus on Episode IX and a new trilogy thereafter. Things are not looking so great within the House of Mouse but quite the opposite seems to be true over in TV-land and CBS.

The last time we saw any kind of huge outlay was the mid-90's around the time of Deep Space Nine, Voyager and First Contact but this looks like a much bigger slice of the franchise pie than Rick Berman ever experienced and given the money and universe building that was put into Discovery this could truly be a second dawning, a second Golden Age of the franchise that we are months away from seeing first glimpses of.

Already speculation abounds that one of the new projects could focus on Picard. Now my opinion on this is that it would have to provide something of a satisfactory end to The Next Generation. Both Voyager and Deep Space Nine tied up their loose ends but Nemesis left threads trailing - B4, Riker and the Titan... just for example. A Picard mini-series would be ideal to round off those elements and maybe even lead into a Titan series although I suspect Jonathan Frakes is much more entwined with his directorial career rather than acting as Riker once more.  Saying that does it have to be a Patrick Stewart-led Picard venture? There's all those years on the Stargazer to explore for one and a younger actor could take on the role just as Chris Pine has done with Kirk in the Kelvin Timeline.

The fans might not like that to begin with but it could be a grower. Might Kurtzman dare to step into the years beyond Voyager and Nemesis and tackle the 25th Century? How much of the expanded universe would survive such a step and what would be cast aside? 

I do believe that Trekkies are clamouring to see their favourite characters back on the screen after nearly 20 years of onscreen drought but realistically will Kurtzman decide to divert into universe and mythology building of his own design rather than go back to Roddenberry's core? It has to remain true to its core beliefs but there are so many options to branch out into that even placing a show on a space station for seven years will have failed to explore. This is a new age for Star Trek and it's not the same world that The Next Generation entered in 1987. The way in which we consume media changes almost daily it seems and consumers will demand that its different enough from Discovery but his work will have to - I honestly think - contain the same aesthetic to make it relatable and accessible to the audience that are watching it today. 

We have to remember it's been a while since a lot of our favourite characters from that era of the Star Trek franchise "Golden Age" have taken to the stars. Kurtzman can easily build a new empire but it needs to (said this before) honour the beliefs and values of Gene Roddenberry and the reasons he created Star Trek in the first place. It must remain true to its origins while also coming up to date in the same way that Discovery has succeeded.

Ironically it's the animated series rumour that gets me excited the most especially as we got the news that there's going to be an Animated Series crossover with Transformers in the IDW comic range This does open the option of continuing the adventures of Sisko, Janeway, Archer and the rest because of the format. All the actors could return to voice their roles and stay, I'm sure they'll be happy with this, forever animatedly young.

But...we all know what happened to that Golden Age in the 90's when we were eventually over-saturated with films, Voyager then Enterprise which spelt the end until 2009 and until just last year back on TV. There was too much just as Star Wars might be finding at the moment. With five projects in the offing plus the Meyer series (or is this included in the five?) a Tarantino movie and the Kelvin timeline potentially back for a fourth outing this could be even more of an overload but if the demand is there then why not!

Star Trek was made for the TV medium but five projects does sound heavy. Maybe one or two might be full-length series designed to run one after the other with the other two being six or eight-part one offs focusing on a certain aspect of the universe maybe away from the Federation. A six part Romulan story? One involving the Augments? Kurtzman's leadership could see us traverse a lot more corners of the Milky Way than ever before. Already our lead character is no longer the captain (in fact they killed the captain off!) so there are now no rules as to what has to happen.

Personally its a huge win for CBS and shows their faith in Star Trek as a major marketableStar Trek is different and perhaps some of these new projects will even be on specific platforms, download only, subscriber exclusives and other new ways of watching and enjoying the franchise.
brand once again. Retiring it for a while hasn't done any damage but instead has allowed a new type of fan to join the party.

It's an exciting time for Star Trek and Kurtzman and you can bet that whatever comes out will spark a ton and a half of debate however it all turns out.

What do you think might come from the new House of Kurtzman Star Trek era?

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