The Future of 'Star Trek'

Star Trek The Next Generation Cast

Kurtzman signs a new deal, Picard rumors heat up, and Quinto speaks about the upcoming ‘Star Trek 4.’

For some time now, the future of Star Trek has been uncertain. But could a new wave of announcements give the franchise a much-needed push? Following the news that longtime Trek writer Alex Kurtzman is taking over as showrunner of Star Trek: Discovery, Variety reports that he has also now signed a new deal with CBS:

“Variety has learned that the studio behind ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ has signed Alex Kurtzman to a new five-year overall deal that will see him supervise the expansion of CBS’ ‘Star Trek’ franchise for television, developing new series, mini-series and other content opportunities, including animation.”

This opens up a lot of exciting possibilities for the franchise. After 12 years off the air, following the cancellation of Enterprise, Star Trek returned to the small screen last year. Despite the mixed reactions to Discovery, fans were pleased to see Trek back on TV. And with this announcement, we could be seeing multiple shows airing for the first time in almost 20 years.

A Little History

Many fans will remember the ’90s heyday of the franchise, which saw The Next GenerationDeep Space Nine, and Voyager all airing. And that’s not to mention the TNG crew’s transition to the big screen, starting with 1994’s Star Trek: Generations. But as the series entered the 2000s, things weren’t looking so bright. The 2002 movie Star Trek: Nemesis saw the Next Gen crew look old hat compared to the likes of the Spider-ManLord of the Rings, and Harry Potter franchises, which were newly popular at the time.

And with Voyager coming to an end, the creators looked backward for its follow-up. The resulting Enterprise may have gained more support as it went on, but the series’ favor wasn’t enough to save it from cancellation in 2005. It took J. J. Abrams’ invigorating 2009 reboot for the general public to gain interest in Star Trek again. But even then, the state of the franchise was far from what it was. It would still be another eight years until Discovery brought Trek back to the small screen.

Potential Projects

With Discovery in production on its second season and Kurtzman getting this new CBS deal, things could be looking up. While not confirmed, Variety’s sources claim that a number of new shows are already being considered.

The first is a Starfleet Academy series created by Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz. A premise that will likely be familiar to anyone interested in Trek‘s many undeveloped projects. the goings on of Starfleet Academy has been glimpsed through secondary characters like Wesley Crusher and Nog in the past, with the best look being in Abrams’ first Star Trek film. This idea has gone through a number of iterations, including early versions of both Star Trek: The Motion Picture and TNG.

Savage and Schwartz’s potential involvement also stands out here. The showrunners have already honed their skills in the teen superhero field with Marvel’s Runaways, making them ideal candidates to tackle a story about the Starfleet officers of tomorrow.

There is also a limited series with ties to the fan-favorite movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. At this time, it’s unclear what exactly the story would revolve around. Would it go back to Khan Noonien Singh’s origins in the Eugenics Wars? Or fill in the gaps between the TV episode “Space Seed” and Wrath of Khan?

Either way, this particular series does little to inspire. Not only was Wrath of Khan‘s story rehashed in Star Trek Into Darkness, but the film’s plot was borrowed from heavily in both Star Trek: First Contact and Nemesis. In addition to this, due to Ricardo Montalbán no longer being with us, this series would involve re-casting the beloved character again. A move that proved to be particularly unpopular with Into Darkness.

The only real upside here is that this could be the project that Nicholas Meyer previously hinted at. While the Wrath of Khan director’s project was thought to be on hold, this connection would make sense, given his history with the character.

The other two projects mentioned by Variety’s sources have no further information attached to them. However, it is worth noting that one of these is said to be an animated series. This would mark Trek‘s second foray into animation, after The Animated Series of the early ’70s. While that show was canceled after only two seasons, its following has grown since (with the show even getting a Transformers crossover in comic form). Given Star Wars‘ success with Rebels and The Clone Wars, it makes sense that Trek would want to get back in the animation game.

Kurtzman’s role in all this has raised some concerns. His record is a mixed bag at best, especially in terms of his Star Trek works. Plus his recent attempt to launch the ill-fated Dark Universe with The Mummy was, well… yeah. Fans have been left to wonder whether he’s really the best person to carry Trek into the future. Although Kurtzman has had more success on TV, with his recent role in Discovery‘s shake-up pointing to a producer who knows how to carry a show.

It may be a little early to compare all this to the ’90s slate of shows, though. Especially after Star Trek Beyond struggled to perform at the box office in a crowded 2016 summer. The threequel was well-received but saw a drop-off in numbers from the previous Kelvin movies. Trek has dipped in popularity before, though, and was able to return to form by appealing to new audiences. Both TNG and Wrath of Khan brought in new generations of fans, something which any of these projects may do.

The Return of Picard?

This recent announcement has also added fuel to the rumors of Patrick Stewart returning to the role of Captain Picard for the first time since 2002. It was previously speculated that he might have a role in Discovery, but one of these shows would appear more likely. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these rumors have no basis in anything official and are based entirely upon off-hand remarks made by Stewart. The actor has previously stated that it would take “a very good reason” to return, although he recently showed interest in Quentin Tarantino‘s mystery Trek movie.

The future of the Star Trek Movies

On top of the previous announcements, Zachary Quinto also spoke briefly about the future of the Kelvin timeline movies. In an interview with SiriusXM, Quinto was asked about the upcoming Star Trek 4 (not the one with the whales) and the Tarantino movie. While he didn’t drop anything new, he spoke about director S.J. Clarkson and when to expect news on the sequel:

“I think we are going to learn more in the next few weeks actually. There is a fourth movie that is being developed right now. They brought in a director who is actually a wonderful woman who I have worked with before named S.J. Clarkson into the mix to develop and helm that project. It’s now kind of in the business, logistical kind of phase.”

When asked about the Tarantino film, Quinto stated that:

“That would be the one after [Star Trek 4], which I think is also still in the works. He is doing his Charles Manson movie [‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’] this summer. So, we will do this one now and then that one down the line.”

While some have speculated that the wording implies his involvement, this again is nothing official. Little is known about Tarantino’s film at this time, other than screenwriter Mark L. Smith‘s involvement. Meanwhile, concerns have been expressed about the project’s potential R-rating and numerous Trek cast members have weighed in on the topic. However, the project remains shrouded in secrecy for now.

To Boldly Go

Despite some understandable concerns, the future of Star Trek gives us plenty to look forward to. While the series may not be the juggernaut it once was, there’s reason to hope. May we boldly go into this next chapter.

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