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Is CBS Trying To Make Star Trek 'Cool'?

Network should excite fans, embrace what made the franchise great

To boldly go where no one has gone before …

At least, one would hope so.

Most of the world has heard the news: Star Trek, after a 10-year hiatus, is returning to television in the early months of 2017, or at least partly.

CBS Television Studios says it will launch a new Star Trek television series in January 2017. The new series will begin with the first episode being broadcast on CBS and all later episodes broadcast exclusively on CBS All Access, the network’s digital-subscription and live-streaming service.

So, basically CBS wants us to shell out $6 per month to watch the new Star Trek series after giving us a taster. How willing are we to add another streaming service to our already bourgeoning portfolio of pay-to-watch services?

But economics aside, one peek at CBS' choice for executive producer of the show is enough to set off any die-hard Trekkie: Alex Kurtzman. Depending on whom you ask, the trio of Kurtzman, Robert Orci and J.J. Abrams has long been considered the bane of the “old vanguard” of Trek.

Besides the two reboot films, Kurtzman has no experience writing for Star Trek television. What Kurtzman does have is “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Fringe.” All very different from the world of Star Trek.

Over the years, Trekkies began looking to Ronald D. Moore, a longtime Star Trek writer and creator of the fantastic “Battlestar Galactica” reboot, to bring Trek back to its roots. The call went out that, in order for Star Trek to move forward, it must go back.

The two recent Star Trek reboot films were many things, but they were not boring. Nor were they thoughtful, reflective or have anything to say that wasn’t accompanied by large explosions and lens flares. They didn’t feel like Star Trek, but more like a sci-fi action-comedy. There was a perception that Abrams’ reboot was an attempt to make Star Trek “cool.” But as one random YouTuber once observed: “Star Trek was never cool, that’s what made it so great!”

And by putting Kurtzman in charge, it seems that CBS is doing the same for Star Trek television: trying to make Star Trek “cool.”

The move to broadcast the show only on CBS All Access also seems like a thinly veiled attempt to promote its newly launched video streaming service; it is the first show made exclusively for All Access since its launch in late 2014.

The head honchos at CBS are clearly counting on brand loyalty to drive the All Access subscriptions, but if the goal is to generate excitement and drive ratings, then why not hire someone who has years of experience writing for Trek like Moore instead of the guy who co-wrote “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”?

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