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J.J. Abrams Says CBS Isn’t Interested In A New Star Trek TV Series

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HHWhether you like J.J. Abrams’ take on the Star Trek universe or not, there’s no question that his two films have put Trek back in the pop culture conversation in a major way. Abrams stepped away from the upcoming Star Trek 3 to helm Episode VII, the first film in a major new Star Wars push in the aftermath of Disney’s purchase of George Lucas’ iconic franchise. There’s a new trilogy, new spin-off movies, and even new TV series. That’s the same approach Disney and Marvel have used to great success, building a cohesive movie universe that’s also expanding into the TV landscape. But what about Paramount and CBS’ space franchise? Given that Star Trek started on TV and has continued through four spin-offs, you’d think the big-screen success would have led to a new series on the small screen. But when asked about the subject J.J. Abrams’ response about why it hasn’t happened is sort of stunning: he says CBS isn’t interested.

The folks at Entertainment Weekly were grilling Abrams about his latest hit, Fox’s excellent Almost Human, when the subject turned toward Marvel’s hit-or-miss Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Given that both Marvel and DC are trying to conquer the TV landscape with multiple projects in development, EW asked the same question fans have been asking for ages now: when the hell are we getting a new TV series? Abrams said:

I have been hearing for as long as I can remember that CBS, who has the rights to the series, has just been saying they’re not interested. That’s the word I’ve been told. [A CBS Studios rep replied: "We love the Star Trek franchise, its fan base and the many possibilities for its future when the time is right.’]

If that’s true, it’s a shocker for sure. Everybody’s all about expanding the brand these days. Even the Universal classic monsters have a cinematic movie universe in the works. So why in the world would getting a new Trek series on the air not be a high priority?

For one thing, it’s another way to get more eyeballs on the Trek brand, and that’s doubly important since the new movies have attracted some moviegoers who hadn’t previously been fans of the franchise. But perhaps even more importantly, it could serve as an olive branch to long-time fans who don’t like Abrams’ movies. The new timeline is obviously here to stay for a while at least, but the problems with the films largely came down to writing issues, rather than there being anything fundamentally broken with its version of the Trek universe. Even if it was set in the new timeline, a new TV series, under the right leadership, could return to doing what televised Trek has, at its best, done really well: telling smart, human stories that explore themes and questions more complicated than the films’ focus on action and popcorn entertainment.

Of course, Hollywood in general and Abrams projects in specific are often shell games, full of mysteries, secrets, and misdirection designed to keep fans guessing and wondering what will come next. So could Abrams’ comments about CBS’ apparent disinterest in returning Trek to the small screen all be sleight-of-hand to disguise more concrete plans that might be in the works? Certainly. Unfortunately, I think it’s just as likely that Abrams‘ statements are accurate and CBS is sitting on its hands. After all, the last Trek TV series was the disappointing Enterprise, which ended decades’ worth of Trek having at least one series on the air.

It’s bound to be intimidating to put your job in the crosshairs by being the guy who takes the risk to put a new Trek series on the air. What if it’s a dud? ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has proven that a successful set of movies doesn’t necessarily guarantee a blockbuster hit TV spin-off.

It’s inevitable that Trek will return to the small screen at some point. For now, it remains a waiting game for fans.


Comments

  • John Southerland

    CBS saw that every series after TNG got slowly lower and lower in ratings till Enterprise hit rock bottom. The only reason voyager even got a last season was to get a solid 7 seasons out for the syndication market. Enterprise’s abysmal ratings were so bad even after a fan demanded fourth season. That they just couldn’t see justifying the cost of another season just to have enough episodes for the reruns market. That and it was the only thing holding the failed UPN channel together. And the new films by Abrahms are hated just as much as they are liked. Yes it has brought a fresh influx of fans but not as much as they pissed off. All of this spells utter failure for a new series right now.

    • Rob Jackson

      That’s more about Rick Berman than about the Star Trek concept. Rick Berman was just full of terrible ideas and despite Star Trek’s loyal fan-base he managed to deliver shows that were just so bad that nobody really wanted to watch them. He used the same casting formula over and over again. Hot chick in a catsuit who’s devoid of human emotion? Check. Plucky fish-out-of-water alien comic relief? Check. Handsome male supporting character with some kind of military-related PTSD that he keeps a secret? Check.

      Berman was a hack. Every time a new Star Trek franchise was announced I’d cross my fingers and hope that Rick Berman didn’t have anything to do with it, but they let him ride the franchise right into the ground.

      Of course, J.J. Abrams is a hack. His entire rise to fame was predicated on his ability to keep Tom Cruise from bankrupting Paramount after he’d fired David Fincher and Joe Carnahan in successive attempts to realize his “vision” for the third Mission: Impossible movie.

      • Stan

        Wow! Amazing how great minds think alike!

      • jdkolassa

        Agreed completely on Berman.

        Not entirely convinced with Abrams; while I never watched “Lost,” I am a huge fan of “Fringe” (aside from the dreadful last season, which I just stopped watching halfway through) and apparently he’s having some influence on “Almost Human,” which is a great show.

      • JDub1701

        I agree with you.

        It was guys like Ron D. Moore who made TNG the success that it was.

  • Tim Phillips

    I am hoping for a star treck / CSI type show that would debunk space sciences and practical applications to future technology that could spawn a great series (like that episode of DS9 where they located a sniper/transporter gun).

  • bj

    I think enterprise was an awesome show

    • heronymo

      The last season was definitely great, though I found most of the first three to be pretty hit and miss. Mostly miss for me. But I’d even consider getting Season 4 on Bluray. Loved The Augments storyline. And Terra Prime.

      • zirtoc

        I agree. After Earth got attacked and everybody had an interesting reason to be doing something on the show, it got a lot better. Last season started to really get my attention – it’s too bad they couldn’t keep it going.

  • bj

    I don’t care what anybody says man I think enterprise was better than ds9

    • tk

      How much I do like Enterprise. Its not better than DS9 in my view. The supporting cast in DS9 is better than the whole cast of Enterprise minus Jeffrey Combs.

  • Shayde

    They’re not interested in paying for it, and it wouldn’t hit CBS’ target demographic unless every week the Enterprise used their CSI skills to make an NCIS or whatever the fuck those shows are about.

  • Joshua Woodbury

    I would’ve thought the main reason for no tv show is the actors. I mean seriously, does anyone expect the original cast for the new timeline to do tv? Could Paramount even afford to pay them for how ever many seasons? Whats the alternative? Different casting? Different crew/ship? Of course there won’t be a star trek tv show.

    • Rob Jackson

      Bruce Greenwood would have been great as a starship captain in a TV series, but Abrams had to kill him off. There’s WAY more potential for money in television than movies now. The right concept properly executed won’t have trouble getting a green light. Another starship also allows the potential for guest appearances by the actors from the movie franchise, which is excellent for business.

  • fred

    I loved deep space nine voyager and enterprise a lot of people didn’t like them because they went a little outside the trek bible and I say I support their right to disagree but I hate it when someone says well I can speak for most people that’s just bs I would love to see a new trek series as for my take on generation I liked a few episodes but overall its not one of my favorite series but that’s just my thoughts. but I look forward to a new series there will be one defiantly its to popular to not have one

    • jdkolassa

      DS9 was the best Star Trek series. Period.

  • Greg Price

    JJ is both right and a little bit ‘sour grapes’ about the topic. CBS’ indifference is true. It killed the huge multi-media extravaganza JJ imagined for 09: film, books, web, and TV.

    That said, I wouldn’t want more JJ Trek than what we have. It’s real Trek’s noisier, flashier, stupider little brother.

  • Jim Starkweather

    Sometimes it’s hard to take your articles seriously. I think you should stop the ‘we are a cheerleader for everything Sci-Fi’ routine. It’s getting old.

  • Daniel Vance

    If you’re looking for some good old Trek, check out Phase II due out with new episodes around the New Year (2014). Also keep an eye out for Star Trek Renegades, which will feature both Sulu and Tuvok.

    • nevilleross

      Phase II is good, but I wouldn’t say that it’s better than the movies (or more popular.) Again, it seems to be that you don’t like it, not that nobody else does.

  • Earych

    Abrams crapped on the Star Trek mythos with his movies. Why not finish the job and make a show too?

    • nevilleross

      For said crapping, it sure made a lot of money. Isn’t more that you hate the film, instead of everybody hating it?

  • Josh

    So Enterprise was disappointing and Almost human is excellent? Wow. People who were disappointed abandoned ship early and missed the increasingly excellent third and fourth seasons. AH is halfway solid and halfway laughably awful. Hardly what I consider excellent. Fire all the women on the show and I may finish the season.

  • Reinhart

    Whatever Star Trek they put up on the TV screens, “Trekkies” would complain and bash it so hard it would be taken off air in two or three seasons. Just like Enterprise was.
    In short; Trekkies have what they want: False memories of how glorious TOS was, and no more Star Trek on TV.

    Please, make a new Star Trek TV series set after TNG. New Enterprise, new cast, new timeline. Keep the optimism, put marines on the ships (no more stupid “captain leaves the ship” episodes) and talk to leading scientists before making the ship and techs.
    The optimism is the most important part though.