Magazine article Variety

New 'Star Trek': Tough Choices

Magazine article Variety

New 'Star Trek': Tough Choices

Article excerpt

It's fantastic that CBS is rebooting the "Star Trek" franchise. But it needs to boldly go toward a different business model, while still embracing what made the franchise special in the first place. "Star Trek: Discovery" will debut in January on CBS All Access, which means you'll have to fork over $6 per month in order to see anything beyond the pilot (which will also be shown on the CBS mothership). And paying the monthly All Access fee doesn't mean subscribers will get an ad-free experience. At the recent Television Critics Assn. press tour, CBS Interactive president Marc DeBevoise explained that episodes of All Access originals - which also include "Big Brother" and a spinoff of "The Good Wife" - would carry an ad load of 12 minutes per episode.

Set phasers to stunned.

Of course, I'm well aware that networks are in the business of making money, and I'm fine with that. But broadcast television is not going to wean consumers from the habits they formed when they got hooked on Netflix, where you pay a monthly fee and see no ads.

I asked DeBevoise if All Access might offer an ad-free option before the premiere of "Star Trek: Discovery." "It's something we're likely to pursue in the nearto mid-term," he said. "I can't give you an exact time frame, but we're looking pretty hard at it." The ad-free option, which would cost more, could arrive "before January," he added.

Make it so. Please?

Now that I've invoked the words of JeanLuc Picard, it's worth digging into why "Trek" remains beloved, especially on the small screen, where it has arguably done its best storytelling.

As a Federation nerd from way back, I was thrilled to hear that Bryan Fuller would be the showrunner for the new "Trek" TV franchise, which he is co-creating with Alex Kurtzman. Fuller is best known as the executive producer of lavishly imaginative programs like "Hannibal,""Wonderfalls," and "Pushing Daisies," but his first TV credits were on scripts for "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek: Voyager. …

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