It took more than a decade after Enterprise went off the air to get Star Trek back on the small screen, but now that Discovery is a hit and a Picard series is on the way, CBS executives are gearing up for an even bigger streaming presence for the iconic sci-fi franchise.
Right now, we know we're getting a second season of Discovery, along with shorts that will build up to Season 2, and Trekkies are still riding high from the weekend's announcement that Patrick Stewart will return as Jean-Luc Picard for a new series built around that character. But what happens beyond that? The Star Trek universe is vast, after all. According to CBS TV Studios President David Stapf, CBS All Access President and Chief Operating Officer Marc DeBevoise, and Executive Vice President of Original Content Julie McNamara, quite a lot.
"My goal is that there should be a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access," Stapf said in an interview with Deadline following All Access' Television Critics Association presentation on Sunday in Beverly Hills. "We know it draws an audience, and Discovery has done quite well."
McNamara agreed, and noted that the just-announced Picard series is just one of numerous projects developing behind the scenes at CBS All Access.
"We’re looking at limited series for some Trek shows and we are looking at ongoing series for some other Trek shows," she said. "We’ve obviously announced the one that’s coming next with Sir Patrick Stewart but we have more in development there."
As for how these stories will be developed and whom they'll focus on, the CBS team isn't saying too much yet, but there is a sense of incubation happening in terms of seeing how audiences respond to certain characters as they're introduced or re-introduced through current shows like Discovery, and McNamara even noted that the upcoming Discovery shorts could ultimately be a kind of proving ground for future series stars, though that's not set in stone.
"We’ve really talked about virtually all of the characters who popped in Discovery as potential spin-off shows," McNamara said. "It’s obviously very much driven by our conversations with Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout and the other creators involved. I wouldn’t say at this point that we are actively pursuing a Michelle Yeoh series but it has been discussed."
Stapf and McNamara also responded to Rainn Wilson's portrayal of Harry Mudd as the kind of character who could be "interesting" as the star of a spin-off, but emphasized that discussions haven't progressed into actual development on a show like that. According to Stapf, it's less of a "grand design" approach and more about allowing the Trek writers to find interesting things to latch on to.
Right now, we have no idea what these other series could be, when they'll be set, whom they'll star, or when we might see them, but these remarks carry a starship-load of ambition with them. Just a few years ago the idea of returning Trek to the small screen felt unnecessarily precarious, and now thanks to the response to Discovery, it seems to be exploding. After just one season of that show, CBS has managed to get Stewart back on board to play Picard, so who knows where they could take the franchise next. It might be a little hard to imagine a world in which you can watch new Star Trek content every week of the year, but it's certainly easier to imagine than it was just a few months ago.
Star Trek: Discovery returns in 2019.