I think we’re all excited to hear that a new ‘Star Trek‘ series is happening in 2017, and I would like join in the jubilation. I almost want to put my leg up on a chair, adjust my shirt, drink some earl grey tea, and declare today a National Day of celebration. “Make it so,” I’d say, and the parades would be endless.
But there is something that is dampening all my ‘Star Trek’ spirit, and that is the manner in which we have to obtain it. The new series is only going to be available via streaming on CBS All Access. And guess what? You have to pay for that.
My first thoughts on this was that it seems a little weird that a show that was famous for trying to embrace inclusivity would be behind a paywall (for US fans). And though this is my knee-jerk reaction, I find myself increasingly worried with every time I try to look at the other side of it. After all, I pay for all sorts of exclusive nerd content on Netflix (and to a lesser extent, Hulu). Why should paying to see ‘Star Trek’ bother me, when I have to do that for the old series anyway. Firstly, there is no precedent of ‘Daredevil‘ being a beloved network show, and frankly ‘Hemlock Grove‘ would never make it on television anyway. And secondly, I had my chance to watch ‘Star Trek’ for free, and I did. I also taped every episode, and watched them non-stop, even while watching the 9PM reruns, but that is neither here nor there.
The thing is, ‘Star Trek’ is special. It’s about a society without capitalism, that welcomes all people and eliminates poverty. It has been a shining beacon of progress (some of which is a bit problematic by today’s standards, but I digress), and I think that is a show that deserves to be on the airwaves for everyone to access.
If you’ve been paying attention this summer, there have been a lot of articles about CBS taking on Netflix. It’s very clear that it is trying to use this hugely popular show to move some of the Netflix user base over to CBS, which I find ironically capitalist for a show that espouses the eschewing of profit. I don’t think it will work. We already get a wide variety of shows on Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix from all the networks (including CBS). It seems a little silly to think that users would pay more for a platform that doesn’t get them a whole lot more… unless CBS plans to pull out from their contracts.
Besides, I just don’t think a whole lot of ‘Star Trek’ fans are chomping at the bit to watch all 12 interminable seasons of ‘Two and a Half Men’.
Sadly, that’s not even the crux of the problem for me. It’s more like a helpful bend to what I think will happen. ‘Star Trek’ fans are not the usual fanbase. While some of the die-hards will pay for it to support programming they love, I think a large portion will be more interested in illegally downloading it, or waiting for the DVDs to come, thus depriving us of more seasons of ‘Star Trek’.
Essentially, it comes down to this. I think it’s a bad idea to paywall on a show that has been historically accessible and well-loved. After all, there is an episode of ‘Star Trek’ rerunning on television somewhere in the world everyday. I also think fans will subvert CBS’ intentions, and accidentally get the showed cancelled altogether.
Perhaps I’m too doom and gloom. Maybe this will be the jumping off point for CBS to create a fourth, powerful streaming service… but right now, I don’t feel like the future is bright for ‘Star Trek’.