Can ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Help CBS Boldly Go Into a Streaming Future?

Jason Isaacs Sonequa Martin-Green and Michelle
Caitlin Cronenberg for Variety

The line stretches down Fifth Avenue in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

More than 100 people wait to tour the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts gallery, which has been converted for Comic-Con into an exhibition of costumes and props from CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery,” the forthcoming installment in the 51-year-old science-fiction franchise. At the front of the line is a man wearing a T-shirt with William Shatner’s face on it. The man is old enough to have watched live when Shatner — aka Capt. James T. Kirk — debuted as the lead on the original “Star Trek” series.

When the doors finally open, a surprise emerges: Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Cmdr. Michael Burnham on “Discovery” and is therefore the heir to a very rich and very nerdy cultural legacy.

Caitlin Cronenberg for Variety

“Oh, my God,” Shatner Shirt Guy says as Martin-Green extends her arms to him. Inside they take photos together. He looks smitten.

That embrace is one small but crucial mission accomplished for CBS, which with “Discovery” is bringing “Star Trek” back to television 12 years after the last spinoff, “Enterprise,” was canceled. That task alone would be high-pressure, given the large, persnickety fan base that is both blessing and curse for any “Trek” variant.

But CBS upped the stakes, forgoing the obvious route of putting the new series on its flagship broadcast network or premium channel Showtime, instead steering it to All Access with the goal of growing the streaming service’s nascent subscriber base. That goal has been obscured by headline-making production delays and the exit of a fan-favorite showrunner. But the premiere is now in sight.

“Discovery,” which is set to debut Sept. 24, is the first “Star Trek” to embrace wholly serialized storytelling and a vision of the future in which humans clash with each other, not just with what they find in outer space. It is also steeped in “Trek” lore and iconography and reintroduces multiple classic characters. The show pays homage to its predecessors while forging a vision for what a 21st-century series about the 23rd century should look like. CBS hopes that fans will embrace that vision — and, with credit cards in hand, help build a new business to carry the company forward.

Heading into Comic-Con, CBS’ short-term objective was to flip the “Discovery” narrative, which had become about delays and departures. It got a galaxy-class narrative flipper in the form of Martin-Green, who emerged as the star of a packed San Diego panel featuring cast and producers. Taking up the mantle of “Trek” heroes past, Martin-Green handily dismissed trolls who complained about an African-American woman leading a “Star Trek” series. She cited the franchise’s long record of inclusion and social progressivism. “If you say you love the legacy of ‘Star Trek’ but you don’t love that, then you’ve missed it,” she told the crowd.

Created by Gene Roddenberry, “Star Trek” premiered on NBC in 1966 and lasted only three seasons. But it became ubiquitous on syndicated TV in the ’70s and ’80s. Rooted in science fiction’s literary new wave, the original series broke social ground, presenting a multicultural view of humanity’s future — as well as TV’s first interracial kiss. Later manifestations would lean humanist-progressive (“The Next Generation”) or bang-bang-pow-pow (the recent feature films from J.J. Abrams).

An Alabama-born actor who trained and began her career onstage, Martin-Green is no stranger to vocal fan bases: Her first series-regular work came on AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” But she is new to the “Trek” universe. Since booking the role of Burnham, she has plowed into the original series and “Enterprise” — the two shows that, in terms of timeline, bookend “Discovery,” which is set during a war between the egalitarian United Federation of Planets and the noble-warrior Klingon Empire. She promises to get to the other shows soon.

Caitlin Cronenberg for Variety

Martin-Green has proved a quick study. Already she grabs hold of the central themes of “Star Trek” and hoists them up as important ideals — a mix of moral philosophy and fan service.

“Anyone doing a new iteration of ‘Star Trek,’ you have to understand how deep it is; you have to understand how important it is,” she tells Variety. “You have to understand how much of a pillar it is to our culture. I think you need that in order to really give it the weight it deserves, and I think that — I hope that more than anything — people get the sense of how serious we take this.”

Martin-Green is prepared for the life-changing effect the show will have, once it premieres, on her and her co-stars, who line up to praise her on-set leadership. (Jason Isaacs, who plays Capt. Gabriel Lorca, calls her “the mother of that set.” Adds Michelle Yeoh, who plays Capt. Philippa Georgiou: “She’s an absolute love angel.”)

“When I first got started, I had my freak-out phase,” Martin-Green says. “I had my almost catatonic moment where I thought, ‘What is happening?’ And I knew very quickly that I couldn’t live there and that I couldn’t create there. I owed it to the story and I owed it to the legacy to get it together. And I had to focus myself in gratitude. I had to focus myself on the passion for the vision for the story that we’re doing.”

Isaacs signed on because of the message the show sends in the Trump-Brexit era. “The world is complicated and horrible, and I don’t know how to explain to my children the insanity of the people who are in charge of it at the moment,” he says. “I thought it was a good story to tell — and something I would be happy to watch — about presenting a vision of the world that’s full of drama but also full of resolution and unity.”

Martin-Green first met with “Discovery” co-creator Bryan Fuller at New York Comic-Con last October. Fuller talked to her about Burnham, a human orphan raised on planet Vulcan alongside Spock — Leonard Nimoy’s alien first officer from the original series — and thus caught between two cultural identities. Knowing that her character would be killed off “The Walking Dead,” she shot a video audition. But her remaining “Walking Dead” responsibilities presented a conflict, and CBS continued to look elsewhere.

Three weeks after that Comic-Con meeting, CBS announced Fuller was leaving his post as showrunner.

“Anyone doing a new iteration of ‘Star Trek,’ you have to understand how deep it is. … You have to understand how much of a pillar it is to our culture.”
Sonequa Martin-Green

The official line is that Fuller departed via a mutual and amicable decision to focus on his other project, Starz’s “American Gods.” He is still listed as co-creator of “Discovery” alongside executive producer Alex Kurtzman, who speaks glowingly of him. He shares a story credit with Kurtzman on the premiere, as well as a screenplay credit with another exec producer, Akiva Goldsman. CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves calls him “brilliant.”

But sources close to Fuller and within CBS say that he was pushed out. Fuller is known as an innovative showrunner and the creator of critically adored television such as “Hannibal.” He is not known as someone who prioritizes deadlines and budgets above all else. In short: He is not a typical CBS showrunner. (Fuller declined to comment.)

Fuller brought another key asset to the table — street cred. He cut his teeth writing on “Star Trek” series “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager.” He is liked and respected in “Trek” fan communities — which CBS hopes to convert to All Access subscriber communities.

“It was really important that we get somebody with a lot of ‘Trek’ cred versus just getting somebody who would be an interesting voice,” says David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios. “We felt like it would be smart business to give the fans what they wanted. There’s not a whole lot of people who have the visionary capability along with the ‘Star Trek’ credibility and experience. So Bryan became a good and obvious choice to do that.”

But Fuller failed to deliver scripts months after they were due. In September, he and Kurtzman met with Moonves to deliver the news that “Discovery” would not make the January premiere he had been publicly touting. Moonves accepted the delay, though not happily. “It wasn’t his favorite news, but he totally understood,” Kurtzman says. A month later, Fuller was gone.

The scripts weren’t the only things running late. “Discovery” takes place on multiple starships in a future version of deep space. Creating its environments involves doing more than scouting an appropriate Irish castle. The level of detail on the sets is exacting — to the point that visitors so inclined could convince themselves at times that they were not on a set. That exactitude proved more time-consuming than anticipated.

“Discovery” shoots at Toronto’s Pinewood Studios on multiple soundstages, one of which is the largest in North America. It is possible to get lost in the tangle of corridors and rooms that make up the starships Discovery and Shenzhou. The set for a third, a Klingon starship, cost $3 million.

“Every element of production was challenging,” Kurtzman says. “For props, you can’t go to a store and buy pieces of something. You have to manufacture everything.”

CBS would push the show’s premiere date twice — first from January to May, then from May to September. Kurtzman and CBS representatives claim the second delay was due to restrictions in Martin-Green’s “Walking Dead” contract. But the first delay appears to have opened the door for Martin-Green to land the role. She auditioned in person in December, and by January she was shooting.

Caitlin Cronenberg for Variety

Like a big sci-fi feature, “Discovery” hasn’t been cheap: The average episode costs $8 million-$8.5 million. “It was like shooting a movie, the scale of it,” Yeoh says of making the pilot, which was directed by David Semel, who clashed with Fuller. “It wasn’t just ‘Quick, let’s get the shot. Move, move.’ ”

Only a handful of shows have ever had the kind of budget that “Discovery” has. And many, like “Discovery,” were dogged by reports of behind-the-scenes drama. Netflix sacrificed its more-successful-than-thou image to cancel “Marco Polo” and “The Get Down.” “Vinyl” contributed to the firing of HBO’s Michael Lombardo, one of the most successful programming execs of the last decade.

Others notably have recovered: “Westworld,” plagued by delay and controversy, became HBO’s most-watched freshman series ever. “Game of Thrones” famously had to scrap its pilot; it has gone on to win more Emmys than any other drama series. And “The Walking Dead” remains TV’s highest-rated show in the 18-49 demo even as a vicious court battle between AMC and former showrunner Frank Darabont spills into public.

For CBS, however, the question looming over “Discovery” is whether the decision to place one of the most expensive shows in TV history on a platform where it will be initially exposed to fewer than 2 million potential U.S. viewers is a good business move. Part one of the premiere will debut on CBS, with part two available to watch immediately after on All Access, where all subsequent episodes will debut weekly. There are no plans for future episodes to air on CBS broadcast or anywhere else on linear television.

CBS launched All Access in 2014 as a paid, ad-supported service that was, at first, mostly a storehouse for library material like “Cheers” and “I Love Lucy.” But it was always meant to be more.

“Going back to the very beginning, we knew that adding to the overall number of shows that people could watch with All Access was very interesting to us — that with the subscription model complementing the advertising model, we would have the business model to support making original shows to increase that library,” says CBS Interactive CEO Jim Lanzone.

“Discovery” was supposed to be All Access’ first original series. The production delays changed that. Instead the honor went to legal drama “The Good Fight,” which has been renewed for a second season. Last month, CBS announced All Access series orders for the Will Ferrell-produced comedy “No Activity” and two new dramas, “Strange Angel” and “$1.”

Moonves has set a goal of 4 million subscribers for All Access by 2020. Last month, he announced that All Access and Showtime’s direct-to-consumer product had, combined, reached that target. CBS would not specify the number of subscribers for each, but Showtime is believed to be the more popular.

“Every element of production was challenging. For props you can’t go to a store and buy pieces of something. You have to manufacture everything.”
Alex Kurtzman

Regardless, All Access — which offers a $6-a-month ad-supported subscription and a $10 ad-free option — is an important component of CBS’ digital future alongside Showtime, ad-supported news service CBSN and an in-the-works CBS Sports streaming product. It’s also important to Moonves’ legacy.

“We’ve been surprised by how well they’ve done,” TV business analyst Michael Nathanson says of All Access. “The idea is that there are all these superfans out there who don’t want to pay for [large cable packages]. If you’re able to identify people who are superfans or who are not part of the pay-TV ecosystem [but will] pay six bucks a month — it’s not going to be a meter-moving number today, but if they can grow their business to 4 million subs, it’s going to start being really meaningful in three or four years.”

In 2008, advertising accounted for 66% of all CBS Corp. revenue. In 2016, that number fell to 48%. Affiliate and subscription fees made up 22% of revenue for the company last year versus 9% in 2008.

Moonves has spent the last few years shifting CBS away from a dependency on dwindling TV ad dollars. Licensing content to Netflix and other streaming services has been one source of revenue, but those services are increasingly focused on their own original programming. With All Access, CBS reaps more per subscriber than what it gets in retransmission fees for its linear-television products.

“It was no surprise to us that Netflix would eventually take this route into a greater and greater percentage of original content, which is why it’s important for us to produce original content for All Access going forward,” Moonves says. “People say, ‘Is it a hedge against retrans debates that we may have with some of the MVPDs or virtual MVPDs?’ The answer is, ‘All of the above.’”

Moonves expects “Discovery” to be a big driver of subscribers , though he declines to name an exact figure.

“Look, this was a big call for us,” he says of placing “Discovery” on All Access. He notes that both the CBS network and Showtime wanted the series, as did Amazon and Netflix, which will stream it internationally. (With the Netflix deal, the number of new All Access subscriptions “Discovery” is expected to generate and other factors, CBS considers the series paid for.)

“Getting our content online, having it streamed, having it be an important part of our company going forward, we said all right, there is no better way to launch it to the upper level than to take ‘Star Trek,’ which is the family jewels, and put it there to attract millions of viewers,” Moonves says.

Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts are now the keepers of Moonves’ family jewels.

Fuller’s top lieutenants, CBS tapped the two to take over as day-to-day showrunners after their boss departed. They’d worked with Fuller on “Pushing Daisies” and “Wonderfalls” and had co-run two shows of their own, NBC’s “Mercy” (with Liz Heldens) and ABC’s “GCB,” each of which lasted one season. They were not “Star Trek” aficionados.

But Fuller sold them on “Discovery” when he recruited them as staff writers. “Gretchen and I knew that it would be a challenge,” says Harberts. “We knew that we would be so far out of our comfort zone. But he made us feel brave.”

Caitlin Cronenberg for Variety

Berg and Harberts, who were classmates at Northwestern, have been constants in each other’s lives for more than 20 years. They first wrote a “Friends” spec together, meeting every morning for three hours at the CBS Radford lot, where Berg worked as an assistant to a producer on “Caroline in the City.” Harberts would then head to Universal, where he was an assistant in the movie-of-the-week department. They landed their first staff jobs in 1998 on “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

They sought Fuller’s blessing before accepting the showrunner job. “The only reason we stayed was because we believed in Bryan’s vision,” Harberts says. “So many people had already been giving so much, and there was something about handing this over to someone who hadn’t been involved in any of it and having that person just wipe the slate completely clean.”

Berg continues: “Or get it wrong, because you know sometimes when you pitch something and somebody says, ‘I totally get that,’ and they run with it and you see it later and go, ‘But that’s not what we were talking about!’ — we didn’t want that to happen either.”

Kurtzman praises their leadership. “They are the showrunners,” he says, noting that they have “the tiebreaker vote” on all creative disagreements. “Every time they use it, I’m glad they did,” he says. “They have always made the best choice.”

Though no renewal is yet official, Berg and Harberts have a road map for season two and the beginnings of one for season three. They are Trekkers now.

“They’re my brother- and sister-in-arms,” Martin-Green says. “We have such a beautiful dynamic together, the three of us. And we just dig in together. We’re uncovering; we’re unearthing; we’re hoping to uplift.”

Given the show’s platform, it will be difficult to judge just how many people are being uplifted by “Discovery.” As is common with streaming services, no ratings will be forthcoming. CBS is unlikely to reveal detailed All Access subscriber numbers after the premiere. There will be no easy way to measure the success or failure of “Discovery” — save one.

“Our metric right now is Les Moonves saying, ‘I’ve watched the first six episodes, and I love them,’” Harberts says. “That’s the metric at the moment.”

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  1. George D. says:

    Majel, I am so disappointed at what Star Trek has now become……………………………………..

    • I am no happy with the fact the Star Trek Discovery will only be available through CBS’ All Access. I only want to watch one show..and I will not pay a monthly fee to do that. I already pay for Internet…enough is enough.

  2. John says:

    The only show on CBS All Access that is not on the FREE CBS channels is Star Trek Discovery… which as it turns out is going to be an utlra liberal political drama anyway… No thanks

  3. Marc says:

    I am a diehard Star Trek fan, but I’m not paying for another streaming service. CBS needs to air the darn thing of regular TV or forget about it. Heck the Orville is enough of a Star Trek knock off I’ll make do with that. Why are the people behind store Trek making it so complicated? They’re taking it too seriously and ruining it.

    • Bruce Hall says:

      Marc, let’s just say that CBS got “Orvilled”. CBS is trying a “go it alone” approach, but the cost and low viewer participation because of “All Access” will backfire.

  4. Trekkies… not Trekkers.

  5. Alan Reyes says:

    I noticed the anti -President Trump and anti-Brexit content in the article and hope that does not contaminate the actual show. President Trump is a populist who demands competence and supports all races and people while not worrying that much about being politically correct or if he offends the easily offended just as Capt Kirk did in the original Star Trek , and Brexit is Britain’s rejection of being under German hegemony just as the Federation refused to be absorbed by the mechanistic Borg in the Next Generation. Star Trek was always about poking holes in the Insiders and showing the hypocrisy of political correctness and I hope CBS has not ruined that.

    • Jk says:

      Gosh, what a hypocritical liar you are, you very clearly know that trump is a bigot, racist, bully, con artist. Stop this nonsense, acknowledge that you are a bigot as him but stop lying to our faces

  6. I’m not paying to watch this garbage, it doesn’t even look like Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. I’ll watch the Orville, at least it does look like Star Trek.

  7. paully says:

    I am a big Star Trek fan from the TOS onward ..
    But.. But this ST will fail because not a lot of people will sign up for the CBS steaming site..
    Also it seems like it was cast by the Human Resources department ..
    So no a big fail..

  8. Iris Howard says:

    I am a loyal consumer of Cable TV and the CBS network. Having streaming services is a slap in my face -not a good answer to the loyal viewers of CBS cable – I pay for the CBS network on Comcast and have to share the cost with lots of ads. I am not now a consumer of streaming services.

  9. Maria says:

    This should not be TV-MA. It should be TV-14 at most. Star Trek books, comics, TV shows, and movies have always been PG and could be viewed by anyone at any age. This should be on the CW and FREE for viewers. Who wants to pay for yet another streaming service on top of other streaming services and cable?

    • Kevin says:

      I’m sorry. I’m a Star Trek fan. I was excited to watch this until I found out it was a paid subscription. NO THANKS!
      I’m not paying for another subscription! I pay $220 for my cable package! Let me have access with my comcast login!!!
      Otherwise FORGET ABOUT IT. I’ll watch the episodes on Kodi….CBS=Losers

  10. J Davis says:

    I’ve been a die hard fan from the beginning, having watched every iteration of the tv shows and movies. I regret to have to skip this one, but refuse on principle to sign up for yet another streaming service. When will it end? It’s a mad scramble of content providers to start their own streaming service. In the end only 2 or 3 CAN survive. Nobody is going to sign up for a dozen separate services. Most will fade into the trash heap of history. It seems extremely unlikely that CBS will best the likes of Netflix, or even Disney (which has a massive library of incredibly popular titles). Plus, to have to pay AND be forced to watch commercials is the ultimate “screw you” move. My small act of defiance will be to say screw you back to Les Dumba$$ and CBS. Worst case scenario is I’ll just wait until season one is fully realeased, sign up on a 3 day weekend, binge watch the whole thing for $10, and cancel my membership. If it is really good I can see paying $10 for the whole season. But that’s about it.

    • mike t says:

      We are old Trekkies. Went to a couple “conventions”. Bought memorabilia at auction.
      We’ll watch free one. Then, as J. Davis mentioned, will sign up for free trial and binge watch the rest at end of season. Paying $6/mo. for one channel w. commercials??! If all the networks did that – would be $24/mo. right there.

  11. kloropok says:

    lol this show is going to bomb massively
    screw les moonves, his ass-kissing lieutenants, and the hacks shepherding this disaster onto loyal trekkies who will ditch this crap in droves

  12. Keith says:

    Not getting my money…screw CBS

  13. Lou says:

    I question the wisdom of running this on an undersubscribed pay service (are there really enough rabid Trek fans who will pay for just this one show?). I suspect before long it will either be on regular CBS or Showtime.

    My real issue though is that “Star Trek” is about boldly going forward, not backwards. I believe this is why “Enterprise” failed and the rebooted movies are petering out. As a fan, I’m not really all that interested in seeing Little Boy Spock or a younger version of Sarek. I want a series set well after TNG/DS9/Voyager. New aliens, new challenges, new dynamics.

    Is there no one at CBS or on the creative team who gets this?

  14. Joe says:

    This is how you make a great show fail….. CBS should loose the rights to Star Trek after it fails here….

  15. Adam says:

    This is a stupid idea. I love trek watch it all the time (on netflix… who also basically fronted the bill for this show and has the international streaming rights. This is a corporate cash grab without enough content to offer anything worth the consumers time.) I only watch Star Trek that is literally the only franchise CBS owns that myself or any of my family members watch and they want to punish a fan group that was created out of the idea that we can all share in something together no matter who we are and limiting the show to their exclusive streaming service totally takes away from that idea. I have other concerns too like finding out the show has received a tv rating of TV/MA. Star Trek provides a happy outlook at the potential future and I’m sad to see such a sell-out move trying to make it more gritty. Why? Trek has it’s darker moments but always ends looking forward optimistically. I’m nervous that for the first time Star Trek will go totally off the rails be too dark, too over produced and not give me the enjoyment that the original shows have provided for half a century. At least Seth MacFarlane is finally able to work on his passion project and will hopefully create the universe we expected to get from Trek. I know that ranting about this for the millionth time won’t make a difference and Trek fans across the country (BECAUSE ITS ON NETFLIX EVERYWHERE ELSE!!!!) will shell out the $10 a month to watch but seriously very stupid ideas coming out of the management group at CBS.

  16. dbrahm says:

    I’m sorry but $6 with commercials is unacceptable! And with that $6 you get all of 4 new shows, hell no! Networks have a problem getting decent quality programming on one network, how are they going to supply two networks with anything close to quality. CBS, choose one or another, but you can’t live in both worlds successfully and do you really want to give up the network for online casting.
    I predict within 6 months Discovery will be on CBS at 9 pm on Friday evening (after some occult type drama) and off the air after only one season. Sorry Les, but that’s how I see it.

  17. Jka says:

    My intuition tells me that this is a very dumb move. I think it puts both the show and the streaming service on track for failure. Who will pay to watch this? Along side of Fox and Seth MacFarlane’s Orville – this is looking less and less promising. It’s sad when there is more interest in a Star Trek parody than official Star Trek.

  18. Ilan says:

    Since 1965 (the original air date of the original pilot) Star Trek on television has always been free. The movies you have to pay for but the show is free and ad-supported. I hope Les Moonves gets his paying subscribers on All Access but if not (which I suspect will be the case) I hope he moves it to CBS instead of killing it.

  19. Ural says:

    Axanar, Renegades are on the top of my list.

    With Discovery’s budget, Horizons and other fan films would be so much better.

  20. JR says:

    I thought Nicholas Meyer had been brought in. What happened with that?

    • Frank Smith says:

      Nick Meyer was, I’ll put this loosely, “asked a few questions,” that’s it. CBS is clearly trying, really-really hard, to make this something wonderful. Unfortunately, it has failure written all over it.

  21. Timely Comment says:

    I’m curious to what other Trekkers think of DISCOVERY…

    The Nu-Klingons aren’t the classic TOS dirty-faced standings for the USSR, nor the bushido-coded warriors of TNG and especially DS9— they NOW look too frou-frou artificial aliens like the weird make-up and newly-ridged characters in ST:TMP. Seeing their bony costumes closeup at the DISCOVERY pop-up seems SO tv-artificial along with their different skin colors— there’s a purple Klingon clan??

    It took a loooong while to get used to the TMP revised Klingons; first the Worf pagebob haircut…then later the Rites of Ascension… and the later return of Koloth and Kor with Dax— so maybe the new ST:Discovery Klingons will be equally good?

    (But they’ll have to go more ‘functional’ in the looks of these central Trek aliens— and that’ll take time…which the CBS Access show doesn’t have… and’ll be replaced by the Meyer series in the Trek subscription-tv anthology?)

    The other ST:D bridge costumes, the red one for Sarek (Chinese influence?) and the phasers/tricoder/communicators pleased the Trek fan in me. Getting a picture on the Discovery Captain’s Chair doing a pointing ‘Kirk’ instead of a losing ‘Picard’ was fun. Seeing this prequel show keeping to the revisionist standard of having the Enterprise insignia representing all of Starfleet Federation BEFORE the Original Series, not so much…

    But a new Star Trek show on tv— Trek fans will see the pilot, and some will subscribe to CBS Access and continue to watch just how it makes it so…

    /Trekker, NOT Trekkie

  22. Enuf Istoomuch says:

    My answer to CBS and yet another steaming service is not just “no” but “Hell No!”.

    The original Star Trek was and still is a wonderful idea Some, certainly not all, of the subsequent shows and movies have been good, some have been garbage. I would be immensely pleased to see a new Star Trek TV series work out and succeed. Would love to watch such a success story unfold.

    But if CBS thinks they are going to lure me into spending money for this they are spending too much time in their own focus group enhanced echo chamber.

    Not happening CBS, not remotely likely to succeed in that manner. Either get the show out there to a wide audience without using “PISS AUDIENCE OFF” as your first tactic, or don’t bother at all. Fold it up now before you waste any more money.

  23. millerfilm says:

    The objective was to check as many boxes as they could. Mission accomplished. But, they canned Bryan Fuller, and Nicholas Meyer seems to be nowhere to be seen. And, they actually want you to subscribe to YET another streaming service to see it? No sale.

  24. Ural says:

    Discovery may be great. I’m a Star Trek fan. I’ve watched an series, every episode, even boring DS9. Though stream Discovery? The answer is no.

    I’m willing to pay Netflix, Amazon or Hulu for the right to watch it. I’ll even work with Google or ITunes (FB is not an option, even if they are the only game in town).

    Unfortunately I’m not willing to risk my personal data in CBS hands, specially after how easy HBO or Game of Thrones got hacked.

    It’s plain foolish to even consider sharing personal data with CBS.

    So, until CBS seems the light of its foolish conditions. I’ll pass.

    CBS should consider how successful Salvation has been, instead of thinking they can stream shows. It would be wiser if they just streamed it free and ripped off the collateral benefits, avoiding the risk of asking for personal data.

    Wish CBS best of luck, but I’ll pass.

  25. K says:

    I like the cast, but I’m not interested in a show about Klingon politics, and it doesn’t look visually organized in terms of sets and uniforms (no obvious ranks, for example) enough to be a war show — which in itself isn’t Star Trek. Will definitely see the first one.

  26. Jack Burton says:

    No, because they have spit in the eye of long time fans of all the series. This show tosses aside generations of canon and the spirit of what makes Star Trek special from everything else. Most fans I know are not going to watch let alone pay to watch. I certainly encourage everyone to wait for a respectful and true to form Trek to return.

  27. Theo Bear says:

    “Our metric right now is Les Moonves saying, ‘I’ve watched the first six episodes, and I love them,’”

    That sentence continues with Moonves saying, “but where’s the old green hobbit who spoke weird English, and the guy in the black mask and cape?”

    • Fred Archer says:

      He told investors the first 6 were great.
      What is he going to say?
      We F’d up?
      The fans hate us and if you invest anymore we are not going to get you your money back. Sorry folks, i should be removed from office because i am too incompetent to run a franchise i know nothing about, and hired someone who took a dump on the franchise in the first place coz screw the people we expecting to pay for it

  28. Fernando says:

    Discovery will be a similar flop like Enterprise. Only drama, no entertainment, no humor.

    Even worse, ‘a vision of a future in which humans will clash with each other’.

    Nobody is waiting for that future.

    But hey, nobody knows anything in Hollywood. Although you think with such a larger good working legacy, it would be easier this time around.

  29. CBS blind , foolish or plain dumb if you look at all the posts in social media fans are in a raging fury against this streaming exclusively on their app while outside the U.S. its streaming worldwide on Netflix all you have done is insulted and literally smacked your fans in the face! You might as well say good luck and bon voyage to this disaster or you can do what you did to the Supergirl series and put Star trek Discovery on The CW! Obviously the genius who thought this up doesn’t realize the damage that’s gonna come from this !

    • nerdrage says:

      Well if it’s any consolation, that Netflix deal will last only as long as CBS doesn’t have a streaming servcie in any given country. I thought they’d use Netflix to build a viewership for the show overseas and then pull the rug out from under Netflix by launching CBS All Access in one country after another, taking back the license as they go. But now it looks like CBS is not even waiting that long. They’re moving into Australia now, Canada in 2018, the UK no doubt will be next and after that, the whole world…might have some trouble with China like Netflix is having but wow they are aggressive.

      And yeah they do know what they’re doing, streaming is going to take over and CBS wants to be one of the powerful global servcies that control access to the audience, not a mere content producer for the few powerful services. In a few years we’ll see a few massively powerful services: Netflix, Amazon, and…CBS could be one of them, elbowing the likes of HBO, Hulu and Apple aside because they had the balls to make aggressive moves when it counted, namely: now.

      • Bort says:

        Aggressive moves don’t guarantee success, especially when your flagship show is facing an enormous amount of criticism before it has even aired. Star Trek fans are pretty loyal and they are absolutely trashing this show. CBS streaming is just as if not more likely to become Blockbuster as Netflix.

  30. Tim S says:

    I’m not paying for yet another streaming service just to watch one show.

    • nerdrage says:

      Most of the viewers for this show initially are going to be on Netflix overseas. But they better not get too comfy, looks like CBS has some aggressive global expansion plans and then it will be so-long to the Netflix deal. Why should CBS use their flagship brand to enrich a competitor?

      • Tiger says:

        The Netflix deal made sure that they would have Discovery as long as the show was being made along with keeping other Trek shows in their library indefinitely. Thats exactly why when it was announced CBS was buying Australia’s channel 10 and mentioned All Access was coming to that country Netflix put out a statement saying Discovery would still be on that country’s site.

        Thats why Sony still has Spider-Man although Marvel clearly wants them. You make a contract iron clad enough, its hard to get out of it later when things changes.

  31. JoeMcG says:

    A nice fluff piece, but is it enough to draw back alienated Star Trek fans? ST:Enterprise failed because it strayed too far off book. Good show, great talent, great characters, and a great looking ship set. Unfortunately, with story lines that were re-writing ST cannon, along with a general malaise for all things Trek at that point (after back to back to back series) myself and a lot of other fans just lost interest.

    To further the alienation, you have the split between CBS and Paramount, so now the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and worst of all, you have corporate CBS killing off the entire segment of fan-film projects, many of which attracted star ST talent with excellent story lines, and for a while, even the support of the company for New Voyages/Phase II. Hard core fans are fed up. And we’re not going to pay yet another fee to the company that turned it’s back on us. I don’t see anything here worth watching (not for $6 a month with commercials). And a lot of folks on Wall St seem to agree. Why haven’t they told us about their subscriber numbers? They’re too embarrassed.

    Ultimately, content is king. If it’s a good show, people will come. But I have to say, I’ve seen the trailers. I have no problem with the talent or the characters, but the look and feel is all wrong. For a show that is supposed to straddle Enterprise and TOS, I see no connection to either as far as costumes, sets or props. No subtle evolution here, let’s just go with a 21st century take a-la the new JJ Films. Bottom line, I won’t be watching. If buzz gets good, maybe I’ll give it a try when it gets on one of the platforms I’m already paying for, but I don’t think that’s likely.

    • nerdrage says:

      I dunno about the whole content-is-king mantra. I think we’re entering an era where distribution is king, and a few streaming services will dominate distribution, and become kingmakers for shows (which is why CBS is so desperate to use Star Trek to launch its own service).

      Star Trek is a brand that certainly can command attention, but look at something like Stranger Things or GLOW, which Netflix has propelled into success out of nowhere. How did they do that? By making it fall-off-a-log easy for folks to sample them by shoving them into subscribers’ queues.

      In other words, distribution is what made them hits. If they’d been on some broadcast channel, they could have been yet another show that should have succeeded but the ratings doomed them because nobody bothered to sample them.

  32. James Landon says:

    While the casting has received more than its share of discussion, a more important and far more damaging shift in the Trek universe has gone relatively ignored. Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was adamant that Star Trek present an idealized version of humanity that had finally and successfully risen above the petty distractions so common in the 20th century. In his world, war, famine and poverty had been eradicated as did the need for money (it’s not a coincidence that no Trek uniform has ever had pockets). Interpersonal conflicts had been minimized as well, which is why his ship’s bridge could list an alien, a Russian man, A Scot, an African woman, a Japanese man and a couple white guys from the US. Another Trek version added a Klingon to this mix.

    That’s apparently out the window now. Against everything that Roddenberry intended, this new Trek appears to be devolving humanity back to where they’re still fighting with each other. The significance of this change is not to be underestimated. Interpersonal conflict would compromise the very unification of diversity that made Trek successful in the first place. Ms. Martin-Green is correct when she states that Trek has always been about diversity but what she omitted is that it is equally about the successful integration of that diversity. Should this new Trek give us bigots, racists, nationalists, supremacists or any other of humanity’s small minded types, this show becomes Trek in name only and Mr. Roddenberry will be spinning in his coffin.

    • nerdrage says:

      Star Trek has always featured interpersonal conflict. Has everyone forgotten Spock and McCoy sniping at each other? Not so evolved.

      The no-money thing didn’t happen till TNG. In the original series, Kirk talked about people earning their paychecks and he was practically having a coronary when the Devil in the Dark was interfering with a mining operation. Some degree of capitalism was still in effect in the 23rd C.

      • James Landon says:

        Simple, momentary conflict such as those you state are not the issue. Showing any human as being offensive, cruel, mean, intolerant or any number of other unevolved things is against the original Roddenberry idea of what Star Trek represents. The new showrunners are abandoning the very quality that separated Trek from all other sci-fi shows and, in doing so, they’re crippling its chances for success.

    • Armsman says:

      I take it you must have NEVER WATCHED TOS? <— That WAS GR's original (and IMO bet vision for Star Trek. I've been watching Trek first run since 1969 (I was 6) and TOS is still the best series. the TNG/DS9/VOY era was as old man's retcon – and the more they jettison that retcon, the better this show will be.

      I don't need 42 minutes of Conference Room chatter on how to reconfigure the deflector to project the particle of the week' or more sermonizing on how "The Federation way is always the 'right way'."

      Star Trek was at it's best in TOS when you HAD actual Human beings (and not the 24th century products of a supposed Utopia who never really disagreed about anything, unless some alien was influencing them) who DID disagree a lot, but in the end worked together to come up with a solution – and not always the bets or perfect solution, but one that worked.

      the only thing they're doing her is going back to the version of Star Trek that still to this day, after 51 years that was GR's best version of 'Star Trek'.

      Interestingly enough, I have a felling hard core TNG era fans will now see what it was like back in 1987 for TOS era fans seeing the 'new' Utopian 24th century era 'Star Trek' which from the very beginning started to retcon elements of TOS.

      [Oh, and again as an old school fan, the JJ Abrams films were great, and DID manage to capture a lot of what made the original Star Trek, entertaining, fun, and interesting to watch. IF you were a big fan of the TNG/24th century era though, I could see why you wouldn't like them – because that's NOT the era they were set in.]

      • Tiger says:


        Roddenberry was only responsible for TNG and the ‘no-conflict’ thing was only on that show for the first few seasons. As soon as Roddenberry was kicked to the curve that was thrown out too.

        And you clearly never watched DS9 lol. That entire show was the anti-theses of TNG and conflict was a given on day one. DS9 was a great show because it was different from all of Star Trek but in an exciting way. You should listen to Sisko’s speech about ‘Earth and paradise’ and realize that show was far from the ideals of ‘utopia’ because much of the galaxy was still in chaos. Thats what oddly conflicted with Roddenberry ideals. Yeah Earth and the Federation was nice, but it was still chaos in a lot of places and why there were neutral zones and cold wars happening. That didn’t change in the TNG era. Yeah, we became friends with the Klingons but then gained new enemies like the Borg, Dominion and the Cardassians.

        And I think most TNG fans will be fine, most already hated Enterprise lol. If Discovery is better than that at least, it will be ok.

    • Christopher M. Chupik says:

      Interpersonal conflict is the price you pay for not being a Borg collective. Starfleet characters on TOS disagreed with each other, DS9 characters disagreed, and the franchise survived.

      No conflict = no stories.

      • beatlejwol says:

        And the excuse made by TNG diehards is “well then you can just have the aliens and bad guys be the source of conflict!”

        Nah. That just puts your main characters on a pedestal and that’s not good drama.

  33. devinserpa says:

    I’m just going to binge watch the whole season in one month.

    • Fred Archer says:

      no you not, 5 episodes come out on all access (so you have to pay for a full 2 months) and then the rest begin in January… you know, IF they film them

      • Christopher M. Chupik says:

        A full first season is guaranteed. They’re already more than halfway done the 15 episodes planned. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

      • Fred Archer says:

        i promise you its not going to get that far

      • nerdrage says:

        Presumably all the episodes will be on the site by next spring. If they don’t do that, then how will people who want to start watching next spring get into this highly serialized show catch up so they can become subscribers in fall 2018 for the second season? If CBS doesn’t know that’s how streaming works, they will learn.

        And yeah they will film them. Netflix is throwing large amounts of money at CBS for Star Trek while they still can. CBS will probably end that deal when they launch streaming in each country around the world, and it looks like they’ll be well underway in 2018.

      • devinserpa says:

        Well I’ll just buy the episodes when they come out in a year, or wait till Netflix in 5 years.

  34. Nerdrage says:

    Interesting that cbs is now moving fast w global expansion into Australia and Canada. Whoever goes global with streaming now will reap big rewards. But the opportunity is not infinite. What is the rest of Hollywood doing? Is Hulu even awake?

  35. Christopher M. Chupik says:

    It’s telling that most of the negative comments here are one guy, posting over and over again.

    I’m looking forward to Discovery. :-)

  36. CAITLIN CRONENBERG did a good job and shot some nice pics here, I especially like Jason Isaacs bare feeted hovering in the chair. But what is going on with the cover, what are they doing with their hands? A secret vulcan salute? I was excited to hear about Fuller running the show, and if you ask me as a huge fan of Neil Gaimans books, I would rather have an excellent Trek show, something that really can bring back and rejuvinate the soul of what TOS created those 50 years ago, than American Gods for the small screen. From what I heard, Les Moonves doesn’t know the difference of a Jedi and a Vulcan, and he doesn’t give a frak. Or a dren or a frell. So huge kudos to Mrs. Ball back then for allowing Roddenberry to create Star Trek in the first place. Fuller would have brought something special, new and wild to Trek. I have no clue about Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, but Alex Kurtzman proved with the JJ films how he handles Star Trek. This has nothing to do with the excellent acting of Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs and the rest of the acting and creative team, but folks, next time put a real Vulcan salute on the cover. Leonard Nimoy would cringe about this image.

  37. Roi says:

    “The idea is that there are all these superfans out there who don’t want to pay for [large cable packages]. If you’re able to identify people who are superfans or who are not part of the pay-TV ecosystem [but will] pay six bucks a month”


    Whenever I read or hear present-day “analysts” and execs parroting this line, I can’t shake the unmistakable stink of marketing hype because they know perfectly well that the whole system is splintering BACK into the user paying for multiple “streams” in order to get all the shows they want. And that’s only going to last for so long, especially when a user’s collective streaming bill ends up costing MORE than their cable or satellite subscriptions ever did, and they realize that they’re not actually watching any more content than they did on those services.

    Leading streamers like Netflix, Prime, Hulu and maybe one or two others were, for a time, a very utopian concept of having nearly everything — from every studio — available at your fingertips and not subject to network/cable/satellite scheduling for one appealingly low price. But now that those services are cranking out their own content ad nauseam, bulk buying movies both good and bad at film festivals around the globe (if not outright funding them themselves or poaching them in pre-production or production regardless of how they turn out), it was only a matter of time before the longer-standing networks and studios started regrouping their decades-rich content libraries behind their own pay walls and adding new “exclusive” content, much as Disney is doing now, and much like Warner has quietly been doing for years now.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out once enough people come to realize how badly streaming is (or will be) draining their wallets compared to any previous format. Too much content — much of it ancient and/or sub-par — on too many services costing users too much money hardly seems like success in the long term.

    • nerdrage says:

      The current insane proliferation will crash back down to just a few services – global services – that’s the key here, you need huge audiences to amortize content costs across in order to afford all these shows so people don’t bail, yet keep subscription prices low, so people don’t bail.

      Amazon and Netflix will be two of the few successful services in the end. CBS might be another. They are making the right moves (ie, global) while HBO is diddling around, Hulu is stalled and who the heck even knows what Apple is doing, they have the money to buy their way in but they better get started like right now.

  38. Fred Archer says:

    And anyone who says race or sexism has something to do with why the series is being hated on is an idiot

  39. Fred Archer says:

    What does not help is that they got the man who stuffed star trek up in the first place who forced Fuller out, and then does something so different takes a dump all over the franchise and then they have the ordacity to say “No its prime” and “no we respecting the canon”. No they not.
    this is why Beyond flopped, they ruined the jjtrek mvoies with the same probelm this show has.

  40. Fred Archer says:

    the short answer is no.
    CBS have burned through all the good will of the fans and the people who normally be willing to pay for star trek are hoping it flops

  41. bill says:

    what a bunch of crap. No self respecting Trekkie will waste valuable time watching this garbage – on CBS – which makes it worse.

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