Alex Kurtzman wants his upcoming Star Trek slate to appeal more to children. The Star Trek franchise wasn’t in great shape prior to J.J. Abrams 2009 movie reboot. Star Trek: Nemesis proved to be a lame finale to the journey of The Next Generation crew, and TV series Star Trek: Enterprise ended in 2005. Despite the success of the Abrams’ movies and renewed interest in the franchise, it still took a while for a new TV series to arrive, but one eventually came in the form of CBS All Access show Star Trek: Discovery.
While Discovery drew some mixed notices from longtime fans, it still proved to be a ratings success, and a second season arrives later this month. The show is set roughly a decade before the events of the original TV series, and season 2 will feature the crew of Discovery interacting with the USS Enterprise, including a younger version of Spock (Ethan Peck). CBS has big plans for Star Trek because, in addition to Discovery, there will also be a Picard spinoff show, an animated comedy called Star Trek: Lower Decks, another spinoff starring Michelle Yeoh, a series of shorts known as Star Trek: Short Treks and a host of other projects.
Kurtzman is the man in charge of overseeing this ever-expanding Star Trek television universe, and he has big ambitions for the franchise's future. In a new interview with THR, Kurtzman talked about how he wants to explore different formats and perspectives across these new shows.
Our goal is to not only expand the definition of Star Trek and what has qualified as traditional Star Trek, but also to tell stories that are both self-contained in a very short period of time that also connect to the larger picture of what we're doing, not only in Discovery but in the world building of Trek in general. And you get to tell these very intimate, emotional stories that are side stories to characters. So you get the benefit of the experience in and of itself but then when you watch Discovery you'll see that these were all setting up things in the world of season two.
Kurtzman also wants to open up the franchise to younger viewers, as he feels the franchise has tended to skew a little older.
I go back to my childhood and Luke Skywalker, the [Star Wars] farm boy who looks out at the twin suns of Tatooine and imagines his future. Trek never gave me that. Trek was always fully formed adults, already in Starfleet and people who have decided who they are. And it never was aspirational that way. It's important to me to find a way to go back and reach younger kids in a way that Trek should and never really has.
After being off television screens for over a decade, Star Trek is back in a major way. Some complaints of Star Trek: Discovery stated the show was too dark and lacked the optimism inherent to the franchise, but it sounds like the upcoming slate of shows will have something for everyone. The Picard spinoff is the one fans will be most excited about, but efforts to appeal to young viewers might be of long-term benefit to the property too.
While Star Trek is doing well on television, its future as a movie series is currently unclear. Star Trek Beyond was arguably the best received of the Abrams’ era series, but it underperformed financially. This is part of the reason Star Trek 4 seems to have been shelved by Paramount, and there’s still no confirmation on when - or if - Quentin Tarantino’s planned Star Trek movie will move forward.