I’m confused. Just when I thought I had the count of how many classic TV reboots are in the works comes word of a new "Star Trek" series. This one will air on CBS All Access, the Eye net’s digital subscription, video-on-demand and live-streaming service.
As a number-cruncher, I understand why CBS would want to offer this new "Star Trek" on its year-old digital platform, which I assume is not quite the success the network had hoped it would be. Twenty years ago, UPN (a corporate cousin of CBS) used "Star Trek: Voyager" (spin-off No. 4, if you’re counting) to launch that network on New Year's Day 1995. Initially, that was a rousing success. But, ultimately, it wasn’t enough to sustain the network.
Likewise, do not expect "Star Trek" No. 6 to save CBS All Access.
There are plenty of reasons to be cynical about this move. With critical favorites like "Arrested Development" and "Community" finding a second life on Netflix and Yahoo!, digital platforms are increasingly — and understandably — considered the new breeding ground for original programming. But so far, CBS All Access has been more of an outlet for the network to push out thousands of episodes of evergreen product (translation: repeats) at a monthly cost of $5.99. It’s a bit greedy, if you ask me, like airing a series in off-network syndication, but at a much higher cost to the viewer.
Trekkies, of course, are bursting with enthusiasm over taking another voyage with their favorite sci-fi franchise. Little did I know as a six-year-old watching the original "Star Trek" that I would be writing about the sixth series in the franchise in 2015 (and a 13th theatrical movie in 2016). But even without the benefit of available ratings, it is obvious the audience for the new show on CBS All Access will pale in comparison to any of the former "Star Trek" series. Look what happened when Prospect Park Network tried to revive beloved ABC daytime dramas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" digitally in 2013. (Hint: It didn’t work.)
Of course, fans of "Star Trek" are more digitally savvy than the traditional older-skewing female who watches daytime soaps. (My apologies to that dedicated fan base, but it’s true.) But CBS All Access may not be able to recover if this new "Star Trek" does not live up to the hype. And the unprecedented ratio of success for these "Star Trek" series (five hits, zero misses) could be halted. Ask yourself: Do we really want to risk tainting that perfect record? And, while subscribers to CBS All Access will certainly increase via "Star Trek," will these same people find value in watching repeats of current and past CBS series? I don’t think so.
Beyond the "Star Trek" universe, reboots of every kind are suddenly popping up everywhere. Seriously, I’ve started to lose count.
Earlier this week came the news that classic 1970s ABC action/adventure series "The Six Million Dollar Man" would be revived as an inflation-adjusted theatrical — "The Six Billion Dollar Man" — with Mark Wahlberg. Netflix just announced a new season of "Longmire," the former A&E Western drama it recently brought back to life, and reboots of "Fuller House," based on the sappy ABC sitcom; and "Gilmore Girls," which will air in a series of two-hour telecasts. Other long-dead series like "Hart to Hart" (now with a gay male couple); "Xena: Princess Warrior"; and a second revival of "Fantasy island" (the first revival flopped in the 1998-99 season) are also slated to return. While you could blame a lack of creativity in the Hollywood community constantly trying to relive the past, the rapid rise of additional outlets for original programming suggests this is a trend that will continue.
Let’s be very honest, though. There is only one Lucy Lawless. She is Xena. Matthew Perry is certainly no Jack Klugman (or Walter Matthau) on the new version of "The Odd Couple" on CBS (which will return for season later this season). Jack Lord is the face of "Hawaii Five-O"). And, thinking back, I really cannot think of one series revival that was better — or even close — to the original. Can you?
While I personally don’t think a new "Star Trek" series is a bad idea, the cynic in me also remembers the dreadful new versions of "Knight Rider," "The Bionic Woman," "Little House on the Prairie," "Hunter," "The Love Boat" and "WKRP in Cincinnati." (The latter, you can blame on first-run syndication.) Nothing was worse than "AfterMASH." And then there was the clan called Brady in "The Brady Bunch Hour," "The Brady Brides" and "The Bradys" (and so much other crap).
Sometimes you are better off leaving well enough alone.