Rich Handley Author and Editor

Star Trek’s Golden Age Is Now

We’re living in a golden age for the Star Trek franchise. Hear me out on this, because the math doesn’t lie. From 1966 to 2005, 30 seasons of Trek were produced across six TV shows (The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise). That’s 30 seasons that aired in a span of around 40 years.

Then the franchise went on hiatus until 2017, with no new Star Trek airing on TV for 12 years. That’s when CBS All-Access began introducing the modern-era Trek shows. Since then, we’ve had four seasons of Discovery (four just finished filming), two seasons of Short Treks, three seasons of Picard (two and three are filming now), three seasons of Lower Decks (three is in production now), two seasons of Prodigy (they will begin airing soon), and a season so far of Strange New Worlds (which will also soon debut)

That’s 15 new seasons of Star Trek—half the total that aired from 1966 to 2005—produced in only five years, compared to the 40 it took for those original 30 seasons. What’s more, there are very likely additional seasons of all of them in the works. Plus, two more TV shows, Section 31 and Starfleet Academy, will each have at least one season, bringing the total to 17 and counting—again, in only five years. And it’s highly unlikely either show will be canceled after only a single season, so we can safely expect more to follow. It wouldn’t surprise me if CBS were to double the original thirty seasons before this decade is finished. It is truly a golden age.

I’m not gatekeeping here; everyone is free to like, love, dislike, or hate any iteration of Star Trek or any other franchise. I will never imply someone who likes or dislikes the new shows is less or more a fan than someone who prefers the older shows, or vice versa, because the childish “true fan” mentality goes against Star Trek‘s philosophy of “infinite diversity in infinite combinations.” If you like any aspects of any version of Star Trek then you’re a fan, and if you dislike other aspects then you’re still a fan, and no one can tell you otherwise. Personally, I enjoy the classic era, just as I enjoy the 1980s-2000s shows and movies, just as I enjoy the current offerings. Your mileage may vary, and more power to you if it does.

But the unavoidable truth is that for whatever reasons, Enterprise failed to keep the franchise afloat, and so did the film exploits of The Next Generation‘s crew, and so did the J.J. Abrams alternate-universe movies. I love all of the above, but none of them found sufficient audience or studio support to generate more Star Trek. Meanwhile, the CBS All-Access era has increased the total number of seasons by a whopping 50 percent in a very small span of time, while doubling the number of TV shows from six to 12 (and counting). The math doesn’t lie.

Despite this, a small but vocal group of naysayers has inexplicably persisted in claiming the current era of Star Trek is a failure and that CBS plans to cancel everything and fire producer Alex Kurtzman… even though he has added eight new TV shows spanning at least 17 seasons in only five years, with many more to follow. It’s a nonsensical stance for anyone to take; regardless of how someone might view the quality of those 17 seasons, the current Trek era is demonstrably a huge success. If Kurtzman’s tenure is a failure, then I can only hope that someday, I fail even half as miserably as he has.

9 thoughts on “Star Trek’s Golden Age Is Now

  1. I don’t care about MORE Trek – i want to be emotinally engaged, inspired and awed. That’s not what the new shows do for me. Everybody is different and maybe i was easily impressed when i was younger. But other shows DO give me that feeling. Anime is coming up. I even started joining the My Little Pony hype. Because it doesn’t matter if it’s a little girl show as long as it has something to say. That’s what Roddenberry asked everyone who had a new script: “What is it about?” – And if you talked about adventure and space battles, he then said “Yes, but what is it ABOUT?”

    1. Fair enough, though I think saying “maybe i was easily impressed when i was younger” is gatekeeping–it implies that those who like the new shows are a) easily impressed and b) young. Neither is a valid assumption since there are a lot of long-time fans who also enjoy it. I’ve been a fan since the early 1970s and I’m a pretty discerning guy. 🙂

  2. I couldn’t agree more and I say that as someone who has been a Star Trek fan since Kirk was the only captain at has seen every single Star Trek movie in the theater on their first run. Although, I think the absolute high point of Star Trek existence was when William Shatner and Patrick Stewart appear together on the cover of Time Magazine.

    I’m glad that we’re getting new character dynamics other than the tried-and-true Captain / first officer dynamic for the leads. If Star Trek had returned and all it offered was the same stale Berma-Trek formula that grew tired and old after 18 years, I doubt I would have nearly the enthusiasm for it that I do now.

    And while I have to honestly say that I’ve taken issue with some (several) of the story decisions on Discovery, the character work has been absolutely amazing. I love that the show it’s more of a focused character study, following one character’s journey. I love the layers and depth that he has added to the characters of Spock, Amanda and Sarek. Discovery has managed to transform Christopher Pike from a canonical curiosity to one of the best characters in the entire franchise. And I love the world building and the sense of history and legacy that the show’s move to the 31st century gave us.

    I love that Picard shows Starfleet from the outside looking in from the perspective of former officers for whom which perhaps the luster of Starfleet ideals had grown tarnished.

    I love Lower Decks for giving us that, well, lower decks perspective. What’s not to love about Lower Decks? It is the most genuine and sincere love letter to the entire franchise I’ve ever seen.

    I love that Prodigy won’t feature any actual Starfleet officers at all, just a holographic re-creation of one. I love that Section 31 we’ll be exploring the seedy underbelly of the galaxy. And, finally, I love that Strange New Worlds is going to bring us back full circle the types of stories that Star Trek began with.

    It is, indeed, a great time to be a Star Trek fan.

    1. Well said mate. I was going to comment, but you have said it all.

      My only wonder is why the naysayers put so much energy into their YouTube videos and articles. Click revenue is my guess.

    2. Could not have said it better. That Trek in this day can offer not one, not two, but multiple series as beacons of hope and challenge us to think critically again with an inquisitive, thoughtful bent is an indication of how golden this is right now. And that the writers and producers are able to do it with the confidence of knowing how many episodes they can dedicate to one arc or another is a great and much overlooked component of this. Yes we are going to get back to episodic Trek with Strange New Worlds but they’ll break the entire season as a whole series of episodes, as opposed to the old method of write an episode, shoot an episode, repeat. There is less chance of feet tapping on set waiting for pages. The quality of what we are being served has the structure to be even better. I understand people rag on Kelvin-era, but without it, would there have been as much appetite for this return to TV? There was a raft of displeasure from TOS fans for TNG until things sank in. I think the key is Kurtzman and crew are making Trek for everyone, but not watering down each iteration to do it. As said, I hope to be half the failure Kurtzman and team have become, if that is how a subset of our fandom chooses to characterize them.

  3. If anything, the new seasons have made me a full fan after having a disdain attitude towards the franchise. What really is unfortunate is the content distribution outside US, which has prevented me from watching half those seasons. But, hey! I bought my first Star Trek novels and audiobooks in my life! And of course, I’m looking also to the past, reading older comics and watching the previous series. None of this would’ve been possible without this rennaisance.

    1. See, THAT is the kind of thing I like to hear. Very cool. Are you going to go back and watch the older shows, or will you just stick with the newer ones? I particularly recommend watching The Animated Series, as it will increase your appreciation of Lower Decks, which has TONS of references to it. Also highly recommended is Deep Space Nine, which I consider the best of all the shows.

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