A revealing interview with a CBS executive may have uncovered an interesting, and unforeseen, direction for the upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery.
CBS Interactive CEO Jim Lanzone discussed the upcoming Star Trek show and how it may differ from its predecessors during an interview with Peter Kafka on the Recode Media podcast.
While Discovery’s premier is slated to debut on CBS in May, every episode thereafter will be exclusive to the CBS digital media app, CBS All Access. As that content would not have to meet broadcast standards set forth by the FCC, it’s possible that, much like original programs on HBO and Netflix, it could contain such as swearing and nudity.
“The showrunners were like ‘Oh yeah, we could do that,'” Lanzone said, recounting a conversation with the show’s producers. “Of course, the response is, ‘As long as it serves the story,’ but yeah.”
Though Star Trek has never shied away from risque elements, especially in its later incarnations and licensed fiction, its hard to believe that swearing and nudity could happen in a Star Trek series. In fact, the recent fan-film guidelines put forth by CBS and Paramount expressly forbade them. It begs to reason that they wouldn’t have included that had they not considered those elements detrimental to the franchise in some way.
So, will we see naked cursing people on Discovery? Probably not, but it will likely push the boundaries of what has been traditionally seen on Star Trek.
A perfect point of comparison would be Netflix’s original Marvel series. Those are atypical of other superhero shows in terms of tone and content and could never be shown in their current forms on broadcast television, but contain no nudity and minimal swearing.
Being on the internet affords the writers and producers the freedom to experiment with Discovery in ways not possible on television, but hopefully still within the boundaries of what is considered to be Star Trek.
Why All Access?
Earlier in the interview, Lanzone discussed why they decided to put the show on All Access and not on television or a previously established internet media company.
“Sci-fi is not something that has traditionally done really well on broadcast,” he said. “It’s not impossible, for the future, if somebody figures it out… But historically, a show like ‘Star Trek’ wouldn’t necessarily be a broadcast show, at this point.”
The term “sci-fi” can have a very broad meaning. He admitted that both Lost and Heroes were shows with “some sci-fi” that have succeeded in the past, but there’s a difference between those and a show like Star Trek. The most recent comparable series on one of the big four broadcast networks was Firefly, which is cancelled after 11 episodes.
Another example is CBS’ Supergirl, which was sent to The CW after poor numbers on the larger network. Though the same could have been done with Discovery out of the gate, or have it put on the CBS owned Showtime, Lanzone said that Star Trek’s demographics made it a better fit on All Access.
“It just fit with the digital audience” he said. “It just made sense that that’s a great place to put it.”
There is, of course, another reason, which Lanzone didn’t shy away from. He explained that All Access currently has 1 million subscribers, with the hopes of quadrupling that number by 2020. What better way to do that than with original content, Star Trek being chief among them.
“It’s something unique for All Access that would bring subscribers,” Lanzone said of Discovery.
The podcast is an interesting listen, especially if you’re interested in more of the business side of digital entertainment. The Star Trek comments start at around the 20:50 mark. Check out the interview embedded below.
Whatever content Discovery does or doesn’t contain, we’ll all have to wait until May to find out.
The first episode of Star Trek: Discovery will premiere with a broadcast TV special on CBS in May. That episode and all subsequent episodes will be exclusively shown in the U.S. on the video streaming service CBS All Access.
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November 18, 2016 at 1:12 pm
From one of Nick Meyer’s other great Treks: “Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean we must do that thing.”
November 18, 2016 at 9:38 pm
Yup. None of the current younger generation in Hollywood writers has learned that just because they can doesn’t mean they should. In their quest to push the boundaries ever further, they are writing things with spectacularly bad taste. Witness the Ronald Reagan with Alzheimers comedy movie Will Ferrell wanted to make until some of the few people left in Hollywood with common sense said “NO!”
November 18, 2016 at 4:54 pm
Great! Maybe with Star Trek: Discovery they can FINALLY give “The Naked Time” the treatment Roddenberry always wanted!
[that’s a joke, by the way — please, not another version of “The Naked Time”]
November 19, 2016 at 2:53 am
*sigh* Some guy who has nothing to do with the writers and showrunners states the obvious, that not being on network TV they’re not bound to network TV limitations, and people start taking off their panties over it…
A life is desperately needed.
There is one huge difference here… it’s CBS, not HBO or Netflix, in control. They’re going to be thinking of a monetization aspect that those other services don’t have: Ability to air the show on network TV at some later point. Particularly with their streaming service not being that big. If it fails, they’ll still need to be able to profit from the show.
It’s much more likely they’ll keep it within network broadcast requirements, or even in the worst case keep anything non-broadcastable to such a minimum that yes, you can put your panties back on.
November 19, 2016 at 10:27 am
Bryan Fuller even said he thought the show would be edgier in content than the other series.
Apart from Remmick’s head spectacularly exploding in 1988, Enterprise season 3 with its flash of butt (internationally, anyway) and occasionally TV-14 (oh my!) rated violence, was the furthest the producers pushed the envelope for whatever reason.
CBS might try to re-air these in the summer, but I bet there’s not too much incentive – All-Access has an ad-supported tier like Hulu and Netflix’s international deal has probably paid for a lot of the production costs.
David B Dornburg
November 22, 2016 at 3:51 pm
I’m not inclined to pay for TV shows that include commercials.
I pay for Netflix and Amazon BECAUSE they don’t force me to watch ads.
November 22, 2016 at 4:05 pm
There is a tier for no ads, like Hulu migrated to.
Also, Amazon slips in ads for its own shows all the time.
David B Dornburg
November 22, 2016 at 4:48 pm
I don’t care for the Amazon shows and very rarely watch anything there. I actually got their PRIME for the free shipping as I place orders quite often and have only watched a movie or two there.
HULU lost me ages ago because of their incessant repeating of the exact same commercial throughout each show.
Commercials and the fact that I work from 3pm to 11pm, are the reasons I gave up on watching non-streaming TV many years ago. It wasn’t until early 2013 that I decided to actually get rid of cable TV and by then I had only been paying for the basic tier for about two years anyway.
Arron Bubba Ratcliff
November 19, 2016 at 11:09 am
I won’t mind an occasional curse word.In fact that may help in making the scenes believable.I mean come on when the warp core is breached or the shields have failed an some baddie is shooting holes in the ship. A Ah F me or a you S.o.B nobody shoots up my ship. something like that would be fine.But they can’t have the ship crew running around dropping an F bomb every other word.as for the nudity i don’t care as long as it’s not some fat sweaty three hundred pound crewmen getting naked just to crawl through a Jefferies Tube!If i wanted to see that I’d just look in my mirror.
November 22, 2016 at 3:52 pm
Good thing your not in charge.
November 19, 2016 at 11:30 am
Just shows you how badly CBS wants your money.
November 20, 2016 at 11:46 am
The very idea of nudity and swearing being included in this new Star Trek series is a VERY BAD ONE! It will certainly be another negative blow to the Star Trek franchise as well as Star Trek fandom, itself.
SMH. First Axanar and now this!
The late Leonard Nimoy was right. Star Trek has run its course.
November 21, 2016 at 4:41 pm
Leonard Nimoy said that? Not sure what that quote is from. I’m not saying he didn’t say that, but that doesn’t sound like the sort of thin he’d say.
Especially considering his connection to the film franchise in the last few years and his adoration of it, I assumed he would have been more enthused about future installments in the franchise.
Another thing, there’s always been swearing in Star Trek, ever since The City on the Edge of Forever. It was more mild on TV but it was there. The films were more profane though. I really don’t see how it’s gonna be all that different, it’s just that you might hear some words that you normally don’t hear on TV, but you always hear in a movie. You’ll probably hear “shit,” occasionally but I doubt it’d get much more severe than that.
As for the sex and nudity, assuming there will be any, that’s becoming more common on TV now then ever before anyway, once again, whooptee doo.
I seriously think it won’t go much farther than TV-14 in its content though, with an occasional TV-MA in there perhaps. But I doubt it’ll be too extreme, and there will likely be a balance.
I can see it being more Torchwood than Doctor Who but again, that’s mild compared to HBO and Showtime.
November 22, 2016 at 3:54 pm
November 20, 2016 at 8:09 pm
Just my two cents, and I mean no offense, but I do not understand how nudity is such a big deal. If the nudity is not sexualized, then I see no real issue. My observation is that society has taught that people should be ashamed of the human body, and that children should be shielded from it. I just do not think that that is logical.
November 22, 2016 at 3:55 pm
You don’t think that’s logical? Shut up.
David B Dornburg
November 22, 2016 at 4:37 pm
Here in the USA, you can thank our “Puritan Forefathers” for how stuck-up we are about nudity and sex.
David B Dornburg
November 22, 2016 at 3:46 pm
I love how they used “FIREFLY” as a current example of “failed Sci-Fi” on TV…
Ummm…. since when is “14 YEARS” ago, considered “most recent”?
November 22, 2016 at 4:03 pm
Just bring back Star Trek…Not new, not Deep Crap Nine…nor The Next Genderation….No more soap opera’s floating around or near Earth. Boldly go where no man has gone before. That’s what people want. Wagon train to the stars. Roddenberry’s vision brought back. No more Berman’s nor Braga’s or Pillar’s…and get rid of Fuller….completely. And enough of the gay political rights crap! Enough! If you can’t do this, then leave it be. Besides…the next idiots that ruin Star Trek will go down with it, so get it right.
Arron Bubba Ratcliff
November 22, 2016 at 11:43 pm
Yea sorry dude but that plan ole Vanilla Trek won’t work in this day and age.For a fan of a show that the carries the ideological banner of Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.You seem pretty intolerant of people with views and ideas that aren’t the same as yours.
November 24, 2016 at 1:43 am
Nah sorry 2 u dude but enterprise failed in large part because it strayed from the whole excitement and wonder of space exploration. Enough with the PC agenda being forced down our throats at every turn. TNG was a huge hit because it was true to wowing us with the fantastic and unknown. Discivery is doomed from the start. Nudity and cursing and the rejecrtion of rhe traditional make it just another exercize in filth from an industry that seems ubable to produce anything else. Doesn’t make anyone intolerant to point these things out. Maybe you should point yiur sanctimonious finger at yourself.
Arron Bubba Ratcliff
November 24, 2016 at 4:07 pm
No Kurt what killed Enterprise was that year long godawful xindi expanse story line.the first two seasons were great when they were doing the traditional Star Trek exploration.type stuff.the whole temporal cold war over story was kinda meh but had good moments.season four went back to that a little and it was OK.i liked them building toward the founding of the federation and Romulan war. And as far as that Scotty guy goes Dude you need to read his posts he hasn’t pointed any thing out just told people they were stupid or to shut up. So yea he seems pretty intolerant to me.
November 25, 2016 at 1:49 pm
Enterprise boldly went where we had already gone 50 years ago. The show was unwatchable and the ratings told the story. The premier was mediocre at best and it was downhill fast from there. I just read that one post by that dude. I’ve run into others like him. “You don’t want men in women’s restrooms, you’re an intolerant racist fascist bla bla bla.” Really so over that. I think the whole country is. But back to ST. Why not take us 200, 500 years out from TNG/Voyager and focus on wowing us with mind-blowing tech and unknown wonders? THAT kind of new ST series would be a huge success.
Arron Bubba Ratcliff
November 25, 2016 at 11:15 pm
Yes it would and all real trek fans want that but Discovery is what we get,All we can do is make the best of it.As for the whole bathroom thing dude that aint my fight.They are gonna put P.C crap in cause that is what Hollywood Demands.If i gotta put up with that stuff i dang well better get to see some nekkid hot chicks and hear an occasional curse.
November 27, 2016 at 4:33 pm
I’m pretty sure you’ll get the nudity and cursing, and the PC programming, but what you won’t get is a legit Star Trek series. It will be Star Trek in name only. STINO. I’ll watch the first ep on CBS, but almost certainly won’t be paying to watch beyond that. It really is a shame, but at this point they’ve pretty much killed the franchise anyway. Maybe Babylon 5 will get a reboot…
Mary Donna Olade
November 27, 2016 at 1:37 am
Nude Trek ….I’m good for it
November 28, 2016 at 10:57 pm
Star Trek was always a family show.
To take ST: Discovery and turn it into a freaking HBO wanna-be will end Star Trek forever.
There has not been ONE THING about Discovery that makes me excited.
2016 is turning out to be the worst year of Star Trek ever.
Paramount gave us a movie we did not want, and now CBS is giving us a TV show that we sure as hell don’t want. UNBELIEVABLE!