NEW YORK: Cult TV franchise “Star Trek” will boldly return to the small screen with a brand-new series in 2017, CBS said Monday, sparking a frenzy among its millions of fans around the world.
The series will air exclusively in the United States from January 2017 but will be available largely behind the paywall on CBS’s subscription channel, the broadcaster announced.
The original “Star Trek” told the story of the flight crew aboard the USS Enterprise spaceship, which ventured around the galaxy exploring new worlds in death-defying adventures.
The new series will “introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966,” CBS said.
The original franchise snowballed into a cultural phenomenon in the 1970s and 80s, turning its stars into household names — the late Leonard Nimoy, who played the half-human, half-Vulcan “Mr Spock” and William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk.
David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios, said there was no better time to give the show a makeover “than on the heels of the original show’s 50th anniversary celebration” — in 2016.
Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote and produced blockbuster 2009 and 2013 spin-off movies “Star Trek” and “Star Trek Into Darkness,” will serve as executive producer for the new TV series.
“Everyone here has great respect for this storied franchise, and we’re excited to launch its next television chapter in the creative mind and skilled hands of Alex Kurtzman, someone who knows this world and its audience intimately,” CBS said.
The new series will blast off with a special preview on CBS, with subsequent episodes on the network’s digital subscription service, CBS All Access.
CBS said the new series was not related to the forthcoming Paramount Pictures film “Star Trek Beyond,” due out in mid-2016.
Created by Gene Roddenberry, the original “Star Trek” made its debut in 1966 and aired for three seasons, but has influenced generations of TV watchers and inspired dozens of movies.
The original three series are licensed in more than 190 countries and a franchise episode is watched in almost every country in the world every day, CBS said.
In a testament to its enduring legacy, the 2009 film “Star Trek” grossed more than $385 million worldwide at the box office and its 2013 follow-up “Star Trek Into Darkness,” more than $467 million.
News of the TV series was trending on social media, generating excitement and — particularly from purists wedded to the original series — curiosity about what it would be like.
Dimitrios Fragiskatos, the manager of New York’s Midtown Comics store, told AFP that Star Trek fans are “extremely excited” about the new series — most of them, anyway.
“I think most fans are extremely excited for it. I myself am just a little jaded,” he said.
“I’ve been happy with some stuff, I’ve been unhappy with other stuff, but I think the majority of fans are very excited to see a TV series back on television again,” he said.
CBS will be hoping that the show proves a hit for its expanding subscription service.
“We now have an incredible opportunity to accelerate this growth with the iconic ‘Star Trek,’ and its devoted and passionate fan base, as our first original series,” said Marc DeBevoise, general manager of CBS Digital Media.