The good news is Paramount is launching the first new “Star Trek” series since “Star Trek: Enterprise” went off the air in 2005. The other good news is you can watch the pilot episode this coming weekend on CBS. But the bad news is that, if you like it, you’ll have to subscribe to CBS’ new monthly internet streaming service CBS All Access for more. Welcome to the future!
So what the heck is CBS All Access? We’ll get to that in a second. First, let’s look at “Star Trek: Discovery.” The series is set roughly a decade before Kirk and his crew manned the famed Enterprise. It takes place aboard the USS Discovery during the events of the Federation-Klingon War, which led to the establishment of the infamous Neutral Zone. Jason Isaacs (from the Harry Potter films) plays the captain of the Discovery. Unlike previous series, however, this one is expected to center on the ship’s first officer, the Vulcan-raised human Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green from “The Walking Dead”). Other regular actors include Doug Jones (Hellboy) as the alien Saru, Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as the battle-scared Captain Georgiou, Anthony Rapp (Rent) as science officer Stamets and Rainn Wilson (“The Office”) as a younger version of fan-fave character Harry Mudd.
Paramount has been keeping a tight lid on “Star Trek: Discovery” and isn’t allowing critics to see or review the series until after it debuts on Sept. 24. The show’s first season is split into two chapters. The rest of the 15-episode first chapter will air, 1 episode per week, on CBS All Access.
This isn’t the first time, of course, that Paramount has launched a network with a “Star Trek” franchise. The United Paramount Network, which existed from 1995 to 2006, was built around “Star Trek: Voyager.” But UPN was a broadcast network, available for free across the United States. CBS All Access is a subscription streaming video-on-demand service. It is delivered “over the top” (an industry term for audio, video and other media transmitted via the internet without the need for intermediate operators such as cable or satellite). In other words: You pay Paramount to watch it on your phone, computer or tablet. How much? $5.99 a month. But that still comes with commercials. $9.99 nets you commercial-free content.
What do you get for your money besides new “Trek”? Well, the next nine episodes of “The Good Wife” spin-off “The Good Fight” starring Christine Baranski will air on CBS All Access. Also, there’s an online version of “Big Brother” called “Big Brother: Over the Top.” That’s it for original content right now. But you can watch full-season reruns of several current CBS shows. “Big Bang Theory,” however, is owned by Warner Bros., and CBS can only stack the last five episodes. Sorry. Maybe old episodes of “Cheers” “MacGuyver” or “CSI: Miami” will be enough to sway you.
Of course when every network pulls out of Hulu and every movie studio pulls out of Netflix to follow Paramount’s lead, you’re going to be forking out a lot of dough each month to watch “free” TV. Sure, you’re a “Star Trek” fan, but how much of a CBS fan are you?