Persistent and hopeful rumors that Star Trek: Discovery had been renewed for a second season have finally been vindicated. The CBS All Access reboot of the popular franchise finally got the nod as announced early this morning by CBS.
The series stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Jason Isaacs, Anthony Rapp, Michelle Yeoh, and Shazad Latif. The centerpiece of the series is Martin-Green’s character Michael Burnham, who appears to have accidentally started the war with the Klingons. Its first episode aired September 24, 2017 to about 16 million viewers worldwide, falling into line with The Orville which premiered two weeks earlier to similar numbers.
The new reformulated Star Trek appears to understand that the deep, cerebral sci-fi storylines of previous series don’t play well with modern audiences. The new series is more action show than science fiction, and showcases a world in which the Federation is at war with the Klingons. Rules of conduct and civilization understandably go out the airlock at wartime, and much of the storyline so far consumes itself with this conflict.
Confidence in the production and fandom communities alike that the show would be greenlit for another batch of episodes was high. Netflix spends about five billion dollars on production each year, and rumors were that it was setting aside the funds for a second season of Discovery.
This new series of Trek is somewhat meta. The tagline of the series is to “boldly go where no man has gone before”. This time the show itself is heading into uncharted waters. The old distribution and syndication of television shows is being supplanted by online streaming services, and the CBS All Access service is noted for its lack of technical stability. The show is obviously succeeding despite these problems, but it is definitely a new frontier for television in general, and Star Trek in specific.
Paradoxically, apart from the first episode, nobody actually knows what the Star Trek: Discovery viewer numbers are. Netflix never releases its viewer numbers to anyone. While CBS has stated that the show has driven substantial subscriber growth, citing critical acclaim and huge global fan interest for what they call a “premium version” of the franchise, there is little evidence that their viewership numbers on CBS All Access amount to more than about 3 million viewers at most. In February of 2017, CBS All Access had a bit less than 1.5 million subscribers, according to studio top exec Les Moonves. They have since stated that they “almost doubled” their subscribership just following the debut of the show on their pay-for-play streaming service, without releasing actual numbers.
Star Trek: Discovery is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Secret Hideout, Living Dead Guy Productions, and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Fuller, Heather Kadin, Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts, Akiva Goldsman, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth serve as executive producers.