There are probably fewer times out there when there has been a bigger space craze than right now. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is officially the highest-grossing film in North American box office history. Boys and girls all over are having visions of being Rey, Finn, or some of the other characters from that series.
With that in mind, it is only inevitable that we stop for a minute and think about what the future could hold when it comes to space exploration television. Some of the most popular series in history have revolved around realms beyond Earth. “Star Trek” was and is still a phenomenon, and there is a reason why CBS is developing a new series for their All Access platform. People loved some of the early incarnationS1 Meanwhile, there have been at times “Star Wars” series in the works beyond just “Clone Wars,” but many of the ideas have not come to fruition. “Firefly” is thought of as brilliant-but-canceled, and “Battlestar Galactica” is widely considered one of the greatest science fiction shows of all time.
So where can television go from here in bringing this genre back, and making into as great a medium as it once was? This is a topic we are eager to explore in the latest chapter of our CarterMatt Extended series.
“Star Wars” – In like a canon-ball
With the success of “The Force Awakens,” the split-second assumption for almost anyone would be that you should see a new TV series set in that universe. After all, what better way is there for Disney to line their pockets with more money and ABC / another network owned by them with high ratings?
We understand that the temptation will be there, and that will probably remain once we make it through to the end of Episode IX and people want more story. However, this is just something that we don’t quite see happening, mostly because it doesn’t need to happen. Disney may be willing to market out BB-8 on anything and everything, but they are being very rigid when it comes to unleashing entertainment properties that are considered a part of their Expanded Universe. Creating a show at this time would require getting scripts together that are closely monitored, and then finding scripts that while important, don’t take away anything from the movies. A good comparison here is Marvel’s “Agents of SHIELD,” who are limited more than than not by the Marvel Cinematic Universe in terms of what they can and how they can have it realistically work. If you thought this or what DC Comics could put on TV was bad, consider this. If a “Star Wars” TV show is set in the modern day, you run the risk of having a story will coincide with events in the films; also, you can be afraid that the show is so good, the movies risk losing part of what made them magic in the first place.
Let’s just sum this up with the following: When you are setting box-office records, there is zero need to make a TV show. You don’t want to over-saturate the market, and what you are doing is clearly working to a great degree … though it’s dangerous close to saturation as is.
“Star Trek” – Far from the final frontier
If you want great space-related television, we still don’t see how you go wrong with “Star Trek.” Does it have universal appeal as a TV show anymore? We understand the reasoning for that question, given that it does hold a reputation among non-genre fans as being rather dull or uninteresting. Most of these people never watched “The Next Generation,” one of the strongest series out there and where LeVar Burton became to many a household name (at least if they didn’t see “Roots”). “Star Trak” has the potential to seize control of that open space-TV market when it returns, even if “Enterprise” at times had ratings woes. While it often does not have the same serialized story like “Star Wars” that is epic in scale, it tells great episodic drama. Every week you can send the Enterprise or any other ship off to a different world to interact with a different alien race. It’s a show that has that is all about boldly going where no man has gone before; it’s ambitious, hopeful, and adventurous. It captures a quintessential spirit of adventure. While we’re not sure that a new series would capture this completely in a cynical age, it is something that could still be explored.
Commercially, “Star Trek” may never get 40 million viewers or break any ratings records; yet, we do still think that it could revolutionize the world of CBS All Access and bring the service some new appeal beyond just the “Big Brother” live feeds. In the end, it could be perfect for a new era of people wanting to mix familiar names and faces with finding new ways to watch TV. It’s a completely-new creative, marked with a familiar brand, and could get a few famous cameos to boot.
“Mass Effect” – New horizons
In some ways, it feels weird and biased to present this as a huge fan of the product, but here we are. It just makes sense The “Mass Effect” franchise comes from video gaming, and while we’re always skeptical of anyone who wants to adapt from this media, we actually think it could work well in this case for TV more some than many other games / sci-fi shows that are already out there. Much of the mythology is easy to understand, the games are heavily story-based anyway, and the universe is described as so vast that it would be easy to create a prequel or other stories within the universe that would have almost no impact on the events of the games. Nothing is as rigid as “Star Wars.” There are also a variety of interesting alien races, a “Star Trek” level of joy hrough exploration, and there are positive examples of diversity and interesting characters across the board.
While a “Mass Effect” show would almost surely never be ordered (studio BioWare is still extremely busy on the games), it’s at least something to consider as we start to wonder what the future of space exploration on TV could look like. If nothing else, maybe you give it an eight to ten-episode run on Amazon or Netflix. If there were rumors about a Zelda series (which never came to fruition), someone could do the same for this.
Sure, there are plenty of other commendable suggestions out there for ways to bring more space to TV, whether it be reviving “Firefly,” creating something totally new, or simply taking a character or two from a space-oriented film and try to make a story around them. There’s no hard-and-fast answer to this issue; with that said, don’t be surprised if there are at least one or two space shows beyond “Star Trek” and what else is already out there on the horizon for the next pilot season or two. It’s a huge galaxy; adventure awaits!
CarterMatt Extended is a feature, comprising of in-depth articles on various TV topics posted every Wednesday night. If you want to sign up for news sent to you every week, you can do so on our Newsletter page.