If we want Trek to come back and be successful for 7 years we should expect to set our sights lower.
There are far more modestly-rated channels in America now than big-ratings one - that's cable (basic or premium) vs network (tho the situation is equalizing fast).
Cable shows can have reasonably high production values a la Mad Men
with ratings levels that would get them cancelled even on the CW. Part of the reason is that some % of cable subscription fees find their way back to the shows; also I'd imagine having a higher-income and more targetted audience carries a premium for advertising. And some shows pinch the pennies pretty well and don't show their limited budgets too obviously - I suspect BSG
was in this category.
The problem with basic cable is that it contradicts Paramount's efforts to turn Star Trek
into the mass market phenomenon it used to be. It's mass market in movies; it would be weird for it not to be on TV. But maybe that's the reality of TV now - there is no "premium blockbuster" outlet. It's either cheap popular nonsense on networks or targeted niche stuff on cable.
If it goes to cable, it needs to be basic cable. Premium cable wouldn't bite; that would contradict their own strategy of giving the audience more exclusive, edgier content than they can get elsewhere. HBO and Showtime are a total mismatch with the Hollywood blockbuster movie, which is ironic since showing movies is how they started out...
With HBO now developing 2 Sci Fi shows, I can see Showtime picking up Star Wars and Star Trek.
I can't. They wouldn't want to pick up any franchise that is so well known and so mass-market. They can't justify higher subscription fees that way; they have to be more exclusive and original than that, or their audience will wonder what they are paying for. I could see either doing a space opera series, but they would use Moore's critically lauded BSG
as the touchstone.
Is Star Trek that mainstream that is beyond being able to have its flagship TV series 1st run on a cable TV channel and it has to be broadcast TV? Can't it be elevated to nuBSG quality for the fans instead of 22 episodes of which 16 would be good.
If they're going to provide exclusive, premium product to their audience via the BSG
route, then why destroy that strategy by using a mass market franchise? Instead, either adapt something highly respected from the print world (Foundation
, RAMA, Ubik, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
) or come up with an original concept.
If I were running HBO or Showtime, I'd use the former strategy - you get credit for being daring and creative enough to adapt something the Hollwyood lame-brains wouldn't touch, and you get the cachet of print sci fi, which is far more respected than movies or TV. And you get a solid premise to build a series on.
Can you imagine Showtime marketing itself as the home of both Star Wars and Star Trek?
Anyone at Showtime who dared suggest such a strategy would be immediately fired, because it would demonstrate that that person doesn't understand the marketing strategy of the company they are working for.
It would lock up the space Sci Fi market and force HBO to be the 2nd premium and/or take the Sci Fi fans who don't like either Star Trek/Wars.
HBO would be laughing its ass off that its chief rival would make such a basic mistake.
HBO and Showtimes' audience does not think of Star Wars
and Star Trek
as "good things" or worth their attention. You gotta think "snob appeal," the thing that Mad Men
has (a basic cable show that "belongs" on premium). Envision a New Yorker
reader with a glass of chardonnay in hand. What would they discuss at a fancy Manhattan party? BSG
maybe. Nobody would make themselves a laughing stock by touching on any other topic of sci fi on TV. In fact, even discussing TV at all would be dangerously lowbrow. BSG
's accomplishment was to be a rare exception to that rule. Any other sci fi series on premium cable would have to follow BSG'
I voted Showtime because I heard they regret getting rid of Stargate so it could be their replacement.
They don't regret it now, because in the years since then, they've changed their strategy to be a successful rival to HBO. (However if they'd kept Stargate
they might have evolved the show into something very different from what it's become.)
The budget for Enterpirse was about $1.6 million per episode. The budget for Stargate was $2.2 million
sure used its budget well (or Stargate
is profligate) because ENT
looked much better while Stargate
is eternally tacky.