We might have a long time left to wait for the new Star Trek show to premiere in 2017, but that's just enough time to get good and hyped for Trek's long-awaited return to the small screen. Part of that hype is paying close attention to any and all rumors about the new series, wildly speculating about the possibilities. And the possibilities posed by the latest rumor are wild to say the least.
When the 2017 Star Trek TV series was announced, most of us assumed that it would be set in the Prime Timeline. This was thanks to some careful wording in the press release (which we'll dissect in due course). But a new rumor has thrown all that in doubt, claiming that the show will be set in the new timeline created by JJ Abrams' movies.
Before this starts sparking the fires of fan debate (and boy, will it do just that), let's take a look at just how truthful this rumor is, and whether this would be a good or bad thing for the show.
Clash Of Continuities
This rumor comes to us from the website 1701News, whose anonymous source had the scoop. They claimed that there's a strong sway of opinion at CBS that the show should be set in Abrams' altered timeline, rather than the original continuity in which all the previous films and shows were set.
"There is apparently a contingent within CBS that views the prime universe closed for business."
When Abrams chose to reset the timeline in 2009's Star Trek, this angered a lot of fans and caused a huge amount of confusion among casual audiences. Seven years on, it's easy to see why CBS might lean towards setting the show in the timeline which has been in the spotlight most recently — as 1701News's source points out, the last Prime Timeline show aired over 10 years ago (if you want to get nitpicky, this would be Voyager, as Enterprise predates the timeline alteration).
This might actually give the writers a really interesting situation to play with. The timeline alteration threw most of what we know of Trek's history into doubt. We have no idea how the Khitomer Accords would play out in this new continuity, to pick an event not entirely at random.
To be more exact, there's an intriguing situation set up by the events of 2009's Star Trek — after all, the Vulcans are all but extinct, and the Romulans are seen even more as villains. Did Nero's actions provoke change within the Romulan Empire? And how are the Vulcans rebuilding their culture?
As much as setting the show in the Abrams timeline would annoy some fans, it could be very interesting if done right. So it might be unfortunate then, that this probably isn't true.
Separating The Films & Shows
There's an incredibly difficult and complicated financial situation between CBS and Paramount — both studios, though connected, hold separate rights when it comes to Trek, and the negotiations about parsing out the franchise have scuppered many a plan over the last ten years. The easiest thing for CBS to do, legally speaking, is to set the show in the Prime Timeline, as those are the stories they have the rights to (with the exception of the TOS and TNG movies).
In fact, this might be the only way they're allowed to make the series, which would explain their statement about the Abrams movies in the 2017 show press release.
The new television series is not related to the upcoming feature film Star Trek Beyond which is scheduled to be distributed by Paramount Pictures in summer 2016.
Then there's the fact that setting the show in the same continuity as the Abrams films would undoubtably anger a lot of fans, and CBS are well aware of this. This might also be why they stressed the presence of "new everything" in the show trailer, to hammer the point home that the continuities are separate.
However, there is a solution that might consolidate the new rumor with the press release. It could be that CBS are planning on exploring the timeline divergence at a later date, bringing the story back to just after Enterprise to have some fun time travel adventures exploring the timeline differences. This might not be in the first season of the show though — previous, more detailed rumors (ones I'm honestly inclined to believe) pinpointed the first season's setting as between The Undiscovered Country and The Next Generation. This report from BirthMoviesDeath also specified that the show would take an anthology format, allowing the writers to set successive seasons in separate eras.
We'll just have to wait and see to find out, but suffice to say that all of these rumors could be true, thanks to the show being set in several eras in different seasons. Or none of them could be! Ah, wild speculation. This is going to be a fun wait.