LEAKED scripted scene from the season two premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY!

BIG, HUGE, ENORMOUS, GIGANTIC SPOILER ALERT!!!

Now THIS is exciting!  I don’t know whether the producers of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY
intentionally leaked this snippet of the script for the first episode of season two or if it just “sneaked” out the door somehow.  But it provides an intriguing look at the direction the creative team will be taking going into the second season.

As has been reported elsewhere, the writing team for Discovery re-assembled at the beginning of last month to begin breaking down season two.  Co-creator Alex Kurtzman, who will be directing the first episode of season two, recently explained, “Breaking story is, in some ways, the easier and faster thing; it’s the ability to execute on it that’s much harder. We want to take the right amount of time and don’t want to rush.”

But with production on the first episode set to kick off later this month, the first script needed to be completed quickly.  Jonathan Frakes, who just confirmed that he will be directing an episode later in season two, commented, “I just read the first script of the second season and the outline for the second script and it’s on fire now.”

Indeed!  And from this leaked scene, I think he’s right.

Granted, there’s no guarantee that the following snippet from the season two premiere script will make it into the actual episode exactly as initially written.  Dialog can get changed, segments added and cut, etc.  But if this leaked scene does make it into the finished episode, I think we’ll all be very surprised and even enthusiastic about the new direction of the series now that the Klingon War is over.

Naturally, the most exciting thing about this leaked snippet is that fans get a glimpse into how the series will be handing the character of Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise who, like Sarek, Amanda, and Harry Mudd, has already been seen in canonical Star Trek history.  Will Captain Pike hew closely to his original version (like Sarek does), or will he be a radical departure (like Harry Mudd)?

Wonder no more!

I’m not sure if I’m even allowed to post this, so read it fast before I get an e-mail on Monday morning from someone with the initials of “C.B.S.” telling me to immediately take it down.

Enjoy this sneak peek into season two…

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STAR TREK: DISCOVERY’S “Secret Scene”! (editorial)

Over this past weekend, at WonderCon in Anaheim, CA, STAR TREK: DISCOVERY show-runner AARON HARBERTS released what he referred to as a “secret scene. ” He told the audience, in what I thought was a strange comment, that they decided to cut the scene out of the season one finale because it would be “…more exciting to bring it to a place like [WonderCon].”

Um, yeah.

By now, many of you have probably viewed the two and a half-minute “secret scene” (complete with a full minute and a half of credits…which seemed odd and unnecessary to me).  If you’re in the U.S., you can view the clip below…

And in a case of international legalistic inconvenience, those folks in Canada can only watch it here, and the rest of the world can see it here.

Almost immediately, fans started talking excitedly about this “new” scene and what it means for season two.  And not surprisingly, a whole bunch of folks e-mailed and/or IM’d me to ask what I thought about it.  I guess all those Discovery blogs I’ve written have marked me as some kind of fan barometer or something…or maybe they were just hoping I had some interesting insight or that maybe I’d find some fun way to trash the scene.  Who knows?

But since I’ve had a bunch of people ask for my opinion, I thought it best to just write it once.  Obviously, I’m not going to put any spoiler warnings here, as the season ended last month and the “secret scene” is right here on this blog.

So here we go…

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Why CBS is NOT “panicking” about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial, part 2)

Yesterday, I began by noting that there were a number of Trek fans who believed that CBS was somehow in a “panic” about the poor performance of Star Trek: Discovery, and that there was some kind of pressure being put onto the production team to retool the series, possibly bringing in the USS Enterprise to somehow replace the USS Discovery…or some nonsense like that.

It’s true that, at best, Star Trek: Discovery is just about breaking even for CBS…or possibly losing a few million dollars.  I didn’t do all the math yesterday as I ran out of space, but I’ll do it quickly here for you.

Since last September when Discovery premiered, CBS All Access has added approximately 500,000 new subscribers (going from 2 million to 2.5 million).  I learned that the majority of those subscribers were actually tuning into the NFL on All Access and not Discovery, but let’s assume that they all joined because CBS added a new Star Trek show.

All Access allows subscribers to watch with commercials for $6/month or without for $10/month.  Let’s average that to $8/month.  Discovery was on for five months:

 [  5 months x $8/month x 500,000 subscribers = $20 million   ]

As I mentioned yesterday, Discovery cost CBS about $30 million to produce (the portion not covered by Netflix licensing).

So how does Discovery break even if it’s losing $10 million?  Advertising.  Also, not all of those subscribers canceled after 5 months, so the revenue continues.  In other words, Discovery is doing just fine as far as CBS is concerned.

On the other hand, the license to stream the NFL on All Access likely cost CBS upwards of $250 million…and there’s no way they didn’t lose money on that deal!  So why keep throwing major bucks into All Access if you’re CBS?  Hasn’t this experiment essentially failed?

And to make matters worse, this is how All Access looks when measured up against Netflix and Hulu subscribers (and this is only in the U.S. alone)…

YEESH!  Sucks to be CBS, right?  So why not put All Access out of its misery?  Why bother keeping Star Trek: Discovery on the air and losing money on the NFL?

There’s a very simple reason…

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Why CBS is NOT “panicking” about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial, part 1)

Like a number of Trek fans, I watch and enjoy the Midnight’s Edge video podcast.  The production values are high, and the updates are interesting and informative.  But they’re also full of rumor, conjecture, and innuendo.

I sometimes feel as though I’m listening to fan “wish-fulfillment” and conspiracy theories, and I occasionally find myself wondering what is true and what is simply something that the creator(s) of Midnight’s Edge WANT to be true.

It’s often really hard to tell the difference!  In their most recent video podcastMidnight’s Edge mentions that, “There were reportedly no Star Trek: Discovery toys revealed at the 2018 Diamond Select ToyFair.”  Note the word “reportedly.”  It’s a relatively careful word.   The “report” they reference was a single tweet from Gabriel Koerner, who was apparently there…

Three days later, however, TrekMovie.com reported that McFarlane Toys was displaying a brand new Star Trek: Discovery phaser at ToyFair.  So perhaps sourcing a single tweet from a roving, non-reporter VFX artist might not be the most reliable way to confirm one’s facts.

And so it was that I took the following quote from the most recent Midnight’s Edge video podcast with a pretty huge grain of salt:

“While CBS displayed confidence to the public, there was rumored chaos and panic behind the scenes, and the latter episodes of the series were allegedly retooled to address fan concerns going forward.  Because from season 2 onwards, it is going to be increasingly important to win back the fans.”

Sounds all juicy and dramatic, don’t it?  Of course, notice the words “rumored” and “allegedly” included in there.  Some fans, dissatisfied and angry about the new series not hewing more closely to TOS and established Star Trek designs, would love to think that there are huge regrets at CBS about the way Discovery was rolled out and handled…and that the higher-ups are putting pressure on the producers to fix this and that.  It’s certainly a compelling narrative if you’re an angry and resentful Trek fan.

It’s kind of like Special Agent Fox Mulder on The X-Files wanting to believe in the most far out conspiracy theories.  And who knows?  Maybe they’re right.  But I seriously doubt it.

So it’s time for me to put on my Special Agent Dana Scully red wig and provide an alternative, more reasonable analysis of the situation currently going on with CBS and Star Trek: Discovery.  Then you can decide whom YOU want to believe…

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DISCOVERY vs. AXANAR – choose “your” KLINGON WAR! (editorial / review)

WARNING – SPOILERS!!!  Lots and lots and lots of SPOILERS!!!


I really WANTED to like Star Trek: Discovery.  And to be honest, some things I actually DID like.  Sonequa Martin-Green put in a great performance playing the character of Commander Michael Burnham, and I loved the dynamic of seeing two women interacting as captain and first officer of a starship…and neither was caucasian!  (If only both characters could have continued beyond two episodes, but alas, we’ll soon be back to a captain who’s a white male.  Oh well, at least we’ve still got a black female lead.)

I even really liked some of the scenes…like when Burnham talks the ship’s computer into letting her out of the brig before power goes out.  But in the end, I just really didn’t enjoy the show overall—at least the first two episodes.  It was so dark (visually and emotionally), and I just couldn’t grab onto that uplifting feeling I used to get when watching Star Trek.  This new show felt so weighed down to me that even when things were moving quickly, they still seemed somehow slow and heavy.  A couple of times during those Klingon scenes with the never-ending subtitles, I nearly dozed off!

And it wasn’t even the Klingon actors’ fault they were so boring.  The decision to completely redesign the look of the Klingons not only alienated many long-time Trek fans, but it made it virtually impossible for those actors to deliver decent performances.

Imagine if you were asked to give a compelling performance while wearing a medieval suit of knight’s armor with the face-plate covering every part of your face except your mouth. You can barely move your head except a little side to side—very little!—and your arms won’t go any higher than your chest. You can’t even bend your elbows!  And then, before you go in front of the camera, you realize that all of your lines are in Polish…and your don’t speak Polish!  Sounds like an actor’s worst nightmare, right?  Well, that was pretty much the assignment these unfortunate Klingons were given.

And as I was considering this, I began to imagine what Discovery would have been like had they NOT redesigned the Klingons…or the Starfleet uniforms…or made the starships into barely-recognizable whatever-they-were…or had a dark bridge covered with lens flares.  What would Discovery have looked like then?

And then I realized: it would have looked a lot like Axanar

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Great news for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…or is it? (news and editorial, part 2)

Rather than writing a review of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (that’s coming tomorrow), I decided to take a look at the bigger picture.  Were the record sign-ups right after the premiere really “big news” or simply the inevitable result of hundreds of millions of dollars in production and advertising/marketing budgets?  Also, what does it tell us that CBS remains so reluctant to provide hard numbers about how many people actually subscribed last night?

As I said in yesterday’s blog, my goal here is NOT to try to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory for CBS.  I’m actually very happy that Star Trek: Discovery did so well in both ratings and sign-ups.  This means that the worst-case scenario—CBS simply assumes that Star Trek has run its course and is no longer a viable sci-fi franchise—has been avoided.  Nearly 10 million people watched the free network TV premiere on Sunday night.  So anyone accusing me of sour grapes is wrong.  Wet blanket, yes.  Sour grapes, no.

My desire, to be honest, is to simply take a wider look at this new series…beyond just Sunday night or this one week.  Now that the horse is fast out of the starting gate, what are the challenges facing Star Trek: Discovery in terms of keeping and growing its viewership?  Obviously, CBS is in a unique situation due to its decision to require viewers to pay to see episodes of the new series.  How does that affect their goal of attracting and keeping viewers?

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Great news for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…or is it? (news and editorial, part 1)

The news seems to be REALLY great for the premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.  According to a press release quickly and enthusiastically circulated by an exuberant CBS, the premiere of the newest Star Trek TV series has resulted in record-breaking sign-ups for the ALL ACCESS streaming service:

Tonight’s premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY on CBS All Access, the CBS Television Network’s digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service, broke a new record for subscriber sign-ups in a single day, eclipsing the previous record held by the 2017 GRAMMY Awards®.

In addition to its single day subscriber sign-up record, CBS All Access experienced its best week and month ever for sign-ups due to the launch of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, the fall kick-off of the NFL ON CBS on the service’s live local feeds and the season finale of BIG BROTHER and the BIG BROTHER LIVE FEEDS.

Also, the free premiere on the regular CBS network was watched by 9.6 million people.

But before people start gulping down too much champagne (although there is certainly reason for celebration), I’d like to mention a few things that CBS and fans should be noting.

Now, I realize this blog is going to sound like a wet blanket, but please make no mistake: I am ABSOLUTELY, SINCERELY HAPPY that so many people liked the new show!  (I personally wasn’t thrilled with it, although I do plan to watch more episodes eventually.)

But I’m also a business strategist trained to look at multiple aspects of a situation.  As I did in my previous blog about Star Trek: Discovery, I want to take a look at the whole picture…which is, of course, impacted significantly by CBS’s decision to offer their new Star Trek series exclusively as a paid streaming video-on-demand service.

So yes, the news is definitely good for CBS.  But it might be a little too soon to consider the game won…

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Did CBS doom STAR TREK: DISCOVERY by putting it on ALL ACCESS? (editorial, part 2)

In yesterday’s blog, while many Star Trek fans are debating uniforms, starships, bridge lighting, hairless Klingons, and adopted human sisters, I decided to look at a much more fundamental question regarding the new Star Trek: Discovery television series.  Was it a good or bad business decision by CBS to make the new show available (at least in the U.S) exclusively via subscription to their ALL ACCESS streaming service?

We already looked at CBS’s decision to target the series to a younger audience, based on a statement made be CBS President and CEO Les Moonves back in May.  This means that the older, more loyal Star Trek fans, “yesterday’s fan-base” as I call them, aren’t the primary target…which is kinda why Discovery isn’t sweating the details in hewing to established Star Trek canon.

Instead, CBS is focusing their attention and hopes on younger viewers who are more likely to subscribe to a brand new streaming video on demand (SVOD) service than the older fans.

Ah, but therein lies the rub!

These younger viewers don’t have an existing, decades-long relationship with Star Trek.  They weren’t watching TOS when it first aired in the 1960s or grew up with it in the 1970s.  They didn’t even watch TNG in the 1980s and 1990s as kids.  All those folks are already pushing 40 (or 50 or 60 or 70!)  CBS is targeting viewers in their 30s or even 20s.  By the time these younger viewers were old enough to watch Star Trek, the ratings for the show had already plummeted and few people were watching at all.

In other words, the vast majority of these young viewers aren’t really Star Trek “fans.”  To them, Discovery is more like a new science fiction show based on an old series that their parents or grandparents used to watch…except this version has cool sets, dazzling VFX, action, adventure, and a TV-MA rating.  And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.  I don’t fault CBS for choosing to make the new series young and hip.

But they made another choice to put the new series exclusively on the ALL ACCESS subscription service here in the U.S.  And today, I want to look at some of the consequences of that decision—not from the perspective of an angry fan (which I’m not; I actually want the new series to succeed), but as a business analyst.

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Did CBS doom STAR TREK: DISCOVERY by putting it on ALL ACCESS? (editorial, part 1)

(NOTE FROM JONATHAN – I’ve decided to take a two-part break from fan films to answer the question I keep getting asked: “What do you think about the new Star Trek series that’s coming out?”)

Many Trek fans are hotly debating whether or not it was the right move to “modernize” the production design of the new STAR TREK: DISCOVERY series and put a TV-MA rating on it.  I’ve read passionate posts going back and forth arguing about the new uniform styles not matching those worn by Captain Pike in “The Cage” back in 1965; how the “hairless” Klingons don’t look like the ones we’ve seen on TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise; and why after 50 years we’re only just now finding out that Spock had an adopted human sister!

In my opinion, none of that is the problem.  That’s not where I think CBS has steered the wrong courae, and that’s not what I’ll be discussing in this blog.  I’m actually planning to check out Discovery at some point down the line.  But am I the exception or the rule?

I honestly think I’m going to be the exception, and that CBS made an unwise decision to offer their new series solely through their ALL ACCESS subscription service (at least here in the U.S.).

It’s not that Trek and sci-fi fans aren’t ready for CBS ALL ACCESS—it’s that ALL ACCESS might not quite be ready for the fans!

Let’s discuss…

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JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)

This is what I get for going to Colorado instead of Las Vegas!  I wind up taking an antique train ride through the Rocky Mountains to visit an old silver mine with my son and my brother and his family…while at the same time, JAMES CAWLEY makes a HUGE announcement about fan films and CBS licensing!

It’s amazing the kind of cell coverage you get on a train in the middle of mountain wilderness, but it seemed like everyone was coming to me for answers about Saturday morning’s big news from the creator of STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES and the officially licensed Star Trek Set Tour in the small and lovely town of Ticonderoga, New York.

Of course, I had no answers.  Yes, I knew the announcement was coming a few days earlier and that it involved James Cawley and his sets—but I didn’t know the details.  My news Saturday came from Carlos Pedraza’s Axamonitor blog site and TrekMovie.com.  And for those that haven’t heard yet, here’s the basic info…

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