Writer, director, and producer Alex Kurtzman has stated that he has a six-year plan for the future of his Star Trek television series for CBS. While having an eclectic list of film and TV credits (including The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Fox's cult favorite Fringe), Kurtzman is most known for rebooting the Star Trek franchise, both on film and television. Following the conclusion of the film reboot series that started with 2009's Star Trek, Kurtzman pitched a detailed Star Trek television universe to CBS, in hopes of making the franchise more accessible to not just seasoned fans but new ones who were fans of the modern films.
The first product of that pitch was Star Trek: Discovery, the first series in the franchise in more than 10 years. Premiering on CBS All Access in 2017, the series follows the adventures of the USS Discovery a mere decade before the events of The Original Series. While not without criticisms from die-hard fans, the show was otherwise an immediate success and allowed Kurtzman to further the universe with more shows: there's the Discovery spinoff companion, Short Treks; the sequel-of-sorts to the Next Generation era, Star Trek: Picard; and the animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks. There are also two more shows currently in development, and should those be successful, there'd surely be more spinoffs and tie-ins.
Kurtzman and his team have planned out the Star Trek television shows for the next six years. In an interview with THR's "TV Top 5" podcast, Kurtzman explained the ambitions behind mapping out such a plan:
“Heather Kaden and Aaron Baiers, who work with me at [production company] Secret Hideout — we literally just got off a call with the network mapping out with us through 2027. Now when I say that, it’s not like it’s set in stone. It’s just, ‘Here’s a plan. Here’s what we’re looking at. Here’s how the different shows are going to drop.’ Consider the fact that it takes a year from inception — from starting production — to airing, you have to plan way, way, way in advance to get these things done, and you have to stay on top of the zeitgeists and make sure that what you’re doing is relevant. So you have to plan so far in advance now in different kinds of ways [like safety and budget] to seem loose and improvisational, but there’s nothing loose and improvisational about it.”
Of course, a plan like this is ideal of any television producer, and it seems like Kurtzman's initial ambitions when he first pitched to CBS haven't faltered in the years since. Kurtzman's vision in that pitch had five to ten years' worth of content revolving around the Star Trek mythos. And the main goal was to make the franchise accessible and appeal to a wide array of viewers, not just for established Star Trek fans. This is why Rick and Morty's Mike McMahan serves as showrunner for Lower Decks; although the latter isn't in the same vein as the former, Lower Decks appeals to an audience set who normally wouldn't watch other Star Trek shows or movies. And while the animated comedy contains treats for fans of the franchise, they aren't ingrained in the narrative where a novice viewer would feel left out.
Kurtzman's goal to keep this six-year plan "relevant" is perhaps the best asset of his pitch. Granted, every pitch for whatever project requires some semblance of relevance, but no one usually attempts to pitch relevance that can sustain itself for more than five years. Discovery flipped the narrative when its protagonist wasn't a starship's captain, per usual, but an average crew member in an attempt to give a different perspective. Likewise, Lower Decks follows a ragtag team of young crew members who are more like entry-level assistants, a far cry from what Star Trek is used to portraying.