Star Trek works best when it's a stage play on a starship. The emotion, the debate, the thought-provoking storylines. That's the core of Star Trek, a show that could work on a relatively tight budget. When Star Trek: Discovery launched, the concept for the franchise's new series was to make them bigger, more expensive, and more bombastic.
It didn't work. Across CBS All-Access and Paramount+ shows like Star Trek bled the streaming services dry, using money that the companies didn't have with the hope that enough people would see the shows and go "ooh pretty" and tune in. It didn't work.
It got to a point that budgets were getting slashed when investors started calling for returns on their investments. The show most hit by this was Star Trek: Picard, as David Blass revealed in an interview with Slashfilm, where he'd go on to say;
"Season three was just such a massive challenge because every script would come and it was huge. Then it was the emotional compromise of, 'Here, I want to design this new set and make it cool. I want to do this.' Then you submit it — this big huge set — and they're like, 'Okay, that's $5 million.' And I'm like, 'How much do we have?' And they're like, '500.' And you're like, 'Oh, okay, maybe the set's this big, then.' So it was just a weekly compromise of, 'Here's what I want to do, here's what we get to do.' In the end, it's actually fine."
Picard's third season was one of the most celebrated seasons of Nu Trek we've ever gotten, much to the surprise of many. Not because the show ended with a bang that fans liked, but because it was done with pennies on the dollar. It was a masterclass of how restricting yourself financially forces you to invest more in the more meaningful aspects of the product. It worked, fans loved it.
And with the future of Paramount Global and Paramount+ up in the air, it's a lesson that everyone will need to remember going forward.