A 23-episode series TV can be done extremely well. Star Trek: The Next Generation proved this in its own time. Not every episode was a gem, but it was by and large excellent. It was a bit procedural in that there was generally no ongoing storyline (later seasons of Deep Space Nine were more serialized). The first season of Lost was amazing in that it was a serialized show that managed to keep you engaged and enraptured through a full 23 episodes, which is quite a feat. Even now, The Flash has just shown how great a full season of a weekly show can be done to an extremely high bar of quality. It combined aspects of the procedural (with some “villain of the week” episodes/plotlines) and the serial (the developing mystery surrounding the death of Barry’s mother and who killed her). I see Star Trek taking this route – you can still have the adventure and exploration of strange new worlds on a weekly basis, but have character growth and a longform mystery/story developing in the background that you can build up to slowly and really make pay off at key points (premiere episodes, sweeps weeks, mid- and season finales, etc).
There’s also something to be said for a 10-13 episode season that lets the writers really think about the story they want to tell, and boil it down to the essentials. Less “monster of the week” and more focus on telling a cohesive story with a strong theme and real plot and character development (without the risk of becoming too “Soap Opera-y” when you have to fill 23 episodes with plot twists and character surprises). Most 10-13 episode shows tend to be more serialized, less procedural (compare True Detective to, say, Law & Order as extreme examples). And they have the benefit of longer production time and more concentration of budget per episode, which could be a very good thing for a show like Star Trek that has historically had to fight budget constraints.
And while CBS is the natural choice for the channel to air it on, there’s no reason Star Trek has to be restrained to broadcast TV. I don’t mean first-run syndication, which worked so well for TNG – that was a very different time (and again budget concerns would be an issue and half-seasons would be unlikely). So consider the broader cable landscape. Remember that Battlestar Galactica aired on SyFy. And while even excellent shows like Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad have been aired on AMC – a basic cable channel with commercial breaks – there’s no reason it couldn’t air on a premium cable channel like, say, Showtime (in the same corporate family as CBS). After all, some of the best shows on television have come from premium cable – Game of Thrones, The Sorpranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Homeland, True Detective, Spartacus, etc. In fact, a premium cable Star Trek series might be freed from the restraints of the 4 act format, 42-minute running times and commercial sponsorship.
And then there’s even newer options. Star Trek could be a Netflix series. Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and Daredevil have all shown that excellent serialized drama can come from new media sources like Netflix and Amazon.
I realize there are legal issues with rights over who would get to air the show and so on, but I imagine that if the powers that be wanted it to happen, they have the resources and available options to make it happen in any of the above ways. While I’d be a little wary of the budget and ratings concerns involved in a full-season broadcast TV series, any of these would be a good choice, from my perspective.