What We Know: Star Trek Discovery
By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)
J.J. Abrams brilliantly revived Star Trek movies for a new generation. Could Bryan Fuller do the same for Star Trek television? We haven’t seen anything Trekkie on TV since 2005, when Enterprise was cancelled due to poor ratings. Now, it looks like we’ll have to tune in to CBS All Access sometime this year to find out for ourselves if the magic is back with Star Trek Discovery!
Announced in November 2015, the impending 13-episode season of Star Trek Discovery has been in the works for some time. Creator and writer Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, American Gods) didn’t join the project until February 2016. Working along with Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness), the show began to take shape. Kurtzman and Fuller have both worked on various iterations of Star Trek and are trustworthy hands to place such a project into. Nicholas Meyer also joined the team as a writer and consulting producer, another Star Trek alumni who wrote an original Star Trek movie script or two. The trust is deepened with the involvement of Rod Roddenberry (son of Gene Roddenberry) and Trevor Roth, both serving as executive producers.
Eventually, in October of 2016, Bryan Fuller had to step down from his duties with Star Trek Discovery, most likely due to other obligations (such as the upcoming American Gods). However, the mythology and story arc that Fuller created for the season will be used, and Fuller has expressed interest in returning to the series if it continues and he has the time and an offer to do so. With the loss of Fuller, Star Trek Discovery gained Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts as replacement showrunners with Akiva Goldsman to provide support. Filming began at Pinewood Toronto Studios in January 2017 and is scheduled to continue until September.
So what’s this story that Fuller had a hand in creating before stepping away from the project? It looks like Star Trek Discovery will take place about 10 years before events in the original Star Trek series. Placed in the original “Prime” timeline (not the “Kelvin” alternate timeline in the new movies), it will follow the crew of the USS Discovery, particularly the lieutenant commander of the ship, (Number One) Rainsford. Season one of the show will revolve around an incident/event in Star Trek mythology that has been referred to and talked about, but never seen on screen or explored. As per usual, Star Trek Discovery intends to be progressive, as Gene Roddenberry always intended for that universe. The show plans to showcase minority, female, and LGBTQ characters, along with lots of aliens! (Because, you know…space.)
Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead) is set to play Number One, Lieutenant Commander Rainsford on the USS Discovery. She will be the first female African-American lead of a Star Trek series. Although not centered on the captain, he will still be a present part of the crew, with Jason Isaacs (whom you might remember as one Lucius Malfoy) as Captain Lorca. James Frain (Gotham) will play Sarek, the astrophysicist better known as the father of Spock, while Anthony Rapp will be Stamets, an openly gay character working as a science officer with a focus on space fungi. Mary Wisemen will be Tilly, a final year Starfleet cadet assigned to the USS Discovery and Doug Jones (known for his prosthetic acting work in movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy) will be science officer Lieutenant Saru.
Meanwhile, over on a sister ship, the USS Shenzhou, Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) will be joined by a chief medical officer (Maulik Pancholy of 30 Rock) and junior officer Connor (Sam Vartholomeos). And somewhere is an Admiral Anderson, played by Terry Serpico.
And if you were hoping for Klingons, your prayers have been answered. Chris Obi will play Klingon leader T’Kuvma along with Shazad Latif as Kol, a commanding officer of Klingons. We will also see a Klingon ship battle deck commander named L’Rell (Mary Chieffo).
So the series is currently in production and coming this year. In a bold move, only the pilot episode of Star Trek Discovery will air on CBS. To watch the full series in America, each weekly episode will premiere on the new streaming service, CBS All Access. If you’re in Canada, the show will premiere on CTV and following episodes will air on Space (in English) and Z (French), moving then to CraveTV. If you find yourself in another country and desperate for a Star Trek fix, a ground-breaking agreement (which essentially funded the entire project) will allow Netflix to release each episode for streaming within 24 hours of the U.S. debut, allowing users in 188 countries to enjoy Star Trek Discovery.
However, we don’t have a release date for Star Trek Discovery just yet. While initially slated to premiere in January 2017, it was pushed to May 2017, and was delayed again for a late summer or early fall release. CBS Studios reported, “This is an ambitious project; we will be flexible on a launch date if it’s best for the show. We’ve said from the beginning it’s more important to do this right than to do it fast.”
Don’t get your underoos in a bunch, though. Star Trek Discovery is coming. Eventually. For more updates as production continues, you can follow the show on Twitter or on their Facebook page.