Last fall, CBS Television Studios announced that the network would launch a totally new “Star Trek” television series that will debut in January 2017.
To be titled “Star Trek: Discovery” and executive produced by Bryan Fuller, the brand-new series will introduce new characters, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966. Alex Kurtzman will also serve as executive producer. He co-wrote and produced the films “Star Trek” (2009) with Roberto Orci, and “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013) with Orci and Damon Lindelof.
“There is no better time to give ‘Star Trek’ fans a new series than on the heels of the original show’s 50th anniversary celebration,” said David Stapf, President, CBS Television Studios. “Everyone here has great respect for this storied franchise, and we’re excited to launch its next television chapter.”
“This new series will premiere to the national CBS audience, then boldly go where no first-run ‘Star Trek’ series has gone before – directly to its millions of fans through CBS All Access,” said Marc DeBevoise, Executive Vice President/General Manager – CBS Digital Media. “We’ve experienced terrific growth for CBS All Access, expanding the service across affiliates and devices in a very short time. We now have an incredible opportunity to accelerate this growth with the iconic ‘Star Trek,’ and its devoted and passionate fan base, as our first original series.”
So, essentially, this is CBS’ attempt to boost subscribers for its new CBS All Access platform, as if it wants to compete with other SVOD platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Subscribers can use the service online and across devices via CBS.com, the CBS App for iOS, Android and Windows 10, as well as on connected devices such as Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku players and Roku TV, with more connected devices to come.
Yesterday evening, during CBS’ portion of the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press tour, “Star Trek: Discovery” executive producer Fuller previewed the reboot. Among the most notable bits shared by Fuller, the lead character will be a woman and she will very likely be non-white. The vast majority of actresses who’ve been seen for the part so far have been either African-American or Latina (this specifically is per Deadline). She won’t be the captain of the ship, but she will be the series’ lead, as Fuller and company said they want to stories through some other character’s eyes who is not the captain, as has typically been the case in past “Star Trek” series and movies. The lead will be “a lieutenant commander with caveats” Fuller said. Although the role has apparently not been cast yet, Fuller and company say their intention is to go diverse, not just with the lead role, but with the entire cast. He also added that at least one of the key characters in the series will be gay. The diversity will also include the alien species and robots.
“‘Star Trek’ started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast,” Fuller explained. “We’re absolutely continuing that tradition… The thing that makes ‘Star Trek’ such a lasting, vital part of pop culture is that it’s us… and where we’re going. The franchise’s on-screen diversity gives everybody hope, as fans see a future with a wide range of backgrounds.”
The first season will be 13 episodes, but little was revealed in terms of story, other than to say that the new series will be set in the Prime Universe (as opposed to the Kelvin Timeline used in the J.J. Abrams-produced films) and will take place about 10 years before Captain Kirk’s five-year mission. In other words, the series will act as a bridge between the first two series in the timeline, about a century after “Star Trek: Enterprise” (which was a prequel) and a decade before the original series. Fuller said they did this in part so they could utilize the iconography of the original ships and uniforms.
Per Fuller, “There’s an incident, an event in Star Trek history in the history of Starfleet that had been talked about but never fully explored. [We’re telling] that story through a character who is on a journey that is going to teach her how to get along with others in the galaxy… In order to understand something that is so completely alien from her, she must first understand herself… That’s part of our journey on this planet to get along, and that’s part of our journey in this first season.”
I’ll leave it up to you “Star Trek” experts to debate what that incident might be that he says was walked about but never fully explored in the original series.
The first 13 episodes will be serialized and play out almost like a novel, “with each episode being a chapter of that novel, and within that chapter there’s a beginning, middle and end,” Fuller said. He added, “We will have episodes that exist by themselves but are a part of a much bigger story.”
Also expect more sex and profanity, and “slightly more graphic content,” Fuller said.
And even though it’s being made for CBS’ SVOD service, the series will still air on a weekly basis; so don’t expect to Star Trek: Discovery episodes will unspool weekly on CBS All Access after initially launching with a two-hour episode on the CBS network in January 2017, with the premiere and all subsequent episodes available exclusively on CBS All Access.
I’m surprised that, given the scheduled January 2017 premiere date, that the series hasn’t even been cast yet. I’d assume that a series like this, likely to be post-production heavy, would’ve already been cast and shot by now, with less than 6 months until its debut.