Star Trek Discovery Blog
34 days to go
Burnham Details, New Trailer, Isaacs's Clash With Fans
The last week brought us comparably little news on Star Trek Discovery. However, we learned some more details about Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). When she was a child, her parents visited Vulcan at the invitation of Ambassador Sarek and were killed in a Klingon attack. She was raised in Sarek's family and became the only human to attend the Vulcan Learning Center and then the Vulcan Science Academy. She mastered in xenoanthropology, which makes her an expert in establishing first contact with new species.
A new trailer with a length of one minute was released too. It contains a bit of new footage, starting with the line: "We strive towards this dream of peace where all species can share common ground. Yet no dream will protect us from you [the Klingons]."
In less pleasant news, Jason Isaacs (Captain Lorca) was quoted in the "Confidential" column of the NY Daily News with the words: "I don't mean to sound irreverent when I say I don't care about the die-hard Trek fans. I only 'don't care' about them in the sense that I know they're all going to watch anyway. I look forward to having the fun of them being outraged, so they can sit up all night and talk about it with each other." The tabloid also attributed to him that he said Discovery would "throw away the legacy of William Shatner and Patrick Stewart." Jason Isaacs later refuted the alleged statement about the legacy, but until then he had already attracted numerous malicious comments from fans.
I like the details about Michael Burnham, although her back story includes Star Trek clichés that we already know too well. She is orphaned, like so many other characters. She's the first or only human to study on Vulcan, an exception that is very common in Star Trek where we frequently meet people who have been the only one of their kind among aliens. And she has a very personal unfinished business with the Klingons, which is a familiar theme too.
The new trailer is somewhat less warlike and more pleasant to watch than the previous one, although it starts with a quite uncompromising statement.
Regarding Jason Isaacs's statement about die-hard Star Trek fans, I am sorry that he was misquoted about the "throwing away the legacy" part. Bad journalism. I am sorry that he was attacked for it. But the statement about those fans "going to watch anyway" and him "having the fun of them being outraged" appears to be authentic. At least Isaacs didn't deny it. I am grateful for the apparent honesty in a public relations campaign for Discovery, which so far used to counter possible and actual criticism of the series with distraction tactics and appeasement. Still, I take exception to his obvious disrespect for fans like me and for our expectations. We have to keep in mind, he is talking about the core group of customers, and he expresses joy over them being dissatisfied, even angry, with the product he is working on!
Weekly News Round-up
At Star Trek Las Vegas, John Eaves showed previously unseen concept art for his Walker-class starship USS Shenzhou, confirming that the CG ship as seen in the trailers matches with his original design.
Also at STLV, some more details about the Klingons of Discovery were revealed. "We will see all 24 houses and the leaders among them", cast member Kenneth Mitchell told the audience. He is going to play Kol of the House of Kor. A publicity photo shows Kol in the same revised make-up as the Discovery Klingons seen so far, but in a more familiar attire. Klingons will speak Klingon with each other. Mary Chieffo (L'Rell) said the idea was "giving the Klingons a three-dimensional quality. It makes sense that if we're speaking to each other, we're going to be speaking in our native tongue."
The theme music for Discovery was revealed at the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles. Nothing is known about it so far, except that it was recorded by a 60-piece orchestra and is apparently without lyrics.
Finally, two test shots of the original USS Discovery design have leaked. They show the ship in the same configuration as in the teaser trailer where it left the asteroid base. In the new shots it has a much higher, screen-ready level of detail. This Discovery doesn't have the two gaps in the saucer yet, and still has the original, much shorter nacelles.
Well, on a positive note about the Discovery Klingons (my probably first one), Kol has clothes that are in line with Klingon style in the old Star Trek, and definitely more reasonable than the totally overblown Klingon costumes of the series seen so far. The fact that there are 24 houses was taken by some fans as a hint that old-style Klingons exist in the Discovery universe. This is only wishful thinking in my view, since the decision about the radical retcon dates back to the very early stages of the Discovery production. At STLV, it was confirmed that indeed Bryan Fuller came up with the idea that Klingons should look very different. The repeated emphasis on the fact that the Klingon speak authentic Klingon, the exact language that Mark Okrand created, sounds like an attempt to appease traditional fans in this regard. But how many fans really understand Klingon well enough to notice possible mistakes? A hundred? How does that compare to the millions of people who will ask "Why did they change the Klingons and will they ever explain it?"
Regarding the USS Discovery that could have been, I like it. I was never a fan of the "Planet of the Titans" ship that the Discovery was based on, quite possibly in an attempt at fan service. But especially the design of the saucer and of the Bussard collectors feels right in the test shots, and the hull finish is absolutely convincing. It is a pity that someone felt like cutting through the saucer (Vengeance-style) and extending the nacelles.
Discovery Production News Round-up
In October 2016, series creator Bryan Fuller surprisingly announced that he would leave Star Trek Discovery. As reported by TrekCore, an article by James Hibbard of Entertainment Weekly now states the reasons that may have led to Fuller's departure. According to the article, Fuller did not agree with hiring David Semel to direct the pilot episode. And as the clock was ticking for the originally planned premiere of Discovery in January 2017, Fuller was working in parallel on his show "American Gods", much to the frustration of CBS. After his clash with the executives Fuller was asked to step down.
The EW article also reveals that Fuller originally had a Star Trek anthology in mind, as had been rumored for quite some time since the first announcement of a new Star Trek series in 2015. His anthology concept was overruled by the studio's plan of a serialized TV show. After Fuller's ultimate departure from the series, more of his ideas for Discovery were ditched, such as the Starfleet uniform designs with "a subdued spin on the original series' trio of primary colors".
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Discovery showrunner Aaaron Harberts states that Discovery will avoid nudity: "But then you look at things like: How does nudity play on Trek? Eh, it feels weird." The show will aim to maintain a PG-13 rating: "I'm not saying we're not doing some violent things or doing a tiny bit of language. But what's important to the creative team is the legacy of the show - which is passed down from mother to daughter, from father to son, from brother to brother. We want to make sure we're not creating a show that fans can't share with their families. You have to honor what the franchise is. I would say we're not going much beyond hard PG-13."
It is sad to learn that Discovery creator Bryan Fuller was effectively fired by CBS. There is no doubt Fuller was committed to revive the spirit of Star Trek, which in the eyes of many fans, including myself, would have worked a lot better in the anthology he pitched than in a serialized prequel/reboot. It was not Fuller's first choice to create the series that CBS wanted from him, which seems to have been the first of many events that hampered his work on Discovery and may have forced Fuller to narrow down his points of special interest. I personally only wish Fuller had cared as much for Star Trek's continuity as he did for politically correct character and casting choices. It would have been awesome to see Fuller's re-imagined "The Cage" costumes on Discovery on one hand, but we also have to keep in mind that he is said to have been the driving force behind the mutilation of the Klingons. And as I already commented just after his departure from Discovery last year, it is impossible to work on two big projects in parallel, the way Fuller quite obviously tried. So irrespective of the reasons that led to the apparent estrangement, I can understand the CBS executives were miffed that Fuller didn't give Discovery his full attention.
Regarding the PG-13 rating of Discovery, I am confident that violence, nudity and profanity will be handled in an appropriate fashion. Aaron Harberts correctly noted that nudity would feel weird on Star Trek, unlike it is the case on many other streaming shows that don't have a legacy. There is no need for worries.
Finally, a note on the Shenzhou (Walker class) design. The ship looks okay - for use in a post-Nemesis series. I was so busy that I never had a closer look at it until a few days ago. I watched out for details that, like on the "Akiraprise", insinuate that this could be an older ship despite its overall sleek appearance. I found none. The saucer superstructure, the countless tapered shapes and odd angles are totally 24th century. The Shenzhou design is utterly ignorant of the established evolution of Starfleet's ships and technology, and its huge size at a length of over 400m adds insult to injury. Even the production designers of the Abrams films created some reasonably older looking (yet way too big) ships besides the Enterprise. But Discovery obviously goes the whole way towards a total visual reboot of Star Trek. Or to a generic series that is supposed to look somehow like Star Trek, for which all eras and timelines of the franchise are free to be plundered. Sorry for the rant, but this is my contribution to the ongoing fan debates that otherwise seem to focus on rather easily explicable issues such as how Spock can have a stepsister.
Second Discovery Trailer
For the sake of completeness, here is the second Star Trek Discovery trailer that was released on the occasion of the San Diego Comic-Con. Once again, the CBS trailer is geoblocked. (The video below is a copy on a different channel that should work almost everywhere on our planet.)
The new trailer doesn't get me more interested in Discovery. It is all about battles and explosions. It totally relies on Abramsverse aesthetics: ships popping up from warp and stopping immediately a few meters away, machine gun like phasers, way too much motion and way too little light everywhere. It is a visual overkill that lacks the feeling for the vastness of space, not to mention the fascination to explore it.
Production Design News Round-up
Lots of information on props, costumes, alien make-up, sets and artwork of Star Trek Discovery has been published over the past few days:
- An exhibit at the Comic-Con in San Diego features several Starfleet costumes and props, including the spacesuit and the standard uniforms known from the trailer, but also a white medical uniform, the costumes of Sarek and of Harry Mudd, as well as the captain's chair, phasers, a communicator and a tricorder. CBS has posted teaser videos of the latter devices on the Star Trek Discovery Twitter page.
- A number of Klingon costumes and props with a distinctive "ancient look" are shown too. One of them is said to belong to a character named the "Torchbearer".
- We can also see various production sketches, including the already known Klingon "sarcophagus ship" and a Klingon raider, as well as more detailed sketches of the possibly final version of the USS Discovery. The latter clearly show how the design from the teaser trailer was reworked and now exhibits gaps that split the saucer into three concentric sections, somehow reminscent of the Vengeance.
On related news (about the totally redesigned Klingons), Discovery producer Aaron Harberts tells us in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: "In the different versions of Trek, the Klingons have never been completely consistent. We will introduce several different houses with different styles. Hopefully, fans will become more invested in the characters than worried about the redesign."
Finally, we learn a bit about the species of Starfleet officer Saru, played by Doug Jones. In the trailer, he says the somewhat mysterious words: "My people were biologically determined for one purpose alone: to sense the coming of death." Doug Jones explains this as follows: "On Saru's planet, there's a dominant predator species that constantly imperils another weaker species called Kelpiens. As part of the latter group, Saru has evolved with heightened survival instincts. Such prey species tend to have a cowardly reputation in the Federation, but Saru should not be underestimated."
There's so much news that I'd like to comment just on the most obvious issues. The first is the statement by Aaron Harberts, which has been labeled by some fans as an "explanation" for the enormous dilemma the total redesign of the Klingon species has caused. But he provides nothing like a rationale, not even a motivation. Let us recapitulate: "In the different versions of Trek, the Klingons have never been completely consistent." So mistakes were made before, and other people are to blame. Now that is the lamest excuse ever! "We will introduce several different houses with different styles." This sounds like "we don't care how Klingons looked, we simply create our own ones, and as many different ones as we want." "Hopefully, fans will become more invested in the characters than worried about the redesign." In other words, "Shut up and watch the show. We still hope the characters will work despite the thick latex masks."
The next point I would like to comment on is the designs of the Starfleet devices: the phaser pistol, the phaser rifle, the communicator and the tricorder. They are wonderful! They follow the lines of the classic devices as closely as possible, while the update to the user interface maintains their credibility as futuristic technology. These devices would be perfect for a series that remains true to the continuity and spirit of TOS, if Discovery were such a series.
Discovery's production design, however, is overall a chaotic blend of styles that don't fit together. Communicator, tricorder, phasers: TOS retro style. Starfleet bridges: Abramsverse. Discovery exterior: based on a sketch discarded for good reasons 40 years ago. Shenzhou exterior: 24th century. Shenzhou transporter: steampunk. Klingon ship: Gothic cathedral. Klingon costumes and props: ridiculously overdesigned. Klingon species: anything but Klingon.
The production design is good in the details (even the Klingon design has its merits although I hate it) but overall arbitrary. It is like many people with different agendas are working on the show, and just don't talk to each other. Or like people who boldly try to defy the principle that you can't have everything at once. I miss the old days when Matt Jefferies or Herman Zimmerman were in charge of the Art Department, who gave their shows a signature look, a feeling that it all belongs together. Even Enterprise had one, with the Akiraprise being the only slight annoyance.
Discovery Filmed in 2:1 Aspect Ratio, Frakes to Direct Episode
Today we learned that Discovery is being filmed in a "cinematic" 2:1 widescreen format, as opposed to the usual 16:9 of television. Discovery producer Aaron Harberts said that it "lends itself to a very lyrical way of telling the story."
On other news about the series, Jonathan Frakes will return to Star Trek to direct an episode of Discovery.
I don't think that the widescreen format is a good decision. I just like to watch television on the full screen, without having black bars anywhere. That's why television is produced in 16:9 today, and used to be 4:3 until a couple of years ago when TV screens had that ratio. The almost unnoticeable "cinematic" effect of 2:1 does not compensate for the slight annoyance of the black bars. On the contrary, I don't like widescreen very much anyway, it does not fit my visual field. I would personally reduce the aspect ratio to somewhat less than 16:9 (to be precise, to the golden ratio) if I were to re-invent HDTV. In my view, TV producers should leave the widescreen format to the cinema. Trying to compete with the Abrams movies is not good for Discovery, although it is still one of my smaller gripes with the series.
The news about Jonathan Frakes directing an episode, on the other hand, is a very pleasant surprise. Another big name, and another chance to get the right feel into the series.
Discovery Premiere Dates Announced
CBS has announced the premiere dates for Star Trek Discovery. The series premiere will air on CBS Television on September 24, 8:30-9:30 PM, ET/PT. The same night, the first two episodes will become available on CBS All Access on demand. After that, a new episode will be released on All Access every week, in two chapters. The first eight episodes will run from September 24 through November 5. The season will then resume with the second chapter of seven episodes, debuting in January 2018.
In Canada, the series will debut on Space Channel on September 24 at 8:30 PM ET. The schedule for the two chapters is the same as on All Access.
In the rest of the world, the Star Trek Discovery episodes will be available on Netflix, starting on September 25. The first chapter will run until November 6.
I'm not so excited about Discovery as I used to be and I haven't subscribed to Netflix yet. But it's good to know that the launch date "this fall" was finally fixed, and that it's rather the beginning of fall than the end.
First Discovery Trailer
The first trailer with real footage from Star Trek Discovery is up. A few photos were released too. We get an impression of some of the cast, of costumes, props and sets. There will be a Vulcan story. Well, and there will be Klingons, but not as we know them.
It was also announced that the first season will consist of 15, rather than only 13 episodes. The exact premiere date "this fall" still remains unknown.
I like the Starfleet and the Vulcan styling in Discovery for the most part. Well, the design of the Starfleet ship (apparently the Shenzhou) is another bland Akira rip-off and the bridge is too modern (as could be expected). But there are at least some cues to TOS such as in the style of the captain's chair. I only wish the series had abstained from using obnoxious blue on transparent displays and bridge windows as in the Abramsverse. And I wish they had avoided lens flares. Most alien characters look great in their make-up. But those creatures that Discovery tries to pass off as "Klingons" and that fly through space in a Gothic cathedral are almost impossible to put up with. Even if Discovery provides a really good explanation (the "sarcophagus ship"?), I still hate the Klingon make-up and set design.
The trailer shows that otherwise Discovery has outstanding production values, and the potential to become an exciting, "lifelike" series set in the Star Trek Universe. The people in charge shouldn't ruin it with short-sighted design decisions that are so much more than just a matter of taste.
And one more thing for CBS to remember, for their advertising campaign: Geoblocking sucks! The video released by CBS doesn't work in Europe, which makes it extremely bothersome to try to share it.
New Castings and Recastings Announced
More news about Discovery castings comes from startrek.com. Shazad Latif will appear as Starfleet Lieutenant Tyler. He was previously announced to play the Klingon Kol. The role of Kol, a commanding officer in the Klingon Empire, goes to Kenneth Mitchell. Clare McConnell will portray Dennas, a leader in the Klingon Empire. Ujilli, another Klingon leader, will be played by Damon Runyan. Finally, and perhaps most notably for science fiction fans, we have Rekha Sharma of Battlestar Galactica fame as Commander Landry. She recently appeared in the Star Trek Continues episode "Still Treads the Shadow".
Sonequa Martin-Green Confirmed as First Officer
As startrek.com reports, Sonequa Martin-Green will appear on Star Trek Discovery. Her character is the first officer of the Discovery. Her name, however, is not "Rainsford" as previously rumored but actually "Michael Burnham".
Rainn Wilson Cast as Harry Mudd
Emmy Award-nominated actor Rainn Wilson has been cast in the role of Harcourt Fenton Mudd, the con artist who appeared in two TOS episodes, "Mudd's Women" and "I, Mudd".
USS Discovery Gets a Captain
Jason Isaacs has been cast as Captain Lorca of the USS Discovery. Mary Wiseman will appear as Tilly, a Starfleet Academy Cadet aboard the same ship "in her final year of study."
The new air date for the pilot will be in early fall, according to an earlier statement by Lee Moonves, CEO of CBS. Further details are still unknown.
Discovery Beams Aboard Three More Cast Members
CBS announces three more actors for Star Trek Discovery: Terry Serpico ("Army Wives"), Maulik Pancholy ("30 Rock") and Sam Vartholomeos ("The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"). All three are set to play Starfleet officers. Terry will portray Starfleet official Admiral Anderson. Maulik will appear as Dr. Nambue, the CMO of the Starship Shenzhou. Sam will play Ensign Connor, a junior officer assigned to the same ship.
Totally New Klingons?
Regarding the alleged Klingons on the leaked photo from the Star Trek Discovery set, I will further comment on it once I have an official confirmation.
Star Trek Discovery Production Teaser, New Logo, Launch Date Still Unknown
As the new Star Trek series begins production in Toronto, CBS Television releases a teaser video and reveals a new logo for Discovery. The new logo still consists of a "split Starfleet arrowhead", but with a more rounded shape and without the Borg-like texture. The video allows us to glimpse a large (bridge?) set under construction, alien body armor, blue Starfleet uniforms, sketches of the USS Discovery and of another ship that was obviously inspired by Enterprise NX-01, a set floorplan and the captain's chair.
The launch date of the series is still unknown after it had been postponed one more time.
It is great to know that they finally started filming, and that they obviously went into great lengths creating the world of the 23rd century anew. It was clear that the series wouldn't show Pike-era uniforms as in "The Cage", and I won't comment on it or jump to conclusions before we can see more of the series. The currently most important open question is when they eventually plan to go live.
Sarek Returns in Discovery and Possible Further Delay
CBS reports that James Frain will play Spock's father Sarek on Star Trek Discovery. The actor is known from many film and TV roles, such as recently Azrael in "Gotham". He will be the third actor to portray the famous Vulcan, after Mark Lenard (TOS, TOS movies, TNG) and Ben Cross (Kelvin Timeline).
The shooting for Discovery will begin on January 24. The release date in May, however, appears to be uncertain. CBS announced that "if it's best for the show", the launch date will be "flexible".
I look forward to seeing Sarek on the show, and I hope that his inclusion is not gratuitous in a way that it could be used to insinuate continuity where otherwise none exists. It seems unlikely though that he may become a permanent character.
Regarding CBS's statement on the launch date, this most likely means a further delay. If it's best for the show, I will be flexible.
Discovery Lead Role for Sonequa Martin-Green
According to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, Sonequa Martin-Green has been cast in the lead role of Star Trek Discovery. Martin-Green is best known for "The Walking Dead". Her character in Discovery is going to be that of "Number One", the still somewhat mysterious Lt. Cmdr. Rainsford.
Klingon Roles of Discovery Revealed
Chris Obi, Shazad Latif and Mary Chieffo are set to play three Klingons on Star Trek Discovery. Obi will appear as T'Kuvma, the Klingon leader seeking to unite the Klingon houses. Latif portrays Kol, commanding officer of the Klingons and protégé of T'Kuvma. Chieffo plays the role of L'Rell, the battle deck commander of the yet unnamed Klingon ship.
First Discovery Cast Members Announced
CBS has officially announced the first three cast members for the upcoming series Star Trek Discovery. As already known since last week, we will see Michelle Yeoh ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") in the role of a starship captain. She is set to play Captain Georgiou of the starship Shenzhou. The second confirmed cast member is Anthony Rapp as Lt. Stamets, an astromycologist aboard the Discovery. Finally, there is Doug Jones as Lt. Saru, an alien Starfleet science officer of a new species yet to be named.
Bryan Fuller No Longer Showrunner
As reported by Variety and confirmed by CBS, Bryan Fuller will no longer tend to the daily business of the new show Star Trek: Discovery. Fuller will remain executive producer, but Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts will take over his day-to-day duties.
Some more information on the progress that has been reported in the course of this news:
- Akiva Goldsman, who wrote or co-wrote several feature films and worked as a consulting producer on Fringe, will join Discovery in a "top creative role".
- "Fuller has penned the first two scripts for 'Discovery' and has hammered out the broader story arc and mythology for the new 'Trek' realm."
- Most roles, aside from the female lead character, have been cast by now.
- Shooting is scheduled to start in November.
- The cost for each episode approaches the $6-7 million range.
Discovery Premiere Postponed to May 2017
The premiere of Star Trek Discovery has been moved from January 2017 to May 2017 as startrek.com reports. Executive producers Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman stated: "We aim to dream big and deliver, and that means making sure the demands of physical and post-production for a show that takes place entirely in space, and the need to meet an air date, don't result in compromised quality. Before heading into production, we evaluated these realities with our partners at CBS and they agreed: Star Trek deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of."
Fuller Provides More Details On Discovery
In an interview with Nerd World Report Bryan Fuller revealed some more details on Star Trek Discovery. He said that setting the series in the Prime Universe, rather than in the Abramsverse, was more or less a practical decision: "That way, we don't have to track anything they're doing; they don't have to track anything we're doing - and you can have two distinct universes."
Without being specific, Fuller stated that his team would "re-imagine all of the alien species" and design new uniforms that would have "a little bit of this and a little bit of that". Regarding the female lead character, he said that she would be called "'Number One' in honor of Majel Barrett's character in the original pilot" but is not the same person.
Discovery Details Revealed
Star Trek: Discovery showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed that the new series is "set ten years before Kirk, and will bridge the gap between Enterprise and The Original Series... We can play with all the iconography of those ships and those uniforms." As he had already announced on previous occasions, Fuller said Discovery will be like a "novel over thirteen episodes." Fuller's hint about the storyline is rather cryptical: "There's an incident and an event in Star Trek history, that's been talked about but never been explored. To do this series, we're telling a much more serialized story, to dig deep into a very tantalizing [storyline]. And we have a character who's on a journey, and in order to understand something that is alien she first has to understand herself." The event he alluded to is not the Kobayashi Maru, not the Battle of Axanar and not the Earth-Romulan War.
The lead character according to Fuller will be a female lieutenant commander (not a captain). But the rank comes with "some caveats". She may be "diverse". Fuller said: "We haven't cast her yet, so we don't know what level of diversity she will be." He also confirmed, "Absolutely we're having a gay character." Familiar characters won't appear for the time being. Fuller will "be looking in the second season to open up to more familiar characters and how they can feed into the [show]. First and foremost, I think we really want to convince you and establish the greatness of the [new] characters that are going to be introduced."
"We'll probably have a few more aliens than you normally do in a Star Trek cast," said Fuller. One of these aliens will be named Saru. A teaser image published by Fuller shows a make-up test, which is apparently for an Andorian.
The show will be more graphic than previous Star Trek incarnations. Fuller: "It will probably be slightly more graphic content. We discuss language every day. Is it appropriate for somebody to see a bridge blow up and say 'Oh shit.' I imagine we're going to shoot scenes a couple of ways and see what feels more authentic in the editing room."
This all sounds very good. I like the idea of having a lead character who is not on the top of the ship's rank structure. My only concern is that the series may establish even more alien races, phenomena and technology (in addition to what could be seen on Enterprise) that will fall into oblivion until the 24th century.
Now the guessing game has begun which incident in Star Trek history Fuller may have alluded to. My guess is that it's an event we only know from a passing remark and we wouldn't really think of.
Star Trek Discovery - New Series Gets a Name and a Ship
On today's Star Trek panel at Comic-Con Bryan Fuller unveiled the name of the new series - it's Star Trek Discovery! The teaser trailer posted on the Star Trek Discovery Twitter account shows us the lead ship, the USS Discovery NCC-1031, leaving an asteroid base. The ship design is clearly based on the Enterprise design by Ralph McQuarrie for the never produced film "Planet of the Titans". Judging from the ship design and its registry, it appears that the series may take place in the early 23rd century.
Fuller corroborated his previous statement that Star Trek Discovery will not be episodic: "We will be telling stories like a novel on the new series. Chapter by chapter by chapter." He also said that his intention is to allow Star Trek to "continue to be progressive. Continue to push boundaries".
Also in today's news, David Semel will direct the pilot episode of the series. The Emmy-nominated director previously worked on the pilots of Heroes, Person of Interest, The Man in the High Castle, Legends and Code Black.
The revelation of the series title and the new ship is great news. Because we can assume the name "Discovery" was not chosen by mere chance. It sounds like it is supposed to reflect the plot and maybe even the philosophy of the new series.
I am also pleased that the series does not take place in the desolate Kelvin timeline, but in an "unspoiled" era of the Star Trek Universe. And while I was never a big fan of the Ralph McQuarrie design, I think that with the tweaks that went into the design of the Discovery (and perhaps some more to come) it has the right style for the early 23rd century. It all looks like 2017 will be a great year for fans who want to see genuine Star Trek.
Netflix to Stream New Star Trek Series to the Rest of the World
As announced by CBS and Netflix today, Netflix will bring the new Star Trek series to 188 countries, excluding The United States and Canada. The episodes will usually be available within 24 hours of the U.S. premiere. Additionally, Netflix will offer all previous Star Trek TV episodes for streaming.
This is good news because fans in other countries don't have to wait forever (for a free TV broadcast or DVD release) to view the new series. I don't have a streaming account and would normally never get one. But as long as the new Star Trek series is running (and I hope it will be for a long time) the money for Netflix is well invested.
Fuller Debunks Rumors About New Series
Speaking to Moviefone at the Saturn Awards, Bryan Fuller debunked some of the common internet rumors about the series.
- It is not an anthology show.
- It is not set in the early 24th century.
- He thinks "we will be seeing lots of crews in the story."
- There is no indication whether established characters will appear. Fuller said it may happen "eventually".
The idea that the new series could be set in the time after "The Undiscovered Country" was never more than wishful thinking, nourished only by the participation of Nicholas Meyer. I think every time will be fine, as long as it's the Prime Universe.
Fuller Reveals Format and Philosophy of New Series
In an interview with Collider at the Saturn Awards event, showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed more details about the new series. The first season consists of thirteen episodes, which form an arc of essentially one single story. The run time of the episodes may be flexible within certain parameters that Fuller didn't explicitly mention. There is no indication yet in which time frame and which universe the series is set.
Regarding the casting choices and the possibility of having a gay character, Fuller said that he'd "look at all of these roles through a colorblind prism and a gender-blind prism" and that "the progressive audience that loves Star Trek will be happy".
The announcement that the first season will be one single story (arc) over thirteen episodes is a major letdown. I have a strong dislike for serialized television series. Actually, I don't remember following any serial until the finale in the past ten years or so. I used to give up watching either because I lacked the time, or because after a long work week it was too difficult for me to find my way back into the story.
While this may be different with the new Star Trek series (I will definitely follow it attentively), it puts me off for still another reason. I want to see the crew boldly go where no one has gone before, for which the traditional self-contained format of Star Trek episodes was perfect. A serial, on the other hand, is predetermined to show ongoing conflicts (personal, political or military). Star Trek switched to a serialized format in DS9's sixth and seventh seasons (Dominion War), and in Enterprise's third season (Xindi Arc). Each of those seasons did have a couple of episodes that took a break from the respective arc, and that felt out of place. I don't want a whole series to focus on generic character conflicts (or on an Abramsverse-style villain hunt) and to include Star Trek themes only in the form of added value.
I'm open-minded about the possible inclusion of a gay character, and I'm confident that it will be done in a decent fashion, by looking at the roles through a "gender-blind prism", just as Fuller mentioned it. It should be and will be a character that happens to be gay, and not one that is defined by being gay. I am only a bit worried that the mere existence of a gay character will distract from more important issues of the new series. We should ignore those who will hate it just because someone is gay. But I also hope that the "progressive" fan base understands that it is primarily supposed to be a science fiction show, and not a service to fulfill political demands.
Mark Worthington Confirmed as New Star Trek Production Designer
Mark Worthington, who previously worked on shows such as American Horror Story and Lost, will be the production designer of the new Star Trek series. Worthington confirmed this on his panel at the Eagle-Con LA but told Trekmovie.com that "there's nothing to talk about yet".
Mark Worthington will follow in the footsteps of Matt Jefferies and Herman Zimmerman, and that's quite a challenge. I'm not familiar with Worthington's previous work (among which there doesn't seem to be any science fiction), and I hope he knows how to create the right look for a Star Trek show.
Joe Menosky and Aron Coleite Join Star Trek All Access Series
As reported by Trekmovie.com, Star Trek writer Joe Menosky and Aron Coleite, who has written for Heroes, have joined the writing staff the upcoming Star Trek television series. Joe Menosky is known for his work on several fan favorites, including TNG: "Darmok", "Conundrum", "The Chase" and VOY: "Distant Origin", "Year of Hell", "Living Witness" and "Blink of an Eye". Larry Nemecek confirmed their participation to Trekmovie.com at the Phoenix Comicon.
Joe Menosky wrote some of the most thrilling and most imaginative episodes of modern Star Trek so this is definitely great news. At this point I hope that the new show doesn't only boast big names but that these people will also have a positive influence on its direction.
Kirsten Beyer Joins Writing Staff of Star Trek 2017
TrekCore reports that novelist Kirsten Beyer, known for the Voyager Relaunch novel series, will be part of the writing staff for the next Star Trek series.
It is interesting to note that another expert for the old Star Trek (the Prime Universe) joins the staff. I wouldn't overrate this observation though. Alex Kurtzman may have just been watching out for people with knowledge of previous Star Trek (story- and production-wise). Notable people with Star Trek experience are sorely missing from the production staffs of the Abramsverse movies, so even if the new series continues in this universe it may profit from Kirsten Beyer, just as from Nicholas Meyer and Bryan Fuller.
Star Trek 2017 Teaser Trailer
CBS releases a teaser trailer for the new series to debut in January 2017.
"CBS presents - A new adventure. New crews - New villains - New heroes - New worlds"
This first trailer is very generic and reveals practically nothing. Only the announcement of "new crews" may be seen as a hint that it's not about Kirk and Spock yet again. But I wouldn't go as far as taking this as a cue that the new series will be an anthology. I personally hope for original adventures that don't rewrite established history or characters. And I hope that those "new villains" won't be anything like the ones in the latest Star Trek movies.
As for the logo, I'm quite sure it isn't the final one. Teaser trailers almost never show anything that is already set in stone. Also, naming the new show just "Star Trek" would be an extremely poor choice.
Star Trek 2017 With Weekly Schedule
Beginning in January 2017, the new Star Trek series will be streamed weekly on CBS All Access, as startrek.com announced today. As already reported, the series will be available in the U.S. exclusively on All Access on its first run, and on still to be defined platforms and TV stations around the world.
It is great that a classical weekly schedule was chosen for the new Star Trek series. This brings back the weekly anticipation that I loved so much about the old TV series. It is definitely a big bummer that the access to the new Star Trek will be so restricted, quite probably outside the U.S. as well. Personally, I don't know if and how I will be able to watch the episodes in time.
Star Trek 2017 Going to Pinewood Toronto Studios
As reported by TrekCore a couple of days ago, the new Star Trek TV series will no be filmed in Los Angeles but in Toronto. It is now clear that the Star Trek production will take place in the Pinewood Toronto Studios, where CBS has booked the the facility's 46,500-square foot (4320 square meters) mega-stage.
So Star Trek is moving away from California. This could mean that alien planets in this series may look like boreal forest, rather than familiar landscapes such as Vasquez Rocks or Bronson Canyon. But we'll have to wait and see if and how location shoots will be arranged. In any case, I think the series can only profit from the availability of North America's purportedly biggest soundstage and a large backlot.
Rod Roddenberry Added to New Series
Another big name among the producers of the new series. As startrek.com reports, Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry and Trevor Roth will act as executive producers of the upcoming Star Trek series. They join the already named producers Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin and Bryan Fuller. Roddenberry said: "While I will always be humbled by its legacy and the legions of fans who are its guardians, it's a genuine honor to be joining a team of imaginative and incredibly capable individuals whose endeavor it is to uphold the tenants of Star Trek's legacy while bringing it to audiences in a new era and on a contemporary platform."
We certainly can't complain about a lack of big names among the staff of the next Star Trek series, but we'll have to wait and see whether Rod Roddenberry can live up to the expectations. He is the preserver of his father's heritage, yet he has never been closely involved with an official Star Trek production. He is a filmmaker, but so far not on a such a big scale. Anyway, I keep my fingers crossed that Rod Roddenberry can positively influence the new series, in the sense of "upholding the tenants of Star Trek's legacy".
Nicholas Meyer: "'The Undiscovered Country' as a Touchstone"
In an interview with Den of Geek, Nicholas Meyer said about the new series: "I think it's going to be a different Star Trek. It will go in a different direction. And I think that is probably good. Because the thing that mainly troubles me about Star Trek is the fear of it being maybe re-treads of itself. And to the degree that I had any influence on the thing [Star Trek] at all was that at least while I was there, we were fooling around." On the question about the politics in the new series, Meyer added: "The one thing I can relate to you is that 'The Undiscovered Country' -according to Bryan [Fuller]- is a real sort of taking off point, or touchstone for how I guess he's thinking about the direction of the new show. I don't want to be misquoted and I don't want to misquote him, but he's fond of that film. Let's put it that way."
Well, the first part about the new Star Trek going into a different direction is much the same phrase that was used to describe any new series (or film) of the franchise that was released since TOS. What Meyer says about 'The Undiscovered Country' being a touchstone is a bit more revealing. It could mean that the new Star Trek will put more emphasis on the military theme than we are used to from previous series. Or it could hint at interplanetary politics as the backdrop of the new series (in which case it should be better compared to DS9 though).
Trek Veteran Nicholas Meyer Joins New Series
startrek.com reports that Nicholas Meyer will join the new Star Trek TV series, as a member of the writing staff and a consulting producer. Meyer is famous for directing the fan favorites "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" as well as writing for "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home", and as such part of the myth that the even numbers are the good ones.
This is a big surprise. Nicholas Meyer has not worked on Star Trek for a very long time. Many fans seem to be very excited about Meyer's participation, but I wonder how much influence on creative decisions he will really have. Also, while I definitely like his work on three Star Trek films that are among the better ones, Nicholas Meyer stands for a departure from the style and spirit of The Original Series that I am not totally happy about. In particularly, I would love to see a TV series without the militarism that Meyer established (and that TNG abandoned again).
Bryan Fuller Named Co-Creator of New Series
According to startrek.com, Bryan Fuller is the co-creator of the new Star Trek TV series, working together with Alex Kurtzman. Fuller's credits as a teleplay writer include Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek Voyager. He has been pushing for a new Star Trek TV series for a couple of years, saying that he "would love to take it back to its origin".
Bryan Fuller's addition to the staff is good news. He has been involved with the franchise for two decades, and he seems to have a more than only commercial motivation to bring Star Trek back to the small screen. Any speculation whether or not Fuller would rather return to old-style Star Trek or would embrace the Abramsverse is definitely premature.
New Star Trek TV Series Announced for 2017
CBS Television announces that a new Star Trek TV series will be launched in January 2017. Alex Kurtzman will serve as executive producer. The announcement also points out that "the new television series is not related to the upcoming feature film 'Star Trek Beyond'". A preview broadcast will air on the CBS Television Network. The subsequent episodes will be available exclusively in the United States on CBS All Access, the Network's digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service.
It is awesome that Star Trek will return to the small screen, after an absence of as long as twelve years. Television is not only the origin of the franchise but is also the medium to relay the message much better than a multi-million dollar blockbuster movie. The Abramsverse movies may have revived the franchise in an economic sense but they failed to promote the philosophy and provide a vision of a future, of the kind it was present in all TV series (including Enterprise). So I am definitely looking forward to a new Star Trek TV series.
The fact that Alex Kurtzman will run the show is a first hint that it may be set in the Abramsverse, rather than in the Prime Universe. Well, it is said not to be related to "Star Trek Beyond" but this may merely mean that it has a different main cast. The odds that any of the highly paid actors of the Abrams films will appear in a permanent role in a TV show are slim anyway.
Rather than the perhaps premature fear that the tone of the Abramsverse may be carried over to a TV series, the fact that the new Star Trek will be shown exclusively on CBS All Access, a streaming channel that is still seeking its place in the market, is somewhat off-putting. At least for many people who either don't have the time or the money or the bandwidth to see all kinds of series on all kinds of pay channels. While being the crowd-puller for the new channel may be flattering for Star Trek, vice versa the show is also dependent on the success of the channel. And quite unlike the TV shows of the past (and the Abrams movies) it may not be laid out to become a mass phenomenon in the first place.