Bryan Fuller’s exit from Star Trek represents a move away from auteur led television

Variety recently revealed that Bryan Fuller was stepping back from his role as showrunner on Star Trek: Discovery; this role is going to be shared between Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, who were also executive producers on the show, alongside new hire Akiva Goldsman who is said to be joining in a “key creative role”. It’s being said that Fuller is going to remain in an executive producer role, and still involved in some capacity, just not in the hands-on, day to day role of a showrunner; Star Trek: Discovery will still follow Fuller’s basic plan and the mythology he penned, and CBS is said to be quite happy with the work he’s done so far.

As it stands, I don’t see any particular reason to assume creative troubles. It’s being said that the main reason for the split was to do with Fuller’s workload – he’s already showrunning two other programmes at the same time, with Star Trek: Discovery as the third - hence the new set up which allows him to remain involved but with a significantly reduced time commitment. Indeed, Discovery’s airdate had already been pushed back from January 2017 to May 2017 – supposedly CBS was unwilling to push it back further, because of the importance of the Star Trek property to their new streaming platform. While one might have expected Fuller to try and keep Star Trek ahead of his other shows, American Gods and Amazing Stories, given his well-known passion for Star Trek, it’s worth considering that his commitment to those programmes predates his hiring as Star Trek showrunner – it may simply be that his contract with those shows prevents him leaving, or an unwillingness to break with prior arrangements.

Ultimately, then, there’s no reason to believe that this won’t be, broadly speaking, the same show we were promised at Comic Con, and as part of all the subsequent announcements. And yet, at the same time, there’s something astonishingly disappointing about Bryan Fuller’s departure from Star Trek.

I’ve been a fan of Star Trek for a very long time – there’s no doubt in my mind that I will be watching this new show, start to finish, irrespective of quality and irrespective of Fuller’s involvement. That’s just how my level of interest in Star Trek works; there’s a new series, so I’m going to watch it, simply as a logical consequence of its existence.

And yet part of the reason why I was so excited about this new show was because of Bryan Fuller’s involvement; it elevated Discovery to more than just the latest Star Trek show, but something special in its own right. Because Bryan Fuller is a writer at the top of his game, who’s widely renowned for his unique creative vision – consider the artistry of Hannibal, for example – and I couldn’t wait to see him apply this to Star Trek, a programme that he holds a lifelong passion for and an innate understanding of.

While I have little doubt that Fuller’s replacements will do an admirable job – indeed, they have his full support and recommendation – there’s something disappointing about this move away from genuine auteur lead television, to something spearheaded by A.N. Other television producers. Hopefully this will prove to be their opportunity to establish themselves in a similar right as equally inspired creative figures, and make a name of their own; if not, let’s instead hope that Bryan Fuller’s schedule allows him to be more active from season two.


Bryan Fuller confirms female lead, gay character, and prequel setting for Star Trek: Discovery

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