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Today was the penultimate day of the Television Critics Association summer press tour, an annual event which holds a variety of different panels – and this year, one of those panels was ran by Bryan Fuller, who revealed a lot of information about the new Star Trek: Discovery program, set to launch in 2017 on CBS All Access in the US, on terrestrial television in Canada, and on Netflix worldwide.
Excitingly, one of the first things that Fuller confirmed was a human female lead; interestingly, however, it’s been said confirmed by Fuller that she will not be a Captain, but rather a lieutenant commander “with caveats”. The intention is to provide a different point of view from prior Star Trek series, given that the previous 6 (presumably including the animated series) have been from the perspective of the Captain. This female lead is yet to be cast, with shooting still two months away; Fuller has, in the past, stated that casting for Discovery will be ‘colour blind’, and as such our new lead may be of any race. Rather excitingly, Fuller has also said there will “absolutely” be a gay character, thus breaking new ground for televised Star Trek.
The series will be of 13 episodes in length. Unlike on other internet television services, these episodes will air weekly - according to Fuller, the show will be serialised, but also feature close ended storylines that resolve each week. Being on CBS All Access, it means that Discovery will not be subject to broadcast standards and practices, rather appropriately allowing them the option of pushing the show further than Star Trek has ever gone before. Furthermore, we’ll see more aliens than has previously been typical of a Star Trek show; on his twitter feed recently, a photo from a makeup test suggested that one such alien species may be the Andorians. It’s also been confirmed that we’ll see robots, which is nice.
The show is going to be set 10 years before The Original Series; it’s another prequel series, much like Enterprise before it, although far closer in time to the original Star Trek. In setting the show so closely to the original, it means that Discovery is able to “play with all the iconography of those ships and those uniforms.” It won’t just be the ships and the uniforms, though, with one returning character having been brought up in discussion – Spock’s mother, Amanda Greyson. Rather obliquely, Fuller has suggested that Discovery will depict an event in Starfleet history that has “never been explored”; several guesses as to what this unexplored event is have been ruled out, such as the Romulan War, and it currently remains a guarded secret. This event was, however, confirmed to be referenced on The Original Series, so get ready for plenty of speculation.
It’s also said that you can bend space and time. Currently, however, it’s not entirely clear what this means, as the statement is yet to be expanded upon. We can, though, infer that there will presumably be some involvement of time travel concepts in the show, which continues a long (albeit at times controversial) tradition of such ideas within Star Trek.
The news that we’ll have both a female lead and Star Trek’s first gay character has excited me – it’s great to see Star Trek really living up to its ethos of inclusivity and diversity, and it continues to confirm my belief that Bryan Fuller really does understand what Star Trek means, and that he’s the right man to take it forward into the future. I’m also quite intrigued by the fact that it’s been stated the aforementioned female lead will not be a Captain; it’s obviously far too early to tell, but it may well mean that Discovery is going to be a very different type of Trek than we’ve ever seen before.
Admittedly, I am disappointed that Discovery will be set so close to the timeframe of the original series, and seemingly drawing from it a lot; I feel that following Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, we should be looking to the future, not back to the beginning. Equally, however, Fuller’s comments about presenting Discovery from a new perspective makes it pretty obvious that he has something unique he intends to bring to the table, and that is ultimately a lot more important for Star Trek right now than just when the show is set.
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