Star Trek is coming back to TV, yes my fellow Trekkies it really is happening and while we’ve already had a brief teaser giving us our first look at the new titular ship, the USS Discovery, very little is known about the shows plot.
Archer took on the temporal cold war, Kirk had his five-year mission, Picard continued to seek out new life, Sisko had his space station and Janeway had the Delta quadrant to deal with, but what’s in store for this new crew? Well, having already confirmed that this Trek is set in the Prime universe, the same timeline as the other TV series’ and not the JJ Abrams movies, showrunner Bryan Fuller took some time while on the TCA Press Tour to reveal a few details about the upcoming show.
One of the most existing pieces of information he revealed was that the show will be set during an established event already in canon. Fuller didn’t specify which event, only that it hadn’t been seen on screen before, only referred to. An “incident in the history of Starfleet that has been talked about but never really fully explored,” Fuller teased. What this event might be is still anyone’s guess at this point, but Fuller has said that fans of the franchise should be very familiar with it, promising “”They should be very happy. I am! It’s something I want to see.”
The story as a whole will be serialised, with one overarching story played out across the whole series. Fuller confirmed that there would still be room for the ‘alien of the week’ type stories but the main story arc would progress throughout the series’ run.
Despite casting still being underway, Fuller did also reveal that the main protagonist of the show will be female, but not the Captain. While the show will still be an ensemble piece like the previous shows, there will be this clear protagonist. It’s also been confirmed that she will be Lieutenant Commander. Speaking about why the focus will be shifted from the Captain’s chair Fuller said, “We’ve seen six series now from captains’ points of view,” adding that the crew felt using a lower ranked protagonist presented richer types of stories to tell.
It was also confirmed that the main ensemble cast will likely be seven main characters. Asked about the possibility of a gay character in the show, Fuller confirmed that this will be happening, part of his motives for that seem to stem back to hate mail that Star Trek: Voyager received back in the day, after rumours that Jeri Ryan’s character was going to be gay. “The bile in that letter… I kept it, because I knew if I ever did a Star Trek show, there was going to be a gay character.”
We also now know when in Trek history the show will take place, with Fuller revealing that Star Trek: Discovery will be set ten years before Kirk’s five-year mission. “That gives us an opportunity to bridge the gap between Enterprise and the original series, and also to help us redefine the visual style,” Fuller explained. Given that this is in a different universe to the movies, this does open the door for younger versions of the Enterprise crew to make an appearance without upsetting the established events of the movies, something Fuller himself acknowledged.
Fuller did also make reference to the possibility of other established characters appearing in the show from across the Trek universe, though this isn’t likely to happen during the first season. “For the first season we’re going to be keeping to our own universe, it’s very tightly wound so there’s not a lot of room to encounter some of the established characters. But since we are in that timeframe, moving forward it is absolutely within the possibilities of our universe… but we’re kind of digging the characters we came up with.”
Given the CBS All Access and Netflix distribution, it has also been confirmed that this Star Trek will have more adult themes integrated into it. Opening up the discussion on the subject with “There’s a reason we call it STD.”, “It’s not a nebula we’re flying through, it’s cloudy discharge.” – Possibly the best Star Trek pun in a while. While sexuality will be a major part of the show – Shatner did pretty well with TV restrictions – the discussion about strong language is apparently ongoing in the writers room. With only rare instances throughout Trek’s history, and only in the movies thus far, is there a place for swearing on a Starfleet ship?
Star Trek: Discovery is due for release in January 2017 – which as a Star Trek fan myself, could not come fast enough.