Attention, Trek fans: our lead character for Discovery finally has a name and a rank (no word yet on a serial number). Actress Sonequa Martin-Green, who we knew had been cast as the series’ primary character, will play first officer Michael Burnham. Yup, that’s not a typo, her name is Michael. Hey, in the 23rd century maybe Michael is the new Sydney or Terry, and is a gender neutral name. Here is the confirmation from Star Trek: Discovery’s official Twitter account:
— Star Trek: Discovery (@startrekcbs) April 3, 2017
Star Trek: Discovery will be the first ever Trek series to be told from the point of view of the someone other than the Captain. Although, one never knows; maybe the show is all about Commander Burnham’s rise to the Captain’s chair? How cool would that be? Hopefully we’ll get a photo of Sonequa-Martin-Green and the rest of the cast in their new uniforms soon.
From 1987 to 2005, Star Trek ruled the sci-fi airwaves, airing four television series over this 18-year period. This started with the highly successful Star Trek: The Next Generation, and continued with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and finally Star Trek: Enterprise. By the time Enterprise premiered in 2001, however, there were signs of Trek-fatigue, what with the previous three series having produced 528 episodes that were in constant rotation on television. Many wondered if we needed yet another Star Trek show.
On top of that, by the time Enterprise had premiered, the sci-fi/fantasy genre on TV had evolved, thanks to Joss Whedon shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, as well as the reinvented Battlestar Galactica, among others. Even to the most die-hard Trekker, the typical Star Trek format was starting to seem like a relic from another era. Enterprise never really caught on with viewers, and was the first Star Trek show since the original to be canceled because of low ratings. Many thought that might be the end of Trek on television for good.
Then in 2009, Paramount and J.J. Abrams revived and rebooted the original Star Trek for the big screen to great success, in a way that moved the franchise forward and still honored the original. This proved there was still life in the franchise after all. By this point, tons of ambitious and intricate new sci-fi series, like Doctor Who, Orphan Black, had begun and would continue to capture fans’ attention. With the franchise viable once again thanks to the new films, it started to seem like the time was perfect for Star Trek to return to television in a new and interesting way–one reflective of modern TV sensibilities–and fans started to publicly clamor for a return to the televised Trek universe.
Finally, a new Star Trek series, at this point still unnamed, was announced in November of 2015, and would be the leading show on CBS’ new streaming service, CBS All Access, though with a premiere on regular CBS proper. Outside the United States, the show will be available via Netflix in most territories. In the summer of 2016, the show’s full name was revealed…
Since the announcement, we’ve learned quite a bit about the developing project. Here’s everything we know so far.
Who Are the Creative Minds Behind the Show?
Fans everywhere jumped for joy when it was announced in February 2016 that Bryan Fuller, the man behind Hannibal, Pushing Daisies and the upcoming American Gods, would be the new Star Trek series showrunner. A lifelong Trek fan, Fuller got his start as a young writer on Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Joining him would be Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote both of the Abrams-directed Star Trek movies.
Fans got even more excited when it was announced that Nicholas Meyer, the man behind Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, two of the best films in the original cycle, would join the series as a writer/producer. Also on board as an exec producer was Rod Roddenberry, the son of late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. At the 50th anniversary Star Trek panel at Comic-Con in San Diego in July of 2016, Bryan Fuller took to the stage and officially announced the name of the series: Star Trek: Discovery. He brought along the first teaser clip, of the Discovery leaving spacedock, which you can see down below:
Sadly, a few months later, Fuller announced he was departing the series as showrunner, for unspecified reasons. He retains an executive producer title, but the new showrunners are Gretchen Berg, Aaron Harberts, and Alex Kurtzman, with Akiva Goldsman having joined the series “in a top creative role.” It is said that Fuller’s scripts and story arc plotting are still being used for the first season.
What is the New Show About?
The series will be ostensibly set about the Federation starship Discovery, although, unlike previous Trek shows, the main character will be a Lieutenant Commander, and not the ship’s Captain. There will also be another Federation vessel that will be a key part of the series, the starship Shenzhou. The series will be set in the “Prime” Star Trek universe–the one from the various television series and the original 10 films, not the rebooted Abrams universe, which will remain separate and still continue on on the big screen. The series will also be set 10 years before the original Star Trek series, roughly around the time of the unaired Star Trek pilot, “The Cage.”
Who Are the Principal Cast Members of Discovery?
Sonequa Martin-Green, who is maybe best known for her role as Sasha Williams on AMC’s The Walking Dead, has been cast as the lead, a Lieutenant Commander on board the ship who is said to go by the name “Number One.” She is joined by Jason Isaacs as the commander of the Discovery, Captain Lorca, James Frain as Spock’s father Sarek, Anthony Rapp as a “space fungus expert,” Michelle Yeoh as the captain of the Starship Shenzhou, and Doug Jones as Lt. Saru, a science officer that’s part of a new alien species.
Other cast members include Terry Serpico as Admiral Anderson, a high-ranking official of Starfleet, Maulik Pancholy as Dr. Nambue, the chief medical officer of the Starship Shenzhou, and Sam Vartholomeos as Ensign Connor, a junior officer in Starfleet Academy assigned to the Starship Shenzhou. As the series’ resident Klingons, the show has cast actors Chris Obi, Shazad Latif, and Mary Chieffo.
Actor Rainn Wilson, best known as Dwight Schrute on The Office, has also joined the cast of Star Trek: Discovery as none other than space pirate Harry Mudd. For those unfamiliar, Harcourt “Harry” Fenton Mudd was played by Roger C. Carmel, and was as a smuggler and a con man, who first crossed paths with the Captain Kirk’s Enterprise in an early original series episode called, appropriately enough, “Mudd’s Women.”
Mudd then became the only guest star character to return on the show for a second episode, as he appeared in season two’s “I, Mudd.” The character would later return (voiced by original actor Carmel) for the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “Mudd’s Passion.” It’s unknown if Rainn Wilson is going to be a regular on the series or a recurring guest star. Wilson also starred in the beloved Star Trek parody, Galaxy Quest back in 1999.
When Will the Show Premiere?
After many delays, the series finally went into production in January of 2017 in Toronto, Canada (you can see the video announcement celebrating the start of production above). Originally, the series was announced as premiering in January of 2017, but the departure of Bryan Fuller made hitting that target impossible. The show is now scheduled to premiere in late summer or early fall of 2017. That premiere date is still very subject to change though.
How Many Episodes Will There Be?
The first season of Discovery is slated to have 13 episodes, which will then drop on a weekly basis, a departure from most streaming shows. A 13-episode order is pretty typical for a series today, although it is a far cry from when Star Trek: The Next Generation was doing a whopping 26 episodes a season. Discovery will also be the first Trek show to be fully serialized, and present one story over a full season. Deep Space Nine did a kind of serialized storytelling, but most episodes were self contained until the very last seasons.
Will There Be Kingons?
— Trek Radio (@TrekRadio) February 12, 2017
Star Trek without Klingons is like Star Wars without lightsabers–it’s part of the iconography, and you kind of need them in some form, right? Well, there will definitely be Klingons in the new series. In fact, there are three actors cast as Klingons who will be regulars on the show. But could these Klingons look like no other Klingons we’ve seen before?
A fan on the set of the series took a photo of what he thought were Klingons (see above), but if they are, they certainly don’t match with the aesthetic of the race we’ve seen so far. If anything, these look like proto-versions of the race. Or, they could be another alien race all together. But even if the aliens in the tweet above are not Klingons, the warrior race is confirmed as being part of the show.
What’s with the Look of Discovery?
The design of the starship Discovery is one unlike what we’ve seen before for a Federation starship on any Star Trek show. It’s inspired by designs that Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie did for the very first Star Trek film some 40 years ago, which you can see above. In fact, the design looks like a cross between a Federation starship and a Klingon battle cruiser. Coincidence? Considering how many Klingons are regulars on this show, I don’t think so.
What are you most excited about seeing on this latest Star Trek television incarnation? Let us know what you want to see in our comments below.
Images: CBS / Paramount Pictures / NBC Universal