Space: The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Discovery… This page will be regularly updated with the latest news about the series. In order to clear things up, there will be several sections detailing various aspects of the production. So let’s dive right in. Or if you want, you can skip to the review immediately: Star Trek: Discovery Review
Star Trek: Discovery will be the fifth series based on The Original Series and it belongs to the prequel section. Set ten years before the events in TOS (The Original Series), Discovery will conduct its voyages in the same universe as the rest of the series. Although the movies have introduced the concept of alternate universes this idea wasn’t applied to the series (yes).
The Original Series [1966–69]
The Next Generation (1987–94)
Deep Space Nine (1993–99)
Discovery will consist of 13 episodes that will be distributed through CBS All Access and Netflix internationally. The release date is still unknown, but judging by everything we have seen so far, I think that it will premiere sometime in 2017. It will be produced by CBS Television Studios and Secret Hideout who are also in charge of The Mummy reboot. Along with the new series, detailing the adventures of USS Discovery, there will also be a series of new comics and books that will tie in with the series. IDW Publishing (30 Days of Night, Popbot, Gene Pool) will produce comics, and Pocket Books will produce novels. Discovery writer Kirsten Beyer will coordinate these efforts.
The first season will also be oriented towards one big storyline, so we can guess that the episodes will not feature unique and independent storylines. This is more in tune with the distribution format, perfect for binge-watching, and also with new generations’ habits. I think that the first season will be like this while the other seasons may be more in tune with the original series, featuring isolated incidents. Of course, if the STD (Star Trek: Discovery – they joke about it too) proves to be a success, it’s only logical to launch a spin-off series in a different direction.
Development and Release Date
As with every Star Trek production, strange things started happening almost immediately. The series was first announced on StarTrek.com on 2 November 2015 and in that press release, they scheduled the premiere for January 2017. January came and passed and now the premiere has been pushed to the end of the year. However, I doubt that it will be released in 2017 because the production just keeps running into problems. The more likely date is early 2018 although even that is pretty optimistic, depending on what standards they have set.
Produced by CBS, a company that rejected TOS back in 1964 in favor of Lost in Space, the series will herald their new media distribution system CBS All Access (similar to Netflix). This is a pretty standard marketing move, they intend on riding two promotional waves, one for the series and the other for All Access, minimizing costs and maximizing impact. With more and more series being produced by Netflix or Amazon Prime, CBS is looking to cash in on this trend. They chose Star Trek franchise probably because the idea for this has been around ever since the new movies proved to be hugely successful. The other companies probably avoided the series because of the huge and very faithful fan base that could potentially destroy the series if they tried to milk it or do it half-assed. So this has to be full-assed or not done at all (time for half-measures is over). This is, I think, the main problem now. They are trying to polish it as much as they can.
Bryan Fuller, famous for his Deep Space Nine and Voyager work, first pitched the idea of the new series stating that he would drop everything to be involved in the project. Bryan seems like a real Star Trek fan, I mean he got famous after submitting his script for one of the episodes of Deep Space Nine and the script was so good that they kept him as a writer. Since then he created two TV series: Hannibal – An excellent and very brutal series about a famous serial killer and American Gods – Based on works of Neil Gaiman. He wanted to make the series more in tune with TOS, pushing it to reinvent itself. Finally, on 9 February 2016, Bryan announced that he and Alex Kurtzman will be making the new Star Trek series titled Discovery.
Alex Kurtzman has first noticed for his work on TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys with Kevin Sorbo starring as Hercules (check out Kull the Conqueror). After that Alex and his friend and collaborator, Roberto Orci rewrote The Island for Micheal Bay and after that went on to work on Transformers and finally new Star Trek movies. Alex is a person that studios just adore, his previous movies have grossed over $3 billion, and this was reported in 2011. His commercial and Bryan’s more honest approach could really be the best we could do at this moment.
Another advantage of the distribution platform is the fact that coarse language or graphic violence is totally fine. Creators stated that they will keep the old Star Trek vibe, but having an option for more blood is always a plus. During this period Rod Roddenberry, Mark Worthington, and Trevor Roth all joined the crew, and production slowly started to tackle more serious problems. First, the series premiere was pushed from January 2017 to May 2017 and now even that date is obsolete.
The next problem was Bryan’s departure. He left the show to finish filming “American Gods”, confident that the rest of the team will do well and anxious to see the results. I checked out the series just last night and I have to say that Bryan’s departure might not be such a bad thing after all. Gods were just as pretentious as I expected, too artistic and incoherent. Granted, I only managed to watch 40 minutes of it and just couldn’t do it anymore. CBS execs said that they are not worried about the premiere date and so shouldn’t you be. It will get here and it’s good that they are prolonging the shit out of it. If they manage to pull it off eventually.
Star Trek: Discovery will launch Sunday, September 24 at 8:30 p.m. / 7:30 c on CBS Network.
Apart from the fact that it’s set in the year of our lord Science 2255 and it features the voyages of the Starship Discovery, we know almost nothing else about the story. The lead will not be the Captain as in previous Star Trek series, but the First officer of the USS Discovery, referred to as “Number One”. Her name is Michael Burnham and she’s being played by Sonequa Martin-Green from The Walking Dead. According to one of the interviews with Bryan, the first season should play out like a novel, meaning that it will not feature independent episodes, but one big storyline, arching into several smaller ones depending on the episode. Bryan also hinted that the ship’s name might have something to do with the story and we can extrapolate this to possible encounters with alien species, but this is kind of what the crew of any starship eventually does. Speaking of the ships, there appears to be another starship, besides Discovery, in the play. USS Shenzhou’s fate is still unknown, perhaps it will be destroyed and the surviving crew members will continue with their work on USS Discovery, we just don’t know yet. Speaking of the crew, it’s pretty usual for Star Trek, so let’s dive into casting.
We all know that casting choices were crucial in Star Trek history. Starting with Shatner and Nimoy, continuing with Patrick Stewart and let’s stop with Kate Mulgrew as Capitan Janeway. Once again we have a female lead, although she is not the captain of the ship but First Officer. Because of her job, she will have to communicate both with the captain and the rest of the crew, showing us things from a different perspective. I quite like this idea. There are no big names here, although there has been chatter that some of the actors who appeared in the previous Star Trek series may reprise their roles. In general, I think that the casting was done well and so far there are no red flags or anything similar, so let’s go through the roster:
Jason Isaacs as Captain Lorca – After Patrick Stewart and his beautiful accent (there can be only one shade of gray and that’s Earl, bitches), another Englishman landed the role of a starship captain. You probably remember Jason from Harry Potter where he was Lucius Malfoy, although his career started much earlier. The first movie I saw with him was DragonHeart and after that, he was pretty solid: Event Horizon, Armageddon, The Patriot, Black Hawk Down (he’s the famous Hooah guy) and so on and on. I think he’s a good fit for the role and he seems like a really cool guy in real life. He’s one of those soldiers who does his job regardless of the circumstances.
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham – The lead role of this series has been given to battle-tested Sonequa who you might know as Sasha Williams from The Walking Dead. She was really good in The Walking, along with the rest of the cast. I haven’t seen her in anything else, but her worried face and disarming beauty make one hell of a combo.
Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou – Everything is connected, I keep saying that… Michelle started her career in Kung-Fu movies alongside Jackie Chan, but her breakthrough role was Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies. After she became famous, opportunities kept coming and coming. She was in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Sunshine. Described by Brosnan as female James Bond, she’s a bit older now, but that works only to her advantage.
Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd – “There are too many people in this world, we need a new plague.” This quote from The Office is enough to qualify Rainn. He was in some really interesting movies: Galaxy Quest, Almost Famous, House of 1000 Corpses and Juno. Harry Mudd appeared in two episodes of TOS as comic relief, real Han Solo if I may be so bold. Another good fit for the show.
Shazad Latif as Lieutenant Tyler – He’s Dr. Henry Jekyll from Penny Dreadful if you were wondering. Good guy, currently training martial arts for the series, judging by his social media posts.
Doug Jones as Lt. Saru – I’m sure that you all know Doug, although you might not have seen his face. He broke through as Abe Sapien in Hellboy, although he has been working since 1985, mostly using prosthetics and heavy make-up. Doug is a former contortionist and this helped him a lot during his career. He was in a lot of science fiction movies so he was a natural fit for Discovery.
Maulik Pancholy as Dr. Nambue – Maulik is mostly known as Jonathan from 30 Rock although he has been in numerous series and movies.
Rekha Sharma as Commander Landry – Science Fiction veteran, Rekha is another logical casting decision. For fuck’s sake, her first role was in The Lone Gunmen and just check out this impressive roster of great series and movies: The Outer Limits, The Core, Smallville, AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem, Battlestar Galactica, V and finally the lousy The 100.
Kenneth Mitchell as Kol – Kenneth is mostly known as Eric Green from Jericho and he’s another stable addition to the crew. Soldier’s work is often under-appreciated, so Kenneth I salute you.
Damon Runyan as Ujilli – Damon looks like that rugged looking guy that you have to have in your crew. When I say rugged-looking, I mean rugged looking for fucking, since he has that macho/ladies’ man attitude going on.
Can they pull this off?
I guess everything boils down to this question. I think they can, especially since they knew what they were getting into from the get-go. However, there are so many things that can go wrong that it’s best not to think about it. If you can do such a thing, so let’s go through potential pitfalls:
Graphic Violence and Nudity
Geez Loise, as a member of the Federation, my conscience doesn’t allow me to comment on such rude claims. First, let’s examine the nudity within the world of Star Trek. Sure, Humans and Vulcans are somewhat restrained when it comes to nudity but this doesn’t prevent Ferengi from making their females be naked all the time. And who could forget Betazoid traditions of nude weddings, T’Pol, Seven of Nine and all the others? So, nudity is already in Star Trek, especially if you’re referring to TOS where those sexy uniforms were quite titillating. Not to mention bare-chested Shatner chasing green women in an effort to mate with them. Additional pressure are new, successful series like Game of Thrones with a lot of nudity and graphic violence. I think that they will not use too much nudity or violence, perhaps it will be shown briefly to accentuate some event, but it will be done tastefully. To quote Bryan on this: “It will probably be slightly more graphic content”. Especially if you think financially (older fan base, possibilities of distribution and broadcasting…).
Story, Dialogue and Performances
These three elements are entwined and it is hard to talk about them separately. I think that the crew is too experienced to make any mistakes, the only possible problem is the depth of the stories. I know that we are expecting Breaking Bad levels here, but in reality, I think that they will be just below those standards, making Discovery one hell of a show. To quote Brannon Braga: “Hopefully with the new series they can get back to more meditative storytelling.”
CGI and sets
Visuals are something that’s not so important when it comes to the Star Trek universe. It’s always been about the story and the characters. After so many years, TOS with its practical effects is just cute, while TNG and DS9 with their early CGI are even cuter. Voyager and Enterprise were standard issues for their time. Talking about Enterprise, I wouldn’t even mention visuals if they didn’t insist so much on them in movies and the same crew is doing this series. Additional pressure is coming from The Expanse with its tight visual style. I thought that we had this covered when I first saw the trailer. As it usually happens, I got excited and didn’t notice how the trailer actually looked like when slowed down.
The animation quality is a pretty standard-issue and if you think that’s good, it is not. To me, the entire thing looks way too simplistic and raw, like they were rushed to present something as proof of concept. I might be wrong but a solitary rock with the new starship slowly exiting is just underwhelming. Are they trying to hide from someone, is this a secret facility? A likelier explanation is the previous one. Check out the trailer with speed lowered to 0.25 and you will see what I’m talking about. The geometry of the objects presented is just too simple without complex structures and if you worked in any of the programs for 3D animation you will know what I’m talking about. At least we don’t have to worry about sets. Another thing worth considering is the fact that the series is still in development so I’m guessing they hired some guys to do a couple of trailers and then when they are finished shooting, they will hire a company for the entire visual outlook of the series. Hopefully.
This is my biggest concern. We all know that there’s a stark difference between Star Trek movies and Star Trek series. While the movies used the commercial approach to “spread the word” and cash in, the series were more thought-provoking and innovative, especially TOS (fuck me, I have to also mention other series because they were great too). The new movies were quite commercial and without many ground-breaking ideas. They were visually stunning and the dynamic between the actors has been updated to today’s standards, but they lacked that special quality, a bit of magic, dare I say it. Something almost otherworldly, something from the future, something that Gene Roddenberry stole from the gods and brought it to us, people. With Bryan Fuller leaving the production, it would appear that the guys responsible for the movies are in charge. However, by this time there are so many moving parts that it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen and whether it could be a bad or a good thing.
The Expanse comparison
The Expanse is an American science fiction television series on Syfy and if fucking Syfy could pull it off, I don’t see why CBS couldn’t. And to say that they have pulled it off is a fucking understatement because this show is the shit. In case you haven’t checked it out, it’s a space opera with a noir twist. Incredibly well written and based on novels written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, The Expanse is one of the best science fiction series that I have ever watched. Everything was done by the book and the scientific accuracy that they have achieved is truly astonishing. Renewed for season three, this series has been a fan favorite since day one and I hope that it will be the same for Star Trek: Discovery. Finally, let’s make some financial comparisons: The first season of Game of Thrones was $50 million, about $5 mill per episode, the first season of The Expanse has been clocked near that number and Star Trek: Discovery has an approximate budget per episode of around $6.5 mill. All this points to the first season budget of $50 million, much in the vein of the GOT and TE. So, there are plenty of things to be optimistic about, now all we have to do is wait, and while we’re waiting it’s always a good time to re-watch TOS or some other iteration.
For the review, click the link in the title. This is a very lengthy look at the new Star Trek Series. I found it to be simplistic and disappointing, among other things. The Expanse compared to Discovery is a masterpiece, not that it isn’t on its own, a true fucking masterpiece…