As reported yesterday, it appears that Star Trek: Discovery would begin shooting as early as next week. There were also some indications that cast members were already on location in Toronto. However, today Variety is reporting that despite this, the previously announced premiere date of May 2017 could be pushed back.
This isn’t the first delay Discovery has faced. It was initially scheduled for a launch this month but was pushed back to May due to creative concerns by executive producer Bryan Fuller. The internal troubles appear to have continued, and Fuller has since been reduced to a “in-name-only” role on the program, with producers Akiva Goldsman, Gretchen Berg, and Aaron Harberts taking over.
Beginning Filming, But No Set Premiere Date?
Variety quotes a statement from CBS Studios, the company that owns the television rights to the Star Trek franchise, and imitated the development of Star Trek: Discovery. Importantly, they do confirm the rumors that filming will begin next week. However, they also hint that the previously announced premiere date of May 2017 might not happen.
“Production on Star Trek: Discovery begins next week. We love the cast, the scripts and are excited about the world the producers have created. This is an ambitious project; we will be flexible on a launch date if it’s best for the show. We’ve said from the beginning it’s more important to do this right than to do it fast…”
This is true. It wouldn’t be the first time CBS has said they want to take time to get the quality of the show as perfect as they can. A similar statement was made when the show was pushed back from January to May. This new statement implies there may be an even greater degree of accommodation than before for the showrunners. By refusing to mention the May premiere date or even a possible new date, the statement by CBS seems to be lifting some burden of a deadline off the shoulders of the current producers. It is possible this is a way to accommodate a revised creative direction in the wake of Fuller’s departure.
Some cast members appear to already be in Toronto for shooting. Chris Obi, who will be portraying a Klingon leader in the upcoming show, has been tweeting out a series of playful videos where he jokes with his drivers about not knowing where he is off to work (a tease at the secrecy surrounding a major TV show production).
— chris obi (@obidon1) January 18, 2017
One cast member may also be playing a part in any delays that are occurring. Entertainment Weekly says Sonequa Martin-Green, who is widely rumored to be playing the lead role on Star Trek: Discovery as a lieutenant commander, may be tied up working in her current role as Sasha Williams on The Walking Dead.
Martin-Green has not been officially announced by the Discovery producers as a cast member yet. Entertainment Weekly wonders if there may be marketing concerns with Martin-Green being promoted on two shows at once, both of which cater to similar audiences.
Does It Matter When Star Trek Starts?
CBS also emphasizes in their statement the fact that Discovery will be on CBS All Access, an online streaming service, which they claim will allow them to begin airing the series essentially any time they want. In the past, fans have speculated about whether All Access would allow Trek to reach beyond its usual, family-friendly, “PG” style and tone, but little discussion has centered around the relation between the broadcast medium and the nature of the release date.
“There is also added flexibility presenting on CBS All Access, which isn’t beholden to seasonal premieres or launch windows.”
In yesterday’s report, we noted that fan website TrekMovie found a listing of a September end date to the shooting on Star Trek: Discovery. We speculated then that this meant shooting would continue after the first episode aired. This still may be true, but it also could mean that the series will actually hold off its premiere until fall or early winter of this year.
Casting A Familiar Father Figure
Perhaps to take away from the sting of the potential delay, CBS also issued a statement today announcing a new cast member for Star Trek: Discovery. For the first time in the new series, an actor will be playing a role of an existing character in the Trek universe, one who goes all the way back to the original 1960s TV series.
Actor James Frain, who has played roles in True Blood, Orphan Black, and Gotham, will inhabit the role of Sarek, father of legendary Trek character Spock.
Sarek served as the Vulcan ambassador to the United Federation of Planets, the governing organization that oversaw Starfleet, the exploratory branch which most Star Trek shows have focused on. In the famous original series episode “Journey To Babel,” Sarek (played by actor Mark Lenard) has to balance his diplomatic mission, his estranged relationship with his son Spock, and his age and health. He suffers from heart problems and is rescued in part by Spock, who gives his own blood to aid in a life-saving surgery.
Discovery is alleged to be set around a decade before the events of the original Star Trek TV series, where Sarek was entering middle age. Here, we may see a younger, more active Sarek. The new show is rumored to involve war and diplomacy, so it may be a significant recurring role.
Star Trek: Discovery will premiere with a special airing of the first episode on CBS broadcast television, followed by the rest of the season airing exclusively on CBS All Access in the United States, and on Netflix in other countries. How much longer fans have to wait appears to still be an open question, though May looks less and less likely. The good news is there seems to be an interesting and expanding array of cast members to look forward to watching.
[Featured Image by CBS Studios]