CBS’ ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Aims To Please Many, But Maybe Not The Fans [Update]

At the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills last month, Bryan Fuller, the writer and producer of CBS’s new version of Star Trek, gave his insight on how his series will be different from all the rest and yet still be a part of that of all of the other Star Trek shows that came before. Fuller’s show aims to please many, but might end up pleasing no one.

Bryan Fuller
Bryan Fuller

First of all, Star Trek: Discovery was set to premiere on CBS in January of 2017 and then would be transferred to CBS’s paid streaming service, CBS All Access, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. President and COO of CBS Interactive Marc DeBevoise says that he expects the show’s premiere to receive about 15 million viewers. However, HitFix has reported that the debut date has been pushed back until May of next year.

“Bringing Star Trek back to television carries a responsibility and mission: to connect fans and newcomers alike to the series that has fed our imaginations since childhood. We aim to dream big and deliver, and that means making sure the demands of physical and post-production for a show that takes place entirely in space, and the need to meet an air date, don’t result in compromised quality. Before heading into production, we evaluated these realities with our partners at CBS and they agreed: Star Trek deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of,” says Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman in a joint statement.

Second, just how many fans will fork over money for the streaming service? When asked why one has to pay for CBS All Access, since it already includes advertising like traditional free TV, DeBevoise replied as follows.

“The value is the depth and breadth of the service that you can’t get anywhere else. This [Star Trek: Discovery] is original content. It is not on CBS. This is extra value.”

Star Trek: Discovery will be different from all other Star Trek shows in other ways, as well. The first season has been described as a “novel over 13 episodes” and will be shown as a serialized storyline instead of the standard episodic style. Fuller gives a reason for this, saying as follows.

“There’s an incident and an event in Star Trek history that’s been talked about but never been explored. To do this series, we’re telling a much more serialized story, to dig deep into a very tantalizing storyline. And we have a character who’s on a journey, and in order to understand something that is alien, she first has to understand herself.”

Who is this character Fuller is referencing? She will be a lieutenant commander played by an actress with a “level of diversity.” What that means is a bit of a mystery, as well.

Star Trek started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast … our lead of the show is going to be subject of that same level of who’s the best actor and also what can we say about diversity on the show,” said Fuller.

“We haven’t cast her yet, so we don’t know what level of diversity she will be, but that’s forefront in our minds.”

While many are praising the series for giving the show a female lead, this isn’t the first time for the franchise. Kate Mulgrew ruled the ship for Star Trek Voyager, which ran from 1995 to 2001. One thing that is for sure is that the central character of the show will not be a captain.

“We’ve seen six series from the captain’s point of view; to see a character from a different perspective on the starship — one who has a different dynamic relationships with a captain, with subordinates, it gave us richer context.”


The new Discovery show will be set in what has been called the “Prime Universe,” which takes place about ten years before Captain Kirk’s original five-year mission. The Discovery ship will have a different look, but it is said to still be inspired by Ralph McQuarrie’s original illustrations for the ship. The diverse cast will include robots, aliens, and even gay characters — something that sounds like a personal vendetta for the producer. The EW article points out that while Fuller was working on Star Trek Voyager, he received tons of hate mail about a rumor of the show adding a gay character and his determination to include one for his own show.

“We’ve come a long way since then. I feel like actually gay rights have come a lot further in that time than race issues and women’s issues.”

Fuller also noted that some of his Star Trek’s changes might anger hardcore fans of the series.

“We’re producing the show in 2016. We have to update the style of the effects, the style of the sets, the style of the makeup … It will probably be slightly more graphic content.”

[Photos via CBS]