Star Trek: Discovery, the upcoming new series in the long-running Star Trek franchise, has had a large share of ups-and-downs over the past few months. First, its premiere date was pushed from January to May 2017. CBS, the network producing the show, insisted Discovery needed extra time to get the details right.
Then came the news that showrunner Bryan Fuller would be stepping away from day-to-day operations on Discovery.
At the time, it was still implied (or at least hoped) that Fuller would continue have some degree of creative input going forward. Fan reaction was mixed. It seemed to be mostly a scheduling issue between Trek and Fuller’s other projects.
Some actual good publicity finally arrived with the first official announcement of casting news for Star Trek: Discovery. Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh, and Anthony Rapp were greeted with an overwhelmingly positive response.
It has been hinted that this is just the first of several cast announcements to come, with future announcements that may hint more at the plot and starship design as well. It appeared CBS had a hold on the situation.
Last week, however, Bryan Fuller spoke with Newsweek and put aside any doubt as to if he would have any further input on Discovery. He would not.
“I’m not involved in production, or postproduction, so I can only give them the material I’ve given them and hope that it is helpful for them. I’m curious to see what they do with it…”
Fuller reiterated that the primary issue was one of scheduling; balancing Trek against the other shows he is working on.
“Ultimately, with my responsibilities, I could not do what CBS needed to have done in the time they needed it done for Star Trek… It is bittersweet. But it was just a situation that couldn’t be resolved otherwise… so I had to step away.”
The concern for some Trek fans is that the program will now be changed in tone by Akiva Goldsman, a producer who will be overseeing the show. Goldsman’s background is in flashier, more comic-book-styled franchises, having worked on the 1990s Joel Schumacher Batman movies, I Robot, the Paranormal Activity sequels, Insurgent, and the upcoming Transformers sequels. Fuller, on the other hand, as a background in cult-classics, with geekier, more arty projects, such as Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and the Hannibal TV series. Fuller had also had some writing experience on Star Trek episodes in the past; Goldsman is a relative newcomer by comparison.
Evan Saathoff, writing for Birth Movies Death, was concerned about this back when Fuller first announced he was stepping away, but it appeared that he still might have some input. Saathoff was skeptical of that possibility and teased about how disappointing Goldsman would be as a replacement.
“So the show you were super looking forward to is now somewhat in the hands of that grandma you have who forces you to eat black licorice and also wrote some of the worst movies ever. Which is a huge step down from your cool uncle who introduces you to Lou Reed and made Hannibal…”
“Nevertheless, this is a huge blow. Whatever Star Trek: Discovery was going to be, it will be something different now. Maybe something that is still okay, but I can’t help but fear for the worst. “
Some fans are worried about an even larger plan afoot. Was Fuller removed and Goldsman put in not because of scheduling conflicts, but by CBS to intentionally build and promote a flashier, less cerebral Star Trek show? A blogger and Trek fan who goes by “John J. Joex” wrote passionately why he feels that way.
“…I would venture to guess that Fuller proved too much of a visionary for the corporate machine that now controls the Star Trek franchise. He is known for his quirky, inventive, and visually stunning work in television, whereas Trek has become much more focused on making money from a name brand over the past years (and arguably decades)…”
“Many of us believed that Fuller could have taken the franchise back in that direction and he indicated that he wanted to tap into the original promise and hopefulness of the series. But I’m going to guess that he and the corporate executives did not see eye to eye on the direction of the series, leading to his decision to step away from it altogether…”
Fans will know soon enough about what kind of direction the show may be moving. Leaks will be inevitable. In fact, CBR reports that shooting on Discovery could begin as early as next month.
“Construction of the sets for Star Trek: Discovery are expected to be finished within a month… with filming targeted to begin shortly thereafter at Pinewood Toronto Studios.”
Those working for the show have largely stayed quiet. The Twitter account “Star Trek Dog” pretends to be written by Stella, who is the pet of Discovery consulting producer Nick Meyer (of course, it is actually run by Meyer himself). Meyer and “Stella” are keeping a good face on the future of the show, tweeting out an image referencing original series creator Gene Roddenberry’s work on developing the first show.
The release date has remained firm since its first move. Star Trek: Discovery is still set to be released May 2017. The ship is still in drydock, so to speak, waiting to be launched on its first shakedown cruise.
Do you feel concern for the future of the show, or do you think this is overblown? Indeed, struggles to keep Star Trek going behind-the-scenes go back well into the history of the franchise. Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts.
[Featured Image by CBS Studios]