Fans hoping to learn what critics think of Star Trek: Discovery will have to wait until after the series premieres, as CBS is reportedly taking great pains to ensure no details about the two hour premiere leak early.
Star Trek: Discovery is a prequel series, set ten years before the adventures of Kirk and Spock. Details on the series’ plot and characters have been scarce, though we know the show revolves around Commander Michael Burnham (The Walking Dead‘s Sonequa Martin-Green) a human Starfleet officer who was raised on Vulcan by Spock’s father, Sarek (James Frain). The show will involve a confrontation with the Klingons, but it’s unclear what provokes that event.
CBS is eager to keep audiences in the dark as long as possible. According to Entertainment Weekly, the network is not sending critics advanced screeners – and those attending the show’s upcoming premieres in New York and Los Angeles will be embargoed from sharing reviews until after the episodes have aired.
Review embargoes are nothing new, especially in movies. They’re slightly less normal in television, though Game of Thrones and the Twin Peaks revival both utilized them this past season. However, those were decidedly different situations than Star Trek: Discovery; Game of Thrones is the most popular show on television and Twin Peaks was presumably about to resolve a 27 year old cliffhanger.
EW‘s source claims the embargo is in place to ensure plot details don’t leak, but it’s inevitable that fans will fear it’s really for the other reason embargoes are enforced – namely, that the network is bracing for a wave of negative reviews. That fear isn’t coming out of nowhere for Star Trek fans. Discovery has had a long, sometimes contentious production cycle. Initial series creator Bryan Fuller departed before production began due to scheduling issues and creative differences with CBS. Discovery has also loudly broadcast the fact it will be discarding some of Star Trek’s foundational tropes, aiming for a more modern, dark, serialized take on the franchise. Case in point: retconning Commander Burnham into an adoptive sister Spock never mentioned has given some fans pause.
None of this is to say Star Trek: Discovery is going to flop. The cast is impressive and the set design and effects work suggest CBS is spending some serious money here. The theme song sounds great too. Right or wrong, fans have simply been conditioned to respond to review embargoes with wariness. Hopefully Discovery is just packing some fantastic surprises that are going to be worth the wait.
Star Trek: Discovery premieres Sunday, September 24 on CBS. The remaining episodes will stream exclusively on CBS All-Access.
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