Fans have been eagerly awaiting the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery – the first Star Trek television series in over a decade and one that returns to the franchise’s Prime Universe, the timeline in where all of the preceding TV series and movies (excluding the more recent Trek films) have taken place. However, the journey from announcement to air-date has not been an easy one for Star Trek: Discovery, having had its original February 2017 premiere pushed back to May and losing Bryan Fuller as showrunner.
Still, production continues on the series and filming will begin in Toronto this month. The cast for Star Trek Discovery has also begun filling out, with The Walking Dead‘s Sonequa Martin-Green landing the lead role, Michelle Yeoh coming aboard as the starship’s captain, actor Anthony Rapp being cast as the series’ highly-publicized gay character, and celebrated creature actor, Doug Jones, being up to play a new alien member of Starfleet.
Today, EW has learned of a new cast member joining Star Trek Discovery – James Frain (Orphan Black, Gotham) as the Vulcan character Sarek, Spock’s father. It’s the first character cast for the series who has previously appeared in Star Trek, having originally been portrayed by actor Mark Lenard in The Original Series, The Next Generation, and several feature films, and Ben Cross in 2009’s Star Trek. Along with the casting news, EW is also reporting that Discovery‘s May premiere could again be delayed.
Star Trek Discovery will take place roughly a decade before the adventures of the Enterprise crew as depicted in Star Trek: The Original Series (meaning that Sarek may not be the only familiar character to have a role on the series). During that time, Sarek served as Vulcan’s ambassador to the United Federation of Planets and would regularly represent not only Vulcan’s interests but be sought for counsel from those who appreciated his calm reason and logic. With his human wife, Amanda, Sarek has one child – Spock – and partially due to Spock’s want of joining Starfleet against his father’s wishes and the tension over Spock’s dual heritage, their relationship is a strained one. In fact, Sarek’s first appearance on The Original Series touches on that very issue, with Spock and his father behaving quite coldly to one another when Sarek arrives on the Enterprise for a diplomatic mission.
(As a side note, Sarek was not Mark Lenard’s first role on Star Trek. Lenard also portrayed the series’ very first Romulan character in the episode “Balance of Terror” – an episode which has been referenced as a “touchstone“ for Star Trek: Discovery.)
And while this casting news is exciting, with Frain having the classical training needed for such a dignified character and also looking the part (minus the pointy ears), the news that Star Trek: Discovery might again be delayed isn’t. When reached for comment by EW, CBS Television Studios released this statement:
“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. There is also added flexibility presenting on CBS All Access, which isn’t beholden to seasonal premieres or launch windows.“
The flexibility is certainly true when it comes to releasing on a streaming service as opposed to a traditional network, and a property as popular as Star Trek doesn’t necessarily require the same sort of promotion as a brand new series, but it isn’t great optics to have such an eagerly anticipated series repeatedly delayed. EW also mentions concern from CBS over confusion with promoting Martin-Green as the lead in Discovery while she’s still appearing on The Walking Dead, which will air through May. That concern may be neither here nor there as most viewers have come to expect actors to appear in multiple shows, but CBS is also preoccupied with making Star Trek: Discovery the absolute best it can be – and if that means another delay, then by all means, delay away.
Star Trek Discovery was expected to premiere on CBS All Access May 2017, but it may in fact premiere at a later date this year.