Star Trek: Discovery has ousted showrunners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts midway through production of season two. Executive producer and franchise veteran Alex Kurtzman will take command of the show for the remainder of the second season's production cycle.
Star Trek: Discovery has had a chaotic behind the scenes history. It was originally conceived of by Hannibal and Pushing Daisies producer Bryan Fuller as a decidedly different animal, a stylistic anthology series that would touch on different eras of Star Trek's history each season. After clashes with CBS over budget, scheduling, and overall creative direction, Fuller departed the production to focus on American Gods full time - though he recently departed that show as well. Berg and Harberts - Fuller's longtime lieutenants - took the reins as showrunners and crafted a divisive first season for CBS All Access, showcasing a more violent, amoral version of Gene Roddenberry's utopian future than fans were accustomed to.
But history is repeating itself for Discovery, as THR reports a hostile and abusive work environment has led to Berg and Harberts' dismissal five episodes into season two's production cycle. The report also says Akiva Goldsman - who was a major creative force during the show's first season - did not return for the second season either, though it sounds like that was a far more amicable parting. The show's production will go on a planned hiatus after the fifth episode is completed, and Kurtzman will attempt to recalibrate the writers room.
Early indications were that season two would be more in line with the optimistic spirit generally associated with Star Trek, and promised an encounter with Spock and James T. Kirk's predecessor as Captain of the USS Enterprise, Christopher Pike (played by former Inhumans star Anson Mount). With Harberts and Berg out as showrunners and Kurtzman coming in, one wonders if that creative plan for season 2 will remain in place.
All things considered, the show is lucky to have Kurtzman available to step into an admittedly lousy situation. He was a major player in director J.J. Abrams' Chris Pine-starring reboot of the Star Trek film franchise, and has exhibited a genuine love for the property. It's unclear if his approach will be radically different than what Berg and Harberts were doing; they were self-professed non-fans of Star Trek before taking on Discovery, which likely played a part in the bleak, surprisingly gory take on the final frontier seen through most of the first season. It's unlikely this is a situation anyone involved is particularly relishing, but putting Kurtzman in the captain's chair for season two may be exactly what Star Trek: Discovery needs both behind and in front of the camera.
Star Trek: Discovery's second season will premiere in 2019 on CBS All Access.