50 years ago this September, Star Trek first graced television screens across America. As the popular series rounds the half-century mark, it’s trying hard not to show its age. The most recent TV (or streaming, technically) incarnation, Star Trek: Discovery, though, is starting to look like a blast from the past with a new twist. The new Trek will return to the past, set ten years prior to The Original Series, but will focus on a female bridge officer instead of the ship's captain.
Slated for release next January, Discovery showrunner Bryan Fuller is whipping the show into shape, including hiring new co-showrunners and a pair of new writers. He also dropped a few more hints about the non-traditional lead on the series.
Industry scooper I am – Hercules!! over at AICN, who first broke news about the Trek’s reported place in the Prime Timeline, recently sat down with Fuller. During their chat, the Hannibal producer divulged some interesting new details about what to expect from the latest program. For instance, the female human lead on the show will be referred to as “Number One,” indicating the action will likely follow the U.S.S. Discovery’s second in command.
Fuller also revealed that he is re-teaming with two of his Wonderfalls cohorts – scripting duo Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts – and adding them as co-showrunners on Star Trek: Discovery. The latest Star Trek show has also beefed up its writer stable, with Jesse Alexander (Heroes) and author Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami) joining Fuller's behind the scenes crew as pre-production continues on the 13-episode first run.
In the interview, Fuller also disclosed new details about about early episode scripting duties, noting that the Discovery premiere was written by himself and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek Into Darkness), while the follow up was penned by Trek veteran Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan). Including the latest hires, the final 11 hours of the interconnected story arc will likely be come from the creative collaboration of Fuller, Kurtzman, and Meyer, in addition to his Deep Space Nine mentor and long time Trek writer Joe Menosky, novelist Kristen Beyer, and Aron Coleite (Heroes).
Even though Star Trek: Discovery's format is headed into new territory, the show itself will return to the era just before Kirk, Bones, and Spock began their five year mission. The first season, on the other hand, won’t include one classic Trek trope. Fuller claimed time travel wouldn't be a part of the ship's maiden voyage, which means William Shatner’s cameo will have to wait, unless he plays someone else. The news does jive with Fuller’s desire to focus primarily on establishing the cast (and not confusing new viewers) before adding any former Star Trek players into the mix. It will also give the show an opportunity to explore life in the 23rd century from the perspective of the latest Number One.
Speaking of which, early reports suggested that the human female lead would be a lieutenant commander. In Trek history, “Number One,” originally referred to the unnamed first officer (played by Majel Roddenberry nee Barrett) to Captain Pike in the first pilot episode of TOS. However, as fans of The Next Generation are well aware, Commander William T. Riker (Jonathon Frakes) bore that title throughout the Enterprise D's seven seasons. It’s possible that Fuller’s use of the term may refer to TNG, but it also could be a direct reference to the pilot episode, since the showrunner has mentioned his reverence for the classic series.
Since the casting department has primarily met with women of color for the lead role, "Number One" probably won't link directly with TOS, at least at first. There will undoubtedly be a few nods to the classic series, though, especially as the stardates wind ever nearer to when Kirk takes command of the Enterprise. One thing's for sure, Fuller certainly has assembled some impressive talent to take Star Trek into its next frontier. It will be interesting to find out more as Fuller's plans solidify, and Discovery begins filming this fall.
Star Trek: Discovery debuts on CBS in January 2017 and streams exclusively through CBS All Access thereafter.