It’s been 12 years since the last time Starfleet took flight on television; 15 since the last time we visited Universe Prime cinematically. In that time, Star Trek never really went away. It lives on in the streaming world, with hundreds and hundreds of hours of stories available across five series, and in a rebooted cinematic universe, separate from the original and divisive among fans. In some form or another, the universe created by Gene Roddenberry will always exist, offering hope, guidance, or mere entertainment when we need it the most. Still, the absence of a Star Trek television series is glaring in today’s age. With the rebooted Kelvin Universe still chugging along in theaters, the demand for a return to basics has never been higher.
Which is why so much hope is pinned to the premiere of Discovery. The latest series of Star Trek exists in a nebula of hype already, with fans hoping that the franchise’s return to TV will mean a return to form, even with a slow moving and troubled production. Series creator Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) walked away as show runner last year. The series premiere was pushed back from early this year to May. Despite the turmoil, it’s been a steady development period, with plenty of intriguing casting announcements. Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) was tapped to play Captain Georgiou, and she’ll be joined by Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead) and Doug Jones (The Bye Bye Man, Hellboy) as members of her crew. Now, with all the pieces firmly in place, Star Trek: Discovery is finally moving forward.
An updated production list from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees local 873 in Toronto has listed Star Trek: Discovery among their current productions (h/t Comic Book). Listed under the working title of Green Harvest, the series is set to begin production next week on January 24 and continue through September 17.
As originally planned, the series will available through CBS’ new streaming service, All Access, for $5.99 a month, or $9.99 for an ad-free version, and still seems poised for a May debut. It’s an intriguing way to raise interest in the new service, which joins the increasingly large market place of streaming providers. Fans will no doubt be unable to resist the temptation to sign up, if only for more Trek. That’s the hope, anyway; there has been some grumbling about the lack of accessibility, which could become a problem if people fail to tune in.
Still, with what little we know about the series so far, it certainly seems like a worthwhile investment. Set ten years before the original Star Trek series, Discovery is taking us into a period often discussed by the various shows, though never portrayed. Last year, Fuller revealed that the episode “Balance of Terror” would be a “touchstone” for the new series, which suggests that the oft-mentioned Romulan war would be presented for the first time.
We also know that the series will focus on Martin-Green’s Lt. Commander Rainsford, with Yeoh’s Captain playing a supporting role in the context of the arc. That’s an interesting departure for a series to take. While individual episodes of the various Star Trek series have focused on subordinate characters, each series tends to revolve around its respective captain. For context, it would be as if The Next Generation had been told primarily through the eyes of Data or La Forge, with Picard playing a lesser role.
That conceit allows for new narrative potential, allowing us to see the operations of a Starfleet ship from an entirely different angle than we’re used to. This presents an opportunity to explore the chain of command and the balance of power of a vessel in a new light, which would be especially interesting if, indeed, the series is set within the Romulan war.
There’s definite potential here, which CBS is clearly banking on for subscriptions to All Access. While it would be nice to not need to sign up to watch new Star Trek, the draw is definitely substantial. It’s been too long since television has boldly gone into the final frontier, and at this point it’s better than no Trek at all. There’s sure to be more information about the series available as Discovery begins its production, and we’ll keep you posted as new details emerge.
Star Trek Discovery is expected to premiere on CBS All Access May 2017.