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Everything We Know About STAR TREK: DISCOVERY So Far

Everything We Know About STAR TREK: DISCOVERY So Far

Update: 9/19/2017:

With Star Trek: Discovery  nearly here, CBS All Access have released a new behind the scenes video for the series, which features new interviews with the cast and crew, as well as giving fans a first look at many of the show’s production design, and close up views of many of the details on board not only the Discovery, but also the Shenzou and the Klingon vessels. You can check out the full video down below:

From 1987 to 2005, Star Trek ruled the sci-fi airwaves, airing four television series over this 18-year period. This started with the highly successful Star Trek: The Next Generation, and continued with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and finally Star Trek: Enterprise. By the time Enterprise premiered in 2001, however, there were signs of Trek-fatigue, what with the previous three series having produced 528 episodes that were in constant rotation on television. Many wondered if we needed yet another Star Trek show.

On top of that, by the time Enterprise had premiered, the sci-fi/fantasy genre on TV had evolved, thanks to Joss Whedon shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, as well as the reinvented Battlestar Galactica, among others. Even to the most die-hard Trekker, the typical Star Trek format was starting to seem like a relic from another era. Enterprise never really caught on with viewers, and was the first Star Trek show since the original to be canceled because of low ratings. Many thought that might be the end of Trek on television for good.

Then in 2009, Paramount and J.J. Abrams revived and rebooted the original Star Trek for the big screen to great success, in a way that moved the franchise forward and still honored the original. This proved there was still life in the franchise after all. By this point, tons of ambitious and intricate new sci-fi series, like Doctor Who, Orphan Black, had begun and would continue to capture fans’ attention. With the franchise viable once again thanks to the new films, it started to seem like the time was perfect for Star Trek to return to television in a new and interesting way–one reflective of modern TV sensibilities–and fans started to publicly clamor for a return to the televised Trek universe.

Finally, a new Star Trek series, at this point still unnamed, was announced in November of 2015, and would be the leading show on CBS’ new streaming service, CBS All Access, though with a premiere on regular CBS proper. Outside the United States, the show will be available via Netflix in most territories. In the summer of 2016, the show’s full name was revealed…

Since the announcement, we’ve learned quite a bit about the developing project. Here’s everything we know so far.

Who Are the Creative Minds Behind the Show?

Fans everywhere jumped for joy when it was announced in February 2016 that Bryan Fuller, the man behind Hannibal, Pushing Daisies and the upcoming American Gods, would be the new Star Trek series showrunner. A lifelong Trek fan, Fuller got his start as a young writer on Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Joining him would be Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote both of the Abrams-directed Star Trek movies.

Fans got even more excited when it was announced that Nicholas Meyer, the man behind Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, two of the best films in the original cycle, would join the series as a writer/producer. Also on board as an exec producer was Rod Roddenberry, the son of late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. At the 50th anniversary Star Trek panel at Comic-Con in San Diego in July of 2016, Bryan Fuller took to the stage and officially announced the name of the series: Star Trek: Discovery. He brought along the first teaser clip, of the Discovery leaving spacedock, which you can see down below:

Sadly, a few months later, Fuller announced he was departing the series as showrunner, for unspecified reasons. He retains an executive producer title, but the new showrunners are Gretchen Berg, Aaron Harberts, and Alex Kurtzman, with Akiva Goldsman having joined the series “in a top creative role.” It is said that Fuller’s scripts and story arc plotting are still being used for the first season.

What is the New Show About?

The series will be ostensibly set about the Federation starship Discovery, although, unlike previous Trek shows, the main character will be a Lieutenant Commander, and not the ship’s Captain. There will also be another Federation vessel that will be a key part of the series, the starship Shenzhou. The series will be set in the “Prime” Star Trek universe–the one from the various television series and the original 10 films, not the rebooted Abrams universe, which will remain separate and still continue on on the big screen. The series will also be set 10 years before the original Star Trek series, roughly around the time of the unaired Star Trek pilot, “The Cage.”

In May of 2017, we got our first teaser trailer for Star Trek: Discovery, which gave us even more details. You can Watch the trailer below, and then we’ll unpack what we just saw.

Ok, we can see that for starters, we can see that CBS is spending a good amount of money on this new Trek. Early rumors of the show being done on the cheap seem to be dead wrong. Second, we definitely see the influence of Star Wars on this new incarnation of Trek — Michelle Yeoh and Sonequa Martin-Green look almost like Rey in The Force Awakens on a desert world, and we see James Frain’s Sarek communicate in what look like a Star Wars style hologram — totally not something Trek has done before. Also, there are hints that Martin-Green’s character is at least part Vulcan.

Still, there are plenty of new alien species on board, and we get our first glimpse of the show’s Klingons, who look way more savage and, well, alien looking than ever (the rumor is these are ancient Klingons, awakened from a long slumber. The crypt we see in the trailer supports that). We also see the new Starfleet uniforms. They look kind of like what they make Space Mountain employees wear at the Disney Parks, but hey, I’m all for a little retro flavor in my Star Trek.

At SDCC 2017, an all new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery dropped, showing fans a whole lot more than we’ve seen before. This is definitely the priciest Trek show ever, and every penny spent shows. The SDCC trailer gives us another look at the updated uniforms, ships, and a new design for the Klingons. You can check out the SDCC trailer down below.

At the panel, the big reveal was the the show’s main character Lt. Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is the foster child of Spock’s parents, Sarek and Amanda, who took her in after her parents were murdered.

She was raised on Vulcan in the Vulcan philosophy, and even became the first human to attend the Vulcan Science Academy. She was mentored by Sarek, and then later Michelle Yeoh’s Capatain. At the panel, they revealed that they will at some point explain why Spock has an adopted sister we have never heard of before.

Who Are the Principal Cast Members of Discovery?

Sonequa Martin-Green, who is maybe best known for her role as Sasha Williams on AMC’s The Walking Dead, has been cast as the lead, first officer Michael Burnham. Yup, that’s not a typo, her name is Michael. Hey, in the 23rd century maybe Michael is the new Sydney or Terry, and is a gender neutral name. She is joined by James Frain as Spock’s father Sarek, Michelle Yeoh as Captain Philippa Georgiou of the Starship Shenzhou, and Doug Jones as Lt. Saru, a science officer that’s part of a new alien species never before seen on Trek.

The Star Trek franchise has always been at the forefront of diversity from day one. In 1966, it was revolutionary to have African-American and Asian officers on the bridge. Later Trek shows pushed things even further, like having an African-American Captain, and a eventually a woman Captain.

But when other shows began to include LGBT characters in their ensembles, Trek lagged behind. Understandable how Star Trek: The Next Generation couldn’t do it in the ’80s, but by the time of Star Trek: Voyager and  Star Trek: Enterprise it was kind of embarrassing. 

But now, Trek is finally planning on introducing its first regular LGBT crewman on Discovery, in the form of Lt. Stamets. who is portrayed by Rent actor Anthony Rapp. Stamets will be the first openly gay character in Star Trek‘s 51-year television history, and Entertainment Weekly‘s latest issue gives fans a sneak peek at what’s in store.

Stamets will be one of the ship’s scientist’s and a “fungus expert.” As the series shows us more of the personal lives of its characters, fans will also get to learn about Stamets’ romantic relationship with another crew member. Rapp told Entertainment Weekly “I’m really excited and happy when a gay character is a part of a story — especially when a gay character is created in a complex and human and non-stereotypical, interesting way, and that has certainly been the case with Stamets.”

A starship needs a captain of course, Jason Isaacs is part of the ensemble as the commander of the Discovery, Captain Gabriel Lorca. Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we have our first look at the Captain on the bridge of his ship. 

Shazad Latif, best known as Dr. Jekyll on Penny Dreadful, is on board as “Lieutenant Tyler,” a Starfleet officer. Which ship he’s on is not given. Rekha Sharma (The 100) will star as “Commander Landry,” the security officer of the Starship Discovery.

As for the show’s resident Klingons, we have Kenneth Mitchell (Jericho) as “Kol,” a commanding officer in the Klingon Empire. As other Klingon officials, we have Damon Runyan (Supernatural) as Ujilli, and Clare McConnell as Dennas. It’s interesting to not that we have three Klingons as series regulars. No Star Trek series to date has had that many Klingons as part of the primary cast until now.

Other cast members include Terry Serpico as Admiral Anderson, a high-ranking official of Starfleet, Maulik Pancholy as Dr. Nambue, the chief medical officer of the Starship Shenzhou, and Sam Vartholomeos as Ensign Connor, a junior officer in Starfleet Academy assigned to the Starship Shenzhou. Mary Wiseman from Longmire is also part of the cast as Tilly, a cadet in her final year at Starfleet Academy, assigned to the Discovery

Actor Rainn Wilson, best known as Dwight Schrute on The Office, has also joined the cast of Star Trek: Discovery as none other than space pirate Harry Mudd. For those unfamiliar, Harcourt “Harry” Fenton Mudd was played by Roger C. Carmel, and was as a smuggler and a con man, who first crossed paths with the Captain Kirk’s Enterprise in an early original series episode called, appropriately enough, “Mudd’s Women.”

Mudd then became the only guest star character to return on the show for a second episode, as he appeared in season two’s “I, Mudd.” The character would later return (voiced by original actor Carmel) for the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “Mudd’s Passion.” It’s unknown if Rainn Wilson is going to be a regular on the series or a recurring guest star. Wilson also starred in the beloved Star Trek parody, Galaxy Quest back in 1999.

CBS All Access has also released a ton of new key art for the series, featuring most of the main cast. And to see the rest of the images, be sure to click on our full story.

When Will the Show Premiere?

After many delays, the series finally went into production in January of 2017  in Toronto, Canada (you can see the video announcement celebrating the start of production above). In June 2017, it was officially announced that the show will premiere on Sunday, Sept. 24, with a special broadcast premiere on the CBS TV network airing 8:30-9:30 PM.

The first as well as the second episode of the sci-fi series will be available on-demand on CBS All Access that same night immediately following the broadcast premiere, with subsequent new episodes released on All Access each Sunday.

How Many Episodes Will There Be?

The first season will consist of 15 episodes, but will be split into two groups, with eight episodes coming in September and the remaining seven in January 2018. A 15-episode order is pretty big for a series today, although it is a far cry from when Star Trek: The Next Generation was doing a whopping 26 episodes a season. Discovery will also be the first Trek show to be fully serialized, and present one story over a full season. Deep Space Nine did a kind of serialized storytelling, but most episodes were self contained until the very last seasons.

Will There Be Kingons?

Star Trek without Klingons is like Star Wars without lightsabers–it’s part of the iconography, and you kind of need them in some form, right? Well, there will definitely be Klingons in the new series. In fact, there are three actors cast as Klingons who will be regulars on the show. But could these Klingons look like no other Klingons we’ve seen before?

A fan on the set of the series took a photo of what he thought were Klingons (see above), but if they are, they certainly don’t match with the aesthetic of the race we’ve seen so far. If anything, these look like proto-versions of the race. Or, they could be another alien race all together. But even if the aliens in the tweet above are not Klingons, the warrior race is confirmed as being part of the show.

What’s with the Look of Discovery?

The design of the starship Discovery is one unlike what we’ve seen before for a Federation starship on any Star Trek show. It’s inspired by designs that Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie did for the very first Star Trek film some 40 years ago, which you can see above. In fact, the design looks like a cross between a Federation starship and a Klingon battle cruiser. Coincidence? Considering how many Klingons are regulars on this show, I don’t think so.

And what is Star Trek without its transporter room? Even people who have never see the show or ever watched a Star Trek movie know that transporters are part of the fabric of the series. Even your grandma knows what “Beam me up Scotty” means.

Now, thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we have our first look at the transporters on Discovery. Well, Discovery the show, not the ship – the images released are of the transporter room on the U.S.S. Shenzou, the ship Captained by Michelle Yeoh on the series. You can see the image in the tweet down below:

These are definitely different than any transporter room we’ve seen on any of the five previous Trek shows, which all followed a basic design template. Will the transporter room for the Discovery itself be as “off model” as the one on the Shenzou? We’ll all have to wait and see.

What are you most excited about seeing on this latest Star Trek television incarnation? Let us know what you want to see in our comments below.

Images: CBS / Paramount Pictures / NBC Universal

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