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STAR TREK: DISCOVERY SDCC Panel Talks the Franchise’s Legacy and Hope for the Future

At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the stars of the new CBS All Access show, Star Trek: Discovery took the stage to talk about the new journey into the final frontier. While we all got to revel in the awesomeness that came from the new trailer, the cast and crew alike talked a lot about the show’s legacy. After all, the original television series premiered all the way back in 1966. Since that time there have been spin-off series, films, games, and a huge fandom to surround it. Those working on the show don’t take the responsibility of that legacy lightly.

The details are obsessed over on this show. As the Klingons will be speaking Klingon onscreen (with English subtitles, obviously), Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman explained that they worked tirelessly to be sure only accurate Klingon was spoken onscreen.

Generally speaking, the franchise’s canon as a whole was also largely respected. It was announced at the panel that Sonequa Martin-Green’s character, First Officer Michael Burnham, was the surrogate daughter of Ambassador Sarek–Spock’s father. While the notion of introducing an adoptive sister of Spock’s who was never mentioned might sound iffy to fans, Kurtzman promised fans that they knew what they were doing. But while canon and respecting the franchise is vitally important privilege to the cast and crew, they are most concerned with the show’s legacy in society at large.

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With two women of color heading up the show as Captain and First Officer, Discovery is taking important leaps in representation. Not only is the cast racially and ethnically diverse, but Anthony Rapp’s character Lieutenant Paul Stamets will even be playing the first openly gay character on a Star Trek television series, dating another crew member played by Wilson Cruz. Discovery will also be portraying the Klingons as more dynamic characters rather than “thugs” and “bad guys” to highlight the complexities of war and seeking some sort of peace.

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As Rainn Wilson explained on the panel, Star Trek has always been on the cutting edge of societal change. After all, the show boasted TV’s first interracial kiss, and the show’s storylines were always meant to “hold a mirror to society,” as Executive Producer Akiva Goldsman explained. The show set out to reflect back not only what society was in that moment, but what it could be. In a world of bleak current events, a mass of dystopian stories, and a general sense of foreboding about our future, Star Trek: Discovery hopes to lean into that legacy of being a buoy for hope to encourage us all to be the best we can be. As Sonequa Martin-Green explained it, the show’s legacy has always been one of diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance, and they hope to continue that important mission with Discovery.

Bringing us all together is what fandom is all about. We cling to these stories and these characters, and the messages they bring to us. Martin-Green said that stories are what shape and mold us, and this one in particular could really be one to bring us all together. Obviously, the show will have a bit of a heavier tone as the story takes place in a time of war, but the Discovery doesn’t want to tell another us-vs-them tale of our bleak future. Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for Star Trek was one of hope and optimism, and by naturally and authentically highlighting characters from all walks of life, they are hoping to highlight the ways that we deal with one another, how we handle war, and how we attempt peace as a way to usher in a more inclusive and hopeful future.

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Sonequa Martin-Green explained that Roddenberry didn’t really comment on race relations in his original series. Instead, the show just featured people of different ethnicities in a very natural and authentic way. The team behind Star Trek: Discovery is leaning into that legacy, showing a more diverse and inclusive world in a similarly natural way.

“Just by existing, the show becomes a form of activism,” Martin-Green explained. That sense of purpose and activism was one shared by the entire cast and crew.

As Jason Isaacs put it, “Though I loved the Star Trek gadgets, but what counts is what we’re putting out there. We’re showing the next generation what we could become.” Living up to the legend and legacy of Rodenberry was something the entire cast cared deeply about, and from the sets to the story, everyone worked hard to paint a picture of a brighter future that we could all believe in. I think a story like that is one we could all use right about now.

The first half of Star Trek: Generation hits CBS All Access on September 24, and the second airing in January. And if the cast and crew’s passion for the series is any indication, this show is one you can’t miss.

What do you think about the legacy of Star Trek? What are you most looking forward to in the show? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Images: CBS

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