Star Trek: Discovery: 11 Things We Learned About The New Trek Series [TCA 2016]

CBS concluded its day of Television Critics Association panels with a session on their streaming service, CBS All Access, and their first original series for that service, Star Trek: Discovery. Bryan Fuller answered questions and we already posted his remarks that the lead character was female, and he intended to feature an openly gay character. Fuller also told the TCA that there were roughly seven leads, common for Star Trek series.  After the jump you can find out what else we learned about the new Star Trek television series.

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1. Discovery Will Be About A Never Depicted Event In Star Trek History

Fuller said that the 13-episode serialized first season was about an event in Star Trek history that had never been depicted on screen before. As the TCA guessed the Romulan War, Kobayashi Maru, Black Ops Section 31, Axanar and more, Fuller ruled them out. When the event is revealed, he promised it would be obvious to Star Trek fans and they would be happy. Fuller also promised more information would be revealed in October, perhaps meaning New York Comic-Con.

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2. The Show Will Be Set A Decade Before The Original Series

Set in the Prime universe, 10 years before Kirk's five-year mission, Fuller sees Discovery as a bridge between Star Trek: Enterprise and The Original Series.

"Star Trek: Enterprise was 150 some odd years before The Original Series and Kirk's mission," Fuller said. "We're much closer to Kirk's mission so we get to play with all the iconography of those ships and those uniforms, new exciting aliens and re-imaginings of existing aliens which will be very interesting to engage with on the internet. Star Trek fans are very particular about 'don't change the antenna on an Andorian.' We're producing the show in 2016 so we have to update the style of the sets, makeup prosthetics and effects. For me that's the most exciting part. As a Star Trek fan, I would see an episode and want to go just one step further into the science or science fictionalization of what it's like to meet someone different from you."


3. The Show Will Have A Diverse Cast

Casting has not yet begun for Star Trek: Discovery, and Fuller said he is casting for diversity. Characters are unspecified by race or even gender, so he is open to casting whichever diverse men or women strike him.


4. The Lead Character Will Be Female

The lead character of Star Trek: Discovery is definitely female.

"It's about this woman's journey who in order to understand something so completely alien from her, she has to fist understand herself," Fuller said. "That feels like it's going right to the heart of not only what's happening in the world, because it's so easy to narcissistically think how we would think in [someone else's] shoes, but it's a complete inaccuracy. We can't imagine how they can think. That's part of our journey on this planet to get along and this character's journey the first season."


5. The Series Will Have A Gay Character

It has been Fuller's longtime goal to create a gay Star Trek character, and this summer's Star Trek Beyond made Trek history making Sulu the franchise's first openly gay character. Fuller said Discovery producer Alex Kurtzman even suggested it before Fuller brought it up.

"Before I even got a chance to say we need a gay character, the straight man in the team was telling me we need o have a gay character," Fuller said. "Absolutely we're having a gay character. What was very interesting for me going into this process as a gay man who worked on Star Trek: Voyager, I still have in a file folder in my garage the hate mail that Star Trek: Voyager got because there was a rumor that Jeri Ryan's character was going to be gay. The bile in that letter, I kept it because I was like, 'if I ever do a Star Trek show, there is going to be a gay character.'"


6. USS Discovery Will Have More Alien Characters Than Any Of The Previous Ships

Diversity also includes aliens in the Star Trek universe. Fuller plans to include more alien characters on the ship than previous series or movies have.

"We'll probably have a few more aliens than we normally do in a Star Trek cast," Fuller said. "We wanted to paint a picture of Starfleet that is indicative of a universe where we're encountering people much different than we are."


7. The Captain Will Be A Supporting Character

Discovery will be the first Star Trek series, or film, where the captain of the ship is a supporting character.

"The story that is fascinating for me is we've seen six series now from captains' points of view," Fuller said. "To see a character from a different perspective on a starship who has a different dynamic relationship with the captain, with subordinates, felt like it would give us richer context to have different types of stories. It is ensemble, but we do have that main female protagonist."

Amanda Gracen

8. Some Classic Trek Characters Could Appear

Because the timeline is within a decade of The Original Series, Fuller is open to including some versions of classic Trek characters, although maybe not in the first season of Discovery.

"I think the first season we're going to be keeping to our own universe in terms of the characters we're creating," Fuller said. "The story is very tightly wound as it is, so there's not a lot of room to encounter some of the established characters this season. Since we are in that timeframe moving forward, that is always a toy I want to see when I open up the toy box. It is absolutely within the possibilities of our universe. We just haven't planned on that yet because we're digging the characters we came up with."

When asked about Amanda Gracen, Spock's mother played by Winona Ryder in 2009's Star Trek, Fuller said a playful,

"Maaaaybe. I love that character. I loved Winona Ryder's portrayal of her. It's a great character. It would be fun in some iteration of this show to incorporate her and her storyline. She's not a central part of the show but we love that character."

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9. The USS Discovery Design Looks Different Than The Comic Con Teaser

As soon as Fuller revealed the U.S.S. Discovery NCC-1031 at San Diego Comic-Con, fans have speculated about its new design. Fuller said that was an early concept and it has already changed significantly in the past month.

"One of the touchstones for the inspiration was we were looking at what is going to be the feel and aesthetic of a new Star Trek series," Fuller said. "J.J. Abrams really launched a fantastic reimagining of what Star Trek could be in that Kelvin timeline. We were looking to have something distinct about what our Star Trek was going to look at, we looked back. There was an abandoned Star Trek series in the '70s, actually for a movie. Ralph McQuarrie had done some wonderful illustrations. We saw harder lines of a ship and started talking about race cars and Lamborghinis in the '70s and James Bond cars. Everyone got a glimpse of what the ship looked like as a work in progress. So much has already changed."

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10. The Show Will Be One Big Serialized Story

Previous Star Trek series produced upwards of 22 episodes per season, usually standalone missions of the week save the occasional two-parter. With only 13 episodes per season and a serialized storyline, Fuller described Discovery as more of a Star Trek novel.

"It's really telling it as though it's a novel with each episode being a chapter of that novel," Fuller said. "Within that chapter is a beginning, middle and end to that section of the story. We will have episodes that exist by themselves but are a piece of a much bigger story."

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11. The Show Will Have Less Limitations Than It Did On Network Television

On CBS All Access, Star Trek: Discovery will not be limited in terms of violence, language, and sexuality the way broadcast networks are. Fuller doesn't plan to make an R-rated Star Trek just because he can though.

"We're gonna have a broader spectrum to explore those issues but it is still Star Trek," Fuller said. "We are not subject to broadcast standards and practices, but Hannibal was and we got away with murder. There'll probably be slightly more graphic content. We discuss every day about language and what's appropriate and how far should we go? Is it appropriate to see a bridge blow up and have somebody say 'oh sh*t' or something stronger than that? We have to feel our way through it. I imagine we're going to shoot scenes a couple of ways and figure out what feels authentic when we're in the editing room."

Star Trek: Discovery will premiere January 2017 on CBS All Access.