Bryan Fuller Delivers On Promise to “Spoiler It Up” About Star Trek: Discovery at TCA Summer Press Tour

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Bryan Fuller, currently in the enviable position of showrunning the first new Star Trek series since Enterprise, was true to his word of a couple of days ago when he promised to “spoiler it up” regarding CBS All Access’ upcoming Star Trek: Discovery. At the show’s TCA Summer Press Tour panel late yesterday afternoon, Fuller gave some substantial details about what fans can expect from the series.

First of all, the show will be set before Kirk and Spock’s Enterprise. According to Deadline Hollywood, Fuller said that “It’s set 10 years before Kirk, and will bridge the gap between Enterprise and the original series. We’re most closer [sic] to Kirk’s mission and get to play with that iconography.”

This will also be the first Star Trek series whose main protagonist isn’t a Captain, but a Lieutenant Commander. Fuller explains, “The story that’s fascinating for me is that we’ve seen six series from captains’ point of view and to see one from another point of view gives us a richer context.” Yes, this character will be a woman, though they haven’t cast her yet, and while she’s described as a “sensitive hero,” and a “lieutenant commander with caveats,” Fuller says that they have no idea “what level of diversity, she will be.” This is an interesting statement, leading me to believe that either she will be a woman of color, or perhaps disabled, or perhaps somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum. Or maybe *gasp* a combination of those things!

Polygon reports that “the heart of the show will be in her journey through the universe and the people she meets,” and that “she’s on a mission to discover herself and better understand the universe she’s a part of, and [the show] will focus on that struggle to reach out of her safety zone.” It seems that “Discovery” isn’t just the name of the ship.

Speaking of the LGBTQIA spectrum, Fuller promises that “Absolutely, we’re having a gay character. [Writer] Alex Kurtzman, the straight man [on] the team was telling me we would need a gay character.”

Getting back to the plot and structure of the show, the season will be 13-episodes, and will have about seven lead characters. The opening scene, according to Deadline, “isn’t on a planet or Earth,” and according to Polygon, the show will be the first Star Trek show that is serialized and non-episodic, so one story will permeate the whole season and be told more slowly, but with more efficiency thanks to a shorter season. While Fuller obviously didn’t want to get too into the specific plot, he did say that it’s an event referenced in the Original Series that was never fully explored. He also mentioned that we would “possibly” be getting an appearance from Spock’s mother, Amanda Grayson, as Fuller has a fondness for that character. However, Star Trek: Discovery will be primarily focused on new Trek characters, not callbacks to already-existing characters.

Fuller is determined to ensure diversity in his casting, not only because it’s become a buzzword, but because it’s true to the spirit of the series and Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the Trek universe. After all, the original series had a black woman, an Asian man, and a Russian (remember, it was the 1960s. Whassup, Cold War!). “We’re absolutely about continuing that tradition,” said Fuller. However, diversity in the Trek universe also means diverging from such a human-centric perspective. He continues, “It’s about who’s the best actor, what can we say about diversity in every role. We’ll have more aliens than you have on a Star Trek cast.” Fuller also promises, “There will be robots.”

And there will definitely be benefits to the show being streamed digitally, as opposed to being subject to broadcast standards. Joking about the obvious acronym for the show, Fuller said, “There’s a reason why we call it ‘STD.’ It’s still Star Trek and we’re not subject to broadcast standards and practices. Hannibal was, and we got away with murder. There will be slightly more graphic content.” Fingers crossed for rampant, graphic Starfleet sex! (Is it just me? It can’t be just me, right…?)

Oh, and for the Trekkies with eagle eyes yes, Discovery’s look is inspired by Ralph McQuarrie illustrations from an abandoned 1970s Star Trek movie Planet of the Titans. In fact, a 1970s aesthetic with a futuristic flair is something that Fuller was very keen on. Polygon reports that “when they were coming up with the aesthetic — an element that Fuller is particularly interested in — they studied old ’70s James Bond-inspired cars and ’70s art.”

Fuller promised even more information about the show in October, which is when production is set to begin.

Whew! It feels good to have this much new Star Trek stuff to think about, doesn’t it? Happy 50th Anniversary indeed! What do you think about all of Fuller’s revelations? Let’s chat about it below!

(via Deadline Hollywood and Polygon, image via CBS All Access)

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.