Star Trek: Discovery
Star Trek: Discovery is an American television series created for CBS All Access by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman. It is the first series developed specifically for that service, and the first Star Trek series since Star Trek: Enterprise concluded in 2005. Set roughly a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series and separate from the timeline of the concurrent feature films, Discovery explores the Federation–Klingon cold war while following the crew of the USS Discovery. Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts serve as showrunners on the series, with producing support from Akiva Goldsman.
|Star Trek: Discovery|
|Based on||Star Trek
by Gene Roddenberry
|Country of origin||United States|
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Budget||$8–8.5 million per episode|
|Preceded by||Star Trek: Enterprise|
|Related shows||Star Trek TV series|
|Star Trek: Discovery - CBS.com||www
Sonequa Martin-Green stars as Michael Burnham, the first officer of the USS Shenzhou and later the USS Discovery. The new series was announced in November 2015, and Fuller joined as showrunner the next February. In addition to Fuller and Kurtzman, who wrote for previous Star Trek series and films, respectively, the crew includes several other previous Star Trek creatives. Fuller wanted to make an anthology series, beginning with a prequel season to the original series, but CBS asked that he make a single serialized show first. In October 2016, after further disagreements with CBS and struggles with other commitments, Fuller left the series. Berg and Harberts took over day-to-day production using a mythology and broad story arc established by Fuller, while Goldsman joined then as support.
The production put emphasis on carrying on the legacy of the previous series, including making efforts to feature a diverse cast. The values and designs of the Federation were updated for the series, but were expected to evolve towards those of the original series throughout Discovery's run. The show also heavily features the Klingon species, with the intent of exploring the central conflict from both perspectives. The Klingons were redesigned for the series, with influence from their previous appearances, the original inspirations for the species, and the novel The Final Reflection, as well as research on biology and evolution. The Klingon language is also extensively used. Discovery is filming in Toronto, and has filmed on location in Jordan.
Star Trek: Discovery premiered on September 19, 2017, at ArcLight Hollywood, before debuting on CBS on September 24. The rest of the 15-episode first season will be made available on All Access, and is split into two chapters: the first chapter finishes airing in November 2017, and the second chapter begins in January 2018.
Set roughly ten years before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series, the show sees the Klingon T'Kuvma look to unite the 24 great Klingon houses, leading to a cold war between his race and the United Federation of Planets that involves the crew of the USS Discovery.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham:
- Terry Serpico as Anderson: A Starfleet admiral.
- Maulik Pancholy as Nambue: Chief Medical Officer of the USS Shenzhou.
- Sam Vartholomeos as Danby Connor:
- James Frain as Sarek:
- Doug Jones as Saru:
- Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou:
- Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets:
- Chris Obi as T'Kuvma:
- Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler:
- Mary Chieffo as L'Rell:
- Jason Isaacs as Gabriel Lorca:
- Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly:
- Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd:
- Kenneth Mitchell as Kol:
- Rekha Sharma as Landry: Security Officer for the Discovery.
- Damon Runyan as Ujilli: A leader in the Klingon Empire.
- Clare McConnell as Dennas: A leader in the Klingon Empire.
- Wilson Cruz as Hugh Culber:
A Klingon named Voq, described as being "touched by fate and fire", is also in the series.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"The Vulcan Hello"||David Semel||Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman, and Akiva Goldsman||September 24, 2017[a]|
|The discovery of a puzzling object by the starship Shenzhou leaves First Officer Michael Burnham torn between captain and crew.|
|2||"Battle at the Binary Stars"||TBA||Nicholas Meyer & Bryan Fuller||September 24, 2017[a]|
|3||"Context Is for Kings"||TBA||TBA||October 1, 2017|
|4||"The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry"||TBA||TBA||October 8, 2017|
Jesse Alexander, Kirsten Beyer, Aron Eli Coleite, Joe Menosky, and Kemp Powers are also members of the first season's writing staff. Chelsea Dowling and Adam Kane will direct for the season. Star Trek actor and film director Jonathan Frakes will also direct an episode.
- The first episode will premiere on CBS, before being released for streaming on CBS All Access with the second episode.
On November 2, 2015, CBS announced a new Star Trek television series to premiere in January 2017, "on the heels" of the original series' 50th anniversary in 2016. It is the first Star Trek series since Star Trek: Enterprise concluded in 2005, and the first show to be developed specifically for the CBS All Access on demand service. Alex Kurtzman, co-writer of the films Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, and Heather Kadin were set as executive producers on the series, which is "not related" to the 2016 film Star Trek Beyond. The January 2017 date was the earliest that CBS could release a new Star Trek series after an agreement the company made when it split with Viacom in 2005. Showtime, Netflix, and Amazon Video all offered "a lot of money" for the rights to release the series, but after heavily investing in the new All Access service, CBS believed that a returning Star Trek could be "the franchise that really puts All Access on the map" and could earn more money in the long run.
In January 2016, CBS president Glenn Geller revealed that he and the CBS network were not involved in the production of the series, saying, "It really is for All Access. While the network will be broadcasting the pilot, I actually can't answer any creative questions about it." The next month, Bryan Fuller, who began his career writing for the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, was announced as the new series' showrunner and co-creator alongside Kurtzman. Nicholas Meyer, writer and director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, also joined the series as a writer and consulting producer. In March, Rod Roddenberry, the son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and Trevor Roth of Roddenberry Entertainment also joined the series, as executive producers. Fuller said that working with people previously involved with Star Trek was "really about making sure that we maintain authenticity", and said that Meyer—who is widely considered to have made the best Star Trek film in The Wrath of Khan—brings "a clarity and a cleanliness to the storytelling. An ability to ground science-fiction in a relatable way, and also making sure that we're telling character stories."
Fuller had publicly called for Star Trek to return to television for years, particularly because of its impact on minority groups, as he explained, "I couldn't stop thinking about how many black people were inspired by seeing Nichelle Nichols on the bridge of a ship. I couldn't stop thinking about how many Asian people were inspired by seeing George Takei and feeling that gave them hope for their place in the future. I wanted to be part of that representation for a new era." When Fuller first met with CBS about the series, the company did not have a plan for what the new show would be. He proposed an anthology series with each season being a standalone, serialized show set in a different era, beginning with a prequel to the original series, then stories set during the original series, during Star Trek: The Next Generation, and then "beyond to a time in Trek that's never been seen before". Fuller compared this to what American Horror Story did for horror, and described the proposal as a platform for "a universe of Trek shows". However, CBS told Fuller to just start with a single serialized show and see how that performs first, and he began further developing the concept of a prequel to the original series.
A teaser shown at CBS's upfront presentation in May 2016 promised "new crews, new villains, new heroes, new worlds", and titled the series Star Trek, with "a more specific title to be unveiled at a later date". The next month, Fuller announced that the first season would consist of 13 episodes, though he would prefer to produce 10 episodes of the series a year moving forward. Fuller revealed that Vincenzo Natali had been hired as producing director for the series, and described each episode's runtime as "flexible", with All Access giving the team parameters ("It was sort of, 'No more than this, no less than that'") rather than the set length that a traditional series would aim for. He also clarified that the series' episodes would be released on All Access weekly, rather than all at once as is done by some other streaming services, and publicly denounced rumors that the series would be an anthology or that it would take place in different time periods such as between the original series and Next Generation. In July, at Star Trek's 50th anniversary San Diego Comic-Con panel, Fuller announced the series' title to be Star Trek: Discovery, and revealed that it would be set in the "Prime Timeline" (which includes the previous Star Trek series, but not the reboot films of the "Kelvin Timeline"). Fuller explained that the series had been developed to fit into either timeline, but he felt that there was a "cleanliness" to keeping the concurrent series and films separated, so "we don't have to track anything [happening in the films] and they don't have to track what we're doing".
Also in July, CBS Studios International licensed the series to Netflix for release outside the United States and Canada, a "blockbuster" deal that paid for the show's entire budget. At around $6–7 million per episode, the series' high allowance was attributed to the importance of Star Trek as one of CBS's "crown-jewel franchises", and CBS's need for the series to be "the marquee selling point for subscriptions" to All Access. At the end of that month, CBS hired David Semel, a veteran television procedural director who was under an overall deal with the studio, to direct the pilot for Discovery. This was a decision that Fuller was not happy with, believing that Semel "was wrong for the job". Fuller wanted a more visionary director, and had personally reached out to Edgar Wright to direct the pilot before CBS hired Semel. As development and pre-production on the series continued, Fuller and Semel "clashed" on the direction of the show. The series was also starting to overrun its per-episode budget, while Fuller was attempting to both design new sets, costumes, and aliens as well as heading the series' writers and also spending considerable time addressing his commitments as showrunner of another new series, American Gods. This caused frustration among CBS executives that were pushing for the January 2017 debut, a date that others believed was unrealistic. By August 2016, Fuller had hired Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, who he had worked with on Pushing Daisies, to serve as co-showrunners with him. A month later, Fuller and Kurtzman had asked CBS to delay the series' release so they could realistically meet the high expectations for the series, "particularly with special effects", and the studio announced that the series premiere had been pushed back to May 2017. The pair said that "these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of."
A few weeks after the delay, Fuller met with Sonequa Martin-Green about portraying the series' lead, a character that had been surprisingly difficult for the production to cast. Fuller "felt he found the crucial piece of the puzzle", but the actress would not be released from a contract at AMC until her character's death on The Walking Dead which was not set to air until April 2017, meaning Discovery would have to be delayed again if Martin-Green was cast. At the end of October, CBS asked Fuller to step down as showrunner. They announced that the production was being restructured to keep Fuller actively involved with the series but not on a day-to-day production level as he shifted his focus fully to American Gods: Berg and Harberts were made sole showrunners, working off of a broad story arc and overall mythology established by Fuller; Kurtzman and Fuller would continue as executive producers, with Fuller still helping the writers break stories; and Akiva Goldsman would join the series in a supporting producer role, similar to the role he held on Fringe alongside Kurtzman, to help the showrunners and other producers "juggle the demands of the series". In a statement, CBS reiterated that they were "extremely happy with [Fuller's] creative direction" for the series, and were committed to "seeing this vision through". However, some elements of the series that came directly from Fuller were dropped, including some "more heavily allegorical and complex story" points and some of his designs. Fuller later confirmed that he was no longer involved in the series at all, which he said was "bittersweet ... I can only give them the material I've given them and hope that it is helpful for them." He expressed interest in possibly returning for future seasons of the series. By the end of the year, Martin-Green had indeed been cast as the series' lead, and CBS shortly stated that they would be "flexible" with the show's release date.
With production set to finally begin in January, "a lot of careful deliberation [was] continuing to go into making Discovery special, from the choice of directors, to set design, to the special effects." Ted Sullivan also joined the series to serve as supervising writing producer. With the series' release essentially delayed indefinitely, CBS CEO Les Moonves said in February, "sometime late summer, early fall we're looking at probably right now" for the series' debut. Discussing the series ahead of CBS's 2017 upfront presentation that May, Kurtzman said, "One of the things that I do really love about television now is that the line between TV and film is so blurred. It used to be such a specific line, and now with things like Game of Thrones, it's a movie; it's just on television in your living room. We're endeavoring to bring that level of scope, scale, and emotional experience to the new Trek." At the upfront presentation, CBS Interactive president Marc DeBevoise confirmed a "fall" release date for the series, and announced that the episode order for the first season had been expanded to 15 episodes. In June, Kurtzman said that he and Fuller had discussed plans for future seasons before the latter's departure, and promised that "what's there in terms of story and certainly in terms of set-up, character, big ideas, the big movement of the season, that's all stuff that Bryan and I talked about" and would not be altered due to Fuller leaving the series. Later that month, CBS announced a new premiere date of September 24, 2017, and that the season would be split into two chapters, with the first chapter consisting of eight episodes and being released through November 2017, and the second comprising the remaining seven episodes and beginning streaming in January 2018. This break gave more time to complete post-production on the second half of the season.
Though the series is not an anthology as Fuller first proposed, Goldsman said in August that "it's kind of a hybridized approach. I don't think we're looking for an endless, continuing nine or 10 year story. We're looking at arcs which will have characters that we know and characters that we don't know. That's even true over the course of this [first] season." Kurtzman later added that the Federation-Klingon War story arc of the first season would not continue in a second season, saying "each season needs to be about a different thing". However, he was not interested in a full anthology series because "I wouldn't necessarily want to throw [the characters] away at the end of the season for a new show", and instead felt that the aftereffects of the first season would be felt moving forward: "The results of the war are going to allow for a lot of new storytelling that will be the result of everything that happens and the people that are left behind; the casualties, the things that have grown in Starfleet as a result of the war. That's what we'll inherit in the second season." Adding that an anthology would have limited the series' storytelling, as "it's not just one season's worth of television", Kurtzman said that the success of Discovery could lead to other new Star Trek series that could potentially use the anthology format. By the end of August, Berg and Harberts had developed a "road map" for a second season, and "the beginnings of one" for a third. It was also revealed that an average episode of the first season had ultimately cost $8–8.5 million, making it one of the most expensive series ever alongside successful shows like Game of Thrones and Westworld, but also infamous failures such as Marco Polo and The Get Down. This increase in budget outgrew the original Netflix deal, but CBS still considered the series to be paid for already due to the number of new All Access subscribers that the show was expected to draw.
The series' writers are based in Los Angeles, and include "fans who all have very different relationships to Trek," which Kurtzman said is "a healthy thing and it's a good thing". Fuller explained that after the more than 700 Star Trek episodes already made, "we have to tell stories differently than they've been told for fifty years". Therefore, he looked to take advantage of the streaming format of All Access by telling a single story arc across the entire first season, which he and the writers had completely written by the end of June 2016. Fuller stated that he and Kurtzman developed the series' story from scratch, but also looking to tie-in with "so many elements of Star Trek", taking certain episodes of the original series and using their "DNA" to find "the spirit of what Star Trek offers, both in terms of high-concept science fiction storytelling and really wonderful metaphors for the human condition".
Berg said that the series' writers "are so in love with The Original Series and Next Generation, and they talk about the family aspect of those cast members", while Harberts said that Meyer's Star Trek films were an especial influence on Discovery "not just because he's been on staff with us. His storytelling is complex and intellectual and yet there's a lot of room for character voices and character work". Goldsman expanded on this by saying, "We are acutely aware of the legacy of the show and what is unique about this is there is so much love for the history that comes before us. We talked before about how Star Trek is about family. The creation of this version of Star Trek has also become about family and that seems fitting and correct. Unlike virtually anything I have ever been a part of, there is no whimsy to anyone's commitment ... It is pretty startling privilege that I don't think any of us take lightly." Goldsman did note that the series' serialization was a departure from previous Star Trek shows, however, explaining that "what we get to do—because the culture of television watching no longer requires episodic resets—is to take characters on journeys in the same way that the ship took journeys over the course of the original series." Goldsman later clarified, given Deep Space Nine's serialization, that Discovery is "the most serialized version of Star Trek", and "in serialized storytelling, you carry the weight of loss, you carry the weight of growth".
The titular ship was named after Discovery One from 2001: A Space Odyssey, NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery, and "the sense of discovery ... what [that] means to Star Trek audiences who have been promised a future by Gene Roddenberry where we come together as a planet and seek new worlds and new alien races to explore and understand and collaborate with". Fuller saw the series as a bridge between Enterprise and the original series—which are set around 150 years apart—but set much closer to the latter to allow the series to "play with all the iconography of those ships and those uniforms". The story arc for the first season revolves around "an event in Star Trek history that's been talked about but never been explored", 10 years before the events of the original series. This was revealed to be the Federation-Klingon cold war. Fuller elaborated that the original series episode "Balance of Terror", one of his favorites, would be "a touchstone" for the season's story arc. In May 2017, Sullivan described the series as "a genuine prequel" to the original series. The choice to feature a single serlialized story throughout the season was inspired by the general change in television to tell more realistic and serialized stories rather than the "new destination-based adventure each week" format mostly used in previous Star Trek series. Fuller had been one of several writers during the 1990s pushing for Deep Space Nine and Voyager to move towards this style. Also inspired by modern, "peak television" series such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead was a willingness from the writers to kill off major characters for dramatic reasons, though they wanted to avoid doing so gratuitously or for "shock value".
Fuller discussed how much the series would "push the content envelope since it won't be constrained by broadcast standards", saying, "We're going to have a broader spectrum to explore those issues, but it's still Star Trek. It will probably be slightly more graphic content. We discuss language every day. Is it appropriate for somebody to see a bridge blow up and say 'Oh shit.' I imagine we're going to shoot scenes a couple of ways and see what feels more authentic in the editing room." Harberts ultimately described the series as a "hard PG-13", saying the series could include "some violent things or [a] tiny bit of language" but they still wanted the show to be for families and to "honor what the franchise is." On using time travel in the season, a plot device used in at least two episodes of every previous live-action Star Trek season, Fuller said that it had not yet been used for any episode by the end of August 2016—the first three episodes had been written, and the stories through episode eleven were known—and stated, "You never know when you want to pull out that device but I am not anticipating an over-reliance on time travel to tell this season's stories." The series' writers also chose to ignore Gene Roddenberry's longstanding rule that Starfleet crew members not have any significant conflict with one another or be depicted negatively (a rule that Roddenberry himself did not always strictly follow). Harberts explained, "We're trying to do stories that are complicated, with characters with strong points of view and strong passions. People have to make mistakes—mistakes are still going to be made in the future. We're still going to argue in the future ... the thing we're taking from Roddenberry is how we solve those conflicts." Because of the show's position as a prequel to the original series, the producers felt it was more important for Discovery to build towards Roddenberry's ideals, with Goldsman saying,
"There's a tremendous amount of conflict in [the original series] and there's a lot of, sort of, aspirations towards the ideals of the Federation, and then we sort of made the prime directive just to break it, apparently. So part of what we've tried to do is speak to how those philosophical precepts came to be. So it is entirely the outcome role of the show to arrive at the principles, the utopian principles that I think are endemic to Star Trek and at the same time not to suggest that doing that is simple or easy. But you can't simply be accepting and tolerant without working for it, and so this show is about that struggle."
Because of the series' focus on Klingons and their culture, the producers decided that members of the species would speak their own language with subtitles throughout the show, which Berg said was "very important for us ... They have their own pride. They have their own interests and talent. It's a very fascinating culture." Noting that the Klingons historically represented the Soviet Union, becoming friendlier with the protagonists of Star Trek as the Cold War ended, Harberts stated that in Discovery they and Starfleet would represent different factions within the modern United States, explaining that "what we really wanted to do too is understand two differing points of view and really explore it ... I frankly love what they represent. Not in terms necessarily of all the messaging, but in terms of learning about them and learning why they are who they are and making sure they aren't just the enemy. And then finding a way to come together. How do we bring everyone back together? What do we do? What does it take? It is a big challenge for us, but that is what season one is all about." Martin-Green furthered this, noting that The Walking Dead had also explored this idea of acculturation, and how "we don't have to let go of who we are in order to learn who you are. We can do it at the same time." Berg elaborated that "one of the themes we are exploring is universal and is a lesson I feel like as human beings we have to learn over and over again—is you think you know ‘the other,' but you really don't. You have to sort of cognitively re-frame or break or deviate from your own point of view to really understand. You have to forget what you knew before. One of the big steps in that journey is how to understand yourself. You have to understand yourself before you can better see others. The show is called Discovery and it is called Discovery for a reason, because our characters are on a journey."
Goldsman said the story of the Klingon War was planned to cover only the first season of the series, and to end with the creation of the Neutral Zone which Goldsman described as "something that was sufficiently inexact that we can now fill in how we got there." He noted that Discovery is set in a time period that has been mentioned a lot in Star Trek previously, and that has been widely covered by previous Star Trek novels, and explained that the writers considered those novels to be non-canon, "but we are aware of them. And, we are going to cross paths with components that Trek fans are familiar with, but it is its own standalone story with its own characters and its own unique vision of Trek." Goldsman added that there were many classic Star Trek elements that fans among the writers wished to include in the series, but couldn't because they were included in the original series as something being discovered by Starfleet for the first time then.
By June 2016, Fuller had met with several actors, and said that "we want to carry on what Star Trek does best, which is being progressive. So it's fascinating to look at all of these roles through a colorblind prism and a gender-blind prism". A month later, Kaden clarified that the series would feature minority, female, and LGBTQ characters, with the latter being of particular importance to Fuller. In August, Fuller said the series would feature "about seven" lead characters, and revealed that the series would star a lieutenant commander, rather than a starship captain like previous Star Trek series, to be played by a non-white actress. He said that the series would include more alien characters than other Star Trek series, "to paint a picture of Starfleet that is indicative of a universe where we're encountering people much different than we are". Fuller also confirmed that the series would feature at least one openly gay character, explaining that Kurtzman had been the first to propose this, but Fuller, who is gay himself, had been determined to create a gay Star Trek character since receiving hate mail while working on Voyager when a character on that show was rumored to be coming out as gay. At this time, Fuller had discussed the casting of the series with Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, who made a cameo appearance in an episode of The Next Generation. Fuller also said that "once we get through this first season and establish our own Star Trek universe" and characters, the series could look "to open up to more familiar characters and how they can feed into the [show]." He did express interest in including the character of Amanda Grayson, the mother of Spock, saying, "there's much to be told about that".
Fuller anticipated casting announcements in October 2016, saying, "We've met with fantastic actors and of course there are people I've worked with before that I'd love to see on Star Trek. We're trying to figure out everybody's schedules." However, no announcements had been made by the end of that month. The majority of the series main characters were believed to have been cast by then, but no actress had been cast for the series' lead role. This was a source of "some internal stress" at CBS, with the casting of the character deemed "a far tougher assignment" than expected. Several African American and Latina actresses were being looked at for the role, with CBS "not seeking a huge star and [preferring] a fresh face for the part." Martin-Green was cast in the role in December, which was revealed with the character's production codename "lieutenant commander Rainsford". She is the first African American woman to lead a Star Trek series. Her casting was officially confirmed in April 2017, following the end of her run on The Walking Dead, with the character's name revealed to be first officer Michael Burnham. The character has an inner conflict due to her close relationship with Grayson and her Vulcan husband Sarek. Harberts explained that many of the actresses tested for the role "either went way too robotic and chilly or way too emotional", but Martin-Green was "able to be aloof but warm; logical but able to surrender her emotional side to the audience."
In October, the cast was believed to include "a female admiral, a male Klingon captain, a male admiral, a male adviser and a British male doctor", with one of those male leads played by an openly gay actor. The next month, Meyer mentioned that Michelle Yeoh had been cast in the series, and she was soon confirmed to be cast as Captain Georgiou of the USS Shenzhou. Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp were also revealed to be cast, as Science Officers Saru and Stamets, respectively. The former is a Kelpien, an alien race created for the series, while the latter is the first Star Trek character to be conceived and announced as gay. Three actors were cast as Klingons in December: Shazad Latif as Kol, Chris Obi as T'Kuvma, and Mary Chieffo as L'Rell. By January 2017, James Frain was cast as Sarek, and in February, three actors were cast as Starfleet officers: Terry Serpico as Admiral Anderson, Maulik Pancholy as Dr. Nambue, and Sam Vartholomeos as Ensign Connor. The next month, Jason Isaacs was cast as Captain Lorca of the USS Discovery, and Mary Wiseman joined as Tilly, a cadet. At the end of April, Latif was revealed to have been recast to the role of Starfleet Lieutenant Tyler, with Kenneth Mitchell having replaced him as Kol. Additionally, Rekha Sharma, Damon Runyan, and Clare McConnell joined the show as Discovery's security officer Commander Landry and Klingon leaders Ujilli and Dennas, respectively.
By June 2017, the executive producers had received many requests from celebrities wishing to guest star or make cameo appearances in the series. The next month, Rainn Wilson was confirmed as a guest star on the show, having been cast as original series character Harry Mudd, and Rapp revealed that Wilson Cruz, whom Rapp had previously worked with on the musical Rent, would portray Stamets' love interest Hugh Culber. Wilson had originally discussed playing a different, prosthetics-heavy character on the series. After the writers decided to include Mudd in the show, they realized that they wanted Wilson to take on that character.
Mark Worthington and Todd Cherniawsky serve as production designers for the series; Gersha Phillips and Suttirat Anne Larlarb designed the costumes; veteran Star Trek designer John Eaves designed starships, along with Scott Schneider; and Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page of Alchemy Studios provided prosthetics, props, and armor. Page previously served as the concept and creature designer on the three "Kelvin Timeline" Star Trek films. The series also employed seven art directors, over nine illustrators, more than thirty-five set designers, and over four hundred and fifty painters, carpenters, sculptors, model makers, welders, set dressers, and prop builders.
Fuller said on the general approach to design on the show, "we're producing the show in 2016. We have to update the style of the effects, the style of the sets, the style of the makeup ... all of the other series have been produced [at a time that] isn't as sophisticated as we are now with what we can do production-wise, we're going to be reestablishing an entire look for the series" and for Star Trek moving forward. Fuller had wanted the series' uniforms to reflect the primary colors of the original series, but to be more subdued. This idea was discarded after his departure. However, Fuller's designs for the Klingons, which he "really, really wanted" to redesign, were retained. Fuller spent months working with Page and Worthington on the new look, and Harberts described it as unique, saying "we saw no reason to change his vision for those Klingons."
In June 2017, Harberts and Berg discussed the effort put into designing the series and its world-building, with Harberts saying, "There's is so much artistry and custom craftsmanship that go into every prop, every costume, every set. These things have to be designed and manufactured." Berg added, "You can't cut corners or have 95 percent of what's on screen be completely original and inspired and then have five percent something you bought at a store. It has to be cohesive—and it is. I'm so proud of what's on screen, it's so beautiful and it's taking world-building to a whole new level." 3D Systems' "cutting edge" 3D printing techniques were widely used in the making of the series. For the prosthetics, Page and Hetrick took detailed laser scans of the actors so they could simulate make-up and prosthetics in a virtual environment before creating the practical version.
The design of the USS Discovery is based on an unused Ralph McQuarrie design for the USS Enterprise from the unproduced film Star Trek: Planet of the Titans, which Fuller had noted in July 2016 was "to a point that we can't legally comment on it until [our legal team] figures out some things". McQuarrie's designs were based on the concepts created by Ken Adam to feature a vessel with a flattened secondary hull. Fuller wanted "something distinct about what our Star Trek was going to look" like, and after seeing McQuarrie's design "saw sort of harder lines of a ship and started talking about race cars and Lamborghinis in the '70s and James Bond cars and started working on the designs, taking those inspirations and coming up with something completely unique to us." The design for the Discovery went through several revisions and refinements before the final version was approved in December 2016. The sickbay on the Discovery was inspired by that of the Enterprise from the original series. Other Federation starships created for the show include the USS Shenzhou and the USS Europa.
Much of the James Bond influence went to the USS Shenzhou, which was designed to look older than the Discovery, and was described as being closer to a submarine from The Hunt for Red October than previously seen Star Trek spaceships. The Shenzhou is a Walker-class starship, a new designation created for the series that is named for test pilot Joe Walker. Sets for the Shenzhou and the Discovery's interiors were built for the series, described as a "tangle of corridors and rooms". Because the bridge of the Shenzhou is on the bottom of that ship, the "massive" set for that room was built 12 feet (3.7 m) off the ground and upside down, and became a challenge for the crew to work in. In some cases, such as the transporter rooms and corridors, the same sets were used for both ships, though dressed differently with alternate lighting, graphics, and paint. The "turn over" process took up to a week. Cherniawsky said that the designers went to "great lengths" to have the interiors of the starships match with the exterior design, so "the rooms [could believably] fit inside the house", but there was some artistic license taken in places. The graphics used for the Starfleet computer systems were designed to be believably more advanced than modern technology, but to also "honor the look and feel" of the designs used in previous series. The computer interfaces in the starship sets were animated and touch-interactive for the actors to use. The initial colors allowed for the graphics were mostly restricted to blues, with the intention of these becoming more colorful the closer the series gets to the time period of the original series.
Fabric for the Starfleet uniforms seen in the series were custom-dyed in Switzerland; the costumes were cut and assembled in Toronto by Phillips and her department. The main uniforms seen in the series are a navy blue specifically mixed for the show, with gold or silver embellishments depending on the division of the officer. Medical officers wear a "hospital white" variant, also custom-dyed in Switzerland, while the captain's uniform is the standard navy blue but with additional gold piping on the shoulders. For officers in combat situations or hazardous away missions, a version of the navy duty uniform was designed which replaces the metallic accents with more conspicuous compression panels. These jumpsuits are paired with armored vests that include laser flashlights on the shoulders for guidance, and can have mission-specific gear attached to them. Also designed for the series was a Starfleet long haul space suit, which was built in the United Kingdom from sections of high-density foam that were then covered in fiberglass. Starfleet insignia badges were molded from silicon bronze, and then polished and plated by a jeweler to create custom colors for the series, based on the division of the officer wearing the uniform: gold for command, silver for sciences and medical, and copper for operations. Props such as tricorders and hand scanners, communicators, and phasers were produced with 3D printing and heavily inspired by their designs in the original Star Trek series.
Phillips designed traditional Vulcan robes for Sarek which were meant to reflect his devotion to logic and "serious intellectual pursuits". Vulcan IDIC pendants, celebrating "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations", were 3D printed and hand painted, and are worn by graduates of the Vulcan Science Academy in the series. For Harry Mudd's costume, primarily made of leather, Phillips was inspired by Adam Ant.
Fuller's intention to re-design the Klingons was based on the inconsistent designs used for the species throughout the franchise's history, and his wanting to portray the race as "sexy and vital and different" rather than "the thugs of the universe", with inspiration taken from the novel The Final Reflection. Fuller began working with Page early on, who noted that changing the look of the Klingons would be controversial with Star Trek fans. Hetrick said there is "an almost religious level of devotion to the integrity of canon and making sure that all of you are getting what you want out of it. We spend a lot time talking about how things would work in the story and constantly buttressing our thought process with things from canon and from stories." Page saw the re-design as an opportunity to make the species "deeper and richer than they already are". The idea was to "create a high level of sophisticated detail—for a race that had long been perceived as brutal, one-minded, and simplistic—in order to breathe new life into the Klingon race".
They first designed a generic, realistic Klingon skull, with Harberts saying, "They drilled down in such a deep way to redundant pieces of anatomy, to the different plates on the head. We were in discussions that got so deep into biology and into sculpture." The different Klingons were developed from that base in a "practical evolutionary" way. The skull design assumed that the Klingons are "an apex predator" and have heightened senses, "specifically extra sensory receptors running from the top of their heads to their backs." Page explained that because of this, it made more sense for the Klingons to be bald "because of these heightened senses on the top of their heads." He added that the Klingons being bald was a "mandate" from Fuller. Different designs for the Klingons clothing, weapons, and armor were then created for Discovery, which is explained in the series by introducing several Klingon houses that each have "different styles". The series explores 24 different houses and their leaders. Actor Mitchell said, "You will find different complexities and different ideologies amongst those houses ... each of those houses has a different set of physical looks and variations". It was important to the producers to show diversity within the Klingons as well, so the series depicts both light and dark skinned members of the species. Elaborating on the differences between the houses, Hetrick said,
The [Klingon] empire is very big. They don't all grow up on Kronos. They don't all live on the same planets and certainly those different planets would have different environments. So how would the cultures have evolved differently?…We tried to come up with cultural axioms for each house so each looks different and they bear a cultural patina like our cultures do here on Earth.
Armor and weapons were created by Hetrick and Page using 3D printing, as well as hand carving models of weapons to then be cast from aluminum. Some props, such as helmets, were also designed to be augmented with CGI. Weapons like Klingon ceremonial blades and gun-like "disruptors" were reimagined versions of props from The Next Generation and other Star Trek films and series, with the overall design for weapons, helmets, and armor being based on the culture notes created for the Klingons in the original series, which included influences from Middle Eastern, Mongolian, and Byzantine culture. Recurring design elements for the Klingons' weapons and armor include their skull and vertebrae, "Klingons poised to thrust themselves into the honor of battle", and "a Klingon sacrificing himself for the honor of battle" which harkens to the emblem of the Klingon Empire.
Phillips and Larlarb created the clothing worn by T'Kuvma and his followers, inspired more by "ancient Klingon ways" than the costumes seen previously in Star Trek. T'Kuvma's clothing consists of a tunic created from three different types of leather and a chest plate made with 3D printed beads, decorated with Swarovski crystals. The chest plate has a magnetic back closure, to create a seamless appearance. Costumes for his followers were created with individually stained, painted, modelled, and hand-pressed pieces of leather, with each suit taking ten costumers 110 hours to complete. Different colored leather was used to differentiate male and female followers. A notable set of armor created for the series is the Torchbearer armor, which is part of a sacred ritual to unite the Klingon houses, and consists of a hundred individually 3D printed pieces. When first describing the Torchbearer armor, Fuller referred to baroque and samurai styles. For Kol, a member of the house of Kor who previously appeared in the original series, his look is much closer to that of previously seen Klingons, wearing "more leather and a different set of armor".
$3 million was spent on a "massive" ship set for T'Kuvma's house, designed as an alien cathedral. Known as the "Klingon sarcophagus ship", it had "to be a church, a ritual space, and a functioning bridge for the Klingon Empire." The outside of the ship is covered in coffins, "some are 300 years old, some are just two days old. Downstairs is the death room, where they prepare their dead; then the coffins get raised up and put on the outside." The set is 40 feet (12 m) tall, 100 feet (30 m) long, and 50 feet (15 m) wide, and includes multiple levels, mezzanines, cantilevers, and "lots of stairs and railings", with "unparalleled views into the broader space so [you] don’t just find yourself in a room with no windows and just interact with space on a viewscreen". The set also includes Klingon text and glyphs inspired by The Final Reflection, from which the designers also took details such as the strategy game Klin zha and Klingon bloodwine cups. Research was done on how written languages evolve to accurately depict the ancient form of Klingon written on the ship. Instead of interactive, physical computer displays like the Federation ships, the Klingon sarcophagus ship uses holographic displays that were created with visual effects.
Star Trek: Discovery began filming at Pinewood Toronto Studios on January 24, 2017, under the working titles Green Harvest (a reference to the working title Blue Harvest that was used for the film Return of the Jedi) and Tennessee Honey. Cinematographers for the series include Guillermo Navarro, working on the pilot, and Colin Hoult.
Set construction had initially been set to begin within a month of June 2016, for a filming period of that September to around March 2017, but by that September, production was not expected to begin until November. After Fuller stepped down as showrunner, set construction was expected to be completed by the end of 2016, with filming to begin "shortly thereafter". By mid-May 2017, production was underway on the sixth episode, and filming for scenes set on an unidentified planet had taken place on location in Jordan. In-studio production was set to continue in Toronto until September 7. Some of the series' sets took over six weeks to create, and new sets were being built up until the end of production of the season. Discovery took advantage of multiple soundstages at Pinewood Toronto Studios, including the largest soundstage in North America. Some episodes for the show were filmed solely on existing sets, making them bottle episodes, though Harberts said the series would not do anything "as bottle-y as 'everyone is stuck in the mess hall!'"
For the visual scope of the series, Kurtzman felt that the show had to "justify being on a premium cable service". The showrunners were particularly inspired by Star Trek: The Motion Picture and its "wider scope", with Harberts explaining that the series is shot in a 2:1 aspect ratio which "just lends itself to a very lyrical way of telling the story." He added that some of the series' visuals were influenced by the modern Star Trek films from J.J. Abrams. The producers worked closely with pilot director David Semel to make the series look as cinematic as possible, including filming the bridge of Starfleet's ships in such a way as "not to shoot in a sort of proscenium box…to be able to get the camera into spaces where, you know, to shoot it in interesting ways, which is a combination of choreographing a scene to motivate the camera moving, and also lighting." Kurtzman added that they divised a way with Navarro to contour the lighting on set to make the series look even more cinematic but not make the audience have to "squint your eyes to see what was happening." He and the other cinematographers for the series wanted to emphasize sourcing on the sets, with lighting built in wherever it would naturally appear to help create a more realistic feel and distance the series from the "stage" feel of the original series. The lighting could also be controlled to create completely different lighting for different situations, such as during a Starfleet red alert. Harberts said that the cinematographers wanted the series to have a "Rembrandt texture".
Robyn Stewart, an expert in the Klingon language, and linguist Rea Nolan worked closely with the Klingon actors to ensure they could both speak and understand their lines in the language, having the actors practice while their makeup and prosthetics were being applied, which took three hours each day. They would first rehearse their lines in English, and worked to "inhabit [the lines] emotionally". Chieffo felt that "it makes sense that when we are speaking to each other we are speaking in our native tongue and really adding a fluidity and nuance", while Mitchell said, "It's an incredibly complex language ... it feels alien. Because it is incredibly difficult and I don't speak the language it takes a lot of muscle memory to memorized each separate syllable over and over and over."
Visual effects producers were hired to begin work on the series during the initial writing period, with Fuller explaining that the series would require such things as "digital augmentation on certain alien species" and "the transporter beams". He said, "We're trying to cultivate distinct looks for all of those things that are unique to our version of Star Trek and carry through the themes we love seeing in fifty years of Star Trek, but doing a slightly different approach." Kurtzman noted that the series utilizes multiple CG environments which take several months to properly render. Pixomondo is the primary visual effects vendor for the series, with Spin VFX also working on the show.
The first teaser for the series featured music composed by Fil Eisler, which he "threw together as an audition" within three weeks. Before production on the series began, Charles Henri Avelange had also composed and recorded music for the series, which he described as "a showcase for CBS". In July 2017, Jeff Russo was announced as composer for the series. Russo recorded the series' score with a 60-piece orchestra. The show's main theme incorporates elements from the original Star Trek theme.
Star Trek: Discovery premiered at the ArcLight Hollywood on September 19, 2017. The first episode is set to air in a "preview broadcast" on CBS on September 24, before being made available with the second episode on CBS All Access immediately after. Subsequent first-run episodes, making up the first chapter of the season, will be streamed weekly on All Access through November 5. The second chapter will begin streaming January 2018.
CBS Studios International licensed the series to Bell Media for broadcast in Canada, and to Netflix for another 188 countries. For Canada, the premiere will be broadcast on Bell parent CTV on the same night as the U.S. premiere, with subsequent episodes initially aired on Bell's science fiction cable channels—Space in English, Z in French—before being streamed on CraveTV. For the other countries, Netflix will release each episode of the series for streaming within 24 hours of its U.S. debut. This agreement also saw Bell and Netflix acquire all previous Star Trek series to stream in their entirety.
With the announcement of the series' title in July 2016 came a promotional video giving a first look at the USS Discovery. The video did not feature final designs, as the producers had "three weeks to throw that together. We wanted to show fans ... The concepts of the ship are totally what we're going for and they'll be honed up until, I think, the day we deliver". In January 2017, a YouTube video presented by alcatel was released, using 360° technology to showcase digital models of previous Star Trek ships.
The first full trailer for the series was released in May 2017. Forbes's Merrill Barr noted that the trailer was a good sign for many who believed the series would never be released following the many production setbacks and delays, saying, "Having a legitimate trailer that can be watched over and over again brings signs of hope, particularly for fans that have been waiting over a year for this moment. Star Trek: Discovery is real, and now we have proof." Chris Harnick of E! News described the trailer as "gorgeous" and "truly cinematic", and because of the appearances of Sarek and the Klingons in the footage, "this is the Star Trek you know and love." Aja Romano at Vox called the trailer's visuals "sumptuous" and "modern, but still very much in keeping with the aesthetic of previous Trek series". She continued, "What gets short shrift in this trailer is the series' overarching plot ... In any case, seeing the Klingons in all their combative glory feels a bit like coming home for Trek fans." Also in May, McFarlane Toys signed a toy license deal with CBS to produce "figures, role play weapons and accessories" for Discovery. CBS Consumer Products senior vice president Veronica Hart explained that McFarlane was chosen as the first licensee for the series because of its "commitment to quality and dedication to fans". The deal will also see the company "create merchandise from the entire Star Trek universe, ranging from the classic Star Trek: The Original Series to its popular movie franchise." The first merchandise produced under the deal are set for release in mid-2018.
In July 2017, Discovery had an "extensive" presence at San Diego Comic-Con, including a panel featuring Martin-Green, Isaacs, Jones, Latif, Wiseman, Rapp, Frain, Kurtzman, Berg, Kadin, Harberts, and Goldsman, and moderated by Wilson. Footage from the series was screened at the panel, with a new trailer released online soon afterwards. CBS also created a "fully immersive" art experience at the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery, featuring the USS Discovery's captain's chair and other props, costumes, and sketches from the series, as well as limited edition posters for the show and a shop selling item exclusive to Comic-Con. Pedicabs inspired by the series will give free rides through the Gaslamp District, while a '#TrekDiscovery Challenge' competition will see fans have to take pictures with "authentically costumed Trek ambassadors", one each representing the crews of the five previous Star Trek series, as well as the captain's chair at the art gallery, and post them online with the hashtag #TrekDiscovery to be eligible to win a Roku streaming stick and a subscription to CBS All Access. At the convention, Gentle Giant Studios revealed that they had just picked up the license to create mini-busts and statues based on the series, and planned to particularly focus on the series' Klingons. At the beginning of August, an afternoon of four panels at the Star Trek Las Vegas event was dedicated to the series, featuring producers and writers, actors who were not present at Comic-Con, creature designers, and writers involved with related books and comics.
By the beginning of September, promotion for the series was taking place around the world: Isaacs was involved in the launch of the Blackpool Illuminations festival in the UK to promote Discovery; cast and crew promoted the series at the Fan Expo Canada; a USS Shenzhou-themed photobooth, that took pictures of fans as Klingons, was in operation at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin; and an outdoor campaign of posters and billboards was underway for the show, including a large billboard on the roof of an LAX Airport building. On October 7, panels for the series will be held at both the PaleyFest television festival and at New York Comic Con.
By July 2016, CBS was working on an aftershow companion series to Discovery similar in format to AMC's Talking Dead, a companion to The Walking Dead. The show would air live after each episode of Discovery, and would feature "guests, celebrity Trekkies, former Star Trek actors, along with cast members and crew" from Discovery. The companion episodes would also be available to stream for CBS All Access subscribers. The companion series was confirmed in May 2017, with the title Talking Trek. That August, CBS revealed that Embassy Row, the company behind popular aftershow companion series Talking Dead and Talking Bad, would be producing Talking Trek. Michael Davies was set to executive produce alongside Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth, with the show's episodes planned to run for 30–40 minutes.
In September 2016, Discovery writer Kirsten Beyer announced that CBS was working with IDW and Simon & Schuster to produce more content revolving around the setting of the series, starting with at least one novel and a comic series tied to the television show. Beyer, the writer of many Star Trek: Voyager novels, explained that she would work with fellow Star Trek novelist David Mack and Star Trek comic writer Mike Johnson to ensure that all three mediums "are coming from the same place". The release of the books and comics were set to coincide with the series' premiere. Mack described writing around the continuity of Discovery as "tricky to get right", as the time period "is light on detail and almost unique within the Star Trek continuity. That made it a challenge to represent that era faithfully while also staying true to the new elements being introduced" in the new series.
In August 2017, Beyer explained the series' writers' intentions for the additional content, saying, "We want to be able to take the story opportunities that we're just frankly not going to have time to cover in the show, and go as deep into those into the various formats as we can. It's not that you have to read these stories to understand everything, but the story will be incredibly enhanced if you do." Regarding whether this content would be considered canonical, Beyer said that the stories of the comics and novels are briefed back to the show's writing staff so "the stories we created get integrated into their brains", but she also said, "Because of the collaborative nature of this process, we're able to go farther, take bigger risks. The danger is that, in the future, somebody will come upon with an amazing story idea that would incompatible with what we've already established and just like always, the series is going to take priority. But the hope is that we can carve out these places that are safe and that we can continue to protect because as much as possible we want this to be one integrated universe…we're doing what we can to make sure these stories all fit together moving forward."
The first spin-off from the show is Desperate Hours, a prequel set a year before Discovery and a year after "The Cage". Written by Mack, the novel is set for release on September 26, and follows Burnham as she serves aboard the Shenzhou. Fuller had asked for a book to be written based on that premise, and Mack had worked with the Discovery writers to stay "in the loop throughout the season with all the scripts and the story development. There were a few false starts, but eventually it allowed us to collaboratively create this story". Mack hinted that the USS Enterprise could also appear in the novel. The second Discovery novel is being written by Dayton Ward, is set 10 years before the show, and is intended to be released in early 2018.
In July 2017, IDW announced the first tie-in comic series, also titled Star Trek: Discovery, to be written by Johnson and Beyer with art by Tony Shasteen, who previously worked with Johnson on the comic Star Trek: Boldly Go. IDW described the comic as "Klingon-centric", and set the first issue for release on October 25. Johnson compared working with Beyer on the comic to his work on the Star Trek: Countdown comic, a tie-in to the 2009 Star Trek film that he wrote with Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, saying that her position as a staff writer on the Discovery show "means we have all the inside access that we need. So the story in the comic will really matter and not just feel like a one-off. It is actually able to expand the story you guys are going to see in the show itself."
In August, it was clarified that the first comic would be a four-issue miniseries focused on T'Kuvma and his followers, and that IDW intended to create a series of comic miniseries based on different aspects of the series to create "targeted stories on some different subjects". Johnson stated that they were "building out the characters in the Klingon world with these comics, and we can't wait to show you." He added that discussions were being held regarding the subject of the next miniseries. IDW editor Sarah Gaydos said, "The access we're getting to the show to create these comics that are integral to fleshing out the backstories of the characters is unheard of, and I do a lot of licensed comics."
Star Trek TimelinesEdit
In late 2017, "hours" of Discovery-based content will be added to the role playing video game Star Trek Timelines, including Michael Burnham and Saru as new crew members for the game and new ships from the show, both Federation and otherwise. A month long "Mega-Event" based on the series will also take place.
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Star Trek: Discovery will be set in the 'Prime Universe' (so in the timeline of the original shows, not the J.J. Abrams reboot films), about a decade before Captain Kirk's five-year mission.
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