As we prepare to hit warp speed, more details about Bryan Fuller’s hotly anticipated Star Trek television show are arriving on deck. Titled Star Trek: Discovery, the new series promises to be the most daring series in the franchise yet. Previously we had just been given a rather sparse Comic-Con teaser, but Fuller revealed more details at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. Fuller gave us a tantalising taste of what is to come, telling the public:
‘Star Trek’ started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast. You had a Russian with a black woman and an Asian man amongst a Vulcan, which is a different kind of diversity…We’re absolutely continuing that tradition.
Whilst we still wait for even the slightest sniff of news on who will be joining the crew, here is what we do know about what is coming our way in 2017.
Let’s Hear It For The Girls
Kate Mulgrew’s Capt. Janeway was a coup for Star: Trek Voyager. The no-nonsense captain meant that the series was once described as the most feminist show on television. Mulgrew paved the way as the series’s first female lead, and it seems that Discovery is also focusing on the fairer sex:
We’re going deep into something that was for me always very tantalizing, and [we’re telling] that story through a character who is on a journey that is going to teach her how to get along with others in the galaxy…For her to truly understand something that is alien, she has to first understand herself.
Cryptic indeed! The thirteen episodes may have a few standalone ‘monster-of-the-week’ outings, but they will mainly focus on an over-arching storyline. There will be roughly seven main characters, with sources telling that there will also be: a female admiral, a male Klingon captain, a male admiral, a male adviser and a British male doctor. Whilst it still sounds stereotypically male-heavy, note that both the lead actress and (one) admiral are female. In a twist, Fuller also confirmed that although the lead is a woman, she will likely be a lieutenant commander – this time, she won’t be the helm. As for who will play Fuller’s mysterious lead, the director had previously told about a rather interesting pairing:
I want Angela Bassett to be the captain, that’s who I would love to have, you know Captain Angela Bassett and First Officer Rosario Dawson. I would love to do that version of the show and but that’s in the future to be told.
Bassett and Dawson as a pair of Starfleet members?!. If you can think of a better pairing, we would like to hear it. Bassett did shoot down such rumours by saying she was too busy trying to juggle American Horror Story and her kids, but we can still dream. With an impressive roster of female powerhouses in the ‘Fullerverse’, we are sure the likes of Caroline Dhavernas or Gillian Anderson could easily step up to the plate.
Pride In Your Work
Discovery will also be flying the pride flag high, as executive producer Heather Kadin confirmed that at least one LGBT character will feature in Fuller’s show – although we aren’t currently sure if this character will make up part of the ‘core seven’. In a case of “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”, J.J. Abrams latest Star Trek film confirmed that long-time character Mr. Sulu is in fact an LGBT character. Legendary Star Trek alumni (and LGBT actor) George Takei wrote a lengthy Facebook post questioning the film’s move to out an existing character rather than create a wholly new LGBT backstory:
Star Trek has always pushed the boundaries and opened new opportunities for actors, including myself. I am eternally grateful to have been part of this incredible and continuing family. I wish John Cho well in the role I once played, and congratulate Simon Pegg on his daring and groundbreaking storytelling. While I would have gone with the development of a new character in this instance, I do fully understand and appreciate what they are doing—as ever, boldly going where no one has gone before. Star Trek will live long and prosper.
Playing the role of Sulu in Star Trek: The Original Series and the subsequent films, Takei said that Original Series creator Gene Roddenberry had always wanted to include a diverse Trek-verse but was constrained by the times. Roddenberry’s good intentions were then scuppered by the show’s first interracial kiss between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols – causing controversy, it saw the show’s ratings plummet and the show getting censored across much of the South.
A Show ‘Fuller’ Hope
Look, this isn’t the ’60s anymore: it is 2016! Whilst there have been echoes of diverse sexuality through the many incarnations of Star Trek, Discovery vows to take it one step further. Whilst Rodenberry’s plans didn’t play out in TOS, he had aimed to bring a fully LGBT character to The Next Generation‘s series – sadly, Rodenberry died before he could fulfil his dream! Fuller, who is himself openly gay, says the decision to include a gay character in his incarnation came from his time on Star Trek: Voyager – he received hate mail when it was thought one of the characters was LGBT. Abrams may have been the first man to bring an gay character to the Trek-verse, but Fuller’s show has been in the works for a very long time – over 10 years actually. Either way, Star Trek is finally free from the censors in a progressive move for LGBT rights.
So, it appears you have to go back in time to go forward in time. We clocked it last month, but when we eventually board Discovery, it will be set 10 years before Kirk’s Five Year Mission, bridging the gap between Enterprise and The Original Series. First airing in 1966, Star Trek: The Original Series was very much a child of its time, locked under censorship and featuring an almost entirely male cast. Nichelle Nichols’s casting as Uhura was a great move as the first African-American woman to hold such a role on television, but she remained one of the few women on the show. Gene Rodenberry had never stated that the roles of McCoy or Spock be male, so it makes sense that he always had intentions of being a progressive series.
Discovery will also be set in the Prime timeline, a.k.a. the Shatner-Kirk universe, and William Shatner himself has said he would love to cameo. Given the timelines and your *erm* age, we would probably give it a miss Bill. However, having Discovery 10 years before Kirk can do some good – ultimately sticking a middle finger to the censors that dogged TOS. Talking of censors, Fuller said:
They’ll [sic] probably be slightly more graphic content…We discuss every day about language and what’s appropriate and how far should we go.
I don’t think Discovery will be going all Breaking Bad on us, but if there is an explosion, chances are someone will be shouting “oh s**t”. The panel also teased that the show hasn’t got the moniker STD for nothing…is someone about to get nasty under the sheets of Starfleet?
Beam Us Up
Fuller’s shows like Pushing Daises and Hannibal have always verged on controversy – the latter famously implied a homosexual relationship between the titular Hannibal and Will Graham – the third season of NBC’s gory cookery class even cast Caroline Dhavernas character of Dr. Alana Bloom as LGBT. To have Fuller at the helm, we are certainly sure of a very different Star Trek. Across five live-action incarnations of Star Trek on our television screens, we have focused on five captains of different ethnic background and even gender – isn’t it about time we gave someone else the reins? Time to push away the stereotypes of women and gay characters with a powerful Vulcan death grip.
Star Trek: Discovery will air on CBS in the USA in January 2017. Netflix will stream the show in the UK one day later. In the meantime, feel free to curb your Star Trek cravings with a look at the show’s most progressive moments so far:
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