‘Star Trek: Discovery’: 10 Things We Know About Bryan Fuller’s New Series

Star Trek Discovery's Female Lead Is
Courtesy of CBS

Bryan Fuller’s mandate for “Star Trek: Discovery” is to recapture the sense of inclusiveness that typified the original series, from a female lead — potentially played by a woman of color — to an LGBT character in its main ensemble.

When asked about the possibility of a homosexual character during the show’s Television Critics Association panel, Fuller said “absolutely we’re having a gay character,” admitting that he still has a folder full of hate mail that the writers received during “Star Trek: Voyager” (on which Fuller was a writer and co-producer) because of the rumor that Jeri Ryan’s character was going to be a lesbian; revealing that at the time, he vowed that if he ever got the chance to create a “Star Trek” series, he would include a gay character

Fuller noted that network acceptance towards LGBT characters has “improved dramatically” since then, crediting “Will and Grace” for starting a “sea change” in that regard. “I think we’ve come a long way since then; gay rights have come a lot further in that time than racial issues and women’s issues.”

Fuller noted that “‘Star Trek’ started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast,” so they’re aiming for “absolutely continuing that tradition,” from the casting of the lead to the rest of the ensemble.

Here’s what else we learned during the “Star Trek: Discovery” panel:

1. The show will take place ten years before the original series, and is set within the “prime” universe — that is, the continuity established in the original series, featuring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy’s iterations of Kirk and Spock, rather than the “Kelvin” timeline featuring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, as seen in the recent film franchise. “That allows us to bridge the gap between ‘Enterprise’ and the original series and redefine the visual style of the universe,” Fuller explained. “We’re much closer to Kirk’s mission so we get to play with the iconography of those ships and those uniforms.”

2. What will the series actually be about? “There’s an incident in the history of Starfleet that had been talked about but never fully explored,” which will form the basis for the first season, Fuller teased, describing the plot point as something that had always “tantalized” him as a longtime “Star Trek” fan. The big event that he hinted at comes from the canon of the original 1966-1969 NBC series and is an event that was never actually seen in the original show, but was referenced. Fuller said he believes that fans “should be very happy” about its inclusion. “It’s something I want to see.”

3. Fuller promised “more aliens” than you would usually expect in a “Star Trek” cast, as a way of highlighting the diverse array of lifeforms and species populating the universe, particularly in regards to the members of Starfleet. “Usually it’s one person with a bumpy head” surrounded by humans, but that won’t be the case this time around, he noted wryly.

4. Asked about the lead character’s rank, Fuller said, “Lt. Commander … with caveats.” Fuller said that the lead character’s most important traits include “a strength and sensitivity and an amusing neurosis that goes with exploring space.” When asked why he chose not to make the lead a captain, Fuller noted “We’ve seen six series from captains’ points of view, so to see a character from a different perspective, who has a different dynamic with the captain, with subordinates,” was something he was eager to explore. Fuller described the show as a search for identity for its central character: “In order to understand something that’s completely alien from her, she has to understand herself,” he said. “It’s so easy to look at someone different from ourselves and think how we would think in their shoes, but we cannot imagine how they’d think because we are not them. It’s part of the character’s journey in this first season.”

5. When asked if the show’s opening scene was set on Earth, on a planet or on a ship, Fuller teased, “It’s not on Earth and it’s not on a planet.”

6. Since the show takes place closer to the era of Captain Kirk’s five-year mission, Fuller confirmed that there would be a possibility to see younger versions of iconic characters — but not in the first season of “Discovery.” He told a handful of reporters, “We’ll be looking in the second season to familiar characters and how they could feed into the weave, but first and foremost, we want to establish the greatness of the characters that we have come up with.”

7. Here’s what “Discovery” definitely won’t center around: The Romulan war, the Kobayashi Maru scenario or Black Ops Section 31, although Fuller did hint that the latter “might be some marble through the meat of our season.” And while Spock’s mother, Amanda Grayson, won’t be a central character, Fuller said “it’d be great in some iteration to integrate her storyline in some way… She’s not a central part of the show, but I love that character.” There will, however, be robots.

8. Fuller revealed that he has reached out to actors he’s worked with in the past for possible roles: “We’re looking at a lot of folks, we’re trying to figure out if their schedules permit.” When it was suggested that Lee Pace would make a great Vulcan, he responded: “I agree.”

9. The core number of characters in the main ensemble is “about seven,” Fuller said.

10. Fuller admitted that since the show will be on CBS All Access, “we’re not subject to broadcast standards and practices,” which will allow them a “broader spectrum” of content and the potential for more graphic scenes. He said that they’re still “weighing” how much they want to include in terms of profanity, because they still want the series to feel like “Star Trek” and be suitable for younger viewers. “I’d imagine we’re gonna shoot scenes a couple of ways and see what feels authentic in the editing room.”

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  1. marmocet says:

    By the way, to the person who said “I’m homosexual and I have heterosexuality thrust in my face every day”: I’m left handed. I live in a right-handed world, every day. It can be frustrating at times because using everyday tools is often awkward. But I don’t feel like right-handedness is “thrust in my face”, nor do I feel discriminated against. I fully realize that I live in a world in which some 90+% of humanity is right handed, and I appreciate the fact that it would be a serious extra expense and bother to have right and left-handed versions of everything on the odd chance that a lefty is going to come along. So you know what? I adapt and get on with my life. I don’t whine and demand that the world change to suit my needs and accommodate my sensitivities.

    Having said that, there had better be a left-handed lead character, and that character had better be explicitly presented as such. Left-handedness should be the character’s central defining feature. There should be several episodes explicitly devoted to that person’s unique, lived struggle as a lefty. Everyone on board should learn to walk on eggshells to avoid being sinistrophobic and offending the left handed character. It could even be a whole season arc storyline. It would really teach the audience to walk around saying they’re sorry to lefties all the time and always being deferential to them.

  2. marmocet says:

    Good lord, I really hope they aren’t going to make this Star Trek: The Social Justice Warrior Brigade. I’m getting really tired of all this PC crap. They should really just focus on good stories and exploring the galaxy. I absolutely loved Star Trek TNG and later series when I was a kid. If this turns out to be another instance of Hollywood using a great franchise as a vehicle to try to “reeducate” the public along cultural marxist ideological lines, I’m out.

  3. ” a female lead — potentially played by a woman of color ”

    I hope it is an Orion woman, I love green.

  4. loco73 says:

    Lee Pace would make for a great Vulcan! Maybe they can get him to be one of the leads?! He sure played the shit out of King Thranduil in “The Hobbit” trilogy and was one of the best actors and interstog characters!

    Please, let’s make him a pointy eared bastard! He’s already been one, an Elf…and Elves are basically Vulcans with long hair!

  5. Manuel Nogueira says:

    I have to say it: I’m sick and tired of this current Hollywood trend of including an LGBT character in every god darn movie and tv show for the sake of PC. And before everybody starts ranting about me being anti-gay and right wing, let me tell you thats not the case. I’ve always been and always will be a leftiest and a staunch suporter of the rights of the LGBT comunity. I just don’t think Hollywood is doing any favour to this comunity with this current streak of political correctness. And to include a gay character in a show just for the sake of having one and to show just how inclusive and PC you are is, well, plain dumb. If you’re writing a story in which it makes sense to mention the sexual orientation of a character, either because it’s essential to the understanding of the character of to the development of the story, then by all means mention it. But to mention the fact of the character being gay just to say to the audiences “Hey look, we have a gay character! Aren’t we inclusive?”, as it seems to be the case here, it’s wrong and in a way even exploitative: I’m not gay, but if I was I wouldn’t like to see my sexuality explored in this way. I mean, do they advertise every heterosexual character in the show in this way? No. Why? Because it’s not essencial to the story, but more importantly because to them heterosexuality is the norm and the norm dosn’t need advertising. To me, sexuality is the norm, be it hetero or homo, and so both should be treated the same way. If I was gay I wouldn’t want special treatment, I would want to be treated like everyone else, because that’s true equality. But hey, that’s just me.
    On a different not, I have to say I’m disapointed with this being a prequel to the original series. I was really hoping for something that took place after TNG and Voyager, possibly a next generation to the Next Generation. Still, a prequel is better than no series. We already had Enterprise as a prequel and it didn’t work out very well. I hope they get it right this time. We’ll have to wait and see.

  6. Uncle_Eccoli says:

    So SICK of all the diversity-for-the-sake-of-diversity pandering social engineering crap these days. I won’t be watching.

  7. Samantha B. Gordon says:

    How can some of you people even consider yourselves Star Trek fans? It’s not even really science fiction. The whole purpose of the show is to show a future where there is inclusion of everyone and humanity finally puts aside its petty differences. Then it addresses modern issues of prejudice within the context of interactions with other lifeforms.

    And for the people trying to defend their white/cis/hetero assbackwards ideals by saying the Federation was always about who was best for the job.. you do realize that this is a show with fictional characters and it was decided that the characters be the races they were specifically to promote the idea of inclusion and unity.. And that the characters didn’t actually earn those rights to be where they were, because they don’t really exist nor does the Federation. Right? Of course you don’t.

  8. SGTYork says:

    Another prequel series… hello Enterprise 2.0, you’ll probably suck just as much as the first iteration. I’m so tired of “let’s explain the origin of this or that” because it essentially involves far less creativity than actually building a universe. Heads up, Fuller. Doesn’t matter how “diverse” you make it, no one’s going to watch because it’s not original. With less than ten percent of the Galaxy explored as of the end of Voyager, there was so much that could have been done, including perhaps a ‘Next Next Generation’. But no, let’s do a prequel because it worked so well the first time…

    • Stephen says:

      I’ll probably get flack for this, but Enterprise was due to Rick Berman’s lack of creativity. He was stuck in the same. The Next Generation was a great show. Voyager was so so and Enterprise was a dud. Berman ran out of story lines and was too afraid to think out of the box. Thus, Enterprise was simply Voyager/Next Generation.

  9. Dantes342 says:

    Funny how so many of the people posting below act as if they’re fans of a show that was clearly and obviously all about diversity, inclusion and all those “PC” things they say they hold in contempt. Weird to be a fan of a show whose characters and creators would think you’re a moron.

    • Vech says:

      I disagree. PC has nothing to do with the values of the original show. Sulu was on the bridge not to fill the Asian quota, but because he was the best person for the job. The Star Trek universe has portrayed the Federation as a meritocracy, yet modern PC principles are closer linked to Marxism.

      • JPilsner says:

        How is a “meritocracy” a “rightwing myth?” I’m not rightwing and I believe in a meritocracy. I’m not even sure what alternative you might suggest that doesn’t entail massive curtailments of personal freedom (economic, social and civic).

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        Yech, you’re so full of shit. As old Trekkie fan friend of mine back in the day told me, it was meant to be a sort of futuristic UN-type Federation. THAT IS WHAT IT WAS, not some Right wing meritocracy myth which doesn’t exist ANYWHERE except in the rhetoric of right wingers, though CERTAINLY NOT in their practice. As for Marxism, you don’t even know what that is!!! What books of Karl Marx and/or Engels have you read?? . . . . . . .

        Now, as far as J. J. Abrams running out of original ideas . . . THAT’s Another issue.

      • Vech says:

        You’re confused on your terms. You’re talking about the political organisation of the Federation, I’m discussing how people qualify for their roles within the Federation. It’s a meritocracy, organised in a UN-like union.

  10. Tjcooper says:

    Another attempt at interjecting tired PC ideology into a franchise in hope of attracting young viewers who are not known for their loyalty. It sounds like everything I feared. It will be YA trek.

  11. Jacques Strappe says:

    STILL waiting for the all “special-needs” version of Star Trek. A Latina lesbian with Downs Syndrome confined to a wheel chair…PUHLEEZE!

  12. BillUSA says:

    So, what you’re saying is, all this came about because society needs another homosexual character?

    Enough, I say, with the social engineering through entertainment streams. If you’re homosexual, you have as much right to be here as anyone else, so why the special treatment? Keep that stuff to yourself and you’ll gain more respect from me than I’ve forwarded so far toward that demographic. Still, by the end of the day, I don’t want (or need) to know about anyone’s sexuality.

    But, I won’t watch the show because – for me – the franchise essentially died with the emergence of the Q Continuum.

    • JPilsner says:

      Star Trek has always been inclusive but it hasn’t been “about” inclusivity. It’s been about the adventure and wonder of space exploration. The diversity of various Star Trek casts has always suggested a brighter future in which differences make us stronger, not weaker. But I have to say, if “diversity” is an overt and heavy-handed focus of the show, it’s likely to feel more like a product of our time than an aspirational, envelope-pushing enterprise (no pun intended).

    • Jeff Candiello says:

      Bill, I have heterosexuality thrust in my face, every. single. day. Think of the number of main characters that have been in Trek probably 40 altogether. Just statistically, 4 of them would be LGBT. I’m glad that Sulu is gay in the new movies, and I’m happy to see one show up in the new series, but we’re still being underrepresented.

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        Jeff Candlelight, oh, WOE IS ME!!! woe is me!!! Oh, woe is moi!!!

      • millerfilm says:

        Personally, I would love to have a nice, curvy woman shove her heterosexuality in my face! #JustSaying

      • Dave F. says:

        So normal is being thrust in your face? How horrible.

      • Vech says:

        Ha. I thought that might be it in that scene with Sulu, but didn’t think they’d actually do it. Just read up on it, too bad the kiss was cut, would have been a great nod to Takei playing the original Sulu.

  13. As far as I am concerned they can take all the “romance” out of Star Trek. That’s always been almost too cheesy to endure. When binge watching we always skip those episodes.

  14. Dave314 says:

    God’s not real.

  15. Bob says:

    Lutz. Good luck with that.

    Maybe they should just rename to “Star Trek: Diversity” and have plot lines like actual illegal aliens on the ship that steal and murder the crew, while the captain refuses to remove them? I’m sure all 5 people who watch will be enthralled.

    • Vech says:

      Star Trek had always had meritocratic overtones. If you can do the job, they don’t care if you’re white, black, male, female, gay, or Klingon.

      • Vech says:

        Zing Zong, do you have in-universe examples of this?

      • Zing Zong says:

        Actually I think it was always the other way around i.e. they don’t care if you can do the job, as long as you’re black, female, gay and/or Klingon ;)

  16. millerfilm says:

    Jesus never spoke on homosexuality. Evangelicals just want someone to hate. Admit it.

    • BillUSA says:

      Perhaps the homosexuals just want people to hate them? Hard to suggest otherwise with their rhetoric.

      If you want to change the world – start with yourself. But the homosexuals think change must begin with the heterosexual community.

      That’s wrong.

      There are agnostics, atheists, blacks, whites, Semites and so on who don’t support homosexuality, but you folks assume that anyone who speaks against it is a Christian. Don’t be so myopic and narrow-minded. The world doesn’t exist for anyone in particular.

      • BillUSA says:

        The above message was a response intended for:

        August 10, 2016 at 11:40 pm
        millerfilm says:
        “Jesus never spoke on homosexuality. Evangelicals just want someone to hate. Admit it.”

  17. Brendan says:

    Why does God need a starship?

  18. Brendan says:

    Go cry in your pillow if it bothers you so much that gay people exist

  19. Alexander says:

    This pandering is getting out of hand. Oh, and the series ‘Enterprise’ already had a gay character in it, so if they think they’re doing something new or ‘progressive,’ they’re about 15 years too late.

  20. millerfilm says:

    So, even though gays make up no more than 2% of the population, they’ll certainly be making a much higher percentage of the cast in “Star Trek: SJW.”

  21. Tama says:

    I remember Roddenberry describing his intentions that the Star Trek stories weren’t supposed to contain in-fighting. The crew was there to find, learn and understand the “new” arising in a voyage of discovery, not be a venue for human drama. TNG, in syndication, did that well. The rest of the time, “execs” worried about a bottom line overrode those intentions and made sure drama was there.

    I’m tired of human drama. I see it daily. I don’t want to see it in my entertainment. I want my entertainment to contain “new” ideas and philosophies. Male/Female, straight/gay, racial rainbows, economic disparity – these are not “new”, these are rehashed ad nauseum in fictional TV, in headlines and in political speeches.

    Please, please, please do not bring our infantile drama the 23rd century as a way to club me over the head in the 21st. I get plenty of it, here in the 21st. Let us discover “new” in the 23rd.

    • Jeff Candiello says:

      Tama, I can count on two hands the number of gay main characters on sci-fi shows. How exactly is that “rehashed”?

  22. d s says:

    don’t go quoting Leviticus unless you’re practicing what you preach in total. do you wear clothes of different cloth, eat shellfish, cut your hair, eat pork, eat fat? do you object to your employer withholding your earnings overnight? that one’s in Leviticus too.

  23. Kurt says:

    The more I read about it the worse it sounds. Last thing we need is some political correctness warrior pushing a leftist agenda. Focus should be on awesome surprises of deep space, not some lesson in gender fluidity. And its not told from the captain’s view point, but female crewperon’s? And 10 years before Kirk’s era. Why? Why not blow us away with futuristic amazingness 3oo years after Voyager? Would that require too much talent? Too much creativity? I’ll give this one a watch on broadcast. Have doubts I’ll be able to watch the whole thing, though.

    • JOE S HILL says:

      I Don’t a shit about all the PC stupidity,or the LGBT movement trying to put their Gay values into this TV franchise,or what Gene Roddenberry’s actual intentions were about,but putting Gays in “STAR TREK” is a damned stupid idea! some of you have even tried to use Race into this mudhunt,and reality check,people,,Gay and Race are NOT RELATED!! you can’t use “Plato’s Stepchildren” with the “Kirk and Uhura” liplock,or the scene from the “Blood and Fire” segment of “STAR TREK:PHASE II” (also scripted by David Gerrold) this shit will do,what it’s already doing to our country right now-dividing us! and the division that this Bad Idea will cause with other TREK fans,will be ugly! Bryan Fuller better be aware of the backlash that he and CBS will experience,if they start allowing Homosexuals in a franchise that they don’t belong in! they want to force their values here,then they’ll meet blunt and honest resistance! the same thing goes for all the people of liberal Hollywood,who think that Gay equality is what we need,,that’s serious bullshit,nor do you screw with your bread and butter fans out there!!

      • Brendan says:

        Lighten up.
        The only division being created is by people like you who want to live under Taliban like laws.

    • cadavra says:

      People of your ilk said the same thing 50 years ago when the original series appeared. NBC’s switchboard lit up the night Kirk kissed Uhura (the first interracial kiss in American TV history). They also ranted about the anti-Vietnam episodes, the presence of a “good” Russian, the bare legs of the female crew members, the “Satanic” features of Spock, and God knows what else. No one forces you to watch anything, and you won’t be forced to watch this new one, either.

  24. Elian Gonzalez says:

    Umm hmm, as well as eating shellfish, mixing meat and dairy, wearing clothes made of two types of cloth, and working on the Sabbath. Another pious fraud who rants about sex while downloading pornography. Typical.

    • tommymarx65 says:

      LMAO – seriously, Elian, the gods don’t care about dietary habits, fashion, and work habits. That is SO ancient Hebrew. They are, however, obsessed with sex for some reason, according to the commenter named for man to man loving.

    • Sodomania says:

      Elian, that’s all Old Testament for ancient Hebrews, fool. All that is allowed

  25. Elian Gonzalez says:

    Wasn’t this “ground” already mostly covered with “Enterprise”? I suppose the events of that entire series will just be willed away. It spent an entire season about a massive attack on Earth and now there’s supposed to be something even more “tantalizing” that no one ever heard about?

  26. Fact says:

    Why don’t they try making an interesting alien speicies first in their crew. Coz from what I remember Star Trek was so far from actually creating a proper alien race that was remotely interesting.

  27. God doesn’t exist. And in the star trek timeline, religion was extincted at long time ago.

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