We've only got 25 days left until the USS Discovery sails onto our screens, and CBS are hailing us on all frequencies with new images, promos, and now a feature in Variety magazine. The interview with stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, and Jason Isaacs is a veritable LCARS of information, covering everything from the actors' research for the role, to the show's budget and plans for Season 2. Oh, and Variety has also give us our first look at the bridge of the USS Discovery too and it is so, so pretty...
Yum. But it's not all shiny and perfect. To back up Entertainment Weekly's exposé on why Bryan Fuller left #StarTrekDiscovery, Variety have delved deeper into the topic, digging up a few more nuggets of information. So let's turn on those tricorders and analyze everything new this article has to teach us.
Planning For The Future
As Fuller teased over a year ago, the plot arc for Discovery is not limited just to Season 1. Although they couldn't give any more details (after all, the first episode hasn't hit our screens yet), showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg revealed to Variety that their show bible extends to Season 2 — and even Season 3 — should the show be renewed. Right now, a renewal is not certain, but as CBS execs continue to refer to #StarTrek as "the family jewels," it seems the network will do everything they can to ensure the franchise has a bright future.
Or, so we hope. It's always difficult to extract CBS's dedication to the franchise from their goals for All Access, the streaming platform Discovery was made for. The Variety article stresses that CBS expects a lot from All Access, as they chose to revive Star Trek in hopes that the show's fanbase would boost their subscriber numbers considerably.
As with other streaming platforms like #Netflix (which handles Discovery's international distribution), and HBO Now, the ratings for each episode of the new show will not be released, and neither will their subscriber count. So we're just going to have to look at the response from fans and critics when guessing whether Discovery will make the warp jump to Season 2.
Star Trek: Discovery Will Address Social Issues
Of course, when it comes to the stars themselves, their focus is on making Discovery worthy of the fans. Martin-Green (who plays lead Michael Burnham) heaped her now-characteristic praise on the franchise, espousing Federation philosophies, and explaining that she and the creative crew take Star Trek's legacy seriously.
The actress did, however, confess that in her research for the role she has only had time to watch The Original Series and Enterprise — the two shows that bookend Discovery's time setting. As many consider The Next Generation to be the quintessential Trek, here's hoping she gets to that soon.
Jason Isaacs dropped some hints about Discovery's tone and themes, revealing that its relevance to the current political climate cemented his desire to take up the role of Captain Lorca.
"The world is complicated and horrible, and I don’t know how to explain to my children the insanity of the people who are in charge of it at the moment. I thought ['Discovery'] was a good story to tell — and something I would be happy to watch — about presenting a vision of the world that’s full of drama but also full of resolution and unity."
Although Star Trek's core theme is optimism, the shows are no stranger to examining the darker side of humanity. The Next Generation tackled every human vice imaginable. Usually this was in the form of allegorical aliens, but not always — look to "The Drumhead" for a critique of human prejudice and paranoia. And of course Deep Space Nine took this one step further in its series-long examinations of the morally grey side of the Federation. In this way, Discovery is the logical progression of Trek's journey — or so we hope it to be, anyway. Isaacs certainly seems convinced.
Bryan Fuller's Departure
Finally, Variety examines Fuller's departure from the show. Although officially the split was amicable, Entertainment Weekly previously claimed that Fuller was fired from the production. Now, Variety reveals that Fuller — beloved for creating Pushing Daisies, Hannibal and now American Gods — frequently failed to turn in scripts on time, which lead to him being "pushed out." If it's any consolation though, CBS exec Leslie Moonves still calls Fuller "brilliant."
By all accounts, CBS was eager to rush Discovery into production, announcing the show in November 2015 to have a January 2017 start. This proved too short a timeframe, and not just for Fuller's writing: Variety also pinpoints the practical side of the production as taking time and money, with each episode costing upwards of $8 million. Sets had to be built from scratch, which is no small feat when you're creating several spaceships. (The Klingon ship alone cost $3 million to make.) Gone are the days when the first Enterprise on TV was held together by duct tape, paperclips, and a prayer — even Discovery's smallest props had to be custom made.
However, there is a silver lining: We may have lost Fuller, but we gained Sonequa Martin-Green. Initially, Fuller requested CBS to delay production so that he could cast Martin-Green. At the time, she was still filming The Walking Dead, and CBS couldn't lock her down. Although the network refused, a delay became inevitable anyway, with Fuller's departure pushing the airdate back from May to September — and by the time it came to shoot the show, Martin-Green was available to take the lead role.
Tell us in the comments: Do you think Fuller should have remained Discovery's showrunner?