ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at
MP staff. I talk about Star Wars a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it. Twitter: @ExtraTremeerial | Email: [email protected]
Eleanor Tremeer

Sad news, Trekkies. If you were hoping Star Trek: Discovery would air closer to the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek than the 51st, you're in for a bitter disappointment: CBS announced yesterday that the new show has been delayed five months, and will now premiere sometime in May 2017. This means it will have been a full 12 years since Star Trek was last on the air, as Enterprise was cancelled in May 2005. Not that we're counting or anything.

There are many reasons stated for the delay, and yes, okay, they're very valid. Announced in May 2016, it did seem like a tall order for Discovery to air six months later, especially as Bryan Fuller is also busy showrunning the eagerly anticipated American Godsand running his delightful Twitter in which he posts IN ALL CAPS.

But as understandable — and probably beneficial — as the Discovery delay is, could it have been avoided?

Quality Over Speed

Ultimately, the main motivation for the delay is the quality of Star Trek: Discovery. As reported by Variety, the delay was suggested by Fuller himself, along with fellow exec Alex Kurtzman, as they requested more time to ensure the show was the best it could be. Post-production was mentioned, as was CGI and other special effects.

"We aim to dream big and deliver, and that means making sure the demands of physical and post-production for a show that takes place entirely in space, and the need to meet an air date, don’t result in compromised quality. Before heading into production, we evaluated these realities with our partners at CBS and they agreed: ‘Star Trek’ deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of." — official statement from Fuller & Kurtzman.

It's also worth noting that we have heard no casting announcements yet, and supposedly the show still hasn't so much as cast its female lead — the enigmatically named Number One.

'Discovery' lead is named after Majel Barrett's axed character from TOS. [CBS]
'Discovery' lead is named after Majel Barrett's axed character from TOS. [CBS]

CBS may well have cast other parts already, but we've had no announcements either way, which already caused speculation among fans and journalists alike that maybe the production of Discovery was going slower than expected. According to Variety, execs stressed that the fact that the lead role has not yet been cast "did not factor into the delay."

The main takeaway from this — despite our crushing disappointment — is that the delay is probably the best thing for the show. Rushing production would only result in first-draft scripts, hurried filming, and less-than-perfect CGI. Considering the fact that the test footage released at SDCC already inspired the ire of fans who heavily criticized the — again, test footage — special effects, taking the time to ensure the quality of Discovery is probably wise.

Could This Have Been Avoided?

Now we've had the bad news, we want to know if all this was really necessary — could we have got a new Star Trek show sooner, in time for the 50th anniversary of the franchise?

The answer is, surprisingly, no. Legally, CBS could only have premiered a new Star Trek show in 2014 or 2017, as Beyond fell slap bang in the middle of 2016. And here's why: CBS cannot produce a Star Trek show within six months of Paramount releasing a Star Trek movie, as CBS president Les Moonves revealed earlier this year to TrekCore.

"So [Paramount] kept the feature film rights, [CBS] kept the television rights; they have ['Star Trek Beyond'] coming out July 22. Our deal with them is that we had to wait six months after their film is launched so there wouldn’t be a confusion in the marketplace."

But CBS and Paramount are affiliated, and the movies and the shows are still just the same old Star Trek, right? As it turns out, that's not the case, and it hasn't been for 12 years.

Cast your minds back to 2005. Enterprise is floundering with low ratings, and the movie Nemesis was recently released to a poor critical reception — it was called the worst Trek movie yet, a sentiment that would not be repeated by critics until the release of Into Darkness. All is not well on the corporate side of things either, with Viacom's split forcing CBS and Paramount to divide up and liquidate their Star Trek assets once again.

I imagine the CBS offices looked something like this in 2005, but probably with more yelling. [Paramount]
I imagine the CBS offices looked something like this in 2005, but probably with more yelling. [Paramount]

The nitty gritty of these fraught legalities is complicated to say the least, so suffice it to say that 2005 saw CBS execs fired and re-hired, with departments created only to be shoved aside months later. The whole thing was a blood bath — known as "The Wrath of CBS" among Trekkies — and Star Trek was at the center of it. Longtime Trek exec Rick Berman was let go, along with several other "Trek-friendly" producers. And ultimately, the Star Trek TV franchise went into hibernation until Discovery's announcement in 2016.

Thanks to the complex situation between CBS and Paramount, there is no way we could have got Discovery before January 2017 — and Moonves' comment seems to suggest that CBS only decided to produce a new Trek show in early 2016. Their hands tied by franchise legalities, CBS nevertheless pushed Discovery through as soon as they could. And yet, that simply wasn't enough time to put together a show of the quality that Bryan Fuller — and the fans — demand, thus Discovery was rescheduled to May 2017.

We're still pissed about the delay, though.

Tell us in the comments: What are you hoping to see in Star Trek: Discovery?

Rick Berman's parting words to CBS, probably. [CBS]
Rick Berman's parting words to CBS, probably. [CBS]

[Source: Variety, TrekCore, DenOfGeek, The Guardian, Memory-Alpha]


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