It’s been just a few weeks since STAR TREK: DISCOVERY showrunner Bryan Fuller made his first comments to the setting and casting of the upcoming series, and we’ve all had a great time discussing what his hints towards the new show’s story will be.
In a new interview with KERN-FM radio’s Nerd World Report with Hop & Herc last night, Fuller spent nearly forty minutes discussing some more details on DISCOVERY and some of the behind-the-scenes decisions going into 2017’s new Star Trek adventure.
On the choice to set the show in the “Prime” universe, rather than in the world of the Chris Pine-led Kelvin Timeline films:
Really, when we developed this story, it could take place in either Prime or the Kelvin [timeline] – the timeline was relatively inconsequential, but there was the cleanliness of keeping our series independent of the [Abrams] films. That way, we don’t have to track anything they’re doing; they don’t have to track anything we’re doing – and you can have two distinct universes.
I think [the Prime decision] was just part of the conversation. I remember Alex and I talking about it very early on, where it should be, and we felt there was something nice about the Prime universe because there are so many aspects of the Original Series that would be fun to explore with updated production values.
One of the more fan-maddening comments about the new show – which has kept the nerdiest of us digging deep into Star Trek history minutia the last few weeks – is that DISCOVERY will be set about ten years before Captain Kirk’s five-year mission on the USS Enterprise.
Fuller talked some more about choosing that spot on the timeline… and how the passage of time might be portrayed a bit differently in the new series.
[The time period we chose] came pretty organically, because we are going to try to achieve a new look for ‘Star Trek’ that is very much ‘Star Trek,’ but also our interpretation of ‘Star Trek.’ I love each of the shows I work on to have a distinct aesthetic […] so it seemed like a good place to start our signature look for the ‘Star Trek’ universe and work our way forward as we tell the stories.
With the exception of ‘Deep Space Nine’ when it got into the Dominion War, ‘Star Trek’ has been primarily episodic – so I feel like we’ll be different in that regard and will be very serialized. But time is something that we have the opportunity to play with in uncharacteristic ways.
We know what the story is [for future episodes], but no [time travel] yet. You never know when you want to pull out that [storytelling] device, but I am not anticipating a reliance on time travel to tell this season’s story.
He also talked about how modern production values will allow the DISCOVERY team to revamp the look of familiar Star Trek alien species – like the possibly-Andorian antennae he photographed in early August – but also mixing up our expectations of Trek costume design as well.
One of the very cool things that we get to do on this show is – we get to re-imagine all of the alien species that we’ve seen before in the series, and do something a little unique with that.
We were looking at a specific species’ costume on Friday, and Jesse Alexander, who is one of the writers, was commenting on the cosplay aspects of it, and how [the design] has gone a kind of quantum leap forward – and what were the people who do cosplay going to do?
Another one of our writers was like, “They are going to rise to the occasion!” So for all of us who have fetishized the look of all of the various species over the years of watching ‘Star Trek,’ it’s fun for us to put a new spin on old favorites.
[Uniform design will be] something completely different [from ‘The Cage’]. I think when you see the design, it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We were having a wardrobe test the other day and it was interesting to think, ‘Now we need to take these colors and put them up against the [ship set colors],’ to see what is going to be the best-looking aesthetic for the show, taking in the sets and wardrobe and lighting style.
Star Trek music is a big part of every series and film, and Fuller clearly understands its importance – the showrunner talked at length about the ongoing discussions his team is having about the DISCOVERY score, and how the show’s pre-TOS time period may weigh on the soundtrack.
We’ve talked about the musical approach to this show, because music is so important to ‘Star Trek,’ and it’s the voice in many ways. We all remember the Spock vs. Kirk fight [in ‘Amok Time’] and the score for that – it would be great to pay homage to some of those things.
I don’t think we’d use [the same tracks] specifically, but it’s certainly something that we’ve had discussions about and I don’t yet know if we’re going to commit to that. [The title theme song] is still in discussion.
‘Star Trek’ music is so important and such a fantastic part of the feel of the show. As for [live] orchestral vs. synthetic – there’s a lot of very interesting things happening here musically, and we absolutely have to have orchestral elements in the show, and we talked about how if we don’t have a live orchestra for the show, we’d be the first ‘Star Trek’ television series not to have one.
But you look at how some interesting hybridizations of synth and orchestral scores have serviced ‘Star Trek’ – Jerry Goldsmith’s score for ‘First Contact’ had some fantastic mixed pieces. I also look at what Hans Zimmer does, and I love his score for ‘Interstellar.’
It’s interesting to take a bit of a mix with our approach; we’ll see when we get to that level of the production, but I’m very excited about the music – it’s incredibly important.
One of the new rumors going around the web in the wake of Fuller’s early-August character descriptions is that his lead female officer – who he’s described as “a lieutenant commander, with caveats” – may be Majel Barrett’s “Number One,” Christopher Pike’s first officer in the original Star Trek pilot.
In his discussion, Fuller doesn’t say his lead and “The Cage” officer will be the same person, but does confirm that the “Number One” moniker will return – but clarified when asked that his new character’s real name will be made known during the first season of DISCOVERY.
Our character, when we introduce the protagonist, she is called ‘Number One’ in honor of Majel Barrett’s character in the original pilot.
As we were first talking about the series and talking to CBS, we said, initially, we’ll only call the character ‘Number One’ because in the Sixties, in the first pilot, Gene Roddenberry was very progressive and had a female first officer.
So since [our lead character] is a female first officer, I just loved that we were calling her ‘Number One.’
Finally, looking to the future of DISCOVERY news, Fuller reiterated earlier comments that more news will be coming our way sometime in October – and he also touched on his preference for episode counts of potential future seasons of the show.
We’ll probably have some [casting] announcements in October. As of right now, we’ve met with fantastic actors, and of course there’s people that I’ve worked with before that I would love to have on ‘Star Trek,’ and we’re trying to figure out everybody’s schedules – but we’re very early on in the process.
Right now, they’ve ordered thirteen episodes, and that’s all we’re working on. I would strongly recommend that we never do twenty-six episodes; I think it would fatigue the show. Ideally, I would love to do ten episodes – I think that’s a tighter story – to really make it great.
We’re talking about all sorts of things that we can do to keep ‘Star Trek’ interesting for subscribers to CBS All Access, but right now we’re working on thirteen episodes and they’re going to order more – when they’re ready… or not! [Laughs]
While Bryan Fuller will not be in attendance, something he confirmed in this interview, STAR TREK: DISCOVERY writers Nick Meyer and Kirsten Beyer will be holding a panel discussion on their Trek history and their joining the new show at the Mission: New York convention next weekend – and we’ll be there, bringing you any new reveals that pair may offer.