Star Trek: Discovery executive producer Alex Kurtzman weighed in on the upcoming first season of Trek‘s TV relaunch, with a new video interview with CNET on Sonequa Martin-Green’s character Michael Burnham, and the show’s place in Trek canon.
The story that we have for Season One is really interesting and special – and I think pays tribute to a lot of what Trek has done, and in many ways is doing it in a new way. To have Sonequa and Michelle [Yeoh] as captains [sic] of our ship is really, really exciting and different.
I love stories that are based around strong women, and we have some very strong women on that show. Having Sonequa – she’s a very special, very very special actress – bringing a flavor to the character that I feel like I really haven’t actually seen in Trek, and that’s really really exciting.
Her story is very unique and draws on some really interesting things in Trek lore – I think fans will both appreciate [it] and I’m certain [her story] will be the cause of much debate.
With all the pre-series promotion emphasizing her role in the first officer position, it’s doubtful Kurtzman is revealing a promotion for Michael Burnham here, more likely (as our friends at TrekMovie note) he’s referring to the actresses as company leads among the cast.
He also spoke to the weighty issue of Star Trek canon, and fitting the story into the franchise’s vast history – and while it’s been long-established that Discovery takes place in the Prime Timeline (where William Shatner plays Jim Kirk, rather than Chris Pine), Kurtzman details the importance of knowing the backstory of each universe.
You’ve got a room full of people with very different and very devoted relationships to ‘Star Trek’ in that writers’ room – and I think that carries on a pretty proud tradition of ‘Trek’ being written by fans.
You have to respect canon as it’s been written, you know; you can’t say ‘That never happened!’ ‘Star Trek’ fans will kill you! [laughs]
You have to understand the timelines and what the different timelines were, and what the different universes were; how they all work together. You have to keep very meticulous track of who, when, where, and why – and we have people in the room whose sole job is to say ‘No!’ [raises hand] ‘You can’t do that!’
Echoing the sentiments of former showrunner Bryan Fuller, Kurtzman also emphasized the connection to the TOS era of Trek, with connections in the new show to previously-established 23rd Century history.
If you’re a fan of Trek, you’re going to see a lot of things that hearken back to the Original Series, and elements of the Original Series – I’m not just talking plot, I mean the spirit of what that show was.
We’re going to be revisiting a couple things on ‘Discovery’ that I think people will find familiar; without spoiling anything I think we are adhering to a timeline and sticking to the rules, but also finding some new areas and avenues of exploration that have only been alluded to, and never fully explored.
We’ll know more about the show when it debuts in September.