If you’ve been following the drama-filled saga of the tale surrounding bringing the newest iteration of ‘Star Trek’ to the small screen, then you know how much of an up-and-down process it has been for both parent production company CBS and for the creative team of ‘Star Trek: Discovery.’ Now, months after CBS parted ways with original showrunner Bryan Fuller, the ousted Fuller has finally opened up about his experiences with the show, his ideas that the network chose not to bring to bear, and what he thinks of the pieces of the show he’s seen so far.
Let’s start with what the show could have been, from a plot and procedural standpoint. ‘Discovery’ currently stands as a serialized story that takes place in the original Trek timeline about a decade before the “classic” series that featured the adventures of Kirk, Spock, and crew. The show is taking heat from many fans, along with cautious optimism from others, for having a very “sleek” and modern look that will be at odds with what many fans believe they should be seeing from a show set years before a 1960s propped-and-costumed series.
According to Fuller in an interview with EW, however, he had different ideas on what he wanted the show to encompass:
“The original pitch was to do for science-fiction what ‘American Horror Story’ had done for horror. It would platform a universe of Star Trek shows.”
Fuller’s presentation to the network for the show’s layout would have seen each season focus on a different aspect of the over-arching ‘Star Trek’ timeline. As EW puts it, the show would “begin with the ‘Discovery’ prequel, journey through the eras of Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and then go beyond to a time in ‘Trek’ that’s never been seen before.” This, quite frankly, sounds awesome. It’s certainly a unique and daring concept – and this many times will scare a network out of green-lighting a concept, for fear that straying too far from “tried and true” could turn out to be a poor business decision.
It’s also noted in the interview that Fuller’s original costume design for ‘Discovery’ was much more “in-tune” with the “classic” Star Trek uniforms, featuring “a subdued spin on the original series’ trio of primary colors,” instead of what we now see on-screen in the ‘Discovery’ trailers of the all-blue sleek-styled uniforms.
We also have discovered that we have Fuller to thank – in more ways than one – for the casting of Sonequa Martin-Green as the primary character of the series, Lieutenant Michael Burnham. Fuller was always targeting an African-American female for the lead role in ‘Discovery,’ for, as he puts it:
“I couldn’t stop thinking about how many black people were inspired by seeing Nichelle Nichols on the bridge of a ship [as Lt. Uhura in The Original Series]. I couldn’t stop thinking about how many Asian people were inspired by seeing George Takei [as Sulu] and feeling that gave them hope for their place in the future. I wanted to be part of that representation for a new era.”
Fuller was enamored with Martin-Green’s audition, but the major hang-up was that AMC wouldn’t release the actress to star in another show until her character in ‘The Walking Dead’ was killed off on-screen; this wasn’t slated to happen until April 2017, and ‘Discovery’ originally had two different release dates that fell in early and mid-2017, meaning there would not be enough time to cast Martin-Green and have her star in the show. Due to the slow-down of the production of ‘Discovery,’ thanks in part to Fuller’s dismissal and CBS having to creatively regroup, the show was bumped back in the schedule far enough that Martin-Green was actually able to be cast and star.
Fuller, a long-time Star Trek fan, sounds wistful and genuinely disappointed that he is not longer a part of the show:
“I got to dream big. I was sad for a week and then I salute the ship and compartmentalize my experience.”
And yes, he has seen the new trailers for ‘Discovery.’ What does he think? Well, Fuller kept his thoughts brief and succinct:
“What I can say is…my reaction was that I was happy to see a black woman and an Asian woman in command of a Starship.”
There’s an old saying that your mother may have told you: if you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe don’t say anything at all – and it seems Fuller tried to stick as closely to that as possible here. Frankly, from what we’ve seen of ‘Discovery’ so far, I’m not sure that I can blame him.
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ will premiere September 24, 2017 on CBS.