‘Discovery’ in Star Trek’s Native Medium With a Twist
Most fans agree – Star Trek belongs on television and always has. The movies certainly achieve their own levels of success be it at the box office, or drawing in new fans. However the franchise has always been more cerebral than what any theatrical release allows for. Weekly television lets Star Trek be Star Trek.
After the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005, there was concern that the show wouldn’t be appearing on television again. At least not for a long time. Even some of the most die-hard fans felt the franchise needed a rest in order to restart with fresh ideas. It seems 12 years was a long enough hiatus – fans are marking dates on their calendars. Star Trek: Discovery is set to air this month (September 2017). The twist: the show will be a streaming series instead of cable. Discovery will be airing on CBS All Access in the USA, CraveTV and Space in Canada, and on Netflix around the rest of the world. Get your streaming service ready.
In anticipation of the launch, we’ve put together everything you need to know in the lead up to the series premiere.
It’s Primarily a Streaming Show
Most Star Trek fans already know that Star Trek: Discovery will be a streaming series. But for those who don’t know, in order to watch the show you’ll need the right service. Here’s the world-wide breakdown of how to watch the show.
The premiere episode will air on CBS September 24th. All subsequent episodes will be available on CBS All Access. The second episode will become available on All Access immediately after the premiere airs on cable on the 24th. Episodes will then stream weekly on Sunday evenings.
Canada gets the premiere episode on September 24th on Space and CTV channels. Then CraveTV streaming service will air the second episode on the 25th. Each subsequent episode will then stream on Monday evenings.
Rest of World
The rest of the world will be able to stream the series on Netflix beginning on September 25th, including the premiere and second episode. Then each subsequent episode will become available to stream on Mondays.
It Has a Big Budget
As with each new subsequent series in the franchise, Discovery will get the largest budget of any Star Trek television series yet. At an estimated $8-8.5 million per episode, the show’s 15-episode first season comes in at well over $100m. The budget shows in the trailers. Just about everything has seen an improvement – from costumes to sets to digital visual effects to makeup.
Viewers of the new Star Trek series will be tuning-in to some of the most expensive television entertainment ever produced.
Season-Long Story Arcs
One thing that separates Star Trek: Discovery from the other Trek shows is that it will consist of a season-long story arc. While Deep Space Nine did have extended stories throughout a season or two, Discovery will take that to the next level. The show was created with stories lasting entire seasons in mind. For example, the first season is expected to focus around the Klingon Wars (with Starfleet) with the end of the season likely seeing the end of the war. The second season is expected to focus on the aftermath of that war.
When it Happens
Star Trek: Discovery takes place 10 years before Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise. That means this series is likely to be in or around the year 2256. There isn’t much more to be said about that other than because of the close proximity to The Original Series (TOS), we can expect to see some characters from that show.
Since Discovery is set just 10 years before TOS, characters that appeared in that series would be alive during the time of Star Trek: Discovery. This presented the opportunity for the showrunners and writers to re-introduce characters from TOS. For example; Sarek, (Spock’s father) played by James Frain, will appear in Discovery and he’s seen throughout the two trailers. He’s the surrogate father to Michael Burnham, Discovery‘s main protagonist and adopted sister of Spock. Additionally, the notorious Harry Mudd, played by The Office‘s Rainn Willson, shows up in at least two episodes. Those are the only confirmed returning characters for now, however there is speculation among fans that Amanda Grace, Spock’s human mother and wife of Sarek, may also appear.
The Klingons and The Empire
As mentioned earlier, Star Trek: Discovery‘s first season is expected to focus around the Klingon War. Klingons are a staple of Star Trek, having appeared in every television series and most of the movies. Discovery has introduced some changes to the rival species, not only in looks but in traits as well. The Klingons are now bald, and there have been some changes to the forehead ridges and nose area. Star Trek: Discovery‘s showrunners have indicated there will be different genetic traits between the 24 Klingon Houses, in addition to different ideologies.
One example of the genetic traits is that Discovery will explain the purpose of forehead ridges, including the fact that they enable extra-sensory biology.
According to the first series trailer, the Klingon Empire has been in disarray for generations. Klingon leader, T’Kuvma (Chris Obi), is looking to unite the 24 Houses.
Star Trek: Discovery also introduces the idea of a Klingon Torchbearer. Not many details have been revealed about this mysterious character, but it’s expected they will participate in some sort of ancient ritual. That ritual, and possibly ancient Klingons, may play a role in the series.
The Klingons will also take on more nuance in terms of culture and religion.
Discovery is Canon and Set Within the Prime Universe
When the movie Star Trek (2009) came out, it created an alternate universe within Star Trek‘s canon. Known as the “Kelvin Universe”, the two movies that followed, Into Darkness and Beyond, are both part of that same universe. All of the televisions series are canon within the “Prime Universe.” Star Trek Discovery also takes place within the Prime Universe and will adhere to series canon.
Fans of the show will likely be on the lookout for ways in which the new series will tie-in with the previous incarnations.
Series Lead Isn’t the Captain
Unlike the previous Star Trek shows, Discovery‘s main character won’t be the captain or ranking commander. Instead, the series will focus on Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), First Officer of the USS Discovery. This is an intended departure by original series creator, Bryan Fuller. Fuller wanted the show to focus more on characters not at the top of command and how they may handle particular situations as a result.
Of additional note is that the series lead is a woman of colour, which also breaks new ground for the franchise. Deep Space Nine had a Black man as commander and captain. Voyager had a woman captain. To now, Black women have been extremely under-represented in the science fiction genre.
More than One Ship
When Star Trek: Voyager premiered, there were two main ships to start off the series. However before the end of the 2-episode premiere, one ship had been destroyed and both crews were forced to work together aboard the USS Voyager.
Similarly, Star Trek: Discovery will have two starships but there will be no merging of crew. At least not in the same way as presented in Voyager. In Discovery, the main ship is the USS Discovery NCC-1031 (this site’s namesake) under Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs). But there’s also the USS Shenzhou NCC-1227 captained by Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).
There’s no word on whether or not either ship will make it through to the end of season one.
It Has a TV-MA Rating
Unlike any Star Trek series before it, Star Trek Discovery will have a more adult rating. The series has been described as being “grittier”, which may be part of the reason for the more restrictive rating.
Studios generally rate their own tv shows so there’s no indications yet as to what specific reasons there are for the rating.
This will be the first time that a Star Trek series may not be a family show.
Show Gets First Openly-Gay Characters
Star Trek has always prided itself for the attempts it makes at equal representation and a diversity of both cast and characters. However up until now, the show has had no openly gay characters. Individual episodes have touched on the subject, but other than those the shows have mostly steered-clear of the topic. No more. Discovery will have its first gay character in Lieutenant Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), an Astromycologist. Stamets is the love interest of Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz).
Continues Tradition of Optimistic Future
One of the reasons that Star Trek has had such a long and successful life (51 years and counting) is the way it portrays humanity’s future. The show has always given viewers an optimistic outlook. It tells us that if we humans can get our collective act together we can achieve great things.
Discovery showrunners have told us that it would continue this tradition.
“I think that at the core of Roddenberry’s vision, and this is why I believe it has endured as long as it has, is the belief that humans beings will always find a way to persevere and connect to each other. And that there’s an optimistic outlook to where we could be going. And now more than ever we need that. Desperately.”
— Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman
And with that we complete our list of things you need to know before watching Star Trek: Discovery
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