Season 1 of CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery changed course multiple times over its 15-episode run. The season finale ended up taking the crew somewhat back to where they started from after a season of adventures that varied from scientific and exploratory expeditions, to militaristic and clandestine missions. While it stumbled in finding its identity as a new show, it also found its footing when relying on the tried and true core aspects of the Star Trek franchise: elevating women and people of color into prominent roles, exploring cutting-edge sci-fi technologies, and melding the cultures of multiple alien races together into a narrative. It’s definitely worth a watch for Trek fans and might even be a gateway series for newcomers to get into the franchise.
But if you missed Star Trek: Discovery because of CBS’ paywall, now’s a great opportunity to check the first season out on Blu-ray. Interestingly enough, the Blu-ray’s bonus features are actually the real draw here because they go into great details about the incredibly well-produced episodes, highlighting the talented, creative, and often genius individuals working tirelessly behind the scenes. That’s a rare find in the home video release market, and this one’s among the best.
Now, with Season 2 ready to return, we wanted to remind you that you can still pick up Season 1 of Star Trek: Discovery on Blu-ray. Then, once you’re all caught up, tune in to see Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Chieffo, Shazad Latif and Mary Wiseman, along with newcomers Ethan Peck, Anson Mount, Rebecca Romijn and a new host of Klingon warriors in Season 2, starting January 17th.
Our disc-by-disc breakdown of the Blu-ray’s special features follows below:
Discovering Discovery: The Concepts and Casting of Star Trek: Discovery (~15 minutes)
- A montage of behind-the-scenes production shots leads into executive producer Alex Kurtzman talking about his first experience with Star Trek and the reason why now is the time for a new version of it.
- Cast members Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, and Jason Isaacs comment on their parts to play in the new Star Trek series, what it means to them, and the particular challenges of their roles.
- Executive producers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts comment on Sonequa Martin-Green’s impressive audition and Doug Jones’ transformation on set.
- Executive Producer Heather Kadin comments on opening the series inside a Klingon ship and featuring their language.
Standing in the Shadow of Giants: Creating the Sound of Discovery (~10 minutes)
- Kurtzman comments on the iconic music of the franchise. Composer Jeff Russo adds to the conversation.
- Specific episodes referenced as “Space Seed” and “Mirror, Mirror” as inspiration for emotional resonance, though avoiding some of the classic series’ campy elements. Russo references “The Best of Both Worlds” as his favorite score, a spare addition that services the storytelling.
- Russo walks viewers through the composition process during a recording session with the orchestra.
Creature Comforts (~15 minutes)
- Kurtzman leads off this make-up and wardrobe/costuming featurette for Star Trek: Discovery
- Alchemy Studio’s Glenn Hetrick, with shout-outs to James MacKinnon and lead creature designer Neville Page, goes into detail about the costumes and make-up for the characters, especially the Klingons. He talks about the process of taking one line mentioning a creature in the script and turning it into a flesh and blood thing.
- Prosthetic designer Michael O’Brien takes viewers through the mold and applications process, revealing the show’s library of sculpted prints.
- Paint Department Supervisor Tim Gore, FX Costume Builder Erica Steenberg, and Key Textile Artist Bonnie McCabe reveal the particulars of their crafts as well.
- Hetrick, Page, and Suit Fabrication Artists Mike Wowczuk and Aina Skinnes O’Kane talk about the re-creation of the Klingons from their source inspirations, to their costuming and make-up design.
- Kurtzman leads the discussion of Saru’s design, which originally had Doug Jones playing half of a character, which would have been filled in with CG. That obviously wasn’t practical, so the final design leveraged Hetrick and Page’s designs with Jones’ incredible ability to perform. Jones invites viewers to watch as he is transformed into Saru by MacKinnon and make-up assistants.
- Actor Mary Chieffo, who plays L’Rell, comments on her approach to playing the heavily made-up Klingon character.
- Hetrick talks about redesigning alien species like Klingons, Andorians, and Tellarites.
Designing Discovery (~15 minutes)
- Production Designer Todd Cherniawsky comments on being a fan, and finding the balance between the canon of Star Trek and finding a new, fresh approach. He walks viewers through concept art and design, modeling, and full-scale framing and construction.
- Cherniawsky also talks about marine and submarine architecture to reflect the more militarized aspect of this show’s story.
- Fans will love his walkthrough of the bridge, from the captains’ chairs to the viewscreen and more, including technical details like autonomous lighting and dimmers.
- Production Designer Tamara Deverell offers commentary on the specific lighting of the show and practical see-through screens, especially as it relates to our contemporary technology.
- The Klingon Sarcophagus ship pulls from numerous ancient civilizations’ architectures and religious designs.
- Cherniawsky also comments on handing over the design to Deverell, the first woman as a production designer in the franchise’s history. Her instincts took her to “brutalist” Soviet structures to design the alt-world aesthetics. She also details the approach to the ISS Charon’s design and its “mycelium sun” power source.
- Concept art is shown for the Klingon homeworld of Qo’noS/Kronos and its black market.
Creating Space (~10 minutes)
- A remarkable side-by-side comparison of before and after effects shots play throughout the feature.
- Kurtzman talks about the blurring of the line between TV and movies for the level and quality of visual and special effects.
- Visual Effects Supervisor Jason Zimmerman walks through a particularly challenging shoot that saw Michael jet-packing through space in the first episode.
- Director David Semel walks viewers through the zero-G sequence shot at the Paramount lot, with commentary from Martin-Green.
- The featurette ends with a montage of some of the more spectacular moments from the series so far.
Prop Me Up (~15 minutes)
- Kurtzman leads this discussion on the fantastic design and creation of the show’s amazing props.
- Property Master Mario Moreira talks about the show and its place in the timeline that’s ten years before the original series. This affects not only the props themselves, which had to be retrofitted to look 10 years less advanced, but also the design of new props themselves. Moreira shows off 3D modeling projections of the props used in production.
- The phaser on the show is one of the most complex props ever made, and that’s coming from the folks who make prop guns and weapons for major movie productions. Moreira breaks down the phaser, literally, to show its integral parts and variations.
- Costume Designer Gersha Phillips’ designs informed a lot of their props; they took inspiration from the look of her creations.
- Additional props they had to reverse engineer include the Federation’s tricorder and the universal translator, and the Klingon’s weaponry.
- Moreira reveals a hilarious anecdote about having to rundown Michelle Yeoh at the airport while carrying a prop sword for a test session.
A Woman’s Journey (~10 minutes)
- Executive Producer Heather Kadin talks about the show’s cultural relevance throughout the ages, especially this version’s portrayal of a woman’s journey. Martin-Green adds her thoughts on the story approach as well.
- Executive Producers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts walk through the strong female characters on the show, including Yeoh’s mentor figure whom Yeoh herself comments on.
- Story Editors Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt talk about the tough decisions regarding the show’s characters and how they keep their presences in the story all season long.
- Staff Writer Kirsten Beyer remarks on the occasional all-female writers room while actor Chieffo comments on the variety of female representation on the show.
Dress for Success (~20 minutes)
- Costume Designer Gersha Phillips explains the difference between costumes and wardrobes with an anecdote about Jonathan Frakes visiting the set.
- She walks viewers through the concept phase, including inspiration from the series that came before it.
- The compression panels on the uniform’s sleeves and sides of the body are intended to be life-saving measure sewn into the fabric. The color code is: Gold is for Command, Silver is for Science, and Copper is for Operations and Engineering.
- Isaacs comments on the form-fitting and shapely costumes he got to wear during production. He reveals that they considered making him both a sitting and a standing jacket because of unfortunate creases that popped up while sitting.
- Head Cutter Tanya Batanau-Chuiko, Seamstress Megan Ancheta, and Head Press Seamstress Tara McLeod walk viewers through the actual process of putting the costumes together, specifically the tactical vests used in combat scenes.
Assistant Costume Designer Damion Saliana, FX Cutter Roland Heizinger, and Key FX Costume Designer Robin Careless show how the Klingon suits of armor come together. Key Textile Artist Bonnie McCabe follows up with her section of the production pipeline while Textile Artist Debbie Williams makes an innumerable amount of spikes for Klingon armor.
- Key FX Costumer Jenn Burton details all of the additional elements that go on the front and back of the armor in a laborious process, followed by the armor’s trip to the paint department. It’s here where the pieces are riveted together and the rivets themselves are hidden by sparkling stones that appear all over the costume itself. Now you know why the Klingons have so much bling-on!
- The paint department creatives also break down the creation of a Klingon gauntlet, which artists at home can just about follow along with to make their own versions.
- Phillips also details the Terran costumes shown off in the mirror universe. Mary Wiseman also talks about what it felt like to play the murderous leader of that universe and to put on the costume.
- Production Designer Tamara Deverell shares a funny anecdote about Yeoh’s cape, which needed an emergency modification on the throne room set. Yeoh herself shares her thoughts on her emperor twist on her character, along with a funny story about her total makeover.
Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season 1 (~40 minutes)
- Kurtzman sums up the story so far and Martin-Green looks back on her character’s journey. Executive Producers Olatunde Osunsanmi, Akiva Goldsman, Kadin, Berg, and Harberts, Co-Executive Producer Jordon Nardino, cast members Yeoh, Jones, Isaacs, Chieffo, Anthony Rapp, Wilson Cruz, Rainn Wilson, and Shazad Latif, Story Editors Lippoldt and Yeon Kim, and Staff Writer Beyer join the conversation as well.
- The cast and crew share their favorite episodes and moments while revisiting the full first season.