‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Alex Kurtzman on Finishing Strong and Plans for Season 2
Star Trek: Discovery premiered on CBS Sunday night ahead of its beam-up to the streaming service CBS All-Access; the network netted 9.6 million viewers. That number could rise to 15 million once all of the multiplatform presentations are taken into account. It was also the biggest day for the network’s subscription service sign-ups, passing the previous record set during the 2017 Grammys, as THR reports. That all bodes well for the future of Star Trek: Discovery as CBS looks to the weeks ahead, Season 2, and beyond.
Star Trek: Discovery boss Alex Kurtzman spoke with the outlet recently, nearly two years since the announcement of the new Star Trek series. Those two years came with a couple of premiere date delays, one following the departure of Bryan Fuller and another requested by Kurtzman himself, who needed the time to fully take into account the scope of the ambitious sci-fi show. But all of that is in the past. Star Trek: Discovery is here, and it’s certainly finding its audience. So what’s ahead for the CBS show?
Well, to understand where Star Trek: Discovery is going, you have to understand the amount of production going into it. According to Kurtzman, the visual effects alone take four to five months per episode, while the final mix–which normally takes a day or two–takes four days. “We’re mixing a movie; every episode is huge,” says Kurtzman. The full turnaround time per episode is three to four months, which explains the request to delay the show the second time. As it is, they’re still in production on the second half of the season, which will return in January:
We are about to start shooting the finale. Part of the grand design of the season included the ending. We knew where we were going from the beginning and that was important in terms of a lot of the big ideas we set up in the first two episodes. It’s all leading to something. We are just finishing episode 14 and about to start 15. That’s in terms of production. In post, I start mixing episode five on Monday. That gives you a sense of how long it takes between shooting and post.
As for Season 2:
We have a larger picture for season two — if we’re lucky to get a season two order. As you’re breaking the season you get bunch of ideas you love and realize they won’t fit in this season, so you put them on index cards and up on the board. We have a bunch of those as well as a big idea that emerged mid- to late-season one for something we want to do for season two. That’s now become the spine of what we want to do for season two. We have an emotional compass pointing toward a big idea for a second season. But given the scope of this thing, we’re also focused on finishing strong. Hopefully we’ll get an order for season two. I don’t know that we’ll have a tremendous amount of downtime between seasons. There have been many iterations of Trek that have run for a very long time. I only want to keep it going for as long as it feels fresh and like we have stories to tell. One of the great things about streaming is that we’re not obligated to 22 episodes, which allows us to tell more stories. So as long as we feel we are not compromising quality or scope, I’m down for whatever Trek becomes.
And about those episodes, should the Season 2 order come in:
I always like less. I’d never do 22, that’d be a big mistake. If we get a second season, I’d like us to agree on a number in advance so we can make sure we are planning accordingly.
Due to the amount of work going into the production of Star Trek: Discovery, fans probably shouldn’t expect the second season until early 2019 at the earliest, according to Kurtzman. That could very well change between now and then depending on a lot of factors–ratings, viewer retention, changes in storytelling ambitions, etc.–not the least of which is getting that Season 2 order in the first place. Be sure to head over to THR for more on Star Trek: Discovery.
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