There’s some good news/bad news for Star Trek: Discovery. The first new Star Trek TV series in over a decade has cast a key role, that of Spock’s father Sarek, but we’re going to have to wait even longer before the show actually hits the airwaves. Per EW, True Blood alum James Frain has landed the role of Sarek, which gives us a better idea of the show’s timeline in relation to the rest of the Star Trek universe. Frain is a TV veteran with scene-stealing roles on shows ranging from 24 to The Tudors to Grimm. Most recently, he had a regular role in the second season of True Detective and a recurring gig on Orphan Black, but fans of genre TV may most recently remember Frain as Azrael on Fox’s Gotham. Neat!
Now the bad news: As for the show’s premiere date, it was initially pegged as January when the series was first announced, but as creator/showrunner Bryan Fuller began work filling out his writers room and nailing down the new characters and stories, that date became an impossibility. Fuller was pushed out of the show back in October with timing apparently a factor in CBS’s decision, and executive producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts picked up the baton as the new showrunners.
CBS then set May as the Star Trek: Discovery premiere date, but now EW reports that that’s no longer the case. There is no new date yet announced for when Discovery might premiere, but it’s launching its pilot on CBS before all subsequent episodes will be available exclusively on CBS’s streaming platform CBS All Access. This fall is a possibility, as that’s when new shows usually ramp up promotion, but right now an official date hasn’t yet been targeted, and since Discovery doesn’t depend on traditional network schedules, it’s really open-ended as to when the series might drop.
So why is the premiere date being pushed again? This time it’s reportedly not due to creative issues, but instead has to do with star Sonequa Martin-Green. The Walking Dead alum landed the lead role in the series last month, but now CBS is worried about marketplace confusion; if they were to start promoting her as the star of Star Trek: Discovery while she’s still on the air as part of The Walking Dead, audiences might be confused…or something. Additionally, there’s “still a lot of careful deliberation continuing to go into making Discovery special,” so the extra time to peg down the right directors, special effects, etc. would be appreciated by the crew.
Production on Star Trek: Discovery still begins this week in Toronto, but with the premiere date now open-ended, it leaves the creative team with a less stressful work environment, as they’re no longer racing towards a premiere date. The irony, of course, is that Fuller’s meticulousness was one of the reasons for CBS pushing him out back in October, and now the show may not even premiere until this fall. Given his track record with Hannibal and Pushing Daisies, we know the guy delivers the goods, so perhaps CBS should’ve just let him do his thing.
Alas, Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) were brought in as consultants when Fuller left to keep this thing on track, but it’s unclear how intensely they’re involved at the moment and, clearly, they couldn’t keep that May date intact.
As for the show itself, it takes place roughly a decade before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series, and won’t be beholden to the cinematic universe that J.J. Abrams created. In addition to Martin-Green as a lieutenant commander aboard the Discovery, the ensemble cast includes Michelle Yeoh as Starfleet Captain Georgiou, Doug Jones as Starfleet Science Officer and alien Lt. Saru, Anthony Rapp as “astromycologist” and fungus expert Lt. Stamets, and a trio of kilngons played by Chris Obi, Shazad Latif, and Mary Chieffo. We’ll see them all in action…sometime.