Star Trek: Discovery is hoping to change things up when it comes to Star Trek on television. As we’ve reported in the past, Discovery will be the first show where the lead character isn’t the highest-ranking officer. Instead, the show will focus on Starfleet First Officer Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), “who was the first human to attend the Vulcan Science Academy.” Showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg explain to EW:
“Burnham [has] spent a lot of time on Vulcan, but she’s human,” Harberts says. “Sarek [Spock’s father, played by James Frain] plays an important role in her life, which has been completely planned until she makes a very difficult choice that sends her life on a very different path. When we meet her, she’s the First Officer on the Starship Shenzhou [captained by Philippa Georgiou, played by Michelle Yeoh]. And Burnham’s choice that we’re alluding to is most difficult choice you can make — it affects her, affects Starfleet, affects the Federation, it affects the entire universe. That choice leads her to a different ship, the Discovery [helmed by Captain Lorca, played by Jason Isaacs] and there we begin what Gretchen and I call our ‘second pilot.’”
The fact that the show even requires a “second pilot” is kind of weird when you consider that only the pilot will be shown on CBS before asking viewers to pony up for CBS All Access. So even if you like the pilot, the show you might get in episode two once you start watching on CBS All Access could be completely different.
Berg explains that the advantage of following Burnham is that you get to see a different POV for this story:
“The joy is in the journey,” Berg replied. “The advantage to her not being in charge of the bridge right now is we get to tell stories from a very different point of view. It’s a fresh feeling because we’re not on the bridge all the time. We get access to more parts of the ship.”
As for the influences, it sounds like they’re a little all over the place. The showrunners cite The Original Series and The Next Generation (I enjoy both, but they couldn’t be more different) as well as Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and J.J. Abrams:
“I think Nicholas Myers’ [sic] film are [sic] a touchstone, and not just because he’s been on staff with us. His storytelling is complex and intellectual and yet there’s a lot of room for character voices and character work, he’s done such an incredible job with the franchise. In terms of scope and scale, there’s something about Star Trek: The Motion Picture that really speaks to us as well. CBS has allowed us to find a cinematic language that’s wider in scope — our aspect ratio is 2:1 — and it just lends itself to a very lyrical way of telling the story. And just visually speaking, there’s also a little hint in terms of what J.J. Abrams did, a little bit, in terms of some of the visuals.”
If you’ve seen the trailer, you know it’s much more than a “little hint” to the point where it’s difficult to believe that this takes place in the original timeline and the not the Kevlin timeline established by the Abrams movies.
Star Trek: Discovery will debut on Sunday, September 24th on CBS. New episodes will be available weekly on CBS All Access.