Everything about ‘‘Star Trek: Discovery’’

Star Trek: Discovery is an upcoming American television series created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman for CBS All Access, due to premiere in January 2017 and it will consist of 13 episodes. It is the first series produced specifically for that service, and the first Star Trek series since Star Trek: Enterprise concluded in 2005. Set 10 years before the events of the original Star Trek series, separate from the timeline of the concurrent feature films, Discovery explores a previously mentioned event from the history of Star Trek while following the crew of the USS Discovery. Fuller serves as showrunner on the series.

The new series was announced in November 2015, with Fuller joining the next February. In addition to Fuller and Kurtzman, who wrote for previous Star Trek series and films, respectively, the crew includes previous Star Trek creative Nicholas Meyer as consulting producer, and Star Trek-creator Gene Roddenberry’s son Rod as executive producer. The production put emphasis on carrying on the legacy of the previous series, including making efforts to feature a diverse cast, and taking inspiration from original designs by Ralph McQuarrie.

At the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, writer-producer Bryan Fuller took questions from critics.

Fuller said on the premise: “There’s an incident and an event in Star Trek history that’s been talked about but never been explored. To do this series, we’re telling a much more serialized story, to dig deep into a very tantalizing storyline. And we have a character who’s on a journey, and in order to understand something that is alien, she first has to understand herself.”

On selecting a diverse cast: “Star Trek started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast … our lead of the show is going to be subject of that same level of who’s the best actor and also what can we say about diversity on the show. We haven’t cast her yet, so we don’t know what level of diversity she will be, but that’s forefront in our minds. We’ll probably have a few more aliens than you typically have on the show. We wanted to paint a picture of Starfleet where we’re going to have new exciting aliens and also new imagining of existing aliens.” Fuller noted some of the changes might upset hardcore fans used to seeing things a certain way. “We’re producing the show in 2016. We have to update the style of the effects, the style of the sets, the style of the makeup.”

Fuller says he spoke with Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, while thinking about how to cast this role. “It was interesting to send her outlines and start talking about the character and get her perspective on what it’s like for a woman in the sciences now when we still have a lot of issues with women and race, and how that’s going to be 250 years in the future when the world gets its s— together and equality is a thing that’s more accepted.”

Fuller was asked if there are gay characters in the series: “Absolutely we’re having a gay character,” Fuller said. He noted that as a gay man working on Voyager, he had a file full of hate mail when there was a rumor a character on his show was going to be gay. So he was determined if he ever did his own Star Trek show, he would have a gay character. “We’ve come a long way since then. I feel like actually gay rights have come a lot further in that time than race issues and women’s issues.”

On including familiar characters from the original series: “There’s so much about the history that once we get through this first season and establish our own Star Trek universe with the crew that going to be reimagining a lot of Star Trek elements, we’ll be looking in the second season to open up to more familiar characters and how they can feed into the [show]. First and foremost, I think we really want to convince you and establish the greatness of the [new] characters that are going to be introduced.”

The upcoming series will focus on a female lead character — likely played by an actor with a “level of diversity” — who will be a lieutenant commander on a starship. The former Hannibal showrunner first enthused about the idea of a black female captain in a hypothetical Star Trek series back in 2013. “I want Angela Bassett to be the captain, that’s who I would love to have,” he said. “Captain Angela Bassett and First Officer Rosario Dawson. I would love to do that version of the show and that’s in the future to be told.”

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