‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Everything We Know About the New TV Series

In the midst of Hollywood’s frantic race for franchises, we’ve seen reboots for just about every major property under the sun. As one such property, Star Trek has seen a massive resurgence following J.J. Abrams’ three films. Now, the iconic sci-fi franchise will head back to television, with the announcement from CBS that the network will bring Star Trek back as a full-on series.

It comes as an interesting turn of events, given that the original TV series has already gone through a whole host of reboots over the last half-century of its existence. Already we’ve seen Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, and Enterprise, in addition to the original 1966 iteration. This makes CBS’s planned show the sixth TV series in the franchise’s history (if you discount The Animated Series, which Roddenberry considered non-canon).

So what can we expect moving forward? Here’s what we know (and don’t know) so far.

1. The new Star Trek will air in May 2017 as the first original series on CBS All Access

The new CBS All Access logo

CBS All Access | CBS

It figures that the only network still going all-in on four-camera sitcoms would be the one to get in on the streaming industry well after the rest of the TV-verse. That being so, kicking things off with a new Star Trek is about as good as it gets for any video-on-demand platform.

The show was originally slated for a January 2017 release, but was later pushed to May 2017, with the first episode airing on the regular CBS network. All the episodes following the premiere will then air exclusively on CBS All Access, an on-demand service that will run users $5.99 a month. All Access is currently live now, and features all past episodes of every Star Trek series.

Fortunately, Trekkies who don’t have a CBS All Access subscription will still be able to see the new series. Netflix announced that, “Each episode of the new series will be available globally within 24 hours of its U.S. premiere.”

2. Alex Kurtzman will head up the new series

Alex Kurtzman, one of the producers of Star Trek: Discovery

Alex Kurtzman | Frederick M. Brown/Stringer/Getty Images

Having already partnered up on the Star Trek films with J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman will step in as executive producer for the CBS show. He’ll tackle the project without his usual collaborator, Roberto Orci, instead partnering up with Heather Kadin (the development head at Kurtzman’s production company, Secret Hideout).

Per sources cited by Variety, original co-showrunner Bryan Fuller has turned over his duties to executive producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts. Fuller will remain on as an executive producer.

Update, 10/27/16: We reported that Bryan Fuller was the co-showrunner, but he left the project. 

3. CBS’s series will introduce new characters

William Shatner as Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek Series

Captain Kirk played by William Shatner | Paramount Pictures

It’s unclear whether the new Star Trek will exist within the canon of Abrams-led films, but what we do know (thanks to The Hollywood Reporter) is that it “will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise.”

This probably means a whole new ship and crew will act as the focal point of the series, while taking place concurrently with the last two movies.

4. For the first time ever, the lead character won’t be a captain

Star Trek Discovery Starship

The Starship Discovery| CBS

Unlike the original series or The Next Generation, the lead character won’t be a starship captain. Instead, the star of the show will be a female lieutenant commander. “We’ve seen six series from the captain’s point of view; to see a character from a different perspective on the starship — one who has a different dynamic relationships with a captain, with subordinates, it gave us richer context,” said previous co-showrunner, Fuller, to Entertainment Weekly.

The lead role will be The Walking Dead‘s Sonequa Martin-Green’s Lieutenant Commander Rainsford.

5. A Star Trek veteran is on-board as a writer

Worf and Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation | Paramount Television

More good news for fans of the original Star Trek movie franchise! Per a tweet from previous co-showrunner Bryan Fuller, Nicholas Meyer has also joined the show as a “consulting producer/writer.” Meyer not only directed two Star Trek feature films — Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country — but he also helped write the screenplays for both of those movies, as well as Star Trek: The Voyage Home.

There’s even a chance that Gene Roddenberry will have some input on the new series. Although the legendary creator of Star Trek passed away in 1991, data from 200 floppy disks he owned were recently recovered, as announced by DriveSavers. While it’s not yet clear exactly what was found on the disks, the company hinted that it could contain story ideas or even scripts for the upcoming show.

“2016 just happens to be the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek, anything could happen, the world will have to wait and see,” said DriveSavers director of engineering, Mike Cobb. 

6. It wasn’t allowed to air until at least six months after Star Trek Beyond 

Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard in The Next Generation

Captain Picard played by Patrick Stewart | CBS

Since the TV and movie rights for the Star Trek franchise are held by CBS and Viacom, respectively, the two companies wanted to make sure that there wasn’t any confusion between the two platforms. As reported by TrekCore, CBS president Les Moonves revealed how this situation will affect the debut of the new TV series:

When [CBS] split from Viacom ten years ago, January 1, 2006, one of the big sticking points, as you can imagine, was “Star Trek.” You know, we both wanted it.

They said “It’s a movie!” and I said, “No, no, no, it’s a TV show.” Actually, we’re both right. So they kept the feature film rights, we kept the television rights; they have [“Star Trek Beyond”] coming out July 22.

Our deal with them is that we had to wait six months after their film is launched so there wouldn’t be a confusion in the marketplace.

After pushing the premiere date for the new series from January 2017 to May 2017, CBS Television Studios recently issued a statement suggesting that the show may get delayed yet again. Here is the full statement from CBS, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly:

Production on Star Trek: Discovery begins next week. We love the cast, the scripts and are excited about the world the producers have created.  This is an ambitious project; we will be flexible on a launch date if it’s best for the show.  We’ve said from the beginning it’s more important to do this right than to do it fast. There is also added flexibility presenting on CBS All Access, which isn’t beholden to seasonal premieres or launch windows.

7. The story behind the rebooted series

Kirk and Spock in 2009's Star Trek reboot

Kirk and Spock | Paramount Pictures

Some deep investigation from fans has revealed that the series is set to take place before the events of the original Star Trek series, based on the lower call sign number of Discovery (1031, versus 1701 for the Enterprise).

The lower number seems to indicate that the Discovery is a ship manufactured years before the Enterprise ever took flight, putting our new characters in a time before Captain Kirk’s crew started their own adventures. According to Entertainment Weekly, previous co-showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed that Star Trek: Discovery will be set in the “Prime Universe” (not the J.J. Abrams rebooted universe).

8. Jason Isaacs will star as the captain of the Discovery

Jason Isaacs in The OA

Jason Isaacs in The OA. | Netflix

Star Trek: Discovery represents the first Trek series to not focus on the captain of the titular ship as the main character. That doesn’t mean CBS didn’t land a big name to play the captain anyway, bringing on The OA and Harry Potter star, Jason Isaacs. Isaacs will star as Captain Lorca, alongside a diverse cast of co-stars you can see laid out in The Hollywood Reporter’s running list.

9. Original series characters may show up

Spock and Kirk in Star Trek (2009)

Spock and Kirk in Star Trek | Paramount

Since the show is set approximately 10 years before the time of the original series, there is a possibility that iconic characters like Kirk or Spock could show up. However, previous co-showrunner, Bryan Fuller noted that this likely wouldn’t happen until the second season of the show, after the new characters have been introduced and established.

However, one of the original series’ most iconic characters has recently been cast. Per Entertainment Weeekly, actor James Frain has been cast as Sarek, the Vulcan father of Spock. Frain is perhaps best known for his roles on TV shows such as Orphan Black, Gotham, and True Detective. He also had a minor role in the 2013 movie, The Lone Ranger.

We’ll update this article with more details on the planned series as they arrive, so stay tuned!

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