Bryan Fuller’s Original Pitch For ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Included Going Beyond TNG Era

Today, Entertainment Weekly released their new issue with a feature cover story on Star Trek: Discovery. We previewed the photoshoot for the issue yesterday. Much of the information has already been reported from both before and during San Diego Comic-Con, but there were some new good nuggets of information, with a focus on co-creator Bryan Fuller’s time on the show before his departure last year last year.

Fuller’s rejected ideas included multiple time periods

According to Entertainment Weekly, Bryan Fuller’s original pitch to CBS had the show starting in Discovery‘s time, but then moving through the eras of Kirk and Picard and then going beyond that, reaching a time period that hasn’t been seen in Star Trek before. He wanted to do something like American Horror Story, which resets its storyline each season, and described it as a “platform for a universe of Star Trek shows.” However CBS decided to create a single serialized show and  see how it performed before agreeing to anything that elaborate.

The TNG cast’s final appearance on screen in Star Trek: Nemesis – Bryan Fuller’s original pitch was to take Discovery beyond TNG

The article also noted some other elements of Fuller’s vision for Discovery that have been set aside, including: “a more heavily allegorical and complex story line,” and his original idea for Starfleet uniforms, which were “a subdued spin on the original series’ trio of primary colors.”

Bryan Fuller wanted uniforms that were more reflective of the original Star Trek

Fuller’s fights with CBS

The article details that there were significant clashes between CBS and Fuller during 2016. These included issues with going over the budget of $6 million/episode. Fuller also disagreed with CBS hiring David Semel to direct the pilot. Semel is a two-time Emmy nominee and veteran of television, notably many procedurals like Madam Secretary and Code Black, and is particularly known for directing pilots. Apparently Fuller wanted a more visionary director and had even reached out to longtime Simon Pegg collaborator Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Baby Driver). Fuller and Semel are said to have “clashed in pre-production” on the pilot for Discovery.

But the “biggest clash” was the schedule. The original plan for CBS was to launch the show in January of 2017, which was the soonest CBS could do a new Star Trek TV series based on an agreement after Viacom and CBS split in 2005. Heavily invested in their new streaming service, CBS felt that Discovery “could be the franchise that really puts All Access on the map.” Development time and pre-production continued to push the date back and CBS grew concerned about Fuller’s split commitments, notably with American Gods.

All of this led to CBS letting Fuller go in October 2016. But CBS Studios president David Stapf noted that even with Fuller gone, his vision for the show remained, saying:

The good news is Bryan created a really nice template that was unbelievably specifically detailed

For his part, Fuller seems to bounced back from being fired, telling EW:

I got to dream big. I was sad for a week and then I salute the ship and compartmentalize my experience.

Official CBS photo of Bryan Fuller released last summer


Sex, death and disco

An extended version of a portion of the article has been posted online regarding how CBS All Access streaming platform allows the show more flexibility when it comes to more mature content. However, co-showrunner Aaron Harberts dispels the notion that Discovery is the next Game of Thrones in the nudity and profanity department, telling EW:

Every writer’s impulse when you get to work on the streaming shows is to go crazy. But how does nudity play on Trek? Eh, it feels weird. How does a lot of [profanity] on Trek? Not so great. Are there moments where it merits it that we’re trying to push here and there? I would say we’re trying to push more by having the type of complicated messed-up characters who aren’t necessarily embraced on broadcast TV.

Another notable tidbit in the magazine was about the large number of characters on the show, with a line from EW about how maybe you shouldn’t grow too attached to any one of them:

If all this seems like a lot of characters to follow, there might not be quite as many around by the end of the season. Discovery has grave consequences baked into the story line.

One final fun fact is that the USS Discovery is nicknamed “the Disco” behind the scenes. This revelation connects nicely with a dancing-themed animated GIF TrekMovie tweeted yesterday, based on the video that EW released.

Three covers

The new issue of EW is on stands now and features three collectible Star Trek: Discovery covers. You can buy all three here, or purchase the individual covers here, here, and here.

Star Trek: Discovery premieres on September 24th on CBS with all subsequent episodes on CBS All Access in the US.  In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere  on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel on the same night. Netflix will launch Star Trek: Discovery on Monday, September 25 to countries outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.


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