EXCLUSIVE: Ted Sullivan On Canon Challenge Of Fitting ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Between ‘Enterprise’ and TOS

At the Hollywood blue carpet premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, TrekMovie had a chance to speak with Ted Sullivan. The writer and co-executive talked about about how Star Trek: Enterprise has caused challenges for Discovery, his hopes for season two, the unique possibilities created by the USS Discovery, and more. The full video interview and highlights are below

[Note: video contains discussion of a spoiler previously reported at TrekMovie].

Fighting for canon between ‘Enterprise’ and TOS

Ted expanded on previous comments on how Star Trek: Enterprise created challenges for Discovery:

Enterprise did a lot of scrambling and covering and patching up things, which I think worked for that show. It is hard to be in the middle between that show and TOS. [Discovery staff writer and “Keeper of the canon”] Kirsten Beyer will probably tell you the most arguments she and I have had are me saying “Wait, we can’t do that because of something on Enterprise?” But, we respect that. Enterprise is canon and it’s tough and it was a constantly shifting show.

But, what I am really proud of is that this show stands on its own. Maybe the sets look a little different. Maybe the props look a little different. Technology has changed, but that is what Star Trek is. Star Trek is about evolving and adapting and showing what is happening in the world and adapting new technology.

Finding a place for Discovery in between Enterprise and TOS

Looking forward to creating new stories for season two

When asked if if Discovery might consider “canonizing” elements from non-canon materials such as books, Sullivan generally demurred, saying:

I think we consider everything on the board, but the most exciting thing that I am excited about – hopefully moving into a season two – is we’ve set up our own ship and our own crew – a couple of ships – and it would be real nice to tell new stories and keep going places where no one has gone before as opposed to revisiting things. So, my instinct is always to come up with new ideas.

When pressed specifically on Jonathan Frakes’ spoiler reveal from over the weekend Sullivan only said “it’s a long season and a lot of things happen.” Following up, Sullivan did say there were some Star Trek tropes that Discovery will not use.  As for specifics (will Discovery do time travel, transporter accidents, etc?) Ted would only say “There is a list and I won’t share it [laughs]…or at least not yet.”

Discovering USS Discovery’s possibilities

Much of the publicity and promotion around Star Trek: Discovery has focused on the USS Shenzhou which features prominently in the two-part premiere. The USS Discovery remains somewhat of a mystery, and maybe even a little weird such as the notion that mushrooms and fungus are somehow involved in the ship’s means of propulsion. However, Ted made it clear we will learn much more soon: 

[The USS Discovery] is kind of weird, but it is also really cool. And next week, everyone is going to totally understand what it is. It is going to be so cool and it is such a major component of what episode 3 is, in particular…It is both a unique ship and part of Starfleet. It is not a Discovery class and you will find that out as well. It is a very interesting ship that is going to open a lot of doors creatively and storywise for us that you will see unfold in a really, really cool way.

The USS Discovery

Follow Ted for post-episode BTS picture dumps

If you aren’t already you should start following Ted on Twitter @karterhol. He has recently started to dribble out some nice behind the scenes photos he has been taking on the set (such as the tweet below). In the interview he noted that as a fan, he knows the kind of things fans want to see and promised after the episode he will “dump a lot of stuff.”

More to come from Hollywood premiere


Akiva Goldsman On Influence Of JJ Abrams Films On ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

Doug Jones On Saru And Burnham Fighting Over The Captain’s Chair In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

Mary Chieffo Talks L’Rell And Klingon Episodes Of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

TrekMovie has more interviews with Discovery cast and crew. These will be posted over the next few days so stay tuned.


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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