Nicholas Meyer, director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, was one of the more high-profile Trek veterans brought in to help develop Star Trek: Discovery. In a new interview, Meyer talks about his time working on the show and gives a status update on the other show he hopes will be the next Star Trek series to be announced.
Still waiting on Ceti Alpha V
Speaking to TrekMovie in the summer of 2017, Nicholas Meyer first revealed that he was working on a Star Trek project outside of Discovery, and in May of this year he gave more details, saying it was a 3-episode limited series but was on hold at the time. Subsequently, CBS announced plans to expand the Star Trek TV franchise, with Variety reporting that a limited series tied to Khan Noonien Singh was one of the possible shows under consideration. In the months since then, CBS has announced an ongoing series featuring Patrick Stewart returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard and an animated sci-fi comedy called Star Trek: Lower Decks.
So far there has been no official word on whether Meyer’s Khan series is moving forward. At San Diego Comic-Con, Alex Kurtzman, who is in charge of the expanding Star Trek universe on TV, spoke to TrekMovie positively about both the idea of a Khan series and a Picard series (which hadn’t been announced at the time), saying “I mean, they sound super cool, I’m a huge fan of both stories, it’d be really cool to see something like that.”
Now, in a lengthy, career-spanning interview with the YouTube channel Midnight’s Edge, Meyer has provided a new update on the show, including confirming the name for the series:
“I was commissioned to write a 3-hour or 3-night event, and that’s what I did. It’s called Ceti Alpha V and I don’t know the current status. It’s been up in the air. Partially, there was a lot of confusion between CBS, and there were big upheavals at CBS and while they sort of didn’t know who was in charge, they also didn’t know what they were going to do with Ceti Alpha V. I’m not exactly sure what’s happened, I haven’t heard from them in some time.”
Ceti Alpha V is the planet were Khan and his genetically augmented followers were exiled in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Space Seed,” and where he was found years later in Meyer’s film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Presumably, the trilogy would tell the story of Khan’s time in between TOS and Star Trek II.
It’s not clear what “confusion” and “upheavals” at CBS Meyer is referring to, but previously he has noted that one hurdle for the series is the ongoing corporate politics between CBS and Viacom’s Paramount, who own the Star Trek film library, including Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
In the new interview, Meyer gave his assessment of the series, but also noted another possible hurdle, saying:
“It’s very good. It’s a terrific trilogy. I think one of the things that happened is they’re not sure that a trilogy is long enough to warrant the cost of doing it. Maybe it should be something longer, or … I don’t know the details of their thinking, because I haven’t heard them.”
While both the Picard series and Star Trek: Lower Decks are planned as ongoing series, CBS has confirmed that they are also considering limited series as well. The recently reported (but not confirmed) “Section 31” series featuring Michelle Yeoh would be a good candidate for a limited series. That being said, only three episodes for Star Trek: Ceti Alpha V could possibly be too limited for CBS, considering such a project likely involves considerable expense and extensive location shooting.
For what it is worth, over the summer CBS trademarked the title Star Trek: Ceti Alpha V, along with a number of other possible titles for potential series, including the previously announced Star Trek: Lower Decks. CBS has also trademarked a number of other possible Star Trek titles that could be used for series, including Star Trek: Destiny, Star Trek: Reliant, and Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. However, applying for a trademark should not be seen as confirmation that CBS is moving forward with any given project, and it is possible some of the trademarks are different possibilities for the same project under consideration, such as the Picard series, which has yet to get a title.
Moving on from Discovery
As previously noted, Meyer was credited as a consulting producer for the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. He confirmed he is not involved with the upcoming second season, saying:
“I was involved with it for the first year, and I worked on it, I wrote things on it, and then I was not invited for the second year. I don’t know why.”
News of Meyer’s involvement first came in February 2016, and he was one of original showrunner Bryan Fuller’s first hires for the show. While Fuller had at one point stated that Meyer was involved in writing the second hour of the show’s two-episode pilot, Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts (who replaced Fuller as co-showrunners two months later) ended up writing the final version of the episode.
While credited in every episode as a consulting producer, Meyer didn’t have writing credit on any of the first season’s fifteen episodes. Later in the interview, Meyer noted that his involvement in the show had “more or less ended” by the time the show premiered in the fall of 2017.
As for his contribution to the show, he was sanguine, telling Midnight’s Edge:
“I was brought on to it by Bryan Fuller, who was the original showrunner. I had never worked on a television series before and thought that would be an interesting thing to do, as indeed it was. What my contributions to it were hard to determine, because television is a group effort and there is so much overlap that I can’t either claim or refute credit for the end result because the difference between what is written and gets filmed and what was talked about in conference before things are written is very, very hard to determine with what you would call meaningful or objective precision.”
Regarding Bryan Fuller’s exit from the show in October 2016, Meyer said that he was “not privy to what went on,” but cited Fuller’s split attention between Discovery and American Gods as a possible issue. While it has been widely reported that Fuller was fired after clashing with CBS executives, Meyer said he didn’t feel it was appropriate “to peddle unsubstantiated gossip that I wasn’t privy to.”
Colorful metaphors on Discovery were inevitable
Meyer was also asked about how Discovery broke new ground in terms of the use of profanity during its first season, in context to how his script for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home used the term “colorful metaphors” to describe the language the TOS crew encountered when traveling back in time to 1980s San Francisco.
“All art is ineluctably the product of the time in which it was created … The fact that a streaming service doesn’t have to conform to the same censor limitations that a network broadcast has to adhere to; the fact that we are in an age in which cuss words are proliferating and part of normal speech increasingly – leaves very little room for the notion that a new Star Trek created in these conditions was not going to also have colorful metaphors running around. But that seems to just come with the territory. I am trying to remember if at some point when we were creating it if at some point we were using that language or did that come later? My best recollection – and it is entirely fallible – is that it didn’t trouble me at the time, and I didn’t think of Star Trek IV, it just didn’t occur to me.”
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