Bryan Fuller Originally Planned 'Star Trek: Discovery' as an Anthology Show

Friday, 28 July 2017 - 8:10PM
Star Trek
Star Trek Discovery
Friday, 28 July 2017 - 8:10PM
Bryan Fuller Originally Planned 'Star Trek: Discovery' as an Anthology Show
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With Star Trek: Discovery finally almost here, fans of speculative fiction are feeling excited for a return to the cosmic Trek universe. There have been delays along the way, and the series' original showrunner Bryan Fuller has long since departed, but Star Trek is finally almost back in all its episodic glory.

It's a shame that Fuller didn't stick around - speaking to Entertainment Weekly about his plans for the series, Fuller has revealed that he had far more ambitious plans than anyone realized - which ultimately led to the show's delay, and his own departure to focus on American Gods instead.

According to Fuller, his vision for Discovery was built around the idea of an anthology series, telling smaller, self-contained stories of a few episodes each that would start as a prequel to the original Trek show, and wind up going far further into the future than anything we've seen before:

Opening quote
"The original pitch was to do for science-fiction what American Horror Story had done for horror. It would platform a universe of Star Trek shows."
Closing quote

Apparently, CBS thought that this was perhaps a bit too optimistic - considering that executives have consistently expressed skepticism about the idea of sci-fi television in general (as they've apparently never actually turned on a TV), it's not surprising that the push was made for adapting Fuller's first anthology storyline into a full show to gauge audience interest.

What's more, it seems that Fuller's plan for the show was going to be a lot more nuanced, with a "heavily allegorical and complex storyline" that was ultimately dropped when he left the project. Considering that the trailers have shown off a difficult moral quandary in the premiere episode of the show, it would have been interesting to see exactly what challenging concept Fuller had in mind that CBS ultimately decided was too hot for TV.

Even more depressing, EW notes that Bryan Fuller was looking to find a far more distinctive visual style for the movie's premiere, having contacted Baby Driver director Edgar Wright to see if he'd be interested. The studio ultimately went for the more traditional (and far cheaper) David Semel to direct the pilot, which Fuller wasn't happy with at all.

Money seems to be a consistent theme with the struggles that Fuller had with CBS. The network has made no secret of the fact that they're not sure what to do with Discovery, and it seems that Fuller wanted to make something bigger and better than the network was willing to commit to. With Fuller also working on American Gods (and, from the sounds of things, having a far easier time over at Starz on that particular project) it was perhaps inevitable that he ultimately had to give up his sci-fi baby.

One thing that Fuller fought for more than anything, though, was Sonequa Martin-Green. The Walking Dead actor plays the lead in Discovery, which Fuller insisted on, out of a desire to place a woman of color at the center of the show, taking the concept of Nichelle Nichols' often controversial role in the original sixties show, and expanding its scope for a modern era where, let's face it, we really should have more women of color headlining television shows already.

As it turns out, Martin-Green's Walking Dead commitments meant extra delays to Star Trek: Discovery - an excuse that sounds far more appealing than the consistent line from new showrunners Gretchen J Berg and Aaron Harberts that apparently the props weren't quite ready for the initial filming date.

The result might not be quite as ambitious as Bryan Fuller had hoped, but perhaps that doesn't matter. Star Trek is coming back, and we're finally getting a science fiction show with a woman of color in the lead role. Gene Roddenberry would've been proud.

Star Trek: Discovery premieres September 24, 2017 on CBS.
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