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CBS' 'Star Trek: Discovery' Will Star Female Lead, Creator Reveals Major Clues to Series' Plot

by Philiana Ng 6:31 PM PDT, August 10, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

New details for CBS’ anticipated series, Star Trek: Discovery, are here!

Creator Bryan Fuller took the stage on Wednesday at the network’s summer Television Critics Association press day to reveal coveted intel on the upcoming 13-episode original series -- and he didn’t disappoint.

Discovery, which debuts on CBS in January before launching new episodes on CBS All Access, will feature a female lead, who will not be a captain at the start. Though no casting news was announced -- expect it to come in October when production begins -- Fuller gave insight into what he’s looking for with the main character, which includes the intent to cast a diverse actress.

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“We haven’t cast her yet so we don’t know what level of diversity she will be. That is forefront in our minds,” Fuller said, sharing that he spoke with Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, while creating the character. “We’ve seen six series now from captains’ points of view and to see a character from a different perspective on a starship who has a different dynamic, relationship with the captain, with subordinates felt like it was going to give us richer context to have different types of stories with that character. It is ensemble, but we do have that main female protagonist.”

“It is a hero, her story,” Fuller later added of the female lead, saying that it was important to “make sure there was a strength and a sensitivity and also an amusing neuroses that goes with exploring space, which is incredibly dangerous and potentially terrifying.”

Fuller revealed that the Discovery will take place 10 years in the Prime universe (think non-J.J. Abrams) before Captain Kirk takes the reins of the Enterprise as captain. No concrete details were given in regards to the plot or the setting, but Fuller did offer a large clue.

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“There’s an incident, an event in Star Trek history and in the history of Starfleet that had been talked about but had never really been explored,” Fuller said. “To do this series launching a chapter of this first iteration of this streaming service where we’re going to be telling a much more serialized story, to dig deep into something that was, for me, always very tantalizing and tell that story through a character's journey that is going to teach her how to get along with others in the galaxy. Because for her to truly understand something that is alien, she has to first understand herself and that felt like a journey we could all go on.”

Some pivotal Star Trek “events” from franchise lore that Fuller shot down included the start of the Romulan War, Black Ops Section 31 -- though Fuller hinted it might provide some “meat of our season” -- and the Kobayashi Maru.

Fuller also shared that Discovery will feature robots and time travel likely will be a key component in the story. He also hinted that the character of Amanda Grayson may factor in eventually (“We love that character,” Fuller said) and the series will “absolutely” feature a gay character.

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Aside from the first episode, Discovery will not be confined to traditional broadcast restrictions in regards to sexual content, language and violence. Fuller said the series will “have a broader spectrum to explore those issues, but it is still Star Trek.”

“We’re not subject to broadcast standards and practices -- Hannibal was and we got away with murder,” Fuller noted, adding that Discovery will likely have “slightly more graphic content.” “Is it appropriate to have a bridge blow up and have someone say ‘Oh shit!’ or stronger than that. It’s something that we’re weighing as we go on. I imagine we’re going to shoot scenes a couple of ways and figure out what feels authentic when we’re in the editing room.”

Star Trek: Discovery premieres in January 2017 on CBS and CBS All Access.

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