Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Star Trek: Discovery Set Just Before The Original Series

Star Trek: Discovery show runner provided new details on the show at the Television Critics Association press tour that the networks use to help promote their new shows. Included in the details is when the series is set, the main character is female and few more tidbits.

- It's in the Prime Universe, "It’s set 10 years before Kirk, and will bridge the gap between Enterprise and the original series. We’re most closer to Kirk’s mission and get to play with that iconography."

- The story will involve an event that is part of Starfleet's history but not explored. He did confirm its not the Kobayashi Maru (that "inspired" the no-win scenario in Wrath of Khan to train cadets) nor the Romulan War. It also wouldn't feature Section 31 (a black ops section of Starfleet).

- The main character is a human female with the rank of Lieutenant Commander and is not the captain of the Discovery. "We haven’t cast her yet and we don’t know what level of diversity, she will be. The story that’s fascinating for me is that we’ve seen six series from captain’s point of view and to see one from another point of view gives us a richer context."

- There will be seven lead characters, one which is an alien character named Saru. "We’ll probably have a few more aliens than you normally do in a Star Trek cast,” Fuller revealed. “We’re going to have new exciting aliens and also re-imaginings of existing aliens."

- There will be a gay character. The move was partly inspired by fan hate mail due to rumors that Star Trek: Voyager's Seven of Nine might be gay. He had kept the folder of hate mail to remind him to include such a character if ever given the opportunity to run a Trek series.

- Fuller also indicated he is considering including Spock's mother, Amanda Grayson, at some point in the series' life (but not necessarily this season). "I love that character. I loved Winona Ryder’s portrayal of her [in the 2009 movie] and it’s a great character. It would be fun in some iteration of this show to incorporate her and her storyline she’s not a central part of the show but we love that character."

- On the series acronym: "There’s a reason why we call it ‘STD’. "It’s still Star Trek and we’re not subject to broadcast standards and practices. Hannibal was, and we got away with murder. There will be slightly more graphic content."

So what could the event be that the 13 episode season will focus on? I think it is about the Talosians.

First let us nail down the overall timeline:

2151–2155: The events of Star Trek: Enterprise take place.
2156–2160: The Earth-Romulan War is fought between United Earth and its allies, and the Romulan Star Empire. The Romulan Neutral Zone is established.
2161: The United Federation of Planets is founded by Earth, Tellar, Andoria, and Vulcan.

2245–2250: The USS Enterprise launched under the command of Robert April, on a five-year mission of exploration
2250~2260: After a refit, the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) is launched on a second five-year mission under Captain Christopher Pike.
2261–2264: The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) undergoes a major refit, increasing its crew complement from 203 to 430.
2265–2270: James T. Kirk is captain of the starship Enterprise on a historic five-year mission.

So assuming they researched this canon, that means the event occurs ~2255. A couple things of note is the Enterprise is out there, just not under the command of Kirk so it could make an appearance in the series. As could other characters. For example Kirk was a lieutenant aboard the USS Republic around that time (unlike the movies, Kirk had 15 years of experience before rising to Captain). The time frame means the series can have some fun with name drops, canon filling, and other winks to long time fans while still keeping things fresh for new ones.

As for the event they can focus on. I don't know. The only one that comes to mind is the events from the first pilot episode of Star Trek called "The Cage" with Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) as the Captain of the Enterprise. The episode was later re-purposed to create the two-parter "The Menagerie" which remains critically acclaimed as one of the best episodes of Star Trek ever. The events were set around 2254 and involved the planet of Talos IV with the telepathic Talosians that used powerful illusions to kidnap and potentially use the crew of the Enterprise to help repopulate their damaged planet. Eventually the Talosians decide humans are too violent and unsuitable for use and release everyone. The Enterprise leaves without any further incident.

However, in The Menagerie (~2267) it is revealed that General Order 7 made it a death sentence to visit the planet (the only such sentence in Federation law). General Orders are almost the equivilant of Constitutional amendments. They are rare and created for significant reasons. For example General Order 1 is better known as the Prime Directive. Supposedly it was because of the recommendation of Pike and his science officer Spock to create this order, it is easy enough to have it set up so that something occurred a year later (Talosians sure would make for great weapons...) that had to remain secret and so The Cage events was used as the public explanation for the order.

But that is just my theory. What is yours?

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