Lengthy Trek to sort big pic­ture

The team be­hind Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery tell why get­ting it right took time.

The Press - The Box - - COVER STORY -

Though Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery has en­dured a bumpy pre-flight pe­riod, the show’s ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers in­sist the tur­bu­lence was nec­es­sary to get every­thing ship-shape.

The much-an­tic­i­pated new chap­ter in the Star Trek saga was orig­i­nally sched­uled to pre­miere in Jan­uary 2017. Then, to the sur­prise of many, co-cre­ator Bryan Fuller left the show. The pre­miere date was pushed back again, to May 2017.

Third time’s ap­par­ently the charm, as Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery is now slated to de­but on Septem­ber 25. The de­lays, say the pro­duc­ers, were part of liv­ing up to the ven­er­a­ble Star Trek fran­chise.

Co-cre­ator and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Alex Kurtz­man be­lieves the first trailer they re­leased demon­strated that Dis­cov­ery ‘‘is an in­cred­i­bly am­bi­tious show’’.

He and Fuller, Kurtz­man says, were in­tent on bring­ing ‘‘some­thing new to Trek that both fans and peo­ple who’d never seen the show be­fore could ex­pe­ri­ence. It has to be huge. And I don’t mean huge just in terms of scope. I mean huge in terms of story and emo­tion and char­ac­ter, and we spent a lot of time talk­ing about how to build this world.’’

That process, Kurtz­man says, made it ‘‘clearer and clearer that the world was mas­sive, and that [the] air date was loom­ing [and] that was go­ing to com­pro­mise the qual­ity of the show’’.

Kurtz­man says he and Fuller took their con­cerns to Les Moonves, chair­man and CEO of the CBS Cor­po­ra­tion (the show’s US broad­cast­ers).

‘‘Look, all we want to do is de­liver a great Star Trek,’’ Kurtz­man re­calls telling Moonves. ‘‘The worst thing that we could do would be to com­pro­mise the show to meet an air date. It would hurt us as fans of the show. We know it’ll hurt fans out there.’’

After telling Moonves ‘‘we have to make sure that we don’t de­liver a sub-par prod­uct’’, Kurtz­man says Moonves was ‘‘100 per cent sup­port­ive. He to­tally got it. And so we set about build­ing this mas­sive show.’’

De­lays were also caused by search­ing for the right ac­tor to play their lead char­ac­ter.

‘‘We needed our star,’’ Kurtz­man says. ‘‘We needed our Michael Burn­ham.’’

Just to clear up any con­fu­sion, Michael is First Of­fi­cer Michael Burn­ham, a fe­male char­ac­ter played by Sonequa Martin-Green, from The Walk­ing Dead.

‘‘It was a tough search,’’ Kurtz­man says. ‘‘We re­ally did not want to set out un­til we knew we had what we needed, and we saw Sonequa,and said, ‘She’s the one’. And so, we felt that was an­other rea­son to wait.’’

Burn­ham is also no­table for be­ing a ward or ‘‘foster-adopted daugh­ter’’ of Spock’s fa­ther Sarek. Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Aaron Har­berts says the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Sarek and Burn­ham plays ‘‘a huge part in her back story, as well as what she brings to every ship she serves on’’.

‘‘Her time on Vul­can causes her to make sev­eral choices in our first episode, choices that will re­ally have af­ter­shocks through­out the en­tire se­ries. It’s been amaz­ing to have James

Frain here play­ing Sarek,’’ he adds, be­cause ‘‘just as the orig­i­nal Star Trek could ex­plore the fa­ther-son re­la­tion­ship be­tween Sarek and Spock, the new one can tell fa­ther-daugh­ter sto­ries’’.

Fel­low ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Akiva Golds­man says the show is set ‘‘in the prime uni­verse’’, not that of the re­cent movies Kurtz­man has co-pro­duced. ‘‘It is 10 years be­fore TOS [The Orig­i­nal Se­ries]’’

Be­cause of that, Golds­man be­lieves the new show can ex­plore what it’s like to ar­rive at ‘‘the utopian prin­ci­ples that I think are en­demic to Star Trek, while sug­gest­ing that do­ing that isn’t ‘sim­ple or easy’.’’

‘‘You can’t sim­ply be ac­cept­ing and tol­er­ant with­out work­ing for it,’’ Golds­man con­tin­ues. ‘‘And this show is about that strug­gle.’’

He also says that Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery is ‘‘the most se­ri­alised ver­sion of Star Trek that has ever ex­isted and, as such, it’s long-form char­ac­ter sto­ry­telling’’.

Ja­son Isaacs, who plays Cap­tain Gabriel Lorca, is al­ready geek­ing out about his role in the lat­est edi­tion of the long-run­ning sci-fi saga.

‘‘I come from a fam­ily of boys,’’ he says. ‘‘And we used to fight, or still do, fight all the time. And in Eng­land, when I was 8, there were only three chan­nels, I think, and the thing we fought most about was which chan­nel we were go­ing to watch at night. And there was never an ar­gu­ment when Star Trek was on.

‘‘The whole fam­ily crammed onto the couch watch­ing Star Trek.’’

Isaacs says he never thought he’d be an ac­tor in a Star Trek se­ries.

‘‘It’s unimag­in­able that we are do­ing it, and that we get paid for mess­ing around like chil­dren in the back­yard.’’ - TNS

The first two episodes of Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery are now avail­able on Net­flix. New episodes de­but each Mon­day. Eight episodes will de­but be­fore Christ­mas, with the rest air­ing in Jan­uary.

The Walk­ing Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green plays Michael Burn­ham on Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery.

Michelle Yeo was keen to star in the long-run­ning fran­chise’s lat­est se­ries.

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