When Star Trek (briefly) returns to TV screens next January, it’ll be with a women in the lead position, a crew full of aliens, and at least one gay character, presenting a utopian, space-faring future that sounds like an actual nightmare held by the sort of people set to vote for Donald Trump. CBS announced the first character details for Bryan Fuller’s upcoming Star Trek: Discovery—set to debut on the network in January 2017, before moving to CBS’s online All Access service—today at a Television Critics Association press tour event. And while we still don’t know much about the composition of the show’s crew, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are both reporting that the series’ lead will be female—but not the captain of her ship.
Kate Mulgrew became the first woman to lead a Star Trek series in 1995, an accomplishment only somewhat marred by the fact that the Star Trek series she was leading was the wayward, often-lackluster Voyager. (A similar thing happend to Scott Bakula, after he became the first Quantum-American to helm the starship Enterprise in 2001.) At Comic-Con this year, Fuller suggested that Discovery would be a show of “firsts,” though, which, combined with comments he made several years ago about wanting to make a Trek series with Angela Bassett in the lead, have led people to believe he might be looking to cast a woman of color for the part. (He also mentioned conversations he’d had with franchise star Nichelle Nichols and astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel in space.) CBS is reportedly still working on the casting for the character.
Other, more concrete details about Discovery were pretty hard to come by, but the network did confirm that the show’s first season will be 13 episodes. (Meanwhile, its All Access neighbor, Christine Baranski’s The Good Wife spin-off, will get 10 episodes of its own.) Also, Fuller is still describing the series as a “novel” instead of the franchise’s usual, episodic approach, and promised “a few more aliens than we usually do in a Star Trek cast.” He also confirmed that the series will take place ten years before Star Trek: The Original Series, and will center on some sort of “major, previously undepicted event in the Trek mythos” that is neither the founding of the Federation’s secret black ops unit Section 31, the Kobayashi Maru, or the oft-mentioned Romulan War. (The meticulously kept Star Trek wiki Memory Alpha lists “The Treaty of Armens is established between the Sheliak Corporate and the United Federation of Planets” as the most notable event of 2255, so get hyped for some hot treaty-signing action, we guess.) Fuller went on to tell his audience, “As a Star Trek fan: There’s an incident, an event that had been talked about but never really fully explored” that the show will be digging into, and then said nothing more.
Speaking of Fuller and his love of tormenting his audience, he also confirmed that at least one member of the show’s crew will be gay—at least in part because of all the hate mail he got in his own Voyager days, when people suspected that Jeri Ryan’s Seven Of Nine might be attracted to women—and said that he’s interested in telling Star Trek stories from the perspective of someone who isn’t in command of their ship for once. All-in-all, it sounds like Discovery is gearing up to be a very new take on the old Star Trek TV formula, one we’ll hopefully be able to watch the right-wing, sci-fi-loving Uncles Of Facebook lose their collective shit over for years to come.
[Additional reporting by Erik Adams]