Brand New Discovery Teaser

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On the 23rd of July last year, CBS released a teaser trailer for Star Trek: Discovery.  It was unfinished, and the ship design that appeared in the trailer was not finalised – but it gave those of us hungry for news on the new Star Trek series something concrete to get excited about.

Now, a little over six months later, CBS have released (?) a second teaser trailer which actually gives us tiny glimpses of what is to come.

The trailer appeared online early yesterday morning Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time which was probably some time in the evening in the United States… and then disappeared.  It wasn’t available anymore.

Thankfully, it can still be tracked down.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here at the Consequence of Sound YouTube channel.

Check it out before it disappears again!

Here are a few images to give you an idea.  There is a voiceover to accompany the images and it begins by saying that on the 11th of March 1964 Gene Roddenberry began writing Star Trek with the words “Star Trek is…”

The bottom image above, “Star Trek: Discovery will begin that sentence once again” ties into the voiceover.

The trailer starts with a retrospective look at the various series that went before Discovery, and then gives us some exciting sneak peaks at the design and construction of the new series, and some glimpses of what might be the first day of filming!

You’ll notice more of the ship design and what looks like the new Starfleet uniform.  Take a moment to examine the uniform – it’s blue with gold piping on the shoulder, but the blue (normally associated with medical and science) appears to be associated with engineering and ops if you look at the middle section of the Starfleet Delta.

Either the series is borrowing a little from Star Trek: Enterprise and giving the crew the one uniform colour rather than the colourful red, gold and blue of Star Trek: The Original Series, and the Delta is being used to discern which department a crew member works in, or pre-Kirk things were a little different.

Those of you who are long-term fans of Star Trek will know that the Delta design was originally only used for the Enterprise, until her successful five-year mission had her honoured, and had her Delta design used for all ships.

Maybe the Delta was always originally Starfleet’s emblem before some in the Admiralty thought each ship and base should have it’s own emblem, which is what we see throughout the original series.  Every ship and every base had a different symbol on their chests.

Finally, you’ll notice a ship that doesn’t look like the designs shown for the USS Discovery, but may be a wireframe of the USS Shenzhou.

Also… the Captain’s chair.  Looks pretty ornate, hey?!

The final reveal is the logo, which has changed slightly but still remains split.

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That’s a purposeful choice, so it likely means something?  What, I don’t know.

Perhaps the “event” the series is built around is a rift in Starfleet… perhaps it’s about Section 31?  With the Klingons around, perhaps it’s about an attempt to make peace with the Klingons and certain elements in the Federation are against that – a little like what happened in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country?

Alternatively, rather than symbolising something breaking or splitting, it could symbolise something coming together and the series could focus on the solidification of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet.

We could guess forever.  Two things are certain: Star Trek: Discovery has started production, and it looks really promising.

I am crazy excited, and can’t wait to see this new series.

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Discovery: New Cast and Bryan Fuller

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Days after the casting rumour about Michelle Yeoh hit the net, CBS made an official announcement on not only her involvement is Star Trek: Discovery, but the involvement of two additional actors.

Michelle’s casting was confirmed, though it looks like the rumour mill was wrong about her character’s name.  Michelle will be playing Starfleet Captain Georgiou, in command of the USS Shenzhou – not Captain Han Bo.

Who else is joining her on the final frontier?

Doug Jones, playing an alien science officer called Lieutenant Saru, and Anthony Rapp, playing Starfleet science officer and astromycologist Lieutenant Stamets.

Astromycologist?  Mycology is the study of fungi… so… space fungi!  CBS have made a point of adding in the astromycology bit, so no doubt space fungi will in some way play an important part in the first season of the new Star Trek series.

What’s also interesting about the announcement is the differentiation between Lieutenant Saru and Lieutenant Stamets.

Saru is described as an alien science officer, and Doug Jones is particularly well know for his ability to bring characters to life under a mountain of makeup and prosthetics.  Stamets is described as a Starfleet Lieutenant.  In the images above, you’ll see “New Crews,” “New Villians,” “New Heroes,” and “New Worlds.”  It looks like Saru will be from one of those new crews and/or new worlds.  It remains to be seen as to whether or not he’ll be a new hero or a new villain.

Where might you have seen Doug and Anthony?

If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ll have seen Doug as one of the “Gentlemen” in the fantastic episode ‘Hush’.  You would have also seen his work in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Hellboy and The Strain.

You might have seen Anthony on Broadway in Rent, or on TV in the series The Knick.

If you want to learn more about Doug and Anthony, you can check out Doug’s IMDb page here, and Anthony’s IMDb page here.

In an interesting aside, they released the news at 10:31am.  Get it?  The USS Discovery is NX-1031.  Clever, CBS.  I actually love that little detail.

And now onto Bryan!

Star Trek fans everywhere felt a bit of a blow when it was announced that Bryan Fuller was stepping down as showrunner for Star Trek: Discovery.  For many of us, his involvement guaranteed quality, and it guaranteed deep and intelligent story-telling which is something we most certainly want.  Since the announcement, we’ve all been wondering why he chose American Gods over Star Trek: Discovery particularly when he is a proud and vocal Star Trek fan.  We were also, many of us, under the impression he would still be involved in some way with the show… but it turns out he’s not.  He’s stepped away entirely.

Bryan has finally spoken up about why, telling Digital Spy that the decision he made was a hard one and it came down to a couple of simple things – where Star Trek would give him the chance to have a conversation about things he cares deeply about, like human progress, environmental issues and hope, American Gods gives him the chance to comment on a few other things that Star Trek doesn’t often give voice to, like religion and immigration – two themes that run very strongly through Neil Gaiman’s American Gods novel.

The themes of faith and immigration that are present in American Gods resonate with Bryan, and he feels they will resonant deeply with people today.

It wasn’t an easy choice for him, but it was mitigated by the fact he felt he had done ‘enough’ to put Star Trek on the right path to success.  Should they need a little help navigating, he’s said he would be available for season two, if CBS needs him.

In the interview, when asked what Star Trek: Discovery is about, Bryan said there are three words that sum up the new series: “understand each other.”  I think that little sentence is very telling and I would hazard a guess that the premiere episode will start with a monumental misunderstanding between species that will throw us into the overall story-arc of this exciting new addition to the legacy of Star Trek.

Star Trek: Discovery starts filming in January 2017 in Toronto.  It’s first two episodes have been written by Bryan Fuller, and so far we now know that it stars Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp.  The new series will premiere in May.

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Star Trek: Discovery – Casting News?

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According to multiple sources, including Nicholas Meyer (Discovery Producer), Variety, Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, Michelle Yeoh of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame has a prominent role in the new Star Trek series.

The rumour first broke a few days ago thanks to Nicholas Meyer.  He was speaking at an event to promote a new release of his 1979 film, Time After Time, and dropped Michelle’s name when asked about how Discovery was coming along.

When approached by various news outlets and Trek news websites, CBS refused to confirm anything but they would say that some of what Nicholas had said at the event was accurate and some of it wasn’t.

Ah CBS, enigmatic as always.

So… what do we know?

According to Deadline, Michelle will be playing Starfleet Captain Han Bo of the USS Shenzhou, a vessel that is set to play a “big role” in Star Trek: Discovery‘s first season.

That is all the news we have.  It’s all the news anybody has at the moment – and there is still no firm confirmation from CBS, but it’s looking really likely with multiple sources confirming it is more than rumour.

Michelle’s apparent casting raises some interesting possibilities.  We now know for certain that there is another ship in play in the first season.

If you remember the hastily put together trailer that Bryan Fuller released to the world a few months ago, one of the last frames said “new crews” – and at the time of the trailers release, we all wondered about that.

New Crews.

To be precise, the promo showed frames saying “New Villains”, “New Heroes”, “New Worlds”, “New Crews.”  New worlds is a no brainer – it’s Star Trek, new villains however, just like new crews, raises some very interesting questions.  For a show set ten years before the first five-year mission of the Enterprise, most of us probably thought the Klingons and the Romulans and maybe the Gorn and the Tholians would feature prominently.  Looks like we’ll be introduced to a new group of bad guys who, for some reason, don’t survive through to the era of Star Trek we all know so well and who weren’t around in the time of Archer and his crew.

The new series has always been exciting, but even more so now with these little bits of information coming to light and with Michelle’s casting.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Michelle’s work, she’s one of the most popular and famous Asian actresses in the world.

Michelle was born in Malaysia to a family of Chinese descent.  Her introduction to the world of performing arts was as a dancer, beginning at the age of four!  Years later her family moved to the United Kingdom where she studied at the Royal Academy of Dance, majoring in ballet.

In 1983 she won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant, and represented Malaysia at the Queen of the Pacific pageant which was held here in my home country of Australia.  Later she represented Malaysia at the Miss World pageant in London.

She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Creative Arts with a minor in Drama, and all of her training eventually led to a role in Police Story 3: Super Cop, and a number of other roles before being cast in the widely acclaimed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

From there she went on to star in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, and another critically acclaimed film, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Recently, her Wikipedia page was updated to say “In 2016 Yeoh was cast as Federation Captain Han Bo of the Shenzhou in the series Star Trek: Discovery.”

If you’d like to learn more about Michelle, check out her Wikipedia page here and her IMDb page here.

I think we all have good reason to jump for joy.  Michelle is an incredible actor, and she’s quite a coup for the new production.  Maybe now we’ll start to hear some more news about the other actors who have been cast.

As an aside note, I’ve done some digging around and it seems like they’re still looking for their lead.  That actor is proving hard to find.  When the rumour first broke about Michelle, it was assumed she was the lead – but the sources commenting on that have said she’s not, though her role will feature heavily during that first season.

I’ll keep you in the loop as I hear more and once I’m sure it’s more than just rumour.  I love rumours as much as the next fan, but when it comes to Discovery, I really want to publish stuff that is solid because so many of us are hanging out for this new series.

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What’s Happening on the Final Frontier?

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It’s been an interesting week for the fans of Star Trek.

A few days ago, it was announced Bryan Fuller had stepped down as the showrunner for the upcoming new series, Star Trek: Discovery.

This sent understandable shock waves through the fan community, because most of us felt the sixth live action series was in very good hands with Bryan at the helm.  He was a fan, he had Star Trek cred having written for both Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and he was communicating with us all on a fairly regular basis feeding hints here and there to keep us guessing.

Add this change to the relative silence coming out of the Discovery camp in recent weeks and the absence of the “major announcement” we had been promised in October, and you can forgive fans for feeling a little anxious.

According to CBS, we don’t have anything to worry about, so maybe now is the time to put our ‘Vulcan’ on and look at all of the facts.

The first thing we need to take a deep breath over is: Bryan Fuller is not leaving Star Trek: Discovery.  He is stretched thin, but he’s not abandoning the new series and he has not been booted by CBS.  Not only was Bryan the showrunner for the new Trek series, at the same time he was also (and still is) looking after American Gods and is still in the middle of prepping another brand new series, a reboot of Amazing Stories.

Because we haven’t perfected cloning yet, there is only so much one person can do and something had to give.

The story about the leadership change broke in Variety and according to their sources, the reshuffle at the top occurred partially as a result of the recent rescheduling of the series (announced in September) that moved the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery from January 2017 to May 2017.

It was also mentioned that the lead role for the series has not yet been cast, despite the fact the series starts filming in November.

The reschedule was an attempt to give post production the time it needed for effects work, and to give Bryan space to get the nascent series in good order.

According to the report in Variety, he has done just that:  “Fuller has penned the first two scripts for “Discovery” and has hammered out the broader story arc and mythology for the new “Trek” realm.  But it became clear that he couldn’t devote the amount of time needed for “Discovery” to make its premiere date and with production scheduled to start in Toronto next month.”

You can read the full article here.

Variety also reported that each episode of the new Star Trek series is expected to cost between 6 and 7 million dollars.  With that much money on the line per episode, you can understand why CBS was feeling a little nervous.

The article also mentioned a new creative was joining the production team, writer-director-producer Akiva Goldsman.  Akiva is best known for Fringe, The Da Vinci Code, I Am Legend, and for executive producing Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4.  To find out more about Akiva you can visit his IMDb profile here.

In a statement addressing the departure of Bryan from showrunner duties, CBS Television Studios said:

“We are extremely happy with the creative direction of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and the strong foundation that Bryan Fuller has helped us create for the series.  Due to Bryan’s other projects, he is no longer able to oversee the day-to-day of Star Trek, but he remains an executive producer, and will continue to map the story arc for the entire season.

“Alex Kurtzman, co-creator and executive producer, along with Fuller’s producing partners and longtime collaborators, Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, will continue to oversee the show with the existing writing and producing team.

“Bryan is a brilliant creative talent and passionate Star Trek fan, who has helped us chart an exciting course for the series.  We are all committed to seeing this vision through and look forward to premiering STAR TREK: DISCOVERY this coming May 2017.”

So, a lot of news packed into that announcement!

For the record, Bryan seems good with it all.  He commented on the change of leadership via Twitter, saying:

“Riker spent 7 years of TNG unready for Captaincy, @GretchenJBerg @AaronHarberts are ready.  Thrilled to see them in command of the Bridge.”

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For the record Bryan, you were more than ready to be Captain… just probably of only one starship, not three at the same time!  Not even Kirk, Janeway, Sisko or Picard could have achieved that one alone.

In recapping, these are the important points:

  • Bryan Fuller has stepped down as showrunner, but remains an executive producer;
  • Bryan has helped establish the tone and mythology of the new Trek series;
  • Bryan has mapped the series across it’s first year, and will remain involved in that process;
  • Bryan has written the pilot and has written it’s follow up episode with Nicholas Meyer;
  • Each episode of Discovery carries a price tag of between 6 and 7 million dollars;
  • The show will still shoot in Toronto (Canada), and is still scheduled for release in May 2017;
  • The new showrunners are Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts;
  • Akiva Goldsman has joined the production team.

Other things to keep in mind about the new production:

  • Discovery is set ten years before the original Star Trek series;
  • The show will focus on the First Officer of the Discovery, not the captain.  It’s also been suggested it will follow the lives of non-bridge personnel;
  • The captain will be a character in the series, but we don’t know how a big a role they will have;
  • It’s been suggested the lead character might be a younger version of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry’s “Number One” from the first Star Trek pilot, ‘The Cage’, however Bryan had mentioned in August that he was looking to cast a non-white actor in that role so that rumour can probably settle now;
  • Klingons will feature in the series;
  • The series is based around an event that was mentioned in the original Trek, but the creative team aren’t telling us what that event is yet;
  • The Discovery is an experimental ship (designation NX-1031);
  • The show will feature an openly gay character, who may be played by an openly gay actor;
  • Some of the roles have been cast, including two admirals, a British doctor and an ‘advisor’.

It’s sad that Bryan has had to step out of the leadership position, but I think everyone can agree that the series is in very capable hands – especially with the talents of Alex Kurtzman, Kirsten Beyer, Nicholas Meyer and Heather Kadin on board, and with Gene Roddenberry’s son, Rod, having a hand in making sure his father’s vision isn’t compromised.

So why didn’t we hear anything in October, as was planned?

I’m assuming because things slowed down, and because no one has yet been cast in the lead role.

I don’t think anyone involved in the production to date, including Bryan, thought it would take this long to secure their lead and get the premise of the series sorted.  Star Trek is an incredibly complicated production, with so much history, that navigating that would be difficult.

I’m not surprised this has happened, but hopefully by freeing Bryan up and bringing in two people to replace him, we can start to get some of those announcements we’ve all been waiting for.

As always, as news breaks about Star Trek: Discovery I’ll post it here.

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A Future To Believe In

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Now that Star Trek is officially 50 years old (having celebrated its actual birthday a few days ago), it’s a good time for a die hard Trekker to reflect on his or her love of that particular universe – and why it continues to mean something to them years after their first exposure to it.

I’ve been in the middle of that process for a few months now, ever since the announcement of Star Trek: Discovery.  The recent release of Star Trek Beyond intensified it for me, and I decided to start talking to other Trekkers to see if I could find a common theme around what makes so many of us love Star Trek and keep loving it.

What I learned was Star Trek does two things really well, and both of those things resonate strongly with long-term fans:

  1. Star Trek shows us a future that’s worth fighting for, that’s worth dreaming about, and that’s worth wanting to help shape, and;
  2. Star Trek is a really intimate and personal experience for every single person who loves it, and that, possibly, is it’s greatest magic.

That second point is a frustrating one if you’re a show runner.  Star Trek does have a formula of sorts, but it’s a really hard one to get right.  Without exception, fans want challenging storylines that are provocative and insightful – which is scary for a show that needs to make money because, as Gene Roddenberry learned the hard way, you’re bound to piss someone off and risk alienating a segment of your audience.  Fans want a meaningful relationship with the characters which means you must get two things right straight off the bat – the writers room and the casting process.  Fans want it a little dark without losing the hopeful future Star Trek promises us… and despite craving intelligent science fiction we want that science fiction all wrapped up with pretty action set pieces that are full of amazing (and expensive) visual effects.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about Star Trek these last few months, and for every single person there was always a deeply personal story attached to their love… “Star Trek was my ‘safe space’ when I broke up with my husband…” “Star Trek got me through bullying when I was a kid…” “Star Trek is what got me into the military…” “Star Trek was the thing that helped me set my moral compass…”

Those often amazing conversations showed me that while all of the above about challenging storylines and great VFX is true, the actual core ingredients are the characters and their dynamic.

Star Trek has a ‘secret sauce’, and that ‘sauce’ is its characters who are our conduit into that universe and it’s vision for tomorrow.

What I loved most, while talking to fellow fans, was that the characters who resonated with them weren’t always the obvious ones.  Yes, I heard a lot of Kirk love, Spock love, McCoy love, Picard love, Data love, Siski, Kira, Janeway, Seven, Archer, T’Pol and Trip love, but I also heard a lot of Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, Geordi, Beverly, Deanna, Wesley, Quark, Jake, Odo, Dax, Chakotay, the Doctor, B’Elanna, Kes, Neelix, Harry, Hoshi, Malcolm, Phlox and Mayweather love.

In the original series, some of those characters never got the chance to say more than “Aye sir,” and “Hailing frequencies open, Captain,” yet they still effected people – and more often than not, deeply.  Why?  Because they were representative.  Sometimes in obvious ways – Uhura was a woman in a position of power and a black woman at that, Sulu was an Asian who wasn’t a normal 1960s stereotype, and Chekov was a Russian at a time when the US and Russia didn’t have a lot of love for each other… but they weren’t just representative in that way.  Uhura was an expert and a woman in command who could come out and honestly say “Captain, I’m frightened.”  Chekov was a whiz kid whose emotions were always written clearly on his face.  Sulu had a cheeky and sometimes sardonic sense of humour that now and again seemed to say “you’re a complete dick, Captain.”  Watch some of the original episodes and listen to Sulu’s responses to Kirk or Scotty when they give a command that seems to defy common sense.  Both Uhura and Chekov do that at times also.  These characters were representative of real emotion, sometimes overtly expressed, sometimes subtlety conveyed, and we fell in love with them because of that.

Those human moments in a show that was so different to anything else on television, delivered by personalities we could relate to, gave us an ‘in’ to Gene Roddenberry’s universe.

For me, it was McCoy, Uhura and Spock.  They were my pathway into the original Star Trek.  Beverly, Deanna, Wesley and Geordi my conduits into Next Gen.  Jadzia and Bashir my way into DS9.  Janeway, Kes, Chakotay and the Doctor my door into Voyager, and T’Pol, Phlox and Malcolm my way into Enterprise.  Each of those characters had qualities I possessed or aspired to possess and they resonated with me and still do today.

I grew up in the sort of neighbourhood where every week someone was stabbed, bashed, and in someway victimised, and as a child I needed something that showed me a future full of intelligent, compassionate people who fought to get rid of those horrific things from people’s lives.

When I was bullied at school, Star Trek was my retreat.  I could lose myself in that world and dream of a future that was brighter than the one I saw for myself.

As I hit my teenage years and then adult years, Star Trek started to shape my morals as a person and many of the idealistic concepts in Star Trek still guide me today – particularly IDIC and the idea that we are stronger together.

I became an actor in my late teens because I wanted to go to Los Angeles and get cast in Star Trek.  I did make it to Los Angeles, but never got the chance to be in Star Trek because I made it there a year or two after Enterprise went off the air.

I became a professional Counsellor because of Deanna Troi.  Even though I’m a guy, Deanna and her profession spoke to me and though we barely ever got to see her do any real work as a psychologist, I still invoke her preternatural calm and warmth when working with clients.

I’ve always known that Star Trek was one of the most important influences in my life, but I’d never really spent a great deal of time wondering why.

This year seemed to demand it, and I’m glad I spent a little time exploring and reflecting on what Star Trek means to me and why it’s still the world I retreat into when I need to recharge.

There are so many quotes and examples I could provide to illustrate all the ways in which Star Trek has affected me, too many actually, so instead I’ll just choose a few…

Kirk’s statement in The Final Frontier, that he needs his pain.  That speech still effects me to this day.  Our pain, our failures, and how we deal with them all, defines us.  There are so many experiences in my life that I wish had never happened to me, but I cannot deny their impact and how they have strengthened and shaped me.

Kira’s dedication to her spiritual life mirrored my own journey to understand some of the indefinable but poignant experiences we all encounter in life.

It was something similar with Chakotay.  His spiritual life and journey, though often mired in stereotype, was beautiful and I loved that it was included, but the fact he was a physically strong and imposing, but deeply spiritual and sensitive man was what hit me like a sledgehammer.  It hit me deeply, in the same way the startlingly beautiful and noble Uhura did and in the same way the generous, calm and gracious Deanna did.  As a 6’2″ guy who’s been described as physically intimidating, but who is softly spoken and by nature a pretty caring bloke, it was fantastic to see a man on TV who was also all of those things, and who chose to use his presence not to constantly threaten and intimidate but to nurture and support.  It was what I needed to see and it came at a time in my life where I was in danger of going off the rails.

You might be thinking… “hold on, what about Riker?”

Will was always a little too ‘big’ a personality for me to connect with.

Star Trek is unique in its ability to craft characters that are universal but speak to each individual viewer.  If there’s one thing the creative teams behind each show and movie did really well, it was creating characters we can relate to.  I don’t know if they consciously tried to do that, but that’s what they did.

Each series and each film had its ups and downs story wise, but the characters were always exceptional.  Yes, Kes didn’t have a lot of room to grow and Neelix had the odd issue and could be pretty damn annoying, but by and large the characters are the thing that makes Star Trek shine.  At least in my opinion.

As we look forward to Star Trek: Discovery, with each of us no doubt carrying a small wish list around in our minds, I personally hope that the creative team behind the new series get the fact that no matter what, the characters are our way into this new version of the universe, and that Star Trek really is an important and intimate experience for each of us and that needs to be respected.

Yes, we want great stories and we want allegory and we want brilliant special effects, but if Star Trek is to succeed it needs incredible characters and it needs a way to inspire hope in us and allow us to link with the show in a way that is meaningful.  It needs to be something that mirrors all of us, in some way, and tries hard to be relevant to this generation of young people as they look around for heroes to aspire to be like.

Star Trek is important.  It’s important to me, it’s no doubt important to you if you’re reading this, and it’s important to the world.

What do we have on television now?  Zombie hunters who are now borderline sociopaths, families warring over a stupid iron throne and committing atrocious acts in their quest for power, families backstabbing each other over musical empires or political ambitions… there’s not a lot of hope, and there aren’t many shows demonstrating a different, better way to be.

Star Trek did that, and it can do it again.

I hope Bryan and Alex and everyone else involved with Star Trek: Discovery truly appreciate just how important Star Trek is at both that personal, intimate level, and that much bigger, aspirational level.

Bryan has said the world needs Star Trek now more than it ever has, so I think he does get it.  I hope he is able to realise his vision with the amazing creative team he’s assembled.

So thank you, Star Trek.  Thank you for shaping me, and for shaping so many amazing people I’ve met, and thank you for not being frightened of shining a light in the darkness – even when shining that light hasn’t been popular.

I’ve had enough of the depressing, sarcastic, angst-filled shows on television these days.  So many are so devoid of hope it’s depressing.  I need and I want something that challenges me intellectually, and I need and I want something that reminds me of just how amazing we are as a species.

The bright future Star Trek describes is the future I want, and it’s a future worth believing in.

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Discovery Shifts from Warp to Impulse

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CBS All Access have just announced a slight delay in the release of the sixth live action Star Trek TV Series.

The USS Discovery won’t launch in January of 2017 as originally promoted, and will instead warp across our screens in May of that year.

The decision was made to slow down production on the new series at the request of the production team, headed by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman.

In a release from the studio, Bryan and Alex shared the following:

“Bringing Star Trek back to television carries a responsibility and mission: to connect fans and newcomers alike to the series that has fed our imaginations since childhood.

“We aim to dream big and deliver, and that means making sure the demands of physical and post-production for a show that takes place entirely in space, and the need to meet an air date, don’t result in compromised quality.

Before heading into production, we evaluated these realities with our partners at CBS and they agreed: Star Trek deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of.”

Also chiming in on the delay, CBS Television Studios president David Stapf, added extra information that should excite most fans:

“The series template and episodic scripts that Alex and Bryan have delivered are incredibly vivid and compelling,” David said. “They are building a new, very ambitious Star Trek world for television, and everyone involved supports their vision for the best timing to bring to life what we all love on the page.”

So… why the delay?

As everyone involved in the production is saying, it’s to make sure this new ‘build’ of the universe is done right and done well.

Let’s face it, there is no more complicated series on television other than maybe Doctor Who.  50 years of history means that no matter where in the timeframe a new series is set, there’s 50 years of tradition, story-telling, characters, events and technology to keep track of.  It’s a huge task and you can understand why they would want to take some time to make sure everything is perfect.

The other possibility is that they are at the casting point, and perhaps one or more of the actors they want are unavailable until later in the year.

We could speculate more, but it’s doubtful we’ll hear anything concrete until closer to the release of the first episode.

It’s a little frustrating that we have to wait a few more months, but I’d rather them get it right than produce something they’re not happy with – because chances are, considering the calibre of the creative staff, if they’re not happy with it we won’t be either.

Hopefully, to keep us all completely engaged and enthusiastic, Bryan and Alex will release more news over the intervening months than they might have originally been planning to.

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Series VI Update

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It’s the week of the actual 50th Anniversary date of Star Trek (when the show first aired on television 50 years ago) which feels like a good time to write a post!  Thankfully, the 50th Anniversary celebration Mission: New York just wrapped, so we have a little news to share.

Did we get any new info on Star Trek: Discovery at the convention?  Yes… and no.

There were no casting announcements, or any new footage of the Discovery as she progresses through the design phase to her final version, but there was some exciting information that was shared by two members of the creative team – Nicholas Meyer and Kirsten Beyer.

As many a fan knows, Nick wrote and directed Treks II and VI and was one of the writers for Trek IV.  While I personally love each of the original six Star Trek films, each for different reasons, The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country are definitely the stand outs.  Most fans nominate The Wrath of Khan as their favourite, and the vast majority love The Voyage Home because out of any and every Trek movie to date, it’s the most fun, and until Star Trek Beyond it was the only Trek film that shared the focus amongst its cast.

Kirsten, however, may not be all that well known to fans – though she should be.  She is, without a doubt, one of the best Star Trek authors to ever grace Pocket Books.  She’s made an impressive career out of writing for the Voyager relaunch novels, and has continued the adventures of that ship and crew in an engaging and pretty thrilling way.

When you read her novels you hear the characters, you see the visuals she describes as if you were watching an episode, and you feel the spirit of Star Trek.  It’s pretty amazing what that woman can do with words!

Among Kirsten’s many successes as a Star Trek author, she’s corrected some of the not so great decisions that were made by previous authors.  On top of that, Kirsten has made the Delta Quadrant come alive, and she’s crafted a list of compelling secondary characters who make you want a second series focused on the USS Voyager and the small fleet (the Full Circle fleet) of ships she now leads.

Kirsten and Nick both serve as part of Star Trek: Discovery‘s new creative team and they were present at Mission: New York to spread the love.

What did we learn?

Like I said above, not a lot.  But a few interesting pieces of information were passed on…

  • As their panel started, a video from Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman was shown.  In it, Bryan and Alex discussed Star Trek‘s legacy, why the show was given its name (the word ‘Discovery’ encompasses Star Trek‘s overall vision of exploration and self discovery), and how the new series will be about the best that humanity has to offer.
  • Of interest to a number of fans, Kirsten said that the very first person she ever pitched a Star Trek: Voyager idea to was Bryan Fuller when he was on staff writing for Janeway and her crew.
  • Kirsten assured those of us who are fans of her Voyager novels that she will continue to write them, despite her involvement with Star Trek: Discovery.
  • They spoke a little bit about the timeframe the series is set in, and how it gives them some room to manouever without having to focus on known characters.
  • Nick assured fans that the writers are talking to a number of scientists in an attempt to keep the science as accurate as possible.
  • Kirsten let us know that the new aliens and life forms will actually be part of the main cast!
  • Kirsten’s role was elaborated on.  As well as writing for the new series, it was revealed she will be working with Simon & Schuster and IDW Publishing to create tie-in comics with Mike Johnson and David Mack.  The tie-in’s will be created hand-in-hand with the television production, rather than after the fact which has been the traditional approach.
  • And… last but not least, Nick asked fans to not watch the series with too high an expectation, because if we do, then the creative team have already failed because there’s no way they can meet every single fan’s various wish lists.  Good point.  Just give me meaningful stories, modern day allegory, characters I love, and the odd space battle (at least one good dust up each season) and I’ll be over the moon.

While we didn’t get the announcements we were hoping for, we kind of knew we weren’t going to.   Bryan has hinted we’ll learn more in October, so we just have to wait a little bit longer.  Patience is a virtue, right?

It is exciting to learn about the comics but probably the most interesting bit of information that was shared was how the new aliens and life forms (androids has been mentioned) will be part of the main cast.  We might end up with a super-diverse group gracing our television screens in a little under five months!

Before signing off I should probably point out that there has been no real concrete confirmation that the Number One character brought to life by Majel Barrett Roddenberry in the original Trek pilot, will be the focus of this series.  When deciding what images to put together for the banner for this story, I couldn’t help myself.  It’s my favourite rumour, and my enthusiasm for that idea meant the original Number One had to go up there.

I’m silently hoping that if all of us keep pushing for that, Bryan will make it so.

So… January 2017… will you hurry up and get here?

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Star Trek: Discovery Update

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A surprising amount of information has dropped recently about Star Trek: Discovery, with more news due to hit in October – though there has been a suggestion we could learn a tiny bit more in early September.

For international viewers, like myself, we recently learned that Netflix has secured the international airing rights for the series – which has upset our American friends, and understandably so, but as someone who has spent his entire Star Trek loving life having to wait months for episodes, it’s nice to not be facing that particular barrier with this incarnation of my favourite series.

As well as word on how the rest of the world will be able to watch the new series, the following exciting teasers were delivered by the man himself, Bryan Fuller:

  • The new lead character won’t be the Captain, it will be the First Officer of the Discovery.  The First Officer, called simply “Number One” (in fine Star Trek tradition) for now, will get a name eventually;
  • Number One will be female and she will hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander;
  • The show is definitely in the Prime timeline, and will be set ten years before James T. Kirk takes command of the Enterprise;
  • The ship we saw in the preview shown a few weeks ago is still being tweaked and that design is not the final design;
  • The show will ‘bounce off’ of an event that was spoken about in the original series, but never explored.  That event isn’t the Kobyashi Maru, nor is is the Battle of Axanar or the Earth-Romulan War… guesses anyone?
  • There will be robots and more aliens that we’ve ever seen before… whether those aliens and robots are on the ship or just appearing throughout the series we don’t know right now;
  • The first season will have a 13 episode order, with Bryan’s preference for following seasons to be 10 episodes in length;
  • Section 31 might make an appearance;
  • Each episode will run about 48 minutes – slightly longer than the 44 minutes most modern versions of Star Trek have run;
  • There will be an openly gay character;
  • Traditional aliens from the original series will get a bit of a revamp;
  • The uniforms will be different to those seen in “The Cage”, but no word on how similar they will be to the uniforms worn by Kirk and crew in the Original Series;
  • The music is still being figured out with a good chance some of it will be reminiscent of the Original Series scores.

A really interesting theory from Joseph Baxter, a writer for SciFi news site Blastr, had me really excited recently – because I love it, and I so want it to be true!  Okay, I’m still excited about it!

He theorises we might already know the lead character.  He wonders, in a very well reasoned argument, if this mysterious Lieutenant Commander is none other than Majel Barrett Roddenberry’s character from “The Cage”, known only to us fans as Number One.

That would be AWESOME!

Despite only appearing in “The Cage” and the re-edited version of that episode called “The Menagerie” parts one and two, Number One has a huge fan following.  That character sparked something in fans that has not faded in 50 years.

Bryan has said that this Number One is an homage to the original character created by Gene and his wife, but he hasn’t confirmed whether or not it is that character.

I hope so.  That would be poetic.

Bryan has said that the next main “info dump” will come in October, but Nicholas Meyer and Kirsten Beyer are holding a discussion panel at the upcoming Mission: New York convention in a few days time and they might be authorised to drop a few more details.

Otherwise, we’re going to have to wait about a month for more news.

This is all pretty exciting stuff!  The pilot starts filming any day now (sometime in September) so there’s a chance we’ll get tantalising stills from the sets as January draws closer.

What information will come out next?  The best guess most of us who are monitoring Trek news can come up with, is that the next news items will be focused on casting.

We might get to learn who the new lead is, or if not, at the very least we might hear about some of her shipmates.  I think we’ll also get another look at the ship soon, probably not the final design, but another evolution.

As more news comes to light, I’ll be sure to post it here.

There are a couple of really good articles covering Bryan’s announcements over at the wonderful TrekCore.  To read them, click here and here.

Keep an eye out on Twitter.  Bryan sometimes drops teasers from his Twitter account, and if we see one we’ll repost it on our Twitter @SciFiSitesAus.  If it’s a big teaser, we’ll post it here on Star Trek: Sentinel.

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Star Trek Series VI Has a Name

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Fans were promised new information on the sixth live action television series at this year’s San Diego Comic Con… and CBS did not disappoint.

Executive Producer and showrunner Bryan Fuller, with a little help from William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Jeri Ryan and Scott Bakula gave attendees some much anticipated news – not as much as we could have hoped for, but some pretty amazing stuff, including the name of the starship the new crew will be boldly going in.  As you can probably tell from the above image, the new ship is the USS Discovery, and in fine Star Trek tradition the series has been named after the vessel.  The registration?  NCC-1031.

What else was revealed?  The series WILL take place in the prime timeline, alongside Star Trek: EnterpriseStar Trek: The Original SeriesStar Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager.

While the sharing of information pretty much stopped there, Bryan and CBS had one more surprise – some test footage of the new ship launching from inside an asteroid base somewhere in the galaxy.

As mentioned above, the footage is a test reel, so the graphics aren’t final and are a little less ‘smooth’ than we would usually see on screen, but they are still, never the less, beautiful.  It’s also highly unlikely that the visuals shown come from the pilot episode.

The ship design is, in my opinion at least, amazing… and has some interesting differences to the ships we’ve seen onscreen before.

You’ll notice in the first five images above, that the front of the warp nacelle’s are unique, with three globes containing energy, instead of the usual one.

You’ll also note that the design of the impulse engines in the second set of five images are very similar in appearance to those seen on the reboot Enterprise.

When in the prime timeline will the show take place?  It’s hard to tell.  The only real points of reference we can draw from are the ship’s registration (NCC-1031) and the images on the video.

The registration seems to hint at the original series time period or maybe even a little before.  The ship also looks like it could come from the original series or the original series’ movie era, but Starfleet has shown us that it likes to ‘change up’ it’s ship designs, which means there is a possibility the show could come after Star Trek: Voyager.  I don’t get that feeling, though.  The new style nacelle design seems too retro and along with the original series (albeit the reboot original series) style impulse engines everything seems to indicate we’ve gone back to that period in Trek’s history to explore it via another crew’s perspective.  Another design choice that screams pre-TNG can be found in image 12 (the second image in the third set of five photos) where part of the saucer bears a very interesting likeness to the USS Franklin‘s saucer section as seen in Star Trek Beyond.  What also needs to be pointed out is the almost bronze colour of the Discovery.  I don’t remember seeing a Starfleet vessel that colour before.

If you’re thinking the ship looks particularly familiar, you’re not imagining it, the ship is actually based on the original designs done by famed artist Ralph McQuarrie for Star Trek: Planet of the Titans, a movie that was under consideration in the mid-70’s prior to the development of Star Trek: Phase II, the 1970’s television series that eventually became Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

You’ll note from these original concepts that Ralph created, that the Enterprise is exiting an asteroid and that the artists who created the film drew heavily from those paintings to show the first launch of the Discovery and our first look at it.  Being the 50th Anniversary year, I love that they did that.  It’s a beautiful homage.

Heather Kadin, another member of Star Trek: Discovery‘s creative team, has said that the design is not final, and Bryan has said they’re trying to work out how they can use them as they’re around 40 years old and the artist passed away in March of 2012.  It’s also possible the images are owned by Paramount.

I hope they find a way to use the designs, because I love them.  They’re still Star Trek but fantastically retro and unique when compared with all the other ships we’ve seen.  Plus, I miss the circular command module and was never the biggest fan of the spearhead shaped command modules of the Enterprise-E and the Voyager.

The very last piece of news we know right now is that the new series airs in January of next year and has a 13 episode order that will play out in an arc, rather than in the more episodic style of previous series’.

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Star Trek: Discovery is being produced by a stellar creative team, including Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Fuller, Heather Kadin, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Nicholas Meyer, Kirsten Beyer, Vincenzo Natali and, it seems, the late great Ralph McQuarrie.

If you’d like to watch the footage shown at the San Diego Comic Con visit the official Star Trek website here or the wonderful TrekNews here.  You can also find the video on most Star Trek news sites on the web.

This is a wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of the most hopeful and inspiring series to ever hit television.

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Hopefully more news will come soon.  We’ll most likely start to get some information about the casting process in a month, maybe two at the outside – but I imagine that will come incrementally as a build up to the premiere.  I feel like the next bit of big news we’ll get will be a confirmation of when in the prime timeline the series will be set.

Honestly, whatever news they drop next is going to make me happy.  I don’t care how apparently inconsequential!  If they just release an image of the new insignia I’ll probably be grinning with excitement.

I’m READY for this series.

Happy 50th everyone!

Thank you, CBS and Bryan Fuller for whetting our appetites.

So excited for January!

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Star Trek Update – Series VI, Beyond & New STB Trailer

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A lot of news has popped up in recent days on both the new Star Trek television series and Star Trek Beyond, which is now less than a month away from its international release.

We’ve heard from Bryan Fuller, Justin Lin, Chris Pine, Idris Elba, the ‘Powers that Be’ at CBS, and… Rihanna!

But first, let’s dive into the new series – something most of us are chomping at the bit to hear more about.

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We still don’t know what the full name of the new series is, what timeline it happens in or the name of the starship (or starships) it takes place on.  We don’t know the name of any crew, and while meetings have happened with a handful of actors, to the best of our knowledge no one has been cast yet.

We do know, however, that what some of us (myself included) were theorising, is flat out wrong.

Namely, the new Trek being an anthology series.

I’m a little sad about that, and a little relieved… I had really warmed to the idea of seeing Star Trek episodes from all over the timeline, but I was also wondering if that would allow me to develop a relationship with the new crew(s?) – which is something that’s important to me.  I enjoy the special effects and challenging story lines, but the thing that keeps bringing me back to Trek are the characters I love.

So what does “new crews” mean if it doesn’t mean a peek into the lives of various officers across Starfleet’s rich history?  It could mean anything.  A starbase crew and a starship crew, working together to protect the final frontier (a bit DS9 but you never know)?  An exploratory fleet led by a commodore?  The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are quite a few.  All I can say is… “let the speculation begin… again!

We also learned that the first arc of the season has been plotted, and the first six episodes of what will be a 13 episode season have been broken.  That means the major beats have been decided upon and they’re being written into script form.  Just as exciting, Bryan has suggested other canon Trek characters will appear in the series, eventually!  Though probably not in the first season.  That last bit might be the biggest timeline related clue we’ve been given to date, because to me that screams PRIME TIMELINE!

Shooting on the new series will start in September and run through to March, which means you won’t be able to stream the whole series in one big binge, but will have to wait to download it weekly.

Bryan also reminded us that because the new Trek wasn’t on a network, it wouldn’t be subject to network broadcast standards, something that was the bane of Gene Roddenberry’s existence when he created the first series 50 years ago.

To read more revelations about the new series, and to watch a video of Bryan telling us what he can, visit TrekCore here and here.

In news that bridges both the Prime and Alternate Trek universes, CBS has finally given an official name to the timeline created in 2009’s blockbuster hit Star Trek.

That period of Trek history has been called many things, among them NuTrek, the J.J.Verse and the AbramsVerse.

Not anymore.  It’s now called the “Kelvin Timeline” after the starship caught in the middle of the Nero incident that brought about the new film universe.

To read more about that development, visit io9 here.

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In movie news, the beautiful Rihanna, the popular award-winning mega-star, has recorded a song for the Star Trek Beyond soundtrack!  It’s called “Sledgehammer.”

For those of you who didn’t know, Rihanna is a huge Trek fan.

She announced her contribution on Twitter.  To the best of my knowledge this has never happened in canon Trek before.  Popular (and not so popular) music has been featured in previous films and at least one series, but no artist has done a James Bond on us and recorded a brand new song for us to live long and prosper by.  The fanfilm Star Trek: Renegades starring Walter Koenig and Tim Russ went there with Automatik Eden, but that’s it.

To learn more, visit the wonderful TrekCore here.

Rihanna’s song features in the third and final Paramount promo for the film, which is a mix of previously seen footage and new footage.  Visit ScienceFiction.com here to see the new clip and hear a sample of Rhianna’s moody and atmospheric tune.

Justin Lin, Chris Pine, and Idris Elba have also shared some information on the new movie via SFX Magazine.

We’ve heard a lot of it before, but there are some new insights.

We’ve also heard from Michael Giacchino, who has released the set list for the Star Trek Beyond soundtrack.  In typical Michael fashion, almost every title has a humorous twist!  Some people might consider the below to be spoilers, so don’t read on!  Just scroll past the chunk of titles listed in italics below.

Logo And Prosper
Thank Your Lucky Star Date
Night On The Yorktown
The Dance Of The Nebula
A Swarm Reception
Hitting The Saucer A Little Hard
Jaylah Damage
In Artifacts As In Life
Frankin, My Dear
A Lesson In Vulcan Mineralogy
Motorcycles Of Relief
Mocking Jaylah
Crash Decisions
Krall-y Krall-y Oxen Free
Shutdown Happens
Cater-Krall In Zero G
Par-tay For The Course
Star Trek Main Theme

To read what Justin has to say about the film, visit TrekCore here.

To read what Chris and Idris have to say, once again, visit the amazing TrekCore here.

Lastly, to read about Michael and the soundtrack, go to TrekCore one more time here.

As more news on Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek Series VI is splashed over the internet, I’ll feature it here at Star Trek: Sentinel.

Star Trek Beyond stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella and the late Anton Yelchin.

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