Star Trek: Discovery fans were feeling good about the third season of the CBS All Access series. Considering what's been happening to other shows across the pop culture landscape due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, it's a pretty good position for a viewer to be in. Did that optimism waver a little bit when Wilson Cruz (aka Dr. Culber) tweeted that the third season premiere might take "a little longer"? Yup – definitely did.
Maybe not a "930 years into the future wait," but still…
Now, the streaming service is releasing a new piece of motion keyart of Sonequa Martin-Green's Burham, literally carrying the flag for Federation and asking us to follow her into the future – with the promise that more is coming soon:
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Like the franchise itself, Star Trek is always looking to the future – in this case, Section 31 – a Discovery spinoff series that would have Michelle Yeoh returning as Philippa Georgiou to expand upon her character's current position as a member of the "shadow intelligence group" that operates from within the Federation.
Star Trek showrunner Alex Kurtzman and CBS All Access' Julie McNamara sat down with Vanity Fair to discuss the franchise's past, present, and future on the streaming service. During the course of the interview, Kurtzman and McNamara offered fans an update on the series – here are the highlights:
● While Yeoh is still committed to Discovery, McNamara revealed that Kurtzman's assembled a writer's room and scripts are in motion:
"We are very excited about the Section 31 show and Michelle Yeoh is excited to do it. She is in the current season of Discovery so she's working on that right now but we have scripts getting written, and Alex has a writer's room. We love what we've heard so far. It's yet another tonality of Trek. As Alex has mapped it all out, each show has its own unique sort of voice and vision."
● For Kurtzman, Section 31 represents the darker aspects of the franchise's universe that hasn't really been explored before so it was important that it had a different tone and its own unique mythology:
"What we don't want is for you to watch one show and be like, well I don't really need to watch that other Star Trek show cause I've already watched Discovery or whatever. So to me Section 31 is sort of like the black ops CIA division of Star Trek and it was established in Deep Space 9. Full credit goes to Michelle Yeoh for coming to me and saying in season one, before we even launched, "I want to do a spin off of my character!" With Michelle Yeoh, it's very hard to say no.
This was like a year before Crazy Rich Asians came out and we had not launched Discovery yet. No one had seen it. So I was like, let's have one show that hopefully people like and we can talk about it. Once Discovery happened, I brought it to Julie and she immediately said, great, let's develop it. Erica [Lippoldt] and Bo Yeon [Kim], two writers on our Discovery staff, started writing a pilot and it's really different. It occupies an area of the Trek universe that's never really been explored geographically. It has a new mythology to it, which is very interesting. And it puts Michelle's character to the test in a lot of ways that Discovery can't. In some ways it will be her Unforgiven, I would say."
Coming in at #3 on our The Bleeding Cool Top 30 TV Series Influencers 2020 list, here's what we had to say at the end of last year re: CBS All Access' Star Trek universe:
Say what you want to about CBS All Access… they did promising that they would be doing some "interesting" things with the Star Trek franchise. I'd say catapaulting the Discovery 900 years into a future previously unchartered in Trek lore fits that description. Short-form anthology series Short Treks (especially its recent animated outings) could also be added to that list, as would upcoming animated workplace comedy Lower Decks. In fact, the "safest" upcoming Trek project is Picard – and they're not even putting him back in the command chair (…yet?).
But with CBS All Access now under ViacomCBS, will the creative experimenting be able to continue as the need to keep and grow eyeballs becomes more fierce – especially with new streaming services on the horizon? As popular as Discovery has proven to be, will forging new Starfleet history prove to be too much for diehards to bear – or the key to revitalizing a franchise looking to reboot its cinematic side? ViacomCBS sees Star Trek (along with Mission: Impossible) as a franchise they want playing a much bigger part in the streamer's future – so eyeballs within the company will be watching, too.