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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Star Trek: Discovery Trailer & Logo Revealed, Setting Speculation

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Edited by Robert Beach 

Over 11 years ago, Star Trek: Enterprise went off the air and ended the era of Trek on TV. Even though the franchise would be rescued from oblivion four years later with the J.J. Abrams reboot series, Star Trek as a sci-fi series of genuine renown, import, and intelligence wouldn’t reassert itself till this year.  

Thanks to a double barrel strategy, Star Trek has marked its 50th anniversary with a major return to prominence thanks to a quality movie and an upcoming new TV show helmed by Hannibal show runner Bryan Fuller.  

Now, we’ve finally got a title and imagery. The first short teaser for the new series debuts the lead ship and gives some cryptic clues about the setting. So let’s dive into our first major look at Star Trek: Discovery. 

Firstly, the logo design here is very striking with a lot of stunning texture work and a unique approach to the visual design. The Trek font is clearly on display, but the heavy emphasis on metallic tones and textures gives it a uniquely mechanical look that’s often been missing from the new films. In Star Trek Beyond, Justin Lin had to crash the ship so as to ditch all the Apple visual designs and bring things back to more hardware-oriented visual conception, so I’m glad the new show will be following suit. 

What I like about the logo, though, is the visual design of the split emblem. The design reminds me of the Ferengi emblem, which also sports a big bisecting line of definition through the center of the visual. I doubt that was the intentional as I’m sure the powers that be would rather we forget the Ferengi ever existed. It’s still neat. What’s more, there’s no chance we’ll see the Ferengi in the new show owing to its setting. 

This is where we get into the realm of rumor and speculation as I’ve not seen any hard confirmation on exactly when the new show will be set in Trek’s history. The main thing that we know about the new series is that it’s not following the Enterprise. It's a new ship called the USS Discovery, call sign NCC-1031.  That registration number is more important than you’d think as it’s the main reason there’s so much dissension about when the show is set. 

The initial reports suggested the new series was set in the wake of Star Trek: Undiscovered Country, emphasizing the difficulties of the newly formed union between the Klingons and the Federation. That’s fertile ground for a new Star Trek show, dipping into the vast gulf of unexplored history that separates the first run of films from The Next Generation. 

The triangular design of the ship’s body is very similar to the design of the Klingon cruisers from the original series, which could indicate the show is based around a joint Federation-Klingon built ship. That would fit with Bryan Fuller’s Star Trek experience as he previously wrote for Voyager, a show about blending opposing crews in a state-of-the-art new ship.

However, the post-Star Trek VI setting doesn't mesh well once you factor in the serial numbers. Discovery’s serial number predates the original Enterprise’s. The Enterprise of the original series’ serial number is NCC-1701, which would place its construction well after the Discovery’s. Combine that with the more mechanical affects of the ship and this leads to prequel speculation to the original series, set during the time after Star Trek: Enterprise. 

That’d be an interesting pitch, but I’m not sure it’s quite as fertile as coming after Undiscovered Country.  What made Enterprise intriguing was seeing the advancement of technology, ideology, and galactic politics towards a utopia. If this new series sets after the establishment of Star Fleet and the Federation, there’s not much to do but spin your wheels till the time of the original series.  

All the big and interesting things like encountering the Klingons or the Romulan War would’ve already happened. And the cool idea of TOS like the "Guardian on the Edge of Forever" or the "Doomsday Machine" would be off limits, making for a low key and small-scale show. 

A third theory on the Discovery's setting emerged when some fans noticed that the new design of the Discovery looks very similar to the Enterprise from the proposed Star Trek Phase II. Star Trek Phase II was an unproduced Star Trek sequel show Gene Roddenberry tried to get off the ground in the ‘70s after the failure of Star Trek The Animated Series. 

The show was meant to continue the adventures of the original series phasing out certain key characters due to the actors not wanting to return. For instance, Leonard Nimoy declined to return as Spock, so the show would work around this by introducing a new Vulcan character. Incidentally, that proposed character, a black Vulcan, would later be reworked into Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager. Similarly, the show’s proposed dynamic first mates would become Deanna Troi and Commander Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. 

If Star Trek Discovery is set in the Star Trek Phase II time slot (after the original series and before Star Trek: The Motion Picture), that’d be cutting it very close. There're only about ten years between the two. It could be the new show wants to run concurrently with the events of the original movies (following a different crew through events like the coming of the VGER probe or the Genesis program), but that seems like a mixed concept. Hell, the appeal of Trek is NEW civilizations; the series is called “Discovery” for God’s sake. It’d be lame to focus on reframing stuff we’ve already seen. 

Interestingly, both of these ideas revolve around a show set somewhere in Trek’s past. That makes the most sense from a franchise management standpoint and especially given the mountains of red tape that going into who owns what aspect of Star Trek.  

Unless the new show were featuring a Next Generation level time jump, it would have to deal with the fallout from stuff like Star Trek: Nemesis and the conclusion to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Dropping the series in the past circumvents those problems without cutting off too many possibilities. After all, Enterprise was set in the past, and they found room for the Borg and the Eugenic Princes. 

The other rumor about the show is that it will be an anthology series, which strikes me as a brilliant idea. At this point, there is just so much Trek history and lore with importance and mythos. You could easily craft a plethora of great and varied stories from it. An anthology setting would afford the show the chance to innovate and advance with each season exploring a different idea of what Star Trek can be. 

We could follow a ship on a mission we, the audience, know is doomed to fail like the Valiant’s exploration of the barrier at the edge of the galaxy. It could also show one the ships destroyed by the Borg at the Battle of Wolf 359.  Additionally, the show could explore a singular struggle across multiple eras and generations through the anthology setting or show evolving ideas and attitudes through Trek’s history. 

For the moment, all this is just speculation as actual details about Star Trek Discovery are terribly sparse. We only know the name and the handful of creators involved behind the scenes, along with a tentative release date on CBS of January 2017. There’s still plenty of time for all of these rumors to be proven wrong. 

I’m sure we’ll get a better idea of what to expect from Star Trek Discovery as our first casting announcements come through, and we start the long, slow drip of set photos, posters, teasers, and trailers. For now, just the fact we’re getting a new Star Trek show is pretty damn exciting, even if it remains steeped in uncertainty and mystery. 

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1 comment:

  1. And star ships like the USS DISCOVORY must at least as get over warp 10