The Star Trek we could have had…

Where no Trek scriptwriter has gone before…

In an interview with EW, Bryan Fuller has opened up a little about the reasons behind his departure from Star Trek Discovery and what he had planned to do with the show.

Clashes with CBS over the director they wanted for the pilot (Fuller was ready to approach Edgar Wright!) and the $6m budget for each episode, along with CBS not wanting to be to adventurous with the series structure led to Fuller and CBS parting company and multiple delays to the launch timeline of the Starship Discovery…

Fuller had originally pitched an anthology show – the rumours at the time suggested this was what we were getting – effectively creating a sci-fi take on American Horror Story. Fuller’s plan was to start with the Discovery prequel before moving on to Kirk’s era, then Picard’s and then on, even further into the future. CBS weren’t convinced and wanted to launch a more standard serialised show – the network won and Fuller stepped down as showrunner.

But, what if Bryan Fuller’s vision had made it to the screen? What could we have expected?

We know that Discovery was always going to be the start – this is what was announced while Fuller was still in charge, and we’d still have had Sonequa Martin-Green taking the lead role; she was Fuller’s choice albeit one that had the network concerned because of her then-commitment to The Walking Dead. The thirteen episodes would have been one self-contained story, but it may well have laid seeds to be picked up as threads running through the following eras of story telling.

Following this, our guess is that we’d have seen a return to the Kirk era. It would have been unlikely that we’d get to see Kirk and co themselves, but there would have been some opportunity for cameos of the Enterprise or maybe one or two of the current theatrical film cast. Exploring known events from somewhere else in the Federation or even via another major power could have opened up all sorts of opportunities – maybe we could have seen more of the cold war style relationship with the Klingons – perhaps tying back to events that started in the Discovery series.

Fast forwarding to the Picard era, there were some tantalising single episode storylines that offered starting points for on-going storytelling – the first season episode Conspiracy could have been the perfect genesis for a season-long story where we find happened next. We could alternatively returned to the storylines that Bryan Fuller first became involved with in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – telling of events around the Dominion War from the perspective of a different crew on a starship. Maybe we could have found out what actually happened to Thomas Riker, or seen the fallout of a quadrant-spanning war from an angle we hadn’t previously had the chance to before – perhaps even from behind enemy lines? And there’s that tantalising hope that Fuller might revisit the DS9 crew in their entirety to find out just what happened in the events that followed What You Leave Behind – it’s a mini series that fans have been crying out for during the last two decades!

Over the course of the first four Trek series we’d seen glimpses even further into the future – hints of what was to become of the crews of the Star Trek: The Next Generation-era Enterprise and Deep Space Nine and also visits from the future that impacted the Star Trek: Voyager storyline. Fuller’s anthology series could have given us more a view on what was to come in the Star Trek universe – how would the balance of power change? What new and exciting technology might we get to witness? The potential was there for something exciting and new.

The amazing thing about Star Trek was the limitless opportunities in storylines – it tells of a future, OUR future, one to both look forward to and at times fear. Not only that, the ‘mirror’ universe and the multiple universes that we glimpsed in the episode Parallels mean that almost any possible plot and story for a series-long arc is possible. We won’t get to see any of those possible storylines as part of Star Trek Discovery but now that the germ of an idea of an anthology-based Trek is out there, maybe one day we’ll get to see more tales from the Federation that just don’t centre on one ship or one crew and give us the full gamut of storytelling possibilities that Roddenberry’s vision can offer us.

Colin Polonowski

Updated: Sep 12, 2017

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