CBS is creating a new pay streaming service like Amazon Prime and Netflix in 2017, called CBS All Access, which will launch with a new Star Trek series to draw in monthly subscribers. Although the details of the new series have not yet been disclosed, this week CBS announced it selected Hannibal series creator Bryan Fuller as the showrunner and co-creator alongside executive producer Alex Kurtzman, known well for the Star Trek reboot movies.
Fans of Star Trek new and old should be happy–Kurtzman’s eye should keep the Final Frontier fresh and new, and Fuller brings his own Star Trek street cred into the mix. Not only did he work on some impressive series including Dead Like Me and the awesome but short-lived Wonderfalls among other series, he wrote two stories for Deep Space Nine and twenty for Star Trek Voyager, the series probably most loyal to Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of the future. The Deep Space Nine episodes aren’t the most remarkable (“Empok Nor” and “The Darkness and the Light”), but his work on Star Trek Voyager shows a breadth of ideas and ability to navigate interesting corners of the Star Trek universe. Fuller wrote the teleplays for some of the most fun, and memorable, episodes of the series.
Just take a look at the landmark time travel episode “Relativity,” possibly the best episode featuring Seven of Nine. Temporal incursions, temporal psychosis, and temporal anomalies abound, with a cool timeship helmed by Captain Braxton, and even the on-screen death of Seven herself. Fuller explored death and the afterlife in the episode “Mortal Coil,” a story where Neelix dies and is revived, yet all he expected in the afterlife does not occur, forcing him to reflect on his place in the universe. Fuller explored the subject again in “Barge of the Dead,” this time letting B’Elanna Torres explore her own afterlife in Sto-vo-kor–the Klingon afterlife. Here Fuller showed a side of the Klingons in a way we hadn’t seen since the Vulcan spiritual universe was explored in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
In the two-part “Workforce” episodes, Fuller gave viewers a double-take, mind-wiping the crew and letting them play out an alternate reality until they found their way back to their true selves. Fuller knows how to tug on fans’ sense of nostalgia, too–in “Friendship 1” he sets the Voyager crew after a long-lost ship from the early days of space travel, and the crew encounters another long-lost ship, in Fuller’s “One Small Step.” If you love Star Trek like we do you love the ingenious storytelling device that is the holodeck. Fuller scripted the best of Voyager’s jaunts in the holodeck, including “Fair Haven” and the 1950s throwback “Bride of Chaotica.” And Fuller can spin a parallel universe story, a must for any Star Trek series, as shown in “Living Witness” and “Course: Oblivion.”
But will the new series look anything like Star Trek Voyager? In 2009 Fuller was interviewed by If Magazine, where he said he was pushing for a new Star Trek TV series based on “old style” Star Trek. He may have shed some light on how he might handle the new series: “I told my agent and told the people of J.J. Abrams’ team I want to create another Star Trek series and have an idea that I’m kicking around. I would love to return to the spirit of the old series with the colors and attitude. I loved Voyager and Deep Space Nine, but they seem to have lost the ’60s fun and I would love to take it back to its origin.” In a later interview in 2013 he stated, “I think there’s something very exciting about the new J.J. Abrams-verse, and there’s also kind of an interesting reinvention. How would The Next Generation evolve from that? Where would that be? Where would that go? … Star Trek is such a big universe, and there are so many places to go with it. I have a very specific idea that I would love to do. We’ll see if I ever get the opportunity.”
Now he has that opportunity.
Yesterday, David Stapf, President of CBS Television Studios, was quoted about Fuller, “When we began discussions about the series returning to television, we immediately knew that Bryan Fuller would be the ideal person to work alongside Alex Kurtzman to create a fresh and authentic take on this classic and timeless series. Bryan is not only an extremely gifted writer, but a genuine fan of Star Trek. Having someone at the helm with his gravitas who also understands and appreciates the significance of the franchise and the worldwide fan base was essential to us.” Fuller himself said, “It is without exaggeration a dream come true to be crafting a brand new iteration of Star Trek with fellow franchise alum Alex Kurtzman and boldly going where no Star Trek series has gone before.” Kurtzman stated, “Bringing Star Trek back to television means returning it to its roots, and for years those roots flourished under Bryan’s devoted care. His encyclopedic knowledge of Trek canon is surpassed only by his love for Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic future, a vision that continues to guide us as we explore strange new worlds.”
Star Trek, the yet-to-be-named next series, debuts on CBS All Access in 2017.