It’s a little bit of the old mixed in with a little bit of the new. Alex Kurtzman, who made his name in Star Trek through the J.J. Abrams-directed films, was first attached to the new Star Trek series planned for next January by CBS All Access. But now a face from Star Trek past, Bryan Fuller, has come aboard as well.
What does this mean? Will this be Star Trek in the new universe that Kurtzman helped create? Or could it be Star Trek from the old universe that Fuller has been a part of through shows like “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”?
Or could it be a little bit of both?
Fuller, who would later have television hits like Showtime’s “Dead Like Me” and NBC’s “Hannibal,” has made it clear in the past he would love to come back to Star Trek. And that he’d be willing to play in the new sandbox as created by Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Abrams.
“I haven’t pitched it, I just expressed interest that I would love to do a Star Trek TV show,” Fuller said at the time, adding that his credits in Star Trek were the first television credits of his career.
“So having spent four years on staff, and another year freelancing before that on Star Trek, it’s a very near and dear property to my heart. And also a philosophy. I would love to create a Star Trek show, so that’s on my dream docket.”
But what would that new TV show be? And where exactly would it be set?
“I think there’s something very exciting about the new J.J. Abrams-verse, and there’s also kind of an interesting reinvention,” Fuller said. “How would (‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’) evolve from that? Where would that be? Where would that go?
“But there’s also … 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.”
Apparently, patience is a key attribute for Fuller, as it has paid off grandly. The new show is set to premiere on CBS All Access, the subscription-based streaming service offered by CBS Corp., in 2017. The fact that Kurtzman is attached suggests that Paramount Pictures, which controls the movie rights for Trek, also has signed off on the new project.
Another “coincidence” in the timing of this new show and Fuller’s involvement is another interesting correlation to the Enterprise-D and its crew, led by Jean-Luc Picard. In 2017, Star Trek will be 51, but TNG will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its 1987 premiere.
Fuller’s first credited Trek episode was the story for the DS9 episode “The Darkness and the Light” in 1997, which had a teleplay written by Ronald D. Moore. It was an episode centered around Nana Visitor’s Kira Nerys, who has to figure out who is wiping out members of her old Bajoran resistance cell.
Fuller would get teleplay credit later in 1997 for the “Voyager” episode “The Raven.” In that episode, Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine gets called back to the Borg collective, right in the middle of the Voyager crew carefully making its way through a xenophobic alien race’s space.
After leaving Star Trek, Fuller would go on to create two series that, while critically acclaimed, struggled to pick up audience. The first was “Dead Like Me” starring Ellen Muth and Mandy Patinkin — grim reapers caught in the corporate structure of heaven. The other was the short-lived series “Wonderfalls” with Caroline Dhavernas, about a young college graduate trying to find her way while living in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Fuller would win acclaim again for another short-lived series, this one called “Pushing Daisies,” which was based on an episode idea he had for “Dead Like Me.” While that show didn’t grab audiences, it did help Fuller earn his first Emmy nomination for writing the pilot, appropriately called “Pie-Lette.”
He would later work as a producer for the NBC series “Heroes” (which earned him another Emmy nomination), before landing at NBC for three seasons of “Hannibal.” That show ended last summer after three seasons, once again earning critical but not popular interest.
Many critics have said Fuller’s ideas are too far ahead for his time. That audiences in the future will look back and wonder why shows like “Dead Like Me” and “Wonderfalls” didn’t take off. So there is likely some concern among those same critics that Fuller might have the same issue with a new Star Trek show, which could cast a small dark cloud over what otherwise is great news among Star Trek fans.
For the record, trade publication Variety suggests the new series from Kurtzman and Fuller will be to “introduce new characters and civilizations, existing outside of the mythology charted by previous series and the current movie franchises.”
But then again, a JJ-verse TNG reboot would be outside the existing mythology (but probably not enough to make this the premise of a new series).
The new untitled Star Trek series will debut next January.
Updated to include Variety series report.