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Bryan Fuller may be long gone from CBS All Access’ upcoming Star Trek: Discovery, but the former showrunner’s influence is all over the forthcoming series.
Fuller, who grew up as a die-hard fan of the franchise and eventually worked on Deep Space Nine and Voyager, was the revival’s original showrunner. He penned the first two scripts for the series and CBS All Access is using his outline for the entire season, which he had mapped out before being removed from Discovery‘s captain’s chair. His longtime collaborators, Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, were tapped to replace him after Fuller clashed with the network over the show’s big-picture concept, casting and a variety of other issues.
“Before Bryan left, we had worked on, talked about, explored ideas that carried us for the better part of the first six or seven episodes,” Harberts tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We had an idea about how we wanted it to end and to a certain degree, we’re still trying to make that happen.”
Not everything will be as Fuller originally envisioned, though. The American Gods showrunner wanted Discovery to be a serialized anthology that explored different eras in the Star Trek universe, including those showcased in Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Instead, Discovery will stay focused on the 10 years before The Original Series begins, at a time when tensions are rising between Starfleet and the Klingon race.
Still, Harberts assures Trekkies that Fuller’s fingerprints remain all over Discovery. “I feel like a lot of the themes he wanted explored, we’re still trying to address,” he says. “At the very least Gretchen and I were assigned to write a script early in the run and many of those characters came out of conversations Bryan and Gretchen and I had.”
Discovery co-creator Alex Kurtzman noted that producers have attempted to keep as much of Fuller’s plan as they could.
“We set about to protect and preserve as much of the vision that he had,” Kurtzman recently told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. “And Gretchen and Aaron, who have worked with Bryan for a long, long time, are here because we all respect Bryan’s vision and because we felt that it was the best way to preserve that. So we honor what he did, and we love so much of what’s there, and much of what’s there still came from his mind.”
All said, it’s hard to tell exactly how much of Fuller’s work will make it to the screen. While he remains credited as an executive producer on Discovery, the show wasn’t in production or even cast when he was pushed out. He did, however, pen the first two scripts of the initial season and help shape the overall arc. Also remaining: Fuller’s choice of The Walking Dead grad Sonequa Martin-Green to captain Discovery as well as use his signature move of using a masculine name for a female character. (Martin-Green plays Michael.)
And as far as Harberts is concerned, his influence on the show’s characters is unmistakable. “I feel him in a lot of these characters. They may not have his spectacular and specific voice, but the DNA is in there and I love that,” he admits. “It makes me feel close to Bryan.”
Star Trek: Discovery premieres Sunday, Sept. 24, at 8:30 p.m. on CBS. At that time, the first two episodes will also be released on CBS All Access, with another episode following each Sunday.
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