So long, Bryan Fuller. Your vision of a future utopia space travel show was clearly never meant to be.
The acclaimed writer, who’s known primarily for his work on Hannibal, has decided he’s had enough of rubber alien suits and cheesy special effects, and has ditched Star Trek Discovery, along with all the baggage that a fifty-year-old science fiction franchise entails.
Back in February, when Fuller was officially named as the showrunner for the Star Trek TV revival, he described the opportunity as “without exaggeration a dream come true”.
In retrospect, it seems that either Fuller was exaggerating after all, or that the dream in question is one of those uncomfortable ones where you end up taking a test at school in your underwear.
It seems that Star Trek Discovery perhaps should have been named Star Trek Titanic instead, as this particular spaceship is sinking at an unprecedented rate.
Despite network CBS pouring money into the project (the reported budget per episode is around $6 million), pre-production on the show has gone painfully slowly, to the point that the network had to delay the entire series earlier this year. Losing Fuller hints at yet further problems behind the scene on what should theoretically be a pretty easy ratings grabber.
This is a shame, as you can’t fault the network’s enthusiasm.
CBS has been pretty excited about bringing Star Trek back to television. All year, the network has been doing its best to drum up fan hype surrounding the return of the seminal 1960s science fiction brand that doesn’t feature a British police box as a primary form of transport.
The problem that CBS is having, though, is that nobody else is quite as thrilled by the prospect of yet more Star Trek on TV. While there certainly are still fans for The Original Series and The Next Generation kicking around, subsequent shows have failed to light a fire under audiences.
It doesn’t help that, Chris Pine’s adventures aside, the brand is still primarily thought of by many science fiction fans as the boring, awkward basement dweller of the genre.
While Star Wars is childish, fun and lighthearted, Doctor Who is goofy and over the top, and Battlestar Galactica is sexy and cool, Star Trek is the kind of show that, if it were sentient, would bore you at a party by talking about hair clippings for half an hour.
This may have been the problem that caused Fuller to abandon the series in search of more fruitful projects—a sudden, disappointing realization that “Hey, let’s watch an episode of Star Trek tonight” sounds about as appealing to most people as “Hey, let’s get the dentist to perform an unnecessary root canal tonight”.
If CBS wants its enthusiasm for Star Trek to spread to audiences, the show will need to do an excellent job of selling itself as a dynamic, interesting, potentially explosive science fiction adventure.
It’s achievable, especially if the show can ride the goodwill that Chris Pine and Co have built up over the past few years.
In Fuller’s eyes, though, getting this show off the ground is going to take a lot more than simply commanding, “Make it so!”