‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Returns To The Timeline Of The Original Series With Its Own Take On The Final Frontier

Week two of the Television Critics Association press tour kicked off with CBS announcing a plethora of new original programming for their streaming service CBS All Access, but the most interest revolved around the details of the much-anticipated Star Trek: Discovery. Our own Alan Sepinwall was at the press stop to pry what information he could from the executive producers and stars, like what timeline are we in?

All the previous Star Trek TV shows and movies prior to the JJ Abrams films take place in the same timeline. Different eras, but the same reality. The first JJ movie rewrites the past so that all those movies take place in what fans refer to as “the Kelvin timeline” (after the ship that was destroyed at the start of the timeline change).

So far, the producers have been vague about which timeline Discovery — which is set prior to the days of Kirk and Spock, though who knows which version — takes place in… And if we will be able to binge the series. The answers? It’s in the Prime universe, and kinda.

CBS will debut the first episode of Discovery on CBS proper on September 24 at 8:30 pm EST with the second episode available on-demand on CBS All Access. The 15-episode season will be released in two chunks. The first eight episodes will be available on CBS All Access every Sunday the first eight episodes will run from Sunday, September 24th through Sunday, November 5th, and the second chapter will pick back up on an unspecified date in January 2018.

Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman (who produced the Abrams Star Trek movies) began by discussing pushing back the Discovery air date: “Star Trek is an incredibly ambitious show… We felt it had to be huge. I don’t just mean huge in terms of scope, but huge in terms of story and character. It became clearer and clearer that the world was massive, and an airdate was looming.”

They told CBS Ceo Leslie Moonves that the worst thing they could do would be to compromise the show to meet an airdate, and they also had to delay because they needed their star. They didn’t want to set out until they knew they had what they needed, and they loved Sonequa Martin-Green’s work. “We said, ‘She’s the one.'”

Then, executive producer Akiva Goldman dropped the news everyone was waiting to hear: Star Trek Discovery is in the Prime universe and it takes place ten years before the original series. “We are considering the novels not to be canon, but we are aware of them,” Goldman said, adding: “It is its own standalone story with its own characters and its own unique vision of Trek.”

Per executive producer Aaron Harberts, Sonequa’s character is “Sarek’s almost foster daughter.” Keep in mind that Sarek is Spock’s dad. Harberts believes that this will allow the team to tell “father-daughter stories” while being able to focus on the interesting dynamic of a Vulcan raising a human child, and how that will affect her.

And about Martin-Green’s male character name of Lt. Cmdr Michael Burnham, Harberts noted that it’s former Discovery showrunner Bryan Fuller’s “signature motif” to name his women after names that would typically be known as male.

And finally, as far as what series creator Gene Rodenberry would think about the newest addition to the canon, actor Jason Isaacs said: “What would Gene Roddenberry think? He’d say this is the best Star Trek series by far! I spoke with him recently.” There you have it. Consider the warp drive warmed up on the hype train.