Imagine a new Star Trek where each season takes place in a totally different era. Season 1 happens before The Original Series. Season 2 during the Next Generation. Eventually, it ends up in the far future, way after the 24th century. It sounds insane, but it almost happened.
On, Friday, in an interview published by Entertainment Weekly, former showrunner Bryan Fuller revealed his original vision for Star Trek: Discovery, and it was epic. “The original pitch was to do for science-fiction what American Horror Story had done for horror. It would platform a universe of Star Trek shows.” While this approach would have revisited familar territory in the Star Trek timeline, the article makes it clear that it would have gone “into beyond to a time” that the franchise has never seen. This is significant. Since 2002, the furtherest point in the Trek timeline has been fixed in the 2380s. We’ve never seen a fully-realized future past that.
If Fuller had gotten his way, we would have. And the result would have been revolutionary. No science fiction show has ever attempted something so sprawling, much less something as established as Star Trek. And yet, Fuller’s concept of having each season in a different timeline is uniquely suited to Star Trek, primarily because the franchise already takes place in numerous time periods, all with a unique style and feeling. In other words, the American Horror Story model would work perfect for Star Trek, since its already essentially done the same thing, if by accident, and over the course of fifty years.
Apparently, one of the only concepts Fuller insisted on, did in fact happen: casting women of color in the lead roles. “What I can say is…my reaction was that I was happy to see a black woman and an Asian woman in command of a Starship.” And while this achievement of representation is fantastic, old and new Trekkies alike are probably now sitting in wonder, contemplating what could have been had Fuller’s ambitious project come to fruition. Because, in a sense, in Fuller’s mind, Star Trek: Discovery wouldn’t have been one show in the end: it could have been like five new shows.
For completist Trekkies, there’s something sad in this news, if only because Fuller was so clearly a fan. Back in 2016 he famously said that he started writing to “become a Star Trek writer.” And so, when he approached writing a new Star Trek, Fuller looked at the whole franchise and seemed to say: how about we do all of it?
For now, Fuller’s mind-blowing mutli-era Star Trek series is not what is debuting this Fall on CBS All Access. But perhaps, like Spock coming back from the dead on the Genesis plant, some version of this vision can be resurrected.
Star Trek: Discovery will air on CBS All Access starting on September 24, 2017.