Photography was barred for the panel which began with a video message from executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller after it was made clear there would not be any casting news. Fuller revealed the ship is partly named after the ship in 2001: A Space Odyssey, partly the shuttle Discovery and the concept of exploration. The show “is about a journey into the best humanity has to offer. We are at our best when we’re discovering.”
“Star Trek needs to be modified and updated for television but still have nods to what came before,” Kurtzman explained. The show will have brand new alien races, alongside reinventing and re-exploring old ones. “There will be new aliens and interesting life forms, some as part of the main cast,” Beyer added later in the panel.
Nicholas Meyer noted that he is “part of a team” on the show as they create the episodes of the new series. Their job is to “fulfill Bryan’s vision. I will adjust/adapt my thinking to be part of that group enterprise.” He doesn’t know Star Trek in the way Beyer and Fuller do, so acts as an outsider perspective, a “very flat footed earthbound ‘how does that work'” mentality. He also advised fans to “lower their expectations” when asked by a fan to not screw this up! “Fans do not know what is best for them,” he added referencing the death of Spock and whether he could do it well. “Go in with an open mind and open hearts you may be rewarded.” Fans should “get loose”. Beyer added that everyone on the show wanted what the fans do, advising them not to miss the pilot.
The writers’ room is very collaborative (and a dog-friendly place!): “everything is heard” to further Fuller’s vision, Kirsten Beyer noted. “All art is the product of the time in which it’s created,” Meyer pointed out. “No matter how futuristic we try to be now, in 10 years it will look like 2016.” This applies to the science particularly. “We have a delicate balancing act of being faithful to what we know and still being grounded,” Beyer explained. (Astronaut Mae Jemison was hopefully going to be part of the scientific advisory team, but the schedules didn’t work.) They have to “honour the integrity of the show without looking silly.” The Science Exchange has informed them on what’s possible.
Beyer noted that keeping the spirit of optimism in Star Trek was important to them, “without painting too pretty a picture.” The 13 episode order means that there can be a “depth and growth” of characterisation, with “the spirit of inclusion … not just related to sexual orientation.”
The setting was partly dictated by “finding a space in the chronology” where there are gaps where new material can be inserted, according to Meyer, who said he loved the idea of being ten years before Kirk.
Book fans will be pleased to note Beyer confirmed that she will still be working on the Voyager relaunch novels alongside her Discovery work – she will be overseeing the novel series from Pocket Books and the comics from IDW. “It is challenging because everything is constantly evolving,” she noted. Mike Johnson is writing the comic, with a novel coming from David Mack. The books and comics will appear alongside the series from January.