The Fuller Frontier

When CBS announced that they were launching a new Star Trek series back in November 2015, I didn’t have much to say (See THIS POST) because there weren’t any actual details beyond the fact that the show would be exclusive to the CBS All Access streaming service.

This week we finally got some news, and it’s good.  I would actually call it great.

Bryan Fuller will be the showrunner for the new series.  As a few of my Pick of the Week posts can attest, I am a fan of Fuller’s work.  He was the man behind Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal, three series that I absolutely loved.  Even his pilot for a potential reboot of The Munsters, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, was a great deal of fun, and I would have liked to see it go to series.

Based on Fuller’s past work, his Star Trek will be a visual-treat.  Pushing Daisies and Hannibal are two of the most gorgeous series to ever grace our televisions, and each had its own visual style that perfectly fit the world of the show and the stories it was trying to tell.  Wonderfalls, while more grounded in many ways than the other two shows, also had its own distinct visual language and feel.  I look forward to seeing what a Star Trek series from Fuller’s mind will look like. 

While I expect that this new series will be very different from what has come before, there is now doubt that Fuller knows Star Trek.  He began his career writing for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, eventually moving up to co-producer on Voyager.  He knows what’s involved in making Trek on a weekly basis and has seen first hand what’s gone on in the past.  Several writers, Ronald D. Moore in particular, have talked about the restrictions they encountered writing for Star Trek.  Moore’s Battlestar Galactica is in many ways a response to all of the things that he couldn’t do writing for Trek.  Fuller has experienced those restrictions as well, and he will now be the man in charge, which will give him the power to set the rules and keep the guidelines that works and cast aside those that don’t. 

Furthermore, this is a job Fuller really wants.  As early as 2009, he has expressed an interest in interviews in creating his own Star Trek series, and in 2013 he talked about it again, adding that he would love to see Angela Bassett and Rosario Dawson as Captain and First Officer respectively.  Now there’s no reason to believe that this will actually happen, but it does show that Fuller has had his own Star Trek series in mind for the better part of a decade now.  The man has a plan.

With all of that said, I have two concerns:

First, I worry about Fuller being stretched too thin.  He is also developing, writing, and executive producing a television series for the Starz network based on Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods.  I love that novel, and I want the series to be as good as it can possibly be.  It’s magical realism elements are perfect for Fuller.  Since American Gods is earlier in the pipeline, I imagine that most of the design and preproduction work is well underway along with a great deal of the writing.  But once Star Trek ramps up, Fuller is going to have to divide his time.  Of course, many creators split their time between shows.  Joss Whedon was working on Firefly, Angel, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the same time.  But in that instance, Angel and particularly Buffy were well-established shows and he had people he could hand over the day-to-day reins to.  American Gods and Star Trek will both be new and both in need of Fuller’s guidance and creativity.

My second issue is the same one that I had when the project was first announced.  I’m not at all pleased that the show will be exclusive to CBS’s streaming service, CBS All Access.  I have no interest in anything else on the service, so I’m going to have to decide if Star Trek is worth $5.99 per month to me.  I might end up waiting for the DVD set. 

But with the announcement that Bryan Fuller is going to be in charge, I am a lot more interested in seeing what this new Star Trek series has to offer.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter