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– by David Kozlowski

Since its inception in the late 1960s, Star Trek has taken an active and progressive stance on race, gender, and social issues. Captains and crew throughout the many TV and film iterations have reflected the demographics of society at-large, albeit with a disproportionate emphasis on the paternal (Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Archer, etc.)



So today’s new photo from CBS (via Dark Horizons) from the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series suggests greater emphasis on both gender and diversity in its leading roles, which is really intriguing and raises many questions about the focus and tone of the new show. Incidentally, Star Trek: Discovery is set about 10 years before Captain Kirk’s “five-year mission.”

In this photo we see Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and 1st-Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) wearing non-traditional uniforms and standing on a spartan, arid planet. What makes this interesting — considering that this the series’ first official production photo — is that aside from what appears to be a communicator on Burnham’s belt, there’s little to suggest that this is a Star Trek show. Additionally, there’s no clear Star Trek iconography whatsoever (no ships, no Starfleet insignia, and no phasers or other weapons).

One possible reading of this image is that the narrative and tone will be much more character-focused than spectacle-based. Now, as mentioned above, this is obviously Kirk-era Star Trek (or “TOS,” if you prefer), so there will certainly be starship battles, Klingons, and other tropes typical of Trek, but these elements won’t necessarily be driving the content.

There’s obviously only so much that one can infer from a single image, and I might be reading too deeply into this, but thus far there’s been a marked lack of information coming out of CBS about this new series. While I admire keeping secrets and plotlines under wraps, you have to wonder if this is a wise strategy, given that the TV marketplace overflowing with great sci-fi and comic book series. Finding an audience for an online or streaming-only series is challenging, even for such an enduring franchise as Star Trek, here’s hoping that today’s photo opens the door to more info to build necessary hype and expectation.

If you think the delays this shows have experienced are representative of the network’s faith in the show, it seems like you’d be wrong. Deadline is also reporting that the series — which originally hadan order for 13 episodes — will now be getting 15 episodes in its season. Additionally, it will be getting a companions series called Talking Trek, which pretty much sort of speaks for itself in terms of what content it will provide.

Do you think Star Trek: Discovery can carve out a distinct and compelling place in the franchise’s 50-year canon? Let us know in the comments down below!

Star Trek: Discovery hits CBS All-Access sometime in late 2017 (TBD).

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SOURCE: Dark Horisons

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.