Today in horrible horrible news about Star Trek: Discovery:
According to TV Line, [Rainn] Wilson has been cast to play a younger Harry Mudd in Star Trek: Discovery.
Harcout Fenton Mudd.
Mudd is not the worst character in all of Star Trek (cough Vic Fontaine cough), but he is at best a slapstick idiocy that it’s hard to see working in a more modern TV series. Maybe a gritty take would be interesting, but that would be hard to link into TOS. Rainn Wilson doesn’t strike me as the best casting either – his most famous role (Dwight in The Office) is more famous for deadpan humour than the sort of scenery chewing slapstick of Mudd.
Putting this into the ‘uh oh’ column.
Yes, new countdown. This is based on the ‘early Fall’ date mentioned by the head of CBS.
The news, other than I hope the show is going to be out before November, is that the captain has been cast:
The U.S.S. Discovery has welcomed aboard its captain. CBS has just confirmed that Jason Isaacs will join its next Star Trek series—but don’t forget, for the first time ever in the franchise, the captain will not be the main star. Isaacs will play Lorca, the captain of the series’ main Federation starship, Discovery.
Jason Isaacs is one of those actors who seems to have been in lots of things (most notably Harry Potter as the older Malfoy), but has never been the leading player.
This isn’t news that moves my expectations one way or the other really. He’ll be good in this, but that won’t be how the show lives or dies.
Today’s news has two parts:
Star Trek: Discovery, CBS’ upcoming addition to the long running sci-fi series, has been delayed again.
There’s now no release date for the show beyond ‘when it’s ready’.
CBS confirmed today that James Frain would play Spock’s father.
(I’ll leave aside that when Mark Lenard portrayed the 2260s Sarek he was 43, James Frain portraying the 2250s Sarek is 48. He’s meant to be a 90-100 year old Vulcan, you can have a little creative licence there).
Put together I’m officially downgrading from ‘cautiously optimistic’ to ‘worried’.
Sarek first (and why do they have to say ‘Spock’s father’ here – anyone paying attention to casting news on a new Star Trek TV show knows who Sarek is). Canonically Spock is in his mid 20s by this point, indeed he’s begun to serve on the Enterprise. So this is a Sarek who doesn’t much like Starfleet. He’s an ambassador, so perhaps some role in negotiations with the Klingons makes sense. So I can’t really say that this is a big stretch – but something about this feels wrong to me. Perhaps it’s that they’re trying too hard to shoehorn in links to the Original Series, maybe it’s the idea of recasting Mark Lenard.
But the indefinite delay is more worrying. Not because it won’t be out soon (although it was originally supposed to be out next week). But rather because it suggests that they’re frantically reworking everything to create a story and a plan. Which means that they’re junking whatever they had to start with. I think starting something like this without a clear idea of the story you want to tell isn’t going to end well. It begins to seem like there’s something of a death spiral going on.
Another sliver of news, this time casting for a lead:
Star Trek: Discovery has finally found its Number One: Sonequa Martin-Green.
She’s Lieutenant Commander Rainsford
Another actor I’m not very familiar with (geek confession: I don’t watch The Walking Dead, it’s just never appealed very much to me). I think the idea of not focusing on the Captain is a good one, but not really as ground breaking as it’s being presented sometimes. After all, TNG really had very few stories that focused on Picard per se, and Voyager had few stories that really focused on Janeway.
There was also another bit of news from earlier in the week which I missed:
CBS All Access’ show has added three new castmembers—all reportedly playing Klingons—to Star Trek: Discovery. This tells us that instead of the traditional rotating cast of Klingons, we’re going to have an ongoing focus on specific members of the Klingon Empire.
This is more in the sigh category for me. Klingons are probably the dullest of the recurring ‘villain’ races, and while I’d love to see a more nuanced approach I suspect that isn’t what we’re going to get. This pretty much confirms my earlier guess about it being in the ‘Klingon Cold War’ period. The real question – will they go for Klingon makeup (a la TNG) or for the ‘augment’ human appearance of TOS (as seen in the very end of Enterprise).
More news, this time a bit more worrying.
Even though it had been said that Bryan Fuller would remain an executive producer for Star Trek: Discovery, Fuller is now clarifying that the only work he will do on season one of the show is what he’s already done.
This suggests that there’s a lot more going wrong behind the scenes than we’ve seen before. While Bryan Fuller was overcommitted with American Gods, the lack of a new clear controlling vision suggests that we might be heading towards the corporate blandness (and failure to understand Trek) of a lot of the worst of Voyager and Enterprise.
No need to panic quite yet, but I am a bit less optimistic than I had been.
Big news today is some information on casting. We have three roles:
Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou. Weirdly, captain of the Shenzhou, not the Discovery. Most famous for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, this is a big name for the cast, although probably a more minor role.
Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru. Has hardly ever appeared on TV without being in some kind of monster makeup, and will be playing an alien again here.
Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Samets. More famous as a broadway star (he was in the initial production of Rent), this will be quite a new thing for him. His character is described as a fungus expert.
Overall – interesting, but hard to see where the show is going from these.