Friday, 20 January 2017

So It (Should) Begin - (Maybe) Roll the Cameras on Discovery

January 24th 2017 marks (at least at time of writing) the first day since March 8th 2005 that cameras have rolled on an official Star Trek series.

In layman's terms that's just a fraction under 18 years and roughly about the same kind of time between the end of filming of The Original Series and The Next Generation. How odd.

I had previously wondered if we were going to get some more cast announcements before filming commenced next week but now it does appear that the seven names we've had so far are the regular cast for season one.

Well that's about what I thought until 7pm last night when it crops up that we have another official cast announcement in the form of James Frain who will be dropping onto the show as Sarek. So does this mean that we still have more names to come? Perhaps not all of those so far mentioned are main cast and are simply guest roles?

Anyway, yes, goddamn Sarek of Vulcan. Now go back a few years and for some bizarre reason when I saw him I did think he would make a decent Vulcan so this news sent a bit of a chill down my spine. Frain's very demeanour makes him perfect for such a role although just how big a part this is likely to be we don't know. It could be every episode, it could be recurring but there are a few things that make it very, very exciting. 

The very fact that they have announced a casting of Sarek means it's a big deal and it really is. It emphasises the importance the new production team are placing on linking the show into existing canon and embracing Star Trek's rich past. More than likely this isn't going to be the only familiar face showing up over the course of the show but it might be the only one in the first season. Whether this is an indication that we might get to see Spock at some point I really wouldn't read too far in but there's always the dream and a sliver of hope. Besides I'm sure the writers will love dropping some knowing winks into the story...

Sarek also cements the fact that along with the teased Andorians and the certain casting of three Klingons, the Vulcans are going to be a key player within the first season of Discovery. Remember too that this will be a Sarek only a decade younger than we saw him in Journey to Babel and as such that does pave the way for a possible appearance by his wife, Amanda as well. 

Frain is an actor I've caught in a few bits over the years. I actually first saw him back in the three-part BBC drama Armadillo back in 2001 and much later in 24. Both times I thought him excellent and once more it's a top level addition to this rather impressive cast list. He'll actually be the fourth actor to play the role after Mark Lenard in The Original Series, two movies and a couple of appearance in The Next Generation, John Simpson in The Final Frontier and Ben Cross in the 2009 reboot.

Looking into those castings a bit more deeply and with this latest announcement does mix things up a little. I am leaning now more to the belief we are being purposely drip fed with low level information to keep fans happy and that there are bigger things to come. For one the only Starfleet captain in the main cast isn't even on the Discovery and only two of the seven are slated to be on the titular craft. Seems a bit silly to call your show Discovery if it's not getting that much screentime.

Scanning over the IMDB info it also seems that we can only expect Sonequa Martin-Green to be the only cast member guaranteed to survive the first season and be in every episode. But in that instance let's also point out that she's not actually been officially cast!

The way in which the main cast is segregated across several places and ships immediately makes this a very different and unique Star Trek. Never before have multiple locations and a criss-crossing of races as part of the main cast been such a major piece of the story. You can see the influence of multi-location shows such as Game of Thrones in the approach and does account for the high cost per episode but on the other hand is this actually going to be out of format? Will too many locations actually make it un-Star Trek

Maybe the casting of Sarek also indicates that we're being sold a few dummies at the minute. Are all these guys really main cast? Are some of these Klingons actually just recurring or guest stars? Do we still have a chunk of the main cast, who will be back each week, to be revealed by CBS? I really don't know because as we've seen from the further delays, nothing is set in stone - or very wet cement in this case.

Finally though it wasn't all good news around the Discovery series because it now seems that the shifted launch date to May 2017 has become somewhat transient. Now there is no confirmed air date for the show only that CBS are taking their time with it to make sure that it's right. Good on the one hand that they aren't prepared to churn out something mediocre just to fill a slot but bad that we have a longer - undefined - wait until episode one.

Will Discovery get to the screen in 2017? Have you passed caring?

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