The decision to set Star Trek: Discovery ten years before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series was made by series co-creator Bryan Fuller, who was intended to be the showrunner but left the series during the early days of production. Current co-showrunner Aaron Harberts is happy with Fuller’s choice to set the show in the 23rd century rather than pushing forward into the 25th century of the Star Trek universe.
“I’m glad that it is because it set up parameters for us, Harberts tells Metro. “Let’s say we set it 100 years after [Star Trek: Voyager], the canvas is so broad. To try to contemplate, you’re creating a whole new mythology really.
“I think Bryan [Fuller] was interested in the original series and I think he was interested in the lead up to where the original series is. I think he was very interested in the Klingon-Federation conflict, but I don’t know definitively why he picked that.”
There are a few things that fans will want to unpack here. First, the notion that creating a 25th-century mythology would be too challenging may ring hollow given that the creators of Star Trek: The Next Generation did exactly that when they launched the second Star Trek series into the 24th century 30 years ago.
However, its worth noting that Fuller originally pitched his Star Trek series as being an anthology. The plan for the first season, which is now Star Trek: Discovery as we know it, was to set it in the 23rd century, but reports suggest future seasons would have visited the 24th century and yes, even gone past where Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Nemesis left the Star Trek timeline as we know it.
That said, it isn’t like Star Trek: Discovery is the first prequel series in Star Trek history. Star Trek: Enterprise was also a prequel, though it was set comfortably 100 years before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series, giving it room to breathe and create its own mythology rather than butting directly up against established canon. Enterprise has also been credited, rightly or wrongly, with killing off Star Trek television for a decade, so maybe making that comparison isn’t Star Trek: Discovery’s best defense.
Star Trek: Discovery will return to CBS All Access on January 7, 2018.