Bryan Fuller, creator of some of your favorite, if relatively short-lived, television shows (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls), will now be helming the Star Trek television reboot for CBS's digital All Access network. It's an idea that's been in the making for years — in 2008, Fuller said that J.J. Abrams's reboot of the film franchise meant that Star Trek could also return to the silver screen. Fuller, of course, has had Star Trek in his veins since 1997 when he lied about his grandmother dying to skip out on a day job and write a script for spin-off series Deep Space Nine. He has two story credits from that series: "The Darkness and the Light," an episode scripted by Ronald D. Moore about a serial killer aboard the space station Terok Nor, and "Empok Nor," scripted by Hans Beimler, about the crew getting trapped aboard the Terok Nor's not-as-abandoned-as-it-seems sister station.
By the fall of 1997, Fuller was on staff at Voyager, the fourth Trek series. His first scriptwriting credit there was for "The Raven," shared with writer Harry Kloor. This episode was a sign of what was to come in Fuller's future television projects and what we might expect from a new Star Trek offering. As he described the TV franchise in that '08 story, Fuller's favorite is still the original, which he described as "dynamic and passionate." The Next Generation was "a little cooler and calmer," Deep Space Nine was "the best of the modern ones," and Enterprise was "the most sterile of them all, when it should have been the most fun." Voyager, much like The Next Generation, is calm and character-based, but Fuller's first script infuses his brand of quirky storytelling with vigorous plumbing of the human psyche.
In "The Raven," Seven of Nine, a former Borg drone, is introduced to the arts by her very own Lionel Richie, Captain Kathryn Janeway. The sign of a constructed bird in the art galley gives Seven startling visions about ravens and flashbacks to a childhood trauma. Fuller's latest series, Hannibal, was famous for its intense flashbacks and fantasy sequences. Using a literal raven in a dream to lead Seven to the USS Raven, an abandoned vessel that belonged to her parents, is typical Fuller. As Seven begins to question her past as part of the Borg and develop human traits, we're seeing an exploration into her persona that's not dissimilar from the psychotherapy-based warfare between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham.
In Fuller's first solo script, "Mortal Coil," the station's cook and ambassador, Neelix, is killed during a survey mission. Nineteen hours later, Seven uses a Borg technique to resurrect him. The experience rattles Neelix, who is concerned that there was no afterlife for him when he died. He revisits the scene of his death, then goes on a vision quest to reaffirm his faith, but ultimately plans to kill himself. (Death is a theme that Fuller revisits often, from Pushing Daisies to Dead Like Me and Hannibal. Daisies, one of Fuller's more popular series, starred Lee Pace as Ned, a piemaker who could bring people back from the dead with his touch, and the concept of the afterlife and the morality of resurrection were often topics discussed on the series' two seasons.) In confronting his fear of death, Neelix's life is reaffirmed, and he discovers that his purpose is to bring joy to others.
The use of a fantastic story like this to parse topics of death, purpose, and humanity are exactly the things we can expect from the new version of Star Trek. In 2008, Fuller wanted to break the mold and shake up the series. He described his vision thusly: "Star Trek has to re-create itself. Otherwise, all the characters start to feel the same. You always have a captain, a doctor, a security officer, and you have the same arguments based on those perspectives. It starts to feel too familiar. So all those paradigms where it takes place on a starship have to be shaken up." Fuller's spent the past 10 years creating series of his own that show his bold vision for television and unique depiction of humanity, so you can bet (get ready for a pun here) that he will boldly go where no Star Trek creator has gone before.
And maybe that new journey can start by shaking up the diversity of the Star Trek universe's leadership. In a 2013 interview with Den of Geek, Abrams described his perfect leading ladies: "I want Angela Bassett to be the captain, that’s who I would love to have.
"You know, Captain Angela Bassett and First Officer Rosario Dawson."