Bryan Fuller to helm the new Star Trek TV show, but what about American Gods?
After beginning as a writer on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Bryan Fuller is returning to the property that helped launch his career, but this time as the man in charge
Deadline is reporting that Fuller has been picked to act as co-creator and showrunner for the as yet unnamed new Star Trek TV show. The series will air exclusively on CBS’ new streaming platform, and it is currently set for a January 2017 debut.
Fuller is an award-winning producer and writer, and his shows tend to gain a passionate following, albeit frequently a criminally small one. His last show Hannibal had problematic ratings, but it was critically lauded and had an intensely loyal fanbase. Giving him the keys to Star Trek should allow Fuller to put his unique mark on a property that is in very little risk of cancellation for a change.
The ceiling is high, but there is a small problem. Actually, maybe not so small.
Fuller is currently working as showrunner for Starz’s American Gods, a new series based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. The American Gods production just recently cast its leading man (The 100s’ Ricky Whittle), and filming is expected to begin soon with a tentative release window of late 2016.
So does the Star Trek hire mean American Gods will be left without its original showrunner?
According to sources speaking to Deadline, the new deal is not expected to interfere with Fuller’s work on American Gods, but that seems either hopelessly naive or deliberately disingenuous.
Fuller is working on American Gods with Michael Green, but Green is primarily a writer. He does have some experience producing for TV, but his only experience as showrunner is the short lived 2012 show, The River. He also wrote the Green Lantern film, although there were other problems with that hot mess, so maybe it’s not fair to hold that against him.
If Fuller does leave to focus on Star Trek, Starz will either need to hand over the high profile production to an essentially unproven producer, or scramble to hire a new showrunner, which could delay production. If the studio chooses the latter, it could also create creative issues between the new boss and the legacy of the old.
The more likely option is that Fuller remains with both, which would potentially be just as problematic – just look at Steven Moffat, who was forced to temporarily sacrifice Sherlock in order to keep Doctor Who on schedule.
Fuller may be able to finish work on American Gods before jumping over to Star Trek, but Star Trek is such a massive undertaking that he will certainly need to give that production at least some of his time while American Gods is in production. Even if it is something as simple as approving a new uniform, Star Trek fans will demand that the production team is on top of things. You can’t just phone it in, and there will be a lot of little things that may seem inconsequential, but could have a major impact on how fans see the show.
It also now seems highly unlikely that Fuller could return for a second season of American Gods. That may be jumping the gun given that the first season hasn’t even begun to film yet, but it is a rough spot for a new show to potentially have only a temporary boss.
Still, regardless of what this means for American Gods this is good news for Star Trek fans.
Fuller began his career as a writer for Deep Space Nine before going on to write and produce for Voyager. He eventually rose to the position of showrunner with the critically acclaimed Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Wonderfalls. He also worked on Heroes, but his most successful show was arguably the short lived, but much beloved Hannibal.
“Bringing Star Trek back to television means returning it to its roots, and for years those roots flourished under Bryan’s devoted care,” said Alex Kurtzman, who will co-produce with Fuller. “His encyclopedic knowledge of ‘Trek’ canon is surpassed only by his love for Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic future, a vision that continues to guide us as we explore strange new worlds.”
Not much is known about the new show yet. It will debut 50 years after the original series was on the air, and it will feature a new cast of characters. It won’t be related to the upcoming Star Trek Beyond film, although it’s not clear if the show will continue the universe that ended with Star Trek: Nemesis or if it will somehow be part of the altered timeline J.J. Abrams introduced.
Either way, it’s nice to hear that the show will retain the optimism that many fans felt has been sorely lacking in the Abrams films.
“For the past 50 years, Star Trek has been a groundbreaking franchise that not only changed the landscape of television, but made a significant impact on pop culture,” CBS Television Studios’ President David Stapf said. “When we began discussions about the series returning to television, we immediately knew that Bryan Fuller would be the ideal person to work alongside Alex Kurtzman to create a fresh and authentic take on this classic and timeless series. Bryan is not only an extremely gifted writer, but a genuine fan of ‘Star Trek.’ Having someone at the helm with his gravitas who also understands and appreciates the significance of the franchise and the worldwide fan base was essential to us.”