Why Star Trek: Discovery Is Serialized And Not Episodic, According To One EP

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Star Trek: Discovery will be breaking some new ground when it debuts near the end of September. We already know that the show will feature a new take on the Klingon race, more complex interpersonal relationships between crew members and the first openly gay character in the history of the series. And, unlike most of the previous Star Trek series, this show will be heavily serialized, as opposed to relying largely on episodic storytelling. Now, we have a good idea why that is. Co-executive producer Heather Kadin spoke out recently about the change.

The idea of having a story that continues, to be able to follow these characters through fifteen episodes, not just a weekly mission, but their emotional journey, which I think you can even tell from the clip. It's a really emotional show and I think we get to do that because of the way we're telling the story over all of that time.

Heather Kadin spoke about this new direction for Star Trek: Discovery during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con in mid-July, which our own Conner Schwerdtfeger attended. It sounds like the desire to have deeper and more personal stories for those in the crew of the Discovery helped everyone behind the show decide to step away from episodic stories and commit to a serialized story structure for the latest entry in Trek's TV history. The emotional nature of the stories they plan to tell will simply be better served with serialized storytelling.

Star Trek: Discovery will focus on First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) as the show delves into an event in Trek lore that's been mentioned before but never shown on screen. The cast also features, among others, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, Anthony Rapp, Doug Jones, James Frain and Rainn Wilson. There will also be several Klingons on the show, as Starfleet and the Federation will be in the middle of a bit of a cold war with the alien warrior race. During a press conference at SDCC, where CinemaBlend's own Dirk Libbey was present, Wilson spoke about how tensions with the Klingons will impact the storytelling.

This particular universe is a very dark time for the Federation and for Starfleet with this war happening so I don't think it would be appropriate in this universe, I talked to the writers about this, to have as many jolly wackadoolde episodes that were often in the original series and in The Next Generation because, and that's one of the wonderful things about Star Trek, you could have some episodes that were almost comedies.

Seeing as how this war will up the stakes considerably as far as conflicts go on Discovery, it's likely that this darker tone is another reason that serialized stories felt like a better fit for the show. After all, for the audience to take this struggle seriously, we'll need to see how everyone deals with the results on a regular basis. And, as Rainn Wilson said, it wouldn't seem right for there to be a lot of stand-alone episodes that are more loosey goosey than the situation at hand should really warrant.

Well, after a few years of waiting, we can finally check out Star Trek: Discovery for ourselves when it hits CBS All Access on September 24. To see what you can catch this summer, be sure to check out our guide, and be sure to bookmark our fall premiere guide to keep up with all your returning favorites and new shows.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.