One of the chief criticisms leveled against Star Trek: Discovery since its premiere a few weeks ago has been its relative darkness compared to previous Star Trek TV series, a claim that executive producer Akiva Goldsman rebutted during this afternoon’s Discovery panel at New York Comic Con.
“What we’ve been talking about tonight as we’ve been talking about Star Trek, is the characters… which is actually relatively different than what you would talk about with most previous Star Treks,” said Goldsman, noting that Deep Space Nine bucks this generalization in some ways.
“We are a wholly serialized narrative,” continued Goldsman, “and in that wholly serialized narrative, we get to tell character stories over plot, which does not suggest that we don’t have plot.”
Goldsman used a pretty effective example from The Original Series to illustrate his argument, pointing out that, if Kirk had been written to deal with the death of Edith Keeler in “City on the Edge of Forever” — the woman he falls in love with, but who he must let die in order to save his future — in any real way, it would have taken an entire season or entire series to address. “It wouldn’t be fun next week,” he said.
For Goldsman, Discovery‘s “darkness” is not a result of a lack of optimism in the storytelling or a diversion from the tone of canon, but rather an emotional complexity.
“The gift that we have because where we are when it comes to contemporary storytelling is that we can stretch those emotions out for a season,” said Goldsman, continuing…
Ours is a story of redemption. Ours is the origin of the feeling that is TOS. That’s why we are 10 years before TOS. But we don’t start there. We get there. The name of the show is Discovery not by accident. It is how these people discover who they are and, as a representation of the personal, how the Federation reaffirms what it is.
For Goldsman, the joy of contemporary TV storytelling is that the story can start somewhere “different than where you end.” He added: “If we are successful, it is layered, and complex, and dark and light, because the best of Star Trek was always those things. We just get to stretch it out.”
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