There's still a lot that we don't know about CBS's upcoming Star Trek series for its All Access streaming service. Early information and rumor was that the show would be run by Bryan Fuller (who formerly worked on the Deep Space Nine writing staff), that he had hired Nicholas Meyer (former director of The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country) to be the show's principle writer, and that the show might be a seasonal anthology series that would take place between the events of The Undiscovered Country and The Next Generation At least some of this information may be incorrect.
Earlier this year, the first teaser trailer was released. It also was not very forthcoming with specific information, but there were a few details that could be inferred.
The first teaser showed little detail, but seemed to imply a confirmation of a seasonal anthology.
The trailer begins in space over earth, but then warps away to exotic locations across space before revealing the show's logo and the tagline "New crews. New villains. New heroes. New worlds.". My interpretation of this teaser (assuming that there's an interpretation to be had) is that it is intended to show us that this new series will be shifting its attention away from Earth and out into deep space. That is promising.
The tagline definitely seems to support the idea of a seasonal anthology, since everything is plural. Granted, it could be a single storyline that just focuses on multiple ships' crews in parallel, but I hope that this is intended to verify that the show is a seasonal anthology in which each new season will be a completely independent, self-contained storyline separate from the previous season(s). However, Bryan Fuller himself has gone on the record as saying that the show is not an anthology series. Instead, he says that the show will "tell a Star Trek story in a modern way". By this, he means that each episode in a season will be a chapter of a larger story. This isn't entirely new to Star Trek, since both Deep Space Nine and Enterprise already had season-long arcs. But even then, those shows were still heavily episodic, with most episodes telling self-contained stories that can be enjoyed on their own without relying on having seen the previous episodes. Not so in this new series. Much like Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica, and so forth, this new Star Trek series will likely require that its audience see every episode, in proper order, to be able to understand what's happening.
A few weeks ago, at Comic Con, we got something a little more concrete in the form of a new teaser trailer:
The second teaser provides a first glimpse of the U.S.S. Discovery, and implies the show is a prequel.
This second trailer reveals the ship that will likely be the focal point of the story: the U.S.S. Discovery, registry number 1031. The trailer also apparently reveals the title of the series as "Star Trek: Discovery". The fact that the show is named for the one singular ship in the trailer seems to imply that the show will be exclusively about the U.S.S. Discovery, which seems to contradict the first teaser's tagline that promised "New Crews" (plural). This seems to point us back in the direction of a seasonal anthology: perhaps the first season is called "Discovery", and will be about the U.S.S. Discovery and its crew, and subsequent seasons will have different titles and be about different ships, crews, etc? Similar to how one season of American Horror Story can be called "Murder House", and the next can be called "Asylum", and so on.
The U.S.S. Discovery also allows us to start to infer more details about the show. Early rumors implied that the series may take place after the events of The Undiscovered Country (during the franchise's so-called "Lost Era"). This doesn't appear to be the case based on the new teaser and ship. This ship has a design that is pulled directly from concept art created by Ralph McQuarrie for the ill-fated Star Trek: Phase II series that was supposed to be a 1970's sequel to the original series. This show never actually was made, but its pilot episode was supposedly rewritten to become the first movie Star Trek: the Motion Picture. McQuarrie's concept art for the Enterprise features the same wedge-shaped secondary hull that Discovery has in the new teaser. Heck, even the asteroid dry-dock seems to be pulled straight from McQuarrie's art.
Discovery's teaser seems to be pulled straight from Ralph McQuarrie's Phase II concept art.
The design of the ship implies that the show takes place earlier than The Undiscovered Country, as the ship looks more appropriately like something that you would see during the time in between Star Trek: Enterprise and the original series. This is corroborated by the Discovery's registry number: NCC-1031. For reference, the original Enterprise had a registry number of 1701, the Reliant had a registry number of 1864, and the Excelsior had a registry number of 2000. This implies that the Discovery is quite a bit older than the Enterprise. So I'm going to say that I think this new series is going to take place on the timeline somewhere between Enterprise and the original series movies. It might take place later than the Original Series (between the ToS and the movies), in which case, the Discovery might have undergone a refit or something (to explain why it has an older registry than the Enterprise).
I also have to say that I'm disappointed by the quality of the CG work in this teaser. I honestly thought I was looking at a fan-made hoax. Visual effects aren't a make-or-break thing for me (though they might be for other viewers), but I am concerned that CBS may not be investing as much money into this series as they probably should, which suggests that they might not take it very seriously. Of course, it could also be the case that the show is spending its budget in other areas. Perhaps the lackluster CG is the result of money being spent on sets, costumes, props, and other practical effects, and CG shots are minimized. If that's the case, then bravo! I'd rather see money spent on practical effects anyway. Though if the show has really good practical effects, then the mediocre CG scenes will only stand out more in the final product. It could also be that they didn't blow the budget for this one teaser trailer, and that the final show's CG will look much better. After all, the did just start recruiting CG modelers earlier today (July 29th). If CBS expects people to pay for their streaming service just to watch this show, then they'd better have the quality of other streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Go. If Star Trek Discovery tanks, then it's likely that CBS All Access could also tank along with it. So you'd think that they'd be pulling out all the stops with this show.
In any case, the show is scheduled to start production in September and premiere in January of 2017. The first episode will be broadcast on CBS, but the rest of the series will only be released on CBS' paid-for All Access streaming service. Netflix will also carry the show in international markets.