Star Trek fans have been waiting over a decade for the franchise to boldly go back to the small screen, and now it’s finally going to happen with Star Trek: Discovery. The series, which is set a decade or so before the original Trek TV show, will premiere in 2017 on CBS before relocating to its permanent home on the CBS All Access streaming service. Now a major bit of casting news has dropped just in time for Thanksgiving. Sources are reporting that acclaimed actress Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) will be signing on for a tour on Discovery.
The news first broke via Discovery producer Nicholas Meyer, a Trek icon in his own right for directing The Wrath of Khan. Meyer is a consulting producer on Discovery, and during an interview with Coming Soon, he let slip that “I know Michelle Yeoh is in [Discovery].” That’s a hell of a big story to let slip so casually, but the news was soon confirmed by Deadline. As of this posting, CBS TV Studios has not yet officially confirmed the story, but Deadline isn’t usually wrong about this sort of thing.
Deadline also provides some more specific information about Yeoh’s role. While fans initially assumed she might be a shoe-in for the lead — we know a female lieutenant commander will serve as the series’ lead — that’s not the case. According to Deadline, Yeoh will actually play Han Bo, a Starfleet captain in command of a ship called the Shenzhou. While there are no further hints about Han Bo or her ship, it’s said to play “a big role” in Discovery‘s debut season.
Assuming Yeoh’s involvement doesn’t vanish with a wave of CBS’ publicity department, this is definitely good news Discovery could use. One of the major selling points for the show was the involvement of showrunner Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal), but he stepped down from that role earlier this year, owing to his commitments to other series. (Chiefly, Starz’s American Gods and NBC’s Amazing Stories reboot.) Discovery executive producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts stepped up to take over as showrunners, with EP Alex Kurtzman also staying in close orbit.
There’s a lot riding on Discovery. It marks the venerable but troubled Star Trek franchise’s return to the medium that birthed it. But it’s also a test cast to see how many Trek fans and general viewers will open their wallets and add a CBS All Access subscription just for one marquee show. I have a sneaking suspicion this show is going to be heavily pirated and many will just wait until it’s available for purchase or rent on services like iTunes or Amazon Video. But who knows, maybe I’ll be proven wrong.
Either way, Star Trek: Discovery is set to premiere on CBS — and then CBS All Access — in May 2017. The first season will consist of 13 episodes.