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Star Trek Discovery, Canon & The Prime Universe- Part I

By October 26, 2018 May 28th, 2019 Captain's Log

First, let me say I like Discovery.  I see it like I see JJ Trek (aka The Kelvin Timeline).  Re-imagining Star Trek as something totally different and in alternate universe from The Prime Universe.  I like Alex Kurtzman and think he does a helluva job on Discovery.  I don’t buy into the “It isn’t Star Trek” line. It IS Star Trek, just not the Star Trek we grew up on…just like JJ Trek.  And I am OK with that!  I just don’t think it’s Prime Timeline.

And that, in my opinion, is the major mistake Alex Kurtzman and his crew have made, trying to tell us it is Prime Timeline, because it CLEARLY is not.  Sorry Alex, love you man, and respect you a hell of a lot, but you have made one and only one mistake in my mind, and that is trying to ram “It’s Prime Timeline” down our throats.  In fact MOST ALL OF YOUR PROBLEMS with fans are due to this.  Fans can like JJ Trek or not, but we all accept it since JJ was smart enough to take your and Rob Orci’s recommendation and place it in an alternate timeline. (Which Orci talks about in a Trekmovie.com article)

So why couldn’t you do that again? Why not just say it was an alternate timeline Star Trek?

This elegant solution, used in Star Trek (2008) which you were part of, was so brilliant, and so respectful of the fans, that it just BEGGED to be the solution you chose again.  And yet you didn’t, and you keep creating more and more problems for yourself because of your desire to shoehorn this in canon. Again, I like Discovery and am happy we have it.  I just don’t consider it Prime Timeline, because it clearly isn’t.

Writers on Star Trek always complained about canon and how the 700+ episodes and movies made adhering to canon a real pain in the ass.  They wanted to jettison all of it!  And yet you and your team embrace it!  UGH.  Drives me crazy.  Still I can watch Discovery and enjoy it.  In fact I love when you nod towards TOS like with the amazing Phaser!

So let’s start with this:  There is a difference between CANON and PRIME TIMELINE.  I know you get this.  Yes, you are making this for CBS, and so it is canon.  No argument, no debate, you are official Star Trek and so canon.

But The Prime Timeline is something you don’t get to dictate.  The Prime Timeline is what the 741 episodes of TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise look like.  We know that future.  Remember, it is not OUR future, it is a fictitious future where the 90’s saw the Eugenics War.  It is a future that is SET IN STONE.  And you don’t get to redesign it and claim “visual reboot”.  That is a reimagining and thus not the Prime Timeline.  JJ didn’t claim it and the Kelvin Universe is aging well and settling in.  If you had made Discovery set in THAT universe it would have been awesome.  But I understand you couldn’t because of copyright and who owns what.  So make your own Star Trek universe.  We would all love it.  We are geeks.  We want more Star Trek, in any form.

Discovery Klingons vs. Axanar Klingons

Let’s end with the fact that fans see Axanar as Prime Timeline even if not canon, and why?  Because we honor canon.  We look like Prime Timeline.  You can easily see the USS Ares and our crew living in 2255 (the year Prelude is set, and coincidentally the year you set Discovery).  The Klingon ships look like TOS Klingon ships.  You want a visual reboot?  Be subtle or make it an alternative timeline.

You can ask any fan which looks more like The Prime Timeline and they will tell you Axanar. Now, I don’t expect a $ 120M streaming series to look like TOS.  We can do that, you can’t.  But that is why you don’t try.  You just make it an alternate timeline and you do whatever you want.

Anyway, that is my take on Discovery and The Prime Timeline. I still like Discovery and enjoy looking forward to every episode.

In Part II I will discuss Kurtzman’s recent statements and how they will try and reconcile everything, because I am hoping they find an elegant solution!



BTW, a great article on player.one.com explodes the alternate universe theory)

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • Bob flatters says:

    I totally agree with you.

  • Scott Voigt says:

    Nailed it…

  • Lars says:

    I agree, put Disc into its own timeline and everything is well…or lets say better. Still can’t get myself to like Burnham. Love Saru, Tilly and Staments but Burnham…nope. ^^

    PS: Anyone else getting the feeling that DISC could be better if it had more episodes? To me it feelt like the entire klingon war was over so quickly, hastly. When compared to DS9 Dominion war or lets say Babylon 5 it felt like like nothing realy happend.
    Sure they say X number of ships destroyed and stuff but most of the war was numbers to me. Isn’t the rule show don’t tell?

  • Lars says:

    Oh forgot…DISC could also have fit wonderfull into “StarTrek online” timeline wise. With a new Klingon-Federation conflict or simply a new species that we haven’t seen so far. I wonder why they didn’t went with something that was after the last series/movie.

    I mean when you see the Discovery beside some ships from StarTrek Online it fits so well into that timeline. Also a completly new engine that we have never seen? Perfect for a future timeline. Why shouldn’t the Federation explore new engines concepts in the future? Also no need to “explain it away”.

  • DHernandez says:

    This is the best reply and description written so far, imo.

  • Colin says:

    Even though the promo trumpets how DSC is “10 years before Captain Kirk,” the whole visual aspect actually says DSC is 100 years after ENT. TOS is not the foundation of this series, ENT is. It’s what gives them the way to say “it’s Prime Timeline,” but they are reshaping the timeline going forward. Subtle changes are being made. The aspects that some complain are “dated” and “cheesy” are being altered.
    I guarantee it is all going to culminate in CBS rebooting TOS, which they know is where they’ll fin gain the All Access subscriptions they’ve been waiting for.

  • Rick Newton says:

    Note: This is a personal opinion, and your “mileage may vary.”

    Sorry to quibble, but Discovery, for me, just like the JJ efforts, is not “my Star Trek.” Axanar, is much more “my Star Trek” than either of the new offerings could ever manage due to where they started.

    Additionally, the “links” to TOS, etc., are at best superficial. They have very little, to no, significance. They are “throw aways,” intended really to try and smooth over for the core/long term Star Trek the complete disregard for what these fans accept as the prime timeline, and like it or not, what they accept as canon. It’s a rather superficial attempt. At best a mere (feeble) nod to longtime fans.

    Unlike any of the “original” series; TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY and even Enterprise* ; Discovery has been overtly dark and gloomy among other similar issues.

    *Though, I have serious issues with the Xindi timeline versus the timeline set forth by TOS–the war with the Romulans–being core for the Enterprise time frame. And the fact that had the Xindi “incident” had occurred, it would have made the list of ‘wars’ that Earth was involved in the years between the third world war (the one used in TNG’s First Contact) and the (now delayed?) Romulan war as listed in TOS.

    And, yes, definitely, Discovery is NOT prime timeline. I cannot see hoe anyone, including Kurtzman, can try to make such a statement about Discovery. It most definitely should never have been proposed to any individual that is familiar with Star Trek that Discovery is Prime Timeline.

    Of course, those that are not familiar with Star Trek–I suspect the “target audience” who are in the 25-35 age range–will find very little, or nothing, that rubs them the wrong way. Star Trek to these individuals is “just a name of a show that started ‘long ago’ before they were born”, a series of movies that occurred in “the past”. At best they may be familiar with the JJ Abrams efforts. So to them this IS Star Trek.

    Alec, I must also disagree with the statement that long time fans will accept Star Trek in any format so long as “we” have Star Trek. I would rather continue to read books that, although not cannon (by declaration of CBS/Paramount and some clutch of fans), depict TOS, TNG, etc., than accept what is now coming out of CBS/Paramount.

    In contrast, I look forward to Axanar. It shows reverence to what has come before. It takes small steps to “modernize” the technology without making big jolting changes. It looks to align itself with the timeline, making “logical” extrapolations for what the Federation and Klingon ships and clothing (uniforms) would be like leading up to TOS.

    I fear where CBS/Paramount are headed with Star Trek. Indeed it is obvious that CBS/Paramount are looking to a different demographic, one that is younger than those that have stood beside Star Trek and its core beliefs; as set by Gene Roddenberry and the original Star Trek cast, crew, writer, producers and production staff; for 50+ years.

    Even as an alternate timeline, parallel universe, other explanation of how Discovery “came to be,” I find that the series does not contain the core of Gene’s vision. It is too dark and too “shocking” a difference to what has come before.

    I watched the first season of Discovery–basically because it is free through the cable channel Space here in Canada–and will watch the first couple of season two episodes to see, critically, what happens with the characters of Pike and Spock. If I find that these characters are too divergent–as I’ve found others characters, like Sarek–from their established characters, that will end my watching even though it is a free series to watch.

  • Rick Newton says:

    P.S. to last…

    The best way to describe Discovery, IMO: Dystopia is Space with the trappings of Star Trek (in the form of names; Starfleet, Federation, Klingons, etc.)

    And… Disappointing.

  • Lance Ripplinger says:

    Thank you Alec, you hit the nail on the head! What you said is the crux of the matter. Discovery is CANON but not PRIME TIMELINE. Trying to shoehorn this new series into an established story line is driving us proud, nerdy Trek fans crazy. It would work, if they respected the Prime Timeline like Axanar does. They should just make an entirely new timeline. Oh, and I’m looking forward to what Patrick Stuart will be doing as well!

  • Andrew says:


    I consider myself to be one of the more vocal critics of DISCO. To the point where I consider it utterly unwatchable. Yet, all my complaints about it melt away if it were set in an alternate timeline.

    Purple lobster Klingons that preserve the bodies of their dead? No problem. Hero ship that looks like someone smashed a Connie and D7 together? Hey, in this timeline, different engineers were chosen to design Federation Starships.

    I could keep on going, but I think you get the point.

  • James says:

    Enterprise still isn’t prime because they’ve gone back in time and changed the timeline with interference from the future. ✌️😎
    Love you guys, love Axanar!

  • Claude Francis says:

    Unlike Alec, this Discovery did not like it at all and for different reasons.
    The desire to change or change canons is right but transform Star Trek universe
    or distort it this is too much.
    – Changing the format of the series with consecutive episodes to make the series hard to read
    and boring.
    – The Prime line universe Alec has already said everything
    – Look spaceships – look races – look for costumes just confusion
    – The story of the first officer and not the captain is fine, but the same script goes back and forth
    on who decides even this little reality.
    – The choice that new worlds was no longer outside the ship but inside the ship a version of DS9 and Babylon 5 without depth.
    – The interaction between actors, the spirit of Roddenberry where there is no longer hope. Maybe it was
    too optimistic but Star Trek Enterprise still smelled of this without falling too much “we’re all brothers”.
    – What I really missed is the stories that make you dream, hope with a pinch of realism and why not of hardness and tragedy like life.
    I hope in a season 2 with the necessary corrections

  • Charlie Zimmerman says:

    Yep. This is pretty much how I feel, including (perhaps most importantly) the fact that I ENJOY the show. (So much so that I watch it standing up in front of our 46” screen on the wall, for a more immersive experience! #geek)

    And I really LIKE the cast. They profess their love for Star Trek, the fans and each other. They’re having fun together, and it shows. Call me a sucker, but I like that.

    Finally, while Trek fans may debate things like canon and timelines, I’d like to think it can be done without making it hurtful to those who are working so hard to share this show with us. I truly believe that NO ONE involved with the show is trying to deliberately anger people or produce bad work. So my wish is for the haters – including some of the most vocal who’ve spent in the Axanar community – to relax, tone it down this season and be more respectful of the people who would like to share their work with us.

    Our world has more than enough hate… we don’t need more of it in our Trek world. (And yeah, that applies to the Axanar corner of the world as well.)

    🖖 IDIC

  • Dennis Castello says:

    This is absolutely spot on, Alec. I love the distinction between canon and Prime Universe — Discovery is the former, Axanar is the latter. I’m not a fan of Discovery but I have absolutely no problem with an alternate Star Trek universe that re-imagines and updates the look of everything. But I’ll say this: when it comes to which one is, in my heart, the more “legitimate” Star Trek… hands down it’s Axanar, not Discovery. The writing, the ships, the costumes, the sets… the fact that Axanar edges out Discovery in every single one of these aspects proves that budget has nothing to do with it. Instead it’s the devotion to the setting that matters more than the budget.

  • Sam says:

    I am still waiting for the 2nd episode of the 2nd season to give my money to CBS to binge watch Discovery, Enterprise and Voyager.

    From everything I have seen and read on Discovery, they have made excellent sci-fi, but killed the heart of Star Trek.

    I have two loves, history and cooking. Since I grew up watching Prime Trek, I am fairly familiar with the history of the storyline of the series.

    All of the major issues I have are with the changes. I would love to sit down with the rebooters and ask why the changes were made.

    Keep up the amazing work, Mr. Alec. Can’t wait for Axanar to come out.

  • Dave says:

    Decent viewpoint. Wishing axanar had the legs to go further under cbs oversight, instead of being a competitor. For me, an aging enthusiast a timeline somewhere in between is/was both sellable and still able to be true to prime/canon. I haven’t seen DSC except in excerpts and won’t until a few seasons can develop, then I will objectively marathon it. Likewise, Axanar seems like the Christmas present in the store window I’ll never own. Time restrictions have prevented me from pursuing other fan internet based sagas. Axanar wetted my appetite, I thirst for more in a concrete way, and I patiently wait.
    I will say this Alec, do your homework. ENT did a fairly decent job filling in holes. Pay attention to details like ships uniform insignias, they were branches of service, not specific ships. There is a lot of misinformation out there.
    Keep rockin!

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