The Official Reason for Star Trek: Discovery's Many Delays: World Building Is Hard

Image: Still via Youtube
Image: Still via Youtube

Earlier today CBS finally announced a premiere date for Star Trek: Discovery, ending months of delaying the series even further from its original January 2017 release window. The series’ showrunners also gave an answer as to why the show constantly got pushed back... and well, let’s just say it has us raising a furtive eyebrow, Spock-style.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg claimed the reason that Discovery will premiere a whopping nine months after it was originally slated was the fact that the tons and tons of work needed to build a world like Star Trek in terms of sets and costume designs seemingly took a lot longer than anyone involved on the show actually expected.

Harberts: There’s is so much artistry and custom craftsmanship that go into every prop, every costume, every set. These things have to be designed and manufactured. We flew a costume designer to Switzerland to pick up the fabric for the Starfleet uniforms. Several items on our uniforms are 3D printed. Some of our sets can take over six weeks to make. CBS has given us the time and the money to make something the fans will find worthwhile.

Berg: You can’t cut corners or have 95 percent of what’s on screen be completely original and inspired and then have five percent something you bought at a store. It has to be cohesive — and it is. I’m so proud of what’s on screen, it’s so beautiful and it’s taking world-building to a whole new level.


In some ways, this makes sense—in the earliest stages of Discovery’s production, we waited an alarmingly long time to hear basically any detail about the show even as we drew closer and closer to that original January 2017 release window. The first casting announcements of the series weren’t even made until the end of November 2016, after the first delay of the show to May 2017. (The casting added its own wrinkle, because Discovery had to wait for star Sonequa Martin-Green to end her time as Sasha on The Walking Dead.)

It became pretty clear with how little we were actually seeing of the show that these windows were rough at best, and each new announcement of a delay became less and less surprising. The fact that building starship bridges and scouting locations for alien worlds took longer than CBS optimistically expected makes sense in those circumstances. But at the same time, “sets take a long time to build” seems like a really odd thing to settle on as the reason, especially in the wake of many troubling reports about Discovery’s production, from original showrunner Bryan Fuller’s surprise exit from the series, to news of actors changing roles entirely midway through filming, to even the fact that former Next Generation star Michael Dorn was allegedly offered a pittance to appear on the show.

Sure, you don’t really expect the showrunners of a highly anticipated show to openly admit that there have been some bumps in the road during production, but as an “official” response to what has been nearly a year of delays and oddities surrounding Discovery, Harberts and Berg’s comments simply raise more concerns than they allay. I’ll give them this though: the sets and costumes they have made for the show do look pretty dang sumptuous, judging by what we’ve seen in the trailer so far.

Star Trek: Discovery finally hits screens on CBS and CBS All Access September 24.


James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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I call B.S. on this excuse. All you need to do is look at the Expanse, which is a far more complex show and story to produce. They haven’t been plagued by delays or a ton of negative press. SyFy was starting from scratch on the Expanse. This is Star Trek, exhibit 1 or 1A, when it comes to science fiction. It should not be that hard to create a show in the Star Trek universe. There are literally metric tons and petabytes of reference material.

This all comes down to the production team, network and show runner having no idea what they are doing. I’m hoping that the delays are the result of them fixing issues and therefore making a better show. But I’m not holding my breath.