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  1. The following cover story appeared in the Aug. 4 issue of Entertainment Weekly (subscribe). We go behind the scenes of the dramatic struggle to return Gene Roddenberry’s legendary sci-fi franchise to the small screen… STARDATE 2017: RED ALERT! The imposing Captai Gabriel Loca strides across the Starship Discovery bridge, squinting at the raging battle on the viewscreen, rattling off orders to his crew with rapid precision. There’s a Federation ship under attack by Klingons, and the Discovery is rushing to join the fight. “Lock on the Bird of Prey!” Lorca barks. “Basic pattern Beta 9. Hard to port! Fire at something, for God’s sakes!” Too late. The Klingons blast the Discovery. Lorca and his shipmates lurch hard to one side. The high-tech set’s thousands of lights flicker anxiously, conveying the ship’s wounds. The director halts the action and Lorca, played by British actor Jason Isaacs of Harry Potter fame, steps off the stage. The episode’s writer, Kirsten Beyer, approaches to give a correction on his “for God’s sakes” ad lib. “Wait, I can’t say ‘God’?” Isaacs asks, amused. “I thought I could say ‘God’ or ‘damn’ but not ‘goddamn’?” Beyer explains that Star Trek is creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a science-driven 23rd-century future where religion basically no longer exists.* “How about ‘for f—‘s sake’?” Isaacs shoots back. “Can I say that?” “You can say that before you can say ‘God,'” she dryly replies. The director wants to try the scene again. “Sure,” Isaacs gamely shrugs. “It’s not my money.” Quite true. It’s CBS All Access that’s footing the bill for Star Trek: Discovery, an ambitious venture to not only reboot Trek on television after a 12-year absence but also fuel CBS’ fledging original-content streaming service at a time when traditional broadcasters are striving to compete in the digital era (in fact, Netflix will distribute the show overseas). And while the scene with Lorca might sound like classic, old-school Trek, the show will evolve the franchise in ways never before attempted. Discovery(set to premiere Sept. 24) is serialized, for starters, with a greater focus on characters’ personal lives, and with fatally realistic life-and-death stakes. Plus, there’s the show’s cast. If this was yesteryear’s Trek, Isaacs would be the star. Instead, The Walking Dead‘s Sonequa Martin-Green (who we’ll meet later) is taking center stage as Trek‘s first black female lead. Yet figuring out exactly how to bring Trek back to television wasn’t easy, and that’s one thing about the franchise that’s never changed. STARDATE 2015: GENESIS When the Original Series launched 51 years ago, it changed not only television but the world. Roddenberry’s radical depiction of a harmonious post-racial United Federation of Planets lasted only three seasons amid modest ratings and the creator’s infighting with NBC,..... MORE