Actors Sonequa Martin-Green and James Frain talk to USA TODAY’s Bill Keveney about the privilege and responsibility of being part of of CBS All Access’s ‘Star Trek: Discovery.’
Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Trying to decide whether to sign on for Star Trek: Discovery, which premieres Sunday on CBS (8:30 ET/PT) before moving to the CBS All Access subscription streaming service for 14 more weekly episodes?

Here are five things to know about the sixth live-action Star Trek series, the first for the storied franchise since 2005.

When and where are we?

Captain’s log: Stardate … Nah. We could never figure out that futuristic calendar. In terrestrial terms, Discovery opens in 2256, 10 years before the events of Gene Roddenberry’s original 1960s series, although Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock are nowhere in sight. The United Federation of Planets and Klingons are engaged in a cold war that is about to get hot, with the USS Shenzhou on the outskirts of Federation space near Klingon territory. .

“Episodes 1 and 2 are the ratcheting up to war, the origin story of how our characters get where they’re getting,” executive producer Aaron Harberts says. “Then, from Episode 3 on, it tells the story of Michael Burnham discovering who she is and Starfleet discovering who they are set against the Federation-Klingon war.”

Who’s Michael Burnham?

Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is a brilliant anthropologist who serves as the Shenzhou’s first officer. She is the first black woman to be a Star Trek lead character and also the first lead who is not a starship captain. Burnham is unique in another way as a human raised and educated on Vulcan after her parents were killed in a Klingon raid.

“This idea of Michael Burnham is a complicated and interesting take on culture and feelings of alienation and what it’s like to be an alien and still be at home,” executive producer Akiva Goldsman says. “We’re trying to continue the debate that Spock created.”

Are there any major connections between Discovery and previous Star Trek productions?

Speaking of Spock, Discovery overlaps earlier shows and films via his…