Star Trek TV Blog

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2021

09 Sep 2021

Star Trek Day News on SNW, PIC, LOW, PRO and DIS

On the occasion of Star Trek Day 2021, trailers and other news about all upcoming series and seasons were released by Paramount+. Perhaps most notably, the cast and the roles of Strange New Worlds were revealed. Anson Mount as Captain Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Commander Una Chin-Riley and Ethan Peck as Spock will be joined by the following:

There is a new Star Trek Picard trailer, confirming that Q is responsible for the temporal mess and creates a fascistoid regime. Also, the show has been officially renewed for a third season.

A Lower Decks mid-season trailer gives us a taste of the adventures of the Cerritos in the remaining episodes of season 2.

There is also a new trailer for for Star Trek Prodigy (with Janeway!). On October 28, the first episode will be available on Paramount+.

Finally, a release date for Discovery's season 4 was announced. It is November 18, hence overlapping with Prodigy.

With the addition of legacy characters Uhura, Chapel and M'Benga (not to mention a crew member named Noonien-Singh for no sound in-universe reason), Strange New Worlds ventures deeper into nostalgia and thereby deeper into reboot territory than I would have anticipated. Although it is a spin-off in the postfactual spirit of Discovery anyway and not actually bound by facts established in TOS, it still is noticeable that there seems to be no limit to recastings, redesigns or namedropping. The many TOS tie-ins may serve to satisfy the creators' idea of nostalgia, or this is an effort to demonstrate to less critical viewers that SNW upholds the legacy.

We can also see that the Enterprise uniforms were changed - yet again. Actually, a new uniform style was introduced for each season of DIS so far and for SNW. No matter whether the SNW style predates or succeeds the DIS season 2 uniform (I assume the former because of a passing similarity to the one of "The Cage"), this isn't even consistent within the bounds of the Discoverse, or it would require additional awkward explanations such as already in DIS: "Brother" ("Yeah, we just returned from deep space and have the new uniforms, whereas you were recently recommissioned on Earth and had no chance to get them").

That being said, I wouldn't care much for yet another TOS prequel, even if it faithfully followed the established history and if it didn't downright deny its look and its level of technology. Star Trek ought to keep its promise to explore strange new worlds, not old or reimagined ones. SNW may become a success because it promises to bring back exploration instead of season-long intrigues and genuine optimism instead of lip service to Roddenberry's ideals. But that would work a lot better without token nostalgia and in an unwritten era.

Regarding Picard season 2, a couple of months ago the leaked production photos with the black/white/red banners already more or less gave away that Q would turn the Federation into a fascistoid dictatorship. This alternate reality is anything but a new idea, considering that Discovery already extensively featured the Mirror Universe. I keep my fingers crossed that Picard creates a more credible dystopia, and most importantly without grotesque caricatures of known characters. Although it is the arguably most overused time travel cliché, I'm looking forward to Picard's visit to 21st century Earth (=USA). And while it may look like the La Sirena crew is busy fixing the timeline for a whole season, perhaps there is some time to wrap up a couple of issues from season 1.

The first four episodes of Lower Decks were overall rather disappointing in my view, because of thin stories, because of the total unwillingness to develop the characters and because of too many Easter eggs as surrogates for genuine humor. I hope this will change because I love the show. And perhaps some of the blatant references in the mid-season trailer are just holographic. Please?!

 

02 Sep 2021

Prodigy Opening Credits Released and Picard News

The Star Trek Prodigy opening credits were released by Paramount+, a classic sequence of the USS Protostar in space, with instrumental music.

On other production news, Star Trek Picard wraps production of season 2, and prepares for season 3. It was also announced that Annie Wersching, who previously played Liana in ENT: "Oasis", would appear as the Borg Queen in season 2, following in the footsteps of Alice Krige and Susanna Thompson.

 

27 Aug 2021

More Prodigy Cast Members Announced

Two more cast members of Star Trek Prodigy were announced, set to play antagonists of the teens who appropriate the USS Protostar: John Noble and Jimmi Simpson.

"[John] Noble will voice The Diviner, a ruthless tyrant who controls the asteroid of Tars Lamora, The Diviner exploits wayward species and will stop at nothing in his hunt for the Protostar ship, no matter the cost. Though his goals are shrouded in mystery, his body is failing him and he created his progeny, Gwyn, to one day carry on his mission when she is ready for it."

"[Jimmi] Simpson joins the cast as Drednok. The Diviner's deadly robotic enforcer is heartless and cold. His sole purpose is to keep The Diviner on task and ensure that the Protostar is found. Drednok is a friend to no one, including The Diviner's own daughter Gwyn and uses his menacing spider-like form to impose The Diviner's will."

A couple of days ago at STLV, Robert Beltran already revealed that he was doing voice over work for Star Trek Prodigy.

 

05 Aug 2021

New Contract for Kurtzman, Planned Academy Series and Prodigy Streaming Deal

Alex Kurtzman's existing five-year contract with ViacomCBS to create content for its streaming service Paramount+ has been extended for another five and a half years.

In an interview with the New York Times, Kurtzman confirmed the rumor that he is planning to produce a Starfleet Academy series for a younger audience. Kurtzman said: "I want to get much weirder with the franchise, pushing the boundaries much further than I think most people would want. I think we might get there. Marvel has actually proven that you can. But you have to build a certain foundation in order to get there and we're still building our foundation." On the topic of the Section 31 series announced as long as two and a half years ago, he mentioned scheduling issues as the main reason for the delay.

Paramount+ is coming to Europe and will stream on Sky in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria in 2022. It will also be available as a direct-to-customer service. Star Trek Prodigy will be exclusive to the these channels.

So Alex Kurtzman will remain in charge of the franchise for five and a half more years, landing a deal that reportedly amounts to as much as 160 million dollars. Unlike many other critics of the new Star Trek, I have no personal gripe with Kurtzman. I don't care for his work outside of Star Trek, it doesn't matter for me what kind of a person he is, and I don't mind that he makes a fortune in his job. As much as many old fans are disappointed with Discovery and everything that followed, they shouldn't always drag the discussion down to the ad hominem level.

The ViacomCBS bosses must have had their reasons why they chose Kurtzman in the first place, and why they still trust in him after five new Trek series have taken shape. It is obvious that the expectations of the studio do not coincide with those of the fans. The first are all about business and the latter are all about the creative direction of the shows. If we, as outsiders, try to imagine what the business side of Kurtzman's job is about, we may be mistaken about quite a few things. One common point of criticism is that the current Trek is not believed to be profitable (and that it should hence be canceled and Kurtzman fired). But making as much money as possible with Trek productions may not be the primary goal anyway. ViacomCBS wants to become a big player in the streaming market with their service Paramount+ (formerly All Access). They need attractive looking fresh content for that matter, and they rely on the brand name "Star Trek" being a crowd-puller. And while a new Trek show may be produced at lower costs just as well, Discovery and Picard with a budget of 8 million dollars per episode have the shiny look and feel that suits the concept of Paramount+ as a premium streaming service. In my view, neither the quality of the series nor the immediate profit that can be made with them plays the decisive role in the strategy of ViacomCBS. I don't think that Discovery and Picard perform as badly as certain YouTubers want make us believe, but viewing statistics may be of only secondary interest to Paramount+, since they are not made public anyway. Regarding fan reactions, the studio can afford to be selective in a similar fashion, by addressing more "grateful" new fan groups with their public relations, rather than old-school fans, and by simply dismissing the arguments of the vocal critics aka "haters". What is more important is the aspired perception in the wider public, that (exclusively on Paramount+) there is more Star Trek than ever, which appears as more exciting, more modern and more diverse than ever.

Kurtzman has definite plans to create at least two more series, about Section 31 and about Starfleet Academy. The more or less official announcement of the Starfleet Academy series doesn't come as a big surprise, considering that insider information about still more Star Trek in the making usually proved true in the past couple of years (as opposed to those other frequent rumors of Alex Kurtzman having been fired and his series having been canceled). We don't know anything yet about the Starfleet Academy series, except that it may be a second show with teens as the target audience, besides Prodigy. We don't even know whether it will be animated or live action. I don't think it will be based on Harve Bennett's feature film pitch from 30 years ago. I keep an open mind about it. Overall, featuring cadets that are about the same age as the young viewers doesn't seem to be a bad idea - as long as the show isn't turned into some sort of high school farce and as long as it isn't set in an era where it further damages Trek's continuity (Young Burnham, cough).

The Starfleet Academy concept per se may be a welcome addition to the franchise, much like Lower Decks. But as I already mentioned in earlier comments, it is increasingly hard to define what the franchise is still about. We have got classic Trek from TOS to Enterprise. We have got Lower Decks, a series firmly embedded in Trek lore, but as an animated comedy. Many see Lower Decks just as a side show even if they love it, whereas today's two principal series deviate very much from what Trek was once about, in their format, themes, ethos, tone and look. There is no "normal" Trek these days, and even those who are very fond of Discovery or Picard usually have to search for a yardstick of what Trek is about or should be about in the five classic live-action series. Kurtzman's statement that the franchise is going to be "much weirder" may sound promising to new or to less critical viewers and may sound much like a threat to old-school fans, but I think that weird already is the new normal anyway. Overall, I can only repeat myself, but as Kurtzman mentions the topic himself, I am afraid of the Marvelization of the franchise. I can't recognize the necessary foundation that Kurtzman says he is building. Star Trek must respect its history and needs a clear vision. But perhaps most importantly, it needs great new stories. If the studio bosses and Kurtzman think they have to trade quality for quantity and commonality for diversity, Star Trek will become less recognizable with every iteration.

On the topic of international streaming, when it was announced in 2019 that Picard would be available on Amazon Prime Video, rather than Netflix, I more or less jokingly asked how many different streaming services I would have to subscribe to in order to watch Star Trek. The answer will be "three" as of 2022. This fragmentation of the streaming and the according extra costs is a major annoyance for European fans. Perhaps the new European branch(es) of Paramount+ will have an answer to the dilemma, but only if they offer all Star Trek in one package at an attractive price, and independently of the very expensive Sky subscriptions. That is, if the contracts with Amazon Prime and Netflix allow Paramount+ to stream brand new Picard or Discovery episodes outside North America at all! The repercussions of the expansion of Paramount+ into the European market are still uncertain, and my current impression is that we will need subscriptions with three different streaming services for quite some time, in order to watch all fresh Star Trek legally.

 

25 Jul 2021

New Prodigy and Lower Decks Trailers

A first teaser trailer for the new series Star Trek Prodigy was released on the occasion of [email protected] 2021. The story is about a group of alien teens who escape from a desolate planet with the derelict Starfleet ship USS Protostar NX-76884. Star Trek Prodigy is set to premiere on Paramount+ later in 2021.

The trailer was posted on Facebook where it apparently is not geoblocked but may not last very long.

There is also a new trailer for the second season of Lower Decks, which will premiere on Paramount+ on August 12. We get to see the new security officer, a Tamarian, various other familiar species, a hilarious Tom Paris collectible plate and an apparently assimilated Boimler.

Update 28 Jul 2021: Amazon Prime announced that the second season of Lower Decks will air one day after the Paramount+ premiere of the series, on Friday, August 13.

The first trailer for Star Trek Prodigy, obviously assembled from takes from the pilot episode, comes with a beautiful and very colorful animation. It aptly establishes the vastness of space that lies ahead of the teens who escape from the planet. I also like the design of the USS Protostar NX-76884, although I would have hoped for it to be a somewhat smaller and less conventional ship.

The perhaps most remarkable observation about the trailer, however, is that Prodigy comes across as rather adult, both in its style and its apparent theme. After the previous announcements, I would have expected it to be more cutesy. It is clear that Prodigy will not include profanity and that it may use easy language. Still, it doesn't look like the series was made with younger children in mind as a target audience.

The new Lower Decks trailer is fun and is full of tidbits for attentive fans. I only hope that the international release will be sorted out soon, as the North American release date is approaching.

 

16 Jun 2021

New Picard Season 2 Trailer

A new trailer for the second season of Star Trek Picard has been released, and shows the first actual footage. Besides the return of Q, which was already teased some two months ago, the video confirms the widespread suspicions that the story is all about time travel and/or alternate realities: "Time has been broken". Q states that Picard has reached the "very end of the road not taken." Most notably, Seven of Nine wakes up, only to make the startling discovery that her signature facial implant is missing, as if she had never been assimilated. It also looks like the complete season 1 regular cast will be back.

No release date is known so far, except that it will be in 2022.

This looks promising! Although Star Trek has quite a track record of time travel stories, I am confident that the topic will never be exhausted. Seeing how Q is involved, season 2 of Picard may borrow many concepts from TNG: "All Good Things", but that is only appropriate considering how great a story it was and that this could become a legitimate sequel. I am only a bit afraid that the writers may not be able to handle a season-long time travel arc and will forget about plot elements they introduced earlier, just as it happened in Discovery's second season.

I admit I am still a bit skeptical about the return of Q, whose games may distract from important issues that should be addressed, such as the state of the Federation, intergalactic relations (especially with the Romulans) and the status of androids. But it is well possible that this will all happen in some fashion within the scope of the changing realities. I only hope that we won't see Emperor Georgiou or anyone else from the Mirror Universe. This whole pulp version of the actual Star Trek should be buried for good, or confined to Discovery.

Regarding Q's look, I think it is a good decision not to de-age John de Lancie to look like he did 25 years ago. It will almost definitely be explained by Q saying he wants to show solidarity with Picard, after stating that the former captain looked older than he imagined. I am glad that everyone of the season 1 cast will be back, and I'm looking forward very much to seeing Whoopie Goldberg as Guinan again, who is discreetly absent from the trailer but who is likely to have a hand in sorting out the timeline mess.

 

15 Jun 2021

Introduction of Prodigy Characters and Voice Actors

Prodigy Voice Actors and characters
(Paramount+)
Paramount+ introduced the cast and characters of the upcoming 3D animated series Star Trek Prodigy:

In addition, Kate Mulgrew will voice a training hologram in the shape of Captain Janeway on the ship that the six teens have appropriated and that they apparently know nothing about.

Star Trek Prodigy is set to premiere on Paramount+ later this year. There is no information on the international release yet.

The character choices for Star Trek Prodigy are surprising and raise a couple of questions. First of all, the series was stated to be set in the Delta Quadrant in a previous press release. Yet, two of the six species are already known from the Alpha Quadrant (three, if we count in the Brikarian from the Peter David novels). This, plus the unlikely idea that yet another Starfleet ship would have followed Voyager and Equinox into the Delta Quadrant, casts doubt on the premise of the show. But it may still be either refuted or explained.

Except for the nose, Jankom Pog doesn't really look like a Tellarite (neither like the classic one from TOS/ENT nor like the DIS reboot). The animation could have done a better job to make his species recognizable so fans wouldn't mistake him for a Talaxian. On the other hand, we have never seen a Tellarite teen before so the visual discrepancies may qualify as explicable or even as purposeful.

Probably no fan would have expected that the robot-like character is actually meant to be a Medusan from TOS: "Is There No Truth in Beauty" in a containment suit. The idea to hark back to this outlandish species for the first time in over 50 years seems intriguing. Yet, in many regards the Medusans should better remain a mystery.

We have to wait and see if the series provides a rationale on what brings and what keeps the six main characters together. Being a teen is a matter of hormones and is definitely not a universal concept that would apply to gelatinous blobs or even to pure energy. Even though Prodigy is made for children, I would be disappointed if it introduced those very alien-looking lifeforms in the first place, only to let them act and think like adolescent humans (or like the various stereotypes that exist about them). Overall, Prodigy may be a lot of fun, and I hope that it remains true to the promise to explore new life which, in my view, is not at odds with the idea of a kids' show.

 

05 Apr 2021

First Contact Day: Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks and Prodigy News

On the occasion of First Contact Day on April 5, CBS released trailers and teasers on four of the five ongoing Star Trek productions. The first trailer for Discovery's fourth season foreshadows a new common threat to the revitalized Federation and other civilizations. It also shows that the crew has new uniforms yet again. The season is set to premiere on Paramount+ still in 2021.

The production of Star Trek: Picard's second season has just started, with a prospective release date some time in 2022. In a first teaser, we learn that Q, played by John de Lancie, will return.

Star Trek: Lower Decks will return to the screen with season 2 on August 12, 2021. The Lower Decks trailer shows a Mugato, Mariner practicing Anbo-jyutsu and a Miranda-class starship. The third season of the animated series has already been confirmed.

Finally, there is some news about Star Trek: Prodigy. The 3D-animated series takes place in the year 2383 in the Delta Quadrant. Rather than in person, Kathryn Janeway will return to the franchise as a training hologram. The character art for this holographic Captain Janeway was revealed.

The Discovery trailer looks like season 4 is the usual kind of storyline all over again. There is a mysterious new threat to the Federation - again. Burnham tearfully saves everyone - again. Only that this time the key is neither a dyslexic Vulcan nor a lonely Kelpien. Sarcasm aside, after the rampage of seasons 1 and 2 the series is watchable by now but somehow I doubt it will overcome its heavy reliance on tropes. I also don't understand why there have to be new uniforms yet again.

Regarding Star Trek: Picard, I always considered the story about Picard and Q told to the end in "All Good Things", as long as 27 years ago. I try to keep an open mind but a reissue of this conflict is not what I would like to see in the series. No offense to John de Lancie, but I hope that Q's role will be smaller than the teaser makes it look and that the series moves on instead of drawing on nostalgia.

I am positive about season 2 of Lower Decks, which appears to continue in much the same vein as season 1 - although it is still open whether some of the seriousness of the finale "No Small Parts" will be carried over to the new season. When I try to filter out the most blatant silliness, Lower Decks may be even the Trekkiest series of the franchise currently on air, considering that the storylines of the supposedly "serious" shows are often more cringeworthy.

 

12 Mar 2021

Strange New Worlds Cast Members Announced

As announced by startrek.com, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the series about the Enterprise under Captain Pike, is underway. Babs Olusanmokun, Christina Chong, Celia Rose Gooding, Jess Bush and Melissa Navia will join the cast. No details on their roles are known so far.

 

24 Feb 2021

First Look at Prodigy Characters

Star Trek Prodigy, the 3D-animated series, is coming to the rebranded Paramount+ streaming service, rather than to Nickelodeon. This was announced during a Paramount+ investor event that also provided a very first look at the characters. Also, as actor Billy Campbell stated in a podcast, the character of Thadiun Okona from TNG: "The Outrageous Okona" will return in Star Trek Prodigy.

In an interview with Variety, Alex Kurtzman and Paramount+ head of original programming Julie McNamara outlined the future development of the franchise. Regarding the still "secret" shows and the Section 31 series with Michelle Yeoh, they said nothing new will start until the conclusion of the first of the currently five Trek series (DIS, PIC, LOW, PRO, SNW), so it may still be years away.

On other news, the second season of Star Trek Picard is finally in active production, after a delay of more than half a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If it were not for the label "Star Trek Prodigy" slapped on it, I would never have remotely guessed the picture of the six main characters had anything to do with Star Trek. They are just a bunch of generic cartoonish sci-fi or fantasy characters, designed to be as diverse as possible but without any attention to (or knowledge of) the franchise they are supposed to be a part of. There isn't a single familiar race or other visual cue linking them to Trek. I will not make the error to judge the book by the cover though. I still hope that the actual series will be recognizable and relatable and that Captain Janeway won't be misused as another fig leaf by people who don't know and don't really want to make Star Trek.

As for the Section 31 show, Kurtzman should have long recognized that it is a pipe dream. I don't mind if he slowly buries the idea without explicitly admitting to its failure, citing technical or logistic reasons for the deferral.

 

2020

17 Dec 2020

Lower Decks Coming to Some of the Rest of the World

Lower Decks will debut on Amazon Prime in UK and Europe, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand on January 22. It is not yet clear whether other countries are included or will follow soon.

Finally! It is well possible that, at least in case of Germany, there were technical reasons for the delay, as every series is offered in a dubbed version, the work on which may have still been ongoing.

Anyway, coverage of Lower Decks at EAS will begin in January.

 

16 Oct 2020

Discovery Renewed for Season 4

As the third season of Star Trek Discovery begins to air, CBS officially announces that the production of the fourth season of the show will start in November.

 

09 Oct 2020

Kate Mulgrew to Return as Janeway on Prodigy

In a video message on the occasion of the virtual New York Comic Con, Kate Mulgrew announced that she would return as Janeway in the animated series Star Trek: Prodigy on Nickelodeon. No further details are known as of yet.

Contrary to the bad reputation some people love to attribute to the series (without facing much resistance), Voyager has been a wonderful companion in my younger years, and I'm dying to see Janeway again. I think she is responsible for my coffee addiction, but never mind.

Although the "lawless teens" premise of Prodigy doesn't sit well with me, we don't really have an idea which way this show is going. In the best case, Kate Mulgrew will carry over some of the old spirit to the new Star Trek that would urgently need it. In the worst case, another beloved character will be shamelessly exploited for little benefit.

 

08 Sep 2020

New Discovery Season 3 Trailer, International Distribution Secured

A new trailer for Discovery's third season has been released. It gives us the so far best idea of what will happen in the far future, more precisely in the year 3188. The Federation has collapsed after some sort of cataclysm known as the "Burn", and the Discovery is much like a last resort. Perhaps even more notably, a new wordmark for the series is introduced in the trailer.

Also, the international distribution and release date has been clarified. The series will be shown on on CBS All Access in the US, on Bell Media's CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada (October 15), and on Netflix in 188 other countries (October 16).

Discovery starts over with a mostly clean slate in the year 3188. Although the radical change of the setting will not undo the damage this series has already caused to Star Trek's integrity and morality, it is a chance to reclaim some of the abandoned or neglected qualities of the franchise, without having to admit that the initial concept was a failure. In many ways, the new setting is the one Discovery should have had from the start.

I never liked Andromeda, or Gene Roddenberry's propensity for post-apocalyptic science fiction of the mid-1970s for that matter. For Discovery (the ship and the series), this is a bit like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Yet, I expect that I can watch the third season with more ease than the first two ones, now that there is less of a danger that historical facts and beloved characters are screwed with. That questionable honor may quite possibly go to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Perhaps the writers have learned by now how to build a coherent story and work with their characters. I expect and even hope that the world of the 32nd century looks and feels very different than the past as depicted either in DIS or in classic Trek. I am curious if and how they try to sell the ridiculously advanced Discovery as a 900-year-old ship in its new galactic environment.

If we don't like at all what happens in Discovery's third season, there's still the option to ignore it altogether, this time without getting into arguments with fans whose view of canon is very selective. After all, the future is not yet written.

I like the new wordmark of Discovery. It is much cleaner than the previous, "weathered" one, and I am glad they got rid of the "broken" font.

 

27 Jul 2020

Discovery Returns on October 15

As just announced by startrek.com, Star Trek: Discovery is set to return with its third season on October 15. The post production of the season was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This is good news, although I still have huge issues with Discovery. With the ship being stranded in the far future, the series now has the potential to tell stories that don't damage the integrity of the preexisting Star Trek. And that feel like they belong to Star Trek in more than only the affirmations of the staff. I keep my fingers crossed that the people around Kurtzman have learned by now how to make a Star Trek show. Picard was a step into the right direction, and there is a chance that Discovery may change for the better too.

 

23 Jul 2020

Titles for Nickelodeon Series and for Lower Decks Episodes

Star Trek: Prodigy is the title of the second new animated series that is set to air on Nickelodeon. It will be released some time in 2021. As already announced last year, this series "follows a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship", and it is being developed by Kevin and Dan Hageman. It is aimed at a younger audience. No further details are known as of yet.

Furthermore, additional artwork for Lower Decks was revealed, as well as the first four episode titles:

Also, a clip showing the first 90 seconds of the pilot episode was released.

There is still no word if and where the series will air outside North America.

There is nothing yet to comment on regarding Star Trek: Prodigy. Although the premise of "a group of lawless teens" doesn't seem to bode well at all, there is a chance that the series can fit into the Star Trek Universe. And this still wouldn't mean that it has to be canon too.

Despite my harsh reaction on the trailer and despite the fact that the opening scene isn't funny (except perhaps in a Rick and Morty way), the above is my take on Lower Decks as well. If the series manages to embrace the spirit of Star Trek in more than only factoids and visuals and if it also brings us intelligent humor unlike in the bits we already know, count me in. And even if Lower Decks turns out to be just a sicko parody of the real Star Trek, this still wouldn't be a reason to hate it. I very likely won't accept the decree that it is canon anyway. Because why should an animated series about infantile and irresponsible junior officers on a crazy ship be eligible, whereas the canon status of a show with the very characters of TOS on the original Enterprise is disputed?

Lower Decks deserves a chance, and I would watch it if there were a legal way. But CBS seems to have failed to market this series internationally. Even Netflix, the logical choice for anything related to Star Trek and to Rick and Morty, does not seem to be interested in Lower Decks, at least not for the price that CBS demands.

 

12 Jul 2020

Lower Decks Trailer Released

CBS has released a trailer for the new animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks that gives us a first impression of the crew and the ship and also of the kind of humor to expect.

Lower Decks will premiere on CBS All Access on Thursday, August 6. Except for Canada, other international releases have not yet been announced.

I don't want to judge Lower Decks by its trailer, as trailers are customarily composed of random bits that are not really representative of the series. I hope there is more about the show than extremely silly humor that revolves around embarrassing nudity, farts, slimy substances, zombies, being swallowed by a monster, or Star Trek clichés that stopped being funny many years ago. There is still a chance that other jokes are less generic and more intelligent than the ones in the trailer. It is possible that the show has Star Trek spirit after all, and isn't governed by the nihilism of Rick and Morty. And perhaps Ensign Mariner does not act like a six-year-old child all the time? Please?

I still think the Star Trek franchise is big enough for a comedy show, perhaps even one that parodies the very thing. But in order for Lower Decks to become a welcome addition to the Star Trek Universe, the setting and stories need a serious undertone. After all, the series was announced as aimed at adults, something that is hard to believe after seeing the trailer.

On the bright side, there is much attention to the details of Starfleet design and technology as it should look around 2380. Only the sickbay logo is an unfortunate crossover with Discovery.

 

01 Jul 2020

Lower Decks Coming on August 6

The animated series Lower Decks, created by Mike McMahan, will premiere on CBS All Access on Thursday, August 6. The ten episodes of the first season will be released on a weekly basis. Each of them is about 30 minutes long. As already announced, the series focuses on the crew of "one of Starfleet's least important ships", the USS Cerritos, in 2380. A teaser poster with the motto "Rarely Going Where No One Has Gone Before" provides a first look at this ship.

The series will stream in Canada on CTV Sci-Fi Channel (English) and Z (French).

This is good news in a time when we all can use some distraction! I only hope that the international release will be announced and will happen just as fast. Like many international fans, I am absolutely willing to pay for a legal way to view this series timely, if this legal way exists.

 

15 May 2020

Pike Series Announced: Strange New Worlds

After months of speculation what other Star Trek projects CBS may be planning, the series order for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds was announced earlier today. The series will feature Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Ethan Peck as Science Officer Spock in the decade before Captain Kirk took command of the Enterprise. "This is a dream come true, literally," said executive producer Akiva Goldsman. "I have imagined myself on the bridge of the Enterprise since the early 1970s. I'm honored to be a part of this continuing journey along with Alex [Kurtzman], Henry [Alonso Myers] and the fine folks at CBS."

On other news, Patrick Stewart spoke of "startling events" in Picard season 2 without getting any more specific. He would love to include more guest stars from TNG, whereas Narek (Harry Treadaway) from season 1 may not return.

Mike McMahan gave an update on his new animated series Lower Decks, which he considers to be a part of the canon.

There is no news on the release date of Discovery's season 3 yet, which may have to do with its post production being stalled because of the coronavirus.

The announcement of Strange New Worlds doesn't come as a surprise at all.

When Star Trek Discovery was launched in 2017, many fans disliked the total redesign of everything Star Trek, the unrelatable characters and the bleak universe the series was set in, among other gripes. Alex Kurtzman promised that the second season would take care of the blatant canon issues of Discovery. And although Akiva Goldsman still negated in December 2017 that Spock would appear on the show, Spock (Ethan Peck) as well as Pike (Anson Mount) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn) became recurring characters in season 2. The three were enlisted for no lesser purpose than to save Discovery, by reconnecting it to the rest of Star Trek. Pike and Spock quickly gained more popularity than most of the regular series cast. Even many fans who still disliked Discovery began to campaign for a series with their adventures on the Enterprise. Hence, Strange New Worlds was a no-brainer for Kurtzman, who has a mandate to produce plenty of new Trek shows and who increasingly seems to listen to the fans.

That much is positive about the announcement of the new series. But is this what the fans really want? Is this what Star Trek needs?

Discovery's reimagination or reboot of the 23rd century has to be labeled an utter failure, despite or just because of the attempts to mend some of its numerous problems in season 2. In the end, it was certainly a good idea to send the ship to the far future and thereby averting further harm from Star Trek's continuity, as well as from its previously known utopian vision.

Strange New Worlds, however, will take up the baton and continue to overwrite TOS. At least, Akiva Goldsman more or less admits that it is his dream to better The Original Series, rather than to tell really new stories. I too imagined myself on the bridge of the Enterprise in the 1970s, but unlike Goldsman I have no desire to modernize these dear childhood memories or even replace them with a totally different vision.

Anyway, there is a new school of thought among fans, even some old ones, that Discovery's reimagination of everything Star Trek is the only authentic depiction of the fictional universe, at least as far as the 23rd century is concerned. In the opinion of these fans, The Original Series is nothing more than a "low-budget documentary (or mockumentary?) on the voyages of the Enterprise under Captain Kirk". As such, TOS is a series that is allowed and even required to be massively "upgraded" - visually and otherwise. Although they would never officially admit they effectively dispose of TOS, the people at CBS foster such thinking. The first season of Discovery with its almost total absence of visual links to TOS was still a reason for fans to dissociate themselves from DIS, rather than from TOS. In its second season, however, the producers of Discovery did something insidious by re-establishing some of these links and including half-way familiar characters in half-way familiar uniforms on a half-way familiar ship. The series was still deep in reboot territory (and the story was not really better), but now with a shiny production design that outperformed TOS in a way that many fans would replace the original with the alteration in their headcanon.

Being led by characters to whom the fans can relate, Strange New Worlds will likely have more Star Trek spirit than Discovery, and perhaps more than Picard. Even though I strongly disapprove of the continuation of the reboot, if the series explores strange new worlds more than only in its name, it may earn itself a place in the Trek lore. And if it brings back some positivity to Star Trek, it may be even a ray of hope in this corona-ridden world. More than ever, what we need is escapism in science fiction instead of the omnipresent dark stories about shady characters that are supposed to be a mirror of our bad real world.

But will Strange New Worlds be able to shake off the shadow of Discovery? In Discovery, Starfleet is a dishonest, even criminal organization. The planned genocide on the Klingons, Sarek's conspiracy with Space-Hitler and the lies about her true identity were just the beginning. The second season added Section 31, a sinister organization that is granted unlimited power, and ultimately the biggest cover-up in the history of the galaxy, the architect of which is no one else but Spock. Pike too is a proponent of the big scheme, and only tries to make it more acceptable with a kind smile. Rather than attempting to change it, the two are part of the system of lies and denials, of a Starfleet I would not confide in and do not have respect for. A series about Pike and Spock on the Enterprise would either have to carry on in this same vein - or would be hypocritical.

I may belong to a small minority, but I have no interest in the adventures of Pike's reimagined Enterprise (I like the design of the new ship but hate the idea to discard the original). Strange New Worlds will be covered at EAS like every canon Trek show, but will be labeled as a reboot just as Discovery. On a final positive note, perhaps the announcement of Strange New Worlds implies that the Section 31 series with Mirror Georgiou will never see the light of day, speaking of listening to the fans.

 

20 Feb 2020

Three More Picard Episode Titles Announced

The following episode titles were announced today:

 

28 Jan 2020

More Picard Episode Titles Revealed

Following the series premiere, "Remembrance", the next four Star Trek: Picard episodes will be titled:

 

12 Jan 2020

PIC Season 2, DIS Season 4, S31 and Still More Trek Shows

A couple of weeks ago, it was made public that the first showrunner Michael Chabon would leave Star Trek: Picard after season 1, which implicitly revealed that there would be a season 2. The second season of the show has now been officially confirmed by CBS All Access. Terry Matalas will be the new showrunner. On more news about Picard, CBS All Access announced that Wil Wheaton is going to host the after show, "The Ready Room". Also, some great Picard cast photos were released, which can be found at Trekmovie.com, for instance.

On the occasion of the announcement of the second season of Picard, Heather Kadin also stated that the Section 31 show is in active development. Finally, Alex Kurtzman revealed that "there are two more live action shows that haven't been announced yet."

It has not yet been officially confirmed, but a fourth season for Discovery is currently listed as "in development" in Production Weekly (Jan 9, 2020).

It almost seems like the early (premature?) announcements of new Star Trek seasons and shows happen in defiance of a certain faction of fans, who keep claiming that Discovery performed poorly and lost money, that the same is bound to happen with Picard and that Chabon was fired because of the expected failure, according to their "CBS insiders". I think we have solid evidence by now that none of this is true and that Star Trek is commercially attractive enough, at least on streaming TV, for the studio to obtain the necessary funding.

While it is basically good news that the franchise performs well and spawns new shows, I still have a bad feeling about the upcoming inflation of new Trek in the course of Kurtzman's "five-year mission". My first concern is that Kurtzman may trade quality for quantity as the franchise expands. I don't think the motto should be "Make Star Trek great again" but rather "Make great Star Trek again". Kurtzman may have listened to some complaints of the fans as he corroborates at the press conference. We all know what he alludes to. But the amendments to the concept and look in season 2 hardly improved Discovery, which still suffers from its absurd storylines and from being defiantly detached from Star Trek's rich continuity. Star Trek: Picard is just ten days away, and after reading Patrick Stewart's statements about how he insisted on turning the post-TNG world into a dystopia and after seeing this dystopia taking shape in "Children of Mars", my mood has turned from pleasant anticipation to "let's just give it a chance". In light of a possible failure of Picard, Kurtzman and Kadin are courageous to announce the second season before the pilot has even aired. I'll give them that.

Maybe Picard will positively surprise me. And even if I don't like it, it may become a success story, just like Discovery purportedly is one. Perhaps, rather than Picard, one of the two still unannounced shows will return to the old continuity and ethos? The expanding franchise attempts to create shows for all kinds of target groups: fans of dystopian sci-fi, action fans, comedy fans, teens, and maybe eventually old-school Trek fans like me. And exactly this is actually my second issue with the Star Trek inflation. I already addressed it in one of my earlier comments that I'm afraid of a Marvelization of the franchise.

Well, it may be possible and perhaps desirable to produce shows in short succession. And there is no fundamental problem if these are tonally different. A comedy show set in the Star Trek universe may work, because I suppose humans of the future will still have fun, except perhaps Michael Burnham. And even the Section 31 series that I dread so much may not destroy the franchise if it is balanced out by other new shows that show a bright future. But the coherence of the franchise is gradually lost if some of the shows are "darker", some are "more serious" and still others are "more canon", adding to the already existing discontinuity between old and new Trek as well as between live action and animation. Star Trek used to have a positive message that pervaded all six old series and all ten old movies and that vanished with the Abramsverse and Discovery. Irrespective of whether Gene Roddenberry's vision might resurface again in Picard or in a later series as a result of Kurtzman's learning process, "a buffet of Star Trek food to pick from" may seem like an attractive business concept, but the right way to build or preserve a caring fandom would be to offer a well-rounded dish.

Regarding the two more live action shows that Kurtzman spoke of at the press conference, the by far most popular fan theory is that one of them will be the much-requested Captain Pike series. As I mentioned in a previous comment, even many fans who dislike Discovery would love to see the return of Anson Mount as Pike and Ethan Peck as Spock, although it would be set on the reboot Enterprise. I can understand the affection for these characters, who are arguably more popular than anyone of the regular Discovery cast. But I am personally glad that the USS Discovery has left the 23rd century, and no more damage is done to the world of TOS. Let's leave it at that, please!

The perhaps best news is that Wil Wheaton will host "The Ready Room", which is reason for me to watch the Trek after show for the first time (that is, if it's included in Amazon Prime). That also gives me one more reason to hope Picard won't be a failure, because otherwise poor Wheaton will be forced to pretend it doesn't suck.

 

09 Jan 2020

Stewart on How Much PIC Differs from TNG

In an interview with Variety, Patrick Stewart talks about his motivation to return to the Star Trek franchise, after an absence of 18 years. According to Alex Kurtzman, "he [Stewart] is uninterested in repeating himself." It was only out of courtesy that Stewart, in 2017, agreed to a discussion with Kurtzman, Michael Chabon and Akiva Goldsman about how he could return as Captain Picard. He declined but then suddenly changed his mind. Stewart agreed under the condition that the new series would be unlike TNG: "The world of 'Next Generation' doesn't exist anymore. It's different. Nothing is really safe. Nothing is really secure." According to the article, "in 'Picard', the Federation - a union of planets bonded by shared democratic values - has taken an isolationist turn." Stewart adds that the show "was me responding to the world of Brexit and Trump and feeling, 'Why hasn't the Federation changed? Why hasn't Starfleet changed?' Maybe they're not as reliable and trustworthy as we all thought."

I can understand very well that Sir Patrick Stewart, as an actor, doesn't want to repeat himself, just as Kurtzman is cited in the article. Stewart is an awesome actor, who should always be given any leeway he needs in his roles. It is clear anyway that his character Picard has to move on, for more reasons than only Stewart's age. The world of television has changed a lot since the 1980s, and a series like TNG would be produced differently today, for example as production values and serialized stories are concerned.

In an attempt to justify the changes in Picard, Variety calls TNG "quaint", which not only refers to its look and feel. The article takes it for granted that the series has lost its relevance on more than only the stylistic or technical side. I don't think this is true. And even if it were true, I don't see the rationale why, in order to be more modern, Picard has to be yet another dystopia, just like every notable non-Trek science fiction show. Isn't the very idea of Star Trek (that Stewart mentions in the interview too) that the Federation of the future is a better world? One with without racism, without poverty, without selfish leaders, without warmongering, for instance? Stewart says that "we are remaining very faithful to Gene Roddenberry's notion of what the future might be like." But so did already the makers of the Abramsverse movies, an action universe devoid of the traditional profoundness, and of Star Trek Discovery, a reboot that decries Starfleet as a ruthless organization of lies and denials. Assuming that he did have as much influence on the premise and on the scripts of PIC as the interview insinuates, at least I have some more faith in Stewart's words than in the past affirmations of Abrams, Fuller and Kurtzman.

Yet, I find it objectionable that Stewart came up with the idea of an isolationist Federation in the first place, in an unabashed and rather clumsy analogy to Trump and Brexit. He makes it sound like he incorporated his biggest pet peeves into the setting of Picard. Also, what he tells us about the theme of the series is an old hat anyway. Back in 2017, Discovery's Klingons were advertised with almost the same words, as an isolationist empire under a leader who promises to make Qo'noS great again. T'Kuvma, however, utterly failed as a 23rd century Trump, as did the whole idea of totally altering every aspect of the Klingon culture. In the series, as already mentioned, the totalitarian Federation and its ruling class (Vulcan ambassadors, admirals, dictators, prodigies) constitute the actual dystopia of the Discoverse, rather than an unrecognizable alien race that few fans still care for. I can only hope that the aspect of a corrupted Federation, however popular the idea may be among the producers and a part of the fandom, does not prevail in Picard, although Discovery sets a very unfortunate precedent.

I am the last person to deny that, unlike science fiction adventures in a galaxy far, far away, Star Trek has always had relevance for our world and time. The franchise has had its share of stories that commented on political topics of the real world, sometimes more and sometimes less successfully. But it is also a tradition of the classic Star Trek to tackle real-world issues in an encrypted fashion and to limit dystopian elements to single characters or alien civilizations. Of course, DS9's Dominion War was a close call to ruining the peaceful and tolerant society of the Federation. The recipe of DS9 only worked because the series was firmly embedded in such a world already established in TOS and (more notably) in TNG. With Discovery compromising the 23rd century (and possibly continuing along the same lines in the far future), many fans saw and perhaps still see Picard as the last chance for Star Trek to return to the continuity and look but also to the ethics and the positive vision of the future that pervaded the five classic series.

Not all hope is lost. We have to wait and see whether Patrick Stewart's announcement means that his series is a 24th century Discovery, or whether he merely wants to prepare us that the world of Picard is not quite as pleasant and benevolent than it still was in TNG.

From the spoilers that I glimpsed of the new Short Treks episode "Children of Mars" (that I can't watch although I'm a paying Netflix and Amazon Prime customer), we may be in for some unpleasant surprises though, both in terms of the back story of PIC and of crossovers with Discovery.

 

2019

20 Dec 2019

New Picard Trailer

A new trailer for Star Trek: Picard has been released by CBS on Facebook. It shows previously unseen footage of Picard sitting in Ten Forward of the Enterprise-D(!), watching how a planet is destroyed.

The series is set to start on January 23, 2020 on CBS All Access (USA), on CTV Sci-Fi Channel (Canada) and on Amazon Prime Video (other countries).

It is obvious that the Ten Forward scene has to be a nightmare, just as any appearance of Data in TNG uniform must be illusory. The trailers released so far are heavy on TNG references that may or may not be important for the story. In the worst case, they are just token nostalgia without a real impact.

I still expect that Picard will honor the classic Star Trek and that the alterations will be limited to visual effects and to the way that the story is told, although it is produced by the same people that made Discovery into a total reboot. In any case, fans who have turned their backs on the newer iterations of the franchise (I known many of them!) should consider giving this one series a chance.

 

15 Nov 2019

Preview of Animated Short Treks

The latest Short Treks episode, "Ask Not", comes with a preview of the two animated episodes "The Girl Who Made the Stars" and "Ephraim and Dot". They will both air on December 12.

The two new episodes are the first officially produced Star Trek animations in as long as 45 years. Both Short Treks are set in the Discoveryverse. As could be expected, "The Girl Who Made the Stars" picks up the African creation myth already mentioned in the teaser of DIS: "Brother". "Ephraim and Dot" deals with the encounter of a tardigrade ("Ephraim") and a repair bot ("Dot") of the USS Enterprise.

The writers of the previous Short Treks show a good sense of continuity with Star Trek Discovery. Almost every one of the short episodes made sense in the larger context of the series. We can expect the same from the two animated Short Treks. And whether they are meant to be canon or not, they won't be just isolated stories with some kind of Star Trek flavor.

Yet, after seeing just two seconds from "Ephraim and Dot", it is clear that this is going into a silly and cutesy direction. A laughing tardigrade? Come on! I understand that the episode may be aimed at children, but some basic rules of Star Trek should still apply in an animation. Well, maybe this episode is a trial balloon of how something like Star Trek may work for a still younger audience than targeted with the already announced two animated shows?

 

02 Nov 2019

Picard Updates from Destination Star Trek

As the launch of Star Trek: Picard is less than three months away, there is some new information on the upcoming show. Trekmovie.com summarizes the news from Destination Star Trek In Birmingham.

The most visible news is Picard's admiral's uniform from 2385 that was on display. Also, Patrick Stewart confirmed that Jean-Luc Picard really is 94 at the time of the new series, and that his age wouldn't be retconned to 79. He negated the question whether the show would be suited for children: "No, there's some adult language and subject matter that's intense."

Probably most notably, Brent Spiner confirmed the speculation that the trailer from NYCC doesn't show Data's final appearance, and that post-production was not yet finished at the time the trailer was compiled.

I like the direction of Star Trek: Picard. The uniform looks in line with the style we know from TNG and DS9, and not retconning Picard's age is a further step of keeping the series in canon.

It is a bit of a disappointment that Patrick Stewart would not recommend Star Trek: Picard for children. TNG was definitely suited for kids (and popular among them), despite addressing serious issues, because it didn't need graphic violence and foul language to tell stories. While I'm not an advocate of (self-)censorship to achieve a TV-PG rating by all means, kindness was the general tone of classic Star Trek. Star Trek: Discovery set a new standard for profanity and violence in the franchise, and I'm generally fine with that aspect of the show, but I wonder if it couldn't be done differently on Picard.

Finally, I'm relieved that there will be no "Botox Data" on the show. But now that the word is out that Data will be changed, fans will have an even more critical eye on how he looks in the series.

 

05 Oct 2019

NYCC Brings Us New Trailers

New trailers for Star Trek: Picard, Discovery Season 3 and the Short Treks were posted on the occasion of New York Comic Con.

The Picard trailer confirms the already teased return of Jonathan Frakes as William Riker and Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi. It also shows one familiar and unadulterated starship we could hope for, the Enterprise-D, and another one that comes as a big surprise: a TOS-style Romulan BoP with the correct proportions.

The premiere date for Star Trek: Picard will be January 23, 2020.

The Discovery trailer shows how, 930 years into the future, Burnham is separated from the crew for some time, how the ship visits the Trill homeworld and brings hope to a world that looks like a Federation, or what's left of it, trying to get back on track. The third season will consist of 13 full-length episodes.

Finally, the Short Treks begin streaming right now with the first episode "Q&A", at least for CBS All Access subscribers. No word from Netflix yet...

The new Picard trailer keeps up the excitement about the upcoming series. Instead of revealing more about the direction of the show, this trailer evokes even more nostalgia than the first one: Riker & Troi, Data in TNG uniform (albeit just in a dream sequence or on the holodeck), Vasquez Rocks, the Enterprise-D, and even a Romulan BoP last seen in TOS. Star Trek: Picard clearly wants to cater to the needs of old-school fans like me, and I hope this will be more than only lip service in the form of a few details that we are believed to pay attention to.

On the other hand, as Patrick Stewart says in the narration: "I came here for safety, but one is never safe in the past." I appreciate that the series will move on because that is what Star Trek is all about. I hope it will not simply abandon its ties to the past though. I don't mind that the series borrows the view of Starfleet Headquarters and the shuttle design from Discovery, especially since the latter fits a lot better into the late 24th century anyway. Hopefully the makers of Picard are aware that too much Discovery in their series, whether it's in the story or "only" visually, will scare away many viewers. But I'm optimistic that Picard will look and feel like the next chapter of the very characters I love, and not like they are thrown into the action universe of Discovery.

The Discovery season 3 trailer too looks surprisingly promising. Although the Andromeda-like theme of restoring the Federation doesn't seem to bode well, at least Discovery leaves the beaten path. Perhaps the series finally lives up to its title, that it discovers a new time and space for the fans, instead of reimagining the existing Star Trek. Also, it is remarkable that there is far less action and visual overkill in this trailer than in the ones of the first two seasons, or even the ones for Picard. I'm cautiously optimistic about Discovery, although a great third season will not undo the damage this series has already caused.

Regarding the Short Treks, the situation has not improved a bit since last year, when CBS All Access subscribers could watch them months before they were available for the second-rate viewers on Netflix. No matter whether it's mainly the fault of CBS or Netflix, you don't build an international fanbase with a policy that keeps content away from worldwide viewers. And with geoblocking of trailers, while I'm at it.

 

17 Sep 2019

Discovery Wins Makeup Emmy

Star Trek Discovery wins its first Emmy, in the category of Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup. The series was nominated in three other categories: Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Sound Design and Outstanding Visual Effects. The winning episode is "If Memory Serves", featuring the reimagined Talosians.

Discovery also wins three Saturn Awards: for Best Streaming Science Fiction, Action, & Fantasy Series, Best Actress in Streaming Presentation (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Best Supporting Actor in Streaming Presentation (Doug Jones).

Credit where credit is due for the things that Star Trek Discovery gets right! The Emmy for the makeup work is definitely a deserved prize because from a technical and artistic viewpoint Discovery is among the best that streaming TV has to offer. And since the Emmy explicitly goes to "If Memory Serves" with its respectful reimagination of the Talosians, it is a decision I am additionally happy with as an old-school fan.

I'm not sure whether Discovery is really the "Best Streaming Science Fiction, Action, & Fantasy Series" because I don't watch much else. And while I'm not always happy with Sonequa Martin-Green's performance in the series, even critics like me have to acknowledge she is the face of the new Star Trek, and quite convincing as such, whether we like the current direction of the franchise or not. At latest the Saturn Award for Doug Jones is an undoubtedly deserved honor. So congratulations to the crew and cast of Star Trek Discovery! Let's hope that this series (and the new ones that will launch in 2020) does not just garner awards but will also try harder to relay the core values of Star Trek.

 

03 Aug 2019

Mike McMahan Gives More Details on Lower Decks

Mike McMahan, executive producer of Rick and Morty, negated that Lower Decks, his new animated Star Trek series, would be like "Rick and Morty in Space". In an interview with Comicbook.com, he said that "on Lower Decks, it's more about that optimistic Starfleet kind of emotional intelligence. Where Rick and Morty is fun and dark and nihilistic and it's about the multiverse, Star Trek is really about exploring our galaxy..."

McMahan also addressed the canon status of the new series. He said that "it's important to me that canon and Star Trek really go hand-in-hand. It's important, to me. It's not worth making a Star Trek show unless you are at least trying to make sure that it fits into the canon because the canon is part of why I and everybody else loves Star Trek."

The series will feature the California-class USS Cerritos and will be set in the year 2380. McMahan argues that he "wanted to choose a year that was kind of untouched, was kind of blank slate, that didn't touch on anything that they might be doing for whenever Picard takes place but also doesn't get in the middle of anything that was like, 'Oh, this was happening during the Dominion War.' Or, you know, 'This would be happening during [Star Trek: First Contact].'"

It's a clever and fan-friendly move that McMahan sets his series in a time that is not yet taken, rather than the two latest reboots that created a clean slate by removing (Abramsverse) or ignoring (Discovery) the established historical context. Although there is a certain danger that Lower Decks will clash with facts established in PIC, I think the year 2380 is a good choice. The world of Star Trek of the late 24th century is a dear memory from their young days to many of the (adult) target audience, obviously including McMahan himself. They would much rather embrace a show set in that era than yet another attempt to reboot the 23rd century.

Regarding the canonicity of Lower Decks, I wonder if McMahan mixes up "making a canon show" and "fitting it into canon", or intentionally blurs the difference. It is obvious that the first question, whether the show itself is canon, is the decisive one. Regarding the latter, adherence to canon is something the fans expect from every new Star Trek movie or series, animated or not, as well as from the expanded universe of non-canon books and games. This should usually be a no-brainer, if it were not for the recent trend to reboot the franchise. McMahan speaks of his show being "in canon", which could mean both. So while the actual canon status of Lower Decks may still be undefined, it is a good start to make it fit with the established facts of Star Trek. For a positive decision, Lower Decks would have to measure up to the canon criteria of Star Trek as well as to TAS. Considering that the latter is widely regarded as non-canon and hence sets a precedent for animated shows, Lower Decks may have to outperform TAS in several regards, a mission that will be very hard to accomplish.

 

20 Jul 2019

More Production News: Lower Decks, Short Treks, Discovery

Lower Decks main characters
(CBS All Access)
Lower Decks bridge crew
(CBS All Access)
Besides the much-anticipated Picard trailer, San Diego Comic-Con brought us new information on the other ongoing Star Trek productions as well.

The characters, the voices and some key art of Star Trek: Lower Decks were presented at SDCC. The new adult-oriented animated show is set for a release date in 2020. The first season will consist of ten episodes. The voice actors and their characters are:

There will be six new Short Treks episodes. Two of them are the already announced animated episodes. As many as three will feature Captain Pike's crew. The remaining episode is something like a teaser for Star Trek: Picard. The episode titles are as follows:

Finally, David Ajala has joined the cast of Discovery for season 3. Some photos showing his appearance in the season 3 opener (shot in Iceland) were released on that occasion.

Wow. That's a lot of news. It appears CBS gets things moving despite all rumors to the contrary. I freely admit that now that we get Picard, a series that could save the franchise, I don't care as much for the other endeavors as I perhaps should. It doesn't seem to bode well that Mike McMahan, who heads the very silly (yet often very funny) show Rick and Morty, is responsible for an animated Star Trek series. I still believe that comedy set in the Star Trek Universe may work. But I can't tell yet whether the new show can be serious enough to add to the canon (or at least to the legacy), or whether the humor will be of the kind of Rick and Morty. The character art looks more like the latter than like TAS. But Lower Decks may still surprise me. And as already mentioned, with Picard taking care of the serious part of saving Star Trek, it may suffice if the other series don't suck.

 

20 Jul 2019

Picard Trailer Shows Many Familiar Faces and Places

Patrick Stewart brought three surprise guests to the Star Trek: Picard presentation at San Diego Comic-Con: Brent Spiner (Data), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) and Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh). They all will appear in the new series. It was also announced that Jonathan Frakes (Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Troi) will return.

Some of the new characters were named too. They seem to belong to a team that Picard assembles. Isa Briones plays Dahj, a young woman who comes to Picard because he appears to be the only one who could help her (given the many other cues in the trailer, she is very likely Borg). Evan Evagora is Elnor, a young Romulan and apparently a master of martial arts. Alison Pill is Dr. Agnes Jurati, a researcher. Santiago Cabrera as Cristobal "Chris" Rios and Michelle Hurd as Raffi Musiker complete Picard's team. Harry Treadaway plays another Romulan named Narek, whose role is still unclear.

The premiere of Star Trek: Picard is set for early 2020.

The trailer for the series shows the new characters, but also many familiar faces and places that are almost too numerous to list them.

For the first time in many years, I am truly excited about a new Star Trek series. And although objections and doubts may be justified especially in light of the failure of Discovery (Will they get the Borg right? What about Data, considering that Spiner was always opposed to playing the role again? Will Picard be contaminated by DIS?), the pleasant anticipation clearly prevails. We may just get genuine unrebooted Star Trek again, for the first time in 15 years.

 

27 Jun 2019

Michael Chabon Named Picard Showrunner

The official website startrek.com reports that Michael Chabon has been appointed showrunner of the upcoming series Star Trek: Picard. The Pulitzer Prize winner is known for writing the Short Treks episode "Calypso". He is working closely with Akiva Goldsman and Alex Kurtzman. In addition, Patrick Stewart, Heather Kadin, James Duff, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth also serve as executive producers with Aaron Baiers (Secret Hideout) serving as co-executive producer and Kirsten Beyer as supervising producer.

It is no surprise that Alex Kurtzman does not take care of the day-to-day business of the new series, which definitely isn't a sign that he has been withdrawn or demoted in any fashion (although the rumor mill will probably make it look like their predictions are confirmed). Michael Chabon knows how to tell stories, and perhaps he has a knack for Star Trek. At least, I hope that his mostly well-received episode "Calypso" was more than just a lucky shot.

 

24 Jun 2019

Spock and Number One in Short Treks

Director Mark Pellington posted a photo of himself posing with Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck, after wrapping up the filming for a new Short Treks episode titled "Chaos Theory".

According to Alex Kurtzman, who outlined his plans for the franchise in the years to come (possibly in defiance of recent rumors that he has been fired), there will be six new Short Treks episodes, two of which are animated.

Discovery critics are almost unanimous about what we dislike about the series: bad writing, unlikable characters, lousy continuity, lacking Star Trek spirit. We pretty much agree that we don't care for Discovery in spite of the course correction in season 2, and that after sending the ship a thousand years into the future the series could just as well end for good. But we are divided in our opinions about how much has to change to give us better Star Trek. Some think that we don't need yet another series set in the reboot universe, and this is my opinion as well. Others have come to like the characters of Pike, Spock and Number One as they were introduced in Discovery's second season, so much that they would support a series set on the reboot Enterprise. Moreover, even many of those who are into Discovery have expressed an even greater interest in a possible Pike series than in Discovery's adventures in the far future.

I don't know if Kurtzman could anticipate the strong desire for a Pike series. The production of the Short Treks episode with the existing characters and sets is a no-brainer, unless of course the new Short Treks are once again designed to foreshadow the things to come. So far we only know that Romijn and Peck are in the mini-episode. There is no mention of Anson Mount. My guess is that he won't appear, considering that each of the previous Short Treks too featured at most one or two of the principal cast.

Perhaps a Pike series has the potential to bring back some optimism to the franchise and to reunite the divided fandom to a certain extent. But seeing the further adventures of Pike and Spock would only unpleasantly remind me of everything that was wrong with Discovery and its depiction of the people and the history of the 23rd century. Rather than Pike, Picard is meant to be the old new spearhead of the franchise, and I still hope Kurtzman doesn't screw up Patrick Stewart's show. Discovery may have fun in the far future, and without the burden of explaining why it doesn't fit in I may even eventually come to like it a bit.

 

23 May 2019

Picard Teaser Trailer

A first Picard teaser trailer and a poster, both with a vineyard theme, have been released by Amazon Prime Video.

Also in the past couple of days, some more screen caps and photos from the Picard set have leaked, albeit in a rather bad quality. From what we can tell, the Starfleet of the series uses DS9/Voyager-style uniforms with rank pips on the chest and a high collar, as well as a Discovery-style split arrowhead symbol.

The trailer with the wine theme looks nice and evokes a genuine nostalgia as it has been absent from Star Trek in the past ten years. Yet, it also unmistakably ties in with the events from "Star Trek (2009)", the destruction of Romulus. Although I know very well that this was always meant to be canon in the Prime Universe, I dislike the crossover and I would have hoped for a setting that features Picard in an unspoiled timeline, in one that looks to the future instead of the past. I am definitely willing to give the series a chance though.

However, the sword of Damocles is hanging over Star Trek Picard (PIC). The inclusion of the Discoverse arrowhead logo in the actual footage (unlike the ones in the promotional art!) doesn't bode well. It is a detail I normally wouldn't care for. If it were not for the things that have happened in the franchise in the past few years, it would be a non-issue and a mere matter of style. It would be easy to make up reasons why the logo was split only in Discovery until 2258, and once again 140 years later.

But the PIC logos were most likely designed in DIS style on purpose and are an indicator that the producers may be unwilling to go back to a pre-reboot Star Trek.

The dilemma in the age of "visual reboots" is that we can't tell any longer what actually looks the way it does (if it differs from something shown earlier) and what is meant to be a "reimagination" of something familiar. Case in point: the uniforms seen in the PIC footage with Patrick Stewart. They resemble the DS9/VOY style, which could indicate, in an analogy to the anachronistic DIS-style Enterprise uniforms of season 2, that they are meant to be the very same ones that we know from DS9 and VOY, only "reimagined". In the spirit of a "visual reboot", this is a perfectly valid assumption, unless the difference is explicitly shown or hinted at.

I want to believe that the PIC uniforms are new ones and that the series is not a visual reboot. I want to believe in what my eyes see. I am very much looking forward to the next chapter in Jean-Luc Picard's life. But the series becomes far less relevant if Picard is put into another reboot series that does not feel bound by the continuity of Star Trek.

 

15 May 2019

It's Star Trek: Picard!

As revealed by CBS today, the name of the new series featuring Sir Patrick Stewart in the role of Jean-Luc Picard is Star Trek: Picard. Also, a first picture of footage from the series leaked, showing Stewart as Picard and a Starfleet officer in what looks like a DS9/Voyager-like command uniform.

Star Trek: Picard is a good name for the new series, also because it has already been unofficially called so for quite some time. In any case, it suits Star Trek better than something invoking "Destiny". Regarding the uniforms, perhaps this is a first sign that the series avoids the gross mistakes of Discovery on the visual side, but for a real judgment we have to wait until we see the Klingons or the Starfleet technology of the new show.

 

13 May 2019

Picard Series to Stream Internationally on Amazon Prime

CBS announces that the new Picard series will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime outside of the U.S. and Canada. Each episode will be available within 24 hours of its U.S. premiere.

Update 14 May 2019: In Canada, the series will be shown on Space Channel.

CBS tries hard to sell the deal with Amazon as great news to international fans when in fact it is a major annoyance. Not because Amazon Prime is such a bad channel or too expensive at EUR 7.99 per month but because this adds to the EUR 11.99 we already have to pay to watch Discovery on Netflix. Especially in a country like Germany with high ISP costs and with compulsory extra fees for "public television" (EUR 17.50), many viewers will reconsider whether they still need Discovery and/or Netflix. If CBS wants to promote the further fragmentation of the Star Trek franchise, selling the rights to as many different streaming services as possible is clearly the right way. I bet that we are in for more unpleasant surprises regarding the international distribution of the two animated series (well, and of the Section 31 series if it is actually produced). Perhaps I should already begin to save some money for a Maxdome and a Sky subscription.

 

24 Apr 2019

Animated "Teen Trek" Show Announced

The official Star Trek site announces a new CG-animated Star Trek series to air on Nickelodeon. The still unnamed show "follows a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation". It will be produced by Emmy Award winners Kevin and Dan Hageman. The new series is the second animated Star Trek to enter production, besides Lower Decks, which will be shown on CBS All Access.

The new animated series brings the number of ongoing or planned Star Trek TV productions up to five, not counting the Short Treks. As with everything new, we should be cautiously optimistic whether or not it will look and feel like Star Trek (knowing that Alex Kurtzman, who supervises everything must have learned a lesson from Discovery). And as already with the previously announced animated series Lower Decks, we don't have an idea yet how such a format will be like, more than four decades after Star Trek previously appeared as an animated show. It seems very likely that the still unnamed show will not only be about teens but also have teens as the main target audience. It may be a good thing to get young people hooked, also and especially if it is about more than only pew-pew and fist fights. As I already mentioned regarding Lower Decks, Star Trek and comedy are not mutually exclusive, and a "casual" Star Trek for a young audience is just as well imaginable.

 

17 Apr 2019

Three More Cast Members Join Picard Series

Alison Pill, Harry Treadaway and Isa Briones were announced as three more cast members of the new Picard series. Further details about their roles are still unknown.

 

20 Mar 2019

Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn to Leave Discovery After Season 2

As could be expected, Captain Pike's tenure on the Discovery is not permanent. Anson Mount will not return for season 3, nor will Rebecca Romijn as Number One.

 

05 Mar 2019

First Cast Members and More News About Picard Series

Michelle Hurd and Santiago Cabrera are the first known cast members besides Patrick Stewart to appear in the new Picard series. It was also announced that Hanelle Culpepper will direct the pilot episodes of the series. She was previously responsible for DIS: "Vaulting Ambition". The filming will start shortly.

Update 13 Mar 2019: Evan Evagora, an Australian newcomer, will play another regular character on the show.

 

28 Feb 2019

Star Trek Discovery Renewed for Season 3

As announced by CBS, Star Trek Discovery has been renewed for a third season. Michelle Paradise, who joined the staff mid-way through season 2, will support Alex Kurtzman as co-showrunner.

 

20 Feb 2019

More Season 2 Episode Titles

The next five episode titles of Discovery's season 2 are:

 

24 Jan 2019

Season 2 Episode Titles

The titles of the first six episodes of Discovery's season 2 are:

 

18 Jan 2019

Episode Reviews

Beginning with the availability of the season 2 premiere, I will post news about Discovery only occasionally. Please refer to the Discovery reviews (with full spoilers) for my comments.

 

14 Jan 2019

Georgiou & Section 31 Series Announced

As reported by Trekmovie.com and TrekCore earlier today, CBS, Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment will produce a Discovery spin-off series about the adventures of former Emperor Georgiou and Section 31. Alex Kurtzman will be an executive producer on the still unnamed show, which will be led by Bo Yeun 'Boey' Kim and Erika Lippoldt. The two already served as executive story editors and producers on Star Trek Discovery.

Mirror Georgiou's recruitment for Section 31 was cut from the Discovery season 1 finale "Will You Take My Hand?". It has been rumored for quite a while that a spin-off with this theme was being planned, also fueled by scenes in the Discovery promo videos and publicity photos showing Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) in black Section 31 attire.

This is like a nightmare coming true. As if Discovery hadn't been villainous, violent and warlike enough, the new project focuses on these aspects. Even without knowing anything about the storyline, it is obvious that it will celebrate a genocidal dictator and a shadow organization that is not bound by the laws. Is that what we used to love Star Trek for? Is that the reaction to the criticism of the too dark first season of Discovery that didn't do more than pay lip service to Starfleet's principles? After easing Discovery a bit in its second season (such as with Pike as a model captain), is it justified to continue the disposal of Star Trek's assets in a Black Ops show? A show whose makers will probably pretend that the cookie-cutter villain Georgiou from the dumb Mirror Universe and the equally overused Section 31 are fan favorites.

Polemics aside, I can see Kurtzman's intention to create a number of new series that are as different as possible. It is easy to understand that the new animated Star Trek is made for a young audience and that the Picard show will be aimed at old-school fans like me. Georgiou may appeal to millennials and their assumed affinity to action, whereas Discovery, ironically the only show already on air, still needs to find its place somewhere in this increasingly confusing constellation. But what happened to the thread that was running through all Star Trek series from TOS to ENT? To common themes such as exploration (of the galaxy as well as of the human nature)? To the common tone of being set in a world that is better than the one we live in today (or, at least strives to be)? To a Star Trek that united the fans with a common idea, rather than pleasing one group at the expense of another one? To Star Trek as a franchise that set itself apart from television trends instead of setting itself apart from its own past?

Maybe the damage this planned "multiverse" will inflict on Star Trek's continuity isn't even the biggest one, considering that there is no clear picture any more what Star Trek is about, no common message, no common vision (except in the producers' affirmations). Beginning in 2019, Star Trek on TV may be bigger than ever as the number of current and upcoming projects is concerned. But it looks like it is being reduced to a mere franchise platform to sell all kinds of special-interest TV products that have very little still in common. The only positive aspect is that there is a good chance that the Picard series will be just what Kurtzman promises, a contemplative show that cherishes the legacy of Picard and TNG.

I thought that after Discovery's first season, which failed in most regards that matter to me, it couldn't become still worse. Yet, this honor will likely go to the new Georgiou/Section 31 series, a show that appeals to the lower instincts of the audience and that should not be made in the name of Star Trek. Everyone who has been following this blog knows I kept an open mind about Discovery for a long time. But that credit of trust is used up by now. I know that I will be called a basement dweller, a hater, a gatekeeper and a toxic fan (just as it happens every time when I disagree with the mainstream). Maybe this time I deserve it as I preemptively say that I don't need and I don't want this series. It will be covered at EAS only for the sake of completeness, just like everything canon, but not without the usual caveats to preserve the legacy of the old Star Trek. Well, I think the more often I am called a gatekeeper, the prouder I am of this role.

 

09 Jan 2019

Picard Series Based on Abramsverse Event

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Alex Kurtzman revealed more about the setting of the upcoming Picard Series. He said that "Picard's life was radically altered by the dissolution of the Romulan Empire". Kurtzman obviously refers to the destruction of the planet Romulus by the Hobus supernova in "Star Trek (2009)", a cataclysm that Spock tried to prevent in vain. The new series is set several years later.

Regarding the theme of the show, Kurtzman remembers that going for something unexpected and new was an explicit demand by Patrick Stewart: "He threw down an amazing gauntlet and said, 'If we do this, I want it to be so different, I want it to be both what people remember but also not what they're expecting at all, otherwise why do it?'"

In other news, Kurtzman also announced that animated Short Treks will air after Discovery's season 2, and that a second full animates series besides Lower Decks is being planned.

Considering that the destruction of Romulus in "Star Trek (2009)" is regarded as Prime Universe canon (and not as part of the Kelvin Timeline), it is only logical that it would not be ignored in a new series set after the catastrophe. Moreover, it stands to reason that the fall of the Romulan Empire may open new story opportunities, not only personally for Picard.

Kurtzman is probably aware that the new Picard show is considered by many fans, including myself, as the last chance to bring back the old spirit to the franchise. He should know that he walks a fine line with any attempt to "update" this show "for a modern audience". However, to put it bluntly, contaminating the series with Abramsverse concepts is the lesser evil, if it can be kept free of sluggish Discovery-style Klingons, of the silly spore drive and of one-dimensional Mirror Universe infiltrators lurking behind every corner. Still, there is a negative connotation that the Picard show is based on the premise that a supernova traveled at warp speed, completely obliterated a planet many light years away, was supposed to be stopped by a lonely old man, and was eventually swallowed by a substance whose properties are ridiculously over the the top. Brannon Braga, who wrote "Threshold" and later regretted it, would gladly give Kurtzman the advice that bad science in Star Trek doesn't become more plausible by referring to it again.

Whether or not the reference to the Abramsverse will harm the Picard series still remains to be seen. As already mentioned, it may be forgivable if otherwise the new show gives us authentic Star Trek.

 

See Also

Star Trek Discovery episode guide and reviews

 


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