Star Trek TV Blog
-17 days to go
New Previews for Lower Decks and Discovery
A trailer for season 4 of Lower Decks was presented at San Diego Comic-Con. The series will return to the screen on September 7 with the first two episodes. The official synopsis is:
"In season four of Star Trek: Lower Decks an unknown force is destroying starships and threatening galactic peace. Luckily, the crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos isn't important enough for stuff like that! Instead, Ensigns Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, Rutherford and Provisional Ensign T'Lyn are keeping up with their Starfleet duties, avoiding malevolent computers and getting stuck in a couple caves - all while encountering new and classic aliens along the way."
A clip released at SDCC shows the first 5 minutes of episode 1 of season 5 of Discovery. This will be the final season of the show, set to go on air in early 2024. I'm not posting any videos here because of geoblocking.
Also in the news: a musical episode of Strange New Worlds, titled "Subspace Rhapsody". This episode is available on August 3.
Wow, the references to old Trek in the Lower Decks trailer are just to countless to list. I am sure it will be a lot of fun, but I hope the people in charge don't forget that the fun shouldn't be measured in Pike mentions per minute. Seasons 2 and 3 had a lame start in this regard and only greatly improved once the stories outgrew the reference orgy. But I am confident that Mike McMahan and his team will get it right again.
The Discovery opening scene clearly is spectacular. But it also feels like business as usual as Michael Burnham flies through a debris field and the visuals of ships at warp look just unattractive. While the sequence certainly isn't representative of the whole season, I somehow doubt that a lot will change in the show. One interesting thing to notice in the debris field is an old Romulan science ship (from TNG: "The Next Phase").
On the topic of the musical, I was skeptical about "Those Old Scientists", I just watched it twice, and liked it a lot. The same may happen again, but unlike SNW's crossover with a series that I adore I don't think I want to a see a space musical. It is also counterproductive in the effort to keep the show serious, which in my view is necessary right now.
Prodigy Canceled and Leaving Paramount+ and Nickelodeon!
Variety reports that Star Trek Prodigy has been canceled. What's more, the series will be removed from Paramount+ and Nickelodeon at short notice. The second season is set to finish production and will then be sold to another service.
This totally sucks! Paramount+ must be worse off than we think if they hold a clearance sale. It's either that, or the removal of Prodigy is some corporate thing (it is rumored to be for a tax write-off). Prodigy certainly isn't canceled because of lacking popularity but because some higher-up with no affinity whatsoever for Trek crossed it off the portfolio.
Also, what happened to Paramount+ as the channel to have all Trek in one place? Now the streaming of Trek series becomes increasingly scattered again. There's no better way to promote piracy. No, I don't advocate illegal downloads. Just saying...
Classic Klingons Return in SNW, Georgiou Returns in S31 Movie
A new trailer for the second season of Star Trek Strange New Worlds has dropped. As was previously announced, Paul Wesley returns to the series as James T. Kirk. But the real news is that the Klingons are back, with a make-up and attire as in classic Trek (since the TOS movies).
The first episode will air on Thursday, June 15 on Paramount+.
Also in the news: The Section 31 series starring Michelle Yeoh as Emperor Georgiou, which was first announced as long as four years ago, has been retooled to an "original movie event".
A few months ago, I mused in an article whether the production of the Discoverse series will stick with the unloved proprietary Klingons created for the first season of Discovery in 2017, or whether they will return to an established canon look of the species. I am very glad that the people in charge of Strange New Worlds decided in favor of the latter and thereby fixed the probably worst design decision in the history of the franchise. It is still possible that some Discovery Klingons will show up or that the discrepancy gets handwaved with a lame rationale such as "Klingons are diverse". Also, while we may be allowed to forget how they looked, the whole history of Voq-Tyler, L'Rell and her bomb will persist, as dumb as it all may seem. But overall, it seems there is no going back now to the mistakes of the past.
That being said, the series is still clearly a reboot because of the different looking, much bigger and much more powerful Enterprise (as well as the D7) and several totally redefined characters.
Speaking of characters, I am not the only one who was disappointed by Paul Wesley as James T. Kirk in the season 1 finale. Yet, I don't want to blame the actor for the producers' obsession to bring back just everyone that they think the fans want to see. The mistake was the urge to include Kirk in the first place.
Strange New Worlds, as a "soft reboot" that wants to have fun with redefined characters but is eager to get the basic facts right, is the most constrained Trek show ever produced. There are two reasons why its first season was a success nonetheless: SNW brought back the fun of a new adventure every week, and it featured a likable and relatable crew. I hope that it will continue in the same vein in season 2.
I never cared for Emperor Georgiou and for the rebooted Section 31, and I think so did the majority of committed fans, including many avid supporters of Discovery. It seems that after four years Alex Kurtzman is content with a (TV?) movie instead of a series, with the rationale that the availability of Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh is limited. But in my impression the negative fan feedback is another reason why Kurtzman doesn't go all in with a Section 31 series.
Starfleet Academy Announcement and Series Renewals
A new series called Starfleet Academy has been announced at startrek.com. Headed by co-showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau, the live-action show is set to "follow the adventures of a new class of Starfleet cadets as they come of age in one of the most legendary places in the galaxy". Gaia Violo, Aaron Baiers, Jenny Lumet, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Frank Siracusa and John Weber act as executive producers. No definite information on the setting of Starfleet Academy has been provided so far. The series will begin production in 2024.
On other news, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has been renewed for a third season of ten episodes. Season 2 of the series will debut on Thursday, June 15 on Paramount+.
Star Trek: Lower Decks has been renewed for a 10-episode fifth season. Season 4 of the animated comedy will premiere in late summer. The exact date is still to be announced.
An academy series was first hinted at in 2021. The fact that Starfleet Academy is actually going to be produced lends credibility to Alex Kurtzman's early announcements and shows that he has a plan. (Let's just remain silent about the Section 31 show with Michelle Yeoh, which he began to talk about 4 years ago.)
The very idea to focus the stories on 16-year-old cadets and the wording of the embedded "in-universe press release" sounds like Starfleet Academy is aimed at young people, perhaps the same audience as Prodigy. I only hope that Prodigy will continue regardless. I don't think the animated series should be considered an in-house rival for the new live-action show.
We don't know anything official on the setting so far. But if we read between the lines, "for the first time in over a century, our campus will be re-opened" is a broad hint that it will be about Tilly, who left the Discovery in season 4 to teach at Starfleet Academy, which re-opened some 100 years after the Burn. I have made my peace with Michael Burnham and her crew since they arrived in the 32nd century. Also, Strange New Worlds already proves that a Discovery spin-off, despite perpetuating the visual reboot principle, may a have a more Trek-like tone and feel. Even though I would have very much preferred a new series set in the less marred Picard universe over yet another one in the Discoverse, I welcome Starfleet Academy as an addition to the Star Trek Universe.
The acronym at EAS will obviously be SFA.
Discovery to End with Season 5 in 2024
As announced on startrek.com, the upcoming fifth season of Discovery will be the last one. The season will air some time in early 2024.
"Dearest Disco Family,
You discovered the mycelial network with us. You were there when we greeted Georgiou, Spock, Pike and Una ... as we jumped into the future ... as our heroes restored the Federation, solved the DMA and left their home galaxy ... as Michael Burnham, former mutineer, sat in the Captain's chair for the very first time.
There is much adventure yet to come in season five - but today we share the bittersweet news that after 65 incredible episodes with Captain Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery, the upcoming season premiering in early 2024 will be our last. No series continues forever, of course, so this day was always going to come. We are forever grateful to have been able to share such an amazing journey with you.
Thank you for your love of DISCOVERY. Thank you for inviting us into your homes, and for trusting us with this show. Thank you for appreciating and supporting our incredible cast and crew. Thank you for the passion and excitement you've brought to this fandom - online, at conventions, and when we've seen you out in the world. We've loved meeting you, hearing what DISCOVERY means to you, and getting to share what it means to us, too. And rest assured, we're not going anywhere just yet! There's still work to be done to finish season five and we're excited for you to see our exciting and satisfying conclusion. We also have some very special fan events planned for the months ahead, so that we can all celebrate DISCOVERY and our incredible cast together. More details to come on that - and on our premiere date - very soon. Until then, as Burnham would say: Let's fly!
With much love and gratitude,
Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise"
Discovery gave me a hard time to accept it as Star Trek. Only in the third and fourth seasons the characters started to grow on me. My reaction to the cancellation is not a spiteful "Thank god it's over" but an uneasy "What's next?".
I don't think this is the time for an analysis whether the show revived or ruined the franchise, whether it enabled further shows in the first place or rather imposed an unnecessary burden on everything that followed. We will probably never know if Discovery was as successful as Paramount insinuates, or if it was only kept alive in the greater context of consistent brand building.
I am actually looking forward to the fifth season, which I will probably be able to watch, review and discuss freely - unlike the current third season of Picard, which is accompanied by an unprecedented social media backlash against even the slightest criticism of the episodes.
Final Picard Season 3 Trailer
My very first impression after just watching it: Perhaps PIC season 3 is a tad more intricate than the usual "ugly villain in ugly ship destroys everything" story. I enjoy Picard's and Riker's wry remarks. Everything is extremely dark, figuratively and literally. Love the authentic spacedock.
Prodigy, Picard and Discovery Trailers Released
The Star Trek Prodigy trailer shows how the young crew of the Protostar are joined by an apparently holographic Denobulan and encounter the Borg, as well as a species whose greeting gesture is a strange variation of the Vulcan salute. Meanwhile, Janeway and her crew continue the search for the stolen Protostar. It was also announced that Ronny Cox will reprise his role as Jellico (promoted to four-pip admiral). Prodigy will return to the screen on October 27/28 on Paramount+, currently available in the United States, Latin America, Australia, Italy and the UK. Further countries may be added "later in the year".
The Picard season 3 trailer reveals a bit about the story of season 3. Beverly's ship has been attacked, and Picard and his old crew are reunited in the fight against what seems to be an alliance of new and old enemies, including Lore and Moriarty. The new villain is named Vadic, played by Amanda Plummer. We also see the Enterprise-F from Star Trek Online.
In Star Trek Discovery season 5, Burnham's crew will seek out the "greatest treasure of the known galaxy" according to the trailer. It was also announced that Callum Keith Rennie will be joining the cast as Captain Rayner. Eve Harlow will appear as Moll and Elias Toufexis as L'ak, both former couriers.
Although I still don't buy into the huge USS Dauntless, the Prodigy trailer looks very promising! The show is designed like an introduction to the franchise for young viewers. Yet, I suspect that the majority of viewers are longtime fans like me, who enjoy the new perspective on Trek lore just as well!
I am not as excited as I am supposed to be about Picard. As much as I am looking forward to see my heroes from the golden age of Star Trek for probably one last time, I feel that this will not be an appropriate send-off at all. The Star Trek of our old friends was about the human condition, about a vision of the future and about strange new worlds, not about massive explosions, grimacing villains and excessive fan service. Not to mention the depressive darkness that pervades the trailer.
I wouldn't have expected I'd say this, but the Discovery trailer is clearly more appealing than the one of Picard. It has a sense of positivity and of adventure, whereas Picard seems to be just about darkness, war and revenge. Discovery may have found its balance eventually.
Picard Season 3 Trailer and the Return of Prodigy
Star Trek Day 2022 brings us a first trailer with footage from the third season of Star Trek: Picard. Without giving away any plot points, it focuses on the main characters and on what appears to be the new hero ship, the USS Titan-A according to Terry Matalas. Season 3 is scheduled to begin on February 16, 2023.
Also in the news is Star Trek: Prodigy. After a longer hiatus, the animated series will return to the screen on Thursday, October 27. William O. Campbell will reprise his role of Captain Thadiun Okona.
Expectations are generally high that PIC season 3 will be something very special with the old TNG crew at Jean-Luc Picard's side. I am optimistic that the people in charge do not squander this unique opportunity with yet another "galaxy in danger and planets blowing up" type of story.
However, there is already one disappointment: the new hero ship. It is flawed on so many levels. First of all, I don't like the aesthetics of the Titan. It is not quite as ugly as Riker's copy-and-paste ship and looks acceptable from certain angles. But overall the very angular and very rounded shapes don't mix well, the secondary hull and especially the area around the deflector looks cheap like there was not enough time to include details, on the other hand there is too much detailing on the saucer hull, and the nacelle pylon shape is odd. Essential design elements of the new Titan are taken from the Shangri-La by Bill Krause, a genuine 23rd century ship based on Constitution refit technology. The attempt to transfer this design to the 25th century results in a mess that is also hard to justify on the technical side. The saucer is blatantly anachronistic. But my impression is that the saucer, despite even having the same window placements(!), is supposed to be substantially larger than that of a Constitution class, precluding the option that the Titan may be an upgrade of an old ship. There is a clear trend that new starship designs imitate the styles of existing classes. But unlike the Excelsior II that successfully translates the lines of the classic ship to a modern language, the Titan looks like a kitbash job gone wrong. Well, perhaps we won't see so much of the ship after all.
On a further critical note about the Titan, what happened to Riker's old ship of the same name that we saw only recently on Lower Decks? The thought that the popular vessel was destroyed and then replaced with this Titan is very unsatisfying. We can take for granted that the name is supposed to evoke an emotional reaction in Riker and has no real significance beyond the symbolic one. Considering that the series already pulled the exact same trick with Picard and the new Stargazer, the idea to simply repeat it is extremely lame. Speaking of the Stargazer, this could and should have been the principal ship of season 3. Or perhaps the Enterprise-E. But for some reason the people in charge think they have to replace ships just as frequently as uniforms.
As for Star Trek: Prodigy, I am looking forward to the return of the series. We really need more uplifting Star Trek these days!
SDCC News on Lower Decks, Strange New Worlds and Picard
The first full trailer for season 3 of Lower Decks (that I can't show because of geoblocking) was revealed at SDCC. On other news about the series, a crossover with Strange New Worlds is being produced, which will air in the context of the second season of SNW some time in 2023. The special episode will incorporate both live-action and animation and will be directed by Jonathan Frakes.
On more news from SDCC, there is a new teaser trailer and character pictures for season 3 of Star Trek: Picard. And yes, Worf still looks like Worf as promised by Terry Matalas.
I am hopeful that Picard's season 3 will be more rewarding than season 2 that lost itself in endless sidetracking and meaningless coincidences. It is great to have the TNG crew back, and I hope they will not just be shoehorned into another wavering story.
About Lower Decks, I am looking forward very much to the crossover - the one with DS9! Until then, I will keep on circling.
Lower Decks Returns on August 25
Star Trek: Lower Decks will return to the screen with season 3 on August 25, 2022. There is no trailer so far, but a sneak peek was included in the latest Ready Room episode, showing how Boimler and Mariner team up to save Captain Freeman. Also, key art for season 3 was released, which is inspired by the movie poster of "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" and insinuates a search for Rutherford.
No date for the international release is known yet, but the series will still be available on Amazon Prime in many countries.
Lower Decks is my favorite new Trek series, and I can't wait to see how the journey of the Cerritos continues. I will try to write timely episode reviews, but please bear with me, as I'm always one day and a half behind in the airing schedule and real life may take precedence.
Strange New Worlds Opening Titles Revealed
Paramount+ published the opening titles of the upcoming series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The sequence features the eight-note fanfare and opening narration from TOS, now spoken by Anson Mount, followed by a variation of the TOS theme. The visuals show various shots of the reimagined USS Enterprise and mark a return to classic space scenes..
The series will premiere on May 5 on Paramount+. It is very likely that international viewers will have to wait until that channel becomes legally available in their country to watch SNW.
I have to admit that the title sequence is visually spectacular and gives me the Trek vibes that are missing from the intros of DIS and PIC. But I'm not happy that he narration and music is blatant knock-off of the famous TOS titles. Strange New Worlds clearly is a reimagination or reboot, rather than a prequel. It shouldn't exploit nostalgia so hard and should rather come up with something original, something unique to this series. Given the trailer and the recent developments in DIS and PIC, I expect the SNW episodes to push even harder to win over skeptical fans with Easter eggs and with occasionally playing the TOS theme, rather than with true respect for Star Trek's history.
On another positive note, the reboot Enterprise goes to warp the traditional way with a light effect again, and does not "jump" with a bang as it is customary since Abrams. This will be a clear improvement if it is the visual style in the actual episodes too.
Complete TNG Main Cast on PIC Season 3
Without giving further details, a teaser trailer reveals that the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation will apear in Star Trek: Picard season 3: Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner.
The Picard authors have written themselves into a corner in season 2, in which the return of Brent Spiner (as yet another member of the overused Soong family) makes just as little sense as most other stunts to incorporate familiar names and faces. Maybe I should be more skeptical for this reason, but right now I am just looking forward to the big TNG reunion.
A New Kirk in Strange New Worlds
Paul Wesley will appear as James T. Kirk in the second season season of Strange New Worlds, which is currently being shot.
This is the kind of news I don't care for any more. It's not even worth a rant, so I will keep this brief. Kurtzman and his people seem to take any chance to recycle and reboot "iconic" characters, multiple times and in conflict with the Abramsverse if deemed useful to draw in subscribers for Paramount+. They thereby turn James T. Kirk into a generic figure (like already Pike, Spock and Khan), whom they can let appear anywhere, any time and played by any actor. Star Trek used to be a powerful sci-fi universe that explored new worlds with new characters. Nowadays it's just a franchise.
Strange New Worlds News and Two More Series to Come
Paramount+ has released a poster for the upcoming show Strange New Worlds that is set to premiere on May 5. Further small details were revealed by showrunner Akiva Goldsman, such as that the character of La'an Noonien Singh really is related to Khan. On the topic of canon, Goldsman is cited with the words, "Canon is almost always delightfully challenging, unless it's a pain in the ass. They'll try to stay in the lines as much as possible, but will 'body english it', if need be!"
Alex Kurtzman confirmed that the Section 31 series with Michelle Yeoh will be picked up soon and that there is another show in the pipeline, about which he wants to remain "tight-lipped". This is commonly expected to be the Starfleet Academy series.
Considering how excited the whole fandom seems to be, I am almost sorry for being unmoved by the premise of Strange New Worlds. In my firm opinion, Star Trek is about going forward: new characters, new technologies, new discoveries. Either that, or I choose the equally legit option to dwell in the nostalgic world of TOS, without a desire to rehash, to redefine or to otherwise better it. Akiva Goldsman vastly understates how much his series will clash with established Trek history. But even if we leave out canon issues and posit it only has to fit roughly into the chronology, he pursues a series concept that combines the worst of both worlds in my view and that already failed in Discovery, so utterly that only a big reset button saved the ailing show. Discovery's spin-off Strange New Worlds, to me, is a creative dead end that is sustained only by the popular character of Anson Mount's Pike (and, to lesser degree, by Spock and Number One). It may bring us weekly adventures like in the good old times, but with the caveat that all this is not as new as the production design makes it look.
On the topic of Section 31, I wonder whether Alex Kurtzman ever reads genuine fan feedback or whether he is caught in a filter bubble. He should have noticed that Section 31 is controversial even among passionate Discovery supporters, and that most fans may like Michelle Yeoh but rather not the cynical character of Emperor Georgiou. Kurtzman may still surprise me, but in my opinion Emperor Georgiou and the Discovery-flavored Section 31 should not return.
The ultimate confirmation that the other new show will be about Starfleet Academy is still missing. I have a feeling that it will be set in the 32nd century, after the end of Discovery's run. I don't think that I really want to see Tilly as an Academy instructor and more stories in a bland era that apparently has been waiting for Burnham and her friends to stir up emotions.
New Picard Season 2 Trailer
The official Picard season 2 trailer shows the first footage of Whoopi Goldberg, who returns as Guinan. Besides the regular crew of Picard, it also features the Borg Queen, Q and Brent Spiner in a yet to be identified role. The catchphrase is "Welcome to the road not taken", placing the events of the season in an alternate timeline that spans many centuries.
This looks exciting! So happy to see Guinan again.
I don't want to speculate at the moment because the trailer definitely doesn't include any clues about what exactly happens, except that it is somehow about an altered reality and time travel. My hope is that season 2 will be more thrilling, more optimistic and more self-consistent. And although I appreciate the return of familiar characters and the dedication to get the details right as it is clearly visible in the trailer, I expect it to be much more than a "Best of TNG" nostalgia show.
Premiere Dates and Series Renewals
Paramount+ announced the following release dates of upcoming new episodes and series renewals:
- Season 4 of Star Trek: Discovery returns with new episodes on Thursday, February 10.
- Star Trek: Discovery has been renewed for a fifth season.
- Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard premieres on Thursday, March 3.
- Star Trek: Picard is currently in production on a third season.
- Season 1 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will premiere on Thursday, May 5.
- Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has already been renewed for a second season.
- Season 3 of Star Trek: Lower Decks (10 episodes) will be released in summer 2022.
- Star Trek: Lower Decks has also been renewed for a 10-episode-long fourth season.
- Season 1 of Star Trek: Prodigy returned on Thursday, January 6. The remaining episodes of season 1's first half will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays. The additional 10-episode-long second half of season 1 will be available on Paramount+ later in 2022.
Discovery Takes a Break, Picard Secured on Amazon Prime
Paramount+ announced that Discovery is going into a mid-season break after "...But to Connect", the seventh episode of season 4, to be released on December 30, 2021. The show will return with episode 8 on February 10, 2022. As already announced in November, Star Trek Prodigy will resume streaming on January 6, effectively filling the gap.
On other news, all five classic Star Trek shows will leave Hulu and Amazon USA in January. This is part of the plan to show Star Trek content exclusively on Paramount+, in North America and internationally.
Star Trek Picard, on the other hand, will remain on Amazon Prime Video internationally for the time being. A start date for the second season has not yet been announced.
Discovery Gone From Netflix
Netflix has removed Star Trek Discovery from all of its international streaming services in the night from November 16 to 17. The fourth season of the series, which is set to launch on Paramount+ on November 18, will not be available on Netflix. Viewers outside the USA and Canada will have to wait for the international roll-out of Paramount+ some time in 2022 until they can finally watch Discovery and, as was already known, Prodigy.
What comes as an extremely unpleasant surprise to international fans, a mere day before the release of the fourth season, is the result of a deal, in which ViacomCBS has paid off Netflix in order to secure the content exclusively for Paramount+.
It appears that the contract with Amazon Prime about the international distribution of Star Trek Picard and Lower Decks is not (yet) impacted by today's bad news.
Update 26 Nov 2021: One week after having been pulled from Netflix, in some regions of Europe Discovery is available for purchase on Amazon Prime or iTunes, and for free (with commercial breaks) on Pluto TV.
I was afraid this might happen, so it doesn't come as such a big surprise that Discovery disappears from Netflix for good. Paramount+ wants to expand worldwide, and needs fresh and exclusive content for that matter. While I anticipated it would happen, I am angry about the sudden and clandestine removal of everything Discovery, only two days before the fourth season was to go up on Netflix. Even though Discovery is not exactly my favorite series, I was looking forward to it, I had slots reserved in my professional and private schedules to view and review it and everything was set on my website.
It seems that fans outside North America are only second-rate fans in the eyes of the people at ViacomCBS. Every season premiere of streamed Trek so far was overshadowed by the question if, where and when it would become available. We already had to wait several months for the release of Lower Decks and we also miss out on Prodigy until further notice. Being barred from watching Prodigy and now Discovery as well, there is no way for us to join the discussion or to stay informed at all, without running into spoilers just everywhere. At least, there is no legal way. If Paramount+ wants to scare away international customers or foster content piracy, they are on the best way!
For EAS, the delay means that there will be no coverage of Discovery's season 4 for the time being - no reviews and no updates to any articles either. I will eventually (have to) get Paramount+, but although the prospect is to have all Trek in one service, I'm not really looking forward to it, especially if it will require to subscribe to an expensive Sky package.
On a positive note, perhaps I can use the involuntary break to tend to some side projects without the deadline pressure imposed by newly released episodes.
Prodigy: 20 Episodes and 2 Breaks in Season 1, Season 2 Confirmed
According to Paramount+, Star Trek Prodigy will run for as many as 20 episodes in its first season. There will be one short break from November 2021 to January 2022 (perhaps for viewers to focus attention on Discovery's fourth season). The longer break will last from February 2022 to later in 2022.
The Prodigy airing schedule is as follows:
- Episodes 1/2 "Lost and Found": October 28
- Episode 3 "Starstruck": November 4
- Episode 4: November 11
- Episode 5: November 18
- — Christmas break —
- Episode 6: January 6
- Episode 7: January 13
- Episode 8: January 20
- Episode 9: January 27
- Episode 10: February 3
- — Spring/Summer break —
- Episodes 11-20: tba 2022
The second season, meaning more episodes beyond the 20 already scheduled, has already been confirmed.
Discovery Season 4 Episode Titles
11 days to go until the season 4 premiere of Star Trek Discovery, and we have the first four episode titles:
- Episode 401: "Kobayashi Maru" (November 18, 2021)
- Episode 402: "Anomaly" (November 25, 2021)
- Episode 403: "Choose to Live" (December 2, 2021)
- Episode 404: "All Is Possible" (December 9, 2021)
New Discovery Season 4 Trailer
A new trailer for Discovery's season 4 has been released. It shows us more about the anomaly that threatens the Federation and that requires Burnham and her crew to be "going where no one has gone before". We also see a re-imagined Ferengi in the trailer.
Discovery will return to the screen on November 18.
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:
- Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Nyota Uhura
- Jess Bush as Nurse Christine Chapel
- Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M'Benga
- Bruce Horak as Hemmer, apparently a reimagined Aenar
- Christina Chong as La'an Noonien-Singh
- Melissa Navia as Lt. Erica Ortegas
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 season 2 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?!
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.
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.
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 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.
New Prodigy and Lower Decks Trailers
A first teaser trailer for the new series Star Trek Prodigy was released on the occasion of Comic-Con@Home 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.
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.
Introduction of Prodigy Characters and Voice Actorsintroduced the cast and characters of the upcoming 3D animated series Star Trek Prodigy:
- Rylee Alazraqui as Rok-Tahk, a Brikar and an unusually bright eight-year-old girl. Rok is a bit shy, but not when it comes to her love for animals.
- Brett Gray as Dal, 17 years old and an unknown species, he fancies himself a maverick, who even in the toughest times, holds strong onto his unwavering hope.
- Angus Imrie as Zero, who is a Medusan: a noncorporeal, genderless, energy-based lifeform. Since others would go mad at the sight of their true self, Zero wears a containment suit they made themselves to protect others.
- Jason Mantzoukas as Jankom Pog, a 16-year-old Tellarite. Tellarites are known to relish an argument, and Jankom is no different. Regardless of opinion, he will always play "devil's advocate" for the sake of hearing all sides.
- Ella Purnell as Gwyn, a 17-year-old Vau N'Akat, who was raised on her father's bleak mining planet and grew up dreaming to explore the stars.
- Dee Bradley Baker as Murf, whose age and species is unknown but who is an endearing, indestructible blob with curiously good timing and an insatiable appetite for ship parts.
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.
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. What's new is 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Episode 101: "Second Contact" (August 06)
- Episode 102: "Envoys" (August 13)
- Episode 103: "Temporal Edict" (August 20)
- Episode 104: "Moist Vessel" (August 27)
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.
Lower Decks Trailer Released
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.
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.
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.
Three More Picard Episode Titles Announced
The following episode titles were announced today:
- Episode 106: "The Impossible Box" (February 27)
- Episode 107: "Nepenthe" (March 5)
- Episode 108: "Broken Pieces" (March 12)
More Picard Episode Titles Revealed
Following the series premiere, "Remembrance", the next four Star Trek: Picard episodes will be titled:
- Episode 102: "Maps and Legends" (January 30)
- Episode 103: "The End is the Beginning" (February 6)
- Episode 104: "Absolute Candor" (February 13)
- Episode 105: "Stardust City Rag" (February 20)
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.
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.