It didn’t take long for ComicCon@Home to offer a glimpse into what should be an interesting and inventive virtual con journey this weekend. And to help kick off that journey, organizers loaded up the big guns, the Star Trek guns, for a multi-layered three-part virtual panel Thursday morning.
The 90-minute panel offered special looks and live panels from Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and Star Trek: Picard. It was, in all seriousness, a full-on Trek bonanza and one that was well worth the 90 minutes. And while the live panels were edited, fuller versions are available online at CBS All Access.
The action opened with some thoughts from Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin, who discussed some new projects coming up. Kurtzman discussed Star Trek; Strange New Worlds and what we might expect.
“We heard the fans,” he said. “We really wanted to tell everybody about it at the last comic con. The room has started and 10 stories have been broken already.” Kadin added that in addition to Lower Decks, a new show is being developed for Nickelodeon for kids that will be called Star Trek: Prodigy. “We are super excited about it,” she said.
And with that the cast of Star Trek: Discovery offered a live reading of Act 1 of the season 2 finale. Sonequa Martin-Green, Anthony Rapp, Anson Mount, Doug Jones, Mary Wiseman, Mary Chieffo, Wilson Cruz and others delved back into the first act of season 2’s finale and it was tremendous. We also got a few little extras that didn’t make the final cut, which was really fun, as were the bits of animation and still photos that were used to flesh out what was happening. Check out the full table read here.
“Star Trek has always been this aspiration for our society, our country,” said Wilson after the read. “It has been our job to imagine that future, to create it. I think going into season 3 we have the opportunity to have a conversation about the world we want to create. I’m grateful for the history Star Trek has created. It has given us something to aspire to.”
Michelle Yeoh (Captain Georgiou) echoed those sentiments, “Tradition is part of our DNA. We just have to continue to strive for what is right and we have to do it together.”
Heading into season 3, some of the cast offered their takes on what’s to come.
In season three, “We, the crew of Discovery, are deciding to sacrifice everything we have for the future. Obviously, we hope it works. We defeat Control and save the universe. There’s also a hope of continuing the discovery of myself, of Burnham,” said Martin-Green.
Yeoh said she thinks Georgiou “Is pissed. Georgiou, she is one that always finds her way into adapting. She is a survivor with many skills and a formidable ally or enemy. Power is something she inherently has.”
From the renewed relationship between Stamets and Culber to Tilly’s ever-evolving designs on a captain’s chair one day to Captain Pike knowing there’s an unpleasant future for him coming, cast members discussed the end of season 2 and the future.
“When you see how it’s all going to end and it’s not so pretty, what do you do with that,” asked Mount about Christopher PIke’s glimpse into his future. “Ultimately, how do you move forward. I think he’s probably going to wrestle with how can he use the rest of his life for good.”
Star Trek: Lower Decks
The voice cast of this new Star Trek offering, slated to debut on Aug. 6 on CBS All-Access, joined the fun with a few thoughts on this new show, which will use comedy in the Star Trek realm in a way that is unique. It’s an exciting venture and as we see how the lower decks gang interacts about the Cerritos.
On hand were Tawny Newsome (Ensign Mariner), Jack Quaid (Ensign Boimler), Eugene Cordero (Ensign Rutherford), Noel Wells (Ensign Tendi), Dawnn Lewis (Captain Freeman), Jerry O’Connell (Commander Ramson), Fred Tatasciore (Lt. Shax), and Gillian Vigman (Dr. T’Ana).
Mke McMahon, the creator of Lower Decks, will also serve as show runner and executive produce the show, served as host for the online panel, noting that Star Trek: Lower Decks occurs in the time right after Nemesis. “We try to fit it into canon so it doesn’t break anything, but also want to do some new things. I think we’ve come up with something people are really going to enjoy.”
This was a shorter panel in terms of time allotted, but the cast discussed their characters and the roles they play on Lower Decks. Newsome said that Ensign Mariner offers a smart and energetic vibe, one that sometimes paints outside the lines. “She doesn’t always play by the rules,” she said. “it’s like when you’re the class clown because you’re ahead of the lesson.”
And she’ll set an interesting tone for the crew of the Cerritos, a ship that is tasked with making “second contact” with new species of aliens – you know, making sure the paperwork is done correctly, you spell the new world’s name correctly, that type of thing. It’s a fun premise and one that would seem to have plenty of possibilities. The ship is overseen by Captain Freeman, who wants everyone to know she’s in charge even though there are high levels of insecurity running through her.
“People who like Star Trek will find a lot to like in this,” said McMahon. “People who have never seen Star Trek, it might be the first thing that makes them go ‘What, I like Star Trek.'”
Star Trek: Picard
There was something very exciting seeing the cast of season 1’s Star Trek: Picard together again, even if it was on the computer screen. It’s hard not to feel the closeness of the cast and the genuine affection they have for not only each other, but the work and history of Start Trek.
Sir Patrick Stewart sounded the right note when he said that “We haven’t brought it back, it actually never went away” when asked about revisiting Jean Luc Picard and the TNG vibe that runs throughout the show – but doesn’t dominate it “At first it (coming back) was very challenging. For me, a lot of the first half of the season was literally getting to know the people I was working with.
“It took you the first half to learn their names,” chimed in Marina Sirtis, who added that “We allow for that because you are very old.”
And that set the tone for what would be a lively back-and-forth about the first season of Star Trek: Picard, where the old and new met in space for quite the adventure. Allison Pill, who plays Dr. Agnes Jurati (who had quite the rollercoaster ride in season 1), said that what drew her to Star Trek: Picard was the chance to work with Stewart and Michael Chabon, as well as “appreciating Star Trek and taking it in a new direction. You know, it’s streaming, we get to use the F-word, that combination was kind of exciting to me.”
Isa Briones, who played multiple roles in season 1 (Dahj, Soji and Sutra), said that when she auditioned, she thought it was for just one character. It was only later that she realized there were twins and then, finally, a third character to be played. “The way it all unraveled was very gradual so it didn’t feel like a total shock to the system,” Briones said of the multiple roles. “The fact I had so much of the beginning filming process to lock in Soji and who she was, was amazing.” And that helped her be able to step out of that character, play Sutra, and then come back to Soji successfully.
Also joining the panel were TNG veterans Jeri Ryan, Brett Spiner and Jonathan Frakes. They talked about revisiting these characters and the time that had passed and what it meant to not only them, but the characters of Data, Will Riker and Seven.
“It has been amazing,” said Ryan of reviving Seven. “The fan reaction has been kind of overwhelming. It’s pretty cool. It’s fun to bring back these characters from so long ago and I could not be more thrilled with the way they developed her (Seven).”
“I had kind of put Data to sleep and didn’t really expect to ever be doing that again,” said Spiner, who noted that the chance to work with Stewart again was appealing. “It was part of what really encouraged me to do the show.”
As for Frakes, he had the opportunity to not only resurrect Riker, but also sit in the director’s chair and work with people he obviously likes. “I knew Patrick was at the top of his game and loved working with him,” said Frakes. “Marina had just closed a play on the West End, so I knew her acting muscles were pretty strong, and I was a nervous wreck to come back as wild Bill Riker, space cowboy.”
Perhaps one of the more surprising developments during Star Trek: Discovery, was the passionate response to the return of Hugh, now an XB helping on the artifact. Jonathan Del Arco admitted that he was surprised at the amount of love his character received, though he was aware of Hugh’s popularity somewhat through comic con and other event work. “I honestly was surprised at the amount of love I got,” he said, “And how the fans really craved to know how that adolescent character had evolved into a man. That was surprising to me and was very gratifying.”
Spiner and Stewart discussed the poignant scenes they played as closure came to them both in what many have called the season’s most emotional moments. Stewart noted the care that the writers showed to these two characters and admitted that he made the right decision in coming on-board with Star Trek: Discovery.
“Picard was not the same man. He was a disappointed, sad, guilty, angry, possibly dangerous individual. That was what absorbed me,” said Stewart.
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