CBS All Access was front and center this morning, kicking off SDCC 2020‘s full day of panels with their Star Trek Universe Virtual Panel. GGA watched all three presentations: Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Picard and it was a blast! Here’s our breakdown!
Dominic Patten, Deadline’s senior editor, moderated Star Trek Universe and he began with introducing producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin.
Patten began with asking about Star Trek’s ever expanding universe. Kurtzman first answered that he was really missing Hall H and then touched on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. He revealed that the writers room has started and there are 10 stories already broken.
Kadin made a big announcement about a brand new Star Trek show on Nickelodeon. The series, called Star Trek: Prodigy, will be a way into the Star Trek world for kids. The animated show is being developed by the Hageman Brothers. According to IMDB, the series is about a group of teenagers that “steal a derelict Starfleet vessel and use it to explore the galaxy.”
We are ecstatic to finally be able to show everyone the title and logo of a little thing a whole buncha talented people have been tirelessly working on. Can't wait to beam you up for more. #Nickelodeon #StarTrekProdigy pic.twitter.com/6nsVDWfnNg
— Dan & Kevin Hageman (@brothershageman) July 23, 2020
A big theme of the Star Trek Universe Virtual Panel was discussing our current social and political climate. Kadin said that the message of Star Trek really matters and that message is “baked in” to Star Trek. The franchise is all about hope and equality. They talked about Star Trek United which will bring attention to organizations that really matter such as Black Lives Matter and the NAACP. Star Trek United will help promote and amplify their messages.
Star Trek: Discovery
The Star Trek: Discovery crew presented a virtual table read of the season two finale,”Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2″ followed by a Q&A. Participating in the table read were: Sonequa Martin-Green (Commander Michael Burnham), Michelle Yeoh (Philippa Georgiou), Doug Jones (Commander Saru), Anthony Rapp (Lt. Commander Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Ensign Sylvia Tilly), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), Tig Notaro (Commander Jett Reno), Alan Van Sprang (Captain Leland), Jayne Brook (Admiral Katrina Cornwall), and the Discovery Bridge crew Emily Coutts (Lt. Detmer), Oyin Oladejo (Lt. J.G. Owosekun), Patrick Kwok-Choon (Lt. Rhys), Ronnie Rowe Jr. (Lt. J.G. Bryce), Sara Mitich (Lt. Nilsson), and upcoming Start Trek: Strange New World stars Anson Mount (Captain Christopher Pike), Rebecca Romijn (Number One), and Ethan Peck (Spock),
To kick off the panel, co-showrunner and executive producer Michelle Paradise welcomed attendees and then threw it to Sonequa Martin-Green for an important message. Martin-Green announced that CBS All Access and Star Trek are supporting the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “We stand by the truth that Black Lives Matter…..Change is now.”
The read began with executive producer Olatunde Osunsanmi narrating. (He also directed the actual episode). The virtual read was incredibly fun and exciting. The score of the show was included along with sound effects and amazing storyboard clips and animation.
After the table read, there was a Q&A led by Paradise where they chatted about the upcoming season three.
On how important it is to continue the tradition of Star Trek and taking a social and political stance as season three starts, Anthony Rapp began by saying, “It’s everything.” As the panel continued it was apparent how important the cast thinks Star Trek is in showing how humanity can be its best when it’s compassionate and inclusive.
Wilson Cruz said “Star Trek has always been an aspiration for our country and it’s been our job to imagine that future and create it.” And in season three, “we get to talk about the world we want to create.” Mary Chieffo added that the Star Trek “franchise is about the infinite combinations of diversity and our work is never done…and I’m grateful to be a part of a franchise that champions that over and over.”
Martin-Green was asked what Michael Burnham’s hope is as she leaps into the future. She answered “Salvation.” And hope that the plan works, that Control is defeated. Another hope is Burnham’s ‘continual unveiling’ and discovering of herself.
Michelle Yeoh was asked about how Georgiou feels now that she has been ripped away from her world twice (Mirror Universe and now, thrown into future). Yeoh made everyone laugh by saying Georgiou is “really pissed off.”
Wilson Cruz’s Dr. Hugh Culber had quite the journey last season. Cruz said, he is excited about Culber’s journey especially with his mental health and that character is now more three dimensional in his head to which Paradise added that the same is true for the writers.
When talking about Tilly’s bumpy road to leadership and her pie in the sky attitude, Mary Wiseman said that “we are on the edge of the unknown so all our ideas of what the future holds and who we are and who we want to be is transformed”
Then conversation turned towards Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Paradise asked, Anson Mount, Ethan Peck and Rebecca Romjin, with the Enterprise crew left behind in the pre TOS era, how will working with Discovery crew impact your characters as they continue to exploring Strange New Worlds.
Ethan Peck began by saying Spock’s interaction with Michael Burnham is essential to his transformation. Spock who is half human and half Vulcan, was born on Vulcan and taught to be completely Vulcan. Peck said “Michael Burnham gives him the permission to be human and teaches him what it is to be human.”
Anson Mount said Pike has seen his future which is difficult. Pike will wrestle with how to utilize the rest of his life for good. Paradise adds, “surrendering to the unknown”. That will be such an interesting character to watch.
Star Trek: Lower Decks
Mike McMahon creator and executive producer of Star Trek: Lower Decks moderated the new animated series’ panel. He said, the series takes place in 2380. It’s in the TNG era right after Star Trek: Nemesis but before events Star Trek: Picard. He also said the TNG era is where he feel most comfortable. I totally can relate to that.
On the panel were: Tawny Newsome (Ensign Beckett Mariner), Jack Quaid (Ensign Brad Boimler), Noël Wells (Ensign Tendi), Eugene Cordero (Ensign Rutherford), Dawnn Lewis (Captain Carol Freeman), Jerry O’Connell (Commander Jack Ransom), Fred Tatasciore (Lieutenant Shaxs), and Gillian Vigman (Doctor T’Ana).
We were then treated to a Star Trek: Lower Decks clip and it was absolutely hilarious. My favorite line was, “Our specialty is second contact.” Then during the Q&A, the cast really gave a wonderful look into each of their characters which really raised the anticipation for the show.
Quaid said Ensign Boimler is a complete fanboy, obsessed with rank and ranking up. He follows every rule perfectly.
Wells said Ensign Tendi is the fresh eyes and she is unflappable. Tendi can turn everything into optimistic point of view.
Cordero says his character Ensign Rutherford loves that he is half cyborg. He loves mechanics and he’s the guy you want on your trivia team when talking about Starfleet spaceships.
Vigman said of Dr. T’Ana that she is a scary crusty alley cat and loves to dig in and get to problems.
Tatasciore said that Shaxs is a “shoot first, ask questions later” man. He’s also “Bajoran with chip on shoulder” All these are terrible traits for a security guy.
O’Connell said Ransom has short fuse and is not easiest person to work for but deeply cares for Starfleet. O’Connell said they can say and do things on this show that other Star Trek shows couldn’t get away with.
Lewis said that Freeman takes her self seriously and is a very in charge captain. To Captain Freeman, “second contact” is actually more important than first contact.
Newsome said Ensign Mariner wants to be on the bridge but with something that’s “medium important.” Less stakes, please!
Quaid and McMahan reveal that we will be seeing stuff on the holodeck on Star Trek: Lower Decks! It sounded naughty.
O’Connell was asked about having two Number Ones in his family – referring to the fact that his wife plays Number One in Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. He upped the ante by saying they are good friends Jonathan Frakes who is the most famous Number One.
Star Trek: Lower Decks premieres August 6th on CBS All Access
Star Trek: Picard
Patten returned to moderate the Star Trek: Picard panel where they talked about the first season of the series. There was a lot of humor at this panel and also talk of the impact of Star Trek’s philosophy. The panel included, Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard), Alison Pill (Dr. Agnes Jurati), Isa Briones (Dahj/Soji), Evan Evagora (Elnor), Michelle Hurd (Raffi Musiker), Santiago Cabrera (Cristobal Rios), Brent Spiner (Data/Dr. Soong), Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh), Jonathan Frakes (William Riker), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi).
Stewart said it was challenging at first because the world of Picard is a difficult world but that actually may be appropriate for where we are now as a society. Sirtis jumped in and joked it was difficult because Stewart took half the season to learn everyone’s name. .
Alison Pill jumped in and said “SPS was somewhat of a draw” which kicked off some fun with everyone calling Stewart SPS (Sir Patrick Stewart). Pill also said Michael Chabon was a draw for her as he is one of her favorite novelists.
Evagora said meeting all the stars of the show was an intimidating experience for him and had an awkward but funny first meeting with Stewartl
When asked what it’s like to play multiple characters, Briones said she didn’t realize she was auditioning for multiple characters and didn’t find out until after she got the job. Pill and Hurd jumped in to say how impressive it was to watch her work.
Hurd said “SPS” is one of most generous, empathetic humans which prompted Sirtis to make fun of him again.
Cabrera commented that Rios rejected Picard because he was the embodiment of Starfleet but as the season progresses, Rios got to see who Picard really is.
On fan reactions to TNG characters coming back, Ryan said that these reactions were amazing and overwhelming and she really appreciates how Seven developed. Spiner never thought he would do the show again and joked that he was begged to come back. Both Sirtis and Frakes didn’t think they would be back in space with Sirtis joking she didn’t have to wear a space suit this time. Frakes said he was a nervous wreck. Del Arco said he was touched by the excitement from fans at seeing his iconic character, Hugh, come back.
Stewart said he made the right decision on coming back and it was entirely due to the amazing production team. They didn’t want to just revive TNG but to illustrate the years that passed and that the world had changed and that’s what excited him. He said there was daily excitement working with the team and discovering the extraordinary range of talent. “There’s such diversity… For the first five episode I was awash with deep profound satisfaction of working with this team.” Picard was not the same man. Picard was disappointed, sad ,guilty, angry and possibly a dangerous individual. Stewart said that as the season wore on he began to feel as he did with TNG, that the character of Jean-Luc was inside him and 20 years had past.
Then Stewart proclaimed he’d rather be called “P. Stew” over “SPS.”
There was a beautiful question from a fan asking what was it like to have the closure we never had for Data and Picard. Their closure in Star Trek: Picard was the first time art had an impact on this person. Spiner answered that they had closure before at the end of Nemesis. This was a different kind of closure. Both were wonderful gifts. Stewart said that Data’s desire to be human had to include the knowledge that life is terminal. That’s what makes living so important.
The panel ended on a wonderful note. When asked what is one thing that could be brought from the Star Trek World into our own world, Hurd built on what Stewart said about knowing life ends and making living important. She said life is valuable. We have to look out for each other and use our differences as strengths. Star Trek always puts a mirror up to society, maybe society now needs to put a mirror up to Star Trek.