star trek picard poster

It’s a very interesting time to be a Star Trek fan. In addition to Star Trek: Discovery exploring brave new worlds on CBS All Access, several other series are in the works. For longtime fans, the upcoming Star Trek: Picard will offer a check-in with Patrick Stewart’s beloved Starfleet commander decades after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. For newer fans, perhaps the comedic animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks will offer a bit of variety to an old but still powerful franchise.

All three shows were part of CBS All Access’s 90-minute Enter the Star Trek Universe panel at San Diego Comic-Con, where they pulled out all the stops and offered several looks at the future of the universe’s greatest science fiction franchise. Here’s what we learned.

Star Trek: Discovery

Discovery kicked off the panel with moderator Geoff Boucher introducing executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Michelle Paradise, Heather Kadin, as well as actors Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham) and newcomer David Ajala, who will play Cleveland Booker, a new character who meets Burnham and is apparently not what he seems. 

The panelists didn’t share many details of what will be in store for the next season, but there are a few things that the audience learned: notably that, unsurprisingly, things didn’t go as planned when Discovery went through a wormhole and almost a thousand years into the future at the end of last season. Panelists hinted that team might start out separated, and they’ll definitely end up not where they anticipated. 

But whatever happens, Kurtzman promised fans that the show will hold true to Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of the franchise. “Every conversation about how we create Star Trek is filtered through Roddenberry’s essential vision of optimism. It is the spirt and the soul of Trek for all of us…there will be lots and lots of huge changes in Season 3, there will be things you recognize, things you don’t recognize. Part of the fun is that we get honor canon but shake it up hugely.”

Short Treks Will Give Us Tribbles, Time With Pike’s Enterprise Crew, and a Picard Teaser

During the Discovery session, Kurtzman also announced that there will be more Short Treks – shorter (as the name implies) stories in the Star Trek world. The audience was treated to a teaser trailer of the six new ones, which included shots of Tribbles (including a little girl eating a baby tribble?!), Captain Pike leading all over the place, and Spock and Number One stuck on a broken-down elevator. Kurtzman also shared that one of them will be focused on Star Trek: Picard and will give fans some background on what was going on in Jean-Luc’s life 15 years before the Picard series starts. 

After the Short Trek teaser, Rebecca Romijn (Number One) and Ethan Peck (Spock) came on stage as well. Kurtzman even hinted that Captain Pike, Number One, and Spock may get a show of their own, though nothing was officially mentioned.

Star Trek: Lower Decks

The next part of the session shifted to Star Trek: Lower Decks, an animated series that focuses on four ensigns on the not-so-important California-class starship, the USS Cerritos. Jerry O’Connell, who plays Commander Ransom, came out to moderate a discussion with his fellow cast members Jack Quaid (Ensign Boimler) and Tawny Newsome (Ensign Mariner) as well as co-creator Mike McMahan, who joined Kurtzman and Kadin on stage. 

The series is a comedy, though McMahan makes clear that it is not punching down on Star Trek in any way but focused on funny people living lives that are often off to the side. “For me and TNG, I was there for the B stories,” McMahn explained. “You know, Ryker’s trapped on a planet with his transporter clone? Great, I love that. But Data and Jordi are writing a play and getting in a fight about it — that’s what I’m here for.”

And there’s a good crew, a good family, for fans to follow in the series. Fleshing out the core crew are the remaining two ensigns: Ensign Tendi (Noel Wells) and Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero). And while these four are the main focus of the show, there’s also the Bridge Crew, where O’Connell’s Commander Ransom is joined by Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman) and Lieutenant Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore). 

Kurtzman also announced during this session that the franchise would also be kicking off its own podcast, hosted by Lower Decks actor Tawny Newsome.

Star Trek: Picard

“Jean-Luc is in the house!” moderator Domenic Patten announced to kick off the Picard session of the Star Trek panel. And he certainly was: Sir Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard) was joined by showrunner Michael Chabon, writers Kirsten Beyer and Akiva Goldsman, as well as cast members Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera, and Harry Treadway

While they still couldn’t say much about their parts (Pill could only say her character was a “researcher,” for example), Stewart and the other panelists promised that the show will be something lyrical that does something new in the Star Trek world. The quality of the story they were building, in fact, is why Stewart decided to play the role of Picard again in the first place. “As the subject matter of this new proposed series became clearer and clearer to me, and when I began to meet our incredibly distinguished writing team…I knew that something very unusual was going to happen and I wanted to be a part of it. To imagine that something like this might go ahead and I wouldn’t be there would be too defeatist. So here I am, and very, very happy to be here,” he said.

The audience was very happy to have Stewart there as well, and were ecstatic when Stewart introduced a new, amazing trailer, which started out with Jean-Luc on a vineyard-filled planet trying to put his past behind him when a young woman comes to him, looking for safety. To protect her, he taker her up to the stars with a non-Starfleet crew. Based on remaining scenes in the trailer, wherever they go will involve the Borg and at least a cameo or two with Data (Brent Spiner), Seven of Nine (Jerri Ryan), and Hugh the Borg (Jonathan Del Arco), all three of whom ended up joining the rest of the panelists on stage.

The trailer, in short, is amazing. And if the screaming fans in Hall H are any indication, I wasn’t the only one who thought so. 

Stewart seemed pleased by the response as well. “Thank you very much,” he said to the cheering crowd after the first screening. “That was the reception we were hoping for.” 

Picard is set to come out on CBS All Access in 2020.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: