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After years of hibernation and a somewhat successful film franchise reboot, Star Trek is thriving where it belongs: on the small screen.

The greatest science fiction franchise of all time kicked off Comic-Con at Home with a mega-panel dedicated to just about every show, ongoing, new, and upcoming, in the current Trek universe. In addition to segments dedicated to Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and Star Trek: Lower Decks, the panel offered some tidbits about the recently announced Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and officially revealed the title of the latest Trek series.

Star Trek: Prodigy

While Star Trek has always been a franchise enjoyed by viewers of all ages, the latest expansion to the universe is skewing younger. Although initially announced last year, details on Nickelodeon’s new animated Star Trek series have been revealed. The CG-animated show will be titled Star Trek: Prodigy and it will debut on the popular children’s network in 2021.

The plot details remain mostly under wraps, but we know it will follow a crew of kids who take control of an old Starship and blast off into space. Naturally, adventure will ensue. The official synopsis offers more specifics: “a group of lawless teens discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation.” That sounds a bit like the initial set-up from Star Trek: The Search for Spock, which found the Enterprise crew going rogue and commandeering their own ship for a personal mission. However, instead of seasoned vets, we get to go on this journey with a bunch of children, maybe even prodigies, as the title suggests.

The series will be from CBS’ Eye Animation Productions, CBS Television Studios’ new animation arm; Secret Hideout; and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin, Katie Krentz, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth will serve as executive producers alongside Kevin and Dan Hageman. Aaron Baiers will serve as a co-executive producer. 

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Although it’s too early in development to have anything substantial to share, the panel did offer a few tidbits about Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The recently announced series will be a spin-off of Star Trek: Discovery, following Captain Christopher Pike, Number One, and the young Spock in the years before the original series.

Executive producer Alex Kurtzman confirmed that the series has been in the works for some time, noting that he knew it was coming during last year’s Comic-Con, when they were “already having active conversations.” He also confirmed that the writers room for the series has started and they have already broken 10 stories for the first season.

Star Trek: Discovery

The Star Trek: Discovery portion of the panel kicked off with a table-reading of a sequence from the season 2 finale, with the cast reprising their parts alongside members of the crew. What could’ve been a dull rehash turned out to be something of a delight, as the reading was accompanied by concept art, pre-vis effects sequences, and storyboards that brought the episode to life from a completely different perspective. You can check out the reading for yourself in the embed at the bottom of this post.

After the reading, the cast and crew answered questions in a casual Q&A that was mostly reflective and fun, with the actors dwelling on the character choices and motivations. Naturally, there were no major revelations about the upcoming third season, which will see the crew of the Discovery thrown into the far future.

However, the cast did dwell on Star Trek‘s long-established focus on social issues and politics, which feel more relevant and important than ever. “It’s science fiction, but it imagines a world where people are valued for who they are,” cast member Anthony Rapp said. “It seems more resonant now than ever. It’s part of the fabric of it.”

“The work is not done,” series lead Sonequa Martin-Green emphasized. “That’s what’s going to compel us forward. Confronting ourselves and exposing ourselves as we have never before.”

Star Trek: Lower Decks

Star Trek: Lower Decks represents one of the biggest swings ever taken by the franchise. This is the first animated comedy series set in the Trek universe and it follows the crew of the USS Cerritos, one of the least-important ships in all of Starfleet. The series comes from creator Mike McMahan of Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites, who insists that the series will be true to what Star Trek is all about while also being silly and packed with gags and jokes.

The series takes place firmly in the Star Trek canon. Specifically in 2380, McMahan confirmed, which means the events of the show occur right after the Star Trek: Nemesis film but many years before Star Trek: Picard. McMahan says the show will blend the franchise’s trademark ethical sci-fi with humor, a blend that certainly sounds like a big balancing act.

The panel then debuted a clip from the series, following Ensign Brad Boimler, a by-the-book member of the Cerritos crew who is found dictating his own “captain’s log” to himself by his gregarious crewmate Beckett Mariner. Beckett is drunk, Brad is humiliated, and it all culminates with a Klingon Bat’leth causing a grievous injury.

While the scene was certainly funny on its own, it introduces a concept that seems to sum up McMahan’s mission statement. The crew is on their way to “second contact” with an alien species. After all, the important ships and crews get to make first contact with new races. The lesser ships get to make second contact, which means filling out paperwork and taking care of all the tedious, less dramatic stuff you would never see Picard or Kirk doing. So, a blend of pure Trek ideas and comedy? It could work!

The rest of the panel was dedicated to the cast introducing their characters, all of whom seem a bit more down to the Earth than the average Trek crew. They’re all flawed, irritable, silly, and real. “Since we’re the first comedy Star Trek, why not have them really be people?” McMahan said.

As for plot details…well, those were humorously bleeped out during the panel. But McMahan did make one promise to fans: “You’ll be seeing some stuff on the holodeck.”

Star Trek: Lower Decks arrives on CBS All Access on August 6.

Star Trek: Picard

If you were hoping the Star Trek: Picard portion of the panel would supply some hard news about season 2 or keen insights into the first season…sorry. However, what we got instead was a very entertaining group conversation where the main draw eventually became watching Sir Patrick Stewart’s Star Trek: The Next Generation cast mates makes dunk on him. Mercilessly. Constantly.

It began early on, with Stewart recalling what it was like to begin work on the series. “For me, a lot of the first half of the first season was literally about getting to know the people I was getting to work with,” the legendary actor said. But then he was quickly interrupted by Marina Sirits, who starred on The Next Generation as Counselor Deanna Troi and reprised the role in Picard, who joked: “Patrick, it took you the first half of the season to learn their names!”

Naturally, Stewart retorted: “I learned their first names!” To which Sirtis replied, “We allow for that because you’re very old.”

The dunking continued throughout the panel. When the younger cast spoke about being impressed and intimidated about working with Patrick Stewart, Sirtis scoffed and shouted it took them “years to train him” and that they were undoing all of their work. When it was revealed that the younger cast called him “SPS” (the first “s” being “Sir”), Picard series director and The Next Generation actor Jonathan Frakes deadpanned “I can’t believe we’re calling him that now.”

But beyond the jokes, there were a few touching moments. When asked bringing Captain Picard and The Next Generation back, Stewart said:

“We haven’t brought it back. It never went away. It was at first very challenging because, thanks to our brilliant team of writers, [our characters] are living in a very different world, a very complex world, a profoundly troubled world. Which might just might be appropriate for the times we’re living in as well.”

Star Trek: Picard will return for a second season on CBS All Access. No dates have been announced.

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