Sunday night was not only the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, but also the premiere a new after-show called – fittingly – After Trek. This new after-show is available live and on-demand on CBS All Access and also airs in Canada on the Space Channel and is available on demand outside the USA and Canada on Netflix. TrekMovie was invited to the studio for the first-ever Star Trek talk show and this is our first-hand account.
Live from New York, it’s After Trek!
We arrived at the studio around 8pm where, as a group, would all watch the two-hour premiere together – then go right into the live after-show. Smiling staff members in Trek shirts greeted us in a room with a big screen TV, couches and a bar that served themed drinks including a “Samarian Sunset” (Tequila and Orange Juice) and a “Beam Me Up” (Whisky and Coca-Cola) . While sipping on blue Gatorade-hued “Romulan Ale” (wonderful stuff, that Romulan Ale), around ten audience members all patiently watched the staffers calmly and efficiently download, install, and sign into the CBS All Access app. Meanwhile, host Matt Mira did a Facebook Live, mingling with the invited guests and getting us pumped for the premiere. After a few false starts with the app (as we were waiting for the first episode to appear), we began intently watching the first new Star Trek series on TV in 12 years. Over the course of the next two hours, there was laughter and cheering with a general sense of positivity.
We were then ushered into the studio which is deceivingly tiny. The set is absolutely gorgeous and, we were told (much like the Genesis Cave) was built in only two days. In a way, it reminds me of the VOY briefing room. The table is shaped similarly and there’s a window looking out into space. On display are actual props from the show – which include a tricorder, communicator, and a phaser. We know this because when Star Trek: Discovery co-showrunner Aaron Harberts first saw the set, he pointed out in wonderment, “Hey that’s our phaser!” The attention to detail is also appreciated. There’s even an old-fashioned telescope like the one Burnham uses in “The Vulcan Hello.”
Matt arrived first and was now wearing a tie, but conspicuous by their absence were his glasses, which he hilariously didn’t realize were not on his face until he tried to read the teleprompter. I am completely blind without my glasses so for the life of me have no idea how he could have forgotten them. That’s not all. There was a concern that his jacket sleeves were too short and would look ridiculous on camera. As we were mere minutes from going live, a PA quickly fixed Mira’s jacket, then frantically ran back to wardrobe to retrieve his glasses and saved the show.
A fun show with the right host
With the announcement of Matt Mira as host of After Trek, there was a strong contingent of fans that let out a collective sigh of relief that the right person was at the helm. Mira is most recognized for his work with Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries, but Trek fans may know him as somewhat of a Trekspert from the Star Trek: The Next Conversation Podcast.
The first word that comes to mind for this show is fun. Mira is a genuine fan and brings charisma, levity and pure joy as a host. If you’ve ever seen or heard Mira talk about Star Trek, you can just tell that he loves it. Whether he’s interviewing the cast of TNG on “Attack of the Show” or testing his trivia skills with Patrick Stewart on the Nerdist Podcast he’s extremely comfortable on camera.
Mira’s skills were evidenced in the first episode as he kept the conversation going with his in-studio guests Aaron Harberts and James Frain (Sarek). The discussion was relaxed but was still informative with both guests providing insights and background into the show. So discussion can go from why they structured the two-part premiere as a “prologue” to the rest of the series, to joking about why all Vulcans have the same bowl cut. There was a moment where they simulated a mind meld between Frain and Mara did fall a bit flat, but it shows they are experimenting with the format.
Mira also deftly juggled incorporating Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh and other members of the cast remotely from Toronto. However, there were a few hiccups, perhaps due to network lag. And given how many guests the show had available to talk to, this segment was surprisingly short. But hopefully, this shows that they will continue to bring in big-name guests, even if they can’t be in the New York studio.
More than just talk
The production itself is top notch, which is not a surprise as the show is produced by the same company that makes Talking Dead and other companion shows for AMC. After Trek is far more than a talking head type of show. The graphics are well done and the trivia questions between commercial breaks (which you can participate in at aftertrek.tv) are entertaining and informative no matter what your level. After Trek also takes advantage of being live by incorporating live twitter questions and interactive polls. There are also fun graphics revealing bits of Star Trek: Discovery details and even a “technobabble of the week” which shows a good amount of self-awareness and ability to have a little fun with the subject matter.
After Trek also featured some well-produced taped behind-the-scenes sequences that provided a lot of insight into the making of the show. These were shot on set where you can see how things were done and included good interview snippets with cast and crew. Hopefully, there is a lot more of this in future episodes.
Revealing without spoiling
If you are hungry to know what is coming, the first episode of After Trek offered a few tidbits, without getting too spoilery. We find out that we will see the USS Discovery in the next episode, the show won’t deal with Romulans, Sarek is going to show off some Vulcan martial arts, and more minor spoilers.
There was a clip of the next episode “Context is for Kings” airing this weekend, giving us a good look at the engine room of the USS Discovery – revealing it is anything but ordinary. And Lt. Stamets (Anthony Rapp) has a bit of an attitude towards the recently convicted Michael Burnham.
CBS released 4 clips of After Trek, so check em out.
After shows are in vogue these days for franchises with enormous fandoms and rich histories and there’s arguably no one bigger than Star Trek. After Trek just makes sense. And as the weeks go on, it will continue to improve – becoming a true companion to Discovery. I look forward to the rest of the season and learning something new every week.
After Trek streams live on CBS All Access at 9:30 pm ET each Sunday, following releases of a new episode of Star Trek: Discovery. It is also available on demand on CBS All Access after the live show. In Canada After Trek airs Sunday nights and in the rest of the world it is available on demand on Netflix.