CBS Executive Gives Status Update On Star Trek Section 31 Series

In addition to Star Trek: Discovery and Short Treks, CBS has officially announced three other Trek series in development: the Picard show with Patrick Stewart, the animated comedy Lower Decks and a Discovery spin-off focused on Section 31 featuring Michelle Yeoh as Emperor-turned operative Philippa Georgiou. Today an executive from CBS gave a status update on the Section 31 show.

31 coming in ’21?

Executives from CBS held a panel on “the Power of Programming in a Multi-Platform Universe” at the Innovative TV Conference in Israel. And according to Deadline – who co-sponsored the event – the subject of Star Trek came up, and specifically the previously announced Michelle Yeoh Section 31 spin-off. CBS Television Studios president David Stapf set expectations for the show saying, “It’s a good couple of years away.”

This is more specific than previous estimates, which have noted that the show is not expected until after the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, which goes into production this summer. If CBS follows the same pattern for the first two seasons of Discovery, the third season would end up premiering in the Spring of 2020. Michelle Yeoh will also appear in the third season of Discovery.

It’s worth noting that the way Stapf is talking makes it sound like the Section 31 show is set to go, however, CBS has yet to officially confirm a full series order. When it was officially announced in January, CBS only stated the show was in development, something confirmed later at the TCA event, but it was also confirmed at the same event that showrunners Bo Yeoh Kim and Erika Lippoldt were at already at work and “breaking the story.”

Michelle Yeoh and Shazad Latif on the Section 31 ship in Star Trek: Discovery “Point of Light”

Section 31 to be shot in Canada

One other bit of info provided by David Stapf at the ITV conference is that the Section 31 series is set to be shot in Toronto. While the Picard show has returned the franchise to production in California, it makes sense that the Section 31 series would use Discovery’s home at Pinewood Studios in Toronto, which already includes the Section 31 ship featured in the second season. They would almost certainly need some additional new sets, but time and money could be saved by redressing current Discovery sets.

The third season of Discovery begins production in July. Assuming production on the new season runs about the same as the second, and allowing some prep time to transition over, shooting for the Section 31 could probably start around mid-2020, which may be one of the reasons Stapf is talking about a two-year wait for the show.

Construction in 2018 redressing the USS Shenzhou bridge for Section 31 ship.

More on Section 31 in Discovery season two

In case you missed it, last week CBS released a video about how the Discovery team developed Section 31 for the second season.

Keep up with all the news on the Section 31 show and other upcoming Star Trek TV shows here at

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We want a Captain Pike Enterprise spinoff not this crap. CBS ruined Star Trek by making stuff like this fans don’t want. We want Enterprise not this Section 31 crap. Star Trek Discovery is very bad but is very good now. Good job CBS, you got your head out of the clouds. Section 31 is the worst thing about season 2.

Speak only for yourself, please. You’re entitled to your opinion, not mine.

PS I often enjoy your posts, but we have very different views on this.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the S31 show.

I’ve been enjoying Discovery, but won’t know if any if the new Trek offerings are a fit for me and our family until we view them.

While many find Section 31 risky ground, it also provides an opportunity to do a deep dive into Federation values.

The Relaunch books have been very successful in exploring how S31 undermined the values, and how individuals could make choices to uphold them.

Given that Discovery seems to be using some of the backstory from the books, I’m hopeful that the new show will get at these issues.

I wholeheartedly agree, TG47. It’s dismaying to read unfounded opinions and baseless declarations about programs that no one has seen (because they don’t even exist as yet!). It’s easy to take potshots and criticize, much harder to create and develop something new.

While true, but I think a lot of the opinions are based on what we have seen of Section 31 thus far in season 2. If that is the direction they would go with on such a show, then I think the negative opinions are warranted.

ML31 for once I agree. Unless they plan to disregard everything about Section 31 and Space Hitler in particular that they have set up in season 2, they are working within tight limitations for the new series and that’s limitations we know. Make no mistake they DID have the chance to go a different route once Space Hitler was brought to the prime universe, but they chose not to. They chose to turn her even more into a mustache twirling cartoon. That, and the showrunners literally being writers from Discovery gives confidence to make a judgment whether such series has merit as a Star Trek show or not, even 2 years earlier.

Michelle Yeoh’s “Space Hitler” reminds me too much of Rumpelstiltskin/Mr Gold from Once Upon a Time.

Indeed! And my apologies about that “for once” – there are so many posters with short alphanumerical handles here that I think I got confused!

No worries! It happens. I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of who says what. :)

Warning to Professor Spock. You don’t get to speak for others. That’s gatekeeping and against our rules for commenting.

Out of curiosity, where did Professor Spock claim to speak on behalf of all creation? If he had said, “a lot of fans want a Pike show” instead of “we want a Pike show,” would that have transformed made his post A-OK?

That’s a bit like claiming that when Red Sox fans chant, “we want a pitcher, not a belly-itcher” they’re also speaking on behalf of the Bronx bombers. It’s a generic “we.” (Pity the fool who tunes into the 2020 conventions and hears a stream of “the American people want X” speeches.)

At any rate: I agree with Professor Spock. The one and only cringe-inducing thread in DIS season two has been Section 31. Mirror Georgiou — whatever the thespian virtues of Michelle Yeoh — is a moustache-twirler. The Federation is supposed to be a place we want to live, not the second coming of the NKVD.

The writers haven’t got a clue about what intelligence agencies do or how they work. If you want to see a compelling portrayal of intelligence agency antics, how about getting the writers of CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER to work on Trek?

” If you want to see a compelling portrayal of intelligence agency antics, how about getting the writers of CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER to work on Trek?”

Actually, I’d rather see the guys who created and wrote a number of “The Americans” episodes tasked with writing a show about a Federation Intelligence Agency. They claimed their was was inspired by some real things and while I think they went over the top a little it was still pretty compelling stuff.

The main guy responsible for “The Americans” was a former CIA officer, so he obviously knew his stuff.

Great show too. My theory is that the final episode hinted the Jennings eventually become archetypal “industrialist Russian oligarchs” — the exchange with Philip about “managing/owning a factory” (or whatever Elizabeth’s exact words were) — with Philip running the actual business and Elizabeth ruthlessly handling the shadier stuff involving the Kremlin, KGB/FSB and the Russian mafia. It would be a realistic outcome for them.

Anyway…the Section 31 show needs showrunners/writers who are familiar with the real-life stuff. There have been plenty of famous books authored by former US agency heads and investigative journalists. Time will tell if the show is smart, realistic and logical (even with Bourne-style conspiracies or Bond glamour), or more along the lines of the sillier “spy dramas”.

I think when he said “CBS ruined Star Trek by making stuff like this fans don’t want.” I’m pretty sure a lot of fans want to see this show. Me included.

You’re entitled to your opinions. I’ve been speaking about the need to expand the Federation universe since Trek 09 was announced. The world doesn’t end if the Enterprise does.

They did expand it and they expanded it well, we had Deep Space 9 and Voyager, DS9 was excellent Voyager was hit and miss but easy to follow for more casual fans.

Enterprise was fantastic by season 3.

I’m just frustrated that this S31 show will be set in the 23rd Century not the 24th or 25th.

Picard will be set in 24th century, Lower Decks who knows. There will be a clear variety of time settings and focus– one a Federation starship (Discovery), one a clandestine intelligence agency (Section 31), one a non-Starfleet quest adventure (Picard, seemingly), and a comedic animated series.

I think this is a pretty diverse group of shows.

A diverse group of shows. Also known as “killing the goose that laid the golden egg.”

The only way to freshen the show up was to break with Canon. So far so good as long as they can contain all the long speeches in times of crisis when seconds count. Michael especially….

Why not have both? I would be happy with that.

But I don’t think the Section 31 series is dead set certain to happen. If it is going to take 2-3 years to get production going then anything can happen that kills it off.

It will air next year. It’s a done deal.

Well it will need to be officially announced and have production start before the end of the year for that to happen.

I’m sure contracts have been signed.

I don’t mind Section 31 in Discovery. It’s classic Trek, presenting all points of view. I do agree, in my personal opinion, that a Section 31 series is not a good idea.

You speak for me as well when you say that Section 31 has been the worst thing about season 2. The 2nd worst thing was the brief return to the Klingons.

Why do you hate the Klingons? I’m pretty sure they will show up again this season. They are so much better than the cookie cutter kiss army 90’s Klingons.

I love how all of them now have different hair cuts. They have personalities now.

The problem with the Klingons (apart from the fact that they barely resemble Klingons) is that we have seen all this stuff before. There is nothing new or different here. It’s tired and boring now. When we had Worf Klingon stories, they were fascinating and new. But no one has done anything else since then. Show runners promised and new look but that was an error at best. A lie at worst. They are also contributing nothing to this season.

Agreed. They look different (and much worse which is why they were given hair again at least) but actually made more one note than before. They weren’t explored any differently we haven’t seen countless times already.

No thanks. That show would get boring pretty quick for me. I rather see new people.

The only good new Star Trek show coming out is the Picard show. Lower Decks and Section 31 sound like crap. Star Trek Discovery was crap once but not anymore. We are in a Star Trek renaissance right now.

It’s crap, but it’s not. Gotcha.

Phil that’s a good way to put it. LOL 🤣😂

If the rumors are true, the Picard Show doesn’t sound all that good to me.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Since I haven’t seen any of the upcoming shows myself, I can only say that the only show I’m looking forward to is the Lower Decks show. The Picard show has potential if they make Picard interesting. If the Section 31 show is anything like what we have seen of them on Discovery then I would take a pass. But this is all speculation. Ultimately it all remains to be seen until actually viewing them. Who knows? It might be that the Section 31 show ends up being the best!

ML31 you seem to have backed into the essential point.

TPTB have realized that fans are not a monolith and that different concepts for Trek show will fit different audience niches.

Can we as fans accept that not all Trek will fit our individual/particular concept, while still being Trek?

Constructive critiques are valuable in improving Trek, but as M.A.X. argues, pouring on scorn if it’s not one’s particular niche concept, risks nothing getting produced.

While you say ML31 that you’re most looking forward to Lower Decks, the initial reaction in our household was ‘Why would they do a show like that?’. Having seen the Mudd Short Trek (The Escape Artist) however has made me at least curious to see how it works out.

In fact, the kids program is the one we are most skeptical about. We get that there is a niche to be filled, but feel that there are others who know better how to reach kids with a smart, problem-solving Trek concept…and understand that kids want to have kids voicing the characters rather than adults pretending to be kids.

But for both the kids show and the Academy show, there’s a ways to go before they’ll be greenlit. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to Kurtzman and the Network TPTB that they’ll ensure these are worthwhile.

Notice that I have not poopooed the concept of different genres of Trek. That is a good idea and it is obvious not all shows will work for all fans. But is the point of doing a bunch of different shows.

“Who knows? It might be that the Section 31 show ends up being the best!”

In fairness, there are some precedents for prequels/spinoffs/reboots sounding like bad ideas when announced but actually turning out to be unexpectedly good. BSG. Rogue One. Black Sails. Frasier. Young Sheldon (!). Our very own DS9. So it’s definitely been known to happen.

Unfortunately there’s a long list of shows turning out to be…well…the opposite too. It all depends on the showrunners and writers — and the outcome isn’t necessarily predictable, regardless of their previous track record. Sometimes — usually — yes, but not always.

Do the producers only know two colours, blue and orange? That’s literally the only grading the show has. Why does the ugly Section 31 ship that no one cares about look like it’s smeared in blue gel? Discovery, rubbish writing, rubbish characters, rubbish visual design and VFX.

Steve that’s a bit harsh but you have a good point anyway

“Do the producers only know two colours, blue and orange?”

Same reason as for the crew makeup and the usual “allegories” (if we can call them such): being safely contemporarily “hip” all the while NOT putting the intended target group into any uncomfortable corner. As I said before, Discovery will be the Star Trek show looking most dated in the end, (and by far not just for the Michael Bayish “Orange and Teal”) which is funnily ironic given the disdain most behind the scenes people have given to both the looks and the writing style of TOS. If that was “1960s inferior” , let’s wait how “2010s inferior” will look like ;)

The biggest problem (OK not the biggest but noticeable) is just how blue and orange it looks. You watch Star Trek tribute videos on youtube and while they all have their own look and style its Discovery that feels the most noticeable than the others because its so baked in with the blueness everywhere. Its not AS bad as first season but its still a bit too much IMO.

We’re on a road of REcovery, let’s see what the new showrunner brings to the table in season 3!

That would have meant more in the old days when a show getting good in S3 meant you still had a 120 episodes to look forward to. Now it could be off air within 25 episodes!

This will literally be the first Star Trek show I’ve never had any interest in watching whatsoever.

eric2 I agree with you. I don’t care about Section 31 at all. I’m not watching this.

I have always been skeptical of Section 31, like it came out of a focus group that said Star Trek was ‘too liberal,’ or something like that. Since they are now a real and established part of Trek, one can only hope they won’t be misused (as they were in a big way in STID, as if the CIA had taken over the entire US Military because one Admiral had all the command codes). Subtle mind-bending and time-traveling twists and turns with the usual Star Trek good stories and great characters will make for a good show. Make us think about what’s good and not so good in this world, like good Trek should, and the show has a shot.

I’ve found they were interesting in DS9 but in STD it feels like bad fanfic with cartoonish acting for lack of a better term.

Section 31 is an interesting concept but with poor execution. I’m not interested in any of this at all. This will be the first Star Trek show I will avoid watching like a plague.

“Section 31 is an interesting concept but with poor execution.”

That is probably the most positive think I can say about thus far.

Again, let them hire Tom Clancy’s ghost, and maybe we can talk. Gene Roddenberry was a WWII veteran, not to mention a Pan American World Airways pilot. He knew something about how the military works and about how crews work. The Hollywood lifers writing about intelligence agency caricatures, not so much. Hell, the wacky Ferengi episodes were more realistic.

And I have zero confidence a Section 31 spinoff is going to chart a new course from what we’ve heretofore seen.

“The Hollywood lifers writing about intelligence agency caricatures”

As I said upthread, hopefully the show’s writers will research the real-life stuff, even if they exaggerate/extrapolate it in the interests of entertainment or narrative logic. There are ways to keep the show exciting but still relatively grounded in realism, rather than turning it into a futuristic interstellar version of Agents of Shield or any number of ridiculous tv spy dramas from the past 15+ years.

Whether this actually ends up happening is of course the big question.

At the risk of being overly speculative on minimal evidence, it would appear on the basis of the trailer for “Project Daedelus” and the photo released today of Cornwell and Pike from that episode that Starfleet is going to take some sort of reining in action against S31 headquarters. Has S31 gone too far in its operations? Is it about to be discredited and driven underground (or at least such an effort begun)? No doubt track will start to be laid sometime this season of Disco for whatever the possibilities being envisioned for the projected series might be at the moment.

Also wonder about the significance of the next episode’s title.

Elrond I guess this is when Section 31 went undercover like in Deep Space Nine. They were caught and exposed for their lies. Section 31 is the biggest Star Trek conspiracy ever.

That is, of course, where I was heading, though it remains to be seen. Also, to be seen is whether S31 is “the biggest Trek conspiracy ever.” Perhaps it’s only a component of a larger conspiracy: what if Control, for instance, is itself being controlled by the future squid-probe technocrats who are, apparently, being opposed by the Red Angel. Mysteries and loose ends abound.

“Also, to be seen is whether S31 is “the biggest Trek conspiracy ever.””

There are definitely interesting ways to make S31 part of that — including realistic extrapolations of history, Trek canon and human psychology that would seem very obvious in hindsight — but I’m not giving the show’s writers any freebies.

Not sure what to make of the hints about an AI running S31. Obvious parallels with Terminator’s Skynet. In literature, closer parallels with the superintelligent AIs running Special Circumstances, the Culture’s equivalent of S31 in Iain M Banks’ famous novels (presciently, the first book was written in the late 80s!). But unlike those civilisations, humanoids — especially humans — still have supreme political and military control of the Federation; so the notion of an *AI* running S31 is unrealistic. Focusing on human ambitions and flaws would’ve been better.

If it were to happen I seriously doubt this soon. It sounds like its going to be a much longer arc and may not even happen until the show itself starts.

Makes sense, Tiger, which is why I had the caveat of such an effort perhaps only beginning.

”Has S31 gone too far in its operations? Is it about to be discredited and driven underground (or at least such an effort begun)?”

Elrond, I think this is exactly what will happen, probably with Georgiou either taking over as the organisation’s leader or irreversibly corrupting it. In any case, the legacy of her toxic influence will last until the DS9 era at the very least, and possibly beyond it (depending on what the Picard show depicts).

You have to remember John Gill is teaching the fleeters history and he takes the view “Sure the Nazis and Khan were homicidal maniacs, but there were just so damn efficient.”

This will be the first Star Trek show I won’t watch. Section 31 is dead to me. At least we have Patrick Stewart as Picard again; the best Star Trek captain ever. CBS should focus more on the Starfleet Academy show. Now that sounds interesting.

Professor Spock

Please stop spamming with comments. When 1/3 of the comments on an article are from you, it is too many, and this happens too often. You don’t need to repeat yourself and respond to every other commenter.

This is your final pre-ban warning.

I have no problem with the S31 show. I won’t say don’t do this show…instead do the Pike show. However…. I want the Pike show. I am ready to start writing letters to support a Pike show. I won’t write anything to take away support from another show….in fact I will watch the s31 show too.

I will be a little surprised if we get past the next big Trek panel without an announcement for more Mount/Pike. To me it seems like that actor/character brings the most excitement in all of Trek since Trek 09

I do want to say that personally, as a life long ST fan (my first convention was in 1975), that
1) I feel Sec 31 and the evil empress is a betrayal of Star Trek values and I have an actual aversion to it;
2) Anson Mount and Peck are a joy to watch and a Captain Pike Enterprise series, done properly (no Discovery season 1 sensibility), with a true Trek spirit, would be wonderful.

I wholeheartedly agree, GarySeven!


Woah Max, easy on the CAPS. It’s this mentality I don’t support as a Trek fan – just because it’s produced I “have to” support it. No, I don’t. It’s the other way around. THEY have to impress me to get me to tune in. I’m not blindly throwing money at something I’m not enjoying, just because it says “Star Trek” on it. To me, that’s not being a fan – that’s being a sucker.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Section 31 is a “betrayal.” But it does feel like it is a bit out of place. Federation intelligence would be a much better stand in for Section 31. They could do the dirty work. They could have off book stuff but at least they would be somewhat accountable and NOT run but an AI. Which is patently insane. My main problem with S31 was how it seems they do not answer to anyone. What organization in their right mind would allow this?

Michelle Yeoh is still the only draw for me on this one. Even though I’m sure I would watch anyway — at least for a while.

I’m enjoying Alan Van Sprang as Leland.

I’m not quite sure what to make of Leland. He comes across as very sincere while being evidently dishonest.

He seems to put absolute faith in Control, the AI. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in upcoming Discovery episodes.

I’m also wondering about Tyler. Will he stay with S31?

On one hand, unlike several voices here, I like the character, and Shazad Latif’s portrayal, and would like for him to have more development and screen time which the S31 show might offer.

On the other, I’d rather Pike and Cornwell find a way to rehabilitate him for regular service in Starfleet.

I want a Captain Pike spin off, don’t care about Section 31.

This the first serious Star Trek show I absolutely do not want them to make.

Section 31 stories are fine. But a show about 31? It’s just not right.

There are limits to what is OK in trek.

I’ve given every new Star Trek a chance but I can catagorically state I will not be tuning in to watch this abomination.

I’ll give them a chance to prove me wrong, but … this show does not seem even vaguely like a good idea to me.

CBS is betting that fans will watch anything that has “Star Trek” in the title no matter how bad.

With this fan, that bet is ill-founded on their part.

Section 31 has been turned into a cartoon. Maybe the Lower Decks show should be about Section 31? No, it might ruin that show, too.

I’m surprised this paid content actually linked to the youtube video where all the fans point out how many continuity problems there are with STD’s depiction of Section 31.

My prediction here is that Section 31 will be exposed for framing a Starfleet officer and will be, “disbanded.” However, Georgiou’s show will be about keeping 31 around, but making sure it stays a closely guarded secret.

Best guess, not saying I like it or hate it. I need to see more before judging.

That’s my guess as well. Given its prominence in the Discovery era, it has to be forced underground at some point soon to avoid injury to canon. But at the same time, we know it remains alive in some form well into the future. I’m optimistic the Discovery writers can handle that part, since “In Memory Serves” and other recent episodes show how aware these writers are of their role in the broader Star Trek universe.

That said, I’m as skeptical as many of a Section 31 show. The Georgiou character is a genocidal monster, whatever her personal charms. How could she be a Star Trek protagonist? Beyond that, this idea on its face doesn’t seem to bring much that’s typically associated with Star Trek — Section 31 isn’t about discovering new life and new civilizations, it isn’t about heroes, and it isn’t about a world founded on a better ethical view than ours. What could it add?

Section 31 is an interesting concept, but it depends on whether we are going to get the John Wick or the Xena treatment for Mirror Georgiou.

If it’s John Wick aka a bad guy that is still a bad guy killing worse guys along the way, I’m out. If it’s Xena aka a bad guy turning good killing only if necessary at some point, then it’s a neat concept. They have to find some more integrity for the character by the end of season 1, a believable redemption arc.

This show is under a certain scrutiny. It’s not set in the world of TWD or GoT. They can’t go berserk on this one if they want to stick to the spirit of Trek.

They could have gone down and dirty with the Khan show on Ceti Alpha, for he has no affilitation with Starfleet or the Federation (at least in this timeline). Zahn McClarnon as Khan… gosh… I’d die for this!

”They could have gone down and dirty with the Khan show on Ceti Alpha, for he has no affilitation with Starfleet or the Federation (at least in this timeline). Zahn McClarnon as Khan… gosh… I’d die for this!

Unlike some people here, I agree that a show about Khan has a lot of potential. However, they should make it about the Eugenics Wars, find a way to merge it with Trek canon about World War Three, and go ahead with it *only* if they can cast Indian actor Hrithik Roshan as the lead (a man born to play that role) and get extremely talented showrunners & writers. It really needs the right people involved.

Maybe they could take it in more of a comedic direction, because Yeoh, Van Sprang, and Ash Dirtbag remind me of The Three Stooges.

I guess it’s not as obvious a choice as having a series about forensic scientists solving murder mysteries in the Federation every week, but a secret agent show is still a very CBS direction for them to go. Should surprise no one they’re doing this, right?

CSI-Vulcan has the potential to be the better show than a Section 31 show.

Haha, but what Who song best fits Vulcan?

Georgiou is terrible. Worst thing about Discovery. Her show will flop immmediately. Also sucks that this confirms this terrible character won’t be killed off and we’ll have to put up with her for the whole run. Also, suggests to me they’re planning to end Discovery after Season 4, possibly even Season 3 given they’ll have Picard running concurrently, and looking for cheaper alternatives.

People said the same thing about Discover when it was first announced.

I really don’t like Section 31. I wish they would have chosen a different direction for the series.

Given the corner the Discovery people have painted themselves in with their portrayal of Section 31 and Space Hitler in particular as cartoons, the only inspiration I can see them drawing from for that new show is 1930s Flash Gordon serials and Ming the Merciless!