STLV19: ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Panel Talks Second Contacts, Cleaning Holodecks, And Canon

At San Diego Comic-Con the first details were revealed on the upcoming CBS All Access animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks. The show is just going into production for animation and will arrive in 2020, but at the Lower Decks panel at Star Trek Las Vegas we learned a lot more about the show, the ship it is based on, the characters, and the approach creator Mike McMahan and his team of Trek fan writers are taking.

A team of Trekkies (including newly converted)

Star Trek: Lower Decks was created by Rick and Morty writer/producer Mike McMahan who successfully pitched the show to executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin, even though they were already developing another animated Star Trek show for Nickelodeon. Kurtzman and Kadin were sold on McMahan’s deep love of Star Trek (his dog is named Riker) and his vision of an adult animated comedy focusing on lower-ranked characters on a less important ship in Starfleet.

To develop the show, McMahan has put together a team of writers who share his vision and many of whom are also super-fans of Trek. He brought some of his writers to Star Trek Las Vegas where they said they felt they fit right in. Even if one of the writers wasn’t wearing a Captain Jellico tee and another didn’t have a tote bag with Michael Piller’s face — the way they talked about Star Trek throughout the panel made it clear that these people are having the time of their lives playing in a franchise they love and cherish.

Star Trek: Lower Decks writers M. Willis, Chris Kula, Ben Rodgers, Ann Kim, and Mike McMahon at Star Trek: Las Vegas

That being said, Star Trek fandom was not a pre-requisite for the writers. McMahan spoke about how he put together the writers’ room:

We all love Star Trek. I have put together comedy rooms before and it is really complicated and really hard, because there is a lot of stuff you are trying to balance. You want people who are going to write towards the voice of the show that you pitched, but you also want to have people with different comedic voices and different kind of access points…While staffing this group of people I wasn’t just looking for people who knew absolutely everything about Star Trek. What I wanted to do is put together different comedic voices and people who just felt like they either loved Star Trek or they wanted to watch it all the time and learn about it as we were writing it.

One of the writers who was new to Trek – Ann Kim – was given a special “Star Trek Expert” hat to wear on stage as a sort of joke, but she said she actually wore it proudly:

This hat is ironic, but it is also the most earnest hat ever, because the past six months of my life have been dedicated to Star Trek in the most passionate way. I feel so lucky to have been brought into the Star Trek family…When I had my first staffing meeting for the show, to prep for it I watched an episode my friend recommended which was “Darmok,” and I literally cried…It truly affected me.

Lower Decks writer Ann Kim at Star Trek Las Vegas 2019

Star Trek: Second Contact

With the show just starting animation, McMahan said it was too early to share anything, but he did want to provide the fans at Star Trek Las Vegas with more about the show than was revealed at Comic-Con. For example, at SDCC we learned the name of the ship the show takes place on, but at Star Trek Las Vegas Mike McMahan revealed the mission of the USS Cerritos:

Lower Decks takes place on a ship called the USS Cerritos and it’s a new class of support ship – called the California class – that has always been out there, but maybe haven’t been important enough to have screen time yet. So, you will be meeting the crew of the Sacramento, the crew of the Fresno. And the specialty of the Cerritos is Second Contact, that is their gig. So, First Contact is super important, really dangerous. You don’t want to set off any wars, you don’t want to ruin any lives. Second contact, you are showing up to the planet, you are finding all the good places to eat, you setting up the communications stuff…I wanted to explore how [after] first contact happens and you are starting to join the Federation and you already have warp capability…but, what is happening next? What is Starfleet doing to back up that offer of joining?

The Ensigns of Lower Decks

Star Trek: Lower Decks focuses on the lives of four ensigns on the USS Cerritos. The panel provided some more insights into these four. Here is what the show writers had to say about his the four ensigns of Lower Decks:

Ensign Mariner: She is kind of a classic Star Trek hero. She is a little bit Kirk, a little bit Riker. She doesn’t really play by the rules necessarily and thinks outside the box a bit, but gets the job done. And she is really, really good at Starfleet stuff. She is the ultimate Star Trek nerd. She knows a little bit about everything.

But she has been demoted so many times, that is why she is on the lower decks. So despite knowing everything, she is really bad at taking orders. She is kind of like Maverick from Top Gun. She would buzz the tower.

Boimler: He is our by-the-book and obsessed with rank. He wants to be captain one day and thinks following protocol is the only way he is going to get there. He is wound super tight, which makes him a perfect foil for Mariner. He will get to the captain’s chair one day, if he can take a page from her and learn there is more to Starfleet than just following the rules.

Tendi: Tendi is a huge Star Trek fan who has got into Starfleet and is an Orion and this show his first day getting to work on a Starfleet ship and it is wish fulfillment. We are channeling what if one of us got to work on a Starfleet ship. The original pitch for her is there is no job too lower decks that she isn’t losing her mind for joy over…She’s like if the optimism of Starfleet was turned into a person.

Rutherford: An engineer who just recently became a cyborg and isn’t used to it yet. He is only complaining about his implant because he doesn’t understand how to use it. Rutherford is like Geordi La Forge, if you don’t solve the problem in 40 minutes. Every episode he’s like “I got this,” but he sometimes does not have it.

[example exchange between captain and Rutherford] “I need 20 minutes” “well, you have 10” “no, seriously I need the full 20”…I’m not doing the Scotty thing, I probably need 30.”

No’l Wells as Ensign Tendi; Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford; Tawny Newsome as Ensign Mariner; Jack Quaid as Ensign Boimler of the CBS All Access series Star Trek: Lower Decks

Someone has to do the dirty jobs on a Starship

Star Trek: Lower Decks shares its name with a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Lower Decks.” And that is no accident. Mike McMahan says “Lower Decks” was the first thing he showed to the writers’ room, adding:

“Lower Decks” is my favorite episode of TNG, of any Star Trek. TNG is my jam and getting to see people on the Enterprise that felt like if like if I were on the Enterprise, that would maybe be me. And how did they interact with Riker.

Later in the panel when asked about the worst kinds of jobs the ensigns of Lower Decks have to do, McMahan gave a bit of flavor of what we can expect from the show:

Our lower deckers are always scraping carbon off of slightly harder carbon and they hate it. And maybe the second worst job is cleaning the holodecks. People mess up the holodecks. A lot of weird stuff goes down there.

The USS Cerritos holodeck from Star Trek: Lower Decks

The bridge crew are the ‘lower decks’ of bridge crews

Star Trek: Lower Decks focuses on the four ensigns, but like any ship in Starfleet, there is a bridge crew. During his time at both SDCC and STLV, McMahan made it clear that everyone on the USS Cerritos are still members of Starfleet, noting “it was important for us for that the bridge crew feel like a real bridge crew.” However, he did acknowledge they may not be flagship material:

The show is about the lower decks of the ship, but since the ship is in charge of Second Contact, these guys are kind of the lower decks of crews too.

McMahan and the writers also gave some more details on the main four members of the bridge crew:

Captain Freeman: She is as capable as a Starfleet captain as you would want them to be. But she is just not on the most important ship in the fleet.

Commander Ransom: He is kind of like a chill, smug Riker.

Lt. Shaxs: He is our beefcake Bajoran.

Dr. T’Ana: She is kind of like a super-Palaski, angry cat from a junkyard. She is not purring at anybody. She is a good doctor, but she’s an unpleasant cat.

Fred Tatasciore as Lieutenant Shaxs; Dawnn Lewis as Captain Freeman; Jerry O’Connell as Commander Ransom; Gillian Vigman as Dr. T’ana of Star Trek: Lower Decks

Respecting TAS

Lower Decks will not be Star Trek’s first foray into animation, that honor goes to the 1970s show Star Trek: The Animated Series, which ran for two seasons. The character of Dr. T’Ana being Caitian like M’Ress from TAS is one of the ways Lower Decks is honoring that first animated Trek, but McMahan says there is more:

We love the original animated series – it has its ups and it has its downs – but it was important to us to feel like when you are watching our show, that it treats ALL of Star Trek equally. So, we have characters and alien designs casually and featured in our episodes from TOS, TNG and from The Animated Series showing up. It really feels like we are tightening the bootlace on making The Animated Series feel like it actually even more canon that it was before.

Hinting at TNG cameos

Star Trek: Lower Decks is set one year after the events of Star Trek Nemesis, which leads to the obvious question — which was asked during the audience Q&A — Will the show have cameos from Star Trek stars from the TNG era? McMahan assured the fan, cameos are something they are working on:

Yeah, we are trying to get everybody. I don’t want to tease anything yet, but all is I want to say is these are all of our heroes. If we can figure out a way to not mess up the show and get to geek out over working with all these people we love, we would do it… Our TNG crew is out there in 2380 – that’s all I’ll say.

Who says funny and canon can’t mix?

As he did at SDCC, McMahan made it clear that Lower Decks is not a parody of Star Trek or making fun of the franchise, but is celebrating it by finding the humor within Trek. McMahan notes that humor has always been part of the franchise:

We have an animated Star Trek show, that isn’t for kids, that is a comedy, that is 20-something minutes long. We want to get a full dramatic Star Trek episode happening in it, but not focusing on it. What we are focusing on are these social emotional stories happening to the lower decks crew. The fun thing about that was, to me Star Trek is funny. When you are watching a TNG episode and there is funny stuff happening in it, that is intentional.

McMahan made it clear the even though the show leans into the comedy, it will stay within the ideals of Star Trek

An important part of this show is figuring out how can you be Starfleet but still be funny. As [Lower Decks writer] David Wright says often: you don’t want to mortgage your characters for the sake of the story you are writing. Part of what we wanted to do on Lower Decks is make it like you are watching Star Trek, like a fast, good episode of TNG. What that means is there is nobody in Starfleet – no matter what deck you work on in the ship – that isn’t excellent, that isn’t the best of us, that doesn’t embody that optimistic goodness which is what we love about Starfleet. So, when writing a comedy about Star Trek, you can’t be punching down on Star Trek stuff. All of the people you are writing about have to love Starfleet as much as we do, which is why we love watching stories about it.

McMahan also noted how they take their cue from Star Trek shows on how to approach humor. The writers pointed to a scene in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Q Who?”:

We have watched that scene so many times. Picard walks into engineering and an ensign dumps her [hot chocolate] on his shirt and our whole series is based on those moments. What’s it like to be on these ships…Every Starfleet ships feels like a different family and you get to make fun of your family because you love them and you are with them all the time. That is the kind of sense of humor that TNG has. And our family is like that too, on our ship, it is just a slightly funnier family.

McMahan summed up the show thusly:

If Deep Space Nine feels like drinking a nice slow cup of coffee that is expertly made, our show feels like getting a cup of coffee thrown in your face and then you fall down stairs and you are there and saying “what the hell just happened?”

Another burning question that came up regarded how the show will approach canon. Even though Lower Decks is an animated comedy, McMahan says they are approaching it as canon:

We are trying to make it as in-canon as humanly possible, because why do a Star Trek show unless you are going to be in canon? It’s part of what makes it great, right? Star Trek is about the characters, even if there is a bad episode of Star Trek I don’t care, I am watching it because I love the characters.

One of the ways the show is staying within canon is with the help of veteran Star Trek novelist David Mack, who is a consultant for Lower Decks. McMahan talked about Mack’s contributions:

[David Mack] is an infinite wealth. So, sometimes we’ll be writing something and everything is going exactly right and it feels really Starfleet to us and then we will send Mack the script and he will give us a note and we’ll be like, oh, we should not have been calling that character a lieutenant, it doesn’t make any sense. What Mack is amazing at is taking what we are doing and really clicking it into place where you can watch a TNG episode and then bounce to ours and then to TNG and it doesn’t feel like you are making two different kinds of entities.

This lighter scene with an ensign having an awkward moment with Capt. Picard from “Q Who” is often referenced in the Lower Decks writers room

New uniforms based on unused design from Star Trek: Generations

Like any new Star Trek show, Lower Decks features new Starfleet uniforms. McMahan talked about how they developed the design:

There were designs that weren’t used for Generations and there were kind of like designs that were used across all the series and we wanted to do something that felt like if you saw somebody cosplaying it, you would immediately be like “that’s TNG and that has to be the animated show,” but it doesn’t not look Starfleet. I also just love that flap.

As the show is set right after Nemesis and being that the Picard series is set two decades later, a fan asked how the uniforms will fit into canon and with the new Picard series. McMahan replied:

There is a lot of stuff going on with Picard. Picard is doing a lot. What I’ll say is, if you are on a California class ship in the year 2380, you better be wearing that uniform.

Costumer Robert Blackman’s sketch from Star Trek: Generations inspired the Lower Decks uniform design

More STLV to come

The TrekMovie team was in Las Vegas to bring you all the news, so check back soon for more articles from the convention.  Check out all of our coverage on STLV.

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I am so looking forward to this show!

I’d love to see the TNG characters guest star, but I’d also like to see Q, Nog, a Mark 1 EMH, Gomez, Ezri Dax and any number of recurring characters.

I’m also wondering if the Cerritos is likely to find itself regularly dealing with competition from Ferengi traders looking for opportunities for profit among recently contacted planets.

Dude I think McMahan is on the same wavelength many of us are about this and we’re probably get a few of those characters and more. I can even see keeping to the theme of this show we could even get small background characters from the shows like Morn or Lt Jae.

And it will just be SO much easier to get a lot of past Trek characters on now. That is the beauty of animation, you can do whatever you want, add any character you want and not have to think about the budget as much and most of the actors are probably open to doing a little voice work so it will be easier to get them. I would love for Q to pop in one episode, look around and decide they aren’t worth his time lol.

And I know its still a light cartoon but I do wonder if the Dominion will be brought up? The war just ended two years ago before Nemesis right (and Voyager got back to the Alpha Quadrant a year after the war? Time to start brushing up on my 24th century future history ;)) so I’m curious to see will they bring in the more serious stuff or just avoid it completely? I’m pretty sure they won’t touch the Borg for instance. They probably want keep them a serious threat and to stay exclusively for Picard.

I’d wondered about the backdrop of the end of the Dominion war too.

I would think that, even though Starfleet is shifting back to peacetime mode, the stakes will still be high as they engage in 2nd follow up contact with independent planets and new species.

I also wonder whether any of the senior officers (e.g. the grumpy-cat doctor) will be veterans of the fighting.

YEah the Dominion war is easily the darkest period of Star Trek, at least on screen. And it lasted years, not the year or so the Klingon War went on Discovery, so the consequences was so much bigger and effects farther reached with so many planets involved. It would be weird not to at least be referenced only a few years out as I imagine some places are still rebuilding. And yes thats a great point, maybe some of the officers directly fought in the war as well.

But yes I don’t want to get carried away, I know its still suppose to be a light hearted half hour comedy, I’m not expecting it to be anything more than that. But now since its officially canon then I think you still have to make it feel like its part of the Trek universe like all the other shows and that obviously mean referencing some of its biggest events. Its no way a live action post Nemesis show could avoid it, even if its just in passing. So I think they will include it somehow.

And its pretty obvious McMahan is making this show for fanboys like himself and probably want to make the show feel ‘legit’for fans even if it is still a small show about underlings.

do you think they’ll explore such serious stories on a comedy cartoon? I hope so.

Me too Urban Turf!

And the Orville has done quite a few serious stories on its show too, so its possible. Again I want the show to be whatever its suppose to be, but the way McMahan talks about it, its still suppose to be looked at as a Star Trek show as all the others and I suspect will find ways to tackle certain topics like so many of the 90s shows did. Its still an adult show too.

Except The Orville was originally intended to be dramedy. And even in the first season it leaned more to the drama side. In the 2nd season, they nearly eliminated the comedy altogether. So it’s not really an apt comparison.

Orville still had comedy in season 2 though. Its not like the jokes went away. They just had more serious story lines as well. You can do both and why I think season 2 was better received. I certainly liked it more.

There were some gags. But it pretty much boiled down to maybe one and a half laughs per episode. Yes, both comedy and drama can be done. They were successful at it in season one but it was quite obvious they went straight to the drama in season 2. Season 2 may have been better received among the Trek fans here but I have my doubts about how well received it was overall. Especially considering the Hulu news.

Oh God, I sincerely hope not, Urban Turf.

” I would love for Q to pop in one episode, look around and decide they aren’t worth his time lol. ”

This reminded me of one of the funnier Family Guy gags a year or two ago…

The unused “Star Trek: Generations” uniforms were essentially the Season Three uniforms with the edition of gold braid, shoulder boards, and a button down flap to the jacket. The design actually appeared on the movie’s plastic action figures in the toy shops but did not appear in the finished movie.

Those action figures were a real low point in the Playmates line. Not only were they not screen accurate, but they lacked points of articulation on the knees and elbows. At least, it is the only playmates action figure of Kirk in his STVI era uniform!

I love the twok uniforms. One of the most detailed and accurate playmates figure is the st:2 Saavik. I agree the generations figures were a giant disappointment, but I did like the new uniform design. Wish they would of used them in the movie

Well, I hope the show is better than this makes it sound. But it would pretty much have to be. A whole show based on characters like Sonja Gomez’s nervous ensign? And they thought that was a good idea?

I’ll give the show a try, but I’ll be keeping expectations low.

Seems like a good idea to me!

I’m super psyched for the show! :)

I loved Gomez and wished that she had been kept on as a recurring character for longer.

I don’t know if the actor, who has risen quite far in her career, would be willing to do a cameo, but I’d be all for it.

In the Relaunch novels, Serena Gomez became the captain of a Starfleet Core of Engineers (SCE) ship. This would be a way to bring in some of the history of the novels without crossing the new canon the Picard show is creating.

The SCE often gets called in to help with big engineering issues on planets that don’t have the resources themselves.

It would totally fit for the Cerritos to call on Captain Gomez and the SCE when an engineering situation calls for the heavy lifting engineering A team.

The actor’s best-known (or most notorious) role might have been as the three-breasted mutant streetwalker on Mars in Paul Verhooven’s TOTAL RECALL. I don’t remember seeing her in anything else, truth be told.

Yup, I think I was mixing her up with someone else…

Her imdb profile says she took a longish hiatus in serious print journalism, but has been back doing stage work.

So, a voice role on Lower Decks might just be the thing.

They never said it’s a show based on characters like Sonja Gomez. The description of the characters sounds like normal people to be honest. Everyone in Starfleet aren’t the hero characters who serve on Enterprise. I really actually love this premise.

But it sounds as though some of Gomez’ qualities – her enthusiasm, her fresh out of the Academy inexperience, her awkwardness, will be captured in the ensigns – and perhaps even her brilliance.

So, I suspect we were unconsciously picking up on that.

I do like the idea of seeing a more workmanlike Starfleet ship. It reflects that Starfleet itself is a hero, and together its crews are more than the sum of its parts.

Thorny, wasn’t Tilly the nervous ensign?

There is a lot of Gomez in Tilly.

I don’t even remember this Gomez person. That’s how much of an impression she made.

Meanwhile, I was disappointed that she didn’t continue as a recurring character in TNG.

Gomez and Barclay made Engineering a more believable place, and allowed LaForge to show leadership.

Same for Vorik as a recurrent character on Voyager.

The recurrent appearances of junior officers and crew makes the ship and its crew seem more believable. Otherwise, it just 7 senior officers and extras.

Forced to agree that it is a good thing to show that our department heads had actual staffs. Having a few recurring characters on call can be a nice thing to have at your disposal for a writer.

But I really think the TNG era came up pretty short on crewmen. Non officers. It looks like that even the guys who load the food replicators went to Starfleet Academy. That was never realistic. At least on TOS there were extras who wore what looked like crewmen jumpsuits. Not the traditional colored officer shirts.

Could be a neat addition to Trek IF they restrain themselves from using those “surreal” comedy cuts that show totally overdone allegorical ideas on the lowest level. The Simpsons and Family Guy did those to death.

Only then it can be canon. If not, I’ll treat it like an in-universe comedy show that people in the 24th century would watch just like we watch The Simpsons or Family Guy.

Except in the 24th century everybody is to sophisticated and high-brow to watch stuff like this. This form of entertainment died out by this time, ask Data. They rather listen to boring concerts by Brahms, which they pass off as concerts by Mozart, because Brahm’s name is not hip enough. Everything is Mozart by then – Wesley is Mozart – Chabon is Mozart…well,sure!

Sadly, little else but public domain works survived WW3. Strange that.

Very curious indeed…

True that, only Bowie and the Beastie Boys made it. I wish we would see the Beastie Boys in LD after they were already in Futurama. Ensign Mariner has to be a fan if she has a little bit of Kirk in her.

And paramount pictures movies.

Yes,I’m very pleased that Audrey Hepburn is now canon, but it would have been so much more meta if they had used “Roman Holiday”.

Except the cut aways on Family Guy (especially the first number of seasons) worked GREAT! The Simpsons didn’t use them nearly as much as FG did. And the other MacFarlane shows don’t/didn’t use them.

Head canon is great but just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not canon. I hate The Voyage Home. As crappy and awful a film that it was I still, reluctantly, must consider it canon. I just don’t waste my time rewatching it like the other features.

Let me say something positive about this first modern Star Trek cartoon not named Discovery. I wished they had adopted these ingeniously inspired Lower Decks uniforms for Picard and other coming live action series in the same time frame too, instead of the loose-fitting bland design mish-mash we are getting instead there! Here, they manage to do the seemingly impossible and something the final Generations jumpsuits decidedly did NOT – actually improve upon the timeless TNG models while keeping all the core aesthetics intact. That flap, that Mandarin collar, that delicious placement of the badge just at the borderline between the black and the colored parts – these must be my all-time favorites!

i do like these uniforms quite a bit, I never did like the nearly all black voyager uniforms, but isn’t this show set, like, a year after nemesis? seems like an odd change to make, right back to the tng style. maybe those grey uniforms won the “worst fashion in the alpha quadrant” award, and they were embarrassed.

i also wonder if this means we’ll see these uniforms in live action if the franchise ever visits this time period.

The quote in the article was very specific about these uniforms being used on California class ships. It sounds to me like they’re leaving the door open for other shows to use different uniforms if they visit this era.

Yeah I guess the same way you see Discovery and Enterprise crews wearing COMPLETELY different uniforms last season. And while they tried to clear it up by saying the uniforms Pike and crew wore on the Enterprise was ‘new’, they had already been wearing similar uniforms in the Cage and that no one ANYWHERE outside of them are wearing the TOS based uniforms including Starfleet brass.

So yeah, it could be the same issue with Lower Decks and other future shows. I wouldn’t be shocked if they ever made another show in the same period it would go back to the First Contact uniforms.

I’d actually like to seem them make jokes about the weird uniform thing instead of trying to rationalize it.

Agree. I think you can make fun of stuff like that and fans will be ok. One of the biggest issues we always talk about here (especially when Discovery showed up ;)) is the inconsistency in the franchise with things such as the uniforms. I mean overall most things still holds up pretty well given how big and widespread it is but thats one of the things the show can really make fun of because its so true lol.

You know, I’d be happy as hell if Lower Decks were as successful in their show as Family Guy was with their Star Wars parodies. Blue Harvest was funny as hell. “What, do they charge by the laser now?” “I asked management for a railing here but they told me we would just lean on it all day! – Well none of this will matter when we are famous rock stars.” Would love to see this sort of thing in Trek.

A similar thing to TOS where they had a different insignia on their uniforms. Which actually made a bit more sense, to be honest.

It almost sounds like they were doing their best to legimize the uniform differences from Discovery. Like explaining the addition of the Klingon ridges, it’s not needed. And given the progression of the uniforms from TNG through Nemesis, this design looks a little backwards. In fact, the flap reminds me of the TNG dress uniforms. But I don’t think it’s a big deal in any way.

“seems like an odd change to make, right back to the tng style. maybe those grey uniforms won the “worst fashion in the alpha quadrant” award”

Actually they do have a clear impetus to change the uniforms in the late 2370s,and thats not worst fashion award, but the end of the Dominion War! Starfleet may be keen to brand itself as less military and more of an exploratory organization again, and bringing back the colorful uniforms of the “Golden Era” of the 2360s would just do the trick (so, basically the same in-universe reason as Picard bringing back colorful uniforms: nostalgia)

Well, a few things.

Military uniforms aren’t always uniform. I think that fans aren’t quite in touch with the reality of military transitions and supply.

New uniforms don’t roll out instantaneously, and they can even can change back and forth.

Sometime ago someone on this board who knows US military history better than I walked through the post WWII uniform transitions and even gave evidence of rapid changes and reversion to past styles.

Canada has had its period of very uniform uniforms, but even then there were different uniforms for different working conditions and weather. Generally it’s at the base/ship/wing commander’s discretion to set the standing order for unit dress and decide when seasonal or regional changes from summer to spring/fall to winter dress happen.

But Canada has also had periods when troops returning from active service to HQ could wear combats instead of the ‘business dress’ uniform. This was done to recognize those who’d recently completed their tours in a combat zone. So, Canadian Forces in camouflage combats worked at HQ desks next to those in business suit uniforms.

There was also I believe a period when naval officers on ship could wear new summer whites before HQ got them.

I suspect people on this board from other countries could find similar examples.

So, I’m perfectly comfortable with the rationale that the Constitution class long range explorers had been given colourful uniforms while the rest of the fleet was in blue. And I hypothesize that any ship or flag officer that fought in the Klingon war kept their blue uniforms afterward.

Maybe I missed something but it sure did look like they were wearing the same uniforms in Generations that they did in All Good Things.

There was supposed to be an updated uniform design for Generations that was scrapped for some reason, and instead they wore a combination of TNG and DS9/Voyager uniforms, while new uniforms, of a different design than the proposed ones for Generations, were introduced in First Contact. Those scrapped Generations designs are the inspiration for these Lower Decks character designs.

It’s amazing, I went from ‘eh’ when I first heard about this show to now UTTER EXCITEMENT about it once they finally gave us all the details. Its sounds like its going to be a REALLY fun show and I love not only is it canon BUT that they are going to be bringing in tons of cameos from all the past shows. This guy sounds like he’s a huge TNG era fan and going to make the most of it. This is going to be GREAT!!

In some ways this may feel like the real post Nemesis show since we will have an entire new crew and ship a year after that movie while we will get guest stars from TNG, DS9 and VOY to fill in where they are in this period. This is ODDLY how I pictured a post Nemesis show happening, only without the comedy and not animated lol.

But it sounds like its going to be tons of fun. Its not going to take itself too seriously but because its canon its still going to feel relevant even if it will be mostly light hearted.

And I think its funny we could see TNG era characters in cartoon form on this show and then in live action mode on Picard, with a 19 year difference between them. Maybe we will get animated Riker AND live action Riker in the same year on Titan (I can only dream ;)). Star Trek is getting very interesting again lol.

I can’t wait until we get our first real look of the show and some announced cameos!!! Is it 2020 yet?

Also forgot to add, but this also sounds like its going to be more planet of the week type stories like the older shows. If so, this will be a big hit to fans who miss the episodic stuff which we aren’t getting in the other shows, at least Discovery and Picard. Maybe I’m wrong but it doesn’t sound like it will be built around a single story at least.

Mariner kind of sounds like a way better version of Burnham.

I can’t wait for this show!

I love how he describes her as a bit like Kirk and a bit like Riker! That already will make her a fan favorite lol. She sounds like she’s going to be a kick ass character but in the worst way possible lol. I can’t wait until we meet her! They all sound really fun though!

Yeah…. based on that description… don’t mess with her!

Except the weird thing is that Riker is already a piece of the Kirk character. So it’s like saying she is a bit like Kirk and a bit like another part of Kirk.

Riker is still his own character though. Yes he is a little like Kirk but he doesn’t just feel Kirk no more than Data just feel like Spock even though they both have some similar traits. I think what makes Riker so popular is that he comes off laid back and easy going (certainly compared to Picard lol) but then can jump into first officer stern mode when the time comes for it. He is one of those guys you can have a beer with but when it comes to the mission he’s all business. Kirk isn’t really like that. He’s open to Spock and McCoy but he’s pretty serious most of the time.

I do think when it comes to Kirk and Riker, they both share the woman thing lol. And its still a little different with Riker because he really goes after and dates women. Kirk never really did that with a few exceptions. But yes to most fans they seem to be both thought of as horn dogs although Riker ultimately loved Troi.

And obviously we don’t know what Mariner will be exactly but can’t wait to find out.

With Data/Spock… They are practically the exact same character with very minor differences. That is another reason why I could not latch onto Data as a character. From day one he felt like Gene was just trying to recreate Spock.

Compared to Picard, a drill sergeant comes across as more laid back! lol. But yes, being more approachable and able to turn from having a drink with to being all about the mission are traits that both Kirk and Riker share. But Kirk also has a command presence that Riker does not but Picard does. And agreed that Riker did start off with one who would love to bang most women he see’s. A reputation Kirk had but I feel is unearned. Riker did shake that rep as the show progressed. Something Kirk never seemed to do. Mainly I think because the show only ran for three seasons and some things just got ingrained in the show’s culture. And then, of course, in TUC McCoy even made a joke about it to help confirm it. But whatha’ gonna do?

No, Spock and Data are very different. Data strive to be human in every way. Spock basically shunned being human. They even did a scene about it in Unification. Data tried to be social every chance he could. He wanted to know what it was to have emotions. Spock tried to hide his as much as possible. They had some of the same traits, but their personalities and made them interesting couldn’t be farther apart.

That scene is pretty much one of the few things I recall from that extremely disappointing episode. Sure, they are not exactly alike. Data is artificial while Spock is organic as well as a host of others. But make no mistake. They are essentially the same character. They both are of similar mind. Both characters serve the same purpose for their shows. And both behave is amazingly similar ways. The fact that data can’t emote while Spock can but opts to bury it really doesn’t matter much. The end result is the same kind of character.

I know this is very late lol, but we’ll just have to agree to disagree here. Sure they have some traits like a lot of characters but they are different characters just the same. I can’t see Spock trying out stand up comedy like Data did lol.

But.. but… if it’s a cartoon, and it’s canon, does that mean if, say, Picard called them up, would they appear on his screen as a cartoon? Or as a live-action version? And would they see a cartoon Picard or the real one? And if the cartoon is just a cartoon interpretation of the ‘real’ characters, does that mean all the other versions of Trek are just live-action interpretations of the ‘real’ Trek universe in the same way any film based on real events is a live-action interpretation of the real thing? In which case, for example, the Discovery version of the USS Enterprise is valid as the original, because both are just ‘interpretations’ of an abstract ‘real’ Enterprise we will never see, in the same way that different actors playing the same character are equally valid even if they don’t look alike.
ANSWER: It’s just a cartoon. don’t overthink it.

Well if they follow the Star Wars model then yeah they CAN be both quite easily. In Rogue One for example, the character Saw Guerra (played by Forest Whitaker) was originally an animated character from The Clone Wars years prior and then he showed up again on the other animated show Rebels after he was shown in Rogue One. And of course you see plenty of the original live action characters from Darth Vader to Obi Wan appear on the cartoons and are considered as ‘real’ as their live action version because just like Lower Decks will be, all the animated Star Wars shows are also canon. And they took a MAJOR story piece of canon by bringing Darth Maul back in The Clone Wars and how he was alive again in Solo.

So yeah the Lower Decks characters could appear as both animated and live actors and treated just as equally while adding to canon on the show (but its still a comedy so I don’t expect any HUGE addition to canon but who knows?).

In fact I’m really convinced they looked at what Star Wars has done with its animated shows and how their fans see the shows JUST as important as the live action films (in some cases more important). When you go on a Star Wars board and start referencing characters they include all the animated characters and story lines as they do Obi Wan, Luke, Leia and Rey because its all the same to them. My guess is this is the direction they want to take future Trek animation too.

So no, its NOT just a cartoon. If they do it right like how they did it with Star Wars at least, it will all just eventually gel together once people accept it as canon. You can see an animated Picard show up on this show and then have Stewart as Picard show up on his own show and it will be exactly the same in your mind.

This is the reason I’m super happy this show will be canon. It it WASN’T canon then it would probably just be seen as an offshoot cartoon and nothing more and those characters would never appear in live action.

I love how McMahan says

“We are trying to make it as in-canon as humanly possible, because why do a Star Trek show unless you are going to be in canon? It’s part of what makes it great, right?”

Clearly, for McMahan and his writers room the fun is telling great stories within canon. They aren’t viewing canon as a limit to their creativity, but rather as a challenge.

I really wish that we had heard more of this attitude from the writers of Discovery over the past three years. I’m also glad the Discovery writers and actors have stopped saying that they are looking forward to being “free from canon” .

I’m totally supportive of different and new kinds of Trek for different market niches. But Lower Decks and the novels have shown that a vast range of creativity is possible while respecting existing canon. I really hope that we don’t hear whinging about how creatives need more freedom as Trek goes forward.

So true! I think that’s why Discovery failed for so many in its first season (for the people who didn’t like it, I don’t mean everybody ;)), it was like the show was challenging itself to see how far it can get away from canon before it felt like another show completely. But that was probably more Fuller than anything. Clearly after the backlash with stuff like the Klingons they did a better job in season 2 but I think for whatever reason they just told themselves they can never make Discovery feel more complete in its original era (ironically I thought they were doing a more decent job of making it feel more canon last season although the Red Angel story line ultimately still felt like it should’ve been in another century with all the crazy tech lol) and just moved it completely. I mean I’m COMPLETELY happy they moved the show to an advanced period and more excited about it because of it but I don’t think it was really necessary either. BUT I do think it proves the writers and producers themselves just weren’t really happy about it and felt they would always be more handcuffed to canon and wanted the freedom they can literally do anything.

Its also why for all the fanfare of wanting a Pike show, I really don’t think they love the idea as much as the fans do because they are the ones who still have to write the show and make it compelling but stay in the limits of canon. I have a feeling they really just like going forward and why all three shows next year are doing just that.

“I really don’t think they love “the idea as much as the fans do because they are the ones who still have to write the show and make it compelling but stay in the limits of canon”

Tiger, maybe they should solve that “conundrum” by just hiring showrunners, writers and creatives who CAN? And there are plenty out there who would love nothing more than that! So they should finally put their money where their mouths are and create truly different Treks for different audiences by also employing completely different, separate production crews instead of sharing writers, producers and even composer (no plural, sadly) between shows. Is that a level of delegation Kurtzman is comfortable with?

Yes you’re right, that’s certainly true. In fact when people CONSTANTLY said you can’t really explore past Nemesis because it’s ‘all been done’ I use raise my hands thinking “WHHHATTTT???” How is that remotely feasible lol. It made no sense and just because THEY lacked imagination to make it happen doesn’t mean professional writers couldn’t, especially when two of the people involved in Discovery have Star Trek careers today because of their post-Nemesis novels. And now we have three shows doing just that.

So obviously I agree with you! I just don’t think there is a lot of excitement about the 23rd century in general. I mean Discovery’s first spin off show is about Section 31 which if its anything like Discovery season 2 they are going to just add and write whatever they want regardless what century it takes place in and not really have to worry about canon. They literally changed the entire dynamic of how Section 31 even operated so that tells you everything. ;)

But I could be wrong, maybe there are people are really excited about telling these stories and as said they did a decent job with Pike. So who knows maybe they will bring in people who has a vested interested in 23rd century Trek if and when another show is announced. For now, I think they are just happy doing Short Treks which I’m really looking forward to but now have the opportunity to map out 24th century and beyond however they see fit and I can’t blame them for it. And its just a lot more cooler stuff post 23rd century. ;)

I’m going to say it again here… There is an entire era that is just waiting to be explored and no one has done anything with. The post TUC ERA!!!!

“In Rogue One for example, the character Saw Guerra (played by Forest Whitaker) was originally an animated character from The Clone Wars…”

Maybe but Boba Fett did the same thing years before.

Yes, you’re right, I completely forgot about Boba Fett! And he came from the Holiday Special and that definitely WASN’T canon lol. But it proves this has been done for a long time now. It may be new to Star Trek, but its not new generally.

We already have animated and live action versions of Kirk and crew. If Picard ever made a guest appearance on Lower Decks then he would be animated. I think its incredibly unlikely that any of the Lower Decks characters will appear on one of the live action shows.

“its incredibly unlikely that any of the Lower Decks characters will appear on one of the live action shows.”

Thank Gawd for small favors.

We haven’t even seen them yet River, you may like them! Give it a chance. :)

But no I don’t think we will ever see them in a live action Star Trek either, but in theory they could be in one.

Aren’t Tag and Bink over in the Star Wars sandbox canon now? Think of it like that I suppose.

This show wasn’t really on my radar until I read this article. My partner and I are watching the animated series and TNG so this sounds like a perfect fit. Speaking of canon, I particular like how the animated series feels so much like proper Star Trek. If they nail that here as well than I think they’ll be onto a winner.

They may have won me over with the ‘second contact’ team mention. Does anybody think this is happening because of THE ORVILLE, or just is a THE OFFICE in space riff (I say the latter without actually ever seeing a whole episode of THE OFFICE.)

I think all of this is happening because of Gene L. Coon. But that’s just me.

That’s my line usually.

A disturbing thought is floating around in my head, that someone imagined a bunch of Reg Barclay characters, except they are funny instead of off the charts annoying.

“someone imagined a bunch of Reg Barclay characters”

Clearly that “cleaning up holodecks after people’s mess” was inspired by Barclay. Will they really go THERE? :D

Phil & VS… Thumbs up!

“super-Palaski” Ha! I knew it! That cat did look like a grumpier Palaski!

“Kurtzman and Kadin were sold on McMahan’s deep love of Star Trek (his dog is named Riker)”

Jeez. If that’s enough for Kurtzman to qualify…

…you seriously think it went “Your dog is named Riker? Here’s some money.”?

This or that he is associated with the best animated show right now.

When I read he named his dog Riker, I obviously knew he was the right fanboy for the job. ;D

And now TWO dogs are named after the guy lol.

Man, Jonathan Frakes is having a great year. First Picard, and then McMahon named their dogs after Riker.

TNG cameos…..

(cell phone rings)
CBSAA: Hi, this is the CBS All Access. Is Mich….
Michael Dorn: Stop talking, I’m in!

Actually I DON’T think its that easy for Dorn. He did turn down a cameo on Discovery because he said the money was too low and they didn’t give him enough to do. I still wonder exactly what he would’ve done in it since he obviously couldn’t play Worf. Maybe an ancestor of some kind. We also find out he and Voq were cousins. ;)

And he’s already gone on record saying he won’t do Picard if its just a five minute scene just to let people see Worf again and walk off. But Frakes would totally do it lol. I think Frakes would pay THEM just so he can play the character again.

Sirtis on the other hand: “If CBS thinks I am going to pay to watch Star Trek, they are demented”

Sirtis will jump to play Troi again for any rate, it seems. Any show need a TNG vet? Troi is always available!

Would you stop snarking at Marina Sirtis?

She auditioned for the part of Tasha Yar, and instead got stuck in the ‘sensitive role’ in a cat suit and given few opportunities to show her strengths until Naren Shankak wrote ‘Face of the Enemy’.

Unlike another female actress who felt she wasn’t getting strong enough material, she stuck with the show and is incredibly generous to fans.

No way should she be the subject of the contempt you’re posting.

Sorry you see it that way. Given that the character was probably the most useless of anyone to ever be on the bridge of a Star Ship and that horrid accent she used to make her come across as a worse actress than she is… And combine that with the fact that she seems to show up as Troi nearly ANY time someone needs a TNG connection… Then it is reasonable to see that what I said has merit.

I suspect they wanted to show an ancestor of Worf’s in the awful Season One Klingon makeup so as to convince us that was the true Klingon look all along.

Yeah but Frakes doesn’t have to sit through three hours of make up for a walk on.

Oh I know but Frakes is pretty shameless lol. He has said many times over the years he will do ANYTHING anytime someone wants him to do something in Star Trek. That’s why he is so loved in the fanbase, he doesn’t do the ‘well I have to see the script first before I sign on’ thing you hear actors say and unapologetically say he will do anything to play Riker as much as possible. It was pretty funny at the Las Vegas panel he joked that he begged them to be on the Picard show lol. But that’s keeping in line of how he’s always treated the franchise. He’s the only Star Trek actor I know that said he have no problems just playing Riker for the rest of his life or being only known as a Star Trek actor because its an amazing gig with great money and probably the best role he’s ever going to get.

But probably being on the Enterprise finale maybe gave him some pause that maybe you shouldn’t do ANYTHING they ask you to do lol. That’s the only time he really seem to regret coming back.

Part of that might be the fact that he himself has joked that he was never a very good actor (and I agree:)) and he has since focused on his directing. Where he seemed to have carved out a reputation of being on time, within budget and has a good rapport with his staff. Which is perfect for television work. And from what I have seen he seems to be a pretty open and decent guy to hang with.

No I don’t think he cares about acting in general anymore but he will ALWAYS be up to playing Riker though, obviously lol.

But he clearly loves directing and probably what he’s passionate about doing.

I personally think this is the least interesting concept for a new Star Trek show.

It looks like a lot of fun! I’m just super NOT into an animated show being cannon.

Why not?

I think he thinks head cannon is something that should be restricted to The Orville.

So looking forward to this! I honestly don’t even care if they rip into Trek for the sake of a joke. A good joke is a good joke. This is the one offering that I almost don’t mind forking out $10 a month for. That is, so long as it’s good!

I know they are getting fangasms about bringing on TNG era guests. I just hope such desired are reigned in. I really don’t want it to be the TNG guest of the week every episode.

The comment about ‘not mortgaging your characters’ suggests that the Lower Decks writers room will take the long view on this.

It sounds like they’re putting out the call, but will use them judiciously.