Are The Planets Aligning For Captain Proton From ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ To Rematerialize In ‘Short Treks’?

In May we reported that Star Trek: Voyager stars Robert Duncan McNeill and Garrett Wang were serious about wanting to bring back their Captain Proton holodeck adventures. This week the subject came up again on their podcast, and there have been other developments that may add up to this thing actually having a chance.

Captain Proton to the rescue, again?

In the latest episode of The Delta Flyers—McNeill and Wang’s Voyager rewatch podcast—their guest was their Voyager co-star Robert Beltran, who just released the short film Butterflies. That got McNeill thinking about short films, so he brought up the Proton idea again:

It’s exciting to hear how you and your filmmaker friend were able to create some content on your own, it’s exciting. It reminds me… I’ve always had this idea of doing a kind of segmented story with our cast from Voyager doing a Captain Proton-only miniseries. Like serialized little eight or ten-minute chunks that add up… Do a dozen of them and we got an hour-and-a-half movie, but you can only see it in eight or ten minutes. We shoot it in black and white. It’s only in the holodeck with Captain Proton.

It could be fun. And do it with the same tongue-in-cheek kind of fun that that holodeck program had. I’ve always wanted to do that. I love seeing what you are doing. That’s exciting to see a similar approach on that project. So maybe we will get something going someday.

In addition to starring, McNeill is likely seeing himself as a producer and/or director for the Proton project. In the two decades since Voyager wrapped, McNeill has worked extensively behind the camera, directing on shows like Dawson’s Creek, Chuck, Supernatural, The Orville, and others. He’s been an executive producer on a number of shows including Chuck and The Gifted. He is also attached to the upcoming Turner and Hooch reboot for Disney+.

Garrett Wang and Robert Duncan McNeill in a Captain Proton adventure, from Star Trek: Voyager

Actors on board

The Captain Proton black-and-white holodeck adventures stylized like classic Flash Gordon serials featured McNeill’s Tom Paris playing Captain Proton and Wang’s Harry Kim playing his sidekick Buster Kincaid. There were nine Captain Proton segments during Voyager’s run. Other members of the Voyager cast participated in the adventures as well, most notably in the episode “Bride of Chaotica!”

In her recent TrekMovie interview, Voyager’s Kate Mulgrew said she thought it “could be fun” to reprise her Proton role of Queen Arachnia. The actress added that playing Arachnia was “probably the greatest fun I had in the seven years on Star Trek.” Although we didn’t discuss Captain Proton, in our recent interview with Voyager’s Robert Picardo  the actor said it would be “fun” to return to the role as The Doctor, so playing The Doctor playing the President of Earth seems like something he would say yes to.

And in the Delta Flyers podcast, Robert Beltran thought bringing back Captain Proton was a “great idea,” so he seems on board as well. Other members of the cast probably could join them, including Jeri Ryan, who is already reprising her role of Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Picard.

Kate Mulgrew as Queen Arachnia - Star Trek: Voyager

Kate Mulgrew as Arachnia

Kurtzman wants black-and-white Short Treks

One way to get Captain Proton to work in the new CBS All Access Star Trek Universe would be to do it as one of the Star Trek: Short Treks, the Emmy-nominated anthology series of shorts. Earlier this month executive producer Alex Kurtzman said he hoped that there will be more Short Treks, and the Emmy nomination could help in that effort. He also specifically said he wants to continue experimenting with different formats including black-and-white. In an interview just last week Kurtzman brought the idea up again in more detail:

“We have talked about doing them in black and white. But you have to do that for a reason. You can’t just do it to do it. There has to be a story reason to do it that way. Obviously there has been stuff in black and white in Trek before.”

Kurtzman’s comment about previously doing black and white in Star Trek is almost certainly referring to the Captain Proton segments from Voyager.

One potential conflict is McNeill’s vision of a series of shorts; so far each Short Treks episode has been a standalone story. If there were a new season of Short Treks, it’s unlikely that Kurtzman would want to dedicate it entirely to Captain Proton—he’s already said there are other things besides black and white he wants to experiment with on the series. But maybe McNeill would settle for making something more self-contained, and/or follow-ups could happen in future seasons of Short Treks.

Writer ready to pitch, when he can

When McNeill first mentioned he was interested in this project in May, he said he had brought it to writer/executive producer David A. Goodman when he was directing an episode of The Orville. Goodman is a big Star Trek fan who worked as a writer/producer on Star Trek: Enterprise and has written a number of Star Trek books. He also wrote the Star Trek episode of Futurama,Where No Fan Has Gone Before.”

In June, TrekMovie spoke to Goodman about the upcoming third season of The Orville, and something that wasn’t included in that article was a brief discussion about McNeill’s Proton idea. At the time, Goodman said he thought it was a good idea:

Robbie was directing [on The Orville] and we started talking about Captain Proton. When I was a kid I was a huge fan of the original Flash Gordon. When Robbie and I were talking about this a couple of years ago the streaming services were all starting to launch and we thought you could do some short-form episodes of Captain Proton.

He clarified that he hadn’t worked out any details on the pitch, but felt it was “worth a call” to CBS. However, being that Goodman is currently under contract with Fox Studios/Disney, he can’t actually make any pitches to other studios. He said his contract ends this year but he may be extended based on possible pitch ideas or work being pushed into next year, including a possible fourth season of The Orville.

But Goodman made it clear he also wants to work in the Star Trek universe again:

When my contract comes to the end that may be one of the first calls I make, to see if I could get that going, because that would be a blast to figure out some way to do a short form… one of the many great experiences that I have had working on Orville is that I have got to work with all these people. I have been a fan of Robbie’s for years. He is a super-talented director. So the idea that I can work with him on something like this is pretty exciting… The minute my contract is over, that is the phone call I will make.

It may be that McNeill can be patient and wait so he can work with Goodman on the project. But if McNeill decided he wants to move forward with CBS before Goodman’s work at Fox wraps up (and CBS is interested), there are certainly other writers who can take on the Captain Proton project.

Time for a little bit of nostalgia?

We have already seen Star Trek: Short Treks dabble in Star Trek, although mostly related to the TOS era. It could be time to give the TNG era some love as well. Star Trek: Voyager has a loyal fan base that has grown in the era of streaming, and they would love to see their stars back. It is certainly worth considering.

What say you? Let us know in the comments below.

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I hope so!

I think it’d be fun, but ONLY if they can get Kate Mulgrew to reprise the role of Arachnia. Not much point to doing it otherwise.

The best way to do it would be to try it as a standalone Short Trek, and if that’s successful, make the other 10 chapters as its own little sub-series of Short Treks. Maybe by then Goodman’s contract will be available.

I think you’re nailed it tactically NoMad.

*siiigh* When I saw the story graphic, I thought it was finally official. Still hoping…


Make it so…

I would love for the crews of the post-TNG era to come back, and see how they’ve changed in the last 20 years. We’ve caught up with Seven; how about the rest of VOY’s crew, or DS9? They all need a comeback, or at least a catchup. My opinion.

No, no, no. Captain Proton was fun for what it was back in the day, but it would just be embarrassing to see McNeill and Wang playing middle-aged guys still playing the same holodeck programs. Plus, Wang was the show’s worst actor. If anyone from Voyager comes back, it should not be an incredibly dull and unpopular character like Harry Kim. It should be an interesting character portrayed by a strong actor.

If they stay in character… bad acting isn’t really much of a problem in this case.

I think Harry should show up on Lower Decks. And he should still be an ensign.

That would be amazing! And perfect!

If he showed up on Lower Decks, it would be pre-Voyager due to the timeframe it’s set in.

Lower Decks is set after Star Trek Nemesis (in 2380). If you remember, Janeway was in Nemesis because Voyager was already back in the Alpha Quadrant by that time. So it would work time-wise.

“Lower Decks is set after Star Trek Nemesis (in 2380).”

Why aren’t the characters wearing the Starfleet uniforms seen in First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis?

Between this show and Picard, the First Contact uniform looks to have been phased out not long after Nemesis.

It seems that Starfleet changed uniform designs between Nemesis and Lower Decks as they seem to do every few years.

The middle aged guys playing make believe kinda makes it funnier.

Or embarrassing…

And it should embrace it. It should end with Tom’s kid coming into the Holodeck and saying “dad, you are so embarrassing”

What is ’embarrassing’ about it?? We see people play out their holodeck fantasies literally ALL the time lol. Data as Sherlock, Picard as Dixon Hill, Bashir as secret agent, um, Julian Bashir and on and on. There is nothing out of the ordinary about it because that’s literally a big reason why its designed for (although we know it’s mostly for the other thing ;)) and to live out fantasies.

I would happily watch Robert Duncan McNeill and Garrett Wang in black and white science fiction. Not interested in Voyager or Kurtzman. Trust me Mr. McNeill and Mr. Wang you’ll be vastly better off doing it on your own creatively and financially. All you need to do is change the names. CBS doesn’t own 1930s pastiche science fiction.

They’re too old now IMO to pull off Captan Proton in a realistic manner. That time had passed about 15 years ago.

It’s a holodeck man. They are not actually Captain Proton.

CBS does own those characters.

Oh dear god, no.

Heck, just greenlight it for a full series, as seems to be the Secret Hideout approach. There’d be about as much interest in this as there would be for Yeoh Section 31 show!

Section 31 is great because Yeoh is in it. Captain Proton should be its own show. I’m interested in both now.

I hope so!

It’s a delightful idea, and I hope it happens. I do think it would be a bit unlikely for Seven to join unless there are Voyager characters involved in holographic likeness only. Picard has revealed Seven is probably not in the mood to play with her old friends on a holodeck. I’d say if something about these could tie into the next show somehow, then that’s all the excuse they’d need. Janeway gets called to a mission. The Doctor ends the program and seems to have a dark secret. Done!

That said, it’s DS9 characters I most want to catch up with, I just hope they aren’t all tortured and miserable as is the norm these days.

Has Seven EVER taken part in a holodeck fantasy program? I don’t think so but not surprising being Seven. ;)

There was an episode on the holodeck with Captain Proton. She neutralized a robot instead of distracting it, and then left.

OK, thank you. LOL, classic Seven. Do you know the episode? I have to look it up.

Season 5 episode 1 “Night”.

Do it as a 10 part serial. One new 10 minute segment over a period of 10 weeks with each segment ending in a cliffhanger like the Republic serials of old.

This could be a lot of fun.

I would love to see a continuation of Voyager after they got home where is the uss Voyager and uss enterprise e fans are hoping to see one of them pop up. Maybe we will see Voyager years after they got home and captain proton program ends and captain Tom Paris is the captain of the uss Voyager now years later that would be awesome.


With Lower Decks making me genuinely smile every week, this would put a nice bow on top!

Wow you are the happiest one here. Tiger2 your optimism is infectious. Thank you and love you.

You’re welcome dude! :)

But overall I been really enjoying so much of Trek these days! And a Captain Photon Short Trek would be amazing!!! Fans would love to see the gang back again as shown in this thread.

And I really really like you too! ;D

I’m with you. I loved Picard, all but killing Hugh and Icheb. I absolutely love Lower Decks. And I’m looking forward to Strange New Worlds more than any of them.

Yeah great to hear!

Sure. Why not? Sounds like good fun

I’d love to see what Capitan Proton and crew do! Garrett and Robert always made me laugh and so did Kate as Queen Arachnia. I liked how it looked like something right out of the 1960s. I’ll let Garrett know he’s got my vote!

With what they did to Icheb it would be wild to see what Kurtzman era Captain Proton would turn out as.

Very cool! I’d love to see that :-)
The Proton adventures have always been a huge part of the expanded unviverse.
So that program is still relevant.

If it’s under RDM and GW control it might be great. Any outside influences would ruin it.

Andrew, I’m sincerely taken aback.

Why wouldn’t we want other influences?

Neither RDM or GW wrote the scripts for those Voyager episodes. They were actors in a role written for them. I believe that RDM directed at least one of those episodes and is certainly a very experienced director and EP now, but he’s not a writer as far as I know.

Not sure who would be the best writer for Captain Proton, but they’d need to figure it out.

It was a reference to those currently in control of the franchise writing(I shudder to call it that).

Kirsten Beyer has written really great Voyager Relaunch novels. She really knows the characters and writes them well.

She’s at the supervising producer level now on Discovery. She would make the best EP for this from the Secret Hideout team.

I’m down with a short trek installment. Honestly, 10 parts might stretch a charming joke a bit past the breaking point.

It would be a lot like the chapter serials they are spoofing, though, wouldn’t it?

Yes, I get that. But kinda a long way to go for a joke

It’s a cute idea, but not really ten weeks of my life cute.

It would be great if they can also make Short Treks Season 2 available for viewing outside North America too.

They will. You don’t just dump everything out at once.

The words Kurtzman and perfect writer do not belong on the same page.

Let’s not make perfect the enemy of the good.

The cringey melodrama is strong with this one.

Everything will be ok.

I think it would work pretty well if they set it, essentially, as the Voyager folks getting together for some holodeck fun with their “old” crewmates, rather than trying to make it contemporaneous within the Voyager timeframe. Like two college buds getting together for touch football years later.

It would make complete sense for people who spent that much time together under the circumstances of Voyager to maintain close friendships over a lifetime. So just acknowledge that they’ve aged and moved on with their careers and are getting together for their annual reunion, like people today would get together for a fishing trip or shared family vacation.

Don’t try to de-age the actors so we buy that it all happened on Voyager while they were in the Delta Quadrant. Embrace their ages – including making some “my back isn’t what it used to be” jokes, or including their kids or spouses in it all, with the fun “You used to do this for FUN?” interactions that would be involved.

Sure, I’d be really pumped to see this. I don’t think anyone could say no.

Though I don’t think they’ve ever really done the “TOS” era in short treks. Disco era/style, sure, but not TOS era.

Disco is TOS era…they are one and the same with updated visuals. One of the best Short Treks is when Spock takes his post on the Enterprise for the first time.

I think this would be rad. But I wonder if it is possible they exit a holodeck at the end of the episode. Maybe we could see what became of the Voyager crew?

That would kill the effect of it. It should be Proton only.

I was thinking along the some lines as VZX.

Or, perhaps the Captain Proton world has become its own long running closed but self-contained simulation along the lines of Data’s.

Kurtzman’s referring to black and white in Star Trek before was more likely referring to “The Menagerie/The Cage”.

but the menagerie/the cage was not in black and white…

I thought of that too.

The first time that I saw The Cage it was a mix of Black and White and colour scenes. The colour scenes were from The Menagerie, while the cuts scenes were still in black and white.

I found that the black and white gave it more of a 50s vibe.

I could see this working in animation maybe, but how would they pull off a real-life version of it set in the Voyager era? Everybody is 20 years older now.

Old persons will still use holodecks to revits old times…

That is a good idea of how they could do it.

Don’t set it in Voyager, or even the Trek universe. Have it strictly as a Captain Proton universe. B&W, recycled sets, costumes props, and no FX. Then have fun.

When I think of RDM, I think of “Chuck” as much as “Voyager”. Both great shows thanks to his work!

For some reason I associate Ronald D. Moore with the acronym RDM. This led to momentary confusion on my part since Moore wasn’t involved in “Chuck” as far as I know (and was barely involved in “Voyager”).

What’s ironic is the Original Inspiration of The Good Captain is the 60 Late 1940’s/Early 1950’s “Rocketman”/”Comando Cody” segments (Which is the basic core elements of PROTON) across 3 serials and 1 TV series/Serial Hybrid is Ironically owned by ViacomCBS via The Republic Library via The Spelling Entertainment purchase of the 1990’s! (and Leonard Nimoy played an Alien in one of the serials!

Before everybody gets too excited, just remember Betteridge’s Law of Headlines:

Yeah, this isn’t any more likely the Michael Dorn selling a series of Worf Shorts. He wants it, obviously, but no one else does.

Well clearly fans seem to want it! Of course I agree it’s probably not likely to happen but this not the same issue as a Worf show because we’re just talking about a Short Trek story; which is literally designed to be anthology in nature and can cover any era or story of Star Trek. That’s why its such a great concept in general.

And if they got Mulgrew to be interested in doing it then it would probably peak more interest as well. But you know I’m a realist, I don’t expect it to happen but its not out of the realm of possibility either. It’s a 10-15 minute short, not a full blown TV show Dorn was trying to make happen.

Yeah, this is unlikely, but it’s fun to spitball ideas and we could use a distraction.

I think it would be a fabulous “tongue & cheek” way of channeling that “MST3K viewing Captain Proton episodes” as a way of explaining “the grey areas” between canon series (& creatively demonstrating “the finer grit of static between lines” of nuance)

…like beer goggles for watching Outer Limits w/ your Rocketeer pack on, just waiting for Scotty to lock on to your comms badge, but with a Vulcan nerve pinch on the remote.😅

This would be a lot of fun. I’d especially love if they went quasi-meta with it: Paris & Kim obviously middle-aged but having tons of fun reliving their youth; Tuvok as logical as ever, struggling to stay in character, constantly addressing Janeway as “Admiral”; B’Elanna rolling her eyes about damsels in distress and other staples of Captain Proton-like serials; the Doctor muttering about how it’s the first time in years they’ve all been able to get everyone together in the same place, and how he’s been offline for the duration of the Federation’s synth ban, and now they’re all playing “dress-up.” Heck, maybe the implied context is that they’re doing it at the Doctor’s “reactivation party.” (Seven might be hard to work in, given her character’s post-VOY narrative, but maybe she just appears remotely, e.g. on a screen from La Sirena?)

While CBS would still have to sign off on it, I’d prefer to just see in Captain Proton in universe. Create that little bubble, then you won’t have endless and pointless debates about canon ir speculation on what the “Trek” characters are up to. That keeps it clean, and eliminates any compulsion for telling backstories.

It would be fun to see it as a bubble-universe lark, for sure. But I imagine that if it were to happen, it would be in part precisely *because* CBS wants debates about canon, speculation on what the “Trek” characters are up to, etc. They’re talking a big game in terms of All-Access (or Paramount+, or whatever they decide to call it) Star Trek content, and it seems that there has been talk previously of one-off films or limited series drawing on existing Trek IP (e.g. that Nick Meyer involved Khan project that seems to have gone quiet) to ensure that there’s a neverending stream of it. While I think the (to me initially surprising) focus on the supporting cast in ST: Picard was in part to take some of the burden off of Patrick Stewart, and the inclusion of Seven of Nine to simply enhance the fan appeal, I also think they wanted to establish and re-establish characters that could feature in new 24th/25th century content — to lay the groundwork for, say, a Firefly-esque La Sirena series in a few years, once Stewart decides to just enjoy his retirement, or a Seven of Nine miniseries with her as a renegade (but principled) bounty hunter / vigilante. A Captain Proton one-off that teased the life trajectories of the Voyager crew could easily be a test balloon or tease for a VOY reunion, whether it takes the form of a direct-to-streaming film or a limited series. (I’d add that there have been rumors about Picardo appearing on Picard next year too, and I’d imagine that the Voyager cast — having never gotten cinematic raises — wouldn’t be as expensive as the TNG cast.)

I also wouldn’t rule out DS9 characters popping up at some point (though I suspect that Brooks’s disinclination to do much public work anymore and the passing of Auberjonois and Eisenberg makes an *actual* Season Eight or other form of full-on reunion unlikely; plus, Meaney and Siddig tend to keep themselves fairly busy).

While it’s a good idea, it’s likely DOA. CBS owns Captain Proton, so it’s unlikely to get the go ahead without corporate review (might take years), or if they go the fan film crowd funded route, they’d be limited to two fifteen minute episodes buried on YouTube somewhere. Most everything in this article is “what if” speculation, unfortunately.

It should be cheap to make, though. Raid the wardrobe department, grab some leftovers from a props and sets boneyard, and away you go. Turning it into a CGI spectacular would ruin it.

Not high on my list of things I want to see in the ST Universe, but could be fun.

Who cares!

I’d dig an entire season of this!

Err…ahh…well as long as they play it for laughs it might work and better then Discovery & Picard which are playing us.

Correction, Kluzmen is playing us.

Not going to happen. They won’t go to the expense of building two or three new sets for a short trek. And doing several would require keeping the sets up for at least a,few months, also costly

The original was intentionally made to look cheap. If they embraced that cheap look budgets should be kept in check. As for production time, obviously these shorts take less days than a standard episode. If they did several of them I guess they’d shoot them back-to-back in a few weeks. Still, I don’t expect it to happen, either.

I’ve been saying for years that they should make a Captain Proton movie or series (specifically a CGI animation), same for Dixon Hill (although that’d be best served either in live action or a film noir style of animation).

This just seems like a natural idea. Movie serials of the 1940s were around 10-15 minutes each, involving a dozen or so chapters. Do the exact same format for “Captain Proton.” Extra positive factor in following the fun of this nostalgic format: Doing a “Captain Proton” serial would logically avoid the jarring cursing that has been unnecessarily dumped into the other CBS All-Access “Trek” shows.