Mike McMahan Talks ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 2 Changes And Why Picard Likely Won’t Ever Appear

Thanks to a couple of podcast interviews with showrunner Mike McMahan, we are starting to get a picture of progress on season two of Star Trek: Lower Decks, including who we can expect to show up—and who not to expect.

Season two coming in 2021… international news soon

Mike gave an update on season two progress to Ketwolski on YouTube

I can tell you right now we are so deep in production, not only is it all written, but I’ve got episode 209 to watch this week in animatic form. And we’ve already sent the first four episodes to color. So we are buzzing along. You guys will definitely get a new season next year, god willing… It’s a really great second season, I am really excited for you guys to see it. You don’t know what’s coming. It’s really fun.

He also apologized for the delay on Lower Decks being made available outside of the USA and Canada, but he promised that there is progress being made on that front too…

Everybody out there in international land, we totally hear you. We absolutely want to get it to you. We are desperately working on it… you should be hearing something about it relatively soon.

Season two will be different

The executive producer talked about how they are mixing things up with the featured characters in season two:

There was was a distinct edict second season… I want to know more about Tendi and Rutherford by the end of second season than I did by the end of first… I don’t want them to be supporting Mariner and Boimler. I want it to feel like it’s almost four leads, as opposed to two leads and two sidekicks… Having now written all of second season, there’s a lot less ‘It’s Mariner and Boimler; It’s Tendi and Rutherford.’ More often it’s the four of them together or different mixes.

There are also some changes coming for the bridge crew…

The new head of security… I’m really excited for you guys to see this. I’m really proud of what we decided to do there. And because we weren’t having to explain what the show was to ourselves or to an audience, you get some really fun Dr. T’Ana episodes… There’s a really funny Billups episode, where you learn more about his backstory. Billups is the secret sleeper favorite of the writers. We came up with such funny shit for him second season.

Second season is different. No longer is the secret between Mariner and her mom. What we do with that story and with Freeman I’m really excited for you guys to see it. First and second season feel different, in a good way.

Boimler with the bridge crew on Lower Decks

More Riker, but don’t expect Picard

The first season finale ended with the introduction of the USS Titan, under the command of Captain Riker, voiced by Jonathan Frakes. And the season ended with Boimler transferring to the Titan. In his discussion with Ketwolski, McMahan confirmed Frakes would return, and hinted that Boimler’s time on the Titan could be more than just an episode…

Riker is back second season because Boimler is on the Titan and we follow that thread… And I am a big fan of Farscape and they do stuff narratively with their leads like taking them away from the main ship for extended periods of time, which I think is fascinating and having real consequence.

While McMahan feels that Frakes fits well with Lower Decks and that we should expect more guest stars to appear, but there is one Star Trek: The Next Generation character that will not be showing up…

Even though I have my own Star Trek show, I still can’t imagine being able to work with Sir Patrick, in a way. Part of is that Lower Decks lives thematically, and just the whole vibe of it isn’t a show where Patrick Stewart Picard showing up would make a lot of sense… I love Frakes’ performance and he is known for his jovial nature. With Patrick Stewart being in Picard and Picard being the tone that it is, I didn’t want to create anything conflicting… Picard is this reliable father-figure. He is not really a goofball.

William Riker and Deanna Troi on Lower Decks

Cerritos designed to be lovable will show more functions in season two

McMahan was also the guest on the Ship-Talking podcast, where he talked a lot about the USS Titan and USS Cerritos. He explained what his original approach was, and the flexibility he was given by Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout when developing the show’s ship…

Their only edict was don’t give people what they have already seen. They have an emotional attachment to the Galaxy-class ship and this is your opportunity because you are doing second contact and this California-class, let’s design YOUR ship. And they made sure to steer me clear of stuff we have seen a lot. I think the Titan does a good job of that too. It doesn’t look like any other ship, but it also looks like it fits into the fleet and the Titan looks cool. My goal for the Cerritos was not for it to look cool, it was for it to look lovable. I think that a lot of the time the things you love the most in life aren’t the coolest looking thing. It is the thing that is quirky, but it’s yours.

McMahan’s goal for Cerritos is for it to grow on the audience over time…

All the things people were getting twisted up about like warp bubbles, and where is the deflector dish and how can you get through the struts. I’ve got answers to all of that. It’s not stuff you want to hear, because it’s not the best ship in the fleet, but that feeling a lot of people had of ‘Oh, I don’t know if I like the look of this ship,’ and then by the of the season they are ‘I kind of like this little ship.’ That’s exactly what we were going for.

And Mike gave a hint that we will see more functionality for ship…

When you look at big machines and workhorse machines, they don’t necessarily look like the sleekest machines, but they are made for a specific job. There is stuff that hasn’t been in the show yet that the Cerritos can do…

There is stuff that the Cerritos can do that makes the design even more functional. I think people’s complaint that this ship is not functional? Yah, the Cerritos is EXTREMELY functional. Does it care how hard it is to get around if you work on it? No! It’s just like how a dump truck doesn’t care that it doesn’t have the best BOSE surround system.

USS Cerritos

McMahan signs new deal with CBS

In business news, Mike McMahan has signed a new two-year deal with CBS Studios, which indicates they are happy with Lower Decks and bodes well for more seasons to come. Never one to miss a chance to make a joke, McMahan is quoted in the official statement saying…

I’m so excited to continue my television journey with my friends at CBS. I’ve always wanted to be allies with a corporation whose logo is a giant, unblinking eye. I think we’ll be able to make some truly weird stuff together.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Lower Decks news and analysis at TrekMovie.com.

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Lower decks was the best Star Trek thing I’ve seen in the last 20 years. Got sooo much joy out it and watched the episodes multiple times now. So, yeah the second season can’t come soon enough.

Dvorak Lower Decks was better than I expected it to be. Very enjoyable and fun. The show we need in the COVID era. The second season can’t come soon enough, yes!

Exact same thing for me – this is my favorite new Star Trek production since the end of Deep Space Nine (with all due respect to Enterprise and the final season of Voyager). I’ve now watched each of these first ten episodes multiple times, and I can’t wait for Season 2 (I haven’t felt this kind of anticipation for the next season of a Trek series since the era of the great end-of-season cliffhangers in the ‘90s!). I think S1 has been the best first season of a Trek series since the original series, and “No Small Parts” is possibly the best first season finale in the entire franchise.

Agreed. One of the things I hated about Discovery in season one is that it took itself waaaaay too seriously. It just zapped any real fun out of Star Trek, which end of the day is suppose to be a fun sci fi show. But it just felt so cold and cynical to the point it didn’t take any joy in what it was doing. And it took away the one thing I personally love about Star Trek (I think many of us do) and that is actual exploration. It was the first Trek show where it didn’t feel like the mandate at all. And then with all the huge galaxy ending stakes on top of it, especially in season one, made it feel more dark.

LDS is the complete opposite of that. Its meant to obviously show the lighter side of Trek but also that going on an adventure can still be fun and exciting. That and exploration in general was an important part of the show which oddly every new iteration of Trek starting with the Kelvin movies avoided.

LDS is really the first show since Enterprise where actual exploration happened on a regular basis again. And I just love the second contact concept. By having it, it made sure we were seeking out strange new worlds, new life and civilizations again….even if it’s the second time around. ;)

This show is everything the two current live shows (DIS and PIC) aren’t and why fans seem to really take to it now even they still don’t love all the broad humor.

Lower Decks is a breath of fresh air. Star Trek did itself a favor. I hope this show lasts more than two seasons. Mike McMahan did an awesome job.

I might rewatch Lower Decks pretty soon. So excited about the second season. It can’t come soon enough.

Picard should stay out of Lower Decks for the time being. There is no reason for him to be there.

That’s how I feel about it.

Why? He was great on American Dad.

American Dad was actually funny and original — not fan service.

You could always have boumler kicking it with holographic Picard, and then have the holodeck malfunction, have that Picard get goofy and evil. The banter between evil goofy Picard and riker could be awesome.

Oh, holographic Picard would try to take over the ship.

You think it’s Picard, but it’s just Badgey in disguise the whole time.

This show was one of my highlights for 2020. It was fresh and fun to watch. The season finale really brought the action, and of course, an unexpected but altogether believable death of a character. I am very much looking forward to its second season.

With 2020 being what it is, having Lower Decks was a treasure.

I’m also with the camp that thinks that letting LDs have its season before Discovery worked out for the best. It gave the series some “fresh audience snow”, at least in the US and Canada.

Still unfortunate that the distribution outside North America is dragging, but it doesn’t sound like it’s any reflection on the show.

Knowing now that ViacomCBS has changed its policy so that it’s new licenses to other platforms and streamers are non-exclusive seems likely to have thrown a wrench in any ongoing negotiations.

The investor reaction last winter to Baklish’s initial strategy of making new content for exclusive use of others (i.e. Netflix or Apple) was huge. So, they had to change the strategy just as Covid was hitting.

Under the new policy, ViacomCBS will retain rights to show it’s own content in any and all markets. They’ve already talked about how some shows that they are making exclusively for other streamers would not have been contracted that way now. That is, Paramount Plus will be able to stream or broadcast all future Star Trek products regardless to whoever else gets international distribution. The whole franchise will be available on Paramount Plus once the rights for the older series and movies come back.

I started off not liking it (and not wanting to because I figured it would get cancelled). Now I love it and am super happy to see it will get at least two more years!

I’ve always wanted to be allies with a corporation whose logo is a giant, unblinking eye.

Hilarious. Lower Decks is a delight. I can’t wait for season 2.

Just goes to show why they needed to sign him up with ViacomCBS. They need this kind of irreverence and off-the-rack thinking.

Maybe not Picard, but I could definitely see Bullock on the show.

I could see Stan and Bullock being sent into space and some sort of time travel in Rogers space craft they just discover! They could do a Berlinghoff Rasmussen from STNG’s Matter Of Time gathering future tech to take home. Star Trek and Orville unite!

I want to see Section 31 on the show.

You got to see how they walk… :)

Oooo. Interesting thought.

A 2-part episode with the Cerritos bridge crew and Lower Deckers explains themselves to the Bureau of Intertemporal Investigations would be welcome too.

The problem with McMahon is that so far he has seemed to come down with Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout disease. In that they talk big about their shows but in the end fail to deliver on what they said. So honestly, when McMahon says the next season will be fun, based on the first season and other SH stuff… I just find it really really hard to believe him.

Really want to. I just can’t.

Hope he ends up being right. That purposed comedy show is in desperate need of laughs.

I laughed numerous times during every episode.

Me too. ML31 likes the sarcastic wit of Reno, maybe a spin off show?(I’m serious)

I also liked a lot of the first season gags on The Orville. Many of which were pretty darn funny and easily could have transferred to LDX has they gotten the jump on Orville. (I particularly enjoyed the guy on the viewscreen being off center and the Capt asking him to move over a bit). Reno is awfully funny but I suspect she is better in smaller doses. But I laughed more at Reno in her scant STD appearances than I did in all ten episodes of LDX combined.

Secret Hideout has produced more than 4 short seasons of Trek and so far every one of them have been a failure. Was completely willing to give them a chance because the concept of different genres of Trek was and still is a good idea. We just need better people following through on them.

Really really shoddy that we still don’t have an international release.

as an avid fan, one thing i hate about star trek is their tendency to focus on one or two characters and making the other people of the “ensemble” cast feel unimportant. i really wish they would do this on discovery and shift the focus away from just burnham. glad they’re trying to do it on lower decks. i hope future star trek show will be actual ensemble so that if people have favorite characters that are not the main focus, they don’t feel short changed.

Hope the international release version goes to Netflix or Amazon Prime. Seriously, there’s only so many streaming services I can pay for at one time. And we are all still waiting for Short Treks Season 2 as well.

My hope is fading to get a release of Short Treks Season 2. I had hoped that Netflix would simply drop them together with season 3 of Discovery (like they did with the first bunch of Short Treks).”Children of Mars” may still end up on Amazon Prime but it’s been almost a year since season 1 of Picard was released and “Children of Mars” is kind of a prequel to that.
Most of the other Short Treks are linked to Discovery. So I see little commercial appeal for any other streaming service to buy 5 or 6 short films that are closely linked to TV shows that are on a different service.
Maybe if Paramount+ goes global some time in the future….

Lower Decks should have a better chance of finding a distributor since it’s a self-contained show and we already know there will be at least 2 seasons.

No Picard in Lower Decks? Jeepers H. Creepers! Well, I still hope that a post-Nemesis Enterprise-E would appear in that series.

I haven’t watch this show yet. It’s not that I’m not interested in it. I am, but my reason is a little stupid. I’m don’t them to make any of the future ships from Star Trek online into cannon.

One of the best things about the kelvin universe and the discovery enterprise is a return to circular saucer, the neck, and no elongated windows. Other than enterprise e, I don’t like any design after d and I barely like that.

Those things aren’t deal breakers, just stuff I don’t want to see.

I had no idea that this show would be so damn good! Easter eggs galore, great cameos, great sound and music… and it doesn’t mock Trek at all: it expands it. I hated the idea when it was first mooted but how wrong I was. If you like TNG, you will lose yourself in this… I promise!

Absolutely loved lower decks better than discovery and picard while I enjoyed picard over discovery lower decks had that original episodic storytelling a different mission different situation every episode whereas trek today is the same story told through episodes throughout the whole season and all trek from TOS all the way through to enterprise had that and if the storyline was going to be longer then it was two part episode this is where new trek loses what star trek is about and lower decks gets it right
It’s a nice change to see the lower rank officers get some time to shine as apposed to focusing on the senior staff the goofy slapstick humour was a breath of fresh air and made me laugh throughout every episode
Can’t wait for season Two

I wasn’t interested for a while because I thought it would be a straight up piss take of Star Trek but I was wrong.
To be fair, it is absolutely irreverent, it absolutely takes a swipe at the traditional model but it’s also 100% Star Trek, it’s fresh, funny and is a fantastic addition to the Trek Universe.

I cant wait for season 2…Boimler on the titan …Frakes..