There were a lot of announcements about the Paramount+ Star Trek Universe TV shows during Monday’s First Contact Day event. In between the new trailers and official press releases, there were lots of panels featuring the stars and creatives from Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and Star Trek: Prodigy, where the panelists revealed even more about the upcoming seasons for their shows. After watching all the panels closely, we have put together a list of the highlights.
Picard season 2 has something never seen before on TNG… also maybe time travel
The virtual First Contact Day event kicked off with Sir Patrick Stewart talking to host Wil Wheaton about the upcoming second season of Star Trek: Picard. The actor tried to avoid spoilers, but in doing so said something intriguing that could indicate time travel will be a part of the new season:
“I wish I could sit here and blurt out all the new storylines, and situations, and times that you are going to be seeing in this second season.”
Stewart also promised something new:
Despite 178 episodes of The Next Generation and four feature films, there are events coming up in season two that have never been seen before. And I am excited just as the thought of putting it on camera. It’s so far very, VERY satisfying.”
Q’s arrival comes at a critical moment for Picard
The big news out of the opening panel of the day was the release of the Star Trek: Picard teaser trailer and the revelation that John de Lancie will be reprising his role as Q in season two. During the panel discussion, Patrick Stewart gave a bit more detail on Q’s appearance:
“Q’s arrival is – as it often was – utterly unexpected, but also comes at a shattering moment in the episode. And I do mean a shattering moment. Whether it is connected to Q or not, I am not actually quite sure, but there is significant trauma. And in fact at the moment I am working on working on how the trauma of this moment hangs around Picard for quite a substantial part of the episode. And then, there he is.”
No repeat of the Picard facepalm for Q this time
After crashing the panel, John de Lancie promised Sir Patrick, “I am here to make your life as annoying as possible.” He told host Wil Wheaton that getting back into character isn’t difficult, saying, “He is deliciously naughty… marvelously annoying… terribly self-involved, so as my wife says, ‘It’s not much of a stretch!’” de Lancie also recalled the famous moment in the TNG episode “Deja Q” when Q arrives and Picard puts his face in his hand, launching the iconic facepalm meme. Indicating that they have yet to film their scene, Stewart replied:
“I promise you John, that will not be repeated this time. But there will be a reaction.”
Picard’s Borg assimilation will come up again in season 2
Later during the Star Trek: First Contact 25th anniversary panel the subject of Picard’s past assimilation by the Borg came up. Wil Wheaton asked Stewart about revisiting that trauma on Picard, prompting an exchange between Stewart and Jonathan Frakes indicating an upcoming episode potentially directed by Frakes will pick up this storyline:
Stewart: “There is a lot of reference of Picard as a Borg character [in Picard], and there is enough evidence in that to show he is still profoundly disturbed by that experience. So [to Frakes] Johnny. we might find some way that we could to introduce these elements again into Picard.”
Frakes: “That is exactly what was spinning in my head as you were suggesting it. Because one of the great successes of the first season of Picard—one of the great moments—was the moment you shared with Jeri, with Seven of Nine [in “Stardust City Rag,” directed by Frakes], about your shared experience with the Borg. It was brief, but it was so powerful and pithy and loaded for both of you.
Discovery uniforms were changed in season 4 for better contrast
One of the most noticeable changes spotted in the Star Trek: Discovery season four teaser trailer released yesterday was the new 32nd-century Starfleet uniforms. They were very similar in design to the Starfleet uniforms seen in season three, which were mainly grey with a stripe of color for each division (command, ops, science, medical). We saw the Discovery crew adopt these uniforms in the final moments of season three.
In season four, the uniforms are the same style, but now the division color is prominent, with a dark grey stripe. Costume designer Gersha Phillips participated in a panel before the trailer was released, so without spoiling the change, she revealed the issue that sparked the change:
“Designing for the 32nd century is something. It’s been an interesting experience. We’ve captured something that feels more futuristic and a little sleeker and luckily for us, the sets work really well with what we have done right, especially the Federation HQ set. The Discovery ship is a little more challenging because we end up finding out our uniforms matched the walls, so that is a little more of an interesting journey.” [laughs]
One of the Prodigy aliens ties into TOS
Even though it was announced two years ago, there have been few details on the CG-animated kids show Star Trek: Prodigy. On First Contact Day, co-creator Kevin Hageman gave the most detailed synopsis yet:
“Star Trek: Prodigy is all about this motley crew of aliens who know nothing about the Federation. And after they come across and commander this mysterious lost Starfleet ship they have to figure things out really quickly as they learn to work together while navigating the greater universe in search of a greater future.”
His brother Dan confirmed the series is set in the Delta Quadrant in the year 2383, and teased that the series will tie into Trek canon:
“It’s a story about a bunch of new characters voyaging into the Trek universe. Are there going to be tie-ins to canon? Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of really fun surprises.”
And regarding the alien crew (first revealed in February), Kevin offered up another clue:
“Not all of them are canon species, but we can hint that one of them has a tie-in to The Original Series.”
Kate Mulgrew got hologram Janeway’s beauty toned down on Prodigy
One of the big Prodigy reveals was the confirmation of the theory Kate Mulgrew’s Janeway will be a hologram. Dan and Kevin offered some more detail on how this crew discovers the hologram Janeway:
Dan: “This crew has never heard of Starfleet… they discover something on the ship that will not only guide them as they navigate the greater galaxy, but it will also be a representative to the shared values that the Federation holds dear.”
Kevin: “And this something isn’t a captain, per se, or even an admiral, but Janeway, the ship’s built-in Emergency Training Hologram, designed to assist maybe a wayward crew that may have strayed too far off course.”
We also got our first look at the Janeway hologram. According to Kate Mulgrew, the character initially needed some tweaking:
“When the Hagemans insisted on making her so beautiful I said, ‘I think you have to modify her beauty.’ It just can’t be that [much]. We had this argument that went on for months. And then I said, ‘let’s just modify the chin,’ and they did. We talked a little bit about her face, her hair—which has a little bit of a mythology of its own, and her being. But they are terrifically generous. It was collaborative and it was fun. Everything about this has been fun!”
The “heart” of Lower Decks characters is improvisation
Traditionally, Star Trek shows are known for keeping very strictly to the script during production. However, during a panel on humor in Star Trek, Lower Decks creator and showrunner Mike McMahan revealed takes a different approach:
“We highly encourage [improvisation]. There is some stuff nobody wants to improvise on which is the technical jargon that makes it feel like Star Trek… But at the same time, we usually get a couple of takes as written, and then we get even more takes improvised takes than scripted takes. I think the first person we cast was Tawny Newsome and she is an amazing improviser. We instantly knew this is a show where we are going to adjust the show to fit their performances. We are going to let the heart of the characters be coming from what’s getting the actors excited.”
Lower Decks season 2 seeks new balance with references to past Trek
Mike McMahan also discussed how he has developed the second season differently:
“First season was very much like we have to prove that we belong here and that love the thing that you love and we are going making fun of Star Trek. We actually love it… Once people got used to that, for second season, the balance was: how much of our show is reflective on past Star Trek and how much will be new Star Trek? When you find that balance… I say the word “balance” more than anything else these days.
Mike McMahan has a story pitch for Wesley
Mike McMahan’s first attempt at writing for Star Trek was his very popular @tng_s8 account on Twitter, where he posted short funny story concepts from his imagined 8th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. On request from panel moderator Wil Wheaton, Mike pitched a Wesley story for TNG S8:
“In TNG season 8, Wesley—first off, we have to get you back from The Traveler. So maybe we find a beefier Traveler to go find your Traveler’s ass to bring you back. A bit of a Reverse Traveler. Once are back on the ship people would be pretty upset there hadn’t been enough nanobot incidents recently. When Wes was on the ship there were a lot nanobots getting out. It was almost like bedbugs, you couldn’t get away from them. So your TNG Season 8 would be along the lines of: In order to try to get back to The Traveler, Wesley repeatedly “accidentally” unleashes a series of increasing in size nanobots until they are just regular bots, to try to turn back into energy and get back to Traveler business.
Wheaton said he was “100 percent into that,” adding it was “now canonical” in his head. Maybe we will see this storyline play out on Lower Decks.
New VFX tool lets Trek actors see the strange new world they are on
One of the new tools the visual effects team behind the Star Trek Universe added in 2021 was an AR Wall, technology used to create realistic virtual sets on stage with the actors. This new tech is now part of the production for both Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, both of which are shot in Toronto, Canada. Visual Effects Supervisor Jason Zimmerman talked about how it is changing the way they produce the shows:
“It’s a 270-degree stage made up of LED panels that display an image. And that image can be whatever we want. It leverages game engine technology. It has cameras and sensors, which basically allow us to put fully immersive 3-D environments on this stage so that it appears as if our actors or our action is taking place in a faraway place. It’s really, really helpful in that rather than shooting something on a blue screen where you put it in later, it allows for the actors to see where they are. They see what planet they’re at. The lighting for the [directors of photography] allows the light to actually bounce off of the actors. So the integration of it and the way it looks physically is really good because you’re actually shooting it through real lenses at the time.”
Designers and showrunners are inspired by (and hiring) cosplayers
During a panel on what it takes to make Star Trek, Lead Creature Designer Neville Page talked about collaborating with Makeup Department Head James MacKinnon about ensuring his designs are practical to actually make. This led to a conversation about how this also helps out cosplayers, with MacKinnon saying, “It’s expensive stuff and cosplayers go through a lot of it. I am impressed with what they can recreate… you guys are innovative.” Page responded, “I keep an eye on cosplay more now than ever because I am learning things.” He then suggested to Costume Designer Gersha Phillips that she should start hiring cosplayers, to which she replied, “We do, we do, actually.”
The subject of cosplay came up again during the Prodigy panel, where Kevin Hageman talked about how he didn’t expect it to happen so soon:
There are some already doing cosplay in one of our new characters already. For us we have done a few different projects in the past where we have had cosplay, but [Prodigy] is not even out yet. No one even knows what it is. And to start seeing his cosplay makes our hearts burst.
Watch all the First Contact Day panels
Paramount+ has uploaded all the panels and clips from First Contact Day as a YouTube playlist. You can watch them all below.
Find more news and analysis about the Star Trek Universe TV shows at TrekMovie.com.
Just two days my excitement level for Picard season 2 was around 4 out of 10.
Since Q is now officially back it’s gone up to 20 out of 10! 😃
Tiger2 seriously, what are you thinking after noting the clock images in the trailer, and hearing Wil Wheaton’s allusion to “times” that we’ll be seeing?
These + Terry Matalas as showrunner is making me think that Picard’s office at the Chateau (or its holosimulation) will play a role similar to that of the hotel lobby or suite in 12 monkeys.
Wow great point about the hotel lobby in 12 Monkeys! You are clearly watching the show. I asked you this in the original Q thread but are you still watching it or did you finish it? What do you think so far? Seems like you are enjoying it at least.
And I’m convinced we are heading for an AGT multiple timeline type of story. I think this is going to be a huge twisty sci fi story that someone like Q can do across the entire season. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, since I never ever do that. ;)
Oh, I binged 12 monkeys in a couple of weeks. Loved it absolutely.
The way Matalas tightly structured the last two seasons to make sure it all worked really impresses me, and gives me hope that the coherence issues with Picard will be addressed.
One has to give Alex Kurtzman credit for attracting amazing people again and again. I just hope that as showrunner Matalas will have the control to insist that the pieces of the plot are there and aren’t forsaken for one of the other EPs pet ideas.
Wow, great to hear! I’m really glad how much you liked it. And I imagine it’s even better when you binge watch it and don’t have to watch it weekly like I did when it first came on (although they released third season in just one weekend which was so much fun to watch in three days at the time).
I still remember watching that first episode floored on just how great it was. I didn’t even hear about the show until the day before it came on. I only turned it on because I watched the original film and was just curious. I didn’t really expect to watch it at all. I only planned to watch the pilot since I knew it was going to be a disaster. I couldn’t have been so wrong lol. I was hooked from the first episode and watched every episode live like I do Star Trek (or the first day).
And seeing how well Matalas plotted this show from beginning to end proved what an amazing producer and writer he is. People call time travel stories ‘lazy’ and yet it’s probably the most complicated story to write as long as you don’t just rely on a reset button which admittedly a lot of Star Trek does. But he’s another reason I was at least hopeful for a good Picard season. And now knowing it may deal with time travel even better. They couldn’t pick a better person for it.
Now I want to rewatch the series. I think I will try and do it, but no clue when since I’m already backed up watching so much as it is. But it’s so many things I forgot so it will be fun to watch it all again.
I was….cautiously optimistic…..
Yeah, I’m trying to do the same. My inner fanboy keeps coming out no how many times he keeps getting disappointed by the end.
I used to be that. Now I’m cautiously pessimistic.
Great article! Much obliged.
Be honest…! How many of you went and watched “Tapestry” and “All Good Things” after watching the Picard teaser?? I did!
I didn’t, but I would have enjoyed doing so.
I’m half-intrigued by the tease of Picard having this moment of “shattering” trauma, half going, “Please. Please no more shock-value deaths.”
Apologies to those who will be offended by this, but I hope he’s grieving the never-to-be-seen-again Raffi.
While she is certainly not the greatest, she is more interesting than anyone on the TNG starship Enterprise.
Well, she’ an alcoholic, a drug addict AND a terrible mother. How interesting and how Star Trek! Pulitzer winner, Michael Chabon, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Chabon is a great writer. Your point is moot.
Bad parenting in Star Trek? That’s definitely never happened before!
She’s got a lot of growing to do. It’s inspiring to see someone overcome their personal problems. That’s a ton more interesting than a perfect person leading a bunch of perfect people. But I guess that’s just me.
That scene with her and her son was cringeworthy. I would remove everyone from that ship except the holograms, including homicidal 7 of 9.
Fine. I admit of all the non Picard main characters on Picard she is certainly among the bottom two. But again, still more interesting than any of the E-D crew.
That was one of the worst episodes of Star Trek and we have reached 800 currently.
I wish that Frakes had more input into the scripts. He is so right that the all-too-brief scene between Seven and Picard about their shared Borg experience was better than most of the series. THAT should have been the focus, or at least a greater emphasis, rather than the Romulan plots and synth-Eden.
I thought going into the series that having Picard, Seven, and Hugh all on the show would have a lot to do with being ex-Borg, and that was exciting. Boy was I wrong, and disappointed.
Picards scenes with Hugh were also excellent. I agree they needed to concentrate on those kind of moments more instead of just brutally murdering Hugh in the next episode.
Not to mention the murder of Icheb
According to Kristen Beyer, the overly graphic nature of that scene was Frakes’ idea. I wonder who is losing an eye this year.
That was not a bad assumption to make. I thought the shared Borg experiences of them all could have potentially led to something insightful. But, no. Secret Hideout doesn’t do insightful.
It would have been better if the Romulan and Data/Synth plots were removed entirely. They should have focused on Picard’s long-standing PTSD related to becoming a Borg. Leave the parts in about Borg exploitation, then have Hugh ask Picard to become the spokesperson for Ex-Borg rights throughout the quadrant.
Dear Star Trek CBS Team: The Discovery uniforms, with their goofy big black stripe, make the crew look they are the backing band for a chintzy New Wave 1980s act. Has Gary Numan been promoted to captain over Michael? Has the Federation made a pact with the Tubeway Army? Carry on.
Still a lot better than the Wehrmacht chic they tried at the end of season 3. ;)
It’s interesting how easily, given the limitations of paramilitary uniforms, it can be to evoke certain precedents.
For me, the end of season 3 ones evoked Space 1999’s beige ones with divisional accents in colour.
I’ve heard the original ones for Discovery referred to as band uniforms. The ones on The Orville referred to as rent-a-car or fast-food worker uniforms.
And generally, the less structured uniforms frequently are referred to as “looking like pyjamas.”
Designers have a tough job.
It was immediately obvious that those grey uniforms were unflattering and blended into the background. Quite an expensive mistake to make.
Will be interesting to see if the retcon them, perhaps as dress uniforms.
Tubeway Army! Deep dive! Great great record. I could so do a Discovery/Tubeway Army supercut. If only….
I’ve often wondered if Q’s interest in PIcard had to do with the possible need to elevate him into the continuum … perhaps as the one omnipotent power that isn’t as ego-driven as the rest. That’s an easy exit for the character whenever they choose to avail themselves, just have DeLancie snap his fingers and Stewart can gracefully retire while Picard explores all the realities.
Jean Luc, you’ve been promoted to Supreme Being. Boldly go, omnipotent old man. Season two seems to be shaping up to be a collection of all the Trek tropes most of us wish would go away…
I love this idea.
Geez, is Wil Wheaton now older than Stewart was at the start of TNG?
Oh my God, yes.
Wonder if Wesley returns in S2 lol?
Seems like everyone else is….
Well clearly the rocky guy on Prodigy is half-Excalbian, from beloved episode The Savage Curtain.
I had this thought as well. Best guess I’ve heard so far.
I’ve been going with Brikarians from the litverse based on the colour, the lumpy skin in adolescence, anti-grav tech (possibly) on the arm, and 3 fingered hands.
But I could se an Excalbian as a possibility too, especially as we’ve been told a TOS alien would be there. (I’ve been interpreting the second from the left as a Tellarite which is a main species from TOS.)
I’m thinking the shiny blob would fit with the wraiths from Enterprise.
However, with the second from the right being a close fit with Talaxians, that would make 4 out of 6 from established species.
If they wanted a TOS alien,I think they missed out on not bringing in a redesighned horta. I would have preferred that so much over that generic blob dude.
I think the generic blob dude is an attempt to mimic a better show.
What does an Excaliban need with pants!
We’ll, that’s why I’m leaning to Brikarian.
They don’t wear garments on their home planet, but offworld they need to wear anti-grav belts and adopt humanoid garments to fit in socially. Not to mention that Brikarian teens get extra lumpy skin as they shed through their growth spurts.
What if the robot guy is from the planet V’Ger landed on?
Maybe it’s V’Ger’s older cousin Sputnik escaped from the Vulcan museum?
(That sphere just had me going about a Soviet version of Nomad/V’Ger.)
I think its one of those rock monsters Shatner wanted to use for Star Trek 5.
He looks nothing at all like an Excalbian, so I sure hope not.
As they’re beta-canon litverse creations, we only have cover images from artists for Brikarians. There’s a lot of license that could be taken.
Here’s a picture for the Brikarian of the Starfleet Academy novels:
I’m confused by your reply since I never mentioned Brikarians. :)
In any case, I’d say it’s a certainty you’ll never see a species created solely for the novels on a TV show.
Ok Rios, I was proposing that there is something else that’s a better fit.
I’d agree in the normal run of things the novels wouldn’t be the first place that one would expect to borrow a species, but as I expect you know ViacomCBS has all the IP for tie-in novels so the creator of the Brikarians, Peter David has no rights to them.
The thing is that the species was created for a character who was Worf’s Academy roommate in the first volume first-ever intentional YA novel series. So, it’s a new species , but which was designed to appeal to kids and face some of the awkwardness of adolescence and comes with a backstory.
It’s just the kind of deep cut that consulting author for the series would know well. And given we’ve already had some litverse to television transfers from Secret Hideout (Control, Number One’s first name is Una), this wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like de Lancie hasn’t filmed his scenes and probably won’t appear in the first episode.
Could the one of the “never before seen events” be a fight between Guinan and Q?
Stewart did ask Whoopi to be in season 2.
I am not keen on the fit of the Disco uniforms. They need a belt or something to pull them in at the middle/waist.
Yeah, wern’t they squaring up to whip out some Force lightening on each other?
Show of hands, does anyone really want to see that??
Maybe the rocky character on the far right is some form of Horta?
My thought as well.
“Not all of them are canon species”
See, this is why I cringe at the word “canon” every time I see it. The above statement doesn’t even make sense. Every one of these species is canon since they’re appearing on a Star Trek show. If they mean “previously shown species,” then fine. But that’s not what ‘canon” means. I wish that word would just be thrown out already.
When it airs they will be canon but they aren’t right now. What’s the problem?
You seen to think you’ve made a point.
The laziest form of storytelling is time travel. For every good time travel episode there are about three times as many bad. I don’t understand why every Star Trek (with the exception of DS9) have fallen into this trope, and had continuity damaging time travel stories. It’s sad and boring. So now, Abramsverse, Disco, and Picard are now time travel compromised nonsense.
“The laziest form of storytelling is time travel.”
Not even remotely true.
DS9 did a bunch of time travel stories as well. They have been a part of every iteration of Trek.
It’s a franchise staple. And a welcome one for most of us I think.
Sorry. You lost this fight 50 years ago.
As others said, time travel is a very important and used device in Star Trek just like meeting a new alien or dealing with a space anomaly. It’s a very standard element in the Star Trek universe and has been used literally since the first season of TOS.
And I love time travel stories. A lot of my favorite episodes and movies are time travel stories.
As for DS9, you do realize they did about a half dozen time travel episodes right? They did just about as many as TNG and more than TOS did. Also some of my favorites!
Nothing McMahon said has made me feel any better about S2 of LDX. The teaser looks like more of the same and reading what he said it doesn’t sound like the show will be generating any laughs this season either. Which is too bad because Trek (especially TNG era Trek) is rife with potential funny gags.
I do agree with Frakes that one of the best moments in Picard was that very short Borg exchange between Picard and Seven/Anika. I wanted to see more of that but better to leave the audience wanting more than leave with them wanting less. And that episode was indeed the best of the series. Not surprising it would have one of the better moments. That said unless they return to each other’s Borg experiences it would be better to not deal with the Borg at all. In S1 it was an unfulfilled side trip.
Not really caring why they changed the Star Trek Discovery uniforms but contrast is as good as any. These are better anyway. Even though the previous future uniforms looked more time appropriate than the new ones.
Quick question… Why does whatsher name helmsman/navigator lady still have her borg implant? Shouldn’t the medicine of the future be able to fix that? It’s a similar question I would have for Seven. I would think that with advances in medicine they would at least make those implants smaller and less obtrusive if not be able to remove them completely.
I am glad LDS is continuing as it was; it was perfect in season 1 and I can’t wait for it to continue.
As for your last point about implants: not everything can be fixed. Geordi couldn’t get his eyes fixed even with magic TNG-level tech. Plus, not everything has to be 100% realistic. Somethings are done for creative/artistic purposes – you have Spock on the bridge to “prove” TOS is in space (even though they are on starship, in space), you change uniform colors because they work better with the ship’s walls, and you have characters with visible implants to remind viewers of their trauma, because they are iconic bits of those character’s designs, and they serve to remind viewers that the disabled or injured are just like anyone else and should be treated as such.
So you are saying there is a production reason for leaving their parts on. Fair enough.
But there really isn’t an in-universe reason to leave them. Even Geordi had his visor removed for the feature films. Something Burton was lobbying for the entire run of the show.
My take: Some sort of (see what I did there?) interstitial bits… happenings within the TNG episodes and movies. To me, this comports with what SirPatStew said.