Robert Duncan McNeill Has Pitched ‘Captain Proton’ Series To Star Trek Universe Producers

Last year, TrekMovie reported that Robert Duncan McNeill was hoping to bring back his Captain Proton holodeck character. Now, the Star Trek: Voyager star has taken the big step of actually pitching the show to the powers that be.

Another step for Proton

It’s been a big week for Robert Duncan McNeill. Our article about McNeill revealing he’d been asked to reprise his Voyager role of Tom Paris on Star Trek: Picard got fans buzzing. The next day, the season two Star Trek: Lower Decks trailer dropped, featuring a cameo from McNeill as Paris. He is even being immortalized on a new commemorative plate straight out of Lower Decks.

But there was actually more in that Primitive Culture podcast chat where he dropped the Picard news. When asked about pitching possible Paris plotlines for Picard to the producers, McNeill revealed that he had an entirely different pitch for them:

I did pitch to them—I’ve had this idea for a number of years—about doing a Captain Proton on the holodeck, only. Get our cast back together. Do like a serialized—like the old Flash Gordon short little stories that add up to a bigger story. I thought about trying to produce it as a podcast during COVID. I thought that might be fun, do an old radio drama with Captain Proton, but get all of our actors back together. And I actually talked to [Alex] Kurtzman’s company and those guys about producing either a podcast version of Captain Proton or a web series or Short Treks kind of version with just Captain Proton

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

McNeill wants to have fun with it

While McNeill wasn’t able to fit appearing in either season one or season two of Picard into his busy schedule working as an executive producer and director on Disney+ series Turner & Hooch and Syfy’s Resident Alien, it does appear he is motivated to carve out the time for Proton. McNeill told the TrekFM podcasters his vision for the show:

People really love that holodeck and I love doing that character. And I just think the fans would really love the show-within-a-show kind of idea of Captain Proton commenting on sci-fi generally and Trek sci-fi tropes. It’s just a lot of fun.

McNeill saw fan interest in this show earlier this year when he took to social media to get it trending. And now with the actor-turned-producer/director being courted to work on Picard and actually appearing in Lower Decks, he is now inside the new Star Trek Universe ecosystem. As for Alex Kurtzman, he has expressed interest in doing black-and-white Short Treks, although at this time there is no indication Paramount+ is planning on any more from that series.

Many of McNeill’s Voyager co-stars have indicated their interest in the project, including Kate Mulgrew in a TrekMovie.com interview. McNeill has also indicated he was hoping to get The Orville writer/executive producer David A. Goodman involved, and Goodman told TrekMovie he would jump at the chance, assuming he can work around his contract with Fox.

Bride of Chaotica - Star Trek: Voyagerc

Martin Rayner and Kate Mulgrew in “Bride of Chaotica”

Proton the podcast?

If things don’t align for a filmed version of a Proton revival, McNeill’s suggestion of doing it as a podcast may fit the bill. In 2020 ViacomCBS began working with iHeartMedia on a slate of podcasts, including the official Star Trek podcast The Pod Directive. This year, they expanded their offering of podcasts with hopes to have 20 new podcasts by the end of the year. McNeill has already proven himself in that arena; he and Voyager co-star Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) co-host the popular Delta Flyers podcast, where they’re making their way through the entire series from start to finish.

ViacomCBS SVP in charge of podcasts Steve Raizes said to The Wrap, “The secret sauce, or unfair power, that we’ve got [is] this amazing, known IP.” With five Star Trek series currently in production for Paramount+, it’s clear the company sees Trek as an important IP, so why not more for the audio frontier?

Robert Duncan McNeill co-hosting The Delta Flyers podcast


Keep up with the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.

Subscribe
Notify me of
81 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sigh. Can we put this on the shelf with the “Captain Sulu” and the “Captain Worf” concepts?

Yes, please!

I always thought a Sulu series would have been awesome, they should have done it when it was originally pitched. Even now if they did a series set somewhere in the 2290s or early 2300s, I’d love to see Sulu either as a recurring or cameo character (recast obviously).

Worf could have been in Picard as Captain of the Enterprise. He easily could have been in Riker’s fleet. I’m surprised they didn’t think of it.

Worf, the man of rejected solutions!

You mean the drawer.

Is that shelf where we’re putting Trek ideas I’d love to see happen? If so, then absolutely.

I like that kind of shelf!

With todays technology why not. You dont need to watch all content. Have it produced. Why not go further? Why not take BBCs Sherlock and deepfake in Data, where benedict Cumberbatch is. And replace the Hobbit with Geordie. I would watch that.

As long as we’re deepfaking Cumberbatch out of things, we could get a South Asian actor to replace him in Into Darkness.

While we’re at it, can we deepfake a good movie into Into Darkness’s place?

Can we deepfake in Ricardo Montalban, the real Kahn?

agreed

I think these two concepts could work very nicely. Would love to see some time travel story with boths Sulus (George Takei and John Cho). And Worf, I never get tired of watching my favorite Klingon, however, doesn’t necesarily means having an all Klingon concept.

I loved “Bride of Chaotica” — mostly because Kate Mulgrew was so wonderful in it — but in general, I hated the Captain Proton episodes.

Why were we watching Paris and Kim live out their juvenile fantasies on the holodeck, when we could be watching Tuvok or B’Elenna or one of the other underserved characters who were WAY more interesting than Paris and Kim?

Was never a huge fan of Captain Proton (but do love the episode Bride of Chaotica which has become classic in its own way). But yeah I think this has the same chance of happening as the Worf show or that Trek movie Nic Meyer supposedly pitched last year, zero to none.

That said if they made it would happily watch it since I would love to see Paris and Harry together again!

Remember those Star Wars 2D animated shorts from a few years ago? They were around one minute long recaps of the movies or of specific characters. A Captain Proton serial along those lines would be pretty cool, I think.

Here’s one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf1cfemeX_U

I think Captain Proton popping up in Lower Decks or Prodigy as a holodeck easter egg is the glimmer of hope possibility.
There is no mention of ‘Short Treks’ being planned/produced for VIACOMCBS by the Secret Hideout powers that be.

That’s a shame if they’re not making any more Short Treks. It’s a solid idea with a lot of possibilities to explore, especially in the animated realm. You don’t have to blow your budget building sets, for one. ;-)

Animation isn’t necessarily cheap either. The last Toy Story had an estimated budget of $200 million. Same for a few other recent Pixar movies. That’s more than the Kelvin Trek movies. Good animation costs a lot of money because it takes ages to make.

Oh, good grief, nobody said these had to be on the level of Pixar or feature length movies…

Look at the link I shared above. They’re 2D animated shorts — and I mean SHORT. They look fine and Disney probably didn’t spend a ton of money on them.

How much of that $200M went to VAs and marketing? $195M of it?

Yeah, that might be worth exploring….in sepia tone. I’d watch that.

I dig it.

Would also be fun to get Robert Picardo as the hyperbolic narrator. “Last time on Captain Proton!…”

Those youtube shorts were terrible. I do remember the pre Filoni Clone Wars from Genddy fondly. In fact i have the DVDs.

They’re weren’t terrible. They were okay. Come on, I didn’t say they were the greatest animation in the history of creation. Just a recent example of short form animation that Trek could use. That’s all.

I love the guy, but…. no, thank you.

No thank you.

As a one-off “TV movie,” I might watch it out of curiosity. As an actual “Star Trek” TV series 🙄 no way!

Yes, please! And if only for Janeway’s Bride of Chaotica! Mulgrew was deliciously over the top, & I ate up every moment of her performance!

Hard pass for me. Bride of Chaotica! is one of those Voyager episodes I generally skip over on a rewatch. Voyager really struggled coming up with interesting holodeck programs. None of them really seemed to work.

Season 1 and 2 were Janeway’s gothic novel
Season 3 was the tropical resort program and Da Vinci
Season 4 was more Da Vinci (can’t remember if there was another)
Season 5 was Captain Proton
Season 6 was Fair Haven

…and I don’t believe we saw a recurring holodeck program in season 7.

You forgot Sandrine’s from the first couple of seasons. Like the resort, the idea was that they were more hangouts than programs in and of themselves, a bit like Vic’s without Vic.

You forgot the Nazi recreation with the Hirogen. We almost made it to the end of Trek without another WW2 Nazi episode….

I’ve said for a long time the “Short Trek” format could be interesting ways to catch up with legacy characters without integrating them into the different series. I think this could work in that format, though an old radio-style podcast could be neat. Was never the biggest fan of the captain proton episodes, but it could be fun

You might be right about that being a good format. Perhaps four highly serialized 15-minute episodes or something.

I actually think this could be a lot of fun as 10-15 min Short Trek-esque type series; but definitely NOT as a full blown Trek series.

Yes, it would be perfect as a series like Short Treks! I would love two watch it! 15 -20 min of fun per episode would be perfect! A running time of an hour for each episode would be to long – I think.

This seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me. There’s no reason why a Captain Proton series would need to be all that expensive; the cheesier the effects, the better, in all honesty.

It probably makes more sense as a standalone movie than as a series, though. Given the response to the Voyager documentary, I’d think that would be a good investment for Paramount +.

I’d imagine they’d go the route of a series of weekly shorts on Paramount+ with ‘a movie’ cut released for the DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD markets if they were to green light something like this.

You’re right — I wasn’t thinking about the “weekly serial” aspect of it.

Bring it on!

I didn’t myself to be honest when this idea was first floated I considered it a waste of a potential series slot until somebody pointed out it would likely just be a season of Short Treks!

Even just as a radio drama, it could be fun. I enjoy retro sci-fi. In the context of the show it wasn’t exactly a highlight, but on it’s own it could be better.

A Trek radio drama would more or less be new territory (a few audiobooks excepted) for Trek; I like the idea.

Captain Proton : Garret Wang Gets A Paycheck After 20 years

I wonder how hard it is for Garret. I see him selling T-Shirts at conventions. He’s always behind our booth in Vegas. He’s incredibly nice to everyone, poses for pics for free. Seeing his fellow actors get gigs again must be tough. On a side note, I think Patrick Stewart got Wil Wheaton his gig on the after show. As far as Captain Proton goes? I dunno. I think it may put off fans who haven’t seen VOY or Trek in general. It’s a definite fan boy piece, and a vanity project for McNeill. I think a podcast would work. A short Trek at most. I would watch it, as I watch all the Trek series.

Really nice! And you earned how much in 20 years?

Was this comment really necessary?

Why are here some people mean to Garret Wang? He is a very nice guy (esspecially to the fans) and I liked his acting and character on Voyager. Yes, he wasn’t blessed with the most exciting writing material for his character by the writing staff (but still better than Kes) and it was overdue that he gets promoted. But just being “a nice guy” as a character should not be considered a problem. I really liked him in the episode “Timeless” and it is clear to me that Harry should return as well as Tom if the Captain Proton series happens in any way! I would love to see him again! And yes, he would deserve that paycheck because he is part of Star Trek.

Again the open mindedness of the trek fans are showing with all the rejections to this idea. Why do you guys also want same old, same old. I think this might be an interesting idea and I wouldn’t mind seeing it. Especially as a person who immensely enjoys the cheesy serials from the 30s. I sometimes think you guys are taking all of these too seriously, sometimes Trek can and should be just for fun and this would be nothing but fun.

After seeing my reply to Commander K, I realize you’re right, it would be fun. With the VERY LITTLE I know about show business, (my spouse is peripherally involved, and I’m a vendor at several cons a year.) I think it would be difficult to get Par+ to finance it, based on conversations I’ve had with some acquaintances who are execs at CBS. I think we only got Jeri Ryan back as 7 of 9, based on how good she looks. (And her talent of course!) Wait! Idea just popped into my mind. They’ve inserted Paris as a hero to Boimler in LDS. I can see him interacting on the holodeck with the Proton characters. I think that may be the best way to organically insert Proton back into Trek. If the response is good? I can see Par+ giving it a greenlight.

Why do you guys also want same old, same old.

So for “new and fresh” you propose an entire series based around a 20-year-old middling, cheesy episode of VOY?

Well, at least it is something different as a concept than doing the same basic episode. But I see what you are doing here, the typical taking of a tiny detail from the big picture to refute an idea.

It literally is same old same old. It’s an episode we saw 20 years ago. Fun novelty episode as far as I remember, but just because a joke is funny once doesn’t mean it needs to be repeated to the point of exhaustion.

I’d much rather a Captain Proton series, than the Section 31 series.

100%

Sadly agree about that. At least with Space Hitler at the helm.

I guess much like Michael Dorn, Robert Duncan McNeill needs work so pitching this idea every few months is a thing…If either one of them even browse this site when Trekmovie reports on these proposals, these actors will stop bringing these messes up..

Terry Farrell was at the Set Tour in Ticonderoga. I always ask a celeb what is their next project. Usually, they perk up a bit and excitedly tell you about their idea. It’s easier to pivot back to Trek questions as they see your interest in their career. Terry told me most of the cast had a project, or script, they are trying to get off the ground. I think whenever a cast member is being interviewed they try to insert their idea or next project into the article. Hopefully, it gets some buzz, or some film company looking for a project, will pick it up. JG Hertzler, who played Martok, would tell stories of stretches of “stark unemployment” you would take any gig to make some $$ and get noticed. Even though we may dislike their idea, they most likely don’t care. One job can turn into another one. Mr Nimoy also encouraged his son, Adam, to take a directing gig, even if the project was a B film. He told him you’ll never know who might notice you and bring you onto another project.

Imagine if Vince Gilligan, fresh off X-FILES, had pitched endless cheesy spinoffs of that rather than BREAKING BAD.

Point made. Unfortunately, none of the new Disco era shows comes close to Breaking Bad.

Actually, Robert Duncan McNeill seems to be pretty busy as a producer and director so I don’t know that he “needs work”. But Captain Proton would give him an excuse to work with his Voyager friends again.

RDM has stayed busy behind the camera for the last 20 years. He doesn’t need the work

For some reason, I always associate “RDM” with Ron D. Moore, not Robert Duncan McNeill. I guess they have both stayed busy behind the camera ;-)

This was a middling episode from Voyager (a series that never lived up to its potential precisely because of diversions like this) featuring one of Voyager’s least remarkable characters.

It might work, as a pleasant diversion, for a short Trek. Greenlighting Captain Proton as a series would seriously say that Star Trek has jumped the shark.

I would absolutely love the hell out of this. I love pulpy space opera serials, and a love letter to that that also homaged Trek would be a dream come true for me.

It has one short trek in it at best.

Lots of these former-cast pitches have a Short or other made-for-streaming anthology episode in them at most.

But I’m glad they keep pitching the ideas if not impressed by their seeming fixation on getting a series format.

I’d love more Short Treks, or a once a month one hour anthology show with different casts and producers.

One or two Trek made-for-streaming movies per year would be brilliant too.

And I’d even pay a premium to see the litverse Destiny trilogy brought to streaming as 3 six-part miniseries, with a new and younger cast to give us the Enterprise, Titan and Aventine face-off against the Borg in 2381.

Not a fan of Captain Proton. The acting/performance was similar to Enterprise Mirror Universe, which is something that was not really appealing to me at that time. I remember skipping those episodes when I was in college.

Now, at this point in my life, I am not closing doors to any possible Star Trek project. Common guys!? Aren’t you still suffering from the very quiet 50th Anniversary? The Paramount split was not very nice to the Franchise. Fifty years and we only got one exciting video, one round applause, and Shatner and Green-Martin holding hands. Right now, so glad and grateful we can choose several shows, and hopefully, for 2023 we will have the next movie. Every new show is different, new audiences will watch these new Star Trek productions, keeping the magic for all types of fans, new and old, Trekkies and Trekkers,

I am welcoming all kinds of new series, mini-series, movies, short treks. Captain Proton, Section 31, great. The Paris Family or Seven and Chakotay Chronicles, sure! An Enterprise mini-series or a Lin Manuel Miranda Star Trek Musical, awesome! The return of Captain Sisko and more DS9, pleeeeease! :P

Too many years waiting for a new show. How can’t we be so picky? Every year, the new productions are getting better. Every new team needs time to adjust. Kurtzman has been a good listener, for fans and colleagues. And he has succeeded to convince Paramount Executives to move forward.

Look how much has been accomplished since Discovery Season 1. I have a feeling SNW and Prodigy will be a smash hit right from the start. Everything changed for me, after watching Lower Decks. Has been my biggest and most unexpected surprise. And it seems this is just the beginning.

Ya’ know, if I didn’t know better I’d say he and Frakes are related. They’re starting to resemble each other.

I’m slowing warming up to this…..but do it being faithful to the Flash Gordon shows of old (no or very minimal effects), props and sets done the old fashioned way, or animated. It’s for a streaming service….knock out a few, post them, and repeat when things are a bit slow on the flagship shows.

I agree. One twist I’d like to see is our heroes tackle problems analagous in the Proton Universe to previous ones in the series where they used merely technobable to resolve – except, this time they have to actually work out a Proton Universe scientific method solution with no technobabble new or otherwise allowed as the Proton solution..

“Bride of Chaotica” was fun little episode while VOY was on. The best was the b/w aspect and the retro score that I still like to listen to. But as a new series? No. The cast is 20+ years older now. The series is ancient history. I’d like to see a VOY reunion movie or mini-series on P+ but this?

Some folks here compare it to a Captain Sulu or Captain Worf show. That’s almost offensive. Takei may be too old now to take on the role but any “Lost Era” series would be awesome. And Worf? Yeah! Bring him on while Dorn’s still the right age!

That said, I believe there are many good ideas / gaping holes in the franchise out there that would be perfectly served as P+ streaming movie. With redressable bridge sets and the AR-Wall, they would easily be able to “build” those ships for each movie… Excelsior, Stargazer, Enterprise B / C all of those might fly for 90 great minutes but I doubt they’ll be full-on TV shows…

There would be so many more great eras to explore: pre-ENT Ringship Enterprise, post-ENT Romulan War / NX-01 refit / Horizon, the entire Lost Era, post-NEM opportunities (Titan, Enterprise-E)…

As a TV show I’d recommend a time travel show next. That show could basically explore all eras of Trek alongside Earth history, alien history and ancient civilisations… It’s the one comcept long overdue in this franchise: Legends of Tomorrow vs Doctor Who vs Time Tunnel vs all Trek time travel adventures = STAR TREK – GUARDIANS OF FOREVER

Kate Mulgrew said about Martin Rayner (Chaotica), “Only the funniest man I have ever met in my life. When he electrocuted himself, I wet my pants.”

I can take it or leave it. I’m sure a Captain Proton series would be a lot of fun, but I won’t be at all upset if this never happens.

What about a Dixon Hill show?

Seriously, also a Why?

The New Adventures of Moriarty and DaVinci!

Please, no!

I wonder if Paris was supposed to be Rios at some point in the drafts. Then when he wasn’t available, they created a new character. The idea that he’d joke around with holograms fits.

If they ever pick up this ridiculous campy drech, I will purchase and detonate thermonuclear weapons.