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