There was a moment that was easy to miss during the Star Trek Day live event, but the man in charge of the Star Trek Universe for Paramount+ talked for the first time about what may be the next show.
Kurtzman on Starfleet Academy
Executive producer Alex Kurtzman couldn’t make it to the live event due to shooting overseas (for a non-Star Trek project) but he did beam into the event with a pre-recorded chat with host Wil Wheaton. Kurtzman talked about the legacy of the franchise, how the fans have kept it alive for 55 years, and how he and those working on the current shows feel a “debt” to the fans and those that came before them producing previous Trek shows.
Eventually, Wheaton got around to asking Kurtzman if he could “tease anything in Star Trek’s future.” Alex initially indicated that we should not expect a sixth show anytime soon:
As much as we have five shows on the air—which is kind of a miracle—we are not in a hurry, meaning we only want to put things on the air that we feel are worth it.
Unprompted, he then began to talk about a specific project and some of the themes of this potential future show:
I know there has been a lot of conversations about Starfleet Academy, which we are very excited about. And Wil, when we talked about there’s this new generation that is going to come and it’s going to inherit the problems of the old generation. What are they going to do to make the world better, to solve it. How are we going to avoid the mistakes of our elders? And how are we going to learn from the wisdom of our elders? That’s a really wonderful thing to consider when you think about something like Starfleet Academy.
This is not the first time we are hearing about a Starfleet Academy show being developed by Kurtzman, but it actually is the first time he’s spoken openly about it. In 2018, when Kurtzman was first tasked to expand the Star Trek Universe for CBS All Access (now Paramount+), Variety reported an Academy show as one of the potential projects in development, coming from YA-focused writer/producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz (known for shows like The OC and Gossip Girl). Savage and Schwartz recently signed a first-look streaming deal with Apple, so it’s unclear if they are still attached. The Academy series was also mentioned again in an August New York Times profile of Kurtzman when he extended his Paramount+ Star Trek Universe deal for another five years.
Of course, Kurtzman is familiar with Starfleet Academy as it played a big part in the 2009 Star Trek movie, which he co-wrote. That film began with Kirk, McCoy, and Uhura as cadets, and Spock was an instructor.
Cadets in space
The San Francisco-based Starfleet Academy has been seen and referenced throughout Star Trek history on multiple shows and movies as well as in the extended universe of books, comics, and video games. It is where Starfleet officers go to be trained before heading out on their adventures. However, as Kurtzman went on, it felt like the show that they are envisioning would include an element of featuring cadets on a ship…
When you are a kid on a starship, you are still figuring out who you are. When you are an adult on a starship it presumes that you have already gone through Starfleet Academy, that you have found your identity more or less. And when you are at the Academy, so much is still on the air. I think that is a very interesting mirror to the moment that we are in right now.
Cadets being part of a starship crew is something we have seen in Star Trek, like Sylvia Tilly on Star Trek: Discovery. And of course, Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher was an “acting ensign” on board the USS Enterprise-D on Star Trek: The Next Generation. After Kurtzman brought up the Academy show, Wheaton offered up himself as a consultant, saying he had stories about “what it is like to have been a child on a Starship surrounded by adults.” Kurtzman replied: “I want to hear all of them.”
And there are more Academy-related things coming in 2022. It was just revealed that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will feature Uhura as a cadet on the USS Enterprise. There are indications that Star Trek: Picard season two will include a storyline where Raffi returns to Starfleet to work at the Academy. A trailer for Picard released earlier this year featured a moment with Raffi and Admiral Picard—who also appears to rejoin Starfleet—at an event at Starfleet Academy.
What about Section 31?
It’s noteworthy that when asked about what’s next for Star Trek, Kurtzman brought up the Starfleet Academy series but did not mention the Michelle Yeoh Section 31 show, which was officially announced to be in development in early 2019. A writers’ room for that show was put together and it was supposed to go into production in 2020, but earlier this year Kurtzman said that while the COVID production halt put those plans on hold, he remained “very optimistic” about the Section 31 project.
Kurtzman’s Star Trek Day chat
Watch the full video of Kurtzman on Star Trek Day below (international version available on StarTrek.com).
Star Trek Day
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