Akiva Goldsman is doing double duty now in the Star Trek Universe, acting as executive producer and co-showrunner for both Star Trek: Picard and the upcoming new series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which is set on board Pike’s USS Enterprise. On Star Trek Day TrekMovie had a chance to speak exclusively with Goldsman about both shows; We already posted our Picard discussion, so now we present what he had to say about Strange New Worlds.
With Strange New Worlds and Picard shooting at the same time, things must have been very complicated for you.
Yeah, I have great partners, Henry Alonso Myers on Strange New Worlds and Terry Matalas on Picard. So, I get to sort of flip back and forth.
For Strange New Worlds, you wrote and directed the pilot. Was it important for you to set the tone and style of the show?
Yes, I really wanted to do that. I had sort of been imagining this show since I went to help out on Discovery [season one]. Alex [Kurtzman] asked me to come help and I didn’t know what the show was, but he knew I was a Star Trek freak. So I quickly looked on the Internet to see what it was, and everything said it was going to be about Number One and Pike. So when I got to Disco, I was excited for a show we weren’t making.
From that moment, I have been agitating for this TV show. And I really wanted to make a show that would have appealed to the 12-year old me that went to that Star Trek convention in 1974. And it felt like the best way to do that would be to kind of help set the tone visually, and really more in storytelling. I don’t do much visually. I have great people like Glen Keenan, who is a great director of photography. I’m not actually a visual director. I just kind of know where the story is. But together, I think we made something pretty special.
From the character reveal video, we can see that there have been some visual changes made to the uniforms and the sets. Even though they were close on Discovery, did you want to get even closer to the look of The Original Series?
Yeah, I would say we iterated one more time. I think that the organizing principle for our iteration was our view of canon. But having said that, we body english the shit out of some things in order to make it work.
The big surprise in that video was revealing more familiar characters like Uhura and M’Benga. So what do you see as the balance of the old and the new? Are we going to see something new every week? A new planet, new species, that kind of thing?
Well, I can answer it this way. We are returning fundamentally to episodic storytelling. What is unique about this particular Star Trek show in the current Star Trek Universe is that it is fully episodic. Now, when I say “fully” I’m slightly exaggerating in that the character arcs are still serialized. It’s not like Jim Kirk will see Edith Keeler die one week and be fine the next week as it was in The Original Series.
Our characters will carry with them what they suffer from, or what they learned, from episode to episode. But the stories are episodic. And that allows us to do something that The Original Series is quite good at, to give you slightly different tones. And to give you—for lack of a better word—hidden morals of the story. Like an O. Henry turn, like a Twilight Zone that gives you a kind of pop that really is the province of episodic storytelling.
Some Star Trek shows—like DS9—are very much ensemble shows. The Original Series was primarily about the two or three leads. How is it on Strange New Worlds? Are Pike, Spock, and Number One the new troika or is it more of an ensemble?
This Star Trek really is an ensemble piece. But what we do, which is a little different than the other ensemble pieces that are currently in play, is we don’t actually try to tell everybody’s story every week. We sort of move our focus around a bit. So you might easily look at an episode and say, ‘Oh, that was really Pike episode’ or ‘That was really a M’Benga episode.’
More Star Trek Day
Check out more trailers, panel recaps, and interviews from our full Star Trek Day coverage.
ICYMI – Meet the cast of Strange New Worlds
More to come
There is still more to come from Star Trek Day, including more red carpet interviews, so keep reading TrekMovie for our full Star Trek Day coverage.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds arrives on Paramount+ in 2022.