Interview: Anson Mount On How Every ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Episode Is Its Own Story

The first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds wrapped up production two months ago. Although Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Number One (Rebecca Romijn), and Spock (Ethan Peck) all appeared in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, this show set onboard Pike’s Enterprise promises to be more akin to the original Star Trek, as we discussed in our exclusive Star Trek Day interview with executive producer Akiva Goldsman. At the same event, TrekMovie also had a chance to talk with series star Anson Mount about the look, style, structure, and production of the show.

A big reveal from the characters video was some visual changes in the uniforms and sets. Are you involved at all on the production side for this show, did you have any input in the new look?

No. I am a hired gun. I leave those decisions to people smarter than myself.

But as a superfan yourself, what did you think about it?

I think it’s great. I think everybody in the design departments did an extraordinary job of marrying the traditional Trek look with something new. But really, the mid-century modern aesthetic is still there and fits in so beautifully with what they’ve done. Especially [Production Designer] Jonathan Lee‘s work with the sets. And I can’t wait for people to see the Captain’s quarters because they are the coolest Captain’s quarters that have ever been built. [Editor’s Note: See panel recap for more details on Pike’s quarters]

Anson Mount speaks to TrekMovie at Star Trek Day

Since before production even began, you have talked about how this show is going to be different from Discovery and fit more with The Original Series. Now that you have finished all ten episodes, can you talk about how that manifested?

We wanted our show to be more or less a throwback in every way we could. And that started with making room for the big idea of the week, which meant more of an episodic structure. And so every episode is a distinct story. It’s not that the characters don’t grow or change–that definitely happens. But the star of the show is the ship and the big idea of the week. I like to think of it as a two-hander that way.

With “New” in the name, are we seeing something new every week? Or is it a lot of familiar stuff, like aliens we’ve seen before and that kind of thing?

I’m going to let you discover that on your own. [laughs]

What is it like shooting on the new virtual set?

Good question, I’m glad you asked that. They call it an AR Wall, which I guess stands for augmented reality. It’s wild, man. Imagine an entire soundstage where the walls are all high-definition screens and there’s a ceiling projection. So the CG is done beforehand which makes it a much, much easier day of work for us, not that we needed it to be any easier than it was. Our crew works their absolute tails off for us. And this is just another extension of how much support that we’re feeling across the board. And it’s really interesting to be in these environments because it’s a whole other level of filmmaking than I’ve ever seen before.

Any idea of a premiere date?

Your guess is as good as mine, brother.

Virtual set being used by Discovery and Strange New Worlds (American Cinematographer)

ICYMI – Star Trek Characters Video

In case you missed it, here is just the character reveal video. (And check out our article breaking down all the big news.)

Strange New Worlds is expected to arrive in 2022. It will be on Paramount+ in the United States, and in Canada it will air on CTV Sci-Fi and stream on Crave. There is no word yet on where fans outside of the USA and Canada will be able to see Strange New Worlds.

More Star Trek Day

There is actually still some more to come from Star Trek Day, including more red carpet interviews, so keep reading TrekMovie for our full Star Trek Day coverage.

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As someone who rewatched every show this year I do have to say the seasons that worked the least for me out of all the shows were Discovery and Picard because they are just too connected and neither show stuck to landing. I just rewatched Picard a few days ago and while my view of the show is a little more positive, I was watching it thinking man I should be MUCH more into this show than I am. I love being back in the era and with those characters again. But because I knew where it was all going (and nowhere great) it just wasn’t a fun experience to watch it even though I certainly liked a lot of the episodes and it was only ten of them. But I just wasn’t very invested in it because the finale mostly stunk.

On the other hand I had no problems watching all the classic shows, even when their seasons weren’t always great because EVERY season if every show there were always a couple of jewels you can find. And there were actually many I just forgot about, definitely with Voyager. and TOS (mostly season 3). But good or bad, I was always looking forward to the next one because the story could literally be anything and that’s why Star Trek is so addicting to so many of us, the diversity of ideas episode to episode.

But with DIS and PIC, its a lot less of that frankly. Again they both have GREAT episodes, not denying that, but when its all tied to the same story and you didn’t love it, it just doesn’t hold your interest like classic Trek does IMO. I can watch those shows over and over again and do! And its another reason why I’m enjoying LDS so much. You don’t know what you will get episode to episode either.

So I’m happy SNW is going back to that style. It doesn’t mean we’ll get a great show, but hopefully one where you can rewatch more in the future even if its not great.

Completely agree, couldn’t have said it better myself. I am actually very despondent at the massive serialisation of all series now. Doesn’t matter what it is, everything is now ‘interconnected’ in its season or even the entire series.

I really hope that SNW gets more episodes for season 2, as 10 just ain’t enough.

I’ll be very honest, when I first heard Discovery would be serialized its first season, I was very excited. But then I watched it. The Dominion war saga it was not. ;)

Hell.. The Xindi saga it was not.

Also true!

Yeah I agree. I have not been able to rewatch a single episode of DISC or PIC, just because it’s hard to watch a fragment of a story. And it is especially difficult if that fragment is part of a larger story that ultimately is not satisfyingly resolved. It’s probably why I’ll never go back to rewatch GOT.

I love watching random eps of all the other series’ every other day, and I think that’s where the sense of familiarity and nostalgia comes from for me. It is that experience of being able to have an ongoing relationship with something, even if it comes from the past. It keeps the enthusiasm for Trek well and truly alive as it has this limitless potential to entertain and comfort.

I cannot wait to be able to rewatch episodes of SNWs and hopefully build that type of viewing relationship with the show!

This is an excellent post, Trekutopia. With perhaps the exception of “New Eden,” I can’t see myself going back to watch any episode of DSC (plus I do not like the show overall), and as far as PIC, I don’t see myself going back to watch S1 at all. And, I feel the same about GOT, which I loved watching week-to-week at the time. Hopefully SNW will break this sad trend, as I love rewatching single episodes of (older) Trek, and the writing will be a lot better than we’ve seen so far from these showrunners overall.

This never made much sense to me. Be it standalone, be it slightly serialized, be it heavily serialized I watch what I enjoy a lot, and less so the episode that I find disappointing.

So for example in Berman Era Trek I would watch Best of Both Worlds Part 1, Descent Part 1, Shockwave Part I, Time’s Arrow Part I, all far more often then I would watch the 2nd part of those episodes because I thought all of them were inferior and often very inferior to the first part. Just like if I watch either of the 2 Dominion arcs, I will usually skip episodes like Sons & Daughters, Extreme Measures as two examples. Enterprise I usually skip the 3rd episode of both the Vulcan trilogy, and 3rd episode of the Andorian and Tellerite story because I think again they are much weaker than the other episodes. Enterprise season 3, you won’t see me watch Carpenter Street, you see other episodes that tie into the Xindi arc that I will rarely watch and other episodes that I watch often.

For myself, I do watch less serialized Trek stories than complete standalone, and I do this for one and only one reason. Usually at least 5 nights a week Trek is what I put on when going to sleep. I won’t put in a two parter, three parter, or serialized story because I don’t want to have a need to keep watching.

For myself that is the only real reason serialized shows are watched over all less then standalone.

But that’s entirely my point. It’s one thing if you don’t like a two part story, it’s another when an entire SEASON is tied to a story that you don’t like. When you have 20+ episodes in a season and 90% of them are standalone, its not a huge deal if you skip part 2 of an episode because it’s only a two part story. But when you only have around 10-12 episodes to begin with and they are all tied into a single story, it’s not as easy to just ‘skip around’ because you lose a lot in the episodes themselves.

f you decide to watch episodes 1,4 and 7 of Picard as an example it just feels VERY fragmented because so much of the episodes are connected to what happened to all the episodes you just skipped over. It’s no different then fast forwarding through parts of a movie and expecting to understand everything happening. Because they are 100% serialized, meaning nearly all the episodes and their storylines have been affected by the previous episode in some way.

DS9 is serialized but it’s light serialization compared to the new shows. I just rewatched the entire show a month ago. It’s not really until season 6 (when the Dominion war truly starts) that the seasons are more connected. But even then only a third of the episodes are directly connected to each other in those seasons. BUT yeah I wouldn’t recommend trying to watch DS9 in later seasons if you are newbie either. You would still feel lost in many ways.

And you’re also missing the point it’s very easy to skip over those 2 part stories because you REMEMBER everything in them. BOBW is seared in all our brains at this point even if its 3 decades old. Trust me, 3 decades from now unless you watch these seasons over and over again like you do the classic shows you will start to forget many of the details, character beats and plot lines of the story as a whole and then trying to just watch back a single episode will feel very disjointed by then. Try watching a middle episode of Lost in season 3 or season 5. Or any random episodes of 24 today if you were fans of those shows. It’s not the same. I have literally felt lost trying to watch random episodes of highly serialized shows, especially ones over 10 years old; because I forgot so much of what happened in the overall stories. Some of it come back to me, but it’s really no fun to watch these shows that way.

DIS and PIC are still very new so it’s not that hard to watch it out of order now. In another 10-20 years it will be very different.

Can someone answer this question. To be honest, I’ve grown rather tired of the “sameness” of Star Trek, which is why I love DS9 and consider it far and away the best TREK for breaking form if nothing else. Therefore, why is it assumed that going back to the stand-alone story format, along with, yet again, inserting characters on a star ship exploring the galaxy, will to be creatively successful and automatically make for riveting and interesting STAR TREK stories? Just curious. Not interested in arguing. Was just wondering.

I do not know how successful it will be.
But, as someone who started watching Trek with The Original Series when he was five years old, returning to that format, it feels as if I am “Coming Home” to Trek.

Perfect explanation. I feel it the same way, although I was not five but fifteen.
For me seeing Mount’s Pike was “coming home to Trek” since the first minute.

For me, I think episodic storytelling opens it up to more of a variety of “high concept” possibilities at a quicker pace. Much like an anthology series, you’re not immediately burdened with the ‘previously on last week’s’ episode’s issues. It’s a fresh start every time, so you can dive right into something like “The Doomsday Machine” or “City on the Edge of Forever” without someone asking about what happened with that big revelation about the Romulans last week or why haven’t you had a memorial service for all those poor red shirts or something along those lines.

It’s like short stories vs. novels. They both have their pluses and minuses, and neither is superior to the other, in my opinion.

So far the high concept sci-fi plot elements haven’t been successful in serialized Star Trek.

Not saying that they couldn’t be, but that they haven’t been.

Every season on Discovery and Picard season one has used very classic Star Trek high concepts, and the fan reaction has found them lame in that format. The season 3 revelation is right in a line of Trek tradition back to Charlie X in TOS, but even many long time fans didn’t get it.

Is it the execution, or is it that something different is needed for successful serialized Trek.

That’s the other issue for me as well. You can’t do the high concept stories and for me, that’s a lot of the type of stories I love. Look at Voyager’s episode ‘Blink of an Eye”. It’s kind of a classic episode at this point and it’s very high concept to watch a planet evolve hundreds of years in just a few days. You can place that story literally anywhere in any season of Voyager because you don’t have to build up any major character beats to tell that story. It’s just another episode of our heroes trying to get out of a strange situation. You can do that same story in TOS, ENT, TNG or DS9 as well. Again pretty much any season of those shows.

Now try and put the same story in any of the seasons of Discovery or Picard first season, just those characters dealing with the same situation. Where could you place it in any of the seasons in Discovery without it completely interrupting the main story and plots you got going on? Sure they can figure out a way to fit it in somehow, but it would feel completely unnecessary and basically just filler because it obviously has nothing to do with the main story.

In some ways that story could actually work as a season long arc, but then the other problem is its not big enough! No one wants to spend 10 episodes watching a ship just detach itself from a planet even if you have other interesting stuff going on. The stakes feel too low. But in episodic form, the stories can either go really big or really small. In most episodes it’s really about things like the ship saving a planet or a colony, defeating an alien, saving your ship or crew from a crisis (sometimes from an alien ;)) or trying to solve some weird science mystery.

It’s funny to me, a lot of people claim those type of stories is what ran the classic Trek shows into the ground. And now I really appreciate them more today because they still stuck to the basic core of what Star Trek was about: character development and solving a crisis together as a team. Another reason why LDS seems to be more popular because it’s doing those types of stories again. And the stories that LDS do are very small even by Star Trek’s standards most of the time. But they still fall very much in line with older Trek stories. And frankly I think people are starting to appreciate the less is more type of story telling you get out of a simple 22 minute episode versus the ‘WE HAVE TO SAVE THE GALAXY….again!!!’ stories they build up to for 10 episodes.

TNG had 178 episodes, not one had anything to do with saving the entire freaking galaxy. All Good Things probably came the closest and even then it was mostly about saving humanity’s place in it. We gotten that in Discovery for 3 straight seasons now. My guess is season 4 will be more of the same.

I would give anything for a fun story about the ship just getting stuck on a planet where time flows backwards, someone gets zapped to a pocket of another dimension they have to get back or they discover another version of Tilly has been living on a different planet for 50 years. Something that is just fun, weird and kooky and not suppose to think about it anymore after the end credits, like most of TOS, TNG and VOY.

Actually I’m a lot more bothered with the “sameness” of modern “golden age” TV: arc-based storytelling, bleakness and despair, TV-MA imagery…

This is why I simply miss the good old days of classic Trek and other classic TV shows such as Knight Rider, SeaQuest or the campy, goofy 70s classics (Space 1999, BSG OS)…This is why I love The Orville… It is spot-on retro TV…and excellent counter-programming.

There have been countless arc-based shows that – apart from being much too “mature” for an escapist like me – all suffer from the same issues: they suffer from a reduced rewatchability as you cannot pick your favourites AND they heavily depend on the ending, which in most cases is not entirely satisfying, thus ruining the entire experience in retrospect:

NuBSG, Lost, GoT… most modern TV shows that I watched did not deliver, others I gave up long before they even finished (TWD, 100, MITHC etc). I’m only watching two current TV shows outside Trek and Wars: The Expanse and Stranger Things. They are still good but I doubt they will be able to serve a satisfying ending…

That golden age of TV is a gilded age of darkness and melodrama, that is NOT an improvement over tradiitional TV… It’s different, but not my cup of Earl Grey…

Trek being “the same” again? It’s about time, after almost 20 years of no classic Trek available… And I hope there still is amarket for that because MANY people may feel that way after two decades of ongoing adult drama…

but most of those recent shows have been good in terms of character arcs, something standalone doesn’t always do and cannot avoid in the modern tv era

and there was always a little darkness to shows like ‘S1999’, ‘blake 7’,

If a show is great I don’t mind Long form storytelling. The problem with discovery is that it hasn’t been great.

For me exploring other planets in a ship is the basic main concept of trek and I immensely enjoy that concept. It breeds creativity and imagination and tickles that sense of adventure and exploration that humans inherently have. It is also more satisfactory as you have a beginning, middle and end of a story instead of constantly and needlessly dragging it out. Now some might think that “episodic” storytelling is too simplistic, but I don’t necessarily think that something being simple is bad. We should stop associating simplicity as something negative. Sometimes the simplest answers are the best ones.

If the writing is good, there won’t seem to be oversimplification. Instead – the unknown will open our minds.

That’s a bit of the problem with serials – if you know too much, you want to know more. But is more actually satisfying?

Some good answers and points. The problem I see is this notion that TREK hasn’t worked because of the serialized format. The serialized format certainly hasn’t hurt shows like Twin Peaks, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Black Sails, The Sopranos, The Wire and a host of others. Good writing is the issue. Not the format the story is being told with. It’s pretty iffy that these same TREK writers and producers will be able to bring any more quality to stand-alone stories than to serialized ones. Plus, with so many TREK episodes out there already, you increase the number of stories per season we have already been exposed to countless times already in TREK. I see an increase of “sameness” already built in by returning to this format. I wish them success.

I consider DS9 to be the best post TOS show. And I did like that it was different.

But I think the reason there seems to be hope or excitement for SNW stems from how terrible all the SH shows have been up to this point. The serialized shows have all been awful and the comedy wasn’t funny. So expectations are awfully low and seeing how the recent serializations have failed I think a lot of viewers are happy to see Trek return to a tried and true format. Personally I don’t mind the serialized season. Enterprise did the Xindi season quite well. I’d love to see something different. And am willing to give points to SH for trying. They’ve just been trying and failing. So perhaps the old format might be just what they need to turn the corner and start making decent Trek.

All this puritanical virtue signaling in this comment section is so quintessentially American and bizarre. And I love how quickly people are to wrap it up in some correlation with episodic television.

As many others have said in the comments here, I am so excited to get back to episodic TV with Strange New Worlds. The self-contained stories in a single episode does lead to more repeat-viewing.

Here’s hoping it’s good!

IMHO, one of the problems with season-long stories is that they always seem to hang on a massive issue. They always want to reach for movie proportions, with some kind of galactic catastrophe as the big theme.

But that gets tiring to watch, over and over again.

It becomes unrelatable.

There are many things I like about DSC and Picard, but the whole “everything is at stake for everyone everywhere” in each season needs to be toned down.

Bring the stories back down to a scope that means something to the viewer.

Ok so I’m going to say it, since it looks like nobody else is going to… Mr. Mount is looking quite buffed compared to his Discovery days. I noticed this in a previous Trekmovie article that had his picture. Maybe he’s been victim of the dreaded Covid weight-gain syndrome, like so many of us, or he just hit the gym… I would thing the latter is more likely.

where you see buff I see lard

Well… I was being polite… I see you prefer the direct approach

He looks quite a bit older and heavier than in Disco

“[Anson Mount] looks quite a bit older and heavier than in Disco.”

On TOS, the costume people had to periodically make new shirts for Shatner, because of what they called “Captain Kirk’s equator.”

I do think the uniforms look a little better. And I’m hoping the Enterprise herself is brighter, too. I want to see an update but really hoping it evokes the feel of “The Cage”.