Star Trek Day brought our first look at the upcoming third season of Star Trek: Picard and at the event, TrekMovie had a few moments to talk to showrunner Terry Matalas, who gave us more details on what we can see in the new teaser trailer, and what to expect when the season arrives in February.
In our podcast interview, you talked about how you have a new DP (director of photography) for the show, And this new trailer looks very different, very much like a movie. Is that just trailer editing or does the show have a different look and feel in season 3?
It does. It is very different. We really wanted to make this as cinematic an experience as possible. If there wasn’t going to be a final Star Trek: The Next Generation movie then this 10-episode series would serve that and feel like that. So when it comes out, my recommendation would be to turn off the lights, pop some popcorn, and you got 10 chapters ahead of you that should feel as cinematic as possible.
Let’s talk ships. What can you tell us about the USS Titan?
So, in the trailer, you see our hero ship of season three. It’s actually a class that’s called, in Starfleet slang, the Neo-Constitution class or Constitution III. It’s based on a design by fan Bill Krause. Let’s say there are a few fan-designed ships that are canonized this season in the fleet.
But this is the Titan-A?
It is the Titan-A, yes. You’ll see in the season, that in the observation room we honor the previous Titans that have come before. You’ll see a gold model of the Luna class USS Titan as seen in Lower Decks, which was designed by Sean Tourangeau. And we even see a previous incarnation from the TOS movie era. We’ll see that there was a Titan that was a bit of a Constitution class as well, the original Shangri-La class [designed by Bill Krause]. So, the idea was that after the Luna class’s legacy run with Riker, that ship was damaged and retired. Some of the systems were refit and put into this new Titan, the Titan-A.
What kind of ship is it for Starfleet, more workhorse or more flagship?
It is a classic exploratory vessel that is a bit of an underdog in the situation that it gets into. So we really wanted to take a moment here and think about where Starfleet is at and how it would see advantages in the diversification of ship designs including purpose-built ships that were designed for specific types of missions. The new Titan is more of a long-range workhorse of a ship. Harkening back to the Constitution class that was designed for the long 5-year missions. It is an exploratory vessel with some serious maneuvering capabilities. Have you seen those impulse engines? Phew!
Can you talk about the design process, and maybe who worked on it?
The Luna class felt like it was more TNG-era than the Picard-era we set up with the new Stargazer, so we looked at many, many designs. I sat with [Picard production designer] Dave Blass along with Doug Drexler and John Eaves—both of which are Trek legends. One of the things we noticed was that the ships were starting to get a bit too aerodynamic. Oval and arrowheads. All curves, no angles. No proper saucers. We were quickly heading to Enterprise-J territory. So, we asked ourselves what if Starfleet designers looked backward to some of those old retro designs and updated them?—not unlike today’s modern car designers. But there needed to be a logic to it.
Doug Drexler had the idea that the round saucers and the wide saucers are inherently more stable in an emergency atmospheric entry. Not that we would see that in the season, but hey! It happens! His notion was that the elongated primary hull is more dependent on aerodynamic force fields, and ship’s computers to glide them in. So we started to tell ourselves some Trek stories to flesh it all out. Starfleet experienced an incident during an emergency atmospheric entry where a certain Sovereign class primary hull maybe inverted and perished. Then a repeat incident happened with an Intrepid class primary hull. Doug noted that nothing like this had ever happened in the long history of circular and wide-tracking hulls. Software solutions were computer tested but not 100% successful. Why this weakness did not show up in computer trials of the Sovereign is still a matter of debate amongst Starfleet engineers. Just ask Geordi. [laughs]
And that is why it has more of a retro design compared to ships like the Enterprise-E?
Well, the Enterprise-E was also created during the time of the Borg invasion and had a specific design put in it for that purpose. Now that the Borg are no longer seen as a major threat, the new designs would revert back to previous “scientific exploration” type designs. It’s also worth noting that with the Federation growing it’s harder and harder to get consensus on anything in Starfleet. One admiral pushes for building a bunch of the same design ships so that they can be replicated quickly and then parts can be exchanged. Thus, you end up with the Zheng He or Inquiry class fleet. The problem is once an enemy finds a flaw, they can exploit that on an entire fleet. You only learn this until you lose a whole squadron of ships, which is what Doug Drexler theorized happened with the Inquiry class.
Doug had an amazing take on this. He’d say, “A Jeep still is a Jeep.” And there are logical utilitarian reasons why the Jeep still works and hasn’t gone away, and won’t go away. Classic Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses were designed in 1932. They haven’t changed! Because it’s a perfect design. C’mon, the P-51 Mustang hasn’t been surpassed. And that’s why Maverick flies one in Top Gun. That design is almost 100 years old! And the Constitution Class starship is a perfect design. So, this is simple aircraft logic. That’s what defines Star Trek tech. You can thank Matt Jefferies.
There are some other ships in the trailer, can you tell us about those?
There is a science medical vessel you see early on, called the SS Eleos. That’s the first ship you see, and that’s Beverly Crusher’s ship.
Do you mean she is captain, or just assigned to this ship?
She is not assigned. She’s also not in Starfleet. I can’t really say much more than that.
But that is a Starfleet ship?
It used to be a Starfleet ship.
And it’s being attacked by some crescent-shaped ship, almost looks Ferengi?
They are not Ferengi.
What can you tell us about the Spacedock? Is it a new Spacedock or the old one with some add-ons?
It’s a new Spacedock. You actually find out the fate of the old Spacedock this season, but the new one is very much in the spirit of the Spacedock that I have certainly come to love in Star Trek III, and IV, and VI. I love that nautical feeling of a giant Spacedock and ships coming to and from around Earth. I just really wanted to return to that Starfleet pomp and circumstance.
Riker really feels like the core of this trailer, I think he has more lines than Picard. Does that translate to the season? Is he the core of season three?
Picard is very much foremost and at the center of everything in this. But Riker I would say, Riker and Beverly I would say, are very close number twos. But there is a lot of Riker, so if you are a fan of Will Riker, you are going to get a healthy dose of Riker. And some Riker you have never seen before. Some Riker you always wanted to see before. You are going to get a lot of things you always wanted for Christmas.
Regarding Seven, even though she greets them and sits in the chair, she’s not the captain of the Titan?
Saavik wasn’t the captain when she sat in the chair and took the ship out of Spacedock. So she’s not the captain. She’s definitely a commander.
Is the captain of the Titan someone we know?
To be announced. That captain is also a major character. It’s not a character you’ve ever seen before and you will be hearing more about the Titan-A from this captain. And it’s an actor that I’m very, very fond of.
Very fond? You have previously hinted at some 12 Monkeys people, so is that the connection?
I will say there are a few actors from the television series 12 Monkeys in this season that are pretty fantastic.
More to come
TrekMovie spoke to a number of celebrities an creatives at on the purple carpet at Star Trek Day 2022. So check back for more exclusive interviews.
Rewatch the trailer
Star Trek: Picard season 3 arrives Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. Following its premiere, new episodes of the 10-episode long final season will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays. Picard streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. and is distributed concurrently by Paramount Global Content Distribution on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
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