The third season is at the halfway mark and Star Trek: Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan is already working on season 4. On Star Trek Day earlier this month, TrekMovie had a chance to speak to the executive producer about where he sees the show going
Can you give us a production update, are you done with season 3?
We’re almost done with 3. There’s like tiny little nips and tucks and ship effects and phasers and disrupters that we’re fixing in the finale of season 3. Because they get big. The episodes get big at the end of the season.
And where are you on season 4?
In season 4, the writing is pretty much done. We’re seeing animatics come in, which is the black-and-white version of the episodes before they’re animated. And it’s awesome. We’re recording the actors. They’re getting to see how the season arcs are going. It’s really cool.
If you were picked up for season 5—or 5 and 6 since they usually order two at a time—when would you hope to see that happen based on where you are at for season 4?
Well, there’s always overlap. So, the sooner we get to pick up the better because then we can start hiring the directors we like and the writers that we like, and make sure that people can carve the schedule out. The best thing for us is to get a pickup by the end of this year to start writing at the beginning of next year. But I’ll take a pickup right now if CBS is handing them out. But we’ve got all [season] 4 to work on, we are hoping for [season] 5.
What’s your sense, are you feeling good about another pickup? Any hints?
I would like to hope I don’t have any hints whatsoever. We are fully in on 4. And we’re focusing on making that the best season possible. If it were up to me, I’d pick us up for 100 episodes, and we would just keep going forever. But you just have to keep your fingers crossed and hope that we get to make more Lower Decks.
With so much advance time on an animated show, you didn’t have any fan feedback for the first couple of seasons. Is the fan feedback now influencing the show?
I think the fan feedback—the most important thing is that people are actually watching and they’re liking it, and they’re engaging in the characters as much as we like them. When we’re writing a season, it’s before you guys have seen the season before. And we’re already fans of our own show. So we’re deciding paths to go down. And it often is just sort of an interesting metric for us to be like, “Oh, we did something that these folks are gonna love” or “Wow, we went in a different direction people don’t expect, but I think they’re going love it anyway.” You know, even on Rick and Morty, there’s so much on the Internet—like the Internet is almost like an infinite person writers’ room. There are so many ways that everybody wants the show to go, that all we can do is make the show that we want to make and hope that it’s something that resonates with the fans as well.
You say you want another 100 episodes, but being that it is a show about ensigns and lower deckers, is there a natural limit? How many seasons can you imagine? Is seven the magic number because of TNG?
I know, seven is always such a magic number. Although I did write at TNG season 8 for a little while on Twitter. I think for me, there’s a part of me that’s like I could go forever. I can make movies. I could explore how the show changes and always keep the thematic Lower Decks-ishness to it. But at the same time, if we had to have seven or eight perfect seasons, I can imagine that too. Either which way, I just want to keep writing Mariner and Boimler and Tendi and Rutherford and the crew. I just love spending time with those characters and however we can get to do it.
Looking at the new She-Hulk show doing well, can you imagine a live-action Star Trek comedy? And have you pitched one?
I haven’t pitched it. But I mean, I did make that Short Treks with Rainn Wilson, which was kind of a live-action Star Trek comedy, “The Escape Artist.” I think that Star Trek as an idea and as a format is incredibly diverse. And I think you could do anything with it. I think you’ve seen monster of the week. You’ve seen heavily serialized. You’ve seen all sorts of amazing stuff. I think that Star Trek is something that contains all sorts of genres in it. And I’d love to see more of that.
More Lower Decks from Star Trek Day
For more about Lower Decks from Star Trek Day, check out our interview with Tawny Newsome. We have one final interview coming later this week.
And here is the clip of episode 8 of season 3 “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus,” revealed on Star Trek Day.
The third season of Star Trek: Lower Decks returned on Thursday, August 25, with new episodes dropping weekly on Thursdays, and streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America and is distributed concurrently by Paramount Global Content Distribution on Amazon Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, India and more and in Canada, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
Keep up with news for the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.