Another highlight from the weekend TREKtalks2 fundraiser event was a short fun panel with Star Trek: Lower Decks showrunner Mike McMahan. The executive producer gave a bit of a preview of the upcoming fourth season along with more insights into how the show has evolved.
Season 4 highlights
McMahan spoke excitedly about the work going on right now:
We are working hard on season 4. I think it’s our best season yet. It’s our funniest. It’s our most dramatic. It’s our most T’Lyn-filled. I’m just loving it.
The Vulcan T’Lyn was first introduced in the fan-favorite season 2 episode “wej Duj,” and she showed up in the final moments of season 3 as a new crew member assigned to the USS Cerritos.
McMahan had a few more clues to drop about season 4:
There’s an amazing episode where we go to Orion, which I have been dying to do for so long.
There’s a very romantic episode. It’s almost like a Valentine’s Day episode. But I’m not going to reveal if kissing happens in it because it will give away what happens.
There’s a wedding in season 4! Brace yourself. Get on your Worf wedding attire and look forward to that. The wedding of the season is coming.
Who could it be getting married? Perhaps Shaxs and Dr. T’Ana are going to tie the knot. The ship’s chief doctor and security officer have been an item since season 2. In season 3 we saw how they used the holodeck to spice things up.
When asked if the character of Peanut Hamper is returning, Mike also confirmed that too:
In season 4 you will see more Peanut Hamper… I don’t think she will ever get another full standalone Peanut Hamper-style episode, but you get a really fun good Peanut Hamper story in season 4.
The character of Peanut Hamper the Exocomp was introduced in season 1 and returned for her own standalone episode is season 3, “A Mathematically Perfect Redemption.” That episode ended with Peanut Hamper being stored at the Self Aware Megalomaniacal Computer Storage at the Daystrom Institute alongside AGIMUS (voiced by Jeffrey Combs). The return of Peanut Hamper could mean that AGIMUS will make another appearance as well.
Easter eggs started as just an inside thing
Lower Decks is known for sprinkling in many references and nods to Star Trek, but McMahan said this started out just as something the team did for themselves:
When we first were putting in the Easter eggs, it was really for me. It was for the writers and for the artists to be like, “Wow, we get to do a Star Trek!” We’re not doing a thing called ‘Star Blek.’ So we’re like, “Let’s just fill every frame with Star Trek stuff all the time because we love it.” And then when the show started airing, there’s this whole like mini-economy of websites that are like who can dig through and find all the Easter eggs first, which we actually didn’t anticipate, but makes a lot of sense, in hindsight. We were just hoping people would see the show.
Now when we write an episode like that I’ll be like, “Okay, do we want to ruin somebody’s day with how many Easter eggs are going to be in this episode?” And sometimes it makes sense. Like if you go to a Collector ship, the guy collected a bunch of stuff. My favorite thing now is when we put something new in, and then it shows up again in a later episode. Like aliens that we’ve met, and they start showing up in the background, and then it’s like Easter eggs on Easter eggs.
Changing the approach to character development
The third season was notable in how much it explored the characters on the show. McMahan talked about how his approach to character development has changed as the show has progressed, moving some characters into new directions. He cited Rutherford as an example:
Some of the characters I thought were going to go in different directions and as I learned more about them, they’re kind of more surprising stuff would crop up. Like, I had a whole plan for Rutherford and then I kind of found a more exciting plan for Rutherford. And a lot of it is working with these actors, and how they embody the characters inspires you in ways that the original sitting on your laptop and writing ideas down just doesn’t quite give you. Being open to finding that stuff is really where the best stuff comes from.
The showrunner also revealed that he originally planned to ‘reset’ the characters as the show went on (along the lines of other animated comedies like The Simpsons):
The original plan was: Let’s make this look like a primetime animated sort of comedy where nothing ever changes and do a reset. Do that a lot comedically and kind of like episodically. But let’s take the character somewhere. Let’s see them go and change and learn about themselves. Because the main thing about Lower Decks is self-discovery, right? And if you’re not discovering things about yourself, then what’s the game? What are we doing? What are the stories we’re telling? The more you learn about these characters with them, they’re just more charming and the more lovable they are. I just love it. I’ve been having a blast doing it. So it was part of the plan, but I learned as we were going at the same time.
Watch the full TREKtalks2 panel here, and if you can, donate to the Hollywood Food Coalition.
Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.
More hot and wet Peanut Hamper loving !
Make it so!!
That’s rather disturbing
For a show that’s supposed to be about the plight of underdogs and the lower classes, it’s a massive misstep to have an Exocomp be as awful as Peanut Hamper. It would be one thing if she was an outlier, but she’s the only representation of Exocomps on the show. Unless more sympathetic Exocomps show up, it’s as if the show is saying Starfleet had a point, and Data was wrong, in “The Quality of Life.”
When the show has been about underdogs, it’s been great, like “An Embarrassment of Dooplers,” “wej Duj,” “Reflections,” and “The Stars at Night.”
It would be awesome if Peanut Hamper showed up on Picard as Lore’s Girlfriend.
What he said! ^^
Peanut Hamper proves that Data was totally right. He said that the exocomps were sentient. He never said they were good people. Say what you will about Peanut Hamper, but she is definitely sentient. And the exocomps in the original episode who saved Picard proved that they’re not all jerks.
The fact we have exocomps back is a reason I love this show so much lol. And yeah, you’re going to have good and bad in everything…although a lot of the Peanut Hamper supporters says she’s really just misunderstood and not outright evil. ;)
Their original appearance of Exocomps in TNG was utterly bizarre, too.
All Data managed to (probably) show is that they were *alive*, not that they were *sentient*. Data didn’t seem to have any problem with the use of oxen to plow fields, or of other livestock, in “Up the Long Ladder,” “Thine Own Self,” the Ba’ku in INSURRECTION (hardly the only problem there, of course), etc.
It’s exceedingly difficult to see how Data escaped a court martial in that episode. Had Jellico been in command…
The operative phrase to keep in mind is: “first time funny, second time silly, third time a spanking.”
I always read the joke of Peanut Hamper’s actions being a literal interpretation of the Exocomps self preserving in the original episode, so PH will always look out for herself above others (which ultimately makes her ill-suited for Starfleet, which she only joined to piss off her Dad)
everything they’ve done has been amazing… looking forward to season 4 and hopefully a 5-6 renewal soon
None of the current shows in which new seasons are imminent have received a new season greenlight for some time — obviously due to the overall streaming services belt tightening/economic conditions right now.
I’m guessing that they are going to have to pick and choose which series keep going, and I think that’s likely to focus on the series that have grown the market most to bring in new fans/demographics, and not the series that primarily appeal to existing, older Trek fans. That probably puts Lower Decks and any follow-on to Picard (i.e. a Golden Girls-Seven/Janeway series) on the chopping block, as I suspect DSC, SNW and Prodigy will be safe given they are the three Kurtzman series that are viewed as having been expanding the market to new fans.
So, in my opinion, it’s possible that Lower Decks S4 may be the final season, but perhaps we will get lucky and it will go five seasons at least. I’m hoping for the best!
I been pushing for seven seasons and a movie!! ;)
I have to be honest – I really looked forward to Peanut Hamper’s return last season. It rivaled the return to DS9 for me.
Then the episode happened and it was my let down of last season. I just wasn’t a fan of the whole episode. When I rewatch episodes I skip that one.
I was never as big of a Peanut Hamper fan as others but I was definitely curious to see how they would bring her back and like you ultimately very disappointed. Outside of the finale, it’s the only episode in season 3 I haven’t rewatched yes and I plan to rewatch the finale.
I’ve seen the DS9 episode 4 times now! Just makes me smile. :)
The Peanut Hamper episode was hands down the worst episode of Trek I’ve seen in two decades. It was a struggle to get to the end. LD has a somewhat obnoxious style of humour as it is, but that character was just utterly insufferable. It was so bad it almost put me off watching the rest of the season. So, I’ll skip the next one, thanks all the same.
Completely agree with everything you said, except I’d replace “in two decades” with “in five decades”.
I could not disagree more. I think it’s by far the best episode in the lower decks series so far.
It shows when they get away from the middle school humor crew and canon wink BS stuff that this concept can deliver really good. Star Trek.
I would like to see more eps like this one in the next season.
Hopefully the wedding will be between Peanut Hamper and Agimus.
My thoughts exactly.
Set a course for giggles and guffaws.
It really pains me to say this,, but there was actually an episode I didn’t like…wow that was hard! ;D
It was the Peanut Hamper episode from last season. It seems pretty divisive. Some really love it but then others like me just felt the complete opposite. But hey if I hated one episode out of three seasons and 30 episodes this show is doing something really really right!
Can’t wait for season 4 and see what’s next for our lower deckers! Be great if Picard or Janeway appeared on it some day. I know, but a fanboy can dream!
I didn’t like it that much either. Then again I don’t really give a cr@p about exocomps so that could be it. Lol.
For me, that was the best episode of the entire series so far. It shows that they don’t need all the unnecessary middle-school level crew humor and canon gimmicks to have a great ep. It was great Star Trek, period.
I hope we got a lot more eps like that one in S4.
It wasn’t my favourite, but I enjoyed it.
My spouse was doubled over with laughter, and said they really like it.
They’re really wondering about that lockup at the Daystrom Institute though.
Yeah my girlfriend really liked it too. She’s not a huge Trek fan at all but she does like Lower Decks and SNW in terms of the new stuff. So anything she likes I’m all for lol.
I didn’t like it either. I get what they were doing, and it’s clever – but, ugh, I don’t want real in my Star Trek, lol.
I really enjoyed the episode for how far “out there” it was. They really took advantage of this being an animated show and gave us a truly strange new world.
No I really liked that part. They were interesting characters and species and I hope we see them again. I just didn’t like Peanut Hamper herself and how selfish she was. And I know that’s what happened in her first appearance but it really bothered me here for some reason.
Ooh I do hope that means we get agimus too. Always nice to see agimus. I’m looking forward to this season even more now. Going to Orion is likely to mean Tendi development!
I don’t think McMahan even realizes that doing those character resets like the Simpsons do will completely blow-up canon. Or is his kind of winking to us that he knows his series should be not canon, even those CBS had said so a couple of years back?
What character resets? He’s talking about characters evolving.
The way I read what he said is the plan was always to do character resets, but now it’s evolved to feature both resets and character evolution. So resets are still in the plan.
Perhaps Shaxs and Dr. T’Ana are going to tie the knot
I question whether they would be physically compatible. If you look at them side by side, I would estimate that Shaxs has about 8 times the body mass of Dr T’Ana. So this would be the equivalent of a 120 pound woman being with a 10 foot tall 1000 pound man. Makes no sense?
I’d hammer Dr T’Ana with 1000 lbs of thrust. Mrowr!
That is so wrong, dude, lol
I think the wedding might be between Shaxs and T’Ana, just would be hilarious and they hinted that’s more going on between them before. I saw McMahans bit in TrekTalks 2 and when the interviewer asked him about more kissing he wasnt sure what she meant. I assumed she meant we when saw Mariner and Jennifer kiss though tbh I think Mariner is better off without her
I love those guys together, they are so tense and crazy on their own, it was a stroke of genius to put them together. Having sex in the bank in the holodeck is totally bonkers and funny as hell lol..
Looking at them on screen, Shaxs I would estimate has about 8 times the body mass of T’Ana. That would make them physically incompatible…picture a 5’7 140 lb female with a 10′ tall, 1000 lb man…makes no sense. If he just rolls over in bed, she dies…lol