Actors from all five “Star Trek” series came together Saturday at Comic-Con International to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beloved sci-fi franchise.
Moderated by producer Bryan Fuller, who’s spearheading the upcoming TV revival, the Hall H presentation featured William Shatner (Captain Kirk, “Star Trek”), Brent Spiner (Data, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”), Michael Dorn (Worf, “The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine”), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine, “Voyager”) and Scott Bakula (Captain Archer, “Enterprise”).
Fuller debuted the teaser trailer and title for the new series, “Star Trek: Discovery,” which will premiere in January on CBS. Subsequent episodes will debut on the network’s digital platform CBS All Access.
He also confirmed that “Discovery” will eschew the franchise’s traditional episodic approach in favor of one season-long story.
“Like a novel?” Shatner asked. “So each episode is a chapter. If you miss a week, then what? You’re out?”
“No, you won’t miss anything” Fuller explained. “All of the episodes will be on CBS All Access. It’s right at your fingertips.”
He then asked Shatner how important the canon is to “Star Trek.”
“It’s essential,” the veteran actor replied. “It’s the basis of law and order. It’s the basis of civilization.”
Fuller then asked Shatner if he would be interested in reprising his iconic role if they were to undo Kirk’s death in the 1994 film “Star Trek Generations.”
“Hell, yes,” Shatner shouted, eliciting a cheer from the audience.
A large portion of the panel was devoted to the positive themes of “Star Trek,” and how society needs to embrace some of the franchise’s messages.
“’Star Trek,’ in general, has been about individual rights, about respecting everyone, no matter who and what they are,” Spiner said. “We’re living in a world right now where that respect is being challenged. It’s disturbing. I think a lot of our politicians and a lot of our citizens could take a page from ‘Star Trek’ and have more respect for humanity.”
Noting that identity was a central theme for her character in Seven of Nine, Ryan said she was in a unique position on “Voyager.” “Her rights were taken away twice, nce by the Borg when they took her away from her home and assimilated her and the second time by Captain Janeway when she took Seven of Nine away from the Borg.”
Dorn said franchise creator Gene Roddenberry introduced a Klingon character as part of the crew on “The Next Generation” to show that humans are capable of accepting those they’d previously not agreed with. “He wanted to show that we had moved on, that the characters had evolved,” he said. “There were a lot of guys who didn’t like Klingons, still. But they learned a lot about each other.”
Bakula said he likes “Star Trek’s” positive message. “Science fiction has always fascinated me, and not just because of the science, but also the optimism,” he said. “Somehow we will continue on, we will still exist. We will take care of the planet. There will be no borders or countries. Even when it’s dark, I feel that human beings will work it out.”
Concerned about the environment, Shatner said he recently asked an ecologist friend whether it’s already “too late.” “Is it already past the tipping point?” The ecologist told him about a river in Canada that had a depleted salmon population one year, only to somehow repopulate the next. “There are things and mysteries in nature that will surprise us,” he said.
Fuller said he hopes the new series will serve as an antidote to today’s political climate.
“Think about what’s happening currently in America, and think about the message of ‘Star Trek,’ and what we can all do to get there,” he said. “We have to continue to be progressive, to push boundaries, and to give hope for the future.”
He then asked the people in the audience to hold each other’s hands and “make a promise to leave the room with love, to leave this room with hope, to leave this room and take responsibility to craft a path to Gene Roddenberry’s vision.”
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