Not content that previous space voyages were bold enough, BBC Worldwide Consumer Products, CBS Consumer Products, and IDW Publishing have joined forces to deliver a mashup for science fiction fans that reaches beyond the boundaries of all known galaxies. This May, “Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2” features the first-ever crossover between The Doctor and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise facing off against fan-favorite villains the Cybermen and the Borg in an epic, eight-issue miniseries.
Written by Scott and David Tipton (“Star Trek: Infestation) and Tony Lee (“Doctor Who”), “Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2” features fully painted artwork by J.K. Woodward (“Fallen Angel”) while Joe Corroney (“Star Trek”) provides a variant cover featuring the Doctor and friends aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. There is also a rare, wraparound photo cover planned for the first issue.
Nearly five decades and 1,500 television episodes in the making, IDW hypes this series as “the moment that both Trekkers and Whovians have waited for all their lives.” CBR News can’t disagree and reached out to the Tiptons to see if the long-time fans of both franchises would offer us a sneak peek under the hood of the Enterprise. Or, at least, crack the door of the Tardis open an inch so we could take a look around. Mind your head.
CBR News: This is certainly one for the ages. And an idea that has, no doubt, been on Whovians and Trekkers minds ever since Russell T. Davies was working on a rumored crossover for television back in 2004. How did this project come about and how did you two end up getting involved?
Scott Tipton: I can’t speak to the behind-the-scenes machinations that brought this project to life, but as for us, when [editor] Denton J. Tipton and [Editor-in-Chief] Chris Ryall from IDW came to us and asked if we had any ideas for a meeting between the two biggest and best science-fiction franchises of all time, what else could we say? We absolutely leapt at the chance. Just a look at my resume tells you how big a “Star Trek” fan I am, but I’ve been watching “Doctor Who” all my life, as well. And the revived “Doctor Who” of the last few years has been, at least for my money, consistently the best drama on television.
Do you take on this challenge with open arms or is there some trepidation as the fanbase for “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who” are so rabid?
Scott: Heh. I actually get asked this a lot. Here’s the thing: I’ve spent my entire career in comics either writing for “Star Trek” fans or Joss Whedon fans, so I don’t scare easy. And truth be told, I’ve never had a single negative interaction with any fans, either online or at a convention, for anything I’ve written for “Star Trek” or “Angel.” If you try your best to do good work and respect the characters, the fans can tell, and even if they don’t like every little thing you’ve done, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt when they read your work. I’m confident my affection for the Doctor will come through and the Whovians will give me a chance.
When the crossover was originally conceived, again for television, the 9th Doctor (played by Chris Eccleston) would have joined forces with Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) from “Star Trek: Enterprise.” In this crossover you have the current Doctor (Matt Smith) teaming with Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” How did you decide which Captain would be representing the Starfleet? And did you consider the latest incarnation of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the rest of the re-imagined crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the new J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” movies?
Scott: It was mutually agreed by all concerned, including us, that the best fit for this particular story was Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D. I think “Next Generation” is tonally a better match for “Doctor Who” in a lot of ways. Plus, with the success of the “TNG” broadcasts on BBC America and the fact that this year is the 25th anniversary of “TNG,” the stars seemed to be in alignment. There was never any discussion of using the new re-imagined Kirk and Spock movie crew. Honestly, I think it’d be too soon. They deserve the opportunity to find their own identity.
The title is “Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2.” Is the ‘2’ meant to imply a sequel or is it “Assimilation” squared, as in to the power of 2?
Scott: Oh, it’s “squared.” Definitely “squared.” And, to quote one of my favorite movies, “The Iron Giant,” all that that implies…
We’ve read the solicitation, but for those vacationing on Halergan 3 these past few weeks, can you tee up the series for readers?
Scott: We’re being intentionally oblique about the plot, because we really want people to come to this with an open mind and really be surprised by what they see. I’ve been a comics reader long enough to remember the days before “Previews” catalogs, where you had no idea what was coming in a comic next month until you walked down to the spinner rack at the Qwik Stop and found it for yourself. Obviously, those days are gone, but I’d still like to keep as much mystery about the book as possible.
Or to be more succinct, as River Song would say, “Spoilers!”
That all having been said, you have the Doctor and his companions, you have Picard and his crew, you have the Enterprise, the TARDIS, Cybermen and the Borg! What more do you need to hear from us?! It’s going to be big, epic, funny, tragic — everything we can cram into eight issues!
Are we going to see all of Picard’s crew, including Riker, Crusher, Deanna, Data, Worf and Geordi La Forge?
David Tipton: We don’t want to divulge too much at this point, for obvious reasons, but I think it is safe to say that the major characters from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” will be well represented.
Scott: Well, maybe not Mr. Mot. But everyone else.
Scott, you said the Doctor’s companions will play a role, so can we expect to see Amy and Rory too?
Scott: Oh, absolutely. Whether it’s Sarah Jane, Tegan, Adric, Leela, Rose Tyler, Donna Noble or Amy Pond, the Doctor is defined by his companions; it doesn’t matter if they’re with him for several years or only several hours — I still miss poor Astrid Peth. I wouldn’t dream of doing this story without Amy and Rory.
The Cyberman/Borg mashup is equally awesome as the two cyborg races are virtually identical in terms of philosophy and rules of engagement. What, if any, differences have you discovered between the two races as you’ve been writing the series?
Scott: Again, talking about this too much would give away some of what we have in store. But speaking in generalities, what’s always come across to me as the major difference is that the Cybermen just seem angrier. There’s an emotionality to the Cybermen that sets them apart, despite their claim to be free from emotion. It also tends to be their Achilles’ heel, or at least, it has in the past. What do the Borg want? What do the Cybermen want? And why would they work together? Therein lays the tale…
And distinctions or similarities between how the Doctor and Captain Picard operate?
Scott: There’s been a lot of talk about how to make these two characters, and by extension, their two series, mesh. It’s a little daunting, admittedly, in that “Next Generation” is science fiction, while “Doctor Who” can sometimes veer more into the realm of science-fantasy. It’s easy to think the two wouldn’t mix, since Captain Picard is so serious while the Doctor is often so funny. But people forget that there were some hilarious moments in “Next Generation,” and that when the Doctor gets serious, he can be downright frightening. I think the contrast between the two is going to be where the real fun is.
Not sure how much you can share just yet but how does the Doctor come to arrive on the Enterprise?
David: Oh, this is definitely something that we cannot reveal at this point. Sorry. I think it’s safe to say that he arrives on the Enterprise in a way uniquely suited to the Doctor.
Any plans for some surprise cameos from popular supporting characters like Q or Captain Jack?
Scott: Again, “Spoilers!” But in general, I think we have to be careful not to go too crazy with the cameos and the Easter eggs in a book like this. That temptation is there to try and squeeze in all of the Doctor’s rogues’ gallery, and all of the Federation’s most dangerous foes, and soon you can lose track of the story you set out to tell in the first place. So, while longtime Trek fans and Who fans will no doubt recognize some familiar people, places and things, we’re trying to stay focused on telling the best story we can.
I personally can’t wait for the first shared dialogue between the Doctor and Data. Can you confirm the two interact and what panel/scene/exchange has provided your biggest geek-out so far?
Scott: To answer the first part of your question, oh, absolutely. And I will confess that the first time I typed a panel description that had the words “Riker,” “Data” and “TARDIS” in it, I had to stop typing because I began to cackle like a loon. Some things in life you never expect to happen…
BBC and CBS hold these two properties in extremely high esteem. How liberal have the studios been in terms of choices you want to make with the characters and what, if anything, have they said you cannot do?
David: We’ve both been very, very pleased with the creative support we have received from the BBC, CBS, and IDW. It’s a collaborative process, and it’s been a very positive one. We are all looking to make this project one that seems consistent with the characters and storylines of both of these properties.
I hate even to ask you, but I will be phasered for not doing so. Is this story set within continuity and now considered canon or is this a fun “What If?”/”Elsewhere”-style story with two of sci-fi’s greatest properties?
Scott: My position on the “canon” question is always a simple one: If I like a story, if it had an emotional impact on me, then it happened, at least for me. When you get right down to it, every reader has their own “canon” of stories that matter, and ones that don’t. We’re just trying to create one that matters.
Finally, if “Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2” proves successful, which it no doubt will, would you be game to come back for a second series?
Scott: Are you kidding? The Doomsday Machine and Dalek Imperial Fleet put together couldn’t drag me away.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2” from IDW Publishing will be available in May 2012.