The Star Trek universe continues to expand thanks to CBS All Access. Not only have Trekkies gotten a series that predates the famed Captain Kirk with Star Trek: Discovery, they will soon see Star Trek: Picard beamed into their eyeballs. With Patrick Stewart returning as Jean-Luc Picard, the anticipation for this show can be heard in the Delta Quadrant.
At Comic-Con International, several of the Discovery cast and creatives -- including Sonequa Martin-Green, Alex Kurtzman, Michelle Paradise and Heather Kadin -- were on hand to discuss Season 2 with series guest star and moderator Tig Notaro. Star Trek: Lower Decks' co-creator and executive producer Mike McMahan also came to introduce the new animated series with surprise guests. For Star Trek: Picard's very first Comic-Con, Sir Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera and Harry Treadaway were present, alongside executive producers Michael Chabon and Akiva Goldsman.
The panel began with Star Trek: Discovery creatives and star Sonequa Martin-Green. About Season 3 and the time jump of 1000 years in the future, it's "further than any Trek series has gone before" said Alex Kurtzman. "Every conversation about how we create star Trek is filtered through Roddenberry's essential vision of optimism which can never really change because it's the spirit and soul... there will be lots and lots of huge changes in Season 3 . There will be things you recognize, there will be things you don't recognize... we're not erasing anything, but we do get to shake it up quite a bit. ... The way we preserve optimism is by testing it. I just want to assure all you all it's always Star Trek, the way Roddenberry wanted it."
David Ajala is joining the cast of Season 3, playing a character named Book, who will have a mischievous side. "He's gonna be a character that breaks the rules a little bit... and we do that right from the start of the season."
Sonequa teased that the crew doesn't land on Terrilysium like they had planned and were shooting in Iceland.
On set, Sonequa said Jonathan Frakes said it felt like The Next Generation.
Michelle Paradise said that they think of each episode like a mini movie. "What's amazing is all of our teams... they're huge fans... every day is living the dream," said Heather Kadin.
On the Short Treks, Alex Kurtzman called them an interesting experiment because they got to tell stories that weren't in the "main bodies of the stories." And they will be doing them again, six of them. They then showed a trailer for one.
The trailer featured a tease for Tribbles, the famous creatures from The Original Series.
"Some of the Short Treks will involve Spock, Number One and Pike: three new stories. Two of them will be animated.... the last one will be a Picard teaser." It'll give background for what happened to Picard 15 years before the new show picks up, he went on to say.
Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck then came out to join the Discovery panel.
Apparently, the Discovery cast got stuck in an elevator this morning, just like in the trailer that was shown.
Cleveland Booker is David's character's full name, and "in terms of Discovery, we go to the deepest level of discovery in season 3 because we're in this new place together... everybody is really unfolding in compelling ways," said Sonequa.
About who the Captain will be, Alex said to wait to watch Season 3.
Alex Kurtzman gave lots of props to Pike, Number One, and Spock for the interesting tone of Season 2 and would've loved to have them on Season 3 but it would've broken the Star Trek universe's continuity. He then teased a spin-off without committing to it.
This season they will be mixing and matching different characters with a ton of new characters and the exploration of what the world looks like 1000 years from now, for which the design team is furiously at work. There will be a lot of eye candy of course, but they are always focused on what it means for the characters, said Alex.
Jerry O'Connell came out to act as the next moderator for the Star Trek: Lower Decks portion of the panel. Cast members Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid came out to join the creative team on the panel.
Heather Kamin said that the office is full of Rick and Morty fans which served as a kind of inspiration for the show. Jerry O'Connell also joked that it's like the Downton Abbey of Star Trek.
Mike McMahan said it's a half-hour animated show that focuses on 4 ensigns serving on a "not important ship in Starfleet." There are stories about working on a ship and who you're working with --- it's about a family but not a family you've seen before, McMahan described. It takes place in 2380; it's after Nemesis and Voyager is back.
Tawny Newsome is Ensign Mariner is a badass, according to Tawny. She's "kind of a weirdo rock and roll party queen," she said.
Jack Quaid plays Ensign Boimler, who's by the book and the opposite of Mariner. "He would nail the written portion of the driving test," Quaid said.
There's also Ensign Tendi who's played by Noel Wells. The character is described as a big fan of Starfleet, and there's no gross alien weirdness she isn't thrilled to deal with. And there's Ensign Rutherford played by Eugene Cordero who's an engineer, and unlike LaForge, he doesn't solve the problem at the end of every episode, and he has a cyborg implant he just got. "He's like a TNG early adopter," said Mike.
"It has to be a show for the fans first and foremost... and part of that is getting them younger, and Trek is an amazing thing that teaches you amazing things about the world," Kurtzman said about making a Star Trek animated series for a younger audience, mentioning also the importance of diversity in the Star Trek universe.
Mike is mostly interested in the social stories that happen to have sci-fi elements to it, like the people who bring the yellow cartridge to the replicator so that a banana comes out, which was Mike's pitch to Alex for the show.
The animated series can be a way into Star Trek since the show will stand on its own, though there will be inside jokes as well for Trek fans.
There's also a fully fleshed out bridge crew: Fred Tatasciore voices Lieutenant Shaxs, Dawnn Lewis voices Captain Freeman, Jerry O'Connell voices Commander Ransom and Gillian Vigman voices Dr. T'ana.
There's a brand new ship design and class for this show, the California class. They then showed the holodeck of the ship, but that's it. The California class does a lot of support work. The name of the ship is the USS Cerritos.
Alex Kurtzman then announced an official Star Trek podcast, of which Tawny Newsome will be the host. It will be about general themes, not a recap show.
The final Star Trek panel was for the new series, Star Trek: Picard. More executive producers joined the stage as well as the cast of the show.
Sir Patrick Stewart joined the stage with thunderous applause.
"The first thing I feel compelled to say is that we regret the absence of possibly the most important individual in this production, and no, I'm not talking about Jonathan Frakes... the absence that we all feel is the dog. We wanted to have him here to meet all of you... his name, by the way, is DeNiro."
Every morning begins with scripts for Patrick Stweart. He read a line this morning that said, "We never know, do we, when our last moment will be." Stewart went on to say, "For me, I can twist that and say 'we never know do we when our best moment will be, and that best moment is now.'"
"I decided just over a year ago... and then as the subject matter of this new proposed series became clearer and clearer to me, and when I began to meet our incredibly distinguished writing team... I knew something unusual was going to happen and I wanted to be a part of it. To imagine that something like this would go ahead, and I wouldn't bet be there would be too defeatist... and I"m very very happy to be here."
In tone, Picard will be very tonally different that Discovery.
"It's an extraordinary opportunity to see the most unknown unexperienced part of his journey at this point," said Kirsten Beyer about the new series.
Michael Chabon, who will be the showrunner, talked about his transition from author to showrunner. Even though he's been writing professionally since his early twenties, the "enterprise" of writing for the show and having to write so much so frequently that's so collaborative is much different than what he's been used to. "I've learned to trust Patrick's judgment of Jean-Luc Picard" on a daily, line-by-line basis at this point, Chabon added.
Alison Pill is only allowed to say that she's a researcher. "I get to play somebody who is deeply confused as to her place in the world... who's been dreaming of something happening forever... and I think the really interesting thing about this cast as a while is everyone is pretty broken in terms of their character in very interesting ways," she said.
Michelle Hurd says her character has a previously unrelated relationship to Picard's past.
For Evan Evagora, it is his first big American role.
Comparing this to The Next Generation, Akiva Goldsman said, "I think that tonally it's a bit of a hybrid... it is certainly more character-based. It also takes on... a hope for a future that is in many ways bettering the world we live in today."
"Picard represents the ideal captain as not just a philosopher but as a human being... and the choices that he makes are not choices he makes in a vacuum. He's the leader we all want, and boy do we need that now," said Alex Kurtzman about reflecting Picard in today's world. Picard is the one standing up for the ideals we believe in, Alex elaborated. He clarified that Picard will not be a dark TNG show, but because the circumstances of his life have changed, he doesn't have the same resources so he has to dig deeper.
Isa Briones says her character suffers a tragedy and comes to Picard searching for answers. Santiago's character has demons and is ex-Starfleet and is reluctant to help Picard when he meets him.
The trailer for Picard then aired, and after Patrick said, "That is the reception we were looking for."
Three more guests were brought to the stage: Jonathan Del Arco, Brent Spiner and Jeri Ryan. The latter two were seen in the trailer.
Jeri found out about her potential role at the Hollywood Bowl over a year ago. Jonathan Del Arco also found out at the Hollywood Bowl. The design of Jonathan's make-up couldn't be revealed, but was praised on stage and required Jonathan to get a life mask of his face done.
Brent Spiner said he spoke to the powers that be on the show and said "The possibility of standing next to Patrick on the set again was just something I couldn't say now to. And I had to consider the fans as well... there was no way that I could refuse that."
About having his friends on camera with him again, Patrick said, "You've got to get your laughing gear in place because we have more fun than should really be allowed in a very expensive series."
Jonathan Frakes directed two episodes and will be returning with Marina Sirtis on the show. Michael Chabon described the joy on Patrick's face when he was filming those scenes with his old friends.
Patrick Stewart learned about Star Trek all those years ago through his children, and now his grandchildren are very excited for his new series.
Patrick Stewart described the last day on the TNG set and how those emotions have crossed over to this project as well. He teared up when talking about his scene with Jonathan Frakes "in the captain's ready room, and he said that it's been an honor captain and I was supposed to say 'no, the honor was all but mine,' and I couldn't say it. The emotion of saying goodbye to those seven years was too intense... and I found as soon as we began talking in the writers' room that powerful emotion came back. And it's right here on this platform, and it's not going to go away."
Streaming on CBS All Access, Star Trek: Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as Commander Saru, Anthony Rapp as Lt. Commander Paul Stamets, Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly, Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler, Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber, Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Mary Chieffo as L'Rell, Tig Notaro as Chief Engineer Reno, Ethan Peck as Spock, Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou. Season 2 is streaming now.