So much has happened in the world of Star Trek these last few weeks, it’s difficult to decide where to start and what to report on!
But before that, I had an e-mail from a fan of this site asking me why I recapped news reports. He appreciated it, but was curious. It’s simple. When big news happens, we get disjointed drips of it from con reports, media releases and various interviews happening all over the place. Sometimes it’s put together afterwards by various sites, but that’s rare. It frustrates me, so I group it all together for other fans like me who enjoy and appreciate the reports we read, but would love to see them encapsulated in one article because it’s easy to lose track of them all thanks to the fact we all live busy lives. So, thanks for the question and hopefully this puts it all into perspective!
Now, back to this news update.
Thanks to the San Diego Comic Con and Star Trek Las Vegas, a lot of news has come to light: a new Klingon look for Disco season two, new Trek shows, a push to have Trek on CBS All Access all the time, casting announcements, the DS9 documentary, pay disputes for Kelvin-verse Trek IV and more.
I’ve chosen to focus exclusively on news related to the proposed new series’, and the upcoming Trek feature films.
So. Proposed new shows? Yes. First up is a brand new set of mini-episodes called Short Treks, that have been created to give us some Trek content while we wait for season two of Star Trek: Discovery. Short Treks is also a part of CBS‘s recently announced desire to have Star Trek content on CBS All Access 24 hours a day.
But that’s not it. There has also been talk of a new animated series and, most incredibly, a new Star Trek project that brings Sir Patrick Stewart back as fan favourite Jean-Luc Picard.
Before we dive in to any of that, we need to look at couple of important casting announcements. The first is the announcement we have a new Number One (the role originated by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry in 1964).
Rebecca Romijn, best known for her role as Mystique alongside Patrick Stewart in X-Men, X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand, has been cast as the new Number One. She joins Anson Mount on the Enterprise for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.
She and Anson are joined by Ethan Peck, the grandson of Hollywood Legend Gregory Peck, who will be playing Spock.
Though producers said they would not cast another Spock because it would be too hard to find another actor capable of following in the footsteps of Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto, it appears they have found a story and an actor that they believe will do justice to Spock and the two exceptional actors who have played him. Spock is definitely in season two, and I admit I am excited about that.
Some have decried this as fan service, but I don’t have a problem with fan service if it’s done well, and if a wonderful story can be brought to life as a result. Star Trek has a rich history full of exciting and compelling characters, why can’t we see them? Why wouldn’t we? If you were a writer or producer on a new Trek series, wouldn’t you want to use those characters if you could?
Some fan commentators have decried the implausibility of the Enterprise and Discovery being anywhere near each other, but that’s a rubbish observation.
Within the in-universe history of Star Trek, there were not that many ships out there in the earlier days of the Federation, and when you think about it, we actually don’t know the mission profile of the Enterprise in that time period. Plus, there was a war that bled into Federation space and you can bet the Federation wanted its best ships nearby protecting people and assets.
What do we know about Pike’s mission in that time period?
We know that he and his ship were returning from a battle, before intercepting the Talos distress signal that led to the events we have seen in “The Cage.”
The Enterprise was a heavy cruiser, and Constitution Class starships were the premier front line vessels of Starfleet. The ships became known for their exploration missions, but Gene Roddenberry had a multipurpose role in mind for them when he conceived the series. As every Trek fan knows, the concept for the show was based on a “wagon train to the stars” idea, with the Enterprise pushing the boundaries of known space, while also serving as a diplomatic vessel, a peace-keeping force and even, at times, a special escort for dignitaries. As a premier front line vessel, there is every reason for it to be within warping distance of the Discovery, which, at the time the two ships come across each other, had only recently left Earth.
But, I digress. Back to Ethan Peck, our new Spock.
The casting of Ethan has been given the seal of approval by the Nimoy family, with Leonard’s son, Adam, and daughter, Jule, along with their spouses Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and David Knight, that we learned about via a post on Instagram.
In that post, Ethan looks pretty damn stoked, and there appears to be genuine warmth shining off of Adam in particular.
Ethan started acting as a young man. He’s 32, and has appeared in the ABC sitcom 10 Things I Hate About You, Madam Secretary, Gossip Girl and That ’70s Show.
His enthusiasm for the role is apparent, and according to his girlfriend both of them will always remember the moment he got the call that he was cast as Spock. Ethan apparently sat down on a nearby roadside curb and cried.
All of this makes me think that the appearance of the Enterprise, Pike, Number One and Spock in Star Trek: Discovery is a way of launching a sort of soft-backdoor pilot for a new series that focuses on Christopher Pike and his crew. CBS wants more Star Trek on TV and has put Alex Kurtzman and his production company, Secret Hideout, in charge of that on a multi-year deal, so why wouldn’t they explore one of the least seen but most beloved Captain’s in Trek history?
Fans have been interested in Pike and Number One for many many years, and it’s a period of Star Trek history that would be interesting to do a deep dive into. Star Trek: Five Year Mission, or whatever they would call it, would be a beautiful companion to Star Trek: Discovery and it would honour Gene’s original vision by giving life to the first characters he created.
When you think about it, Anson Mount is doing a LOT of publicity work for Star Trek: Discovery, and with two other actors now cast in two incredibly important and historic roles, why wouldn’t CBS take advantage of that and create something amazing?
If they didn’t, it would be a real waste of talent and time.
But, enough of my suppositions. You probably want to know about the news that really has fandom going crazy.
Jean-Luc Picard is back.
Patrick Stewart and Alex Kurtzman announced the news at Star Trek Las Vegas. They didn’t tell us a lot, because it’s very early days, but what we do know is:
- Kirsten Beyer, it seems, had the idea.
- Akiva Goldsman will Executive Produce the show.
- It takes place approximately 20 years after Star Trek: Nemesis.
- Pulitzer prize-winning author, Michael Chabon, is on staff.
- James Duff will also Executive Produce.
- Kirsten will be a writer on the show.
- Patrick initially turned them down, but with some persistence from Alex and his team fell in love with the idea, remembering just how impactful Star Trek had been and still is in the lives of millions.
- Patrick will be an Executive Producer on the series.
- Picard might not be a Captain anymore.
This is what Patrick had to say, live on stage at STLV18:
“Jean-Luc Picard is back.”
He went on to talk a little about the older Picard we may meet.
“He may not, and I stress may not, be a captain anymore. He may not be the Jean-Luc that you recognise and know so well. It may be a very different individual. Someone who has been changed by his experiences. Twenty years will have passed, which is more or less exactly the time between the last movie – Nemesis – and today.”
He followed this with a guarantee.
“It will be, I promise you, I guarantee it, something very, very different. It will come to you with the same passion, and determination and love of the material and love of our followers and our fans, exactly as we had it before.”
We don’t know whether or not Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton or Michael Dorn will be in the new show, but it is almost certain one or two or maybe even all of them will appear at some point.
Will this new Star Trek be an ongoing series? It’s unlikely. Patrick is in his late ’70s and in a couple of years time will turn 80. Committing to an ongoing series as complicated as Star Trek would probably not be something he’d do.
It’s more likely this will be a mini-series, or limited special series of maybe six to ten episodes.
More news is certain to come over the next few months, but for now we don’t know much else. One of the best things about this announcement is that maybe, finally, these incredible, beloved characters will get the send off they deserve. I’m okay with Nemesis, but it’s not a great film and Picard and crew deserved a better on screen farewell. This new show might do that.
The new animated series? Nothing has been disclosed about this but it has garnered a lot of interest from fans, because it can happen, literally, at any time in Star Trek‘s expansive history. We could continue the five-year mission of Kirk and his crew. We could discover brand new adventures on the Enterprise D. We could even fill in the blanks for the crew of the USS Equinox after they were trapped in the Delta Quadrant, before the Voyager found them. The possibilities are endless, which is why fandom is super-excited.
For now, we’ll just have to wait for news on that project and hope that something can be produced that is at least as good as Star Wars‘s successful foray into animation.
Lastly, the next Star Trek feature film has hit a hurdle.
Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth are reportedly holding up the fourth feature outing for our Kelvin-verse crew.
Why? There is a little contention over their salaries. Both Chris’s are blockbuster stars now thanks to films like Wonder Woman and the Thor series. Their salary expectations are, as a result, a little different to what they probably were.
Star Trek: Beyond, while well received by fans, only made $343 million world wide. That’s a decent profit when compared to the cost of the film ($185 million to produce, though this doesn’t include the film’s marketing budget), but it’s not enough to warrant a massive investment in a sequel. Tent pole summer blockbusters need to make at least double of what they cost to be considered profitable.
This means Paramount will be looking to produce the as yet untitled Trek film for less, and part of that will be offering less money to its stars. Which should be interesting. There is not one of the main cast whose careers have not taken off since the release of the first Kelvin-verse film. Some of their careers have gone stratospheric – particularly Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana and Simon Pegg.
All three actors are in demand, with Zoe in particular lined up for movie after movie after movie.
Karl Urban (Doctor Leonard McCoy) is confident both Chris’s will sort out the pay dispute, and that the movie will go ahead. Paramount, however, have a very narrow window available to them to get the movie into production because of actor availability. If it doesn’t happen soon, the planned fourth film will be abandoned, and we’ll have to wait another couple of years for Tarantino Trek, which is currently slated to be the fifth outing for the crew of the Kelvin-verse USS Enterprise.
What do we know about the new movie? A few things.
- The basic premise is unclear, but we do know it unites James and George Kirk in some way. There is a script, but it’s details are under wraps.
- The film will be the first to be directed by a woman, with S.J. Clarkson being given that honour. Clarkson is a British film and television director, best know to the rest of the world for Life on Mars, Dexter, Heroes, Ugly Betty, Bates Motel, Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black and The Defenders.
- The film will be the first Star Trek movie to be shot in the United Kingdom.
That’s pretty much it for what we know about the next film, and major events in Trek.
As news breaks we’ll keep you updated here.
Until the next update, Live Long and Prosper.