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SDCC 2020: Star Trek Universe Expands to Lower Decks

The original “Star Trek” beamed into your house for free, as did "The Next Generation," but the future of Star Trek is paid-for-streaming with CBS All Access, where you can catch "Star Trek: Discovery," "Picard," and the new animated series, "Star Trek: Lower Decks," launching on August 6th.

Moderated by Deadline's senior editor, Dominic Patten, this panel featured a virtual table read of the Season 2 finale of "Star Trek: Discovery," "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2: Act 1" (originally released on April 18, 2019) with Sonequa Martin-Green (Commander Michael Burnham), Michelle Yeoh (Philippa Georgiou), Doug Jones (Commander Saru), Anthony Rapp (Lt. Commander Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Ensign Sylvia Tilly), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), Mary Chieffo (L'Rell), Tig Notaro (Commander Jett Reno), Alan Van Sprang (Captain Leland), Jayne Brook (Admiral Katrina Cornwall), and the Discovery Bridge crew Emily Coutts (Lt. Detmer), Oyin Oladejo (Lt. J.G. Owosekun), Patrick Kwok-Choon (Lt. Rhys), Ronnie Rowe Jr. (Lt. J.G. Bryce), Sara Mitich (Lt. Nilsson), and upcoming "Star Trek: Strange New World" stars Anson Mount (Captain Christopher Pike), Rebecca Romijn (Number One), and Ethan Peck (Spock). Shazad Latif who plays Ash Tyler was unable to join.

The full table read is available on "Star Trek" platforms as well as CBS All Access. The fun part about the read was the dialogue was intercut with storyboard images and rough CGI snippets to give you an idea of what happens behind the scenes before the episode is fully edited.

Tradition of "Star Trek"

"Star Trek" is about a world we aspire to. Imagine a world with no sexism, no racism, no hunger and no greed. Can we make it so?

In the tradition of "Star Trek" and its vision of a world that values people for who they are, no matter what race, gender, species, sexual orientation, etc., this panel discussed what "Star Trek" means during these tumultuous times and encouraged people to donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF).

Five Fast Facts

·       The “Star Trek: Discovery” full table read of "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2" is available here.

·       According to Doug Jones (Saru), Kelpiens will have "a place at the table" in the Federation.

·       Philippa Georgiou is, according to Yeoh, "really pissed off" and "she is a survivor" and "a formidable ally or enemy" and "power is something that inherently she has—she doesn't seek it; she just has it."

·       Season three will blend the personal and the family with the characters of Paul Stamets and Hugh Culmer, a gay couple, according to Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz.

·       Ethan Peck said that Spock's experience with Michael Burnham gave him "permission to be human."

Bonus: Anson Mount's Captain Pike will be haunted by his future and wonder, "How do you move forward?" Mount noted that Pike's future is "not so pretty" and that may determine how he uses the rest of his life.

"Star Trek: Lower Decks"

The year is 2380, after "Nemesis" but before "Picard." Developed by Emmy Award-winner Mike McMahan ("Rick and Morty"), "Star Trek: Lower Decks" is a half-hour animated comedy series that has a black female captain, Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), but focuses on the support crew serving on one of the Starfleet's less stellar ships, the USS Cerritos (which is, for those who don't live in SoCal, the name of an actual city with a population of 49K in Los Angeles County).

Cerritos means "little hills," and the hill-less city is best known for its large auto mall (Cerritos Auto Square), where all auto dealers are combined into one large three-block center (Full disclosure: I bought my previous Prius there.).

"Star Trek: Lower Decks" is, like "Rick and Morty," an adult animated series that McMahan characterizes as dark. The first episode features one of the main characters, by-the-book Ensign Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) getting chopped in the leg by Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) when she's carelessly swinging around a Klingon bat'leth. Don't do this at home, kids. As for adults, make sure you have suitable cosplay health coverage.

To bring the science part to this fiction, Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) is an engineer learning to live with his new cyborg implant. Cordero said, Rutherford "loves that he's half mechanics because he likes mechanics."

The series is also Caturday ready with T'Ana, a Caitian doctor (Gillian Vigman) who isn't catty, but more curmudgeonly. She plays off of Ensign Tendi (Noël Wells), who is assigned to the medical bay and very green. 

While the captain may talk just to talk, the Bajoran Lieutenant Shaxs (Fred Tatasciore) is the "shoot first ask questions later" type of guy. Combined with Jack Ransom (Jerry O'Connell), a first officer with a short fuse who says inappropriate things, trouble is bound to find this starship.

Five Fast Facts:

·       This is all about second contact.

·       Per Boimler, cool stuff will be happening on the holodeck.

·       Newsome has special love for Episode 8.

·       O'Connell and his wife, Rebecca Romjin, now both play "Star Trek" first officers and are good friends with Jonathan Frakes so when this threesome get together, it could be a total "Star Trek" first officer geek out. (Please, Jerry O'Connell, live-stream this).

·       The first season drops on August 6th, and consists of 10 episodes.

"Star Trek: Picard"

If you haven't seen "Picard," the show isn't a TNG reboot. It is more new characters with an embittered Picard on a more personal mission, but it also brings back some old characters (Jonathan Frakes as retired Starfleet Captain and Picard's former first officer William Riker,  Marina Sirtis as empath Deanna Troi, now married to Riker, and Brent Spiner as Data). "Picard" takes place 20 years after the 2002 film, "Star Trek: Nemesis."

The panel featured Patrick Stewart (former Starfleet admiral Jean-Luc Picard), Alison Pill (former Starfleet doctor Agnes Jurati), Isa Briones (as "twin" androids), Evan Evagora (Romulan refugee Elnor who Picard left to be raised by nuns), Santiago Cabrera (former Starfleet officer and pilot of La Sirena, Cristobal "Chris" Rios), Michelle Hurd (Raffi Musiker), Sirtis, Frakes and Spiner (Data and Dr. Soong). 

Five Fast Facts

·       Patrick Stewart's preferred nickname is P-Stew, as opposed to SPS (Sir Patrick Stewart).

·       Who is the real space cowboy? Jonathan Frakes? Santiago Cabrera? Marina Sirtis? Sirtis is pretty sure it was her character.

·       Evan Evagora was so overwhelmed when he met Patrick Stewart when "Picard" started shooting, he could only respond, "Good, thanks."

·       The first half of the season was, for Patrick Stewart, "literally about getting to know the people." And he doesn't know all of their last names.

·       Isa Briones didn't know she was auditioning to play multiple roles (She plays android twins, Dahj and Soji Asha as well as an earlier android model, Sutra). 

If you haven't seen the first season, "Picard" allows Jean-Luc Picard and Data to have another closure, one different from what they had in "Nemesis." Spiner called the two closure segments "a wonderful gift." Stewart said that Data's "desire to be human had to include the knowledge and certainty that life was terminal" and "the fact that it would end makes living so important," particularly living well and making one's life meaningful.

Filming for the second season of "Picard" has been delayed due to COVID-19. 



Jana Monji

Jana Monji, made in San Diego, California, lost in Japan several times, has written about theater and movies for the LA Weekly, LA Times, and currently, and the Pasadena Weekly. Her short fiction has been published in the Asian American Literary Review.

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