On Screen

Lower Decks: Staying True To Trek

Lower Decks: Staying True To Trek

At Star Trek Las Vegas we learned a lot more about the new visions for Star Trek and ahead of our venture towards Destination Star Trek in Birmingham, we’re taking a look at what we know so far from the Mega-Event in the US.

One of the key takeaways from the panel, and one thing that McMahon has been clear on from the first announcement of the project, is that the show may be a comedy but it will always – first and foremost – be about the Star Trek vision.

“It was really important to me that even though we are a comedy, the comedy does not come from punching down on Trek, or making fun of tropes.” He explained, “It feels like every episode is a Star Trek episode, but we are focusing on people in the ship who are funny, and you will love.”

He also mentioned that, being part of the Star Trek universe, the show will also make nods and references to the wider community of Starfleet and that the more Trek you know, the more references and callbacks you may spot.

“You can hear the love of Trek from the way Mike is talking about it.” Alex Kurtzman commented, giving McMahon his due praise, “We knew it the second he came in to pitch the show. He said: ‘You guys probably don’t want to do this, but I want to do a show about the people who bring the yellow cartridge to the replicator so a banana can come out the other side.'”

Aside from loving the pitch, Kurtzman also noted that animation was in an intriguing developmental state right now with shows such as Rick & Morty and Bojack Horseman among those that had helped craft a new wave of adult animated comedy, while other forms of animation – of which he noted Into the Spider-Verse” were introducing new technologies and ideas into their production.

In putting his show together, McMahon was eager to note that, while he had recruited some hardcore Star Trek fans into the writers room, the difficult task he faced was finding the rght balance of comedic voices.

“What I wanted to do is put together different comedic voices and people who just felt like they either loved Star Trek or they wanted to watch it all the time and learn about it as we were writing it.” McMahon told fans at Star Trek Las Vegas when introducing his writing team, “You want people who are going to write towards the voice of the show that you pitched, but you also want to have people with different comedic voices and different kind of access points.”

As for what to expect in the show, aside from the crew gaining the worst possible assignments, McMahon wouldn’t give any hints as to what stories we could expect. Other than noting that to him, “If Deep Space Nine feels like drinking a nice slow cup of coffee that is expertly made, our show feels like getting a cup of coffee thrown in your face and then you fall down stairs.” But he did note that the overall mission was to go in seeing Lower Decks as a ‘canon’ show, despite not being live action.

To back them up on ensuring they stay within that canon, and don’t veer too far into their own world, McMahon noted that author David Mack was on board as a consultant to ensure the continuity in their vision of 2380 still felt like it clicked into place with the rest of the Next Generation era. “What Mack is amazing at is taking what we are doing and really clicking it into place where you can watch a TNG episode and then bounce to ours and then to TNG and it doesn’t feel like you are making two different kinds of entities.” McMahon noted, praising Mack’s input.

There was also talk of adding cameo’s into the mix. Something the Next Generation fan in McMahon seemed excited about approaching. “I don’t want to tease anything yet, but all is I want to say is these are all of our heroes.”

“If we can figure out a way to not mess up the show and get to geek out over working with all these people we love, we would do it.” He added, “Our TNG crew is out there in 2380. That’s all I’ll say.”

Star Trek Lower Decks began recording earlier this year with character art being revealed at San Diego Comic Con. Produced by CBS Eye Animations and Secret Hideout Productions, the show will make it’s debut on CBS All Access in the United States with no partner for international distribution announced as of yet. No launch date has been released, though Alex Kurtzman has estimated that the show should launch sometime in 2021 at the earliest.

This article was first published in SFCQ2 Comms ‘Across the Universe’ edition, released in September 2019 as part of the ‘Boldly Go’ section alongside updates & insight into Picard, Discovery and a whole lot more. Find out more about Comms or Enlist Today for access!

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