Fans in Hall H were given the first look at the new 30 minutes animated show Star Trek: Lower Decks, coming to CBS All Access in 2020. Creator and executive producer Mike McMahan (Rick and Morty) was joined onstage by co-executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin, along with cast members Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, and Jerry O’Connell, who also moderated.
McMahan explained that this show, taking place in 2380, will focus on four ensigns on a “not important ship in Starfleet”, a California class ship called the U.S.S. Cerritos. It will be social, emotional, sci-fi, and will “feel very Starfleet”. It’s a comedy, but “the comedy does not come from punching down on Trek”, it will feel like a Star Trek show. There will be “jokes and jokes” for the fans McMahan explained, like Odo’s bucket for example, but that “you don’t need to know” anything about it to enjoy the show.
“It’s that shared experience of making new fans while we’re making it,” he added. The show is meant for “anybody who loves Star Trek and wants to explore more of it,” he said, and Kadin added, “But also…people who haven’t had an entry point into Star Trek yet this should be your show”. They’re hoping it will make people want to see more star trek.
McMahan said he was always there for the B-stories. “Riker’s trapped on a planet with his transporter clone, great I love that. But Data and Geordi are writing a play and they’re getting in a fight about it? I love that stuff.”
Lower Decks main cast of characters include:
Ensign Beckett Mariner, voiced by Tawny Newsome:
Newsome explained her character saying, “She’s very good at all things Starfleet, she just doesn’t care. She’s been demoted a ton of times, she should be way further in the ranks than she is,” said Tawny.
Ensign Brad Boimler, voiced by Jack Quaid:
Quaid talked about his character saying, “He’s basically the opposite of Mariner. He’s very by the book. He really wants to be a captain, but he’s constantly getting in his own way. He would nail the written portion of the driving test, but once it got to him actually being the car it would fast be a complete and total disaster.”
Ensign Tendi, voiced by Noël Wells:
McMahan explained, “It’s her first day on the ship in the pilot. She was a huge Starfleet fan, so being on the ship, every day just blows her mind. She works in the medical bay and there’s no gross alien illness that she’s not just absolutely thrilled to be dealing with.”
Ensign Rutherford, voiced by Eugene Cordero:
McMahan explained this character as well saying, “He is our engineer, and like Geordi La Forge he’s amazing at engineering stuff, but unlike Geordi La Forge he does not solve the problems by the end of every episode. He’s got this cyborg implant on his head that he just got, and it’s like when you get a new phone…that’s him but with how he thinks.”
McMahan also introduced the bridge crew saying they “consider it to be their show, even though it’s not, [but] they don’t know that.”
In speaking of the importance of making a new generation of Star Trek fans, Kurtzman said that “people have perceived that Trek is limited in what it can be, and our thesis is that it has to be what it has always been to everybody but it can also be more. It can expand. It has to be a show for the fans first and foremost, but we want to bring in so many other people…there really has never been an initiative to get to kids when they were younger. Trek is an amazing thing that teaches you how to be a better person in the world, and that has incredible values, and that talks about the importance of diversity, and the importance of caring about other people, and all of these really…essential things that people should be hearing about and knowing about early in their lives, so that we can make the world a better place.”
Kurtzman had one more announcement for the panel, that there is finally going to be an official Star Trek podcast, hosted by Tawny Newsome. He said that “we’ll bring in people who are involved in the show, but we also want to bring people who’ve been deeply influenced by Star Trek, and talk about its influence on science and everything in the world. The cultural conversation that Trek has enabled for so long needs to be loud and strong and proud and that’s what this podcast is going to be.”