SDCC 2020: Star Trek Universe Panel


Alas fellow Trekkers, the Star Trek Universe is ever expanding! Once this panel was announced, I got super excited, as, IGN and San Diego Comic Con bring to us the Star Trek Universe Panel on YouTube for free during this pandemic.

Following the official trailer of Star Trek Lower Decks, which is premiering on August 6, 2020, our panel begins with host Dominic Patten, introducing the executive producers of the Star Trek Universe – Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin.

Patten began the discussion by asking what is coming up next within the Star Trek Universe for fans?

Alex Kurtzman responds stating that “we’ve heard the fans about Star Trek Strange New Worlds, which will be staring Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn, as we were already having active conversations since last year.” Kurzman continues by staying that the “(writers) room started with ten stories already created.”

This is absolutely fantastic as it shows that the creators of the new Star Trek Universe are responding positively to the Star Trek community response with the original crew of the Enterprise (TOS)’s role within the Discovery series.

News on the development of the spin-off series, Star Trek Strange New Worlds, isn’t the only new upcoming expansion within the Star Trek Universe.

Heather Kadin, co-executive producer, revealed additional big news on the creation of a new Star Trek show, Star Trek Prodigy. Much like Star Trek Lower Decks, Prodigy will be an animation that will appear on Nickelodeon, as it is important to bring Star Trek to the children, and that Prodigy will be show run by the Hagan Brothers.  The date to which it will be premiered was not revealed.

Both executive producers Iterate the Star Trek Universe’s dedication to social and political change in our society as it is reflective of Star Trek’s legacy. When asked about #StarTrekUnited, Alex Kurtzman said that since [Star Trek’s] inception, it has the endeavor and effort to bring attention to important causes such as BLM, NAACP, with the goal to promote these organizations and use the platform to bring attention to these important messages.

Kadin also added how proud she is to be working on a show that has a message that resonates with what is going on today. Kadin makes an important point by stating that what is great with working in genre is that you can say things about current events while masking them, so it isn’t preachy in nature. She rightfully reiterated that Star Trek is about a better hope for gender, racial, and sexual equality.

As a fan of Star Trek, and a writer of speculative fiction, it always reassuring to here executives and creatives discusses how important current socio-political issues and progressive values are within Science Fiction as a whole, and especially with the Star Trek Universe.


Star Trek Discovery

After a small discussion with both Kadin and Kurtzman, Sonequa Martin-Green and Michelle Paradise introduce a table read of Star Trek Discovery Season’s 2 finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.”

Prior to the table read, Sonequa Martin Green announced her and the Star Trek Universe’s support for The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, an organization that is dedicated to achieve racial justice, equality, and reform.

The panel then presented a Discovery Table Read, which only showed a scene from the episode, followed by a Q & A.  The full virtual table read will air tomorrow at

The Q&A session included the following cast members, specifically 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), was well as Anson Mount (Captain Christopher Pike), Rebecca Romijn (Number One), and Ethan Peck (Spock) from the upcoming Start Trek: Strange New World. Shazad Latif (Ash Tyler) was not available.

No new information was revealed about what is going to occur with the third season, which was a bit disappointing. There was no new footage aired, instead cuts from the previous trailer was shown.  Instead, the cast did share their thoughts on what’s going on with the world today and how it relates to their involvement within the Star Trek Universe.

The Discovery Q&A was led by Michelle Paradise, produce of Star Trek Discovery, who also reiterated the franchise’s legacy with socio-political stance and commitment to the current movements.

Highlights of the Q&A panel include Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz talking about how Star Trek takes place in a world that values equality and how Star Trek has always been an aspiration for our society, where it is rather a world that we want to create, and how we all have the responsibility in wanting to create a better world, something to aspire to.

Michelle Yeoh & Mary Chiefo reiterated how they are proud to be a franchise but reminded us that we must all strive together for change and that there is a lot of work to be done. Mary Wiseman: love that about the show – we don’t claim to be perfect and recognize that there is work to be done.

Sonequa Martin-Green also discussed that the Star Trek Universe is held accountable, considering that the work is not done, and how it’s about confronting themselves considering the legacy of the franchise.


Star Trek Lower Decks

Then panel then shifted towards a discussion about the new show premiering on August 6, 2020, Star Trek Lower Decks, which is the first Star Trek animation to exist since the Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-4).

Mike McMahan, writer from Rick and Morty and co-creator of Solar Opposites, is the show runner of Star Trek Lower Decks, and continues the Star Trek Universe panel by talking about the backdrop of his show.

McMahan mentioned that the show is taking place in the year 2380, within The Next Generation era that takes place sometime after Nemesis and before Star Trek Picard.

This is really interesting as it opens up the possible of TNG, DS9, and Voyager characters possibly making an appearance within the animated comedy.

McMahan also stressed that they worked to keep Star Trek Lower Decks within canon but are definitely trying new stuff within the show. McMahan iterated how keep the ethics of Star Trek without breaking it is an important aspect of their production.

McMahan then provided the only original footage in the entire panel, which is a clip of two characters from Lower Decks, both played by Tawny Newsome, who plays Lt. Ali from Spaceforce, and Jack Quaid from Hunger Games fame.

The clip begins with a view of the USS Cerritos, with Quaid’s character, Ensign Brad Boimler, who is doing the classic Star Trek voiceover. Various shots of crew members and the ship are seen until it is revealed that Boimler is actually pretending to record a Captain’s log about a first contact mission and diplomacy. Newsome’s character, Ensign Beckett Mariner, catches him and is revealed to be drunk on the illicit Romulan whiskey. The scenario turns into a classic drunk play fight ending up with Boimler being accidently cut with a bat’leth, establishing the adult oriented comedic nature of the show.

Overall, the show looks super entertaining, containing a Rick and Morty vibe to its humor, even though the animation is not different or unique from other cartoons on TV. What is really appealing, however, is the approach that McMahan is taking with the show.

McMahan talks about how Star Trek humanizes their characters, which is an essential and endearing aspect of the show.

He then introduces the crew and cast of Lower Decks, which include  “Ensign Beckett Mariner” voiced by Tawny Newsome, “Ensign Brad Boimler” voiced by Jack Quaid, “Ensign Tendi” voiced by Noël Wells,  “Ensign Rutherford,” voiced by Eugene Cordero,  “Captain Carol Freeman,” voiced by Dawnn Lewis, “Commander Jack Ransom,” voiced by Jerry O’Connell, “Lieutenant Shaxs,” voiced by Fred Tatasciore, and “Doctor T’Ana, voiced by Gillian Vigman.

The majority of the Q&A with the Lower Decks cast consisted of them talking about how they liked that the shows focuses on characterization more and then revealed their favorite parts of the shows that their characters endured without providing any spoilers from the first season.

McMahan then signs off his portion of the panel saying that we are difficult times and that we should all watch cartons, while Jerry O’Connell, who is streaming from the outdoors, jumps on his car on top of his car…because Kangaroo Jack?

The show looks promising and will definitely provide a different look within the Star Trek Universe. It’ll be interesting to see how a comedy that is canonical will be received by fans, as I’m sure the cast will definitely keep it entertaining with their voice work.


Star Trek Picard

Patten then moves the panel to it’s third and final part with the cast of Star Trek Picard. The panel includes Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard), Alison Pill (Dr. Agnes Jurati), Isa Briones (Dahj/Soji), Evan Evagora (Elnor), Michelle Hurd (Raffi Musiker), and Santiago Cabrera (Cristobal Rios) along previous Star Trek  stars from TNJ and Voyager, Brent Spiner (Data/Dr. Soong), Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh), Jonathan Frakes (William Riker), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi).

The Q&A panel was a lot of fun, especially being able to see this star-studded cast; however, it was much like the Discovery portion in which they did not reveal anything new about the upcoming season.

Highlights from the Q&A includes Sir Patrick Stewart discussing his appeal in returning to the role of Picard, and how it is challenging from a writing perspective, as the character of Picard is in a different and complex world, which Stewart points out is appropriate for the time that we are living in.

Allison Pill, Isa Briones, and Santiago Cabrera discussed how they approached their roles in the first season, as well as admiring both Patrick Stewart and Michael Chabon’s involvement within the show.

It was also super exciting seeing our familiar Star Trek actors discusses their current roles, with Jeri Ryan pointing out how she enjoyed 7 of 9 evolving into a new character, Brent Spiner enjoying the fact that he gets to play someone else that’s not Data (and getting closure for the character), while Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes adding in happy sentiments and jokes within the discussion.

Jonathan Frakes ended the Q&A by reminding everyone that Gene Roddenberry once said that in the 23rd century, the world will be free of racism and sexism, to which Michelle Hurd responds, “let’s make that happen.”

Michelle Hurd then ends the panel by reiterating the Star Trek Universe’s support to the NAACP LDF and Educational Fund, stating that CBS donated to the organization.


Final Thoughts

Overall, I thought the panel was super fun. It’s really great to hear from and see all the actors and creators of the different Star Trek shows come together for a panel during this COVID times.

The most exciting news is the announcement of Star Trek Prodigy, as a new animated children’s show on Nickelodeon in hopes of bringing future fans in the franchise, as well as the updates on the upcoming Star Trek Strange New Worlds.

Although not much was said about Star Trek Discovery and Picard, it’s obvious that the cast and crew are excited about it’s return, as I’m sure most fans are. If you’re looking for some Star Trek nostalgia mixed with hype on some upcoming projects, then this a panel worth checking out.

Also, please support the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund at the following link:

Jad Kaado
Jad Kaado
Jad Kaado is a content and short story writer and community organizer who's interested in creative writing and literature, both ancient and modern. He is fascinated by how stories evolve over time and are reflective of their environment; along with how that gets expressed through storytelling and material culture. His academic background and interests in the Middle East are an inspiration for his work.

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