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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: DiscoveryShort 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.

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?

Star Trek The Cage Poster

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.

Ethan Peck

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.

The Nimoy Seal of Approval

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.

LeVar, Gates, Patrick, Marina, Brent and Michael

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.

SJ Clarkson

  • 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.

If you’d like to check out more Star Trek news, we encourage you to visit our two “go to” sites, TrekMovie and TrekCore.

Until the next update, Live Long and Prosper.

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A Future To Believe In

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Now that Star Trek is officially 50 years old (having celebrated its actual birthday a few days ago), it’s a good time for a die hard Trekker to reflect on his or her love of that particular universe – and why it continues to mean something to them years after their first exposure to it.

I’ve been in the middle of that process for a few months now, ever since the announcement of Star Trek: Discovery.  The recent release of Star Trek Beyond intensified it for me, and I decided to start talking to other Trekkers to see if I could find a common theme around what makes so many of us love Star Trek and keep loving it.

What I learned was Star Trek does two things really well, and both of those things resonate strongly with long-term fans:

  1. Star Trek shows us a future that’s worth fighting for, that’s worth dreaming about, and that’s worth wanting to help shape, and;
  2. Star Trek is a really intimate and personal experience for every single person who loves it, and that, possibly, is it’s greatest magic.

That second point is a frustrating one if you’re a show runner.  Star Trek does have a formula of sorts, but it’s a really hard one to get right.  Without exception, fans want challenging storylines that are provocative and insightful – which is scary for a show that needs to make money because, as Gene Roddenberry learned the hard way, you’re bound to piss someone off and risk alienating a segment of your audience.  Fans want a meaningful relationship with the characters which means you must get two things right straight off the bat – the writers room and the casting process.  Fans want it a little dark without losing the hopeful future Star Trek promises us… and despite craving intelligent science fiction we want that science fiction all wrapped up with pretty action set pieces that are full of amazing (and expensive) visual effects.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about Star Trek these last few months, and for every single person there was always a deeply personal story attached to their love… “Star Trek was my ‘safe space’ when I broke up with my husband…” “Star Trek got me through bullying when I was a kid…” “Star Trek is what got me into the military…” “Star Trek was the thing that helped me set my moral compass…”

Those often amazing conversations showed me that while all of the above about challenging storylines and great VFX is true, the actual core ingredients are the characters and their dynamic.

Star Trek has a ‘secret sauce’, and that ‘sauce’ is its characters who are our conduit into that universe and it’s vision for tomorrow.

What I loved most, while talking to fellow fans, was that the characters who resonated with them weren’t always the obvious ones.  Yes, I heard a lot of Kirk love, Spock love, McCoy love, Picard love, Data love, Siski, Kira, Janeway, Seven, Archer, T’Pol and Trip love, but I also heard a lot of Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, Geordi, Beverly, Deanna, Wesley, Quark, Jake, Odo, Dax, Chakotay, the Doctor, B’Elanna, Kes, Neelix, Harry, Hoshi, Malcolm, Phlox and Mayweather love.

In the original series, some of those characters never got the chance to say more than “Aye sir,” and “Hailing frequencies open, Captain,” yet they still effected people – and more often than not, deeply.  Why?  Because they were representative.  Sometimes in obvious ways – Uhura was a woman in a position of power and a black woman at that, Sulu was an Asian who wasn’t a normal 1960s stereotype, and Chekov was a Russian at a time when the US and Russia didn’t have a lot of love for each other… but they weren’t just representative in that way.  Uhura was an expert and a woman in command who could come out and honestly say “Captain, I’m frightened.”  Chekov was a whiz kid whose emotions were always written clearly on his face.  Sulu had a cheeky and sometimes sardonic sense of humour that now and again seemed to say “you’re a complete dick, Captain.”  Watch some of the original episodes and listen to Sulu’s responses to Kirk or Scotty when they give a command that seems to defy common sense.  Both Uhura and Chekov do that at times also.  These characters were representative of real emotion, sometimes overtly expressed, sometimes subtlety conveyed, and we fell in love with them because of that.

Those human moments in a show that was so different to anything else on television, delivered by personalities we could relate to, gave us an ‘in’ to Gene Roddenberry’s universe.

For me, it was McCoy, Uhura and Spock.  They were my pathway into the original Star Trek.  Beverly, Deanna, Wesley and Geordi my conduits into Next Gen.  Jadzia and Bashir my way into DS9.  Janeway, Kes, Chakotay and the Doctor my door into Voyager, and T’Pol, Phlox and Malcolm my way into Enterprise.  Each of those characters had qualities I possessed or aspired to possess and they resonated with me and still do today.

I grew up in the sort of neighbourhood where every week someone was stabbed, bashed, and in someway victimised, and as a child I needed something that showed me a future full of intelligent, compassionate people who fought to get rid of those horrific things from people’s lives.

When I was bullied at school, Star Trek was my retreat.  I could lose myself in that world and dream of a future that was brighter than the one I saw for myself.

As I hit my teenage years and then adult years, Star Trek started to shape my morals as a person and many of the idealistic concepts in Star Trek still guide me today – particularly IDIC and the idea that we are stronger together.

I became an actor in my late teens because I wanted to go to Los Angeles and get cast in Star Trek.  I did make it to Los Angeles, but never got the chance to be in Star Trek because I made it there a year or two after Enterprise went off the air.

I became a professional Counsellor because of Deanna Troi.  Even though I’m a guy, Deanna and her profession spoke to me and though we barely ever got to see her do any real work as a psychologist, I still invoke her preternatural calm and warmth when working with clients.

I’ve always known that Star Trek was one of the most important influences in my life, but I’d never really spent a great deal of time wondering why.

This year seemed to demand it, and I’m glad I spent a little time exploring and reflecting on what Star Trek means to me and why it’s still the world I retreat into when I need to recharge.

There are so many quotes and examples I could provide to illustrate all the ways in which Star Trek has affected me, too many actually, so instead I’ll just choose a few…

Kirk’s statement in The Final Frontier, that he needs his pain.  That speech still effects me to this day.  Our pain, our failures, and how we deal with them all, defines us.  There are so many experiences in my life that I wish had never happened to me, but I cannot deny their impact and how they have strengthened and shaped me.

Kira’s dedication to her spiritual life mirrored my own journey to understand some of the indefinable but poignant experiences we all encounter in life.

It was something similar with Chakotay.  His spiritual life and journey, though often mired in stereotype, was beautiful and I loved that it was included, but the fact he was a physically strong and imposing, but deeply spiritual and sensitive man was what hit me like a sledgehammer.  It hit me deeply, in the same way the startlingly beautiful and noble Uhura did and in the same way the generous, calm and gracious Deanna did.  As a 6’2″ guy who’s been described as physically intimidating, but who is softly spoken and by nature a pretty caring bloke, it was fantastic to see a man on TV who was also all of those things, and who chose to use his presence not to constantly threaten and intimidate but to nurture and support.  It was what I needed to see and it came at a time in my life where I was in danger of going off the rails.

You might be thinking… “hold on, what about Riker?”

Will was always a little too ‘big’ a personality for me to connect with.

Star Trek is unique in its ability to craft characters that are universal but speak to each individual viewer.  If there’s one thing the creative teams behind each show and movie did really well, it was creating characters we can relate to.  I don’t know if they consciously tried to do that, but that’s what they did.

Each series and each film had its ups and downs story wise, but the characters were always exceptional.  Yes, Kes didn’t have a lot of room to grow and Neelix had the odd issue and could be pretty damn annoying, but by and large the characters are the thing that makes Star Trek shine.  At least in my opinion.

As we look forward to Star Trek: Discovery, with each of us no doubt carrying a small wish list around in our minds, I personally hope that the creative team behind the new series get the fact that no matter what, the characters are our way into this new version of the universe, and that Star Trek really is an important and intimate experience for each of us and that needs to be respected.

Yes, we want great stories and we want allegory and we want brilliant special effects, but if Star Trek is to succeed it needs incredible characters and it needs a way to inspire hope in us and allow us to link with the show in a way that is meaningful.  It needs to be something that mirrors all of us, in some way, and tries hard to be relevant to this generation of young people as they look around for heroes to aspire to be like.

Star Trek is important.  It’s important to me, it’s no doubt important to you if you’re reading this, and it’s important to the world.

What do we have on television now?  Zombie hunters who are now borderline sociopaths, families warring over a stupid iron throne and committing atrocious acts in their quest for power, families backstabbing each other over musical empires or political ambitions… there’s not a lot of hope, and there aren’t many shows demonstrating a different, better way to be.

Star Trek did that, and it can do it again.

I hope Bryan and Alex and everyone else involved with Star Trek: Discovery truly appreciate just how important Star Trek is at both that personal, intimate level, and that much bigger, aspirational level.

Bryan has said the world needs Star Trek now more than it ever has, so I think he does get it.  I hope he is able to realise his vision with the amazing creative team he’s assembled.

So thank you, Star Trek.  Thank you for shaping me, and for shaping so many amazing people I’ve met, and thank you for not being frightened of shining a light in the darkness – even when shining that light hasn’t been popular.

I’ve had enough of the depressing, sarcastic, angst-filled shows on television these days.  So many are so devoid of hope it’s depressing.  I need and I want something that challenges me intellectually, and I need and I want something that reminds me of just how amazing we are as a species.

The bright future Star Trek describes is the future I want, and it’s a future worth believing in.

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Series VI Update

Star Trek Series VI

The creative team behind the new Star Trek live action series is continuing to grow.

As we all wait anxiously for casting news, information on the time period the series will take place in, and some hint as to whether or not the show will be based on a starship, starbase, or somewhere entirely different, Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman have added another talented individual to their writing staff.

For me, this is pretty exciting, because I’ve been a fan of this person for a few years now, and have loved every one of her excellent Star Trek: Voyager relaunch novels.

Kirsten Beyer has a well deserved reputation for being one of the major driving forces behind the success of the Voyager relaunch series, along with Christie Golden who left the series 12 years ago.

Kirsten is known for her ability to seamlessly weave authentic character action and intention in with random bits of Voyager history, and brand new concepts to create a compelling and often challenging novel that is never less than entertaining.

Kirsten knows Voyager and it’s characters like, I would hazard to guess, no one else.  When you read her books, you hear the voices of Janeway and the series regulars as if you were listening to an actual episode, and she paints images with words worthy of any major motion picture’s visuals.

To read more about Kirsten’s appointment to the new series, click here to visit the TrekCore article.

We know that Kirsten will be writing episodes for the new series, but we still don’t know anything substantial about the show.

Kirsten’s inclusion could be seen to be an indication that the new series (or at least part of the new series) might take place after Star Trek: Voyager and in the prime timeline.  However, she could have been hired solely for her true to character dialogue, her world-building ability, and her overall knowledge of Star Trek.

While we all wait for more news on Series VI, consider picking up some of Kirsten’s works and giving them a read.  Hopefully you’ll agree with me and see she is an exceptional author who the Trek novel series is very lucky to have.

Bryan Fuller keeps impressing with the team he is collecting around him.

I can’t wait until January 2017.

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Happy 20th Anniversary Voyager

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It’s been a decade since any new, official Star Trek television series has aired on television.

Thanks to the various conventions that happen around the world year to year, fans of Star Trek get to maintain their relationships with the characters and actors they love from the various series’ that have, for many of us, defined certain periods of our lives.

At a recent con (Star Trek Vegas 2015 Convention) to celebrate 20 years of Star Trek: Voyager among other things Trek, all of the actors except for Jennifer Lien (Kes) were on hand to thrill the crowds.

So… what have they been up to, and how have the last two decades been treating them?

Very well!  The actors of Star Trek: Voyager have been busy.

Star Trek has a sometimes unjust reputation for being a bit hard on it’s lead actors, with a few not being able to find roles capable of overshadowing their time in the final frontier.

George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney and Majel Barrett Roddenberry certainly had a rough time, and some of the NextGen crew also had difficulties, but that isn’t so much the case anymore.  At least for our favourite Voyager actors.

If you take a look at IMDb and run a search for the main actors from Voyager, you’ll see that some of them have been doing quite well.  The links to their IMDb profiles are below… and I’m happy to say that if the rumours of a rift between Kate and Jeri were true, they don’t seem to be anymore.  Our evidence?  A post from Jeri’s Instagram, and a couple of photos from the August Vegas Con (below the links) that show both women appearing to genuinely enjoy each others company.

Kate Mulgrew, Captain Kathryn Janeway

Robert Beltran, Commander Chakotay

Tim Russ, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok

Robert Picardo, The Doctor

Roxann Dawson, Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres

Robert Duncan McNeill, Lieutenant Tom Paris

Jeri Ryan, Seven of Nine

Ethan Phillips, Neelix

Jennifer Lien, Kes.

Jeri Ryan Instagram

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