Star Trek: Lower Decks Comic-Con Panel Recap

On Saturday the 20th of July 2019 at the San Diego Comic-Con in Hall H, Star Trek fans were introduced to one of several new shows within the franchise called Star Trek: Lower Decks.   

This new show will be centred towards a more younger audience as an animated series.

The new show was introduced by a panel consisting of both some of the cast and crew including showrunner Alex Kurtzman.  Amongst the panel were as Jerry O’Connell put it “The Celestial Queen of all things Trek” Hannah Kane, Alex Kurtzman, (Star Trek: Discovery) Mike McMann (Rick and Morty), and voice actors, Tawney Newsome, and Jack Quaid, oh and not forgetting Jerry O’Connel himself who is no stranger to the SciFi genre as he lead his own show in the mid-nineties called Sliders..  He has also worked extensively in the animated DC universe voicing Superman in Several Justice League animated movies.  It was also only recently his wife Rebecca Romijn who starred in Star Trek Discovery Season 2 as No 1.

Kicking off the panel, Jerry asks Hannah Kane how Star Trek Lower Decks came into fruition. To which Hannah explains:

“All of us in the Office are huge fans of Rick and Morty, which I was introduced to by my children. 

Our colleague Aaron Meyers said we should meet Mike McMann as he is a massive Star Trek fan that when TNG went off the air he got mad about it that he started tweeting fake log lines to a fake Season 8 that didn’t exist”

After an applause form, the audience Hannah continues:

“Simon and Schuster asked him, Hey why don’t you turn your tweets into a book? Which now available to buy.  Oh my God I just plugged the book that wasn’t my intention.”

Hannah continues to explain:

“When we aproache Mike, he explained that he was a life long Star Trek fan and said. “I’m not sure if you would want to make the kind of Star Trek that I would want to make which would be something called Lower Decks.”  To which we said YESS.”

(CBS) Ensign Tendi (No’l Wells), Ensign Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), Ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome) & Ensign Boimler (Jack Quaid)

Jerry O’Connell asked Mike McMann to explain what Star Trek: Lower Decks is all about.

“Lower Decks is a half hour animated show, so its about as long as a Simpson’s Episode.  So it focuses on four Ensigns who are serving on a NOT important Starship.”

After a joint giggle between the audience and the panel, Mike McMann goes on to say:

“They will have stories that feel very Starfleet.  They are emotional and social stories and they are SciFi stories.  Every Star Trek show has albeen about a family and our show is also about a Family its just not going to be the same family that you have seen before.  Its got a lot of familiar Star Trek in it and its important to me that even though we are a comedy that the comedy doesn’t come from punching down on Trek or making fun of tropes.  It feels like every episode is a real Star Trek episode.”

“ We will be focusing on people in the ship who are funny and that you will love.  The show takes place in 2380, so it will be right after Nemesis and Voyager is back.”

(CBS) Ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome)

The Panels host Jerry O’Connell goes on to introduce one of the voice cast Tawny Newsome asking her to introduce her character in the show.

“Soo I am Ensign Beckett Mariner and she is always very reverberant and a bit of a bad ass who disregards the rules.  She is very good at all things Starfleet its that she just doesn’t care.  She has been demoted a ton of times, she should be way further up in the ranks than she is you know.  She is just too much of a Rock N Roll party queen who just wants to ride her skateboard and eat her pizza in peace man.”

(CBS) Ensign Boimler (Jack Quaid)

Jerry then goes on to move along the panel to Jack Quaid asking him to introduce his character in the new show.

“Well I play ensign Brad Boimler and he is the very opposite of Ensign Mariner.  He is very by the book, he really wants to be a Captain.  He is book smart but he’s constantly getting in his own way, he gets very in his own head.  He is the guy who would nail the written portion of the driving test with flying colours but when it would come to him being in the car he would just be a complete and total disaster. So these two Characters will just clash but they are friends.”

Jerry asks Alex Kurtzmann. “so what inspired you to enter into the animated world?”

“ Well the Original animated show was such a fan favourite and as we plan to expand the world of Trek and you see that animation is this Incredible Renaissance right now, its Renaissance in the terms that through animation some of the best stories have been told like the Spider verse and Rick and Morty.  The thing that is so fun for us is that we get to experiment with different types of animation styles and tones.  I think people have perceived in some way that Trek is limited in what in can be.”

“Our thesis is that it has to be what it has always been to everybody but in a way that it can also be more, it can expand, so it has to be a show for the fans first and foremost but we want to bring in so many more people that we want to get them younger as there has never really been an initiative to get kids in.  Trek is this amazing thing that teaches us how to be a better person in the world and the incredible values that talks about the importance of Diversity and the importance about caring for other people.”

Finally, Jerry returns to Michael McMann asking “Soo is there anything else you wish to share with the fans?”

“As you all know one of the most important characters in all of these shows is the ship.  We have an all new ship design and class and its called the California class.  We aren’t going to show you the design today but we have a whole new class of ship that operates at the the same time as the larger classes of ships.  This new class of ships will do all the support work.  So we will be exploring that and the ship is named the Surritos. Aaand that is Lower Decks.”

(CBS) The Bridge Crew of The Lower Decks – Lieutenant Shaxs; (Fred Tatasciore), Captain Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), Commander Ransom (Jerry O’Connell), Dr. T’ana; (Gillian Vigman)

Alex Kurtzmann also had some final words to say in Hall H with a final announcement.

“I’ve been listening to a lot of Star Trek podcasts lately and I think its about time that we mad an official Star Trek podcast which we are going to have at the end of this year and this amazing Woman to my left (Tawney Newsome) will be the host of our new Star Trek podcast.”

Tawney replied:

“I’m so thrilled, we will be talking about the general themes of Trek. This wont be a recap show.  We will be talking to people who are loosely connected to the shows as well we will be talking to fans, so I’m pumped.”

Kurtzmann continues:

“I think that the idea is that Trek is this incredible cultural conversation for 53 years and its still going strong.  So we will be bringing in people to talk about their shows and their experiences on these shows.  We will also be talking with people who haven’t been on the dhow’s but have been deeply influenced by them.  We will be talking about the influence in Science and pretty much on everything in the World.   We are in an incredible moment in the World right now where the cultural conversation on Trek that has enabled for so long that it needs to be Loud and Strong and Proud and that is what this Podcast is going to be..”

After these final words by Alex Kurtzman, the audience erupted in applause as Jerry O’Connel thanked the panel.

Jerry O.Connel will also be voicing a character in this new show as Commander Ransom,  I wonder if he has any relation to Captain Rudy Ransom from the Star Trek Voyager two-part episode Equinox.  This new character was described as being similar to Commander William Riker but on speed.

So there we have it, everyone, It looks like we will be receiving a Star Trek show made by Fans for Fans of what I can only describe as the most amazing franchise continuum.