Tuesday 12 May 2020

Lower Decks, CBS All Access, and other Trek TV updates

A few Trek-TV updates today. No major news on releases just yet, but of sense of how things are progressing, and the media landscape Trek is working with. Continue below to find out more...

Mike McMahan, the creator of Lower Decks, the forthcoming Star Trek animated comedy, recently spoke to Inverse, about his other new animated sci-fi show, Solar Opposites, and gave a little update on where things are on the Trek front. He also gave a nice summary of what Lower Decks is all about, and it's relationship to wider Trek:
Within Lower Decks, there is a proper in-canon Star Trek show. It takes place during the TNG era. It's on a ship that feels like it’s always existed there and the bridge crew is dealing with big, never before seen Starfleet Star Trek type stories. So every episode has a thing like that happening in it. And then, on top of that, we've got A stories and B stories that are emotionally driven from the point of view of the lower deckers on the ships. So it was an area of storytelling that people had covered every once in a while on Star Trek, but never built a show around.

It was important to me that if you know everything about Star Trek and you watch this show then it fits into Canon and doesn't break Star Trek. In fact, it grows it. And if you know nothing about Star Trek, then all of the canon in Lower Decks feels like mythological, broad understandable sci-fi stuff. So you can still enjoy Lower Decks even if it's your first Star Trek show.
CBS have also been softly promoting the series on social media ahead of it's release, giving a more succinct summary, and maybe a sense of the tone of the show, with this caption joining previously shared images from the series:
They're here to fix replicators and chew bubblegum... and the replicators stopped synthesizing bubblegum.
In his Inverse interview, McMahan did give a little update on how production is going:
I can't give you a specific answer on when that's coming out, but we’re still working on it and we're on track for when we have planned, which is this year. Animation is kind of uniquely suited for this moment. We didn't shut down production. Safely recording the cast was really our biggest challenge because we don't want them leaving their houses. So getting remote setups and stuff was something we had to solve, but it seems like we have.
One other fun bit from the series: Editor Haley Gansert cosplayed in the new uniforms from the series last halloween, giving us a look at the animated made real!

In other TV news ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish recently updated investors in a quarterly conference call (handily transcribed by The Motley Fool). As international distribution hasn't been revealed for Lower Decks yet, one interesting point for those of us outside the US, is that ViacomCBS plan to launch a streaming service internationally within the next year:
...internationally, we will launch a broad pay streaming product in multiple markets over the next 12 months. This service will harness the full power of the ViacomCBS portfolio, creating a meaningful brand presence in streaming video in key markets around the world. 
In the short term, if new shows go to the new service, that no doubt means international trekkies will have to subscribe to three services to keep up with Trek (new stuff on new ViacomCBS service, Picard on Amazon, Discovery on Netflix), but it gives some hope Trek might eventually reform under one roof some time!

Which is exactly what is happening for lucky US viewers, who already have all of Trek TV on CBS All Access, and are now getting Paramount films added to that mix. ViacomCBS are planning to expand and relaunch CBS All Access soon, with more movies, and more content from other ViacomCBS brands:
...we are accelerating our plans for an expanded subscription service, building off our CBS All Access platform with major changes coming this summer as we track toward the rebrand and relaunch of a transformed product. 
On the entertainment side, we start with what All Access has today: CBS network programming, a very deep CBS on-demand library and an expanding slate of originals, add to that content from Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Smithsonian, MTV, BET and Paramount. This starts with over 100 Paramount films launched this week on the platform as well as thousands of additional hours across TV and film arriving in current and coming months.
Sounds like CBS All Access is turning into an increasingly good offer. Hopefully that Nickelodeon content will include the other new animated Trek TV series for younger viewers also currently in production.

LaForge of the future (Voyager: Timeless), ready to come back?
In other production news, LaVar Burton recently just about confirmed he will be reprising his role as Geordi LaForge in Picard. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, when asked about it, he was initially hesitant, before letting slip a confident "Yeah":
I think it is reasonable to assume that those people are still a part of Picard’s life... And, umm... Sure what the hell. Yeah! Absolutely. [Laughs]

You'll see us all, I think you'll see us all. Probably not all at the same time, although, you know, never say never.
He even mentioned some of the discussions he's had about where his character might be by the time of Picard:
I've suggested to the producers that perhaps we find Geordi in a position where he is teaching and passing that knowledge and information on to another generation of people. We'll see. Alex and the folks are in charge and they are doing an amazing job. When they call and whatever they want me to do, I'm pretty sure it is going to be spectacular.
Captain Proton and Buster Kincaid ready for action!
Also eyeing up a comeback of sorts, are Voyager's actors Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris) and Garrett Wang (Harry Kim), who at a recent virtual Creation panel mentioned they've been musing on a Captain Proton revival! TrekMovie quoted McNeill:
I loved the Captain Proton holodeck stories. I thought there should have been a lot more of that, partially because I liked the character I got to play. That could have been an amazing thing to explore the story within the story. And it was such a great echo where we could make fun of ourselves; we could reference old Star Trek plotlines. We could have done so many things in the Captain Proton holodeck story. So yeah, I think there is a great opportunity to go revisit that.
I have talked seriously about that with David Goodman, who worked on Enterprise as a writer but is also on The Orville, where I got to direct a couple of episodes. I talked to Goodman about maybe writing that serial. I don’t know if it would be a CBS All Access thing or something that we could do that would be fun and silly and we can get our cast back together, which would be a blast.
Sounds like something they're considering doing for fun, but would make a great little set of Short Treks episodes! Do it CBS, Captain Proton is ace!

Finally, looking to the big screen, a coincidental connection between Discovery and Picard composer Jeff Russo and the latest person to take on the task of bringing the Star Trek movie franchise back to life, Noah Hawley, seems to suggest they will be collaborating together, as they have on previous projects. Speaking to Flickering Myth about his Star Trek music in general (a really interesting interview, do read), Russo shared this on his involvement in the film:
We have spoken about it, and we’ve talked what he is going to want from a musical perspective, and how to approach it, and what the story is looking like it’s going to be, which is extremely exciting to me. But it was not by design. All of that was purely by coincidence, that I happened to be doing Star Trek, but also happened to be a frequent collaborator of the next Star Trek director.

He’s also a fan, and a good friend of mine, so when I started working on Star Trek, we chatted about it, talked about it, had conversations about the storytelling, and the music, and the themes, and stuff. He’s one to definitely talk about music with me, so when he called to say that his film was in the works, I was extremely excited.
Thanks to TrekCore for their ever useful screencap library providing illustration above.

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