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‘Star Trek’ Universe Panel Beams Down New Details on the Beloved Franchise

(NYCC 2023) It just isn’t New York Comic Con until the Star Trek panel happens. Something about the two just feels so intertwined as if faith dictated long ago that you can’t have one without the other. Fans young and old packed the Empire Stage in the Javits Center to see what Paramount+ was going to unveil about the franchise that boldly goes where no one has gone before. 

Executive Producer and the person in the captain’s chair for the Star Trek franchise, Alex Kurtzman, Alex Kurtzman started the Star Trek Universe panel at New York Comic Con with confirmation that Star Trek: Prodigy had been saved and is heading to Netflix. Kurtzman then acknowledged it was saved was because of the fans who wrote in and signed the online petition. This act is one Trekkies are very familiar with as season 3 of the Original Series was saved similarly, albeit without the aid of the internet. 

(Alex Kurtzman and Kid Cudi at NYCC 2023 – photo: Steven Prusakowski)

After that bit of good news, Kurtzman wanted to share more good news. That is when Scott Mescudi aka Kid Cudi joined the panel to announce a new collaboration with Star Trek. Cudi’s new single, “Heaven’s Galaxy”, is a love letter to his father, who was a Trekkie. “When this opportunity came it was a full circle moment. To be able to do something and possibly make a song dedicated to my father. To be involved in this universe was just a dream come true.” Cudi revealed. 

The collaboration doesn’t stop there. There is a Fortnight experience gamers can also access. And down on the main floor of Comic Con, fans could preorder a new line of Star Trek apparel designed by Kid Cudi. “I think he is an artist who is both of his time and ahead of his time. But he’s always been talking about the issues Star Trek has represented. Reaching for something brighter, finding the best in yourself, the idea that our better angels will endure. He was able to capture something that felt so definitively Star Trek and yet so specifically Kid Cudi. And that only happens when it comes from the heart and the most organic place. I’m grateful we had the opportunity to do it. It was just a perfect fit.”

Of course, there was more to be told as Star Trek has four ongoing series (Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks, Discovery, and Prodigy) and two in pre-production (Starlet Academy and Section 31). The second half of the panel was dedicated to the hit animated series, Lower Decks. First, the fans were treated to an early screening of the Lower Decks episode, “Caves”. After which, Kurtzman was joined by Lower Decks Showrunner, Mike McMahan

McMahan talked about one of the season’s breakout stars in Moopsey, a cute little creature that drinks bones. “What does drinking bones look like? I remember telling the artist. ‘Make it look like a kid going to town on a Capri Sun.’ And he nailed it.” McMahan recounted.

But what separates Lower Decks from other SciFi shows? “Comedy goes cynical a lot of the time, and that can be very funny. But there is no place for that in Star Trek.  You have to have an optimistic comedy to the character work. But it’s coming from a place of love. It’s the love you can only get in the world Gene Roddenberry created. Trek is something you put on to share with other people that love this. But it’s also something you put on when you are at your lowest and you need something that is comforting. And we’re trying to do this with Lower Decks too.”

After the panel, McMahan would sit-down with us to talk a little more in-depth about Lower Decks. McMahan continued his conversation about protecting legacy characters and not sacrificing their journeys just to make a quick joke. “I never want to step on the other shows. If legacy characters are going to be on screen, there is such a gravitational pull of emotion and attention that we have to be honoring them. But we also have to be building and respecting what they created before. It’s in a comedy environment but it can never punch down. I never want to make fun of these performers, but you want them to be a part of the fun. To bring in a legacy character, it has to be important for the show and for that character.”

(Alex Kurtzman and Mike MacMahan at NYCC 2023 – photo: Steven Prusakowski)

That philosophy doesn’t stop with characters, it also applies to more unexplored areas of Star Trek, that Lower Decks isn’t afraid to explore. “What I always think is, what have other people done? And it’s always way less than you think. Like with the Orions, I have to make this whole cloth and it’s crazy. I like taking the mono-cultures and build it out to less mono. How do the Orions tell us about Tendi? I tried to honor the stuff we’ve seen before about powerful women. We try to honor what’s there before and logically expand it to where it might go, but surprise you.” 

As the interview ended, McMahan confirmed that season five has started pre-production and would be ready to go when the SAG-AFTRA strike ends.

Updates on the other Star Trek series:

Prodigy: Kurtzman started the panel ecstatic and proud that the series was saved by Netflix who will be airing season two which was completed before cancellation. He credited fans for saving the series.

Star Trek: Prodigy is back! And Star Trek: Prodigy is back because you guys brought it back. What you did has not been since since the original series. Star Trek belongs to two entities: Gene Roddenberry and the fans. That’s it. It is because of you, because of your almost 35,000 signatures on that petition, a plane over Netflix, and they heard you.” More info coming soon.

Star Trek: Discovery: The final season of Discovery is finished and will begin airing in early 2024.

Strange New World: Production was just about to start just before the WGA strike happened. Now that the strike is over, writing season 3 will start up soon.

Lower Decks: Season 4 continues to air with several episodes left while season 5 is currently being written.

Star Fleet Academy: The series is currently back in the writer’s room with filming planned to begin next year contingent on the SAG/AFTRA strike concluding. 

Section 31: The series is back on track after the writers’ strike ending, but appears to be very early pre-production.

Be sure to check out more NYCC coverage on Awards Radar as well as our extensive Star Trek coverage across the site and on our geek-centric podcast, The ‘Verse!


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Written by Norm Felker

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