Cant' wait for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3? What about Picard Season 2? Well, before those happen, there's a very good chance that CBS All Access's next trip into the Final Frontier will be the new animated series, Star Trek: Lower Decks.
But what is Lower Decks? Is it a comedy? Is it Rick and Morty meets Star Trek? Is it a prequel to Picard? A sequel to The Next Generation? Most importantly, when does it come out?
Here's everything we know about Star Trek: Lower Decks. (No spoilers!)
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What is Star Trek: Lower Decks?
Lower Decks is an upcoming animated series set in the Star Trek universe. The tone of the series is light and comedic. It will follow the adventures of junior Starfleet officers on the starship USS Cerritos. Though billed as a comedy, showrunner Mike McMahan insists it will nonetheless tackle real science fiction stories. McMahan elaborated on this point in a recent interview with Inverse:
"We have all the problems that a regular Star Trek show would have, which is don't do any episodes that they've already done across the series in the movies. And on top of that, you don't want to do a separate episode that happens to accidentally be similar to a Stargate Atlantis episode or to a Farscape episode. So we've got all of that, trying to make sure that what we're doing is new and interesting and fits in the canon. But then also, you know, the comedic emotional stories. There's [no character] who's dumb on Lower Decks, and there's nobody who's mean."
Because of McMahan's involvement with Rick and Morty, there's certainly reason to believe that some of that tone will carry over into Lower Decks.
Why is it called Lower Decks?
The title of the show is taken from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Lower Decks." (TNG Season 7, Episode 15.) It focused specifically on the lives of four junior officers on board the USS Enterprise, and how they perceived the "main" characters of the series differently. The episode was not one of the "funny ones," but it did have a few light moments. Star Trek: Lower Decks is inspired by the basic premise, but instead of one episode about the junior officers of a starship, this will be an entire series told from that point-of-view.
How does it fit into the Star Trek timeline?
Star Trek: Lower Decks takes place in the year 2380. This is one year after Star Trek: Nemesis, and roughly five years before the "flashbacks" in Star Trek: Picard. Basically, the Synth Attack on Mars ins in the future of Lower Decks. As showrunner Mike McMahan has made clear: this is a version of the Federation in which Voyager has returned from the Delta Quadrant. This makes Lower Decks a sequel to The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and the film Star Trek: Nemesis. It also makes it a prequel to Picard.
Who is in the cast?
Like the TNG episode it is based on, most of the main characters on Lower Decks areStarfleet officers who are not part of the main bridge crew of the USS Cerritos. The focus will be on the ensigns and junior officers.
- Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford
- Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner
- Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi
- Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler
- Dawnn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman
- Jerry O'Connell as Commander Jack Ransom
- Fred Tatasciore as Lieutenant Shaxs
- Gillian Vigman as Dr. T'Ana
Fans of Comedy Bang Bang will recognize the name Tawny Newsome. She also is a co-host on the comedy podcast Yo, Is This Racist? Meanwhile, long-time science fiction fans will almost certainly recognize the name Jerry O'Connell. He was on the alternate universe series Sliders, and before that the star of the '90s sci-fi show a lot of us watched after school: My Secret Identity. Noël Wells is probably most famous for Master of None, Jack Quaid was in The Hunger Games, and Eugene Cordero has been on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Good Place.
Dawnn Lewis is the newest Captain to the Star Trek mythos, playing Captain Carol Freeman. She's best known for A Different World and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper. Fred Tatasciore is playing Lt. Shaxs, the first time a Bajoran character has been part of the regular Trek cast since Deep Space Nine. Finally, Gillian Vigman is known for her work on New Girl, and Mad TV. Her character, Dr. T'Ana is some kind of cat person, meaning she's probably a member of the Catian species from Star Trek: The Animated Series, and a few other cameo appearances in the Star Trek movies.
Who is writing and producing Lower Decks?
Mike McMahan is the executive producer and showrunner for Lower Decks. This is not his first time writing for Star Trek. Not only was he the creator of the tongue-in-cheek TNG Season 8 Twitter account, but he also wrote the in-canon Short Treks episode, "The Escape Artist," directed by, and starring Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd. The rest of the writing stuff includes:
- Aaron Baiers – co-executive producer
- Garrick Bernard – staff writer
- April Caputi – casting assistant
- John Cochran – staff writer
- Dave Ihlenfeld – staff writer
- Ben Joseph – staff writer
- Heather Kadin – executive producer
- Ann Kim – staff writer
- Katie Krentz – executive producer
- Chris Kula – co-executive producer
- Alex Kurtzman – executive producer
Notably, Lower Decks has also hired longtime Star Trek novelist, David Mack, as a "consultant." Mack wrote the first Discovery novel back in 2017, which was published before the series debuted, and included the first crossover between Captain Pike's Enterprise and the world of Discovery.
Lower Decks will be animated by CBS Eye Animation Productions.
How many episodes will be in Lower Decks Season 1?
Right now, we don't know how many episodes will be in Season 1, but apparently, Season 2 has already been greenlit, too. The episodes are expected to be about 30 minutes long.
Is Lower Decks for kids?
Is Rick and Morty for kids? Is Star Trek: Discovery for kids? We could do this all day long. Let's put it this way, the series hasn't been marketed as a kids' show.
Lower Decks is 100 percent separate from another animated Star Trek project in development for Nickelodeon. That still-untitled show — which is aimed at children — is being developed by Dan and Kevin Hageman, famous for their work on the first Lego Movie. It's unclear which era of Trek that series will take place in, but the premise is totally different than Lower Decks. Instead of being about junior officers, that series has been described by CBS this way: "Lawless teens...discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning, and salvation."
Where can I watch it?
Lower Decks, like Picard, Discovery, and Short Treks, will air on CBS All Access in the US.
When will Lower Decks Season 1 come out?
We don't know. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the idea was that the series would debut sometime in 2020. That still seems like the case, and according to McMahan work on the series has continued remotely during the lockdown. McMahan told Inverse:
"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."
The big takeaway: Star Trek: Lower Decks did not stop production during the pandemic. Meaning, its release date might not be affected at all. We just don't know when that is, yet.
Is Lower Decks canon?
McMahan has made it clear that Lower Decks will be canon. While the canonicity of 1973's Star Trek: The Animated Series has been debated for quite some time, these days, most (if not all) of it is considered canon. For example, in the episode "The Counter-Clock Incident, "The Animated Series first established Captain Robert April as the Captain of the Enterprise (1701) before Captain Pike. But, it wasn't until Star Trek: Discovery that Robert April's name came up again. In Discovery Season 1, Saru read Robert April's name off a screen of famous Starfleet Captains, and in Season 2, a Captain Pike's Starfleet record clearly shows he was April's 1st Officer on the Enterprise.
Further, Star Trek: Picard made a huge reference to another cat-like alien species, "the Kzinti," who actually originated in The Animated Series episode, "The Slaver Weapon." In Picard, episode 7, "Nepenthe," Riker mentions the "Kzinti," by name. So yes, the 1973 Animated Series is canon, and so is Lower Decks.
Finally, the newest animated Star Trek also seems to be quasi-canon, too. In 2019, the anthology series, Short Treks, debuted two animated episodes; "The Girl Who Made the Stars," and "Ephraim and Dot." The former detailed a childhood story told to Michael Burnham by her father, and the latter explored the history of the classic Enterprise through the eyes of a space-dwelling tardigrade and a security bot.
All NINE Star Trek series, including The Animated Series and Short Treks, are streaming now on CBS All Access.