Comic-Con @ Home is back for a second year in its virtual form and what it lacks in crazy crowded spaces and long lines, it makes up in its ability to reach a global audience.
The Star Trek Universe was represented this year by its two animated series. First, there was the new Star Trek: Prodigy, co-produced with Nickelodeon for a younger audience.
The second is the returning series, Star Trek: Lower Decks, a COVID break-out hit last summer.
Jerry O’Connell is a fantastic panel moderator but moderating your own show is a tricky line to walk.
As he repeatedly mentioned during the Star Trek: Lower Decks panel, he’s only the moderator because Wil Wheaton was busy.
As it is, he did an admirable job directing the discussion amongst the panel which consisted of stars Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, and Eugene Cordero, as well as the show’s Executive Producer, showrunner, and creator, Mike McMahan.
An admirable job since it was obvious he really just wanted to kick back and enjoy being with his castmates and Mighty Leader.
Fans will recall, O’Connell voices Commander Jack Ransome on the show. Despite some heavy hinting at McMahan that Ransome is ready for his own captain’s chair, McMahan shot that pipe dream down PDQ.
Missing from the panel was Noël Wells, who plays Tendi, who sent a pre-recorded message to the group.
Season 1 of Star Trek: Lower Decks was a well-received addition to the Star Trek Universe, providing some lightness and humor in a franchise that has been criticized by some as being too dark and convoluted since Star Trek: Discovery brought new adventures into the canon in 2017.
McMahan was first to talk about his reaction to the fandom’s reception to Lower Decks
“It was really fun to see people go from the first episode being like, ‘I’m sorry, what is this?’ to the finale being like, ‘Oh, this is my thing. I love this show.’ That was really exciting for me.”
Newsome chimed in next.
“I was always a casual lurker of the fandom. But because I was looking for feedback on our show, it made me start to scope out what people were saying and their tweets and stuff. And I was like, “I love this fandom. Everyone’s so great and sweet and welcoming and funny.”
Quaid was impressed with how fans embraced the characters.
“People were great about it. There were some people already cosplaying as us and making fan art. The fans were just so amazing right out of the gate and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
While Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 ended with an appropriately spectacular space confrontation, McMahan talks about how it was the exposition in the bar on the space station afterward where he felt the show’s strengths lie.
“I just love the downbeat stuff. That’s where our show really lives.”
O’Connell expands on that eloquently.
“Why the show touches everyone is that it’s the canon downbeat that we play. If there’s one term we can take out of this panel is that we’re the canon downbeat. We don’t hit you over the head with stuff, but we give you what you want.”
While everyone on the panel was proud and happy to be a part of Lower Decks, every one of them has other jobs.
Cordero, in particular, has done what O’Connell terms the “trifecta of fandoms”, having been involved in Star Trek, Star Wars (Mandolorian), and MCU (Loki).
“It’s pretty awesome to be involved in three huge franchises that mean a lot to childhood and adulthood and fandom. I’m just a whole lot of sweethearts. I’m getting luckily cast. Not on my personality but on my quirky looks.”
Meanwhile, Quaid was recently announced as the voice of Superman in the DC Animated Universe, a role that O’Connell himself has played in the past.
“It’s the next logical step after playing Boimler, for sure, is to go right into Superman. He also has purple hair. I found that out when I saw a little sketch of him.”
At the end of Season One, a truce had been called between Mariner and her mother, Captain Freeman. What does Season 2 hold for that relationship? Newsome was cagey in her answer, giving away very few details.
“So, Mom/Captain, that’s a tough one. They do end up working together and, in Season 2, you’re going to see some more of them attempting to work together.
“It’s strange because Mariner defines herself through rebellion. So when that rebellion is taken away, how do you function?
“It’s gonna get sticky, but, yes, they will try to work together and it’s weird and difficult for both of them.
When she’s not Mariner, Newsome co-hosts the Pod Directive and continues to work in live-action television as well.
“It’s been super fun delving more into the universe with folks. My whole life is space. Tomorrow, I’m finishing the second season of Space Force up here in Vancouver.”
So what did the showrunner have to say about Season 2?
“Season 2 is funnier, bigger. The same length as the first season. It’s a blast. Right now, we’re putting the final audio polishes, the final special effects polishes, fixing the animation.
“I think that we crescendoed at the end of Season 1 in a really cool way. And we left a lot of bills to pay with characters, and what was going on in the world.
“There’s a really great mix of serious Trek and silly Trek because, if you’re on a Starfleet ship, you don’t know if you’re going to encounter the Jem’Hadar or a guy who traps you in a game.
“You’ll see some familiar faces. You’ll see a lot of new stuff. The Cerritos goes through some real rigamarole. I’m so excited for August because we’ve been living with this for so long, and I just can’t wait to share it with everybody.
“If you love Star Trek, you’re going to have ten new Star Trek episodes that you don’t see coming no matter how hard you try to extrapolate what we did and I think you’re going to love it.
Newsome added a few hints of her own.
“You may see glimpses of slightly different uniforms. I’m not saying when or where. It’s very cool.”
McMahan reminded everyone that Cerritos is a “Second Contact” ship.
“Remember, the Cerritos isn’t necessarily in charge of the big missions. So every once in a while, because they did encounter the Pakleds first, they do get involved in some stuff.
“But you’ll see the Titan having to deal with more Pakled stuff because the Titan is a little bit more equipped and Riker kicks a little bit more butt.”
O’Connell took the opportunity to unveil the official Season 2 trailer to the great excitement of everyone.
The trailer shows Tamarian security officer, Kayshon (Carl Tart), who replaces Shaxs, joining the crew, something Newsome was bursting to talk about.
McMahan was no less enthused about the addition.
“The challenge of having a Tamarian security officer, where he kind of can speak English, but mostly he’s speaking in memes and metaphor. Truly fun to write.”
A lightbulb went on for Newsome with his words. “The Tamarians’ were the first memes!”
McMahan took it as a given. “Oh, big on memes. It’s like trying to talk to a high schooler now. They all speak like Tamarians.”
Other great cameos spotted in the trailer are Jeffrey Combs as the Evil Computer and Robert Duncan McNeill as Star Trek: Voyager’s Tom Paris.
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 premieres on August 12th on Paramount+.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.
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