The Star Trek franchise continues to expand on Paramount+ with the upcoming prequel series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which debuts in May. The show’s executive producers and key cast members were on hand this week for a virtual panel discussion as part of the 2022 Winter Television Critics Association (TCA) meeting. In addition to unveiling the poster art, the panel revealed that one of the characters will have an (as yet unspecified) connection to one of the franchise’s most famous wrathful villains.
As we’ve written previously, one of the highlights of Star Trek: Discovery‘s second season was the appearance of classic Original Series (TOS) characters Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), Number One (Rebecca Romijn), and Spock (Ethan Peck). The actors reprise their roles in the new spinoff series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, created by Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman, and Jenny Lumet. It’s a prequel to TOS, as Pike and his crew navigate the USS Enterprise through the galaxy, exploring new worlds along the way.
Paramount+ hasn’t let many details leak about the new series. We didn’t even get an official teaser during Star Trek Day last year, although there was a video introducing all the main cast members. In addition to Mount, Romijn, and Peck, Babs Olusanmokun plays Dr. M’Benga; Celia Rose Gooding has the unenviable task of filling Nichelle Nichols’ shoes as Cadet Nyota Uhura; Jess Bush plays Nurse Christine Chapel; Melissa Navai plays Lieutenant Erica Ortegas; Bruce Orak plays an Aenar named Hemmer; and Christina Chong plays La’An Noonien-Singh. The latter character is apparently related to the classic revenge-obsessed Star Trek villain Khan, according to Goldsman, although he didn’t offer any specifics about what that connection might be.
Goldsman, Kurtzman, Mount, Peck, Romijn, and Gooding participated in the press panel, along with executive producer Henry Alonso Myers. There’s still no teaser, but Kurtzman did unveil the key art for the series: a panoramic view of a Western-style desert landscape with a cowboy figure on horseback gazing toward the USS Enterprise as it dominates the horizon.
“Our show speaks to the final frontier when it was really at its infancy, when it was just the beginning and the maiden voyages of the Enterprise were just starting,” said Kurtzman. “Anybody who knows Capt. Pike knows that he used to ride his horse around Mojave. We liked the idea that we were taking something very terrestrial and bringing that feeling and flavor to something that’s typically associated with science fiction. I think it speaks to the sense of nostalgia that very much, for me, is the show—the sense of hope, the sense of optimism, the sense of exploration and the spirit of adventure.”
According to Goldsman, Strange New Worlds will return to the episodic structure of classic Star Trek, making it a rare beast in this era of serialized storytelling and streaming platforms. “I am a big fan of serialized storytelling,” he said. “The original Star Trek was episodic at a time where one could tell closed-ended stories. [Reviving that structure] allowed us to do a few things that we haven’t been able to do in serialized storytelling. One is to move gently through genre as the original series did, to have episodes that are more tonally specific. Also, episodic or closed-ended stories allow you to have reversals, like the best Twilight Zone episodes, where we reframe the story we’ve just seen and learn to see from a different perspective.”
Both Goldsman and Myers emphasized that Strange New Worlds would respect existing canon. “We take canon very seriously on the show because we love it and we don’t want to break it,” said Myers. “But we also want to have fun with it and explore the little hidden areas that haven’t been touched.”
“I think that we are, by nature, people who like coloring books,” Goldsman added. “We like staying within the lines as much as we can. We’re Star Trek fans, so canon is almost always delightfully challenging, except when it’s really a pain in the ass. But within reason, we still try to hew as closely to it as possible.”