Starfleet wants you!
That, or whatever the Federation’s recruiting slogan would be, is something you’ll hear over the next couple of years, as Paramount+ has given a series order to a new live-action show, “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy,” the streamer announced today just two days after confirming multi-season orders for “Strange New Worlds” and “Lower Decks.”
Paramount+ will not confirm this to be the case, but the “Starfleet Academy” series is likely a spinoff of “Star Trek: Discovery,” which will conclude in early 2024 with its fifth and final season. The speculation then is that it would be set in that show’s 32nd-century timeline. A Season 4 plotline on “Discovery,” in which Mary Wiseman’s Ensign Tilly served as the in-the-field instructor for a group of Academy cadets before leaving the show altogether to continue being their teacher, feels like a backdoor pilot.
Paramount+ is not announcing casting for the series, however. And is generally being cryptic about the show, something reinforced in franchise overlord Alex Kurtzman’s in-universe statement about it — he will be co-showrunning with “Nancy Drew” EP Noga Landau, with Gaia Violo writing the premiere episode.
“Admission is now open to Starfleet Academy! Explore the galaxy! Captain your destiny!” began Kurtzman’s statement. “For the first time in over a century, our campus will be re-opened to admit individuals a minimum of 16 Earth years (or species equivalent) who dream of exceeding their physical, mental and spiritual limits, who value friendship, camaraderie, honor and devotion to a cause greater than themselves. The coursework will be rigorous, the instructors among the brightest lights in their respective fields, and those accepted will live and study side-by-side with the most diverse population of students ever admitted. Today we encourage all who share our dreams, goals and values to join a new generation of visionary cadets as they take their first steps toward creating a bright future for us all. Apply today! Ex Astris, Scientia!”
Much reading of the tea leaves to be done here! The thing about the Starfleet Academy campus, famously located in “Trek” lore in San Francisco, being closed for “over a century” feels like a nod that the series will take place in the timeline of “Discovery,” either after the show wraps or in some way concurrent with Season 5. Again, this is speculation, and Paramount+ will not confirm, but it’s a likely connecting of the dots.
The Academy was closed for over a century following a cataclysm called “The Burn,” which limited warp drive across much of the galaxy and caused the Federation to fall apart until nothing but a small rump state was left — Earth itself seceded and was an independent planetary government. So it was not the home of Starfleet Academy for a long time.
Then in the Season 4 finale, the United Earth president, played by Stacey Abrams, pledged that our planet would rejoin the Federation. And so presumably now the Academy will reopen!
The 32nd-century setting was, until “Discovery” Season 3 and 4, a previously unexplored part of the “Trek” timeline, and is still largely “fresh snow” to explore, as Kurtzman told IndieWire in late 2020. “There are so many extraordinary new opportunities and story options, that it feels like an endless well,” he said. “We’re also now separated from preexisting canon, which means we get to write the future of ‘Star Trek’ on this show, and it’s entirely fresh snow.” Hard to imagine that Kurtzman would abandon that blank slate to write on anytime soon.
Episodes of “Discovery” Season 4 that aired in December 2021 centered on a group of Academy cadets (pictured above), still primarily based at the mobile Starfleet Headquarters space station in deep space, who were mentored by Ensign Tilly and got into a bit of danger. They were a diverse group, including a green-skinned Orion and a Nausican, two alien species who aren’t usually depicted as being in Starfleet — reflecting how even much more inclusive Starfleet can now be at this time.
With Kurtzman and Landau as co-showrunners, Violo will also be an executive producer, alongside Aaron Baiers, Jenny Lumet, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Frank Siracusa, and John Weber.
It should be noted that a “Starfleet Academy” series is something fans have hoped for — for literally decades. Just such a series was rumored in the late ’90s and early 2000s, when Rick Berman oversaw the “Trek” TV franchise. If you were a subscriber to the glossy, perfect-bound “Star Trek: The Magazine” (RIP) you would have been tantalized by just such a prospect. There was an episode set at the Academy featuring Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher on “The Next Generation.” And there was even a PC game called “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy,” set earlier in the time of Kirk and Spock, which featured new footage of William Shatner in character, filmed for the game.
Now the dream of a “Starfleet Academy” series is finally being fulfilled.