Paramount+ is boldly doubling down on its ever-expanding “Star Trek” universe: The streamer has given a two-season renewal each to beloved series “Strange New Worlds,” which debuted in the summer of 2022 to the greatest acclaim for a first season of “Trek” ever, and quirky animated comedy series “Lower Decks.”
The news comes just a few weeks after word that flagship series “Star Trek: Discovery,” which kicked off the whole streaming “Star Trek” universe on CBS All Access in 2017 before the streamer became Paramount+, will be ending with its fifth season. Between that news and the fact that Season 3 of “Star Trek: Picard” will be its last, it’s as if, to borrow from another franchise, Phase 1 of what fans lovingly call nu-Trek is coming to an end.
“Strange New Worlds” and “Lower Decks” are unique in that they’ll host a crossover event in the time to come. How do you crossover a live-action show with an animated series? Especially series that are set in different centuries?
“Strange New Worlds” is a spinoff of “Discovery” and set aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise in the immediate years before James T. Kirk took the chair, which Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) was in charge of, with Ethan Peck as Spock and Rebecca Romijn as Number One. “Lower Decks” takes place in the years after “Star Trek: Nemesis” and even has filled in some of the gap between that movie and “Star Trek: Picard.” Apparently, that crossover episode will mix live-action and animation — it’s been helmed by franchise MVP director Jonathan Frakes. If anyone can do it, he can.
Generally, “Trek” franchise overlord Alex Kurtzman, kind of the Kevin Feige of the franchise, has suggested that crossovers will be limited and the many series currently airing and yet to be announced will not “build to anything” in the way that the “Star Wars” series on Disney+ apparently will.
That allows “Trek” to be nimble and focus on character-driven standalone storytelling rooted in ideas, ethics, and exploration, the very essence of forward-looking creator Gene Roddenberry — fans adored the episodic nature of “Strange New Worlds.” Though set in a different era, it recalled the ’90s “Star Trek” ethos more than any of the other new series to date. It has a capacity for awesomeness that can be summed up by one of the few but incredibly cool things we know about Season 2: Carol Kane has joined the cast.
“Strange New Worlds” Season 2 debuts June 15 on Paramount+, with “Lower Decks” Season 4 to follow later in the summer. Kid-oriented series “Star Trek: Prodigy will be back for Season 2 in the winter. And “Discovery” Season 5 will debut in early 2024.