The Star Trek universe is now set to expand at CBS All Access. The streaming service has just signed an order for two seasons of a half-hour animated comedy series called Star Trek: Lower Decks”. And lest you think we’re making this up, the news broke in an article published this morning in the pages of Variety. It’s going to be developed by Rick and Morty writer Mike McMahan. It’s going to be all about the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships — the lowest of the low in Starfleet command heirarchy.
“Mike won our hearts with his first sentence: ‘I want to do a show about the people who put the yellow cartridge in the food replicator so a banana can come out the other end,’” Kurtzman said. “His cat’s name is Riker. His son’s name is Sagan. The man is committed. He’s brilliantly funny and knows every inch of every ‘Trek’ episode, and that’s his secret sauce: he writes with the pure, joyful heart of a true fan. As we broaden the world of ‘Trek’ to fans of all ages, we’re so excited to include Mike’s extraordinary voice.”
It apparently has the stamp of approval of the Roddenberry legacy as well, as Rod Roddenberry, Gene’s son, is named as executive producer. The series will be produced by CBS Eye Animation Productions, CBS Television Studios’ new animation arm, along with Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment. Kurtzman and Heather Kadin will executive produce along with Roddenberry Entertainment’s Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth and veteran animation executive Katie Krentz. McMahan will also executive produce in addition to writing. Aaron Baiers, who brought McMahan to the project, will serve as a co-executive producer.
To clarify something about the title “executive producer”, the title has more to do with cash flow and/or property ownership than it does any actual production role. If you own a property, or your company does, and you sell a license for that property, you frequently get an executive producer’s line in the credits. This doesn’t imply that Rod Roddenberry will actually have a direct hand in what’s going on, or even necessarily be told on a regular basis exactly what’s going to happen. Roddenberry had a similar role in Star Trek: Discovery, but apart from being a public face for the series, he had little involvement in actual production of the first season of the show.
CBS All Access has also recently announced a series starring Patrick Stewart focusing on Capt. Jean Luc Picard, placed in the timeline after the events of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“As a life-long Trekkie, it’s a surreal and wonderful dream come true to be a part of this new era of ‘Star Trek,’” said McMahan. “While ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ is a half-hour, animated show at its core, it’s undeniably ‘Trek’ – and I promise not to add an episode at the very end that reveals the whole thing took place in a training program.”
McMahan is also working on another animated series for streaming. Last August, it was announced that McMahan and “Rick and Morty” co-creator Justin Roiland had received the same commitment for the animated comedy “Solar Opposites” at Hulu.
In 2011 McMahan started a Twitter account where he posted episode plots to a fake season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They were such a hit that Simon & Schuster hired him to write a readers’ guide to a fictitious eighth season of TNG titled Star Trek: The Next Generation: Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season.