In a new interview, Mike McMahan has clarified when exactly Star Trek: Lower Decks takes place in the larger Trekverse and if the new show will be canon.
Star Trek: Lower Decks will represent a lot of new ground for Star Trek as a franchise when it makes its debut on CBS All Access sometime next year.
It will be the first time Star Trek has used animation to tell stories since Star Trek: The Animated Series way back in 1973. It will also be the first time the franchise has entered the realm of humor, and a more adult skewing humor at that. Additionally, it will be the first expansion into a brand new point in the timeline that doesn’t feature any recognizable characters.
That’s a whole lot of “new” for a single show.
That’s probably why Alex Kurtzman and his team brought in Mike McMahan to spearhead the show and bring it to life. Because if anyone can pull off all of the above, it’s the creator of the already iconic show Rick and Morty.
McMahan was recently interviewed by Comic Book.com where he clarified some of the information that has been revealed about Lower Decks, including the setting and time period when it takes place.
It has been confirmed that the series follows the crew of the USS Cerritos as they engage in what are called “second contact” missions. Basically that means they show up once all the excitement is over and discoverer all the good places to eat. In addition, the show will take place in 2380, one year after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis.
As for why that particular point in the timeline, for McMahan it was part ego, part practical.
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"“For me, it was like what was a little spot where our characters on a less important ship could be having adventures and doing their thing that wouldn’t break anybody else’s favorite show. Everybody else, there’s so many fans. There are people who are huge fans of Deep Space Nine. I love Voyager and Enterprise and everything that came around there, those shows are all amazing. I didn’t want anybody to feel like I was trying to subvert their favorite show by what we were doing. Also, because it was my favorite era, I was like, ‘I’m going to slip in at the very end and get to do just one more little piece of that era. Just one more little growing of the world, just in this different format.’”"
As for if that means we’ll be hearing some familiar voices on the show, McMahan doesn’t know if that’s possible but would love for it to happen.
"“I cannot answer that at all. I’m a huge fan of everybody from that era. I’m dying to work with everybody. The voice actors that we have right now are just such a joy. Getting to build new Star Trek is really my dream. As we’re building it out, and as we’re finding the voices of our characters, the thing that is getting me more and more excited is creating this new Starfleet family that are going to feel like classic characters to people, those that have seen Star Trek, and who haven’t.”"
As for the dreaded question of whether Lower Decks will be canon or not, McMahan in effect says if it isn’t going to be canon, why bother?
"“It’s important to me that canon and Star Trek really go hand-in-hand,” McMahan explains. “It’s important, to me. It’s not worth making a Star Trek show unless you are at least trying to make sure that it fits into the canon because the canon is part of why I and everybody else loves Star Trek. It feels like, that is what is kind of the original shared world of all these different shows. Now you’re seeing it in the Marvel movies and the DC movies and all of that, but in the very beginning you had [Star Trek: The Original Series] and then it became TNG and all the other series reference each other, and the movies reference each other.”"
Of all the shows coming in this new Golden Age of Star Trek, Lower Decks has the potential to be a real breakout hit. Combining Rick and Morty with Star Trek seems like such a natural thing to do and could give fans a show the likes of which no one has seen before.
Star Trek: Lower Decks is scheduled to arrive sometime later in 2020 on CBS All Access.