Paramount Plus’s 2022 Star Trek Day event wasn’t completely without bright spots. The pre-show began with Sir Patrick Stewart’s moving answer to red (actually purple) carpet hosts Jackie Cox and Mary Chieffo’s question about the death, mere hours before, of Queen Elizabeth II. During her main stage segment, Kate Mulgrew spoke with obvious affection and enthusiasm for her involvement in the franchise. And Star Trek: Picard head makeup artist James MacKinnon’s transformation of @Lyrical_Girafe into a Romulan was a great demonstration.
But overall, Star Trek Day 2022 on Paramount Plus was a dull and detached affair that felt haphazardly slapped together and occasionally embarrassing.
Perhaps the day fell flat because relatively few big announcements came out of it. We did see a fair amount of footage: a teaser trailer for the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard, a trailer for the second half of Star Trek: Prodigy’s first season, a clip from an upcoming episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks, and a scene from an episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ second season. But though all the footage looked great, precious little news accompanied them.
How did an event that was an unbridled, unabashed love letter to Star Trek last year become a sluggish, silly, self-indulgent spectacle this year? Here are three ways Paramount Plus can avoid making future Star Trek Days as shallow and disappointing as this year’s event.
1. Treat the announcements you make as events worthy of attention.
We learned Carol Kane will play the new Enterprise engineer in Strange New Worlds. But why wasn’t this celebrated actor—a veteran of acclaimed and popular films like Annie Hall, The Princess Bride, and Scrooged, among many others—on hand to talk about her entrance into the Star Trek family? If she wasn’t available, even a pre-recorded video appearance would have sufficed. The announcement was made, a photo was shown—and we moved on.
Even worse was the announcement from Nicholas Meyer—the man widely credited, along with Harve Bennett, as the savior of Star Trek—that the series about Khan on Ceti Alpha V he’s long wanted to do is finally going to be made . . . as a podcast. Nothing against scripted audio; I enjoy it. But Meyer seemed embarrassed to be on stage announcing a three-part podcast series that doesn’t even have a release date yet.
If Paramount Plus can’t be bothered to at least pretend the “news” it breaks during Star Trek Day is something to get excited about, fans aren’t going to get excited, either.
2. If you’re going to include a stand-up comedy bit, include jokes.
I almost didn’t mention this gripe, because stand-up comic and Lower Decks voice actor Brian Posehn (he plays several Pakleds) started his set talking about “fans at home that might be getting ready to rip me, because that’s what I would be doing—sitting on the internet, ready to slam the comedian.”
I don’t want to “rip” or “slam” Posehn. I’d never be able to be a stand-up comic. And as he pointed out, he’s on a Star Trek show, and I’m not. I don’t know whatever backstage circumstances led Posehn, as he said he did, to rewrite a lot of his material at the last minute. I liked his shout-out to Gene Roddenberry, and I liked hearing how Posehn has shown his son the first two Star Trek movies. But Posehn’s four minutes on stage simply did not include that many jokes. He talked about being a Star Trek fan, which is cool. But was that the assignment?
Humor is subjective. As Saavik told Admiral Kirk, “It is a difficult concept.” I know Posehn can be funny. What I don’t know is why he wasn’t, or wasn’t allowed to be, on Star Trek Day. Posehn—again, a professional and experienced stand-up comic—seemed uneasy and awkward on stage. What gives?
If Paramount Plus is going to put stand-up comics on the main stage, the comics should be encouraged to tell jokes. They don’t have to be jokes I personally find funny. But there should be many more jokes than Posehn’s set included.
3. Make Wil Wheaton the host of Star Trek Day every year.
Wil Wheaton showed up for an interview plugging “The Ready Room,” so he was clearly available. No one matches his ability to speak about Star Trek with both abundant affection and authority. I was extremely disappointed he did not perform hosting duties this year.
Tawny Newsome was a reasonable hosting choice; she is the star of a Star Trek series, voicing Mariner Beckett on Lower Decks. But Paul F. Tompkins was not a reasonable hosting choice. He’s a prolific comedian and actor, but his Trek connection is as thin as a slip of gold-pressed latinum. He’s voiced three minor characters in four Lower Decks episodes. His presence carried a lot less weight than Newsome’s. And neither Newsome nor Tompkins did a good job staying on script, as they both frequently acknowledged, which cast a chaotic atmosphere over much of the event.
If Wil Wheaton didn’t want to host Star Trek Day this year, that’s one thing. If he wasn’t asked to host, that’s a shame.