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'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' will warp us all into Captain Pike's backstory

Captain Christopher Pike was without a doubt the highlight of "Star Trek: Discovery" Season 2. "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" will finally tell his story.
Captain Christopher Pike was without a doubt the highlight of "Star Trek: Discovery" Season 2. "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" will finally tell his story.
(Image: © CBS All Access)

Patient "Star Trek" fans have waited 55 years for Captain Christopher Pike to have his own series — and that series will finally launch in just a few months.

Pike was portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter in the original "Star Trek" pilot, "The Cage," shown to NBC in 1965. But NBC executives rejected the pilot and both the captain and Hunter left the show. 

"Star Trek: The Original Series" (TOS) went on to kick off in 1966 with a new captain at the helm, Captain James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner). Pike only had cameo appearances in TOS and throughout the franchise. But finally, Pike's untold story will finally see the light in the new series "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," which will premiere soon (at a time to be announced). The new series will star Anson Mount, who portrayed Pike in season two of "Star Trek: Discovery" last year.

On "Star Trek Day," which ran online Sept. 8 from CBS All Access, cast and creators of the new show talked about what to expect.

"My favorite thing I've read about this show has been that if you think of 'The Cage,' the original pilot, as being the actual pilot, that this is the longest pilot series," joked co-executive producer Henry Alonso Myers during the panel.

Co-executive producer Akiva Goldsman added that while she couldn't take credit for pioneering the expression that this is the longest pilot series, she still loves it. "I'll say it anyway," she said in the same panel. 

Series participants in the panel shared that they are excited to bring a fresh take to the classic plotlines of "Star Trek." Long-time fans will recognize the character Spock, this time played by Ethan Peck. A new addition to the starring cast will be the ship's Number One (second in command), played by Rebecca Romijn.

Related: 7 Lessons 'Star Trek' Taught Us About Life, Leadership and Diversity

Goldsman said the aim of the new series is to tell "Star Trek" stories in what she termed a "classic mode," that would be a mostly episodic approach of traveling to "strange new worlds", as the series introduction used to say, and having adventures on different planets. (Most later “Star Trek” series have used different show formats.)

But, unlike the approach of TOS that showed little character development between episodes, "Strange New Worlds" will show changes from episode to episode. To be fair to TOS, however, most shows of the 1960s were focused on only weekly plots, as this was well before cable and streaming allowed fans to better follow their favorite characters and see how they change over the years.

"We have room to meet new aliens, see new ships, visit cultures while maintaining [that] audiences are sophisticated," Goldsman said of the new show. "So if Kirk falls in love and the lover dies one week, the next week, he's going to still feel it. That's the thing that we really want to kind of carry over. Bring a modern character sensibility to the kind of classic episodic storytelling."

Those involved in the new show had to stay quiet about its development for close to a year while "Star Trek" showrunner Alex Kurtzman confirmed CBS' interest in another new "Star Trek" series — "Strange New Worlds." There have been a flood of new "Star Trek" shows in recent years for fans to enjoy, including "Discovery," which premiered in 2017 with the third season airing in October and "Picard," which premiered in 2020 with a second season in production. 

Fans of TOS often talk about the dynamics and personality differences between the three main characters: the bold Kirk, the rational Spock and the always-worrying Leonard McCoy (played by DeForest Kelley). This new series will show some similar spirit, writer Akela Cooper said during the panel.

"The fun thing in the room has been coming up with cool and unique situations and scenarios to put them [the characters] in. That will bring out certain aspects of their personalities that we can play with, and see how they would bounce off of each other, complement each other but also contrast against each other — and just see how those puzzle pieces fit. That's been the most fun for us," Cooper said. 

In the series, Peck will be portraying a younger, less mature Spock, who's just left training at Starfleet Academy. His portrayal will follow the iconic performances of the character by Leonard Nimoy in TOS and Hollywood's Zachary Quinto. Because of Spock's popularity, Peck said he was in shock when "Strange New Worlds" was confirmed to him a few months ago. 

"I got a phone call … from Alex, very nonchalant," he recalled. "I got a bunch of questions like, what are you doing? What you've been up to? [Alex added], 'Your show's going.' And I was like, 'Are you serious?' Asking the most serious man in the world, right?" Peck said during the panel with a laugh. 

"He was like, 'Uh huh,'" Peck added. "I went for a walk in shock, and went to the grocery store and stared at cold beverages for like, 20 minutes."

Number One has been in the canon since "The Cage," said Romijn, but since the character has never been written into a script there is fresh ground for the series to tread upon, she added. 

"She's never been written, so I can't wait to find out [about her]," she said. "How vast her skill set is, you know, what are the arrows in our quiver. My number one question is, what's her backstory? I had a delightful meeting with the writers' room a couple months ago, and they floated an idea for Number One's backstory that I'm not going to share right now, because it blew my mind," Romijn said.

As the team prepares to show their stories to the world, they've been taking inspiration from all the "Star Trek" series, especially watching and rewatching TOS, several writers and actors said during the panel. They added that "Strange New Worlds" will stay true to the long devotion to diversity that "Star Trek" engendered, starting with TOS premiering a Black actor (Nichelle Nichols), Japanese-American actor (George Takei) and the Russian character (Walter Koenig) on American television in the more conservative era of the 1960s.

"It's inspired me, certainly, and it makes me want to be a better person," Peck said of the legacy of "Star Trek." "I think it's all about graduating ourselves to sort of greater unity and acceptance and curiosity."

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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  • Ed Stauffer
    This I am definitely looking forward to watching. I have been into sci-fi since elementary school and TOS was an excellent example of how working together for the common good could succeed. It was as much the interpersonal understanding as it was the science that made it ahead of its time.
    Reply
  • FrostyWinnipeg
    "Co-executive producer Akiva Goldsman added that while she couldn't take credit for pioneering the expression that this is the longest pilot series, she still loves it. "I'll say it anyway," she said in the same panel. "

    Akiva's a guy 🤦‍♂️
    Reply
  • GeoXXX
    FrostyWinnipeg said:
    "Co-executive producer Akiva Goldsman added that while she couldn't take credit for pioneering the expression that this is the longest pilot series, she still loves it. "I'll say it anyway," she said in the same panel. "

    Akiva's a guy 🤦‍♂️
    Which is good because he would be one butt-ugly woman!
    Reply
  • SpaceShuttleer
    That moment you realize that the Federation is communist.
    "Money doesn't exist in the Federation. We work for the mutual benefit of mankind"
    Reply
  • Mergatroid
    SpaceShuttleer said:
    That moment you realize that the Federation is communist.
    "Money doesn't exist in the Federation. We work for the mutual benefit of mankind"

    They use credits. The only thing socialist about them is everyone gets a place to stay, and food on the table. Other than that, if you want to get anywhere you work, that gives you credits which you spend on the nicer things in life. Considering this is similar to how credit cards work, and the you earn more for working more, and you can buys stuff and make new stuff, I fail to see how this has anything to do with communism.

    As for the new show, if it spits in the face of fans like Discovery did, and breaks canon in every scene, and has super poor writing like Discovery, then it will likely get lousy ratings just like Discovery does.
    Reply
  • JimFolks
    I'm just hoping they write good stories with good characters. Discovery has to many pushed agendas. Be diverse but be realistic as well. Please get rid of the constant pausing for effect moments and all the crying in space. I dont think the crew of the Discovery could defend against 10 Klingon toddlers let alone save the galaxy.
    Reply