Producer Alex Kurtzman announces that another Star Trek animated series is coming to CBS All Access, as are more installments of Short Treks. The original Star Trek: The Animated Series ran from 1973 - 1974, with the majority of the original Enterprise crew, including William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy voice-acting. Plans to develop the new animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks were first announced last October, with Star Trek: Discovery executive producer Alex Kurtzman and Rick and Morty alumni Mike McMahan leading the project. Kurtzman also spearheaded Star Trek: Short Treks, a short-film series revolving around the Discovery characters.
Star Trek: Lower Decks is set to be a half-hour comedy about the stories of the maintenance workers and lower ranking members of the Starfleet staff. Kurtzman said that he was won over by McMahan's pitch to create a show about "the people who put the yellow cartridge in the food replicator so a banana can come out the other end." The producer has had his hands full with the second season of Discovery, which has fans excited to see more gaps between the prequel series and James T. Kirk's arrival aboard the Enterprise filled. For CBS All Access, greenlighting more additions, on top of this year's Picard-focused series and talks for a Discovery spin-off starring Michelle Yeoh, will make their Star Trek programming even bigger than anticipated.
As Kurtzman revealed to THR, CBS All Access is moving ahead with another currently untitled animated series to pair with Lower Decks, as well as two more Short Treks entries, which will also be animated. Future, more kid-friendly animated series are also a possibility, and may land somewhere other than CBS All Access.
The upcoming animated adventures are due to premiere sometime in the spring, once Discovery finishes airing its second season. Kurtzman also elaborated on his vision to bring broader and more intricate storytelling to the franchise as a whole:
"Our goal is to not only expand the definition of Star Trek and what has qualified as traditional Star Trek, but also to tell stories that are both self-contained in a very short period of time that also connect to the larger picture of what we're doing, not only in Discovery but in the world building of Trek in general. And you get to tell these very intimate, emotional stories that are side stories to characters. So you get the benefit of the experience in and of itself but then when you watch Discovery you'll see that these were all setting up things in the world of season two."
The fresh perspectives in the new shows ahead undoubtedly have huge potential. New installments of Short Treks empower the writers to potentially expand and connect characters throughout the Star Trek universe in countless ways that could surprise even the most devout of Trekkies. Kurtzman's decision to focus on animation also comes at a point in history when the format is less constrained in choosing between children and adult audiences. Series like Rick and Morty, Steven Universe, Adventure Time, and BoJack Horseman prove that modern animated shows can be complex, profound, and heartwrenching, without relying on raunchiness or sacrificing the plot. It's hopeful that similar to what Star Wars: The Clone Wars achieved, these new additions to the Star Trek canon will be a breath of fresh air.