New ‘Star Trek’ Documentary Show on ‘The History Channel’ Aims to Share Secrets

The Center Seat

The Nacelle Company The Center Seat

You might consider yourself a die-hard Trekkie (or Trekker) who knows all the ins and outs of “The Original Series.” Perhaps you’ve got the complete set of DVDs and know each episode by heart and can cite each line of Khan’s speech to Kirk in “Space Seed.” You might have a bookshelf full of novels, picture books, and comics based on the first “Star Trek.” Logically, with all of this information at hand, you may feel that you know all there is to know about the first Trek series.

But as Mr. Spock famously said: “Logic is the beginning of wisdom … not the end.”

For those original Trek fans who know so much, and for the legions of younger Trek fans who want to learn, there’s a new series airing on The History Channel, which will be something to enjoy. 

‘The Center Seat’

The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek” is a series produced by The Nacelle Company, whose president is Brian Volk-Weiss. Mr. Volk-Weiss was behind the popular Netflix shows “The Movies That Made Us” and “The Toys That Made Us.” This new program will be dedicated to telling the story of “Star Trek” down to the smallest detail and making it an enjoyable experience. 

Narrated by Gates McFadden, who fans know as Dr. Crusher from “The Next Generation,” the show will feature interviews from Trek icons such as Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Kate Mulgrew, Denise Crosby, Nana Visitor, Robert Beltran, and more. 

During the first episode, “The Center Seat” gives a very straightforward and understandable narrative of precisely what Lucille Ball’s involvement was with “The Original Series.” Her role is known by many Trek fans, but the documentary spells out exactly why she was so instrumental.

The InvestiGates Podcast

“The whole Lucille Ball thing as it relates to ‘Star Trek,’ has always been since I was about 13 or 14,” said Volk-Weiss in a recent interview with Heavy. 

“It’s always been a thing that’s annoyed me in that she got no credit,” said Volk-Weiss. “I never completely understood why… I would read these books, or I would see these documentaries, and they might mention Lucy. Very often, they did. But even when they would mention her, they would really gloss over what she did. 

“These documentaries would spend 70-80% talking about [Gene] Roddenberry, and there would be — at most — a comment, like ‘Oh yeah, Desilu produced it,’” said Volk-Weiss. The example of “The Center Seat” highlighting Ball’s role in Trek is just one of the many unexpected storylines fans can expect to see each episode.

“I think that Lucille Ball has got to get some props,” said Volk-Weiss.

Volk-Weiss originally pitched “The Center Seat” to Paramount+, but the streaming network passed. Instead, the show will air on The History Channel, a network that has been home to many “Star Trek” stars, including William Shatner’s “The UnXplained.”

William Shatner’s History Channel show

Volk-Weiss named his company after the parts of a starship which propelled it forward (the nacelles) and is a life-long Trek fan. His company is also responsible for the “InvestiGates: Who Do You Think You Are?” podcast hosted by McFadden. She is also part of the team of producers, including Cisco Henson, Ben Frost, and Mark A. Altman, of “Inglorious Treksperts” fame. Ian Roumain serves as showrunner and executive producer,

The first four episodes will air on The History Channel each week on Fridays. Six additional episodes will also be available on The History Channel’s subscription video service.

As it is now, there are ten episodes in all of “The Center Seat,” but as the show states, the original five-year mission has become a 55-year mission. This could mean that Volk-Weiss’ show could go on for some time, especially if it includes the Kelvin films, “Discovery,” “Picard,” and all of the new content available on the Paramount+ network.

“If I had to guess, I think it could be as many as 22 or 24 episodes if it does well,” said Volk-Weiss. 

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