A Unique ‘Star Trek’ Crossover Was Announced at SDCC & Fans Want to Know More

Live-action meets animation

Marni Grossman/Paramount+ Anson Mount as Pike in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" & Mariner and Boimler in "Star Trek: Lower Decks"

Crossovers aren’t new to the “Star Trek” universe. Ever since the pilot episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” when a very old Admiral Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley) strolled down the corridors of the brand-spanking-new USS Enterprise-D with Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) in tow, fans have yearned to see their favorite characters from different TV shows and eras share the screen. Now, possibly the biggest announcement to come out of San Diego Comic-Con’s “Star Trek” Universe panel is that season 2 of Original Series prequel “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” will feature a crossover episode with the animated comedy “Star Trek: Lower Decks.”

In a way, it was inevitable. With five “Trek” series in production and, according to SNW co-creator Alex Kurtzman, two new ones in early development, surely there was the opportunity for some kind of crossover between the shows. Still, it was a surprise when two of the stars of LD, Jack Quaid (Bradward Boimler) and Tawny Newsome (Beckett Mariner), crashed the SNW portion of the panel, with Quaid proclaiming, “We’re coming aboard the Enterprise, baby!” and Newsome adding, “We’re going to show up and stress them out.”

SDCC Star Trek Universe panel

Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesSAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – JULY 23: (L-R) Tawny Newsom and Jack Quaid (standing) crash the “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” panel, featuring Ethan Peck, Celia Rose Gooding, Paul Wesley, and Christina Chong during the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con


The Announcement Raises Questions, Only Some of Which Were Answered

While there had been fan speculation that LD would join forces with another of the Trek series, the announcement still took fans by surprise. Will the episode, they wondered, be produced “Roger Rabbit”- style, with live-action and animated characters mingling together onscreen? If the LD characters appear on the Enterprise, will the SNW characters show up on the Cerritos? According to TrekMovie, some answers were provided during the panel, but only enough to whet fans’ appetites and keep them guessing.

When directly asked by moderator Lea Thompson, who directed two episodes of “Star Trek: Picard” season 2 and appeared as Diane Werner in one, Quaid and Newsome confirmed that they would appear in live action. But Anson Mount, who plays Captain Pike on SNW, hinted, “And you may get an extremely buff two-dimensional version of me.”

So it seems that the live-action/animation transformation may go both ways. But there’s still an intriguing question on everyone’s mind. LD takes place in the 24th century, right after the final TNG film, “Star Trek: Nemesis”; meanwhile, SNW takes place a hundred years earlier, before Captain Kirk commanded the Enterprise in TOS. How will these two generations meet? Time travel? Parallel dimensions? The Holodeck? Some kind of weird telepathic mind link across the years? The SDCC panel remained mum on the subject.


A Unique Idea With Some Precedent

Merging an animated series with a live-action one is unusual, but it isn’t completely unprecedented. The David Boreanaz-led crime procedural “Bones” produced an episode featuring a guest appearance by the cartoon character Stewie from “Family Guy”; an episode of “Supernatural” found the Winchesters sucked (literally) into an episode of the 1970s Saturday morning cartoon “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”; and the cast of wacky sitcom “Community” found themselves becoming animated soldiers in an episode inspired by “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.”

Also, although this is one of the more unusual crossovers “Trek” has ever attempted, there was one that came close. In 1996, to celebrate the “Star Trek” universe’s 30th anniversary, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” characters came face-to-face with the crew of TOS in the episode “Trials and Tribble-ations.” Due to some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, the DS9 cast found themselves in the Kirk era, trying to stop a Klingon disguised as a human from blowing up Space Station K-7, thereby altering history. The episode was a thinly-veiled excuse to drop the modern-day cast into the classic series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” complete with the uniforms and equipment of the era.

In order to accomplish this, portions of TOS-era sets were recreated and there was heavy use of blue and green screens, allowing, for instance, Chief O’Brien (Colm Meaney) and Doctor Bashir (Alexander Siddig) to fit seamlessly into a scene from the original episode where Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is giving his officers a dressing-down. It was a cutting-edge hour of television at the time and still stands up today.

As for this new melding of the generations, Anson Mount has made it clear that the effects won’t be akin to those in the 1988 film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” but it is possible that if Captain Pike gets animated, it will be because he has visited the 24th-century starship Cerritos, just as Boimler and Mariner will appear on the Enterprise in live action. But the “Star Trek” writers have subverted our expectations before, and it’s at least possible that they may do it again here. Only time will tell. “Star Trek: Lower Decks” season 3 is set to premiere on August 25 and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” season 2, in which the crossover episode will appear, is likely to arrive in mid-2023. For fans curious about the plot details surrounding the episode, it will be a long wait.

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