Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Kurtzman revealed today that the four-chapter Star Trek “Short Treks” project will continue after Discovery concludes its second season this Spring — and in the franchise’s first move out of the live-action arena since the 1970s, they will both be animated events. Here’s what Kurtzman said about the “Short Treks” project:
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.
Kurtzman also confirmed for the first time that a second full-animation series is in development at CBS, following the already-announced Lower Decks, but offered no specifics as of yet:
There’s other animated things that we’re building that are an entirely different perspective and an entirely different tone [from ‘Lower Decks’].
What’s exciting about it is not only looking at each animated series as what’s the different tone, but what’s the different technology we can apply to these things so that visually they’re entirely different?
Regarding the Lower Decks series itself, Kurtzman took a moment to address the ‘comedy’ aspect of the announced series, saying the show will embrace Star Trek tropes and not set out to make fun of them:
[‘Lower Decks’] is totally different from anything we’re doing on any of these other shows and we decided to tell that story and make those people the heroes.
It’s embracing and loving of all the tropes of ‘Star Trek’ but it’s never laughing at it.
Finally, in what may be a bit of a controversial comparison to some Star Trek fans, Kurtzman expanded a bit about his vision for expanding the Trek franchise, as additional series and event announcements come over the next months and years:
I go back to my childhood and Luke Skywalker, the [‘Star Wars’] farm boy who looks out at the twin suns of Tatooine and imagines his future. ‘Trek’ never gave me that. ‘Trek’ was always fully formed adults, already in Starfleet and people who have decided who they are. And it never was aspirational that way.
It’s important to me to find a way to go back and reach younger kids in a way that ‘Trek’ should and never really has.
Kurtzman isn’t wrong when talking about the past series; we’ve always joined each Trek crew as ships (and space stations) of relatively-experienced officers and personnel, with the occasional exception of recent Starfleet graduates like Voyager’s Harry Kim, Discovery’s Sylvia Tilly, or Enterprise communications officer Hoshi Sato.
The rumored Starfleet Academy series, which first made news back in early 2018, could serve as Kurtzman’s “aspirational” project, showing younger Federation citizens maturing to Starfleet material over the course of that series, should it move forward.
Star Trek: Discovery returns for Season 2 on January 17; so far no release schedule for Lower Decks has been announced by CBS.