Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Co-Showrunner Says ‘Don't Feel Like We're Destroying Your Childhood’

Henry Alonso Myers teases Kirk, comedy, space battles and more.

Warning: Some pretty vague spoilers follow for Episodes 1-5 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.


Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is here, and it’s telling the continuing mission of the starship Enterprise, only this time that storied vessel is under the command of Captain Christopher Pike in a time period before James T. Kirk even was a captain. (But don’t worry, we’ll get to that guy later in this article.)

Co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers recently spoke with IGN about the approach to the show that he and his fellow writers and producers are taking, a distinctly standalone-story style that tells new adventures each week (even while evolving the characters over the course of the season). Read on for more on that, plus the upcoming comedy episode, a “heavy” space battle episode, and how Paul Wesley’s Kirk could fit into things.

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What if Gene Roddenberry Were Making Star Trek Today?

One of the most appealing aspects of Strange New Worlds is the way the show is leaning into its ensemble cast. In the debut episode alone, in addition to series leads Anson Mount (Captain Pike) and Ethan Peck (Spock) getting plenty to chew on, characters like Jess Bush's Nurse Chapel, Christina Chong's La'an Noonien-Singh, and Celia Rose Gooding's Cadet Uhura all have moments to shine. And that continues for all the cast throughout the first five episodes of the show (press have previewed Episodes 1-5 at the time of writing), with just about every character getting a storyline of their own at some point.

Of course, that was never quite the case in the past for Original Series characters like Uhura, who was typically relegated to the oft-quoted “hailing frequencies open” type dialogue and not much more. For Alonso Myers, he understands that it’s “just sort of the way that they did” TV back then, but he also credits Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry for being revolutionary in how he depicted diversity in the 1960s.

“How we looked at our show was, ‘Well, what if Gene Roddenberry were making it today?’” Alonso Myers tells IGN. “Those values are still the same. We want to be true to those values. But I think those values probably look different in 2022 than they did in the 1960s.”

He also points out that audiences are more sophisticated about character development than they were decades ago.

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“We love all the big ideas that came out of those shows, but we're trying to also meld it with a contemporary understanding of character,” says the showrunner. “I think it would be an egregious mistake not to go into the mind of Uhura [or] Chapel.”

Take Uhura, who was in all three seasons of the original show, The Animated Series, and the first six movies. And yet, we don't know all that much about her life based on those stories. Alonso Myers saw Strange New Worlds as “a unique opportunity” to explore that.

“I think contemporary audiences would ask that question,” he says. “Like, what's your family like? How did she join the Enterprise? Why put a young Uhura on the Enterprise if you're not going to explore these ideas?”

Alonso Myers references one of the greatest Star Trek episodes ever as an example of how TV storytelling has changed over the years: “The City on the Edge of Forever.”

“Kirk loses the love of his life and then the next episode, he's fine,” he laughs. “I don't think modern audiences would accept that in the same way we did back then. So we're sort of like, ‘Alright, we're going to do episodic stories, but the character arcs are continuous.’ Like, [if he] loses the love of his life one episode, he's going to be having a little bit of a hard time in the next episode. And sometimes what ends up happening is that informs how we tell those episodic stories and that's the fun of doing this kind of show. We don't want it to be so serialized that a person can't just come in and enjoy any given episode. I love how you could watch Next Gen, really any episode. You'll be like, ‘Does Riker have a beard or not have a beard?’ And you kind of know where you're at. We want the show to work like that.”

Why put a young Uhura on the Enterprise if you're not going to explore these ideas?

Indeed, in terms of servicing the entire Strange New Worlds ensemble, the showrunner says that they “straight-up” borrowed from The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine when giving characters their own episodes.

“I think it made the series stronger,” he says. “Episodes like [TNG’s] ‘Data's Day’ or ‘Face of the Enemy,’ it's what makes a show feel more unique. I've worked on a bunch of genre shows. There are only so many genre stories that you run into. You tell them over and over again. I've worked on so many body-switching episodes... But the thing that makes it unique and interesting is not the attempt to not do those stories … but it's the attempt to do those stories through these new characters.”

Speaking of which…

Trek Can Be Funny

Yes, we do get a body-swap episode in the first half of this season. But not just that. We get a comedic body-swap episode! Called "Spock Amok," the hour harkens back to the days of The Original Series (and some of the sequel shows) when it was OK to go for a full comedy episode of Star Trek.

“The experience of doing the specifics of a body swap with Spock and T'Pring makes it unique,” he says. “We haven't seen that before. And in particular, the experience of doing it with Ethan Peck's Spock, and Gia Sandhu's T'Pring are what makes it unique and interesting.”

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Alonso Myers confirms that the intention was definitely for “Spock Amok” to be “a romantic comedy kind of episode.” The interesting thing about the segment is that as fun as it is, the various subplots going on in the episode all tie into each other thematically.

“It's very much an episode about learning to understand the other person's point of view,” he says. “Spock experiences it in a very specific way. Pike experiences it in a very specific way. And Una and La'an experience it in a very specific way. All of which are very different.”

The showrunner says that “the hill I decided to die on was to say, ‘Trek can be funny.” He cites a variety of beloved Star Trek comedy episodes, from “The Trouble With Tribbles” to its sequel, “Trials and Tribble-ations,” to DS9’s “Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places” and “Little Green Men.”

“It's not a crazy stretch to say that Trek can be funny,” says AlonsoMyers. “It is canonically funny many times. It can handle that tone. We have an incredibly talented cast who are also very funny. So it was really important to me that we do an episode that tried for funny. But it's an hour long and there's always a moment where funny doesn't sustain it, and you need it to be about something. So I would call it like a dram-edy. We have that tone in it. And I think it feels like Star Trek to me. I loved writing that, and I will tell you, there is no funnier human being than Anson Mount. He's got really good comic timing.”

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The episode was also designed to be something of a reprieve from the previous one, "Memento Mori," which is an intense space-battle affair.

“Look, [‘Spock Amok’] was coming after [Episode] 4, which is hard-charging, heavy, straight,” he says. “Four is a sub[marine] movie, 4 is one of my favorites, one of the episodes that I was like, ‘We've got to do this kind of episode,’ when I came into the show. It's kind of like [TOS’] ‘Balance of Terror’ meets [TNG’s] ‘Disaster,’ really. But those are just fantastic, and it shows the whole crew working together.”

Blowing Up Something… With a Purpose

One would think that one of the trickier parts of making Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is figuring out how to weave these stories into the existing franchise canon, since the adventures of Captain Pike and his crew take place less than a decade before The Original Series. But Alonso Myers doesn’t quite see things that way.

“We're doing a show that's set right now,” he says. “And so we have to make it about something, and that means not being afraid to... It's when you get afraid that you might break the pieces that you stop doing interesting stories.”

It's when you get afraid that you might break the pieces that you stop doing interesting stories.

That includes being willing to include classic characters like Uhura or Chapel, or just figuring out what makes Captain Pike different from other captains of the Enterprise (past and present).

“We had endless discussions about how he's different from Kirk,” he says. “When we were talking with [production designer] Jonathan Lee about the designs for Pike's quarters, we were like, ‘How can we make Pike's quarters be emblematic of his style of leadership? And how is he a different leader from all of these other people?’ We sort of had this notion that, like, ‘Okay, maybe he's a guy who holds dinner parties.’ He's a guy who cooks. Why is he a guy who cooks? But it's the kind of dinner party where you come in, and he hands you a glass of wine and says, ‘Here, cut this. I need help with this.’ And he involves everyone in it.”

This gets to the idea of what kind of leader Pike is -- “gentle, respectful, but has high expectations [and] tries to set you up to do your best,” says Alonso Myers.

“When it comes to the other characters who are legacy characters, we really didn't want to tell the stories of the future,” he continues. “And one of the things that we always are aware of… and we get notes that say, ‘Well, in the future Spock does this, so should he be doing this now?’ And we're like, ‘Yes, because he's doing this now, and we want to leave room for him in the future.’ Like, maybe we're going to blow some stuff up.”

All that said, the writing team clearly are aware of the endpoint for this incarnation of the Enterprise -- James T. Kirk will take command of the ship eventually, Pike will leave (presumably to have his accident), and Bones, Scotty, and the rest will take their positions onboard as well.

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Citing Spock as an example, Alonso Myers says, “We're not trying to say he becomes a different Spock than the Spock everyone comes to know. We're just trying to tell an interesting story about the journey to get there. Our goal right now is just to do a bunch of good episodes, and do it again, and do it again. [We want to] explore what Trek can do through genres to tell interesting stories that we haven't told before about the people on the Enterprise, to show them in a different light. Sometimes in those moments where it might feel like we're blowing up something, it's always with a purpose. I promise you, we will find ways to come back to the things that you know and trust. Don't feel like we're destroying your childhood.”

And then, of course, there is the looming presence of James T. Kirk, who we know will be appearing in Season 2. The showrunner isn’t worried about the iconic character upsetting the balance of the show once he arrives.

“The show is always about our core characters,” he says. “We have guest stars and interesting people who come in. Those people will be memorable and curious, and sometimes they have big arcs, sometimes they have small arcs. But they inevitably reflect on our characters in interesting ways. And Kirk is no different except Kirk is a little bit more important [in the canon,] so he belongs in our world. But we're also trying to do the same thing with him that we do with the other people. This is not the Kirk that you know. This younger Kirk, I guess he's been explored some in the Kelvin universe movies, but in a very different way. We aren't rewriting the past of these people. We are trying to imagine it in a new way. Paul Wesley's not doing a William Shatner imitation.”

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 is currently streaming on Paramount+.


Talk to Executive Editor Scott Collura on Twitter at @ScottCollura, or listen to his Star Trek podcast, Transporter Room 3. Or do both!