We’re all about to turn the page to 2019, which means that it’s time for StarTrek.com to look back at the year that was… in Star Trek. And quite a year it was, 2018, with Discovery wrapping up its first season; Patrick Stewart shocking fans at Star Trek Las Vegas by making a surprise appearance to reveal that he’d be reprising his role as Picard in an upcoming show; announcements detailing the expansion of the Trek universe; and more. And, sadly, fans said goodbye to a number of iconic figures – actors, authors and more – who helped make Trek, well, Trek. Please join us in a look back:
Stewart to Return
The Trek fans in attendance at Star Trek Las Vegas on August 4 will never, ever forget it. Alex Kurtzman stepped out on to the main stage to share details about the next Trek project, then paused to explain he needed a bit of help in doing so. And who stepped through the door? Patrick Stewart. Yes, they’re making it so. Sir Patrick will return to his iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard in a new CBS All Access Star Trek series that tells the story of the next chapter in Picard’s life. Following an extended standing ovation, a clearly emotional Stewart explained his decision to once again play Picard. It was a truly remarkable moment for the franchise and for everyone in the room.
The Trek Universe Expands
June brought the news that Alex Kurtzman, veteran writer-producer and co-creator of Discovery, had inked a five-year extension of his production agreement with CBS Television Studios that calls for him to extend the Star Trek franchise for television, developing new series, mini-series and other content opportunities, including animation, as well as give CBS Television Studios exclusive rights to produce all television content created and developed by Kurtzman and his Secret Hideout production banner. Joining Kurtzman as part of the deal, which goes through 2023, are fellow Discovery producers Heather Kadin and Aaron Baiers. Kadin serves as president of Secret Hideout, while Baiers is senior vice president of television. The Picard series falls under the agreement, as does the subsequently announced animated show, Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Captain Gabriel Lorca was really… Mirror Lorca. That was one of the massive takeaways from the Discovery season-one episode, “What's Past Is Prologue,” which premiered on January 28. The man had a plan, one that involved dethroning Emperor Georgiou and having Michael Burnham stand by his side upon his ascension to throne. He nearly pulled it off, too. At the end, the battle was on. Phasers blasted the throne room. Emperor Georgiou fought Mirror Lorca, Mirror Landry and Lorca’s loyalists. Mirror Lorca did everything possible not to harm Burnham. Burnham finally got the upper hand. “We would’ve helped you get home,” she said. “If you had asked. That’s who Starfleet is. That’s who I am. That’s why I won’t kill you now.” Enter the emperor. “But I will,” she declared, and ran a sword through his back. Mirror Lorca stumbled toward Burnham. “We could have…” And, with that, Emperor Georgiou shoved Mirror Lorca into the core below. So, had you guessed the big twist?
Discovery fans got a fun treat to help them pass the time between the end of season one in 2018 and the start to season two in 2019, and that'd be Star Trek: Short Treks. Each short ran approximately 10-15 minutes and gave fans an opportunity to dive deeper into key themes and characters that fit into Discovery and the expanding Star Trek universe. Tilly (Mary Wiseman) stood front and center as she met the title character in "Runaway," which debuted in October; a young Saru (Doug Jones) was the focus of "The Brightest Star," which streamed in December. And viewers made the acquaintance of a new character, Craft (Aldis Hodge), who found himself alone (well, not quite alone) aboard the Discovery deep into the future in the November entry, "Calypso." A fourth Short Treks, "The Escape Artist," starring Rainn Wilson (who also directs), will debut on January 3, 2019.
Whether it was the Star Trek: The Cruise II in January, Star Trek Las Vegas in August, Destination Star Trek Birmingham in October or Christmas with the Captains in December, Trek fans got to experience the franchise. Fans were able to interact with talent throughout a Trek themed cruise while STLV offered the highlight of a lifetime with Patrick Stewart’s surprise appearance. DST attendees celebrated the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with nearly the entire cast and executive producer Ira Steven Behr, who – as part of a world premiere -- proudly introduced his documentary, What We Left Behind. And, at both conventions, fans for the first time got to meet and hear from (nearly) the entire Discovery cast. Your chance to interact with Captain Kirk or Captain Pike on a replica set of The Original Series? Fans were even able to experience that during Christmas with the Captains.
Goodbye, And Thank You
As much joy as there was to experience in 2018, we all bade farewell to far too many beloved figures from the franchise. Below are just a few of those who left us…
Harlan Ellison, 1934-2018
Ellison, who died on June 28, wrote countless books, novellas, short stories, scripts, think pieces and more, and won every imaginable genre writing prize, including multiple Bram Stoker Awards, Hugo Awards, and Writers Guild of America Awards. His most-significant Star Trek contribution was, of course, his teleplay for the TOS episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Back in 2012, Ellison told StarTrek.com, “I will continue doing this until the road comes to an end and my feet go over the edge of the abyss and I go into whatever niche in posterity they have for me. I made it into the Encyclopedia Britannica, right between Ralph Ellison and Ellis Island. That’s pretty good for a poor little Jew from Long Island.”
Celeste Yarnall, 1944-2018
Yarnall, who played Martha Landon in the TOS episode “The Apple” and was a Trek con favorite, succumbed to ovarian cancer on October 7 after a four-year battle, a battle she chronicled via a series of StarTrek.com guest blogs. Yarnall also counted among her credits Land of the Giants, The Nutty Professor, Live a Little, Love a Little (Elvis crooned “A Little Less Conversation” to her), The Velvet Vampire and Leonard Nimoy's Funny About Love. Stunning in her youth -- and radiant to the end; she made her final appearance at STLV this summer -- Yarnall was the last Rheingold Girl, earning the honor in 1964. Beyond acting and modeling, Yarnall authored books about holistic health care for humans and pets, was an entrepreneur and public speaker, appeared in documentaries about Elvis and Trek, and served as the muse for her British husband’s art.
Robert Scheerer, 1928-2018
Scheerer was an Emmy Award-winning director who counted among his many credits multiple Trek episodes, including 11 hours of Star Trek: The Next Generation, one installment of Deep Space Nine, and two Voyager segments. Scheerer -- who also danced and acted in his prolific career -- died of natural causes on March 3 at the age of 89. His TNG episodes included "Measure of a Man," "Legacy," "True-Q" and "Chain of Command, Part I." He visited DS9 to direct "Shadowplay," and Voyager to call the shots on "State of Flux" and "Rise." Actually, "Rise" capped Scheerer's work as a director whose film and TV output included The Danny Kaye Show, the live Barbra Streisand special A Happening in Central Park, Gilligan's Island, The World's Greatest Athlete, Fame, The Love Boat, Dynasty and Matlock.
Dr. Stephen Hawking, 1942-2018
Dr. Hawking, one of the world’s greatest scientific minds and, yes, a Star Trek guest star who appeared as himself in the “Descent, Part I” episode of TNG, died peacefully on March 14 at his home in Cambridge, aged 76. A ground-breaking physicist and champion of the rights and potential of those with disabilities, Dr. Hawking was stricken in his early 20s by a progressive motor neurone disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He nonetheless completed his research and degree work in theoretical physics and cosmology, then shot to fame with his groundbreaking 1988 bestseller of lay-readable cosmology and quantum science, A Brief History of Time, and several follow-ups. As for his famous TNG scene, it featured him playing poker against Data, Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton. Beyond his on-screen appearance, TNG fans could hear references to a shuttlecraft called the Hawking on more than one occasion.
Here's to more Trek experiences, memories and expanding our ever-growing Star Trek family in 2019!