April 21 2024

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McMahan: Finding Storytelling Opportunities in Lower Decks

2 min read

In an interview with The Hindu, Mike McMahan was asked questions about Star Trek: Lower Decks, such as the choice of support crew over bridge crew, animation instead of live-action, and his own personal favorite Trek characters.

There was a good reason for choosing support crew over another new bridge crew. “Whenever you read a book about the different Star Trek shows, everybody says after eight hundred episodes of Star Trek, there are no stories left to tell,” said McMahan. “Nobody had told stories about the crew on the lower decks or about a ship that wasn’t as important. No stories had been done yet with these kind of guys. It felt fresh and exciting to me.”

Using animation instead of live-action meant more options when it came to characters. “Animation lets us do some cool stuff like aliens that that might be too hard to do for special effects,” said McMahan.”It helps with the comedy, because we get to draw this stuff funny, the ways the characters are reacting or the situations they are in. We also get to go to parts of the ship that you might not be able to see because it would break the budget to build those sets. We try to find a balance, to make our animated show look like it was done on a physical set and we try to shoot the show like live action. We can also do battles and these kind of big, cool CG beautiful things that look even more beautiful in animation than maybe you would get with live action models.”

Does McMahan have a favorite character from Lower Decks? “I can’t pick between the four lower deckers,” he said. “Tawny Newsome is so hilarious as Mariner, the same for Jack Quaid as Brad, Tendi is the sweetest played by Noël Wells, and Eugene Cordero as Rutherford is always so funny and singular. If I had to pick one character on the Cerritos that always makes me laugh, it is Jack Ransom voiced by Jerry O’Connell. There is literally no scene or moment that he doesn’t have me rolling.”

McMahan does have favorites from live-action Star Trek though. “Star Trek is about the friendships,” he said. “Every series has an amazing friendship. My favorite one is Data and Geordi on TNG. I could watch those two characters hang out all day; two friends geeking out over the same stuff is a lot of where the friendships in Lower Decks come from.”

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