This year marks the 55th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek: The Original Series, and the milestone finds the franchise stronger than ever. Series like Picard, Discovery, and Lower Decks are going strong. Meanwhile new series like Prodigy and Strange New Worlds are on their way. Now we’ve learned there’s another, different kind of show about to debut.
The History Channel (via ComicBook.com) has announced it will premiere the first part of a ten part docu-series The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek next Friday, November 5 at 10 PM ET/PT. The series will be hosted by Gates McFadden, who played the Enterprise’s Dr. Beverly Crusher for most of Star Trek: The Next Generation along with the final four Trek films before 2009’s introduction of the Kelvin Timeline. Only the first four parts of The Center Seat will air on the History Channel while the final six will be available only on the History Vault — the channel’s subscription video service.
The Center Seat promises to cover most corners of Trek‘s history, including often overlooked pieces of the franchise like Star Trek: The Animated Series. The various actors set to appear in the docu-series include stars from all of the 20th century Trek series as well as Star Trek: Enterprise. While by no means a complete list, the guests include Nichelle Nichols, Brent Spiner, Walter Koenig, Kate Mulgrew, Wil Wheaton, Nana Visitor, Robert Picardo, Penny Johnson, and John Billingsley. There will also be stars who only ever appeared in the Trek films, such as Kirstie Alley (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) and F. Murray Abraham (Star Trek: Insurrection).
With streaming services helping to grow Trek‘s fanbase, the last few years have seen a growing demand for more behind-the-scenes storytelling regarding the franchise. In 2018 the Deep Space Nine crowdfunded documentary What We Left Behind was released. Now another crowdfunded retrospective — To the Journey: Looking Back on Star Trek: Voyager — is on its way about the crew lost in the Delta Quadrant.
For those curious enough to seek them out, there are some wonderful Star Trek documentaries pre-dating the current abundance. In 2014, William Shatner directed Chaos on the Bridge about the surprisingly tumultuous making of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Three years earlier, the former Captain Kirk actor directed The Captains in which he interviewed all the actors — Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, and Chris Pine — who played the leads of all the Trek series and films after his own up to that point. Much earlier, in 1997, Denise Crosby appears in the doc Trekkies which — while featuring many of the stars — focuses on the unique fandom that’s grown up around Trek.
Of course, while the franchise has a rich past, by its very nature it looks toward the future. And the new stories set to take place in the franchise’s universe continue this Thursday, October 28 with the premiere of Star Trek: Prodigy. The new series is an animated one, taking place in the same Delta Quadrant where the Voyager crew was lost for so long. Kate Mulgrew will reprise the role of Kathryn Janeway, whose hologram will help guide the young alien heroes on new adventures. Robert Beltran is also reprising his Voyager role of Chakotay, though now he will be a Starfleet captain.