Paramount has been trying to make live-action Starfleet Academy happen since the early 90s when fans came dangerously close to getting a Starfleet Academy movie prequel rather than the pitch-perfect Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Now, all these decades later, it looks like we’re going to get a Starfleet Academy TV series, but some fans are annoyed that it will most likely be set in the far future and serve as a spinoff of the controversial Discovery television show. But here’s a Black Alert warning for you: the fact that this new show will probably be a Discovery spinoff is great, and we’re here to tell you why that is.
If you hate Discovery and are thinking about throwing your Michael Burnham action figures at us (you bought them ironically, we get it), we don’t think the Starfleet Academy show being a Discovery spinoff because we think the series is perfect. Far from it. Rather, we’re hoping that this new spinoff manages to belatedly address some of our biggest issues with recent episodes of this one-time Paramount Plus flagship show.
Discovery was a show that built entire seasons around major mysteries, but if you weren’t fully invested in that year’s mystery, it was easy to tune out of the entire season.
For example, aside from finally ending all those online continuity debates, the coolest thing about Discovery taking its characters into the 32nd century was the idea that we would get to see the far-flung future of our favorite franchise.
However, even the biggest Discovery fans would admit that we didn’t so much see the future as get tiny glimpses of it: we barely spend any time seeing Earth, we hardly get to see futuristic Starfleet ship designs, and so on. Hell, Star Trek Online has given us a more exciting glimpse of the future than Discovery ever did, and we’re hoping a futuristic Starfleet Academy series would fix that.
Also, while your mileage may vary, we’re excited to think that a Starfleet Academy show will give us a lot more face time with one of our favorite characters: young Sylvia Tilly. She was one of our favorite parts of Discovery’s early seasons (she’s a neurotic super-nerd, so it’s hard not to see ourselves in her), but she has been increasingly sidelined as the Michael Burnham-centric show found different characters for its heroic lead to play with.
We get to see Tilly and Adira guiding Starfleet cadets in the Season 4 Star Trek: Discovery episode “All Is Possible.”
More recently, Tilly accepted a job teaching at Starfleet Academy, and while that’s weird (a bit like having a medieval peasant as a college professor), we’re hoping the new show does her justice.
Additionally, while this may just be wishful thinking, we’re hoping that a Starfleet Academy show would provide a natural venue for the writers to do the kinds of fun, one-off stories that Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds specialize in.
Discovery was a show that built entire seasons around major mysteries, but if you weren’t fully invested in that year’s mystery, it was easy to tune out of the entire season. A Starfleet Academy series could have a team of charismatic cadets joined by Tilly and other Discovery crew making cameos while they solve the kinds of puzzles of the week (not the year) that made Star Trek famous.
We make the argument that making the upcoming Star Trek: Starfleet Academy a spinoff of Star Trek: Discovery represents a wonderful opportunity to make up for the latter’s weak spots.
Long story short, we can’t help but feel like Discovery felt half-assed: it was a show with great actors, fun ideas, and an amazing setting. Unfortunately, the writing has often been an albatross around the show’s neck because we had so few chances to even learn the names of most of the crew but had to hear the same four characters talk endlessly about the latest galactic mysteries (“The Burn?” More like “the yawn”).
With a Starfleet Academy show, we could take all the best parts of that original show and make them even better, with Best Girl Tilly as the redheaded cherry on top.