Restricted Area: Beyond this point are the offices and studio for the production of After Trek. (click to view larger image)
“The rest of you, break up. You look like a cadet review.” This quote from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home ran through my mind as members of the USS Henry Hudson crew were walking to the filming of After Trek on November 5th. Oddly, we did not look too out of place strolling down the streets of New York dressed in various iterations of Starfleet uniforms as well as costumes from the Star Trek universe. Most of us were coming from dinner at a nearby restaurant. We would meet other attendees, crew members and guests, whom our ship’s Chaplin Denes House had invited to accompany us to this filming. Denes had managed to secure the entire studio audience for that evening’s filming of the after show for Star Trek: Discovery. For this group of dedicated Star Trek fans, it would indeed be a special evening.
Upon our arrival at the studio there was a short wait while we each did individual check-in’s with Starfleet Security, after which we took a turbolift to Deck 12. Okay, in reality it was a fairly average office building in Lower Manhattan with a standard security check and we took an elevator to the 12th floor, but let’s have a little fun and set the mood.
The After Trek Lounge Specialty Drink Menu (click to view larger image)
Working in the television industry, I sort of knew what to expect from our hosts and the studio. We were escorted into a nicely appointed waiting area, including couches, a big screen TV, and a small “open” bar serving a variety of alien inspired drinks. The classic Romulan Ale was, of course, an offering. Representatives from the studio welcomed us and thanked us for coming. We would be waiting a little over an hour before the filming, during which time we would watch that evening’s episode of Discovery, Episode 8, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” (If You Want Peace, Prepare For War). Before the show we would also get to have a meet-and-greet the show host and guests. It is no surprise that we were all encouraged to share our photos and experiences across any and all social media outlets.
Host Matt Mira with USS Henry Hudson members cosplaying Mudd and Mudd’s Women (click to view larger image)
As we were settling in and getting more beverages, the host of After Trek, Matt Mira, entered the lounge to welcome us to his show. The atmosphere was festive as he posed for several photos and commented on our costumes. It was then we discovered that we were the “best-dressed” audience they had hosted to date, even beating the previous week’s Halloween audience for this title. Matt spoke with us about our thoughts on the show, complemented our costumes, as well as the original artwork Denes had bought along in hopes of getting signed, which he did.
I hold Jason Gorn at bay with my phaser as he works the crew of the USS Henry Hudson before the show. (click to view larger image)
After Matt disappeared back into the offices to prepare for his show one of the evening’s guests, show writer and producer Ted Sullivan, appeared to mingle and chat with us. A lifelong Star Trek fan, Ted really appreciated our costumes and enthusiasm. On a side note, that evening I learned that Ted is very concerned with keeping the show in adherence to canon, but is sometimes overridden by others who have their own visions for the show. Ted was traveling with his sidekick, Jason Gorn, a small figurine of the Gorn species from the original series. During his visit, he stopped to take many photos of our group interacting with Jason, which would later appear on his Twitter feed. It was a great opportunity to interact with a fan-producer who truly cares about the Star Trek legacy and is intimately involved with the direction Discovery is taking. Then we all settled in to watch that evening’s episode, during which the other in-studio guest, Jayne “Admiral Cornwell” Brook, would emerge to watch a short segment of the show with us.
First Officer Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Wade about to enter the studio for After Trek filming. (click to view larger image)
At the conclusion of the episode, we were gathered for a prep-pep talk by the studio representatives. The point of having audiences to get the live interaction and enthusiasm, and that’s what they wanted from us. Enthusiasm would not be hard to elicit with this group, as our excitement was palpable. We passed through the door marked “Starfleet Personnel Only” and into the offices where the after show is planned and created. Like most offices, it consisted of a large common area with many desks, computers, artists’ tables and so on. We met some of the graphic artists and creatives who work on After Trek as we made our way through the offices and into the studio.
The usual set decorations were augmented with some uniquely blue plant life from the planet Pahvo…and of course more Tribbles. (click to view larger image)
We then entered the small soundproofed room containing various mixing consoles, a lighting grid, teleprompters, and of course the set and cameras. For those of you who have never been in a television studio, they are usually much smaller than you would imagine, and this was no exception. The entire area measured at most 20’ x 20’, a little under 7m x 7m. I had expected a small audience gallery, as the audience is limited to 15 people. That area was smaller than anticipated as well, set in a corner of the room with simple stools and a bench. There was a monitor above us to watch the live switch of the show as it happened. This week the set featured digital monitor “windows” filled with landscapes from the planet Pahvo, where the week’s episode largely took place in Discovery’s first planetary away mission, and among the usual Star Trek trinkets and artifacts there were scattered plants and objects from the new planet as well. There were of course more Tribbles. In case you haven’t noticed, in a running joke (or homage) they add more Tribbles to the set every week.
Final preparations just before the show begins. (click to view larger image)
If you’ve watched the show, and as you’re reading this article I might assume that you have, it then unfolded pretty much as expected. Once we settled in, the host and guests entered to take their places around the beautiful custom made “Delta Logo” table. Makeup artists applied the final looks, and the director began counting down the seconds until we would be live. On cue, Matt looked into the camera with the teleprompter attached, and read the show intro with his usual excitement and enthusiasm. He seems to be a guy who really loves his job. After the intro and a few brief teasers with the in-studio guests, Matt threw to a commercial break. During the break we played the trivia and watched the extra features seen by those who subscribe to the commercial free version, as well as had interactions with the guests and crew while they prepared to come back from break.
A monitor allows the audience to see the show’s live feed, view the Skype guest, and play trivia during the breaks. (click to view larger image)
The director started count down and the show was live once again. Matt introduced remote guest Doug Jones, who plays Saru, on a live Skype video conference from Australia. We watched the interview with Doug on the monitor I mentioned earlier, as he answered questions and sidestepped the fishing for spoilers. Doug then finished his segment and the rest of the show proceeded as usual, with the in-studio guests also answering questions, giving their conjectures and generally having a good time on set. At the conclusion of the show, many of our group mingled with the guests and the host, taking more pictures together. One of our members gave Matt our club pin, featuring the USS Henry Hudson logo emblazoned on an oval button. Matt then proceeded to film future promos for the show while wearing our club emblem. When the promos finished, the filming was over and we departed the studio.
Matt Mira sports a USS Henry Hudson button while he films the promos for the next episode of After Trek. (click to view larger image)
As we were escorted out, the production staff thanked us and told us we were the best audience they have ever had attend, thanks to our unparalleled enthusiasm and interaction, not to mention the costumes. This praise was reiterated when they contacted Denes to invite us down again to be the audience for a filming of the second half of season one. So it seems the USS Henry Hudson will be returning to After Trek, although I suspect getting a spot in this audience may be more difficult for crew members secure. I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to go back. It was a fun and interesting time for all of us. Certainly an away mission we will remember for a very long time.