The showrunner shared a secret.
Warning! Below are spoilers for the episode “Star Trek: Lower Decks” “Listen to everything, don’t trust anything.” Read at your own risk!
“Star Trek: Lower Decks” brought things back to Deep Space Nine in its latest episode, including some beloved characters from the beloved series in its ranks. Nana Visitor and Armin Shimerman returned as Kira and Quark respectively, who were a bit dumber than their live performance counterparts. It’s one thing to return to a character after decades of absence from him, and quite another to perform it within the parameters of another genre. So I asked LD showrunner Mike McMahan about the challenges of integrating older actors into the show, and he explained how he helps them get back into their roles.
“Listen Up, Don’t Trust Anything” isn’t the first time Star Trek: Lower Decks has invited a franchise actor to reprise his role, albeit in a more bombastic and comedic manner. (Fans may remember how Jonathan Frakes played Riker in the second season.) Mike McMahan broke down the process not only to help the old actors of the franchise find the comedic side of their characters, but also to ensure that the dialogue remained true to the roles of the actors:
“For any Legacy character, it’s what can we write that the actor is going to get into the booth that they can perform it in a way that truly feels like they’re playing the same character they did decades ago but in a way that also fits into the show. It has to really clearly fit into the stakes of the episode, and then you have to give them, like, in as few lines as possible, almost this pedigree of the character. They immediately feel like the very first few things they’re saying aren’t at odds with… almost a decade of making the shows that they were on.”
Star Trek: Lower Decks may have annoyed fans in the past due to some controversial and obscene scenes, but many fans will defend the care he takes to ensure his enjoyment matches the parameters of the franchise canon. Given this, it’s not surprising that Mike McMahan and the writing team were careful when it came to making Kira and Quark still sound like themselves.