I had never been to a Star Trek convention. When I discovered that Star Trek: Mission Chicago was beaming into my home town, I decided to go to see what I was missing. I felt that this show was unique in many ways.
Carving out one day of the three-day show (Saturday) for my visit, I walked into McCormick Place to see the stars of Trek. As with any convention, there were a great deal of vendors covering everything from podcasts to toys. The most impressive thing on the show floor were the props used in the new programs. An auction house had costumes and props from the first 2 seasons of Picard. Stars Patrick Stewart and John De Lancie’s outfits were accessible to anyone walking by (not only to view, but also to touch). In addition to the clothes, there were communicators, weapons, and even a Three Musketeers book that Jean-Luc Picard gave to the Romulan child Elnor in the first season of the show.
Paramount outdid this display with a couple of their own. The skulls of the aliens shown in the opening of the alternate future episode in Picard: Season 2 were in the middle of the convention floor. Unlike the auction costumes, they were roped off; however they was no glass display case, and they could easily be seen and photographed from every angle.
More impressive was the Strange New Worlds display. Set in a room of its own, it housed the costumes of all the characters in the show (like the auction – completely accessible to the public), as well as a model of the Enterprise (in a glass case) and comp artwork of ships and alien environments.
In addition to walking around the show floor, I had the pleasure of going to a number of panels. Unfortunately, I arrived too late to see the Lower Decks cast, but was given a great poster for their show. The first panel I went to was Star Trek Discovery. It was interesting in the fact that there was very little news. Season 5 has not started shooting yet. Stars Anthony Rapp, Doug Jones, Ian Alexander, David Ajala, Mary Chieffo,, Ken Mitchell, and Noah Averbach-Katz told stories from the set and took questions from the audience.
The second panel I went to was Strange New Worlds. It began with the audience being told to put away their phones. We were then treated to the first bridge scene of the show: footage that was so new even the stars hadn’t seen it yet. Cast members Anson Mount, Rebecca Romijn, Ethan Peck, and Celia Rose Gooding and Executive Producer Henry Alonso Myers talked about working on the series while being very careful not to give any spoilers from the upcoming program. Anson Mount hammed it up in a style worthy of Willaim Shatner, telling of jokes he played on Rebecca Romijn.
While riding the Strange New Worlds wave, I then attended the show’s costume design panel. Fashion designer Bernadette Croft took the audience through the ups and downs of working on Trek. She spoke of getting inspiration from TOS, as well as Wrath of Khan. She used old designs enhanced with a new twist. She also talked about mistakes and how they were corrected. The designer described the horror of discovering that a character’s outfit was the wrong color on location. She and her design staff took an entire night recoloring a gold shirt with red sharpies. One wonders why it couldn’t have just been fixed digitally later.
Truly the best moments for me came from seeing the stars on the show floor. Cast members of all the programs, from The Original Series to Strange New Worlds, made themselves available to the public. Doug Jones (Saru on Discovery) gave out hugs. Annie Wersching (The Borg Queen on Picard) wore a paper green tiara. Nana Visitor (Kira on DS9) signed a model of Deep Space Nine and its companion ship, the Defiant. The fan that they belonged to had taken them to several conventions, as they had cast signatures from people who were not at Mission Chicago. While signing autographs, Will Wheaton (Wesley Crusher on The Next Generation) had a surprise visit from by Celia Rose Gooding (Urhura on Strange New Worlds) and totally geeked out over her. It was like watching him on the Ready Room (the interview show he hosts when a new Star Trek episode drops). I know how he felt, because a couple minutes later, Rebecca Romijn (Number One on Strange New Worlds) walked past me on the show floor.
Star Trek: Mission Chicago was great. I’ve been to multiple comic conventions and have to say this was one of the best. From the exhibits, to the accessibility, to the cast, it was a wonderful experience. Certainly one I would attend again.