The hit Star Trek homage USS Callister is back! The scifi anthology Black Mirror will return to Netflix for season 7 in 2025. In the 6-episode season of Charlie Brooker’s dark, satirical update to The Twilight Zone, the series will be including a sequel to the fan-favorite season 4 sci-fi adventure USS Callister. The announcement was made yesterday in London, where the show is produced.

The original episode follows Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons), an awkward but gifted programmer and co-founder of a popular massively multiplayer online game, who is bitter over his being disrespected by his partners and coworkers. He takes out his frustrations by simulating a Star Trek–like space adventure within the main game, using his co-workers’ DNA to create digital clones of them. They are almost identical in thought and appearance to their real counterparts, but have no way to escape. Acting as the captain of the USS Callister starship, Daly is able to order his co-workers around, bend them to his will, and horrifically abuse them if they get out of line. When Daly brings newly hired Nanette Cole (Cristin Milioti) into his game, she encourages the other clones to revolt against Daly.

The first half of the episode seems a satiric deconstruction of the franchise, along with a profile of toxic software engineers, as it moves between two worlds. Robert Daly’s fantasy is a seen as a warped version of Trek, simply a sandbox game to indulge his worst impulses. However, as the crew come together in order to escape his influence, USS Callister embraces the basic ideal of Star Trek. It becomes the story of a group of people working together for the greater good. Smart people outwitting an evil enemy. And it’s done with a comic tone that keeps it relatively light compared to most Black Mirror episodes. The ending is golden, and left viewers asking for a new series based on the crew!

The 2017 episode won multiple awards, including for Outstanding Movie at the Emmys. Booker quickly said he was interested in developing a Callister series in 2018, and reports in June 2021 said it was in development at Netflix. The current reports say most of the original cast has agreed to return in a 3-episode miniseries for 2025. Set to be filmed in the United Kingdom, the show aims to begin shooting in Spring 2024 and will continue for ten weeks. Details about the spin-off’s plot remain under wraps, to prevent spoilers.

Toby Haynes directed the movie/episode, and said: “I’d love to do a TV series of ‘USS Callister’ – it’s probably one of the best pilots for a space show ever. And I made it! So I’m keen to see it as a TV series. I think Charlie [Brooker] might revisit it as a Black Mirror. Whether I’m the one to do it, I don’t know. Being a fan of the show as much as I am, and being a part of making it, I’d love to work with that crew and cast again. It’s a gift for a director.”

Callister is a recent example of movies and TV series that are inspired by and replicate elements of Star Trek TOS and The Next Generation. Two films, Galaxy Quest (1999) and Free Enterprise (1999), and 2 television series, Babylon 5 (1993-1998), and The Orville (2017-2022) are successful and still watched today. Galaxy Quest was a modest hit and gained cult classic status, with talk of a sequel. There was a script announced in 2014, but it has not gone further because of the passing of co-star Alan Rickman. It’s now being developed as a TV series for Paramount+.

It’s interesting that the movies and Orville are more satiric, in showing the characters foibles and making fun of the world. While Babylon 5 and Callister are more serious, with humor as part of the world instead of the main point. And Star Trek: Lower Decks is a Trek parody made by the Paramount Star Trek producers! There’s definitely an audience for humor in Star Trek.

Babylon 5 already has released an animated sequel that is said by creator J. Michael Straczynski to be a bridge to a reboot series for CW. In February 2024, after success of the bridging movie, he said the script was still in process at WB. B5 began as a pitch to Star Trek, and is in some respects a more cosmic, literate, and high concept version of what became Deep Space 9, in addition to pioneering digital effects and the 5 season story arc.

The fans showed up in big numbers

Several TV episodes have been parodies of Star Trek, including The Muppet Show – Pigs In Space, Animaniacs – Star Truck, and Futurama – Where No Fan Has Gone Before (with original cast members playing their roles: “Truly, it was a paradise”). There’s even Trek parody novels like Star Wreck (1992–1994).

Callister understands the need for humor in strong drama, and also respects the serious message of a hopeful future for everyone. It’s a rare moment of optimism in the Black Mirror world. I hope the new season continues the optimism and thoughtful updating of Star Trek. Worth seeing.

David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.