I’ve been a Trekker ever since the original show aired in 1966, even though I was only four. Years of reruns followed and helped keep the dream of space travel alive. Then Star Trek: Next Generation came out when my own kids were young. The US space travel had become blasé by that time but interstellar travel still rocked. I introduced my children to the universe and together we loved and hated the movies as they came out.
Now a new show has premiered for the grandkids (which I don’t have any yet but still the thought is there). I know the ST owners put out Deep Space 9, Voyager, and Enterprise, but somehow they always seemed like alternative side stories rather than mainline Trek. In truth, I never watched Voyager or Enterprise that much. Even the most recent reboot movies lacked something, usually an intelligent plot. After all, what commander in their right mind would promote a cadet to captain status? No wonder the dude constantly loses his ship.
However, Star Trek: Discovery felt different. The previews featured heart-beating action and stunning space scenes and the first three episodes really delivered. The pilot episodes seemed like true Trek, lots of action, a great captain, and good interaction with the crew. Then the captain died. Yet by the end of episode three, “Context is King”, I’m beginning to feel like the show is not crew-oriented but focused on a single individual, Michael Burnham. I hope not because those stories are not nearly as interesting or diverse as crew-centric ones. Yet Discovery‘s captain Lorca stirs some interest. He is mysterious, yet questionable in morality. A true ends-justifies-the-means kind of guy. Burnham’s immediate superior, Paul Stamets is a snobbish ass. Neither of these are likeable characters yet.
Yet the show rocks in the beauty of the ships and the space scenes. A lot of money poured into this show’s make-up, sets and CGI. The visuals are reminiscent of the breathtaking beauty delivered to Earth through the Hubble telescope. Even Michael Burnham, the first human to attend the Vulcan Science Academy, talks about the awesome nature of space
Space isn’t the only attractive feature. The producers created gorgeous technology as well. The Discovery is an amazing ship compared to the old shows. The bridges of the ships in this version use a play of light and darkness along with shadowing to offset the people and create an electric grim yet modern look. Even the Klingons have an elegant pageantry to their clothes and sets that is captivating.
However, one word of warning. This is not the Kirk Star Trek Universe no matter how hard the producers try to tell us this is “near the same time.” Kirk’s timeframe did not have technically sexy looking ships, nor did they have “organic propulsion.” Yes, the episodes clearly point out that some technology, like the transporters, are still in their infancy, but everything else is new. This includes sleeker uniforms, complex tools, phasers (similar but different), and updated ships. Trying to force them into the dull, underfunded 1966 show style and history will just hurts the brain. And the producers were wise on this because audiences would not accept old, clunky-looking sets that decorated the original episodes. Watch the 1960s Star Trek on Blu-ray and everything looks just a bit tackier than they did on the low definition TVs. With hi-res viewing, audiences expect to be wowed, particularly in space operas. Therefore, the setting of this show would never make equate to the 1960s one.
Although wary, Star Trek: Discovery has caught my attention enough so I’ll be watching for the next few weeks. It is great high-brow science fiction, which TV sorely lacks right now. If you didn’t catch the first episode, the shows are on CBS’s streaming service, CBS All-Access which unfortunately is not free. However, Star Trek: Discovery is one of the few shows worth the money.