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I’m very much a casual Star Trek viewer, far from the diehard fan who dresses their family in uniforms, learns how to speak Klingon and have several restraining orders out against them from terrified cast members who they’ve harrassed at conventions. Probably due to chatting them up with the old, you would not survive a Klingon mating ritual line.
I can take it or leave it. I like the original series, I think it is a load of fun, I’ve dabbled in a few eps of The Next Generation, watched some Deep Space Nine, seen a lot of Voyager and enjoyed the rebooted movies—although the latest one was a bit rubbish.
So if you are a Die hard Trekkie, you’ve probably switched off by now because you’ve deemed me not qualified enough to to even grace your presence with this review or because I’m not using the preferred term… Do you prefer Trekker? Is that the more civil, starfleet approved term? Or is it Niner?
The struggle is real for you guys, I know.
Old school TV
Star Trek Discovery is the first Trek series to have graced our small screens in some time (12 years in fact) and it’s pretty cool that it’s come to Netflix for us all to enjoy.
It’s also pretty cool that we’re getting episodes weekly as opposed to a full season to binge. There’s two sides to that argument but I think there is more at stake when TV is delivered on a weekly basis. It seems to change the writing in that every scene has more urgency to it. It’s more old school I guess, where each episode is crafted to pull you to the next big moment and leave you eagerly awaiting next week’s episode.
Weekly episodes are an event.
Being presented with a full season has its merits too, but I’m keen to have a certain night of the week to look forward to when a new show comes out. I thought it worked really well for Game of Thrones, for example.
Like I said, old school. And I think that’s where Star Trek discovery is going to succeed. It oozes that old school sensibilities of the original series, without the preposterous story lines. For now anyway.
For the newcomers and casuals, Discovery is not a continuation from that which has gone before. It’s set approximately 10 years before the original series in the timeline, almost 90 years after Enterprise and over 100 years before The Next Generation. So it’s earlier than you think and it means they’ve got a lot of canon they need to write around to maintain the integrity of some of what has happened before, but mostly what occurs after.
It also means that the Trekkers are getting tripped up on the little details, like uniform and ship design to slight hiccups in the timeline. And if that’s gonna hold you back, that’s just dumb. I can tell you why in one word. Threshold.
Threshold was an episode of Voyager that saw them trying to achieve the impossible speed of warp ten, with dire consequences. Long story short, they break the trans warp barrier, the captain and her first officer devolve into amphibians, mate and have babies. Trust me, it’s a black spot in the canon. And a great argument for you to get the fuck over it because all of this is fiction and open to however the current creators of the current series want to spin it. Star Trek owes you nothing.
With that said I think creators Brian Fuller of American Gods fame and Alex Kurtzman who has worked a producer on the recent Star Trek movies have done a great job so far introducing us to this new Star Trek series.
What’s it about?
The first couple of episodes of Discovery kick of with the USS Shenzhou out on the edge of federation space investigating a faulty beacon or some shit. But instead of focusing on the entire crew as so many versions of Star Trek before it, this focuses mainly on one character. MIchael Burman, first officer of the Shenzhou played by the Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin Green. And I have to say she has taken to the role like a duck to water, she does the Star Trek thing very well, in this casual outsiders opinion. She’s got the whole starfleet posture and dialogue down pat. She’s joined by Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou and Hellboy’s Doug Jones, in yet another creature costume as Leitenant Saru, from an alien species called the Kelpien. Saru is definitely the light to Burnham’s shade in the opening two episodes.
Everything goes to shit when the Shenzhou interrupts the Klingons who are conducting some kind of ritual and a huge stand off takes place. One of the house leaders T’Kuvma, played menacingly by Chris Obi, who you might know as Anubis in American Gods, has a bit of a problem with the Shenzhou showing up and interrupting whatever the hell he’s up to out there. The alarm is raised and we get an intense standoff with the between the Klingons and the Federation.
Another notable character that shows up is Spock’s dad Sarek, played this time around by James Frain who you might recognise from Tron: Legacy. He brings authenticity to a character that has been well established in Star Trek canon and I think most fans would agree that he does a great job. I don’t want to say too much about his role in the early episodes because I don’t want to spoil but implanting him in this series certainly helps with the overall continuity.
It’s hard to rate something that has only just come out and we’re yet to see where the story goes, but for me it’s got me interested in watching a Star Trek series again, which is pretty great.
The set design, special effects and writing are all top notch and those Klingons really steal the show in the early stages, they look like something out of the Hellraiser movies, sound amazing and are generally fucking terrifying.
I really enjoyed the first two episodes—it had the right balance of action and drama, but It’s only really setting the scene for a much larger series— it played out more like a telemovie and you don’t even see the Discovery let alone get introduced to the crew.
If you’re baulking at watching a Star Trek series because, well it’s Star Trek, I’d say give it a go. Based on the opening act of what I’m tipping will be a pretty long series—Star Trek Discovery feels a bit like this franchise’s version of Rogue One, I know how much that statement might piss Trekkies off, live long and use the force—I’m giving the opening act a four out of five. And I’m looking forward to seeing more of what this series has to offer.