Star Trek: Strange New Worlds finally gets the modern formula right. Trek has hit our screens in a big way over the last few years. I remember watching TNG, DS9, Enterprise and Voyager growing up and consider myself a Trekkie. Well, I had a uniform when I was a kid, of course I am! That said, I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with some of the new shows. I find the writing to be very hit and miss, a crime that Alex Kurtzman has been accused of by many.
I stopped watching Star Trek: Discovery when an ensign, who hasn’t finished cadet training, was promoted to captain. And it was obviously done to tick a box of being inclusive to a certain body type. That was one of many writing/plot elements that killed the show for me (and alien having a tantrum destroys all dilithium in the galaxy? GTFO).
Luckily, with Strange New Worlds, there isn’t an obsession with being seen to be inclusive. I like shows that are, don’t get me wrong. But not to the point where scripts are written around it. That isn’t Trek. They didn’t write entire plots around the first interracial kiss in the original series. Imagine having to unpack, they way they do in some shows now, that kiss? For weeks on end. Nope. It was just accepted that a white guy kissed a non-white chick, because it’s in the future. Strange New Worlds does touch on some politics, but in takes it in its stride. Like a show that isn’t trying to bend over backwards to tick boxes.
Strange, new, worlds
Strange New Worlds takes place in the Star Trek universe some10 years before Kirk captains the Enterprise. You kindda need to have seen Star Trek: Discovery season 3 to know what is happening because our new captain Pike appears in that season first. Even though it’s hundreds of years in the future. Tim travel stuff people, the salt of any Star Trek story! In the future Pike sees what happens to himself. He’s involved in an explosion that kills people, and basically melts him. He ends up disabled and in a wheelchair, as first seen in the original series. And it’s a plot point that drives a lot of Pikes decisions in the first season of this new Trek (and literally the final episode).
New, but, old
The series brings up this fate quite a few times. It almost felt like a malevolent entity that was testing Pike’s character. Like a watered down version of the omnipotent Q. The less said about what the new shows did to that character, the better. Indeed, the last episode of the season is a superb look at what would happen if Pike avoids his fate. And the show is indeed, superb.
Well-written and well focused for the most part, it brings the story telling of Star Trek back into an episodic format, with a monster of the week type situation going on. I also found they spent more time fleshing out characters. After 3 seasons of Discovery, I realised I knew about 3 or 4 characters names, the rest were just background radiation. Star Trek: Strange new worlds does see the departure of 2 characters towards the end the season which I was irked about. Why get us to invest in these characters only to have them taken away?
Characters we like
We have a new Spock, played by Ethan Peck and Celia Rose Gooding as a young and unsure Uhura bridging that gap between this show and Kirk’s. Other characters of note were La’an, played by Christina Chong, who is the chief of security with a traumatic past linked to the Gorn.
Rebecca Romijn plays Number One (Una Chin-Riley), a character who was around since the first days of Star Trek. I say ‘around’ in that she was in the pilot, but had no name. Una is great in this. She’s fiercely protective of La’an because of her past and is a physically intimidating character. She has her own secrets which I won’t spoil here!
We also have a new Doctor. Babs Olusanmokun plays Dr M’Benga and he has the best damn voice on the show! He also has a daughter who lives in… special circumstances. Joining him is Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), who has the bedside manner of a brick, she’s bloody awesome.
Pike, and to a larger extent, his hair, is awesome. Played by Anson Mount, he brings a charm to the role that is very Kirk-like. But he’s also a lot more level headed, which will have you thinking Picard or Benjamin Sisko. I liked that he is one of the friendlier captains, entertaining by cooking in his own quarters and getting to know his crew on a more personal basis. I really look forward to seeing what they do with his character as he’s so damn fun.
And that is what SNW’s is all about, it’s fun. It’s also emotional, and visually stunning. There are also plenty of throw backs to the original series. For example, in one episode they do the whole ‘zoom in on Spock’s face, aaaaaand raise that Vulcan eyebrow!’ It’s a delightful show that managers to capture the essence of Star Trek while also doing something new.
I give Star Trek: Strange new worlds a…