Sunday, May 8, 2022

Strange New Worlds

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
debuted on the Paramount+ streaming platform this past week. For anyone that hasn't heard of it, it follows the adventures of Captain Christopher Pike and his crew on the Enterprise--the group we saw in the original Star Trek pilot, "The Cage."

Pike and Spock played important roles in Discovery season 2, so in a way this is a spinoff of that show. A such, we unfortunately, don't get a retro-aesthetic like the Mirror Universe two-parter on Enterprise or even a straight modernization of the TOS aesthetic like Abrams' Star Trek, but rather something that moves Discovery looks in a modernization of TOS direction. The uniforms here, though, are much better than the one's shown for the Enterprise in Discovery S2, being something like a combination of elements of the Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Beyond uniforms.

Anson Mounts' Pike isn't like Jeffery Hunter's but then we only saw Hunter play him pre-The Cage. Those events no doubt impacted him, but the biggest thing Mounts' Pike is dealing with is the aftermath of Discovery. It's a minor spoiler, but Pike is now aware of the fate that awaits him where he ends up in the sad condition we see him in in "The Menagerie." Mount isn't playing another version of Kirk here, which is good.

Ethan Peck's Spock is likewise good, but doesn't quite nail the Nimoy vibe in the way Quinto does. However, "The Cage" pilot was before Nimoy and the writers really made Spock the character we know, so that's okay. The other "recast" characters (Number One, Nurse Chapel, Dr. Mbenga, April) didn't have so much development in the serious previously that a new actor seems like a change. Indeed, all of these actors are good in their roles. Young Uhura likewise seems reasonable to me or that character.

That does bring up one of the (minor) problems with the series for me. In their eagerness to throw in character callbacks, they aren't really respecting continuity. Mbenga appears to be Chief Medical Officer here, yet he is at most second in command to Dr. McCoy by the time of TOS. Maybe McCoy got brought in an outranked him, but that would explain why he looks pretty much the same age as here as he does in TOS with seven years supposedly separating the shows. Indeed, the actor in TOS is a decade younger than the one that played him in SNW.

Also, Uhura stellar communication's officer (at least as far as the "extended universe" of the novels and comics tell us) is one her first cruise here here, but has only made it to lieutenant 7 years later? Maybe that's possible, but it just feels like they didn't think it through.

Those fannish quibbles aside, I like the show. I like the episodic nature of it, which moves it back in the direction of older Trek after the very serial Discovery and Picard. I like that we're getting an Andorian on the ship, if the trailer is accurate. I'm hoping will get more tie-ins to older Trek lore than Discovery's over-arcing plot allowed.


Roy Fizzbin said...

I think Pike mentions that Uhura is a cadet, so that might be why she could be only a lieutenant 7 years later. Apparently she's in some kind of special training program, but she's still an Academy student.

Tallgeese said...

I'm three episodes in now, and really enjoying the new series, in spite of some of the inconsistencies. It feels true to the spirit of Star Trek, and a bit of a relief from Season 3 of Picard.