Star Trek: Discovery, the latest TV series of the ever popular Star Trek franchise, has officially started this week. The question for most, even perhaps after watching the first two episodes, will it be a good show? Is it worth the subscription to CBS All Access or Netflix?
Here’s my take but be warned, there will be spoilers.
The Star Trek franchise was always produced in the TV format by Paramount but this time for Star Trek: Discovery, CBS is producing it directly themselves. One can say that CBS is promoting their streaming site CBS All Access. But does it have any bearing on Star Trek? I’d say there is. The production is different. The budget is obviously different. The changes are also different.
Discovery looks to have been set 50 years after Star Trek: Voyager despite the fact that the in-story timeline is ten (10) years before The Original Series (the Captain James T. Kirk era). TOS, The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine, were consistent as far as what technology are available and are in use. Even in Voyager, a series after DS9, it was clearly a ship during the TNG era, not after DS9, in-universe timeline, although they had a choice to make it modern-ish.
Discovery? I raised my left eyebrow, like vulcans do, when they showed how they communicate over subspace — holograms! To most, they were probably awed or wow’ed by it, but the timeline in me was screaming the rest of the two episodes and will probably keep on screaming until I can fully establish this is N-O-T set in the Prime Timeline no matter what CBS claims.
Even Enterprise, a series made after Voyager and is set in 2151-2155 in-universe, did not go overboard with their technological changes. Yes, there were questionable tech in it but it wasn’t something that will make you raise your eyebrow like in Discovery (set in the year 2256, 101 years after the founding of the Coalition of Planets; 100 years after the start of the Earth-Romulan War; and 95 years after the founding of the Federation).
The production is good. Discovery looks modern. It showcases what we are dreaming about for the next few real-world decades. Holographic communications, holographic viewing instead of looking into monitors, a spacesuit with an excellent navigation system and hand-gesture controls. These are things that looks “modern” to us in 2017 and so they incorporated these in the series.
Even the klingons look modern and scarier though funny that their heads look very shiny, we can probably collect their heads as thropies.
The two pilot episodes has clearly set the plot or plots of the first season. First, the season plot, will revolve around the new war between the United Federation of Planets and revitalised Klingon Empire. The opening salvo to the Federation-Klingon War of 2256.
Second, it focuses on the lead female character, Michael Burnham, an orphaned human taken under care by Sarek, Spock’s father (as reference, Sarek cut ties with Spock in 2250 when his son chose to enlist in Starfleet instead of joining the Vulcan Science Academy). The season focuses on her character, her adventures, decisions, and conflicts. She was also the first human to ever attend the Vulcan Learning Center and the Vulcan Science Academy.
The war is interesting even though it has nothing to do with the wars we’ve known in “history” from the previous series. This is something to look forward to especially that the Federation is only 95 years in existence and the Klingon Houses are trying to look for a reason to reunite and reestablish themselves.
While the focus on Michael Burnham, at least to me, is not that interesting because it feels like reading a young-adult novel with a character-level focus instead of multiple characters and their immediate surroundings. It feels and looks more first-person than an observer third-person.
Overall, it remains to be seen how well they can pull this off.
A promising new Star Trek TV series. The production is good, apt for today’s expectations and potential new fans. The effects, at least for the first two episodes, were well executed. For now, the subscription to Netflix or CBS All Access is worth it.
Last but not the least, I really have to say this, Discovery is set in an alternate timeline. Possibly the result of the changes we’ve seen in Enterprise due to the Temporal (Cold) War. Or, stretching this, CBS can even later claim that this series is set in the Kelvin Universe (not Timeline), a timeline where the planet Vulcan was not destroyed… because it’s Star Trek.
Post header, Star Trek: Discovery title logo, used under Fair Use. It’s owned by CBS Corporation.
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