Star Trek: Discovery
So, after 12 years, we finally have new Star Trek on the television, Star Trek: Discovery. The first two episodes landed this week, episode 1 “The Vulcan Hello” and episode 2 “Battle at the Binary Stars” to much anticipation and trepidation.
I have been quitely waiting for this new show with mixed feelings. Another prequel series; what timeline will it be set; what’s whith the Klingons; why is the ship design that of a rejected concept from the 70’s?
So what was the show like?
Lets start from the beginning.
First up, the main titles. Thankfully, we have not returned to Enterprise with a vocal track, instead we have returned to the tried and tested orchestral piece familiar to Star Trek fans.
This new theme has the famous Alexander Courage fanfare featured in what is otherwise a very lacklustre piece of music. It doesn’t really convey any type of message through the music as previous Star Trek series did – TNG’s optimistic fanfare, DS9’s sombre tones and Voyager’s message of hope.
Of course, it’s too soon to really tell, but I’m just not feeling it just yet, it feels a little disjointed and lost. The visuals are pretty cool – showing the production art and concepts of the ships and equipment etc, a departure from the title ship soaring through the stars as with previous Trek.
I’m not sold on the design of the ships. The Discovery is a slight reworking of a 70’s concept drawing by Ralph McQuarry that was rejected for Phase 2 and The Motion Picture. Why use a rejected 70’s design for a brand new series made in 2017?
All Federation ships before Discovery and since have avoided angular hull designs for the most part (engine nacelles being the exception), they make the ships look bulky and un-manoeuvarable.
We also see quite a few other ship designs, albeit from a distance so no real detail to report on, but on the surface of it, most of the ships look like those from the Kelvin-Verse.
Speaking of which, the show is set 10 years before The Original Series. There are elements from both the Prime Universe and the Kelvin-Verse in the opening scenes. The ships viewscreen for example is a window-computer screen hybrid just like that of the USS Enterprise and USS Kelvin, the computer screens and consoles also look very JJ inspired. (This is to be expected somewhat as there would be no way of making them look like the original series Enterprise with today’s technology without making the show look like a parody).
The bridge looks similar to the Enterprise too, although much darker, they no longer look like shiny Apple stores.
The sounds are more akin to the Prime Universe, the computer blips and beeps are a classic Enterprise homage as is some of the ship’s equipment, particularly the communicators and phasers.
There is technology that looks quite alien to both timelines, especially the transporter pad, which looks like something out of the TARDIS.
The uniforms are also unique. I think a lot of people were expecting some sort of pre-TOS looking uniform, one that would bridge the gap between Enterprise and TOS, instead we have this blue tracksuit with some braiding. The biggest issue is the use of the Enterprise-specific delta. In TOS, each starship had it’s own insignia differentiating each crew member from another.
This is another element that sways towards a Kelvin-Verse timeline as all ships in Star Trek; the Enterprise and the Kelvin featured the Delta on the uniforms.
Klingons. This is probably the most contentious issue fans have expressed during the run-up to the pilot episodes. Personally, I don’t think the changes are as extreme as the human looking Klingons from TOS to the ridge headed Klingons first seen in the Motion Picture and in all Star Trek series since. The make-up looked very heavy and uncomfortable for the actors, so much so that it seemed to impede the actors ability to speak.
It’s possible that this is simply a different sub-species, akin to the Romulans and Remans seen in Star Trek Nemesis, and the talk of reunifying the 24 Klingon sects back into one Empire may suggest that there are several types of Klingons living in different sectors of Klingon space. In Enterprise it was established that genetics was the reason we have seen human/ridged Klingons in the Prime Universe, it’s plausible there could be others.
The characters themselves are a little more difficult to review, it takes time to get to know each character so we’ll have to be patient here. So far though, enough has been revealed about our main crew members to be interested in their back story, particularly our captain and first officer of the Shenzhou and later, that of the Discovery.
The character with the most potential so far is that of Lt Cmdr Saru played by Doug Jones. His species, his back story, his personality are all to look out for, I’m sure he’ll be a pivotal character.
So overall, I’d give the show a 6/10. Not a bad start but not overwhelming either. It’s definitely one to watch and I think it will turn out to be a great series, but that really depends on you guys, the ones that have complained far too long for new Star Trek on the TV. It’s here now, so watch it and give it a chance. Don’t give up after only a few episodes, otherwise, you’ll kill the whole franchise.