TL;DR – A good intriguing start, looking forward to seeing where we go from here
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
So here we are, and boy is it great to be talking about a new Star Trek episode again, it has been too long. This is a universe that is so full of potential, it was just unfortunate that it all kind of fizzled out in the 2000s, but it is a new decade and a new time in TV, so maybe like the original series in syndication Star Trek can finally find a home on TV that helps it flourish. Now I have only seen part one of this two-parter before writing my review, so some of the things I say here may be fixed in the 2nd part or later in the season.
Before we start I should probably explain my Star Trek experience, because it will probably be a factor in how I will be approaching Discovery. I grew up in the post-The Next Generation (TNG) era, where we would get episodes of Voyager released on VHS at our local Blockbuster type store. You would explore these fantastic worlds and only realise when you watched it through again that they used that reset button quite a lot. So to get it out of the way what is my quick round-up of the Star Trek series:
The Original Series (TOS) – The classic, foundation-shaking for its time, however, some parts did not quite age so well, and you can tell that they were flying by the seat of their pants in places, and hamstrung by budget in others.
The Next Generation (TNG) – An interesting return to form, go better throughout its run, pioneered the To Be Continued … but I never really jelled with Picard.
Deep Space Nine (DS9) – DS9 is my jam, my high water mark for Star Trek (so far, we’ll see), from season-long arcs, to real character progression, and some of the best supporting cast in the history of the franchise, if you have not seen DS9, oh boy you should
Voyager (Voy) – A lot of potential, but also a lot of fluff, more than any of the TNG-DS9-Voy grouping it suffers from 24 episodes a season fatigue. But if you watch it minus the fluff it is amazing.
Enterprise (Ent) – Enterprise suffered very much from series fatigue, the same people have been running it for so long, you could see rehashed episodes, awkward encounters, and captains who should be the poster child for Earth, acting like entitled brats. In the third season they tried to change it up and it got a bit better, in season four they had a new showrunner and that was the change in formula it needed, leading to one of the most powerful episodes in Trek, only to be followed up by a true slap in the faces to the show with the final episode.
Discovery (Dis) – Well we’ll see.
So to set the scene, it is been a hundred years since we last saw the exploits of the Enterprise NX-01, and since then The Federation and Starfleet have been founded. As well as this, the Klingons have mostly been left to themselves after their Empire went through a long period of internal implosion, indeed bar the odd terrorist event no one in the Federation has dealt with them. It is at this time (about ten years before TOS, and in the main timeline, not the new movie timeline) that we are introduced to Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) Captain of the USS Shenzhou and her first officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) a human that was raised on Vulcan and knows Sarek (James Frain). We are first introduced to them when they are helping a pre-warp civilization survive a coming natural disaster whilst trying not to be seen and thus not damaging the Prime Directive. After this, they are then sent to the edge of Federation space to repair a sub-space relay array when it becomes clear that foul play is afoot.
So the first thing I think we need to talk about is the changes from the established canon which some you just go with, others are a wait a see, but some have me going ‘um really’. So the first changes are all the technical things, like scanner displays, screens, and controls. Look when TOS was predicting the future they actually go pretty close, but in many respects, we have already passed some of their technologies today in the real world, so if you went for a more clunky feel it would have looked off-putting. The next thing we need to talk about are the Klingons, it looks like they have gone with the Movie reinterpretation of the Klingons rather than the TV version, which to be honest is going to take some time to get used to, and also it is a little clear that some of the actors are not quite comfortable speaking Klingon yet, but hopefully that would come with time. However the one thing that had me going ‘oh no, that’s out of place’, is the holographic communications. Holograms were not used in TOS, and holographic communications were not even trailed until late in DS9’s run, so it is really off-putting to see them here, and yes I know I am being pedantic here.
So how is the story for this first episode, well it is clearly a slow burn to take you up until that big reveal at the end of the episode. So far it has me really intrigued, you have the Klingons coming back together after one hundred years of infighting, setting them up to be the major powerhouse that we see in later series. It was also interesting to get an insight into a new species the Kelpiens, whilst also getting little shout outs to others we know like the Andorians and Mizar. The cast is quite interesting, but this is the first episode of Star Trek Discovery, but we have not met the USS Discovery yet. I did really like Michelle Yeoh’s performance, she gave the feeling of a diplomat, but someone that knows the consequences of war. Overall I was really interested in this first episode setting up the conflict to come, but it feels like it needs to start moving onwards, and I really hope we don’t see the indecision that marked the end of the episode continue on for the reset on the season.
From a production point of view, Discovery is truly beautiful, from the sets to the locations, to the background images. I liked the design of the USS Shenzhou it had a feeling of a proto- Miranda class vessel. The design was all really interesting and you can tell they spent time on the small details, like Georgiou’s quarters. Also a huge shout out to the team that is creating those space backdrops, because they are stunning.
In the end, did we like The Vulcan Hello, yes, but it is clear that the Klingons are going to take some time to get used too. But all that being said more than anything I am just glad to be seeing some new Star Trek again.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you seen Star Trek Discovery yet?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek Discovery
Directed by – David Semel
Written by – Akiva Goldsman, Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
Based off – Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry
Created by – Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
Starring in Season 1 – Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman & Jason Isaacs with Michelle Yeoh, James Frain, Chris Obi, Mary Chieffo, Rainn Wilson, Kenneth Mitchell, Rekha Sharma, Damon Runyan, Clare McConnell & Wilson Cruz