There are reasons for that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds exists beyond the need to keep Trek content running lest anyone think too much about canceling Paramount+. It’s intended to quell some of the dissatisfaction among Star Trek’s large and vocal fanbase over the direction in which the live-action shows, helmed by uber-producer Alex Kurtzman, have taken. It’s also a slightly stunned response to criticism from his predecessors, discovery and Picard, made by the same people behind these two shows. In short, it’s designed to appeal to people who would say unironically when asked what their favorite live-action Trek show is The Orville.
It looks like August 2020 was when Alex Kurtzman said the show was going to happen episodic instead of serialized. This was a way to address the criticism of the heavily serialized, going nowhere, doing nothing Grimdark mystery box stories that sucked so much of the joy discovery and Picard. Strange New Worlds is instead a deliberate retrospection in the style of The original seriesalbeit with serialized character stories. So while we visit a new planet each week, the characters still retain the scars and lessons learnedfrom their experiences.
In addition to Pike, Spock and Number One, there are more refreshed characters from the original series. Babs Olusanmokun plays a more elaborate version of Dr. M’Benga while Jess Bush takes over Christine Chapel. André Dae Kim is the new Chief Kyle, promoted from intermittent extra to transporter chief. Then there’s Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Uhura, whose semi-canon backstory is now firmly entrenched as the tale of Dead Parents / Troubled Childhood. Aside from Uhura, most of these roles were so underdeveloped in the ’60s that they’re practically blank slate for the reboot. Oh, except now everyone’s hot and horny, because this isn’t just Star Trek, it’s Star Trek that isn’t afraid to show characters in bed with other people.
Rounding out the cast is Christina Chong as security chief La’an Noonien-Singh, a descendant of Haaaan! self, treks in series Hitler analogue. From what we’ve heard of her so far, she’s also being burdened with a Troubled Childhood/Dead Parent narrative as well as a villain case. I expect her character to soften even more over time, but right now she’s officially the least fun character to spend time with. Of more interest are Melissa Navia’s top pilot Erica Ortegas, who can throw a joke or two into the mix if needed, and Hemmer. Hemmer is a telepathic Aenar (a type of Androian first introduced in company) played by Bruce Horak. Playing Hemmer as an old-fashioned, lovable grump and mentor to some of the other characters, Horak is clearly becoming a fan favorite.
And now that I’ve seen the first half of the first season (a second is already in production), I can say that Strange New Worlds will be a frustrating watch for fans. Frustrating because it’s the bones of a really fun, interesting one star trek Series buried deep inside Strange New Worlds. Unfortunately, it’s caught in the usual mix of fake melodrama, jarring dialogue, and seedy plot with the usual glitches of logic. A lot of writers are blind to their own mistakes, which is why it’s so amusing this is what Kurtzman and Co. feel is a radical departure from their own work.
Maybe I’m unfair, but that’s how it is seventh Season of the live-action Star Trek released under Kurtzman’s purview. The three main characters all had a full season of discovery go to bed too, so it’s not like everyone is waking up cold. But despite the smoothest of starts, the show still manages to stumble out of the gate, trying to do too much and not enough at the same time. The first four episodes in particular feels like someone is trying to read you through a whole season’s plot in a series of partially separate episodes.
As a side note, since the mid-’80s, Paramount has been keen Restart Star Trek with a younger cast to capitalize on Kirk/Spock’s brand awareness. It finally happened, but not until 2009 with JJ Abrams’ not entirely successful attempt to reboot the series in theaters. While a Young Kirk film made sense in the ’80s, using that seam for nostalgia seems very odd indeed today. After all, most people under 50 will probably associate TNG with the One True Star Trek. The fact that Geordi La Forge is the favorite character of not-so-closed Trek fan Rihanna speaks volumes about where millennial love lies. But I imagine a La Forge spin-off series would never fly with any generation of Paramount executives.
Now let’s talk about this emotional continuity, because while people will take their experiences with them, little effort has been put into foreseeing conflict before it erupts. Probably the weakest episode of the bunch tries to cramme four (4!) A plots in its slim running time. One is a coming-out narrative for a crew member – and once they come out, another character reveals a deep-seated dislike for that group. It would have been nice if we could have brewed this particular fight, but it starts at around 25 minutes and ends with a fistfight at 40 minutes. We don’t see the person wrestling with the decision to come out and risk their professional life, nor personal relationships. Just… slap fight.
Many of these episodes also don’t resolve properly, which is the standard problem for any 50-minute TV show. It’s hard to build a new world, flesh out new characters, and solve their problems in two episodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But at least three episodes contain conclusions that are either not clear or take place entirely off-screen and are explained with one line of dialogue. I don’t know if it was a production issue or if most of the 22 shows (yes, twenty-two) credited producers signed it, but it feels like damn cheating. It’s almost as if the screenwriters wanted to provoke surprise in the following scene – as well as this to solve!? – about brewing a satisfying emotional and narrative catharsis on screen.
In fact, I’m going to dig into that one particular episode because it doesn’t settle for just dropping a big character reveal. The episode basically stops 10 minutes early to drop – shock horror – another kinda dark secret about a crew member you barely know. I said one thing when discovery The start was that if you never get to know the characters in their default state, there’s no value in seeing their Bizarre World counterparts right away. It’s the same here Strange New Worlds refuses to do the arduous work of filling in these characters before they begin to change based on their shared experiences.
The cast is all solid and are clearly working hard to improve on the material they’ve been given because the dialogue here is so raw I think they all deserve it danger money. Well, nü-Trek dialogue has always been awkward and/or impenetrable, but it’s beyond awful here. Kurtzmann and Co. I forgot the whole “show, don’t tell” nature of screenwriting, and so the characters just stand there and keep telling you everything. This is made worse because these talented, well-paid actors are not given any room to act, instead being forced to say what they feel.
Here’s an example: In one episode, a character tries (and fails) to recall a key memory from a traumatic childhood experience that holds the key to saving the day. But instead of using the performer to convey that, they leave the actor in question blank-faced and say, “I’m trauma-locked.” Then there are scenes where two characters interpret what’s happening in front of them with a faux- Describing gravitas that only Adam West could pull off.
Remember when I said there was a promise? There really is, and you get the feeling that if the writers could get their way, things could improve massively. There’s one episode that could easily be called the (actually funny) comedy quip of the season, and it’s great. Every Trek fan knows that The one with the whales is the most financially successful Trek product ever made. And yet, whenever a new Trek property is made, it’s always with the promise of more grim, more dark, more grit, more realism. Yet here we are with the fun episode that will remind you why you are watching Star Trek in the first place and make the characters fun to hang out with. If the series could continue in this slightly slower, more relaxed groove, then it would Strange New Worlds could be awesome.
I haven’t talked much about the production design or the effects, both of which are great – this new Enterprise is beautiful inside and out. Neither does the series music, with Nami Melumad’s score being intelligent, subtle and lush in all the right places. That’s a compliment not shared with Jeff Russo’s now-standard fare, which neither matches the delicacy of a good prestige drama intro nor the high-flying bombast that accompanies it star trek. The best and worst thing I can say about the intro theme is that it sounds like it came from one of Interplay’s mid 90’s CD-ROM games.
Basically I can only really damn Strange New Worlds with the slightest praise – it can be fun at times. I would imagine and hope that things will improve over time and the show’s creators will not give in to their worst impulses. Because I walked away from it Picard The fact that I’m at least willing to stay here speaks volumes after the end of his first dismal run.
This article was previously published on Source link