TV Review: Star Trek: Discovery

I’ll admit it – I have been to a Star Trek Convention and had the time of my life!

I have been a fan of all things science fiction since I was kid but there have been two series which have defined the genre for me:  Star Wars and Star Trek.  Star Wars will always have a place in my heart and I love the films but honestly, I have always been more of a Star Trek kind of guy.  The idea of a military organization dedicated to exploration and adventure among the stars coupled with the hopeful vision of the future has always appealed to me.  As I got older, I appreciated a bit of ‘darkening’ in the vision – the Dominion War arc in DS9 remains one of my favorite extended series of episodes.  When it was announced there was going to be a new Star Wars series after a ten-year absence, I was excited to see where it was going to go….

…and I’m happy to say the first two episodes were worthy additions!

The new series is set ten years before the original series and apparently is going to chronicle a total war between the Klingon Empire and the Federation.  Although the setting is a decade before the original series, the sets and effects owe more to the clean elegant lines and lens flares of the JJ Abrams ‘Trek’.  However, the comedic angle of his films is toned way down here despite the aesthetic similarities and Star Fleet is portrayed as a clearly military organization – explorers certainly, but serious-minded professionals with a clear hierarchy and mission.

sonequa-martin-green-star-trek-discovery

The acting was quite good in the show but clearly Sonequa Martin-Green is front and center here as Commander Michael Burnham.  Honestly, I found a few quibbles with her character – I thought one of her critical decisions she made in the first episode to be a bit jarring.  I also think the Vulcan-Human connection was a little too much fan service and unnecessary for the story – the specific personality makeup the story demands of the character could have been achieved in a host of other ways which were more interesting than wheeling out some reused Sarek Vulcan-Human child angle.

Quibbles aside, Ms. Green’s performance was awesome.  She presented a rare sort of Star Fleet character not seen before – the deadly serious professional with real character flaws which leads to real consequences.  Ms. Green painted a realistic character who is appealing and worth cheering for her bravery while at the same time condemning her for her judgment.  She is a character that clearly needs to grow – and I’m invested in watching the journey.

The two episodes serve as a ‘prequel’ to the main story – the titular ship, ‘USS Discovery’, isn’t even mentioned in the two episodes and they end with a cliffhanger for the main character.  It is a ‘twist’ ending and not very classic Star Trek in feel – but one can’t argue that it wasn’t entirely earned.  It is perhaps the best thing about the double episode release for the premiere – without knowing the details of next week, I’m assuming it sets up the story to progress.

I’m old enough to have seen every Star Trek television premiere except for the original show and I believe this was the strongest of the ones I have seen.  Time will tell if the show is more TNG and DS9 versus Voyager but I’m hooked and along for the ride.  It is worth subscribing to watch and I can’t wait for next week’s episode.

 

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