I love Star Trek. I used to watch it on BBC2 as a child, I think it was on after The Simpsons. The Next Generation is my absolute favourite, but I have a lot of fond memories of Deep Space Nine (I love Odo & Quark) and Voyager although I don’t think I ever saw that to the end of its run. I even loved Enterprise too! I have seen bits of The Original Series but I find it a bit too dated and a rough watch, although I’ve seen most of their movie.
Spock mind-melding with a whale is absolutely classic.
I even have been to two Destination Star Trek conventions in London. In 2012 I got to see all five captains talk which was truly awesome.1 I have a photo with William Shatner and one with Patrick Stewart in my office.
Why “New Trek” has not been for me
I don’t love the new wave of shows. I don’t recognise it as being the Star Trek that I love. The trailers had been enough to put me off them!
My Star Trek is about hope. It shows a future where humanity has learned to celebrate differences and work together to create a better world for all. The characters a smart, passionate and professional people who resolve conflicts primarily with open and honest communication. They are able to be emotional and logical, and both of those qualities make them great at their jobs.
The ships are well lit, carpeted and look like a comfortable place where you can imagine being happy living and working.
New Star Trek – like Discovery and Picard – appear to take place in a dark and bleak version of the future full of violence and action scenes as solutions to problems, and conflicts within the Federation. The ships appear to be in constant darkness (how do people not have headaches 24/7!) and full of hard surfaces. The characters are overly emotional, and melodramatic and don’t act like professionals.
I couldn’t watch Discover or Picard 1-2. I knew they’d just made me frustrated and sad!
I did watch Season 3 of Picard, because my partner made me, and I did come around to enjoy that in the end because it felt like a finale for the TNG crew (anything is better than Insurrection or *shudder* Nemesis), even if I was frustrated about 50% of the time! I did not like Picard‘s version of the Picard character. He turned into such a dick in his old age. Somehow they turned him from my favourite TNG character to my least favourite!
I do however LOVE Lower Decks, because that acknowledges the joy, the silliness, the optimism, and the nostalgia, to be found in Star Trek. God, I love Lower Decks so much. Lower Decks gets it.
This ramble is all to say when I first saw a trailer for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds I was excited to see it would have an episodic format (Star Trek should be episodic!) and it looked bright (well lit!), colourful and fun! Star Trek should be fun!
I was worried by the awful track record (IMO) of recent ‘Trek shows, but I was open to giving this one a go.
Strange New Worlds
On the whole, I did really enjoy Strange New Worlds. We’ve now watched two seasons, and I think it’s got better over that time and is now finding its feet with the crew.
Please enjoy this stream of my thoughts!
Star Trek is best episodic
The episode format feels like a breath of fresh air. I miss episodic shows! Sometimes I just want to be able to dip in and out of something and have the story wrapped up within an hour. Star Trek I think works best this way. To me, it is a comfort show. I want whatever conflict, ship malfunction or alien of the week problem to be resolved by the end, and ideally with teamwork and diplomacy. Most of the time this is exactly how Strange New Worlds works.
There are some amazing episodes and some real stinker ones (the storybook episode), but that is par for the course with Star Trek! My favourite episodes are the ones with my favourite characters at the centre, especially where we get Pike doing some good Captaining.
Captain Christopher Pike
I absolutely love Captain Pike. TNG Picard will probably always be my favourite but Captain Pike is now my number two (though I might change my mind when I re-watch Voyager and Enterprise!). Pike has all the charisma and charm of Kirk, but he has the maturity and diplomacy of Picard. He knows he is going to end up in the beepy chair but he is still moving forward and doing an awesome job.
He is also incredibly handsome and his hair is magnificent. The full package.
Number One & Lt. Noonien-Singh
I also really love Number One (Lieutenant Commander Una Chin-Riley) and Lieutenant La’an Noonien-Singh, and the friendship between the two. They both have very tough childhoods and dealt with a lot of stigma, but are able to channel that into being excellent, highly professional Star Fleet Officers. For me, they are the kind of inspiring characters I want on a crew.
Paul Wesley as James T. Kirk
I also, surprisingly, have come to really love Paul Wesley’s version of James T. Kirk. I think the SNW James T. Kirk has the confidence, and a bit of the swagger, of an earlier career version of the character. It works for me. I welcome him in any episode!
Spock & Uhura
On the whole, I like Ethan Peck’s portrayal of Spock. What I don’t like so much is how much the writing relies on him being half-human and the volume of episodes that focus on Spock and his human emotions. For me that got old fast, because I like logical Vulcan Spock!
I also liked his relationship with his fiancé T-Pring, who I also thought was a cool character. I was not happy with how that ended, and it actually made me dislike Spock. I had not been much of a fan of Nurse Chapel for most of the two seasons so I was never on board with their romance subplot!
Uhura I have little opinion on, to be honest. She’s fine I guess. I thought the earlier rehashing of the “Will she stay or will she leave Star Fleet” plot was a bit stupid since we know she stays! For me, she is a bit too sweet and emotional as a character, and also she is one of the worst culprits for the writers inserting the modern dialogue that irritates me!
I really hated Chapel for the first season, but I came around to her by the end of season two. At first, I felt they went too hard on the “quirky” angle with her character, trying to make her like a cute mad scientist type. That always feels contrived to me and I hate those kinds of characters. Also her wig I continue to find really distracting! Her hair doesn’t move at all!
In the second season though they started to round her out more. We learned more about her past in the war, she got more serious as a person and I really liked the (to my mind) annoying romance plot with Spock ended with her putting her career forward and leaving to study (with the guy who I think is set to be her fiancé). I actually really like her now!
Erica Ortegas & Doctor M’Benga
I have now warmed to most of the main cast except Ortegas. She irritates me so much. She is the worst for the insertion of modern dialogue, and she’s so unprofessional almost all of the time making constant quips or snarky comments, and talking back to orders and at times outright insubordinate. The actress also seems to have a permanent smirk, which is a choice I don’t love. I get she is meant to be “edgy” but I just hate it. I don’t like this type of character for Star Trek bridge crew!
M’Benga I just don’t get. I feel like the writing for him and his backstory has been clumsily delivered. First, he was the guy who had his dying kid in the transporter pattern and his mission was to find her a cure. Then, once we wrapped up that storyline for him, suddenly he immediately transformed into this PTSD Rambo character obsessed with murdering Klingons! He gave me whiplash.
I am happy to have a new Star Trek show that I enjoy and it seems to be getting better each season. I hope it gets a good run!
What did you think to Strange New Worlds?
- Although we should have just skipped out on Avery Brooks who I don’t remember talking about DS9 at all but he did bang on about jazz and brought the guy who played his son on stage to show off his weird painting of Patrick Stewart… I did find a fiver on the floor though! ↩︎