“To boldly go where no one has gone before…”
That certainly seems the case with the long-awaited premiere of Star Trek: Discovery. With it has been over 12 years since the last time a show in this franchise has aired on television, it is no wonder that old and new fans alike have anticipated Discovery since its announcement nearly two years ago. I myself have been a Trekkie for many years, since long before our Lord and Savior J.J. Abrams took on the franchise. Nonetheless, I was hopeful for this new series, despite the many differences that it was announced to have, in comparison from the old shows that we Trekkies know and love. My main concern was whether or not Discovery would live up to, and fit, the Roddenberry legacy. And now having seen this new show, I certainly have a lot to say on it.
The pilot episode started per usual. Main and important characters were introduced, a new and obscure planet shown at the beginning, and what can only be described as the “beautifully poetic” reveal of the USS Shenzhou occurred within the first few minutes. The acting seemed off to a shaky start, but it seemed to improve as the episode went on. Something that really grabbed my attention was the casual relationship between captain and first officer. Star Trek has always shown formality between senior officers, no matter how close they may be. Even on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, NX-01 (Star Trek: Enterprise), which can arguably be the more casual of Trek crews, more formality, and the proper Starfleet protocol was shown. On the bridge of the Shenzhou, however, first names seemed to be commonplace. Another small, perhaps unimportant, detail that I picked up on was the use of the nickname “Number One,” as used for the first officer. Viewers of The Next Generation will recall that being used by Captain Picard for his first officer, Commander Riker. I’ve never heard it used by any other captains in the fleet. Minor, but still irked me enough to be mentioned. Much can be said about the opening title sequence, which included a slight nod to the original Star Trek theme while sounding fresh and modern. It is my opinion that of all things to complain about in regards to Star Trek, the musical score is never one of them, and that remains true with Discovery.
If we’re going to talk about overall design, from everything surrounding Klingons to the bridge set, that is where I have the most beef, if you will. Star Trek: Discovery is set in the time period between Enterprise and The Original Series, so the technology should fit that note. It doesn’t. The bridge seems much too large for a ship of her size, as well as too high-tech for the time period. Granted, it has to be taken into consideration that there was not a lot to work with back when TOS was produced, and set design has greatly improved since then, but the bridge felt too modern. One thing that I did appreciate was the props. Handheld communicators and phasers were where I expected them to be, somewhere in between the Enterprise and TOS designs, which was definitely nice to see. Another major problem is that certain technologies seemed too advanced for the time period, specifically the use of holographic communication. This is not something I’ve seen Starfleet use before, and while really cool looking, it did not fit the time frame.
Now, getting to the spoilers…The immediate mutiny brought on by Lieutenant Commander Burnham was not only disappointing, but it did not seem in character. Lt Commander Michael Burnham was raised by Sarek, more commonly known as Spock’s father. With this being said, she should have more Vulcan tendencies than Human, or so one would think. However, her actions seem highly contradictory of this fact throughout the episode. I’m hoping for more development as the show continues, and I’m sure it will happen with time.
Star Trek is known for many things: cheesy cliches, memorable characters, amazing music scores. And among those many things are consistency. While we knew from the beginning that Discovery would be different from any Trek show we’ve seen thus far, there are many key elements that are fundamentally different than the shows that fans have come to know and love. I have hope that this series will grow and eventually come to impress, although the most important thing is that the show stays true to the vision of the great Gene Roddenberry. Beyond set design, music scores, acting, the thing that truly matters is keeping the spirit of Star Trek alive. Even with all of her flaws, Discovery still captures a bit of what Trek is truly all about. I only hope that it will continue that way. Overall, I have a lot of hope for Discovery. I truly believe that, in time, the show can be just as loved as the rest of the franchise. Despite the problems, there is a lot of room to grow and develop and I’m sure it will be utilized. If you are an apprehensive Trek fan, I recommend checking it out. If you’re new to Star Trek, also check it out, but don’t forget to watch the other 5 TV shows and 14 movies. As they say, join the Star Trek fandom, you’ll never run out of content to enjoy.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Written By: Tiffany Rizzi
Episodes one and two of Star Trek: Discovery are now available to stream on CBS All Access.
Star Trek: Discovery follows Lieutenant Commander Michael Burnham on board the USS Shenzou as she and her fellow crew struggle to face the threat of war with the Klingon Empire and her own personal history with the Klingons involved.