It’s a strange feeling to get excited about a show that I don’t technically care about. Or at least I shouldn’t. Star Trek is a franchise I’ve never really enjoyed, and what I know about it was acquired primarily through osmosis over 20 years of geek news. It was just enough to make me consider jumping in march when Discovery his new era began, and again when Patrick Stewart returned as Picard for Picardbut both felt like they needed years of knowledge that I just didn’t have.
But the latest series, Strange New Worldsmade me more interested in Star Trek than I’ve ever been?
I’m sure part of the show’s appeal to me is its clear, concise premise – it follows the crew of the… Company during “his five-year mission: explore strange new worlds, seek new life and new civilizations, boldly go where no one has gone before.” The fact that SNW has the same mission, ship and some of the same characters as the original 60s Star Trek TV series certainly had some allure. But after watching the first two episodes I can see what made it Strange New Worlds one of the highlights of my week: iIt is incredibly easy to watch, understand and enjoy.
This is no small feat for a show in a franchise as large and with such a devoted fan base as Star Trek† Just as all of Marvel’s TV series and movies are bound together in one inextricable saga, newer march show like Discovery and Picard have built on existing parts of the franchise and use them as pillars to support their stories. although Strange New Worlds connections to the wider franchise, they are redundant. For example, I know (by that osmosis) that Strange New Worlds is a direct continuation of the adventures of Captain Pike (Anson Mount) after he starred in Discoverythe second season. And of course I know that SNW serves as a prequel to the original 1960s series, as Pike was the first captain of the Company, seen in the show’s first pilot before being replaced by Captain Kirk. to date SNW plays in younger versions of original series mainstays Spock (Ethan Peck) and Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding). But I didn’t need to know about that to understand and enjoy the series.
As far as I can tell, the only major development in SNW of both series that is in Discoverythe second season, Pike learned he was destined to become entangled in a radiation leak that would leave him disfigured, unable to communicate, and confined almost entirely to a life-support chair, a future seen in the original series episode “The Menagerie, Part 1”. But Strange New Worlds explains this quickly, succinctly and completely without being tied to any other part of the march franchisee. I haven’t seen either one Discovery nor that Terms of Service delivery, and SNW gave me everything I needed to know in the first few minutes of the pilot episode. There are probably enough Easter eggs for it march fans throughout the series; Spock’s fiancé T’Pring (Gia Sandhu), for example, pops up briefly for a scene. But the scene doesn’t depend on knowing what meeting she and Spock will have in the future. Maybe it helps, or gives an extra layer of meaning, but it wasn’t necessary.
To say this is refreshing is an understatement, but Strange New Worlds goes even further in its simplicity. As showrunner Henry Alonso Myers promised, the show is episodic, meaning each episode tells a standalone story rather than a chapter of one ongoing, season-long story. In other words, Strange New Worlds follows the classic model of The original series and Next generation unlike Discovery and Picard† in each of SNWIn the first two episodes of the series, they encountered one sci-fi riddle, solved it, and moved on. A whole adventure – a complete short story – told in 50 minutes.
The result is that looking SNW is easy to watch in a way that most geek franchise series just aren’t. What was the last? Star Wars anything you read that wasn’t based on knowing at least the original trilogy somehow, or a surprise character from the comics or animated series? What’s the last Marvel product you consumed that didn’t require watching other movies or TV shows, or reading certain comics, to fully understand? There’s nothing wrong with that, and those tall tales can be immensely satisfying when told when. But there’s also something extremely satisfying about sitting down to watch TV for an hour and get an entire story – beginning, middle, and end – told over the course of the story.
Like any fan of classic march TV shows know that these short stories don’t have to preclude character development, and Strange New Worlds doesn’t either. The Untitled Pilot sees Pike grappling with how to spend his gift when he knows his horrifying future, while… this week’s episode, “Children of the Comet”, focuses on new cadet Nyota Uhura as she realizes that the Starfleet career she has chosen at random may have more to offer her than just an escape from her tragic past. Looking forward to see what Strange New Worlds applies to other classic but largely unexplored characters such as Number One (Rebecca Romjin) and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), as well as the new characters.
Honestly, I’m just looking forward to new episodes of the show, and to actually see it to discover the universe of Star Trek instead of going back over old ground, even if it is located in one of the oldest grounds march has to offer. I don’t know if the show will be enough to consider myself a march fan, but even though only two episodes have aired on Paramount+, I’m definitely a fan of Strange new worlds.
Want more io9 news? See when to expect the last one miracle and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on Film and TVand everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power†