Star Trek is endeavoring into a brand new direction on May 5th with Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Launching exclusively on Paramount+, it’s a prequel to the original Star Trek as Pike captained the U.S.S. Enterprise long before Captain Kirk got the chance to lead its crew. Armed with the main hero who knows when and where he’ll die, the cowboy aspect of wrangling aliens and breaking the rules is ever-present, but this show is also incredibly well-tuned for those who miss the positive outlook on humanities future.
As a decades-long fan of Star Trek and an admirer of its ability to resolve problems in every episode while also imparting some wisdom, I must say I can’t get enough of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. In recent years Star Trek has seemed to have lost its thought-provoking moralizing in its adventures. Since JJ Abrams turned the movie franchise into something more akin to Star Wars, and the recent Picard is a convoluted mess, it’s nice to see Paramount can pull off a good Star Trek show. It’s not just good, but a return to form for the series.
What Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has going for it is elements that should draw in longtime fans of the franchise while luring in new viewers. That’s thanks to some familiar faces like Ethan Peck as science officer Spock and Celia Rose Gooding as Nyota Uhura. Since this show takes place a good amount of years before Kirk will ever take command it has some breathing room to flesh out what we know about these characters before the original series took over while also being brand new to everyone. You can easily go in blind and enjoy this show.
New viewers will also appreciate the special effects, which are as good as anything you’ll see in movies or TV right now. Not only do the special effects of the ship and alien worlds look great, but the set design is phenomenal too. There’s definitely some suspension of disbelief required by old fans to believe this is the same bridge as the original series, but there are at least some efforts to make the technology look old and more analog. That said, the holographic tech they’re using is far and away more advanced than anything the original series showed off.
Fans new and old will also like Pike, played by Anson Mount. He’s a grizzled sort of guy who still rides horses on his ranch in Colorado and plays the part of the reluctant captain very well. At least at first. The first episode solidifies the fact that he’s not only brave but also cunning and smart. He might break a Federation rule here or there, but his rationale to mess around with alien culture is valid since the Federation already screwed up, for instance. Mount is chivalrous, confident, and incredibly endearing. It’s very easy to fall in love with Mount’s portrayal of Pike.
He’s also a good reluctant hero, as he knows he will be horribly disfigured and dead in only ten short years. This detail not only plays into the original Star Trek storyline but serves as something longtime Star Trek fans know he could probably beat. This is a series that allows its characters to travel through time and find solutions to the most impossible scenarios. While ten years is a long time, and a healthy amount of time to host many seasons, you might find yourself wondering how the writers will get him out of this pickle in a series that can have characters meet literal gods.
It’s also great to see a diverse cast and a focus on alien worlds. Nearly every character on the bridge is a woman, for instance, and it’s hard not to think this diversity is what Gene Roddenberry would have wanted. It’s nice to see Uhura narrate the opening of the second episode and take the lead. Also, Celia Rose Gooding is fantastic in this role. She’s playing this character well giving viewers a chance to see Uhura grow and learn on the job to become the woman we loved in Star Trek’s original series.
Christina Chong plays Lieutenant La’an Noonien-Singh who gets to narrate the opening of episode 4. Pike may be the traditional lead, but the show isn’t afraid to explore other characters more closely right out of the gate. Rebecca Romijn plays Number One effectively off Pike’s lead. There’s a confidence there that stands up to Riker in TNG.
What these characters are up to is also imaginative and truly as sci-fi as it gets. Instead of zipping around in the ship blowing up Borg or rogue Federation officers, this is a show truly about discovery. Episodes focus on resolving civil war amongst alien people, trying to prevent a comet from destroying a planet that doesn’t have the technology to even know the threat is imminent and the big baddy known as the Gorn.
Without a doubt, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a return to what makes Star Trek great. It features episodic adventures, great special effects, a diverse cast, and thought-provoking adventures about doing the right thing. Star Trek has always been about a better future and a signal to its viewers we can all be better working together and this show does that in spades. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is sci-fi we need now more than ever. It’s very much a return to Star Trek: Generations with great episodic sci-fi that’s hopeful and addictive.
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