Plot: What’s it about?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that during my lifetime, it’s likely there’ll be some sort of Star Trek and/or Star Wars movie or television series. That’s a bold statement, but given that Star Trek is now 50+ years old, I think the odds are good that it might happen. Nevertheless, it’s “now” and we’ve got Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – a spinoff of Star Trek: Discovery and also serving as a prequel to Star Trek: The Original Series. Given that my favorite Star Trek show was The Next Generation, it’s also been a sour spot for me as no Star Trek series has come even close to comparing with that. That’s just me, of course. There have been no shortage of choices…we’ve had Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Discovery and Picard. Suffice it to say, if you’re a Trekkie – there’s got to be a show for you.
Strange New Worlds follows a relatively episodic first season as we focus on Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and his pre-Kirk crew of the USS Enterprise: second in command Lt. Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), science officer Lieutenant Spock (Ethan Peck), tactical officer Lieutenant La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), pilot Lieutenant Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), chief medical officer Dr. Joseph M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush), and communications trainee Cadet Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding). The series also includes recurring characters like Aenar chief engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak), Pike’s superior officer, Commodore Robert April (Adrian Holmes), Jim Kirk’s older brother Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte), and Spock’s fiancee T’Pring (Gia Sandhu).
Here’s what to expect in the second season. And if you’ve ever wanted an episode of Star Trek (or any of its offspring) to have the characters break out into song – your wait is finally over.
Episode synopsis (courtesy of TrekCore)
- The Broken Circle – A distress call from Lt. Noonien-Singh compels Spock to disobey orders and take the Enterprise and its crew into disputed space on a rescue mission.
- Ad Astra Per Aspera – Commander Una Chin-Riley faces court martial, imprisonment and dishonorable discharge from Starfleet.
- Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – La’an travels back in time to 21st-century Earth to prevent an attack which will alter humanity’s future history.
- Among the Lotus Eaters – Returning to a planet that dredges up tragic memories, Captain Pike and his landing party find themselves forgetting everything, including their own identities as he confronts a ghost from his past.
- Charades – A shuttle accident leads to Spock’s Vulcan DNA being removed by aliens, making him fully human and completely unprepared to face T’Pring’s family during an important ceremonial dinner.
- Lost in Translation – Uhura seems to be the only one who can hear a strange sound that seems to trigger terrifying hallucinations.
- Those Old Scientists – An accident while investigating a time portal sends Ensigns Beckett Mariner and Bradward Boimler through time from the 24th Century, and Captain Pike and his crew must get them back where they belong before they can alter the timeline.
- Under the Cloak of War – Captain Pike and his crew welcome a Klingon defector aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, but his presence triggers the revelation of some shocking secrets.
- Subspace Rhapsody – An accident with an experimental quantum probability field causes everyone on the Enterprise to break uncontrollably into song, but the real danger is that the field is expanding & beginning to impact other ships – allies & enemies alike.
- Hegemony – When the Enterprise investigates an attack on a colony at the edge of Federation space, Captain Pike and the crew face the return of a formidable enemy.
Video: How’s it look?
I suppose I’m being a bit lazy, but to do an all-new description as to how these episodes look is a bit futile (that’s for you Trekkies). The main draw to this set is the 4K picture quality as well as the advantage of HDR (or, if it’s your thing it’s also a steelbook). And while it’s odd to see a Star Trek television series presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, but here we are. And it looks splendid. Everything about this excels be it the level of detail, the colors, the overall ambiance and everything in between. We can see the coarse hairs in Christopher Pike’s mane of hair, the textures in the suits and the crisp displays of the computers. It might be running on the small screen, but I’d put the way this looks up there with any feature-length film. Given the color palette used during the series and added benefit of HDR, if you want to see the show in its best-looking format then look no further.
Audio: How’s it sound?
I won’t be picky here. As good as the episodes look, you’d figure Paramount might throw us a bone and give us a Dolby Atmos mix. Nope. But it’s OK. Really…it’s OK. The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is more than enough with scenes that fill the air with clicking gadgets, the sound of the warp drive and as we might expect – vocals are crisp and sharp. I’d remarked in a previous review (though for the life of me I can’t remember which one) how I found it odd that a television show would sound as good as a movie. Well, it does and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is yet another caveat to that statement. Simply put – it rocks.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Producing Props – Some of the “retro futuristic” props from the show are explored as well as how they relate to the Trek universe and differ from some of the other Trek-related items from other shows.
- The Costumes Closet – Much like the above feature, this one focuses on (obviously) the costume design. While it’s not just related to the cast of the Enterprise, we also see how the other alien races are impacted from a wardrobe perspective.
- The Gorn – Fans of Star Trek: The Original Series might recall a strange lizard-like creature from the episode “Arena.” Well everything is old is new again and we see how this creature was re-invented for Strange New Worlds.
- Singing In Space – Perhaps the most talked about episode of the season is “Subspace Rhapsody” in which, you guessed it, the characters all burst out into song. Isn’t about time we had a song and dance version of Star Trek? I think we all know the answer to that question.
- Exploring New Worlds – We get a look at some of the literal “strange new worlds” that are profiled in some of the episodes. But this was a letdown as they didn’t sing. Oh well.
- Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes – Pretty much that. I won’t go into all the details. I think the episodes stood on their own quite nicely.
The Bottom Line
I know one shouldn’t use words like “always” and “never” but…there’ll never be a Star Trek series that will replace Star Trek: The Next Generation as my favorite. It’s too embedded in my history. But I have to say that with all the Trek shows that have come after – Strange New Worlds is the only one that comes close. I love the cast, it’s visually-appealing and seems to get back to the more fundamental roots of what it is that we like about Star Trek. The second season is better than the first.