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 first season.
Episode synopsis (courtesy of TrekCore)
- Strange New Worlds – When one of Pike’s officers goes missing while on a secret mission for Starfleet, Pike has to come out of self-imposed exile; he must navigate how to rescue his officer while struggling with what to do with the vision of the future he’s been given.
- Children of the Comet – While on a survey mission, the Enterprise discovers a comet is going to strike an inhabited planet; while trying to unlock the comet’s secrets, Pike and Number One deal with a group of zealots who want to prevent any interference.
- Ghosts of Illyria – The Enterprise encounters a contagion that ravages the ship; one by one, the entire crew is incapacitated except for Number One, Una Chin-Riley, who must now confront a secret she’s been hiding as she races to find a cure.
- Momento Mori – While on a routine supply mission to a colony planet, the U.S.S. Enterprise comes under attack from an unknown malevolent force; Pike learns that the enemy cannot be dealt with by conventional Starfleet means.
- Spock Amok – Lines are drawn at the “Sidetracked” challenge after several All-Stars team up to target their biggest competition; two players are shocked to find themselves on everyone’s radar when a notorious veteran accuses them of being more than just allies.
- Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach – A threat to an idyllic planet reunites Captain Pike with the lost love of his life; to protect her and a scientific holy child from a conspiracy, Pike offers his help and is forced to face unresolved feelings of his past.
- The Serene Squall – While on a dangerous humanitarian mission, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise stumbles into a harrowing game of leverage with the quadrant’s deadliest space pirate.
- The Elysian Kingdom – The Enterprise becomes stuck in a nebula that is home to an alien consciousness that traps the crew in a fairy tale.
- All Those Who Wonder – Pike and crew come face-to-face with their demons, and scary monsters too, when their landing party is stranded on a barren planet with a ravenous enemy.
- A Quality of Mercy – Just as Captain Pike thinks he’s figured out how to escape his fate, he’s visited by his future self, who shows him the consequences of his actions.
Video: How’s it look?
It’s hard to say exactly how good this looks without dumbing it down. Then again considering the source (me), it’s really not that difficult. In a word – perfect. It’s odd to see a Star Trek television series presented in a 2.39:1 AVC HD encode, 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.
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?
- Audio Commentary – The premiere episode “Strange New Worlds” gets a commentary track from actor Anson Mount and writer Akiva Goldsman. The duo are chatty, but there’s a little more dead space than I was expecting. As the sole audio commentary on the disc – it’s a good listen.
- Deleted Scenes – A few minutes’ worth from episodes “Ghosts of Illyria” and “Children of the Comet.”
- Deleted Scenes – The second disc just gives us some more deleted scenes from episodes “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” and “The Elysian Kingdom”
- Deleted Scenes – Just over ten minutes’ worth from the episode “All Those Who Wander.”
- Additional Episode – “Balance of Terror” from Star Trek: The Original Series is included. This episode inspired the episode “A Quality of Mercy” on Strange New Worlds.
- Pike’s Peek – Anson Mount takes fans through his journey as Captain Christopher Pike in the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, providing a glimpse into his portrayal with intimate footage throughout the season.
- World Building – Led by Production Designer Jonathan Lee and his team, the season’s production design utilized cutting-edge technology to create worlds prior to shoots, allowing the actors to fully immerse themselves into scenes rather than imagine the worlds around them in a green room. Through interviews with producers, cast and crew, fans will learn about the expertise involved in the development process and how the powerful technology was seamlessly integrated into the show.
- Exploring New Worlds – Fans will explore the storylines and characters that bring Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to life with writers, cast and crew.
- Gag Reel – Shenanigans on the set – Star Trek style!
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.