I’ve made no secret on my blog that I’m a Trekkie. I actually wrote a two part guide to the universe, for people who liked the idea of catching up before Discovery began. I’ve been looking forward to the launch of a modern take on the franchise without the cinema baggage. Here’s what I think so far.
So where does Discovery take us in the Trek universe? We’re about ten years before Kirk takes over as captain of the iconic USS Enterprise. All the technologies Star Trek has become known for are here. You could merrily use a transporter beam to teleport your photon torpedoes into a naughty alien’s warp drive. As long as their shields were down, of course.
It’s futuristic enough to feel like Star Trek and not like a dodgy spin off (I’m looking at you, Enterprise). Having spoken to a few Trekkie friends though there does seem to be a little disappointment that we’re looking backwards in the timeline again rather than going for a post Voyager setting. I can see why it might seem frustrating, but don’t think it really hurts the series. As long as the story is good I don’t mind when it’s told.
Two Episodes In
For those of us outside the US, Netflix is providing the series but on a more typical weekly basis. Thankfully we’ve had the first two episodes served up for us at once, providing a solid eighty-odd minute introduction to the new setting and characters.
I’m thrilled to report that we’re off to a pleasing start. The special effects are cinema quality, believable and gorgeous. The lead character Michael has been given an intriguing backstory that I can’t wait to explore, the only human to have ever been educated on Vulcan. The dramatisation has been solid, even if there is a slight feeling that the actors are still finding their feet, as you get in many a new series.
What I’m most impressed with is the confidence with which it’s all being presented. There’s been no reliance on fan service or dredging up characters from the past (apart from one small role in particular which is central to Michael and her history). The producers have taken some design cues from the movie reboots which should keep newer fans comfortable and been bold enough to shake up some other things. I’ll avoid too many details, have a look for yourself!
Reception (Plus Bonus IMDB Rant!)
I’m pleased to see that much of the critic response so far agrees with me that this is a confident return to TV for a long beloved franchise. I hope that this heralds the return of some serious sci-fi to our screens and the waning of an era punctuated by endless super hero franchise tie-ins and post apocalyptic drivel, something I mused on previously here.
As for the oft-visited IMDB.com, ignore the bloody rating at this stage. It’s been flooded by a tonne of single star reviews from people complaining about the CBS streaming service (the platform for distribution in the USA) and another distinct group who seem to find diversity and the prominence of strong female characters of different cultures offensive. To those people I say find the edge of the earth (which you no doubt believe in considering your medieval stance on things) and kindly drop off of it.
You won’t be missed.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Have you started watching yet? How are you finding Discovery?