Well Trek fans, the day has finally arrived. After a 12 year television hiatus, Star Trek returns to the small screen. The last entry into Trek lore was the hit or miss Enterprise, a prequel that followed the infancy of the Federation. The new Discovery is also a prequel, but only about a decade or so before the original adventures of Captain Kirk, Spock, and the officers of NCC-1701. It has been a long road, with production issues, casting controversies, and a real gamble on CBS’s part to have the show premiere on network, but then broadcast subsequent episode exclusively on CBS All Access, a pay to watch streaming service. Did the pilot put these, and other concerns to rest? Let’s dig in!
I want to start off talking about the opening credit screen. The common Trek intro is that of the vessel or space station in space. Discovery opens with a nod to the definition of the word with drawings and schematics on what makes things tick with a homage to the theme of the original series. Secondly, beyond whatever plot line we may receive from its writer, the cinematography and FX teams deserve a standing ovation. The look and feel goes vastly beyond what we have come to accept for science fiction television. This is truly motion picture quality work and it is greatly appreciated.
Sonequa Martin-Green of The Walking Dead fame stars as Lieutenant Commander Michael Burnham, First Officer on the Federation Starship Shenzhou. She is human, however, she was somehow bestowed the honor to be trained in Vulcan disciplines as a child by none other than Spock’s pop, Sarek (James Frain). The pilot centers around Burnham and crew investigating an unknown object near a sabotaged Federation relay station. With a scattering field around the object that scrambles the ship sensors, Michael takes a space suit outside for a closer look. What does she find? Klingons of course! Via cut scenes we learn that this particular band of Klingons is a religious sect centered around the mythical warrior Kahless. They are ready to bring the fight to a worthy adversary after nearly a century of laying low, and it looks like they have chosen the Federation as that foe. Burnham consults Sarek, who tells her that the only thing Klingons respect is violence. When she can’t convience her Captain (Michelle Yeoh) that giving the enemy a bloody is a good idea, she attempts to commandeer the ship with lousy results. If you want to see the next move in this newly formed game of galactic chess, you need to move to the exits and enter the streaming zone.
The pilot of Star Trek: Discovery accomplished its mission. It did a cunning job of piquing the interest of the viewer with its style and shiny surfaces with the notion that this series will be action Trek as opposed to the franchises self righteous diplomacy. There was a lack of heart in some scenes, with wooden dialogue and attempts at humor that would make even the worst dad joker cringe. It must be said as well that no other species has gone through as many cosmetic alterations as the Klingons. Here, they are much closer to the JJ Abrahms vision than to the original crews film versions and it’s honestly awkward. There is a moment of racial commentary that speaks to today’s political climate but it’s so fleeting, if you blink you’ll miss it. I hope the subject is delved deeper as the season progresses but we will have to wait and see.
Discovery has pontential but the jury is still out to decide if it is worth another bill for a streaming service that might never be utilized outside this show. For this writer, probably not.
3 beacons out of 5
Let us know what you thought of the series premiere of Star Trek: Discovery! Is it worthy of the franchise and your time?