My relationship with the Star Trek series is a scattered one, to say the least. I certainly have some love for the old school series with William Shatner & co; I also have a lot of love for The Next Generation series, but never really got into Voyager. I was also quite impressed with the film reboot with Chris Pine, but less impressed with the second and third film. So I will go out there and say that I am by no means a Trekkie. Over the last week or so I have been indulging in seeing what the new Netflix series Star Trek Discovery has to offer and so far, I have been pleasantly entertained by it.
The series which is set ten years before Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise, where it follows the story of First Officer Michael Burnham. You would be forgiven for making the mistake in assuming that this is a yet another dominant male protagonist from the Star Trek series. No, far from it, Michael is played by Sonequa Martin-Green, who has also starred in the hit series The Walking Dead.
To tell you more, I have to warn you that the next bit contains a few spoilers for at least the first two episodes, so feel free to skip over this bit. The over-arching story ramps up very quickly within the first two episodes. The U.S.S Shenzhou discovers what looks like a beacon in the outer limits of Federation space and upon investigating it, they discover that it is some sort of Klingon beacon, which is then activated by the Klingons who show up in force. Due to her history with the Klingons, First Officer Burnham creates a mutinous situation to go against her captains’ wishes and gets herself imprisoned. Cue a big space fight with multiple losses on either side, then finally a way for Burnham to redeem herself. It’s not long before Michael finds herself on board the science vessel, the U.S.S Discovery. It is where her story really begins to pick up, as well as throw multiple references back to her and the other main characters past.
Sound and vision
Being a modern production you’d expect things to be of a high standard, in my opinion. The space combat sections produce enough noise to be entertaining without being overly loud. Yes, I am well aware that there is no sound in space, but I think we are willing to let this go because it’s entertainment and not accurate. The theme tune certainly fits the series; It may not have that same epic feeling that the original did, but it certainly meets the criteria.
Visually the whole series does have a neon hue which, I personally quite like. I also like the design of the U.S.S Discovery, although it does feel a bit weird that Discovery is set 10 years before the Enterprise, yet it feels like a more of an advanced ship in places. The makeup is pretty good too; I especially like the redesign of the Klingons, which has made them look a lot more aggressive. It makes them feel more tribal and brutal as a race, which I think they lost in ST:TNG.
I’ve sat and read a fair few of the other user reviews on relevant websites. I’ve seen a lot of people trash the series and call it out for not being Star Trek. I’ve seen so many bad comments about the series breaking canon, and I hate to just ignore that, but I don’t think I have enough knowledge about the Star Trek universe to comment on it. I’ve also seen people call Michael a “typical Mary-Sue” but you’ll never hear such things from me. I have to judge the series based on how I feel about what I have seen.
Star Trek fans may want to look away when I say that I have enjoyed the series. It’s not without its flaws but it has been quite entertaining as a result. Most people might have a major issue with the storyline as it tends to focus on Michael more than most of the other crew. It’s a different format and it certainly feels different from most other Star Trek series, as far as I have seen. Because it tends to focus on one major character, it can make the other characters feel a bit circumstantial. The other characters certainly do have some character progression, but the focus is certainly on Michael Burnham most of the time.
It might be just to fit with the more modern expectations but there is an interesting gay relationship. I will say that it feels like they are just ticking a box here and this might be because we only have seen one on a ship of hundreds of people, which makes it a tad unbelievable.
As I have been watching it on Netflix, I still have a few episodes to go to finish the first season. I have enjoyed the twists and callbacks in the plot so far. The production team have already confirmed back in January that we will have to wait until 2019 for Season 2. They have a 10-year story gap to fill until the launch of Kirk’s enterprise and I hope they do not go too far with Discovery. It could be one of those series that is in danger of becoming stale and jumping the shark quite early but I hope for its sake that the writers stop and bring it to a conclusion before then.
Have you been watching Discovery? Are you a Trekkie and disagree with how the series has been run so far, or are you pleasantly surprised by it? Give us your feedback as usual via the comments section or over on Reddit, Facebook or via Twitter.
Live long and prosper