Season 2 Excitement Grows

Michael Enters Spock's Quarters

The much anticipated Star Trek: Short Treks has kicked off, with the first episode airing last week in the United States and Canada.

If you’re an international viewer about to reach for your Netflix account to go check it out, don’t bother.  We’re still waiting, and sadly, it looks like we’ll be waiting for a while.

Netflix, the international streaming rights holder for Star Trek: Discovery, have no plans to carry the between-seasons mini-episodes at this time.

If, like me, you’re not happy about that, I recommend you let Netflix know by visiting this link and requesting the show.

The first episode of Short Treks is a Tilly-centric adventure called “Runaway.” Reviews online have been a little mixed but mostly positive.  What I’ve read is enticing, and I really want to see one scene in particular where Tilly apparently explains away a ruined mess hall by blaming it all on an hyperactive and destructive hormonal space rabbit!

Tilly from the Episode Runaway - Star Trek Short Treks

If you don’t want to wait for Netflix to pull their finger out and stream Short Treks, and want more information on the episode, you can check out a spoiler free review here, by Anthony Pascale from the wonderful TrekMovie website.

In other news, there has been an avalanche of Star Trek: Discovery related reveals in recent days, with most of them coming hot on the heels of CBS releasing the Season Two promo poster and a new trailer for the show.  The poster features the mystical “red angel” that we learn more about in the new trailer, which appears to have a link to Spock – and, it would appear, Michael.

Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Logo

The poster is simple, and features the seven lights that Captain Pike mentions in the first trailer, with the Angel right in the very centre of the Starfleet Delta.  The poster is minimalist, beautiful, evocative and appropriately mysterious.

For those of you who don’t remember, this new season is meant to be an exploration of science and faith and the poster presents that effectively.

As mentioned, there is a new trailer out and it is awesome and packed full of excitement and surprises.  We get our first glimpses of Ethan Peck as Spock and Rebecca Romijn as Number One.

I really expected them to hold those two particular surprises over until just before the season launch.

I’m glad they didn’t!

We also get a lot more of Captain Christopher Pike.

Want a closer look at Spock, and another look at Number One?

We’re here to please.

Spock is sporting a more rugged look than usual, foreshadowing his future Star Trek: The Motion Picture Kolinahr look.

I haven’t heard any backlash from fans about Spock’s dishevelled appearance yet, which is good.

I like the foreshadowing and how it adds more depth to this iconic character, in a way that is consistent with things we will see Spock do in the future.  He’s always been a character adrift, seeking somewhere and some way to belong, and, despite his adherence to logic, has always been a deeply spiritual individual.  He left Starfleet to undertake the rigorous Kolinahr ritual, and didn’t continue his quest for pure logic when he failed, even though the Masters would have probably let him, because his soul/heart/intellect felt the pull of something “greater.”

At heart, Spock is a scientist with an insatiable curiosity, but he’s also a seeker, someone open to exploring space and the inner most depths of his own complicated psyche.

As stated above, alongside Spock we get to see the new Number One, and Rebecca Romijn looks perfect in the role.  There were times while watching the trailer that I thought Majel Barrett-Roddenberry had come back, magically 50 years younger.

Rebecca is channeling the essence of this fan-favourite character, building on the work of Gene and Majel superbly.

In the brief moments we get to see Number One, she is poised, exuding obvious intelligence while also expressing compassion and concern. There is a level of measured maturity present that was also there in Majel’s portrayal and all I can say is the producers chose well.

I know some fans are a little disappointed that the Enterprise crew play a role in this season, but I am incredibly happy they’re included. Star Trek is the original shared universe, made so famous in recent times by Marvel, and it doesn’t hurt to remind Geekdom that we did it first, and we still do it really well.

I maintain my original prediction that this entire season is a sort of backdoor pilot for a Pike Enterprise series, and I really hope I’m right.

I’d watch that show.

Apart from the Spock and Number One surprises, the trailer treads familiar ground while still managing to throw the odd curve ball.

The Klingons appear, as does former Empress Philippa Georgiou.

As hinted in recent months, the Klingons have had something of a redesign and now come with hair.  All of them.  The in-universe explanation for this is that, traditionally, Klingons shave their heads for war.  Obviously, come Picard’s era, that tradition has been done away with.

What I’m about to write is an incredibly unpopular view, but I never liked the soft rock/soft metal look of the movie and Star Trek: The Next Generation era Klingons.  Their flowing locks never made sense.  All that beautiful hair waving around on a battlefield, to me, was just asking for an intergalactic hair-pulling fight of titanic proportions.

The streamlined, more predatory Klingons of Star Trek: Discovery Season One look dangerous.  They don’t look like they’re about to launch into a Bon Jovi cover.  Yes, there were issues with the heavy makeup and prosthetics, but the bald look made sense for a warrior race.

Still, this in-universe logic they’ve created makes sense and I’m happy to buy it.

L'Rell With Hair

Georgious’s appearance was of course alluded to in the deleted scene that made the rounds at the conclusion of Season One.

As that scene suggested, she would return as a part of the covert Section 31.  Not everyone knows that, and only a select few know that this Georgiou is from another universe.

Captain Pike?  He is completely unaware.  So… that should be interesting!  Mirror-Georgiou is most definitely not the rationale, reasoned, compassionate Starfleet officer Captain Pike will remember and it remains to be seen what he will make of this different version.

Last season’s cover story is still being used.  Georgiou was rescued from a Klingon prison at the end of the war.

Maybe Starfleet is hoping her quirks can be explained away as trauma, and not the actions of a frustrated former Empress who is a sociopathic megalomaniac from another universe.

Georgiou Returns

The last bit of news is that the new season will premiere January 17th in the United States and Canada, which means it will come to Australia January 18th.

There’s more news on Season Two thanks to the New York Comic Con, but I won’t spoil it here.  If you want to learn more, visit TrekMovie and read this article.

If you haven’t seen the new Season Two preview yet, watch it here.  This is the international trailer available from Netflix.

We don’t have long to wait now.

Season Two looks like it’s going to be quite different, in a good way, from what was (in my opinion) an excellent first season.

Star Trek: Discovery is available in the United States on CBS All Access, and is available on Space and CraveTV in Canada.  For international viewers, the series is available exclusively on Netflix.

Remember, if you’re one of those international viewers, put a little pressure on Netflix so we can enjoy Short Treks too.

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Bold New Treks

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So much has happened in the world of Star Trek these last few weeks, it’s difficult to decide where to start and what to report on!

But before that, I had an e-mail from a fan of this site asking me why I recapped news reports. He appreciated it, but was curious. It’s simple. When big news happens, we get disjointed drips of it from con reports, media releases and various interviews happening all over the place. Sometimes it’s put together afterwards by various sites, but that’s rare. It frustrates me, so I group it all together for other fans like me who enjoy and appreciate the reports we read, but would love to see them encapsulated in one article because it’s easy to lose track of them all thanks to the fact we all live busy lives. So, thanks for the question and hopefully this puts it all into perspective!

Now, back to this news update.

Thanks to the San Diego Comic Con and Star Trek Las Vegas, a lot of news has come to light: a new Klingon look for Disco season two, new Trek shows, a push to have Trek on CBS All Access all the time, casting announcements, the DS9 documentary, pay disputes for Kelvin-verse Trek IV and more.

I’ve chosen to focus exclusively on news related to the proposed new series’, and the upcoming Trek feature films.

So.  Proposed new shows?  Yes.  First up is a brand new set of mini-episodes called Short Treks, that have been created to give us some Trek content while we wait for season two of Star Trek: DiscoveryShort Treks is also a part of CBS‘s recently announced desire to have Star Trek content on CBS All Access 24 hours a day.

But that’s not it.  There has also been talk of a new animated series and, most incredibly, a new Star Trek project that brings Sir Patrick Stewart back as fan favourite Jean-Luc Picard.

Before we dive in to any of that, we need to look at couple of important casting announcements.  The first is the announcement we have a new Number One (the role originated by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry in 1964).

Rebecca Romijn, best known for her role as Mystique alongside Patrick Stewart in X-Men, X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand, has been cast as the new Number One.  She joins Anson Mount on the Enterprise for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.

She and Anson are joined by Ethan Peck, the grandson of Hollywood Legend Gregory Peck, who will be playing Spock.

Spock?!

Though producers said they would not cast another Spock because it would be too hard to find another actor capable of following in the footsteps of Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto, it appears they have found a story and an actor that they believe will do justice to Spock and the two exceptional actors who have played him.  Spock is definitely in season two, and I admit I am excited about that.

Some have decried this as fan service, but I don’t have a problem with fan service if it’s done well, and if a wonderful story can be brought to life as a result.  Star Trek has a rich history full of exciting and compelling characters, why can’t we see them?  Why wouldn’t we?  If you were a writer or producer on a new Trek series, wouldn’t you want to use those characters if you could?

Some fan commentators have decried the implausibility of the Enterprise and Discovery being anywhere near each other, but that’s a rubbish observation.

Within the in-universe history of Star Trek, there were not that many ships out there in the earlier days of the Federation, and when you think about it, we actually don’t know the mission profile of the Enterprise in that time period.  Plus, there was a war that bled into Federation space and you can bet the Federation wanted its best ships nearby protecting people and assets.

What do we know about Pike’s mission in that time period?

Star Trek The Cage Poster

We know that he and his ship were returning from a battle, before intercepting the Talos distress signal that led to the events we have seen in “The Cage.”

The Enterprise was a heavy cruiser, and Constitution Class starships were the premier front line vessels of Starfleet.  The ships became known for their exploration missions, but Gene Roddenberry had a multipurpose role in mind for them when he conceived the series.  As every Trek fan knows, the concept for the show was based on a “wagon train to the stars” idea, with the Enterprise pushing the boundaries of known space, while also serving as a diplomatic vessel, a peace-keeping force and even, at times, a special escort for dignitaries.  As a premier front line vessel, there is every reason for it to be within warping distance of the Discovery, which, at the time the two ships come across each other, had only recently left Earth.

But, I digress.  Back to Ethan Peck, our new Spock.

Ethan Peck

The casting of Ethan has been given the seal of approval by the Nimoy family, with Leonard’s son, Adam, and daughter, Jule, along with their spouses Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and David Knight, that we learned about via a post on Instagram.

In that post, Ethan looks pretty damn stoked, and there appears to be genuine warmth shining off of Adam in particular.

The Nimoy Seal of Approval

Ethan started acting as a young man.  He’s 32, and has appeared in the ABC sitcom 10 Things I Hate About You, Madam Secretary, Gossip Girl and That ’70s Show.

His enthusiasm for the role is apparent, and according to his girlfriend both of them will always remember the moment he got the call that he was cast as Spock.  Ethan apparently sat down on a nearby roadside curb and cried.

All of this makes me think that the appearance of the Enterprise, Pike, Number One and Spock in Star Trek: Discovery is a way of launching a sort of soft-backdoor pilot for a new series that focuses on Christopher Pike and his crew.  CBS wants more Star Trek on TV and has put Alex Kurtzman and his production company, Secret Hideout, in charge of that on a multi-year deal, so why wouldn’t they explore one of the least seen but most beloved Captain’s in Trek history?

Fans have been interested in Pike and Number One for many many years, and it’s a period of Star Trek history that would be interesting to do a deep dive into.  Star Trek: Five Year Mission, or whatever they would call it, would be a beautiful companion to Star Trek: Discovery and it would honour Gene’s original vision by giving life to the first characters he created.

When you think about it, Anson Mount is doing a LOT of publicity work for Star Trek: Discovery, and with two other actors now cast in two incredibly important and historic roles, why wouldn’t CBS take advantage of that and create something amazing?

If they didn’t, it would be a real waste of talent and time.

But, enough of my suppositions.   You probably want to know about the news that really has fandom going crazy.

Jean-Luc Picard is back.

Patrick Stewart and Alex Kurtzman announced the news at Star Trek Las Vegas.  They didn’t tell us a lot, because it’s very early days, but what we do know is:

  • Kirsten Beyer, it seems, had the idea.
  • Akiva Goldsman will Executive Produce the show.
  • It takes place approximately 20 years after Star Trek: Nemesis.
  • Pulitzer prize-winning author, Michael Chabon, is on staff.
  • James Duff will also Executive Produce.
  • Kirsten will be a writer on the show.
  • Patrick initially turned them down, but with some persistence from Alex and his team fell in love with the idea, remembering just how impactful Star Trek had been and still is in the lives of millions.
  • Patrick will be an Executive Producer on the series.
  • Picard might not be a Captain anymore.

This is what Patrick had to say, live on stage at STLV18:

Jean-Luc Picard is back.

He went on to talk a little about the older Picard we may meet.

He may not, and I stress may not, be a captain anymore.  He may not be the Jean-Luc that you recognise and know so well.  It may be a very different individual.  Someone who has been changed by his experiences.  Twenty years will have passed, which is more or less exactly the time between the last movie – Nemesis – and today.

He followed this with a guarantee.

It will be, I promise you, I guarantee it, something very, very different.  It will come to you with the same passion, and determination and love of the material and love of our followers and our fans, exactly as we had it before.

We don’t know whether or not Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton or Michael Dorn will be in the new show, but it is almost certain one or two or maybe even all of them will appear at some point.

LeVar, Gates, Patrick, Marina, Brent and Michael

Will this new Star Trek be an ongoing series?  It’s unlikely.  Patrick is in his late ’70s and in a couple of years time will turn 80.  Committing to an ongoing series as complicated as Star Trek would probably not be something he’d do.

It’s more likely this will be a mini-series, or limited special series of maybe six to ten episodes.

More news is certain to come over the next few months, but for now we don’t know much else. One of the best things about this announcement is that maybe, finally, these incredible, beloved characters will get the send off they deserve. I’m okay with Nemesis, but it’s not a great film and Picard and crew deserved a better on screen farewell. This new show might do that.

The new animated series?  Nothing has been disclosed about this but it has garnered a lot of interest from fans, because it can happen, literally, at any time in Star Trek‘s expansive history.  We could continue the five-year mission of Kirk and his crew.  We could discover brand new adventures on the Enterprise D.  We could even fill in the blanks for the crew of the USS Equinox after they were trapped in the Delta Quadrant, before the Voyager found them.  The possibilities are endless, which is why fandom is super-excited.

For now, we’ll just have to wait for news on that project and hope that something can be produced that is at least as good as Star Wars‘s successful foray into animation.

Lastly, the next Star Trek feature film has hit a hurdle.

Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth are reportedly holding up the fourth feature outing for our Kelvin-verse crew.

Why?  There is a little contention over their salaries.  Both Chris’s are blockbuster stars now thanks to films like Wonder Woman and the Thor series.  Their salary expectations are, as a result, a little different to what they probably were.

Star Trek: Beyond, while well received by fans, only made $343 million world wide.  That’s a decent profit when compared to the cost of the film ($185 million to produce, though this doesn’t include the film’s marketing budget), but it’s not enough to warrant a massive investment in a sequel.  Tent pole summer blockbusters need to make at least double of what they cost to be considered profitable.

This means Paramount will be looking to produce the as yet untitled Trek film for less, and part of that will be offering less money to its stars.  Which should be interesting.  There is not one of the main cast whose careers have not taken off since the release of the first Kelvin-verse film.  Some of their careers have gone stratospheric – particularly Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana and Simon Pegg.

All three actors are in demand, with Zoe in particular lined up for movie after movie after movie.

Karl Urban (Doctor Leonard McCoy) is confident both Chris’s will sort out the pay dispute, and that the movie will go ahead.  Paramount, however, have a very narrow window available to them to get the movie into production because of actor availability.  If it doesn’t happen soon, the planned fourth film will be abandoned, and we’ll have to wait another couple of years for Tarantino Trek, which is currently slated to be the fifth outing for the crew of the Kelvin-verse USS Enterprise.

What do we know about the new movie?  A few things.

SJ Clarkson

  • The basic premise is unclear, but we do know it unites James and George Kirk in some way.  There is a script, but it’s details are under wraps.
  • The film will be the first to be directed by a woman, with S.J. Clarkson being given that honour.  Clarkson is a British film and television director, best know to the rest of the world for Life on Mars, Dexter, Heroes, Ugly Betty, Bates Motel, Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black and The Defenders.
  • The film will be the first Star Trek movie to be shot in the United Kingdom.

That’s pretty much it, for what we know about the next film, and major events in Trek.

As news breaks we’ll keep you updated here.

If you’d like to check out more Star Trek news, we encourage you to visit our two “go to” sites, TrekMovie and TrekCore.

Until the next update, Live Long and Prosper.

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Episode 3 Recap and Review

Star Trek Discovery Update 22062017

I am so conflicted.

I really enjoyed this episode, but there were a couple of things that gave me pause.  More on that later in the review.  First… the basics:

The Facts
Episode Number
: 103 (Season 1, Episode 3)
Episode Title: “Context Is For Kings”
Writers: Aaron Harberts, Gretchen J. Berg and Craig Sweeny
Story: Bryan Fuller, Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg
Director: Akiva Goldsman

Interesting Bits and Pieces
We get to see our first Jefferies Tube!
There is a different Starfleet delta badge worn by some officers on the Discovery.  It’s all black.
A boarding party is a boarding party, not an away team (like on TNG).
Amanda is mentioned, and Spock is hinted at when Burnham talks to Tilly about her childhood.
Lorca has a Tribble.  That is hopefully neutered!
Lorca has a Gorn skeleton in his private area.  This is a little annoying, because I’m pretty sure we don’t officially meet the Gorn until the TOS era?
The robot is called Airiam and appears to be a Lieutenant Commander or full Commander?  I hope they explain this soon.  It looks like Data may have been the first “human-looking” android and not the first android in Starfleet.
The Discovery uses “breath” ID scans to access sensitive parts of the ship.  It actually looks kind of silly.
Last, but not least, Lorca and Landry are up to something together, and seem to have a relationship that goes back a while.

The Recap and Review
The first few minutes of “Context Is For Kings” did not grab me on the first watch.  On the second watch, I was far more interested because I knew what was coming and the scene made more sense.

We start on a prisoner transfer shuttle six-months after the events of “Battle At The Binary Stars.”

Burnham is in old school command mustard-gold, though it’s not a Starfleet uniform she is wearing, it’s prison garb.  She’s not in a good head space.

Sharing the shuttle with her are three not very nice individuals, one woman, two men, all human.  They’re unpleasant in every way, and this works.  The scene does a few things.  It shows us we’re not yet in the utopia that the Federation will become in the Picard-Sisko-Janeway era and it shows us that, as a species, humanity is still working itself out and is still trying to cast off some of its less desirable traits.

We quickly learn that Burnham is infamous as one of the prisoners tells her, with considerable anger, that she lost a family member in that battle.

Before things get violent, some kind of life form that feeds on energy starts to drain the shuttle of all power.  The pilot does an emergency EVA to try and fix the problem, but her tether breaks and she shoots off into the distance.  It’s all a little weird.  The scene is filmed in a very flat and undramatic way.  It’s devoid of intensity and energy.  Even the pilots death lacks drama.  She just shoots by a window.  I think that’s Akiva (the Director) helping us to climb into Michael’s mind – but initially I didn’t like it.

The prisoners go into a panic but Burnham sits there, quietly, almost with an air of relief, accepting her fate.  Perhaps even looking forward to it.

That, the second time around, was actually quite powerful.  It’s as if Burnham wanted to die and thought she deserved it.

Suddenly, a beautiful looking starship drifts languidly into shot, tractor beam extended, to save them.

USS Discovery

After two episodes, we finally get to see the USS Discovery.

I know the Discovery‘s design has divided fandom, but I love it.  It’s recognisably Starfleet, but is it’s own thing – and it’s stunning.  It’s design influence is a little alien, and I wonder at that.  I don’t recognise any particular Star Trek race’s ‘fingerprints’ on the design, but find that I want to know who developed her and whether or not they were guided by an alien aesthetic.

That’s the Trek geek in my coming out!

From the moment Discovery sails in to save the day, the episode kicks into high gear and we finally get to meet most of the principle cast.

Rekha Sharma as Commander Ellen Landry is entirely unlikeable.  She doesn’t seem to like or dislike Burnham, but treats everyone with what feels like contempt.  Equally.  Except for Gabriel Lorca.

Jason Isaacs plays our new Captain and you never know, from one moment to the next, whether or not Lorca is a good guy or a bad guy.  He is entirely mysterious, almost menacing, and completely compelling.

Mary Wiseman’s Ensign Sylvia Tilly is fantastic in every way.  She’s someone a lot of us can relate to.  This show is serious and tense, and Tilly brings a lighter touch which is needed.  I admit, I adore her.  She’s awkward, a ball of anxiety, allergic to almost everything, and is just a really good and really sweet human being.

Anthony Rapp’s Lieutenant Paul Stamets is arrogant, dismissive and entirely obsessed with his work.  He’s going to be an amazing character.  He doesn’t seem to like Lorca, and I’m not sure if he’s Starfleet or civilian?  It seems, from his dialogue, that he might have been drafted.

We reunite with Doug Jones’ Saru, and there’s also a brief, dialogue free reunion with a cybernetically altered Lieutenant Keyla Detmer from the Shenzhou, played by Emily Coutts.

Neither reunion goes well.  Gone is the brother/sister vibe between Saru and Burnham.  Saru is now the first officer of the Discovery, and he makes it clear that he considers Michael dangerous.

Keyla?  She just stares at Michael with barely constrained hatred and turns away.

Michael is temporarily put to work in Engineering with Stamets and Tilly while the shuttle is repaired.  It’s made clear she’ll ship out with the other prisoners and resume her journey when the transport is fixed.

As she gets to work, and gets a little break-and-entery, the mystery that is Discovery and her mission starts to unfold.

We learn that the Discovery has a sister ship, the USS Glenn, and the Glenn goes silent after upping their mycelial propulsion experiment.

Discovery shoots off to investigate.

Burnham, Tilly, Stamets, Landry and our first red-shirt (sorry… bronze-shirt), Ensign Ricky, shuttle over to what turns out to be a ship of horrors.

The experimental propulsion system on the Glenn has done something terrible to the biological lifeforms on the ship, and we go from Star Trek to horror-Trek in a matter of moments.  Disfigured, dismembered crew litter the ship, and it appears the Klingons tried to board her as we see one – before he’s quickly eaten by some kind of slug/beetle hybrid.

It’s a scene that is both amusing and horrifying.  One moment the Klingon is “shushing” the Discovery crew, the next he’s set upon by the monster and sucked into its toothy maw.

After a tense chase scene, that includes Michael reciting lines from an Alice in Wonderland book, our heroes escape, and, we learn, so too does the monster… though escape is probably the wrong word.  It ends up in some sort of menagerie aboard the Discovery thanks to Commander Landry.

The episode ends with Lorca asking Burnham to stay on as a consultant.  She declines, saying she committed mutiny and deserves her punishment, giving context to her despondency in the first scene.  She also doubts Lorca can over rule Starfleet.  He tells her he has a wide latitude in his mission, and insists she’s someone he needs.

She initially thinks its to engage in clandestine, barely legal activities in the name of the war effort and challenges him on this.

In a moment that gives us some welcome insight into Lorca’s cold and suspicious behaviour, he says it’s not.  He needs people who think on their feet, and are capable of doing what is necessary to save lives.

Burnham accepts his offer, affected by Lorca’s argument: “you helped start a war, don’t you wanna help me end it?”

What will her role be?  We’ll have to tune in to the next episode to find out.

“Context Is For Kings” is an excellent episode.  Akiva Goldsman really can direct.

The entire episode is tight, though there is a lot of treknobabble it doesn’t get in the way, and the exposition is light.

The performance of every single actor is superb.  There isn’t one weak actor in this show.

The writing… well, it feels like it’s been written by a committee and suffered as a result.  Previous Trek shows have an almost lyrical narrative flow, but Star Trek: Discovery hasn’t found that yet – and I think it’s because so many people have their fingers in each script.

That might eventually prove to be a good thing, but right now it is clear the writers are still trying to find their groove.

What gave me pause?

This new way of flying.  Unless I’m missing something, the Discovery appears to be mushroom-powered.  Which is okay.  In my day job, one part of the business I work for is looking into the science of mushrooms and how they can purify water and reclaim waste – and I am almost convinced mushrooms might save our planet, but there are four Trek series set in the future where there is zero mention of or reference to mushroom powered vessels.

Also, Lorca.  I admit I love his character, but I can’t work out if he’s a genius or a sociopath.

It rubs me the wrong way that Starfleet has given this man carte blanche to find a way to defeat the Klingons.

Context may be for kings, but I need more context.  We all do.  Is the war going so badly after six-months, that Starfleet is willing to consider chemical weapons or some other horrific tool as a means of stopping the Klingons?  Is this a Section 31 thing?  Are the black markings on the Discovery a symbol it is somehow different from other Starfleet vessels?

Lorca’s moral ambiguity is both fascinating and disquieting.

The shows writers and producers have gone to great pains to assure us it will all make sense, so I’m happy to suspend my concerns and enjoy the ride, but I do hope things become a little clearer soon.

Overall, this is an intense and enjoyable third episode… or actual pilot, if you prefer to see it that way.

Scorecard
This series is shaping up to be something very different and uniquely wonderful.  Four delta’s out of five!
4 Deltas

The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery has the second longest title in Trek history (I think).  It’s called “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry.”

The longest episode title in Trek history?  To my knowledge, it’s “For The World Is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky.”

We’ll be back with another review in a few days time.

Star Trek: Discovery continues to look incredible, and while the show still feels a little uneven I have no doubt it will find its voice soon, and its place in Star Trek canon.

Live Long, and Prosper.

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Pilot Episode Recap and Review (Parts One & Two)

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It’s been 12 long years, but finally Star Trek is back on television.  Sort of.  It was on television in the US for a night, and then switched to a streaming service… but you know what I mean!

The event also coincides, give or take a few days, with the 30th anniversary of another Trek show that gave birth to 18 years of science fiction adventure – Star Trek: The Next Generation.

TNG was a ground breaking series for its time and gave birth to a shared universe before the Marvel movies made the idea popular.  Though beloved now by most Star Trek fans, back in the day people were swearing they would not give it a chance because of how different it was: the command uniform colour was red, red-shirts were suddenly gold-shirts, the ships only looked vaguely familiar and Klingons were on the bridge.  Some Trek fans do like to get their knickers in a twist and make a fuss.

A fuss most certainly has been made about Star Trek: Discovery.  For those of us who were in our teens (or older) when the new series was first in production, all this ‘noise’ is annoyingly familiar.  We also saw it when Star Trek: Enterprise went into production.

I’ll give the more rabid among us this though, the job is harder when the new show is a prequel, especially one that is set in a timeframe we all already know so much about.

In Australia, “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle of the Binary Stars” dropped on Netflix only a few hours after they had premiered in the United States and Canada.  I quickly downloaded both episodes, finished up work for the day and headed to my car, fully intending to watch both episodes when I got home… only I couldn’t resist taking a peek.

Promising myself I’d only watch the first 15 minutes, I turned the car engine on, left it in park, hooked my phone into the car’s speakers, cued the first episode up on my pone and 40 minutes later I had to stop and just drive.

I eventually finished both episodes later that night in the comfort of my own home, with a nice warm feeling inside.  This was the new normal.  Star Trek on tap once a week, once again.

What did I think of the two-part premiere?

I enjoyed them.  I didn’t outright love them.  I was fully prepared to love them, I wanted to love them, but I didn’t quite get there.  I loved a lot of what I saw and I could see with ease the promise of an amazing series (which you might doubt when you read the review below), but it wasn’t there yet.  Nor should it be, it’s a pilot and every series has to find it’s feet, however, having just written that, I loved “The Emissary.”  With that pilot, I was sold.  It remains my favourite introduction to a new Trek series ever – and boy was that series different!

It was the same for Star Trek: Voyager.  I loved “Caretaker.”  That was an excellent pilot and ranks second on my list.

Star Trek: Enterprise‘s “Broken Bow” I enjoyed but had issues with.  The soft porn gel rub down in the decon chamber struck me as gratuitous and ruined that pilot for me.  It still does.

Next Gen?  Well, I was 15.  I loved it, but the adult me now sees how touch and go it was.  I still enjoy it (thanks nostalgia) but we all know it had a lot of issues.

“The Cage” vs “Where No Man Has Gone Before”… I love “The Cage.”  It wins out for me.  I loved Pike and I loved Number One.  Of course, I love Kirk and his crew too, but “The Cage” resonated with me when I first saw it when it was finally released on video many years ago.

Star Trek: Discovery?  I still don’t know.  It’s a little telling that I haven’t watched the two parter since that first night, I will, I just haven’t yet.  I strongly believe it will be an amazing series, but it upsets me that I didn’t immediately love it.

Why didn’t I love it?

I think they made a few mistakes that were avoidable – not Kelvin timeline level mistakes, but mistakes that shouldn’t have happened with that many executive producers nurse-maiding the series to air.

Before I go any further, it’s only fair I give you this warning:

Spoiler Alert

The Recap and Review
Now that that is out of the way, I’m going to go a little spoiler crazy.  This won’t be a blow by blow review, but I will highlight some of what gave me pause.

The first episode starts with the Klingons, and I think that was a mistake.

They look fantastic.  Yes, they are different from the Klingons we’ve known and loved (or been sick of for years because they’re so over used), and that is a little jarring, but they are recognisably Klingon, a more ornate version with very ornate costumes and intricately detailed sets, but they are without doubt Klingon.

The problem is that the makeup/prosthetics are so heavy I couldn’t work out what they were saying.  I don’t understand Klingon, but there is a cadence and familiarity we all have with that language, which was absent.

I wasn’t engaged by any of the Klingon scenes.   Not that opening scene or any subsequent scene.   They were laborious.  Slow, plodding and full of mangled guttural sounds.  I don’t believe that was the fault of the actors, but of the heavy prosthetics, the producers and the two director (part one and two had different directors).

It wasn’t a smart way to start a series.

The second misstep was the scene on the desert world with Georgiou and Burnham.

It was the second scene and it served no purpose.  We weren’t given a chance to be invested in the aliens they’re secretly helping, and though we were given an insight into Georgiou and Burnham’s relationship we get better examples of that later on.  Watching it, it felt like an excuse to mention “General Order One” to reassure us they were playing by the rules, and to set up Burnham’s fall from grace – being told she’s ready to command her own ship, only to have that all fall apart later on.

The worst part of that scene was the Starfleet delta in the sand.  I had hoped it was an insert by CBS that was used only for promos, but no.

Georgiou and Burnham walk a delta in the sand to help the Shenzhou spot them from orbit.

Let’s not even talk about how big that delta would have needed to be.  The biggest sin, besides the stupidity of the delta, was showing the Shenzhou break through the clouds only to jarringly cut to a shot of her hovering over the desert floor.  They wasted what would have been a stunning shot.

BUT, from there, the show really took off.

After a ‘different’ kind of opening credits sequence that is good but derivative, with music that is almost perfect (it dips in the middle which shifts the whole theme from awesome to average) and a list of credits that has us all asking “just how many Executive Producers does one show need?” we jump straight to the Shenzhou and their encounter with a mysterious object.  Suddenly, you forget all the executive producers, the muffled Klingons and the sand-delta because the show becomes Star Trek.  Everything starts to click.

The bridge and design of the Shenzhou owe more to the ships of Star Trek: Enterprise or to the USS Kelvin and USS Franklin of the J.J. Abrams films than to any TOS ship, and the uniforms are unlike anything we’ve ever seen in any Star Trek, but suddenly, for me, it all fit.

The designers have linked the old with the new in a way that works.  They couldn’t ignore the Kelvin timeline, because a smidge of it takes place in the Prime timeline – so it suddenly made sense that we’d see a mix of TOS and Kelvin and Star Trek: Enterprise design aesthetics in the show, mixed harmoniously together.  There wasn’t enough TOS, but we have been told that will come.  We’ve even been told we’ll see the original uniforms in some version.  On that, apparently the new uniforms, as seen on Pike and his crew, are being phased in, like the DS9 and Voyager uniforms were phased in, in Star Trek: Generations before they changed entirely for the eighth film.

It wasn’t just all of those things clicking in my head that made the show take off – it was everything that happened in those first scenes on the Shenzhou.  It worked.  The cast were great.  I’ve read a review or two that suggest the acting was wooden, but I didn’t see it.  There were a couple of moments where I questioned a performance or two, but it was the first episode and that sort of thing is going to happen.

From there, pretty much everything was excellent.  There was one more misstep, and that was in episode two where things happened too fast.  The actual battle with the Klingons and the appearance and almost instant annihilation of the USS Europa and Terry Serpico’s character were a wasted opportunity.  The episode was really building and then suddenly it felt like everything was over far too quickly.

If I have one major issue with these two opening instalments, it’s their pacing.  In places it’s off.

But that’s okay.  By the end of both episodes you realise you haven’t actually seen the pilot.  You’ve seen a prequel to the prequel.

Huh?

The Shenzhou does not make it out.  Georgiou and most of the other characters we’ve been getting to know don’t live.  There is no resolution for the main character, there is life imprisonment for mutiny.  There is no USS Discovery and we don’t meet most of the actual main cast.

I liked that.  I hated it because I was really liking Georgiou and Danby Connor, but I liked it because it was unique and a wonderful device for getting exposition out of the way.

The real pilot we’ve since been told, will be episode three.

So… everyone dies?  Almost.  But yeah, most of the characters we meet don’t make it to the last act.

There are two impactful deaths in this two parter, for me, and both were handled beautifully.

I fell for Georgiou and Ensign Connor immediately, thanks to all the lead up about their characters, and they both go out in style.  Connors’ death is a shock.  But it’s what would happen in a space battle.  It’s so jarring and unexpected I forgot to breathe for a few moments.

Georgiou’s death we knew was coming, there was no way she was making it out alive, but it still surprised me, and Burnham’s reaction was perfect.  It was a heart-breaking, emotionally powerful scene.  Throughout the episode there were hints Philippa Georgiou was like a surrogate mother to Michael Burnham, and we see that play out meaningfully in her death.

Sonequa Martin-Green was incredible.

I won’t go any further into the episode because you need to watch it.  There is one more major death which is completely unexpected, but I don’t want to spoil that one.  It surprised me.

Yes, I’ve been critical of this two-part opener for the new series, but it really is excellent science fiction and it IS Star Trek.  I know I’ve spoiled quite a bit, but there are many more things to discover (no pun intended) that I haven’t talked about.

To wrap up:

Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones (as Burnham and Saru).  AMAZING.  10 out of 10.

Michelle Yeoh.  Why did they kill her off?  She is one of the best Star Trek captains I’ve seen on screen.  10 out of 10.

James Frain as Sarek.  He does it.  He honours Mark Leonard meaningfully, while making the character his own.  The only issue I had with Sarek was when his hologram sat on something in Burnham’s quarters from thousands of light years away, but that’s a nit pick I don’t have the energy to go into.  It’s one more thing the executive producers should have picked up on and didn’t.  Seriously… what do they do on the show?  The sitting hologram is not James’ fault and it didn’t detract from his performance.

The rest of the cast.  Just kick-ass.  I wanted to spend more time with them and am disappointed I didn’t get to.  We were promised “new ships” and got them, but I would have liked to see them stay around for longer.  10 out of 10.

Costumes and sets.  Blew my mind.  These surpass anything we’ve ever seen before on film or television.  10 out of 10.

Writing.  Needs a bit of work.  Some simple plot structure mistakes were made, some dialogue was a bit clunky, and some of what we saw on screen was silly.  Which ever writer or producer thought the delta in the sand was a good idea and that immersing us in the political nonsense of the Klingons was going to be interesting needs to sit out the rest of the season.  7 out of 10.

The overall story.  It’s great.  Personally, I love it and I have no issue with the Spock connection.  10 out of 10.

Music.  The opening theme is beautiful, but strays in the middle which does affect it. The music throughout the show was brilliant.  9 out of 10.

Direction.  Good.  I don’t know why they had to tilt the camera angle all the time, it annoyed the crap out of me.  6 out of 10.

Special Effects.  BEAUTIFUL.  10 out of 10.

Pacing.  Needs a bit of work, especially in the Klingon scenes.  They rushed stuff they shouldn’t have rushed, like most of Episode Two, and set far too languid a pace for some scenes that they should have just smashed through.  7 out of 10.

Editing.  I’ve separated this from pacing, because I think the pacing was a writing, directing and producing issue.  The editing was perfect except for that one scene in the opening with the Shenzhou.  I didn’t feel thrown out of more than that one scene by the editing choices made.  9 out of 10.

Tone.  This was Star Trek.  It felt like Star Trek, it looked like Star Trek, it sounded like Star Trek.  So much so, the strangeness of the uniforms and the Kelvin timeline like effects and sounds faded into the background.  9 out of 10.

Scorecard
4 Starfleet Delta’s out of 5.
4 Deltas

There is room for improvement, but they kicked a goal and I really pleased to say “Star Trek is back.”  I’m proud of what these guys have accomplished and I believe Star Trek is in the right hands.  I’m putting all of what annoyed me down to the reality that this is a new series finding its feet.

Bring on Monday!  I can’t wait for the third episode.

LCARS Interface

Five Episodes Filmed

Star Trek Discovery June Update

Slowly but surely, Star Trek: Discovery is getting ready for its September premiere.

Multiple sites have been reporting that a total of four episodes are now in the bag, with the fifth under way.  That’s one third of the first season pretty much complete.

Chatting with Collider earlier this month, Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman confirmed that five episodes have been filmed, and also addressed fan angst around the delays that have plagued the much anticipated series.

We postponed our schedule,” Alex said, “because the truth is we did not want to put out something that was subpar, and as the vision expanded we started feeling like we weren’t gonna be able to deliver the scope and the scale that was on the page.

He continued, saying something very few show-runners have probably ever said about a studio: “CBS was extremely supportive in saying, ‘okay… you know what, this is streaming, it’s not like we have to beat out right away, let’s do the best version of this, Trek is too important for all of us.

In an unusually talkative mood, Alex hinted that we should expect a major guest starring cameo or two in the first and following seasons.

So many actors are fans.  We literally got a list of them that were like, ‘Here are people who said they want to be on Star Trek.’  It was awesome…

Do we know who’s on that list?  Unfortunately, no.  Alex and the other producers will no doubt keep that close to their chests.  It does make me wonder, though, if Rainn Wilson was one of those people?

As he continued to discuss the soon to be released series, Alex gave us something of a rationale for the cosmetic differences between the sixth live action series and its predecessors – something which has annoyed a few die hard fans.

The line between film and television is utterly blurred.”  He said.  “Not just at a storytelling level, but visually now.  What we’re doing on Star Trek right now, that’s not that different from what we’re doing in the movies.  I think that’s what people expect when they pay for Netflix, or HBO, or whatever they’re going to pay for.

It’s kind of what we were talking about in our last post – modern audiences aren’t going to accept certain stylistic choices just because we, the long term fans, want design continuity.

From my perspective, a little more continuity would have been nice, but ultimately what I care about most are the characters and the stories.  I want to get swept up in an arc that I enjoy, and I want to develop a relationship with the characters and love them as much as I do the crew of the Enterprise D.  Uniforms and sets are essentially just uniforms and sets.  It would be great if there was an explanation offered for the differences, but if that doesn’t happen it’s not going to upset me.

Now that CBS and Alex Kurtzman are addressing the delays, I feel a lot more reassured.  I really do believe everyone behind this show is giving it their all.

Official Star Trek Discovery Launch Poster

Last bit of news… for those of you still mourning Bryan Fuller’s departure (like I am), according to Alex, his ‘hand’ is still all over the series.

His ideas weren’t abandoned, and his influence is still very much prevalent and will continue to be prevalent into the second season.  How nice is it to hear a producer talk about a second season, when a show hasn’t even aired yet?

Not long to go now, guys.  I hope you’re putting away any reservations you may have, or are at least suspending them, and are getting ready to give this series the chance it deserves.

It’s been over a decade since we had Star Trek on television – it’s true home.  Let’s get behind this new series and hope that the creative team have given us something worthy of our love and loyalty.

Live long, and prosper.

LCARS Interface

What’s Happening on the Final Frontier?

star-trek-discovery-update-banner-october

It’s been an interesting week for the fans of Star Trek.

A few days ago, it was announced Bryan Fuller had stepped down as the showrunner for the upcoming new series, Star Trek: Discovery.

This sent understandable shock waves through the fan community, because most of us felt the sixth live action series was in very good hands with Bryan at the helm.  He was a fan, he had Star Trek cred having written for both Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and he was communicating with us all on a fairly regular basis feeding hints here and there to keep us guessing.

Add this change to the relative silence coming out of the Discovery camp in recent weeks and the absence of the “major announcement” we had been promised in October, and you can forgive fans for feeling a little anxious.

According to CBS, we don’t have anything to worry about, so maybe now is the time to put our ‘Vulcan’ on and look at all of the facts.

The first thing we need to take a deep breath over is: Bryan Fuller is not leaving Star Trek: Discovery.  He is stretched thin, but he’s not abandoning the new series and he has not been booted by CBS.  Not only was Bryan the showrunner for the new Trek series, at the same time he was also (and still is) looking after American Gods and is still in the middle of prepping another brand new series, a reboot of Amazing Stories.

Because we haven’t perfected cloning yet, there is only so much one person can do and something had to give.

The story about the leadership change broke in Variety and according to their sources, the reshuffle at the top occurred partially as a result of the recent rescheduling of the series (announced in September) that moved the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery from January 2017 to May 2017.

It was also mentioned that the lead role for the series has not yet been cast, despite the fact the series starts filming in November.

The reschedule was an attempt to give post production the time it needed for effects work, and to give Bryan space to get the nascent series in good order.

According to the report in Variety, he has done just that:  “Fuller has penned the first two scripts for “Discovery” and has hammered out the broader story arc and mythology for the new “Trek” realm.  But it became clear that he couldn’t devote the amount of time needed for “Discovery” to make its premiere date and with production scheduled to start in Toronto next month.”

You can read the full article here.

Variety also reported that each episode of the new Star Trek series is expected to cost between 6 and 7 million dollars.  With that much money on the line per episode, you can understand why CBS was feeling a little nervous.

The article also mentioned a new creative was joining the production team, writer-director-producer Akiva Goldsman.  Akiva is best known for Fringe, The Da Vinci Code, I Am Legend, and for executive producing Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4.  To find out more about Akiva you can visit his IMDb profile here.

In a statement addressing the departure of Bryan from showrunner duties, CBS Television Studios said:

“We are extremely happy with the creative direction of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and the strong foundation that Bryan Fuller has helped us create for the series.  Due to Bryan’s other projects, he is no longer able to oversee the day-to-day of Star Trek, but he remains an executive producer, and will continue to map the story arc for the entire season.

“Alex Kurtzman, co-creator and executive producer, along with Fuller’s producing partners and longtime collaborators, Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, will continue to oversee the show with the existing writing and producing team.

“Bryan is a brilliant creative talent and passionate Star Trek fan, who has helped us chart an exciting course for the series.  We are all committed to seeing this vision through and look forward to premiering STAR TREK: DISCOVERY this coming May 2017.”

So, a lot of news packed into that announcement!

For the record, Bryan seems good with it all.  He commented on the change of leadership via Twitter, saying:

“Riker spent 7 years of TNG unready for Captaincy, @GretchenJBerg @AaronHarberts are ready.  Thrilled to see them in command of the Bridge.”

bryan-tweets

For the record Bryan, you were more than ready to be Captain… just probably of only one starship, not three at the same time!  Not even Kirk, Janeway, Sisko or Picard could have achieved that one alone.

In recapping, these are the important points:

  • Bryan Fuller has stepped down as showrunner, but remains an executive producer;
  • Bryan has helped establish the tone and mythology of the new Trek series;
  • Bryan has mapped the series across it’s first year, and will remain involved in that process;
  • Bryan has written the pilot and has written it’s follow up episode with Nicholas Meyer;
  • Each episode of Discovery carries a price tag of between 6 and 7 million dollars;
  • The show will still shoot in Toronto (Canada), and is still scheduled for release in May 2017;
  • The new showrunners are Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts;
  • Akiva Goldsman has joined the production team.

Other things to keep in mind about the new production:

  • Discovery is set ten years before the original Star Trek series;
  • The show will focus on the First Officer of the Discovery, not the captain.  It’s also been suggested it will follow the lives of non-bridge personnel;
  • The captain will be a character in the series, but we don’t know how a big a role they will have;
  • It’s been suggested the lead character might be a younger version of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry’s “Number One” from the first Star Trek pilot, ‘The Cage’, however Bryan had mentioned in August that he was looking to cast a non-white actor in that role so that rumour can probably settle now;
  • Klingons will feature in the series;
  • The series is based around an event that was mentioned in the original Trek, but the creative team aren’t telling us what that event is yet;
  • The Discovery is an experimental ship (designation NX-1031);
  • The show will feature an openly gay character, who may be played by an openly gay actor;
  • Some of the roles have been cast, including two admirals, a British doctor and an ‘advisor’.

It’s sad that Bryan has had to step out of the leadership position, but I think everyone can agree that the series is in very capable hands – especially with the talents of Alex Kurtzman, Kirsten Beyer, Nicholas Meyer and Heather Kadin on board, and with Gene Roddenberry’s son, Rod, having a hand in making sure his father’s vision isn’t compromised.

So why didn’t we hear anything in October, as was planned?

I’m assuming because things slowed down, and because no one has yet been cast in the lead role.

I don’t think anyone involved in the production to date, including Bryan, thought it would take this long to secure their lead and get the premise of the series sorted.  Star Trek is an incredibly complicated production, with so much history, that navigating that would be difficult.

I’m not surprised this has happened, but hopefully by freeing Bryan up and bringing in two people to replace him, we can start to get some of those announcements we’ve all been waiting for.

As always, as news breaks about Star Trek: Discovery I’ll post it here.

LCARS Interface

A Future To Believe In

50-years-launch-50-more-v2

Now that Star Trek is officially 50 years old (having celebrated its actual birthday a few days ago), it’s a good time for a die hard Trekker to reflect on his or her love of that particular universe – and why it continues to mean something to them years after their first exposure to it.

I’ve been in the middle of that process for a few months now, ever since the announcement of Star Trek: Discovery.  The recent release of Star Trek Beyond intensified it for me, and I decided to start talking to other Trekkers to see if I could find a common theme around what makes so many of us love Star Trek and keep loving it.

What I learned was Star Trek does two things really well, and both of those things resonate strongly with long-term fans:

  1. Star Trek shows us a future that’s worth fighting for, that’s worth dreaming about, and that’s worth wanting to help shape, and;
  2. Star Trek is a really intimate and personal experience for every single person who loves it, and that, possibly, is it’s greatest magic.

That second point is a frustrating one if you’re a show runner.  Star Trek does have a formula of sorts, but it’s a really hard one to get right.  Without exception, fans want challenging storylines that are provocative and insightful – which is scary for a show that needs to make money because, as Gene Roddenberry learned the hard way, you’re bound to piss someone off and risk alienating a segment of your audience.  Fans want a meaningful relationship with the characters which means you must get two things right straight off the bat – the writers room and the casting process.  Fans want it a little dark without losing the hopeful future Star Trek promises us… and despite craving intelligent science fiction we want that science fiction all wrapped up with pretty action set pieces that are full of amazing (and expensive) visual effects.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about Star Trek these last few months, and for every single person there was always a deeply personal story attached to their love… “Star Trek was my ‘safe space’ when I broke up with my husband…” “Star Trek got me through bullying when I was a kid…” “Star Trek is what got me into the military…” “Star Trek was the thing that helped me set my moral compass…”

Those often amazing conversations showed me that while all of the above about challenging storylines and great VFX is true, the actual core ingredients are the characters and their dynamic.

Star Trek has a ‘secret sauce’, and that ‘sauce’ is its characters who are our conduit into that universe and it’s vision for tomorrow.

What I loved most, while talking to fellow fans, was that the characters who resonated with them weren’t always the obvious ones.  Yes, I heard a lot of Kirk love, Spock love, McCoy love, Picard love, Data love, Siski, Kira, Janeway, Seven, Archer, T’Pol and Trip love, but I also heard a lot of Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Scotty, Geordi, Beverly, Deanna, Wesley, Quark, Jake, Odo, Dax, Chakotay, the Doctor, B’Elanna, Kes, Neelix, Harry, Hoshi, Malcolm, Phlox and Mayweather love.

In the original series, some of those characters never got the chance to say more than “Aye sir,” and “Hailing frequencies open, Captain,” yet they still effected people – and more often than not, deeply.  Why?  Because they were representative.  Sometimes in obvious ways – Uhura was a woman in a position of power and a black woman at that, Sulu was an Asian who wasn’t a normal 1960s stereotype, and Chekov was a Russian at a time when the US and Russia didn’t have a lot of love for each other… but they weren’t just representative in that way.  Uhura was an expert and a woman in command who could come out and honestly say “Captain, I’m frightened.”  Chekov was a whiz kid whose emotions were always written clearly on his face.  Sulu had a cheeky and sometimes sardonic sense of humour that now and again seemed to say “you’re a complete dick, Captain.”  Watch some of the original episodes and listen to Sulu’s responses to Kirk or Scotty when they give a command that seems to defy common sense.  Both Uhura and Chekov do that at times also.  These characters were representative of real emotion, sometimes overtly expressed, sometimes subtlety conveyed, and we fell in love with them because of that.

Those human moments in a show that was so different to anything else on television, delivered by personalities we could relate to, gave us an ‘in’ to Gene Roddenberry’s universe.

For me, it was McCoy, Uhura and Spock.  They were my pathway into the original Star Trek.  Beverly, Deanna, Wesley and Geordi my conduits into Next Gen.  Jadzia and Bashir my way into DS9.  Janeway, Kes, Chakotay and the Doctor my door into Voyager, and T’Pol, Phlox and Malcolm my way into Enterprise.  Each of those characters had qualities I possessed or aspired to possess and they resonated with me and still do today.

I grew up in the sort of neighbourhood where every week someone was stabbed, bashed, and in someway victimised, and as a child I needed something that showed me a future full of intelligent, compassionate people who fought to get rid of those horrific things from people’s lives.

When I was bullied at school, Star Trek was my retreat.  I could lose myself in that world and dream of a future that was brighter than the one I saw for myself.

As I hit my teenage years and then adult years, Star Trek started to shape my morals as a person and many of the idealistic concepts in Star Trek still guide me today – particularly IDIC and the idea that we are stronger together.

I became an actor in my late teens because I wanted to go to Los Angeles and get cast in Star Trek.  I did make it to Los Angeles, but never got the chance to be in Star Trek because I made it there a year or two after Enterprise went off the air.

I became a professional Counsellor because of Deanna Troi.  Even though I’m a guy, Deanna and her profession spoke to me and though we barely ever got to see her do any real work as a psychologist, I still invoke her preternatural calm and warmth when working with clients.

I’ve always known that Star Trek was one of the most important influences in my life, but I’d never really spent a great deal of time wondering why.

This year seemed to demand it, and I’m glad I spent a little time exploring and reflecting on what Star Trek means to me and why it’s still the world I retreat into when I need to recharge.

There are so many quotes and examples I could provide to illustrate all the ways in which Star Trek has affected me, too many actually, so instead I’ll just choose a few…

Kirk’s statement in The Final Frontier, that he needs his pain.  That speech still effects me to this day.  Our pain, our failures, and how we deal with them all, defines us.  There are so many experiences in my life that I wish had never happened to me, but I cannot deny their impact and how they have strengthened and shaped me.

Kira’s dedication to her spiritual life mirrored my own journey to understand some of the indefinable but poignant experiences we all encounter in life.

It was something similar with Chakotay.  His spiritual life and journey, though often mired in stereotype, was beautiful and I loved that it was included, but the fact he was a physically strong and imposing, but deeply spiritual and sensitive man was what hit me like a sledgehammer.  It hit me deeply, in the same way the startlingly beautiful and noble Uhura did and in the same way the generous, calm and gracious Deanna did.  As a 6’2″ guy who’s been described as physically intimidating, but who is softly spoken and by nature a pretty caring bloke, it was fantastic to see a man on TV who was also all of those things, and who chose to use his presence not to constantly threaten and intimidate but to nurture and support.  It was what I needed to see and it came at a time in my life where I was in danger of going off the rails.

You might be thinking… “hold on, what about Riker?”

Will was always a little too ‘big’ a personality for me to connect with.

Star Trek is unique in its ability to craft characters that are universal but speak to each individual viewer.  If there’s one thing the creative teams behind each show and movie did really well, it was creating characters we can relate to.  I don’t know if they consciously tried to do that, but that’s what they did.

Each series and each film had its ups and downs story wise, but the characters were always exceptional.  Yes, Kes didn’t have a lot of room to grow and Neelix had the odd issue and could be pretty damn annoying, but by and large the characters are the thing that makes Star Trek shine.  At least in my opinion.

As we look forward to Star Trek: Discovery, with each of us no doubt carrying a small wish list around in our minds, I personally hope that the creative team behind the new series get the fact that no matter what, the characters are our way into this new version of the universe, and that Star Trek really is an important and intimate experience for each of us and that needs to be respected.

Yes, we want great stories and we want allegory and we want brilliant special effects, but if Star Trek is to succeed it needs incredible characters and it needs a way to inspire hope in us and allow us to link with the show in a way that is meaningful.  It needs to be something that mirrors all of us, in some way, and tries hard to be relevant to this generation of young people as they look around for heroes to aspire to be like.

Star Trek is important.  It’s important to me, it’s no doubt important to you if you’re reading this, and it’s important to the world.

What do we have on television now?  Zombie hunters who are now borderline sociopaths, families warring over a stupid iron throne and committing atrocious acts in their quest for power, families backstabbing each other over musical empires or political ambitions… there’s not a lot of hope, and there aren’t many shows demonstrating a different, better way to be.

Star Trek did that, and it can do it again.

I hope Bryan and Alex and everyone else involved with Star Trek: Discovery truly appreciate just how important Star Trek is at both that personal, intimate level, and that much bigger, aspirational level.

Bryan has said the world needs Star Trek now more than it ever has, so I think he does get it.  I hope he is able to realise his vision with the amazing creative team he’s assembled.

So thank you, Star Trek.  Thank you for shaping me, and for shaping so many amazing people I’ve met, and thank you for not being frightened of shining a light in the darkness – even when shining that light hasn’t been popular.

I’ve had enough of the depressing, sarcastic, angst-filled shows on television these days.  So many are so devoid of hope it’s depressing.  I need and I want something that challenges me intellectually, and I need and I want something that reminds me of just how amazing we are as a species.

The bright future Star Trek describes is the future I want, and it’s a future worth believing in.

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Discovery Shifts from Warp to Impulse

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CBS All Access have just announced a slight delay in the release of the sixth live action Star Trek TV Series.

The USS Discovery won’t launch in January of 2017 as originally promoted, and will instead warp across our screens in May of that year.

The decision was made to slow down production on the new series at the request of the production team, headed by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman.

In a release from the studio, Bryan and Alex shared the following:

“Bringing Star Trek back to television carries a responsibility and mission: to connect fans and newcomers alike to the series that has fed our imaginations since childhood.

“We aim to dream big and deliver, and that means making sure the demands of physical and post-production for a show that takes place entirely in space, and the need to meet an air date, don’t result in compromised quality.

Before heading into production, we evaluated these realities with our partners at CBS and they agreed: Star Trek deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of.”

Also chiming in on the delay, CBS Television Studios president David Stapf, added extra information that should excite most fans:

“The series template and episodic scripts that Alex and Bryan have delivered are incredibly vivid and compelling,” David said. “They are building a new, very ambitious Star Trek world for television, and everyone involved supports their vision for the best timing to bring to life what we all love on the page.”

So… why the delay?

As everyone involved in the production is saying, it’s to make sure this new ‘build’ of the universe is done right and done well.

Let’s face it, there is no more complicated series on television other than maybe Doctor Who.  50 years of history means that no matter where in the timeframe a new series is set, there’s 50 years of tradition, story-telling, characters, events and technology to keep track of.  It’s a huge task and you can understand why they would want to take some time to make sure everything is perfect.

The other possibility is that they are at the casting point, and perhaps one or more of the actors they want are unavailable until later in the year.

We could speculate more, but it’s doubtful we’ll hear anything concrete until closer to the release of the first episode.

It’s a little frustrating that we have to wait a few more months, but I’d rather them get it right than produce something they’re not happy with – because chances are, considering the calibre of the creative staff, if they’re not happy with it we won’t be either.

Hopefully, to keep us all completely engaged and enthusiastic, Bryan and Alex will release more news over the intervening months than they might have originally been planning to.

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Star Trek Series VI Has a Name

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Fans were promised new information on the sixth live action television series at this year’s San Diego Comic Con… and CBS did not disappoint.

Executive Producer and showrunner Bryan Fuller, with a little help from William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Jeri Ryan and Scott Bakula gave attendees some much anticipated news – not as much as we could have hoped for, but some pretty amazing stuff, including the name of the starship the new crew will be boldly going in.  As you can probably tell from the above image, the new ship is the USS Discovery, and in fine Star Trek tradition the series has been named after the vessel.  The registration?  NCC-1031.

What else was revealed?  The series WILL take place in the prime timeline, alongside Star Trek: EnterpriseStar Trek: The Original SeriesStar Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager.

While the sharing of information pretty much stopped there, Bryan and CBS had one more surprise – some test footage of the new ship launching from inside an asteroid base somewhere in the galaxy.

As mentioned above, the footage is a test reel, so the graphics aren’t final and are a little less ‘smooth’ than we would usually see on screen, but they are still, never the less, beautiful.  It’s also highly unlikely that the visuals shown come from the pilot episode.

The ship design is, in my opinion at least, amazing… and has some interesting differences to the ships we’ve seen onscreen before.

You’ll notice in the first five images above, that the front of the warp nacelle’s are unique, with three globes containing energy, instead of the usual one.

You’ll also note that the design of the impulse engines in the second set of five images are very similar in appearance to those seen on the reboot Enterprise.

When in the prime timeline will the show take place?  It’s hard to tell.  The only real points of reference we can draw from are the ship’s registration (NCC-1031) and the images on the video.

The registration seems to hint at the original series time period or maybe even a little before.  The ship also looks like it could come from the original series or the original series’ movie era, but Starfleet has shown us that it likes to ‘change up’ it’s ship designs, which means there is a possibility the show could come after Star Trek: Voyager.  I don’t get that feeling, though.  The new style nacelle design seems too retro and along with the original series (albeit the reboot original series) style impulse engines everything seems to indicate we’ve gone back to that period in Trek’s history to explore it via another crew’s perspective.  Another design choice that screams pre-TNG can be found in image 12 (the second image in the third set of five photos) where part of the saucer bears a very interesting likeness to the USS Franklin‘s saucer section as seen in Star Trek Beyond.  What also needs to be pointed out is the almost bronze colour of the Discovery.  I don’t remember seeing a Starfleet vessel that colour before.

If you’re thinking the ship looks particularly familiar, you’re not imagining it, the ship is actually based on the original designs done by famed artist Ralph McQuarrie for Star Trek: Planet of the Titans, a movie that was under consideration in the mid-70’s prior to the development of Star Trek: Phase II, the 1970’s television series that eventually became Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

You’ll note from these original concepts that Ralph created, that the Enterprise is exiting an asteroid and that the artists who created the film drew heavily from those paintings to show the first launch of the Discovery and our first look at it.  Being the 50th Anniversary year, I love that they did that.  It’s a beautiful homage.

Heather Kadin, another member of Star Trek: Discovery‘s creative team, has said that the design is not final, and Bryan has said they’re trying to work out how they can use them as they’re around 40 years old and the artist passed away in March of 2012.  It’s also possible the images are owned by Paramount.

I hope they find a way to use the designs, because I love them.  They’re still Star Trek but fantastically retro and unique when compared with all the other ships we’ve seen.  Plus, I miss the circular command module and was never the biggest fan of the spearhead shaped command modules of the Enterprise-E and the Voyager.

The very last piece of news we know right now is that the new series airs in January of next year and has a 13 episode order that will play out in an arc, rather than in the more episodic style of previous series’.

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Star Trek: Discovery is being produced by a stellar creative team, including Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Fuller, Heather Kadin, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Nicholas Meyer, Kirsten Beyer, Vincenzo Natali and, it seems, the late great Ralph McQuarrie.

If you’d like to watch the footage shown at the San Diego Comic Con visit the official Star Trek website here or the wonderful TrekNews here.  You can also find the video on most Star Trek news sites on the web.

This is a wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of the most hopeful and inspiring series to ever hit television.

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Hopefully more news will come soon.  We’ll most likely start to get some information about the casting process in a month, maybe two at the outside – but I imagine that will come incrementally as a build up to the premiere.  I feel like the next bit of big news we’ll get will be a confirmation of when in the prime timeline the series will be set.

Honestly, whatever news they drop next is going to make me happy.  I don’t care how apparently inconsequential!  If they just release an image of the new insignia I’ll probably be grinning with excitement.

I’m READY for this series.

Happy 50th everyone!

Thank you, CBS and Bryan Fuller for whetting our appetites.

So excited for January!

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Two More Writers Join Series VI

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The creative team behind Series VI has grown again, with two new writers joining the team – one a Trek veteran, the other a former colleague of Bryan Fuller.

According to Ain’t It Cool News, Joe Menosky and Aron Eli Coleite have joined the team that currently includes Gene Roddenberry’s son Rod Roddenberry, Heather Kadin, Nicholas Meyer, Kirsten Beyer, Trevor Roth, Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman.

Joe has real Star Trek credit, and has written for The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.  He has over 50 hours of Trek TV on his resume.

Aron rose to fame on the popular television series Crossing Jordan and worked with Bryan on Heroes.  He’s also worked on the the Uncanny X-Men comic series and has two feature films he’s written in development.

To learn more about Joe, visit Memory Alpha right here.

To learn more about Aaron, visit his Wikipedia page here.

The Ain’t It Cool News article is right here.

It’s a wonderfully eclectic group of writers that Alex and Bryan have brought together, covering pretty much every form of media there is.  Comic book writers, novelists, movie and TV writers!  It’s a very exciting team, and possibly one of the best writers rooms that has ever been put together for a Star Trek show.

This new series is going to be freaking fantastic!

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