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)

Review Banner

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.

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A Brave New Adventure

Star Trek Discovery Premiere Eve Banner

We’ve been a little quiet here at Star Trek: Sentinel because there has been so much Star Trek: Discovery news coming out that we kind of just wanted to enjoy it and let it wash over us, and didn’t feel the need to comment on it.

Now we stand on the eve of the launch of a brand new series and a bold new experiment in Star Trek.

Since the new series was first announced and up until today, we’ve all seen people expressing hope and excitement for the show and people nit-picking everything and heaping disdain on this new series every Trek fan should be looking forward to.

Georgiou and Burnham

It’s probably no secret that I am incredibly excited about the show.  I love Sonequa Martin-Green as an actor, I’m a huge fan of Kirsten Beyer, Akiva Goldsman and many other behind the scenes creatives, and I admire the risks everyone has taken to make this version of Star Trek relevant.

I’ve been disappointed, even upset by some of the negative coverage coming from some sites.  The amount of it coming from one particular sci-fi site (not a Trek one) has caused me to delete it from my favourites and move on.

Now that we’re literally only hours away from the first brand new episode of Star Trek television in 12 years, I thought it might be a good idea to point you guys toward a handful of excellent articles out there right now on websites staffed by professionals who are genuinely excited to see Star Trek: Discovery.

There are two sites in particular that have had extensive and exceptional coverage over these last few weeks:

TrekMovie and TrekCore.

TrekMovie, in particular has suddenly become one of the best, if not the best, Trek site ever.  Their coverage of Star Trek: Discovery has been spectacular.

TrekCore have always been amazing, and though they may be following a close second behind TrekMovie, their coverage has still been excellent.

Inside the Discovery

Here are some great articles from both sites.

Let’s start with the coverage of the recent Premiere, held a couple of days ago in Los Angeles – attended by many of the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery, and Star Trek royalty, Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner.

Nichelle, Sonequa and Bill

Sonequa and the cast get a blessing from one of the most significant women in modern science fiction, Nichelle Nichols.

TrekMovie gives us some photos from the Hollywood Premiere.

TrekCore‘s coverage of the Premiere.

For more on the “blue carpet” premiere event, visit both TrekMovie and TrekCore and look through their most recent articles.

Of particular interest to fans, the Season One Press Kit for Star Trek: Discovery has finally been released.

It’s beautiful.  The images above, and one a little earlier on in this article are from that kit.

TrekCore got the scoop on this one, so go check out their article focusing on the kit here.

Some of the things we’ve learned over the last few weeks are that the Klingon War with the Federation will play a major part in Season One of Star Trek: Discovery.

We’ve also learned that the war story will be wrapped up by the end of the 15 episode first season arc.

We don’t know what Season Two might hold, but it’s interesting that the Klingon conflict will fade out to be replaced by something else.

I think that’s a good idea.  Multiple years focusing on a war might get a bit a much – plus, there’s a lot more to Star Trek than Klingons and the war-arc has already been done and done well in Trek’s illustrious history.

Star Trek Discovery EW Photoshoot 1

If you want to catch up with all of the Star Trek: Discovery news, visit those two wonderful sites.

Right now, I am eagerly counting down the hours to Star Trek: Discovery‘s release on Netflix.

If I could have one wish over these next few days, it would be for my fellow Trek fans to give this show a chance.

A great deal of incredible talent has been brought together to bring this show to us, and a lot of love and care has gone into it.  Yes, it looks different to Star Trek: The Original Series and probably shares more in common with Star Trek: Enterprise and the J.J. Abrams Trek movies, but that’s superficial and necessary if we want to attract new viewers and keep Stat Trek alive.  The show and it’s producers are doing everything they can to be faithful to canon and to make us something we will love.

The internet has become an horrifically nasty place where people seem to think it’s acceptable, even ‘cool’ and funny, to be negative and sometimes even abusive, but Star Trek fans are better than that, and the worst of us are nothing more than a vocal minority.

I hope other fans who love all things Trek for everything that the shows stand for, and respect and attempt to live the ideals of Star Trek, embrace this new show and love it and ensure it continues for many years to come.

We’ll be back in a couple of days with a review of the pilot episode, which is titled “The Vulcan Hello.”

Until then, may we all and may Star Trek: Discovery especially, live long and prosper.

In the United States, Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS on the 24th of September with all subsequent episodes airing on CBS All Access.  In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere on the 24th of September also, on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel.  For the rest of us, Star Trek: Discovery will launch on Netflix on Monday the 25th of September.

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What’s Happening on the Final Frontier?

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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.

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Two More Writers Join Series VI

Star Trek Series VI

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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Series VI Update

Star Trek Series VI

The creative team behind the new Star Trek live action series is continuing to grow.

As we all wait anxiously for casting news, information on the time period the series will take place in, and some hint as to whether or not the show will be based on a starship, starbase, or somewhere entirely different, Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman have added another talented individual to their writing staff.

For me, this is pretty exciting, because I’ve been a fan of this person for a few years now, and have loved every one of her excellent Star Trek: Voyager relaunch novels.

Kirsten Beyer has a well deserved reputation for being one of the major driving forces behind the success of the Voyager relaunch series, along with Christie Golden who left the series 12 years ago.

Kirsten is known for her ability to seamlessly weave authentic character action and intention in with random bits of Voyager history, and brand new concepts to create a compelling and often challenging novel that is never less than entertaining.

Kirsten knows Voyager and it’s characters like, I would hazard to guess, no one else.  When you read her books, you hear the voices of Janeway and the series regulars as if you were listening to an actual episode, and she paints images with words worthy of any major motion picture’s visuals.

To read more about Kirsten’s appointment to the new series, click here to visit the TrekCore article.

We know that Kirsten will be writing episodes for the new series, but we still don’t know anything substantial about the show.

Kirsten’s inclusion could be seen to be an indication that the new series (or at least part of the new series) might take place after Star Trek: Voyager and in the prime timeline.  However, she could have been hired solely for her true to character dialogue, her world-building ability, and her overall knowledge of Star Trek.

While we all wait for more news on Series VI, consider picking up some of Kirsten’s works and giving them a read.  Hopefully you’ll agree with me and see she is an exceptional author who the Trek novel series is very lucky to have.

Bryan Fuller keeps impressing with the team he is collecting around him.

I can’t wait until January 2017.

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Star Trek Beyond and Series VI Trailers

Star Trek Update Banner - Beyond and Series VI

As anticipation builds for the release of Star Trek Beyond and the sixth live action Star Trek television series, two new trailers have dropped in the space of two days to remind us all that Star Trek is definitely alive and well in this, it’s 50th Anniversary year.

As well as two new trailers, there are two new movie posters, with one of them paying homage to the very first Star Trek movie poster ever, 1977’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

That poster was created by Bob Peak, a very famous Hollywood artist.  You can check out Bob’s work here.

The official Star Trek website has all the news on the two up and coming Trek productions, as well as a special focus on the recent major fan event that was held in Los Angeles on the 20th of May, featuring J.J. Abrams, Justin Lin and some of the stars of Star Trek Beyond.

You can go directly to the report on the special fan event by clicking here if you’re not in the mood to navigate through the site.

Now, let’s talk about the preview for the next film.

Star Trek Beyond Promotional Posters

The new trailer for Star Trek Beyond, and the second official trailer released by Paramount, is AMAZING.

I could break it all down for you, but that would be a waste of time because you really need to watch it.

As a long time fan, it feels like we might finally have a Star Trek feature film to rival the incredibly poignant and powerful Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Whereas the first trailer focused on action, action, action and more action, and had a slightly unexpected soundtrack blare out at us when we hit play, the second trailer takes us on a deeper journey, hinting at a movie that has just as much substance to it as it does noise and bluster.

The action is still there, but more importantly so too are the characters we’ve come to love, and for at least one of them, they’re at something of a crossroads in life that has the potential to add a whole other dimension to the film.

I know that Into Darkness was meant to be something of a homage to The Wrath of Khan, and one that fell short and was ultimately a little misguided, but this preview reminded me of the tone and feel of Wrath of Khan and what made that movie great, and it filled me with a new level of anticipation.

What makes Wrath of Khan so special for me and what makes it my gold standard for Star Trek films, is that the movie has grown with me.  When I first saw it, I wasn’t even a teenager.  At that impressionable age, what stood out was the epic space battle, the Ceti-Eels, Khan and how ruthless he was, and how much the crew of the Enterprise seemed like a family.

As the years have passed, I’ve come to appreciate just how multi-layered the movie is.  Kirk’s musings on life and his angst at being desk bound because he’s so experienced and others feel he should be guiding rather than doing, resonated with me when I found myself at a similar point in my career.  Uhura’s objection to Kirk’s comment that roaming the galaxy is a game for the young, speaks to me because I’m still bucking the fact that while I feel young, I’m actually cruising toward middle age.  These insights into something we all endure, the process of ageing and maturing, make me respond to the movie on a whole other level and look at life in a completely different way.  Kirk’s line, “I feel young”, still moves me to this day and reminds me that at every stage of life every single one of us has something invaluable and unique to offer.  Which, thanks to The Wrath of Khan, has become very much a big part of Star Trek‘s overall philosophy of inclusion.

Beyond appears to riff on similar universal experiences.  Kirk is trying to discover who he is, outside of the shadow of his father.  Spock cautions us on fear.  McCoy reminds us that it’s okay to fear death, so long as we remember to live.  The two plus minute trailer packs a whollop of emotion and action into it, from Uhura’s declaration her friend and Captain will come for her and the crew, to Shohreh Aghdashloo’s counsel on how easy it is to get lost, and her reminder that all we can really depend on in life are the people who undertake the journey with us.  Add to that a villain so steeped in hatred for the Federation and the very vision and ideals we as fans so admire, and the promise of an epic but intimately personal movie is made.

To watch the trailer, click here.

Below are a series of screencaps from the preview.  The first five photos show a pensive Kirk as he ponders what it means to ‘be’ Jim Kirk.  There’s also a unique shot of the Enterprise departing what might be the Yorktown, a starbase somewhere far from Earth.  We also see the first real new warp effect since the first movie in the reboot timeline – and it’s beautiful.  The screencap does not do it justice.  In any way.

The next five shots show the crew setting out, the attack by the swarm that cripples or destroys Enterprise, and a fantastic new shot of the deadly new enemy as they board the ship.

The following screencaps show what happens when you piss off a certain Communications Officer, McCoy following Jim’s order to abandon ship, and Kirk on the ground aiming a phaser at someone out of shot.

The next images show us that Uhura and Spock’s relationship is still going strong, that Spock and McCoy continue to rub each other the wrong way, and hints that Uhura and a great many of the Enterprise‘s crew fall into the hands of the film’s new villain, Krall.

The final screencaps show us an enemy learning all he can about James T. Kirk, Uhura warning that villain that their captain will come for them and he won’t be in a merciful mood, and two shots of the new heroine – Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella.

One of the most surprising things about the new trailer was the ship it appears the Enterprise crew escapes in.

An NX class starship, last seen in Star Trek: Enterprise.  Could it be the USS Franklin?  The images below are grainy, but I swear it’s an NX vessel.  Watch the preview, and let me know if you agree!

All in all, this preview looks incredible.  I think Justin Lin has done it.

I was already excited to see this film, now I’m crazy-impatient to see it.  I can’t wait for the Australian premiere.  I’ll be lining up early and going multiple times.

Thank you, Paramount, Justin Lin, Simon Pegg and Doug Jung for what looks like it will be one of the best Star Trek films in a very long time, and maybe the best Star Trek film ever.

Star Trek Series VI Logo

A couple of days before the second official preview for Beyond broke, equally exciting news hit Star Trek fandom.

A teaser trailer for the new television series.

The trailer doesn’t show us anything, other than the beautiful new logo for the new production and a few gorgeous shots of Earth and deep space.

But, it does possibly answer one question many of us have been asking for a few weeks now – will the new Trek be an anthology show?

The answer is in the screencaps below.

New CREWS?  It doesn’t say, outright, that the new series will be an anthology series, but that’s one heck of a strong hint.

The last four screencaps from the teaser promise us new villains, new heroes and new worlds.

And I can’t wait!

After watching the teaser, I was left thinking that if it is an anthology series, it won’t just jump backward and forwards along one Trek timeline – it will also visit the alternate timeline created in 2009 by J.J. Abrams.

I have nothing to base that on, other than a lense flare effect I saw as I was watching the trailer that made me think of J.J..

When you think about it, it’s a simple way to meet every fans expectations.  A lot of fans prefer what is called the Prime Timeline, and some prefer what’s often called the AbramsVerse.  As well as honouring both, an anthology series opens up some very interesting story ideas as the writers explore Trek’s lengthy prime history across the 22nd, 23rd and 24th centuries, and how similar events might play out differently in the alternate timeline created by Nero.

The more I think about it, the more I hope they go the anthology route.

Things are starting to get very exciting for fans, and finally it’s starting to feel like the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek.

As more news comes to light, I’ll pop it up here… but right now, I’m  just going to pop up that beautiful homage to Star Trek: The Motion Picture one more time because I am in love with the new Beyond poster.

Star Trek Beyond Star Trek The Motion Picture Homage

Star Trek Beyond stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba, and was written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung and directed by Justin Lin.

Star Trek Series VI is being developed by Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Singer, Rod Roddenberry, Heather Kadin, Trevor Roth and Nicholas Meyer.

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A Star Trek Film and Series Update

Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek Series VI Banner

We’re only weeks away from the release of Star Trek Beyond, and only months away from the release of the as yet unnamed sixth live action Star Trek television series.

Simon Pegg recently spoke about the upcoming feature film he co-wrote, in particular addressing some fans’ concerns around the recent re-shoots that took place last month.

This always happens in filmmaking,” Simon said.  “Often, when you get into the edit and you look at the movie and think, ‘Oh, it’s a shame we didn’t get that reaction shot’ or, ‘Maybe in this scene we could have brought in [some] aspect of the developing plot.’

So, having a cut of the movie, we were able to assess – and thankfully, given the freedom – to go in and do touch-up kind of things on what we already had, which is a great opportunity.

Simon also spoke out in defense of Beyond’s director, Justin Lin, who some fans fear might have turned the third Trek film in the reboot series into a The Fast and the Furious in space… and for many fans the first official trailer made those fears worse.

What many of fans forget is that while Justin is best known for injecting new energy into the Furious franchise, he’s made eight other films and has also directed a handful of TV episodes including installments of the comedy Community and the hit crime drama Scorpion.

I hate people saying that because it’s Justin Lin it’s just going to be Fast & Furious in Space! It’s a kind of reductive, asinine criticism.

Justin’s history as a filmmaker started off with a Sundance movie called Better Luck Tomorrow.  He’s a smart, sensitive guy.

To read more, visit TrekCore here.

The Captains

In other Trek news, the new Star Trek series will follow in Star Trek Beyond‘s footsteps and film in Canada.  The latest series will break with tradition and film outside of the United States, which will be the first time a Star Trek television series has filmed entirely in another country.

TrekCore confirmed this news for us a few days ago.  For more information read their article here.

It’s not unusual for expensive, effects heavy series to film outside of the US, to take advantage of the various tax breaks available in some countries. The Battlestar Galactica remake filmed in Canada, and more recently the science fiction mini-series Childhood’s End and the brand new science fiction series Hunters filmed in Australia.

It makes sense CBS would choose to save a few dollars on what will be an effects heavy series, if not the most effects heavy live action television series in history.

Other than the filming location and the creative talent behind the show, we still don’t know anything else about this new Trek.

It’s due to start filming in September, and a cast should be in place around June/July.

Hopefully, we’ll get more news in the coming weeks.

Star Trek Beyond opens on the 22nd of July, and Star Trek series six starts airing in January 2017, with the pilot episode showing on CBS and the rest of the season on CBS All Access.

We’ll do our best to keep you in the loop as more information comes to light.

With the release of these two new projects, and the Paramount/CBS lawsuit against Axanar and the issues that is causing for fan films, it’s an interesting time to be a Star Trek fan.

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Ahead, Rumour Factor 8

STSVI Update

Some pretty spectacular rumours have found their way onto the internet today about the upcoming, and as yet untitled, Star Trek: Series VI.

According to Birth, Movies, Death, the new series will NOT be in the alternate timeline featured in the J.J. Abrams reboot era.

Birth, Movies, Death claim that the new series will take place some time after Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and in the prime universe timeline.

I’m not sure if the rumour they’re referring to is a Chinese Whispers version of Nicholas Meyer’s recent statement around how much Bryan Fuller loves that film, or if it’s an actual leak from the writers room of the new series?

It’s certainly fertile ground for a series, and the only real glimpses we’ve had into that period of Trek history were the scenes from Star Trek: Generations that led up to the death of Captain James T. Kirk.

If this is true… it’s pretty fantastic!  I would really enjoy seeing how the peace treaty went down between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire after the Khitomer Accords were first signed.  I would love to see a series where an Excelsior class ship was sailing across my screen – plus an old Constitution/Enterprise class!  All of that would thrill a lot of long time Trek fans, plus the politics and drama inherent in a newly formed alliance might make for the kinds of story-telling that would bring new fans into the fold.

But that’s not the only rumour Birth, Movies, Death shared.

Apparently the crew featured in this new series won’t sail on a ship called Enterprise.

I don’t know how I feel about that?  No.  That’s a lie.  I do know how I feel about that.  I’m not too happy.  I’m not opposed to it, watching the crews of DS9/Defiant and Voyager go boldly was a lot of fun… but it would be so good to see the crew of the Enterprise B.  A new crew, obviously, to the one seen in Generations, but never the less a new collection of heroes for my Star Trek loving heart to fall for.

The second last rumour shared was that the Klingons – or at least some Klingons – would be the bad guys.  Now, I’m still Klingoned out after Next Gen, DS9 and Voy, but I’m open to having that challenged by Nick Meyer, Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin and Rod Roddenberry, the creative team behind the new series.

The final rumour?

The new series will be a seasonal anthology.  What does that mean?  It means the first season will be set after The Undiscovered Country, but the second season might be set just after the Vulcans make first contact with Earth, while the third season could be set during the time of Captain Rachel Garrett and the Enterprise C and so on.

I stress that these are JUST rumours, and Birth, Death, Movies is not disclosing its sources, so take all of these with a bucket of salt, and a side of salt.  Liberally sprinkled with salt.  At least until one of the Producers tells us the rumours are fact, or until CBS announces something official.

Still, I gotta say, I’m loving the speculation!  I’m not sure how a seasonal anthology show would work in the Star Trek universe, but I’m not opposed to the idea.  It’s a fascinating and totally unexpected twist!

To read the article from Birth, Movies, Death click here.

No doubt, the rumour mill will warp into overdrive in these next few months before the launch of the new series in January of 2017.  In that mix will be some truth – but there will also be a lot of craziness.

Let’s have some fun with what we hear, and may Star Trek live long and prosper.

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