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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A Brave New Adventure

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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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Discovery Update

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Casting announcements for Star Trek: Discovery have been coming at us at a steady pace for months now, but, despite the array of talent being announced, there was one actor CBS refused to confirm – Sonequa Martin-Green.

Until now.

A few days ago CBS finally confirmed Sonequa’s lead role in the new series and thanks to the producers of The Walking Dead, we learned why CBS had remained tight-lipped despite all the rumours.

It’s not a Star Trek spoiler, but it is a spoiler, so if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead don’t read past the spoiler alert image below…

Spoiler Alert

Sonequa’s character on The Walking Dead, Sasha, dies at the end of the show’s current season.

Those of you interested in the zombie apocalypse show might remember fans wondering how she’d do both high profile series – if the rumours were true!

Fans eventually decided that because season one of the new Star Trek series was only going to be 13 episodes long, there would be enough time for Sonequa to be in both shows.

Nope.

Turns out CBS and AMC had an agreement.  CBS would remain quiet about Sonequa’s casting, and AMC would be able to keep Sasha’s death a secret.

The news broke.  Everyone did their best to keep the secret, but all parties concerned essentially underestimated Star Trek fans and our hunger for new Trek.  Now Sasha is dead and everything can settle down a bit!

That wasn’t the only news about Star Trek: Discovery‘s lead role that broke this week.  Back when the rumour first emerged, we were told the main character would be called Lieutenant Commander Rainsford… which isn’t true.  The name of Sonequa’s character is a little unusual – for a female.

Sonequa Martin-Green is playing Lieutenant Commander Michael Burnham, not Lieutenant Commander Rainsford.

Michael?  Yep.  It’s usually a boys name, but is actually unisex.  I didn’t know that, and I admit it jars a little, but I have no doubt it will grow on me!

Sonequa has given her first interview regarding her starring role.  If you’d like to read it, visit TrekCore here.

In other Star Trek: Discovery news, an unexpected character will be popping in to torment Lieutenant Commander Burnham and the rest of the crew of the Discovery.

Harry Mudd.

Rainn Wilson of The Office fame has been cast as Harcourt Fenton Mudd, last seen in the Animated Series’ episode “Mudd’s Passion”.

Harry Mudd only featured in a total of three episodes – including the Animated Series episode mentioned above, but he made an ever-lasting impression on Star Trek fans.  You either love him or you hate him, but you can’t deny the fact he is an important part of Star Trek history.

It’s unlikely Harry Mudd will be a regular on Star Trek: Discovery, despite how incredibly talented Rainn Wilson is.  It is likely, however, that he might become a recurring character like Q, the Grand Nagus, Reginald Barkley or Shran.

It’s fair to assume that Rainn is Star Trek: Discovery‘s first major guest star, and that episode 3 or 4 of the new series will be peppered with Mudd.  Why episodes 3 or 4?  Because we know that episodes 1 and 2 have completed filming.

I wish I could say I knew when we’d find out which episode Rainn is in… but we still don’t know when exactly the series will be airing!

That is causing fans a little bit of distress, but every time I start to worry, I just remember the quality of actors who have been attracted to this series – and those fears fade away!

Finally, the First Lady of Outer Space, the eternally lovely Nichelle Nichols, has said she would love to make a guest appearance on Star Trek: Discovery.

No offer has been made to Nichelle that we know of, but with Star Trek casting it’s first black female lead, the woman who played a major part in redefining how African-American’s would be portrayed on television, thinks it would be a meaningful and appropriate decision by the powers that be.

As anyone reading this blog knows, I LOVE Nichelle, and it would be incredibly wonderful to see her in the new series, but even more wonderful to see her playing a role as important as the mother or grand-mother of Michael Burnham.

I’d love it even more if at some point, Michael Burnham married an Uhura.

Hopefully the Producers of the new Star Trek are listening.

That’s it for all of the latest news on Star Trek: Discovery for now.  As more news comes to light, we’ll feature it here.

Live Long and Prosper.

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Brand New Discovery Teaser

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On the 23rd of July last year, CBS released a teaser trailer for Star Trek: Discovery.  It was unfinished, and the ship design that appeared in the trailer was not finalised – but it gave those of us hungry for news on the new Star Trek series something concrete to get excited about.

Now, a little over six months later, CBS have released (?) a second teaser trailer which actually gives us tiny glimpses of what is to come.

The trailer appeared online early yesterday morning Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time which was probably some time in the evening in the United States… and then disappeared.  It wasn’t available anymore.

Thankfully, it can still be tracked down.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here at the Consequence of Sound YouTube channel.

Check it out before it disappears again!

Here are a few images to give you an idea.  There is a voiceover to accompany the images and it begins by saying that on the 11th of March 1964 Gene Roddenberry began writing Star Trek with the words “Star Trek is…”

The bottom image above, “Star Trek: Discovery will begin that sentence once again” ties into the voiceover.

The trailer starts with a retrospective look at the various series that went before Discovery, and then gives us some exciting sneak peaks at the design and construction of the new series, and some glimpses of what might be the first day of filming!

You’ll notice more of the ship design and what looks like the new Starfleet uniform.  Take a moment to examine the uniform – it’s blue with gold piping on the shoulder, but the blue (normally associated with medical and science) appears to be associated with engineering and ops if you look at the middle section of the Starfleet Delta.

Either the series is borrowing a little from Star Trek: Enterprise and giving the crew the one uniform colour rather than the colourful red, gold and blue of Star Trek: The Original Series, and the Delta is being used to discern which department a crew member works in, or pre-Kirk things were a little different.

Those of you who are long-term fans of Star Trek will know that the Delta design was originally only used for the Enterprise, until her successful five-year mission had her honoured, and had her Delta design used for all ships.

Maybe the Delta was always originally Starfleet’s emblem before some in the Admiralty thought each ship and base should have it’s own emblem, which is what we see throughout the original series.  Every ship and every base had a different symbol on their chests.

Finally, you’ll notice a ship that doesn’t look like the designs shown for the USS Discovery, but may be a wireframe of the USS Shenzhou.

Also… the Captain’s chair.  Looks pretty ornate, hey?!

The final reveal is the logo, which has changed slightly but still remains split.

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That’s a purposeful choice, so it likely means something?  What, I don’t know.

Perhaps the “event” the series is built around is a rift in Starfleet… perhaps it’s about Section 31?  With the Klingons around, perhaps it’s about an attempt to make peace with the Klingons and certain elements in the Federation are against that – a little like what happened in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country?

Alternatively, rather than symbolising something breaking or splitting, it could symbolise something coming together and the series could focus on the solidification of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet.

We could guess forever.  Two things are certain: Star Trek: Discovery has started production, and it looks really promising.

I am crazy excited, and can’t wait to see this new series.

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Discovery Update

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There have been a few developments in Star Trek: Discovery land, two that are really exciting and one that is just down right disappointing.  Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

Star Trek: Discovery has been delayed.  Again.  Filming began a few days ago on the new sci-fi spectacular, but according to a press release from CBS they’re still rounding out the cast and there have been some script changes, which have resulted in the network moving the release date back.

The really sucky thing about this news is that there is now no release date.

We don’t know if the series is coming out later in May, or if it’s coming out in June, July or August.  It’s doubtful they’ll delay it beyond August so if I were a betting man I’d say mid-June.

The up side of this is CBS is being very careful with this series.  They won’t let a shoddy product go out, which just means we all have to practice Vulcan-like patience.

Speaking of Vulcans… on a brighter note, two more actors have been confirmed for the series.

James Frain has been cast as Sarek, son of Skon, father of Spock.

James will be the third actor to play the iconic role, created by Mark Leonard in 1967 in the episode ‘Journey to Babel’.  The other actor to play Sarek was Ben Cross in the 2009 blockbuster reboot film Star Trek.

James is perhaps best known to audiences for his roles in Gotham and Orphan Black.

We don’t yet know how big a role Sarek will play in the new series, but it looks like he is most certainly in the Pilot episode.

Sarek is an important character in Star Trek, and he’s a fan favourite.  It’s fair to assume the creative team will give him a prominent role and that this is more than simple ‘fan service’.

For more information, check out the report at the official Star Trek website here.

In more good news, Inverse is reporting that Emily Coutts has joined the cast, thanks to a new entry on the Star Trek: Discovery IMDb page.

According to IMDb, she has been cast as the “Conn Officer”.  If her character has a name, we don’t know it yet.

If you’re thinking Emily’s face looks familiar, you’ve probably seen her in the gothic horror movie Crimson Peak or on the SyFy television series Dark Matter.

There is no formal confirmation of Emily’s involvement from CBS at the time of writing this article, but IMDb is usually a pretty good source for accurate information.

No one knows how big a role Emily will play in the new ensemble cast, but I’m hoping it’s a big one.  She’s a fantastic young actress, and it’s actually wonderful to see such a female heavy cast shaping up for this latest outing to the Final Frontier.

If this rumour is true, Emily joins Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Anthony Rapp, Doug Jones, Mary Chieffo, Shazad Latif, Chris Obi and James Frain in the new series.

To read the Inverse report, pay a visit to their site.

Star Trek: Discovery airs some time this year, and as soon as we find out when, we’ll let you know!

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Discovery: New Cast and Bryan Fuller

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Days after the casting rumour about Michelle Yeoh hit the net, CBS made an official announcement on not only her involvement is Star Trek: Discovery, but the involvement of two additional actors.

Michelle’s casting was confirmed, though it looks like the rumour mill was wrong about her character’s name.  Michelle will be playing Starfleet Captain Georgiou, in command of the USS Shenzhou – not Captain Han Bo.

Who else is joining her on the final frontier?

Doug Jones, playing an alien science officer called Lieutenant Saru, and Anthony Rapp, playing Starfleet science officer and astromycologist Lieutenant Stamets.

Astromycologist?  Mycology is the study of fungi… so… space fungi!  CBS have made a point of adding in the astromycology bit, so no doubt space fungi will in some way play an important part in the first season of the new Star Trek series.

What’s also interesting about the announcement is the differentiation between Lieutenant Saru and Lieutenant Stamets.

Saru is described as an alien science officer, and Doug Jones is particularly well know for his ability to bring characters to life under a mountain of makeup and prosthetics.  Stamets is described as a Starfleet Lieutenant.  In the images above, you’ll see “New Crews,” “New Villians,” “New Heroes,” and “New Worlds.”  It looks like Saru will be from one of those new crews and/or new worlds.  It remains to be seen as to whether or not he’ll be a new hero or a new villain.

Where might you have seen Doug and Anthony?

If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ll have seen Doug as one of the “Gentlemen” in the fantastic episode ‘Hush’.  You would have also seen his work in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Hellboy and The Strain.

You might have seen Anthony on Broadway in Rent, or on TV in the series The Knick.

If you want to learn more about Doug and Anthony, you can check out Doug’s IMDb page here, and Anthony’s IMDb page here.

In an interesting aside, they released the news at 10:31am.  Get it?  The USS Discovery is NX-1031.  Clever, CBS.  I actually love that little detail.

And now onto Bryan!

Star Trek fans everywhere felt a bit of a blow when it was announced that Bryan Fuller was stepping down as showrunner for Star Trek: Discovery.  For many of us, his involvement guaranteed quality, and it guaranteed deep and intelligent story-telling which is something we most certainly want.  Since the announcement, we’ve all been wondering why he chose American Gods over Star Trek: Discovery particularly when he is a proud and vocal Star Trek fan.  We were also, many of us, under the impression he would still be involved in some way with the show… but it turns out he’s not.  He’s stepped away entirely.

Bryan has finally spoken up about why, telling Digital Spy that the decision he made was a hard one and it came down to a couple of simple things – where Star Trek would give him the chance to have a conversation about things he cares deeply about, like human progress, environmental issues and hope, American Gods gives him the chance to comment on a few other things that Star Trek doesn’t often give voice to, like religion and immigration – two themes that run very strongly through Neil Gaiman’s American Gods novel.

The themes of faith and immigration that are present in American Gods resonate with Bryan, and he feels they will resonant deeply with people today.

It wasn’t an easy choice for him, but it was mitigated by the fact he felt he had done ‘enough’ to put Star Trek on the right path to success.  Should they need a little help navigating, he’s said he would be available for season two, if CBS needs him.

In the interview, when asked what Star Trek: Discovery is about, Bryan said there are three words that sum up the new series: “understand each other.”  I think that little sentence is very telling and I would hazard a guess that the premiere episode will start with a monumental misunderstanding between species that will throw us into the overall story-arc of this exciting new addition to the legacy of Star Trek.

Star Trek: Discovery starts filming in January 2017 in Toronto.  It’s first two episodes have been written by Bryan Fuller, and so far we now know that it stars Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp.  The new series will premiere in May.

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Review: Star Trek Timelines

I’m not a gamer, but I do like to lose myself now and again in a good game when I can.

My preference is for strategy games over ‘first person shooters’, and where possible my ultimate preference is for a game based in a science fiction property I love.

When I came across Star Trek Timelines by Disruptor Beam a couple of weeks ago, it looked really good.  I’m always cautious when I download an app based game that has the dreaded “in app purchases” sign beside it, but I liked the sound of Timelines and was determined to give it a go.

The premise?  It’s the 24th Century, just after Voyager has returned home and the events of Star Trek: Nemesis have played out.  You’re the captain of a Constellation Class starship (think the USS Stargazer from TNG’s first season episode “The Battle”).  You’re sent to investigate a temporal anomaly and come across Q.  He explains that a full scale temporal crisis is in process, and it’s begun throwing people, places and objects out of their timeline into yours.  He needs your help to set things straight.

At the beginning the game is great.  It’s kind of a choose your own adventure experience that allows you to assign crew to various missions and then choose the way forward based on who has the best skill level to achieve a particular challenge.

I was pleasantly surprised by the characters I could claim for free or win through the time portal.  Old favourites were there, as were some unexpected personalities.  There are a few silly ones – like Ice Hockey Harry Kim – but by and large there’s an excellent selection that will surprise and make any fan happy.

At the beginning, you don’t need to spend any money.  You can if you want to, but it’s not necessary to progress your characters.  That lasted for about three days.  As I eventually aced every mission at the lower levels to complete two ‘episodes’, suddenly the skill required for each new challenge mounted (by quite a lot) but my characters’ levels did not and the need to spend money reared its ugly head.  I was enjoying the game at that point, and I wanted to keep playing it.  Initially, the cost didn’t seem unreasonable.  You can stay in the game for $7.99.  That’s the cost of two coffees a day.  When I play games, I play them as part of a stress management strategy.  $7.99 was a relatively healthy investment in something that would engage me and distract me.

Then, at the one week mark, I was encountering missions my characters had no chance of winning without spending more money.  I pushed that envelope a little, but ended up bumping my expenditure to the next level only to get no where… which led to a remarkable level of frustration and a growing sense of disappointment.  It was obvious I needed to spend more but that was unacceptable for my budget, especially this close to Christmas.

I’ve downloaded games before with in app purchases and been sucked into the same money black hole, quickly deleting the game and forgetting about it.  I had hoped that anyone who loved Star Trek, and these guys have done their research so I thought they did love Star Trek, would be less driven by greed and more driven by a sincere desire to create something fans would love and that would bring us joy.  Yes.  I really am that naive!  Which is one way of saying I was wrong.

If you’ve downloaded this game and played it for longer than a week, you’ll know what I mean.  If you haven’t downloaded it yet and do, you’ll very quickly discover how obnoxiously expensive it can get and how unreasonably expensive certain ‘specials’ are.  Not content to make some money off Star Trek fans, the game designers have decided to charge like a wounded bull and gouge fans.  There was one special that was on offer recently where you could buy a special character and a few other things for just under $160.  That’s a day’s wage for some people.  That’s a three hour massage… a trendy pair of jeans… a week’s groceries… a monthly health insurance payment for a couple… a donation to the World Wildlife Fund that would help save a species… things that have meaning.  Not a picture on a screen and a momentary advantage in a game that has less and less going for it the longer you play it.  Hello!  Reality check to table two.  What are the people at Disruptor Beam smoking?


If you don’t want to spend wads of cash you can fumble through by repeating increasingly boring missions – sometimes the same one over and over and over again – in an attempt to find the object you need to advance your character, but it’s frustrating and it’s counter intuitive.  Sometimes you can buy the object you need at a Faction Centre, but more often than not you can’t, and sometimes you can win it at the Dabo table – but again, more often than not you get something you’re never going to need.

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I haven’t given up on the game yet, but I have given up on spending more money on it because that expenditure is getting me no where.  I might as well throw my money out the window of my car while driving along a freeway, it would do more good.

The good things about the game?

The likenesses of the characters, and most of the range of character choices.

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The story concept is brilliant and filled with promise… which is eventually killed, sadly, by the game play.

You can get back into the story, but it actually takes a fair bit of effort because the disruption caused to the story by having to repeat missions jades you quite a lot.

The game is easy to figure out, which is nice.

For a while, you do feel like you’ve been swept up and transported to the universe of Star Trek.

There are some iconic ships to captain if you’re lucky enough to win them – including a Borg cube!

The effects and graphics look pretty good on a smartphone and are a huge departure from most mobile based game platforms.

 

You also get to visit some familiar locales – including Regula One, Romulus, Cold Station 12 and Earth.

The bad?

The game play gets bogged by what seems to be a lack of care for us the players.  There appears to be a flowing narrative at first, then as you’re waiting to build your characters up so they can actually achieve something in episodes three and four, that flow vanishes and there is no rhyme or reason to any of it because you’re forced to revisit so many ‘bits’ of episodes you’ve already completed to obtain objects you need to level up.  At this point, the narrative is shattered and the game becomes a task to be begrudgingly completed rather than enjoyed.

It’s buggy.  I’ve had to power down my phone on a number of occasions because the game has stalled or because there’s a constant error message that pops up.


The challenges progress forward at a pace where it’s impossible for your characters to keep apace, without spending money.

In fact the whole money thing is the worst part of this game and, as I said above, reeks of an obnoxious level of greed.  You’ve run out of chronitons (which you need to get from challenge to challenge)?  Spend money. Sick of repeating games over and over and over and over and over and over again to find that one item you need to advance your character?  Spend money.  Really want to add Picard to your crew?  Spend money with no guarantee you’ll get him… so… oh, you better spend more money so you can keep trying to get him!

Then of course, there’s the ads.  We’re spending money but still have to suffer through ads if we want to get someone without using up our entire chroniton allowance or if we want an extra scan or if we want to complete a Faction Mission without waiting up to two hours.

I’ve obviously played this game for too long (8 days, very infrequently, but probably for a total of three hours a day), because it’s affecting me and I want to meet the game designers and punch each of them in the face.  Repeatedly.  That’s a little extreme, I know, but it’s about where my frustration level is sitting.  Stupidity mixed with greed brings out my inner-Klingon.

And the game design is borderline stupid.  It feels like the game is designed to defeat itself – to earn some quick bucks and then… who cares?

The designers deserve to make money, yes.  We all do for a job well done, but there’s making money and then there’s stealing your hard earned cash with a faulty product or product that doesn’t deliver on its promises or potential.

The final frustration is that the game actually has a lot of potential.  It could be so good!

I hope the designers tweak it a bit to make it less of a black hole for players’ wallets and more of an enjoyable romp through an amazing universe that millions of people love.  As much as I want to find the game designers and shove a smartphone or a tablet somewhere the sun doesn’t shine, I’m going to give them and their game until it’s next update to see if things improve.  If not, I’m out of here and am vehemently recommending to everyone they steer clear.

If I were to give it a score, I’d give this current version of the game 2.5 out of 5.

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And that’s generous.

Disruptor Beam, take a reality check, please.  Realise you’re not saving the world here, and apply some sane or at least realistic pricing to your in app purchases, and then go and apply some logic to your game play, character progression, and then give us, the players, the opportunity to in some way impact on the game play rather than be victims of some random score generating device that makes no sense whatsoever.

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Discovery… When Will More News Drop?

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A handful of weeks ago we were promised some news regarding the new Star Trek TV series in October… and we’re now more than half way through that month, with no new information appearing anywhere yet.

In fact, things have been pretty quiet on the Star Trek front in general, with the only real information coming out being reviews of the new Encyclopedia (which looks incredible), some news on the BluRay release of Star Trek: The Animated Series, and some other bits and pieces including information on the release of Star Trek Beyond on BluRay, DVD and Digital Download.

So what’s going on with Discovery?

We don’t know.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if any new information is coming this month, it will fall on October 31.

What makes me say that?

Three things.

  1. Bryan Fuller has made it well know that the 31st of October is his favourite day of the year.  Halloween is one day he looks forward to more than any other.
  2. The Discovery is NX-1031 which we could choose to read as October (the 10th month) 31st.
  3. On Twitter, for a couple of days now, Bryan has been excitedly tweeting a countdown to Halloween.

That countdown could just be him letting his inner kid out to play, or it might be a simple desire to share his glee at the prospect of All Hallows Eve coming closer, but it might also be a hint to those of us who love Star Trek.

This is all just conjecture.  I have no insider information and I don’t know if Bryan is planning anything Star Trek related for the 31st, but it’s something I can imagine he would do.

So, if I’m right, that means we have a little less than a fortnight to wait.  Just a reminder for my Aussie readers, we’re a day ahead of the US.  October 31 in the States is November 1 down under.

If you’re on Twitter, keep an eye out and maybe Tweet Bryan a time or two to let him know how anxious we all are for news on the sixth live action series.  To follow Bryan, simply download Twitter to your device and type in @BryanFuller.  He’ll pop up with a cute little blue tick next to his name letting you know it’s his verified account.

Another account to keep an eye on is @StarTrekRoom which is the verified account for the Star Trek: Discovery writers room.

What else is going on out there that’s Star Trek related?  Like I said, not much, but an interesting article appeared online recently, reminding us of US President Barack Obama‘s love of Star Trek.

Wired scored an interview with the outgoing President, who was their guest editor for their upcoming November issue.

Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States, and is in the last months of his final term in office (an American President can serve no more than two four year terms), which will end in January 2017.  President Obama will hand off to either former Secretary of State (and former US Senator and First Lady) Hillary Clinton, or American businessman Donald Trump, who are the Democrat and Republican nominees.

And the whole world is waiting on the outcome of that election!

Over the years, President Obama has made no secret of his love for Star Trek, having had his photo taken with Nichelle Nichols in the Oval Office, and recently eulogising Leonard Nimoy after that beloved actor passed away last year.

The US President spent his childhood watching and re-watching Star Trek, so no doubt, like many of us fans, it played a role in shaping his morals and his outlook on life.

The Obamas even had a special preview of Star Trek Beyond at the White House around the time it premiered in July of this year.

As a human being and a leader, Obama is aspirational – and inspirational.  Before assuming high office, he worked his way through college with the help of scholarships and student loans, and aimed for the stars.  50 of them on a blue background bordered with 13 red stripes.  Though he may not have achieved everything he’d hoped to achieve during his Presidency, he, like John F. Kennedy and other forward thinking leaders, tried to keep his eye on the future without sacrificing what has been hard won in the past.

The fact he’s a Star Trek fan is, you gotta admit, pretty cool.

The Wired interview with the President is brief, but worth a look.

A lot of time Star Trek fans are ridiculed.  I’ve felt it, I’m sure you’ve felt it, but as I often say on this blog, we’re a pretty amazing bunch when we’re on our game.

Many years ago there was a documentary done called Trekkies that starred Denise Crosby (Lieutenant Natasha Yar from Star Trek: The Next Generation).

I haven’t seen it since it first came out, but one fan they interviewed and her segment has stuck with me these last 19 years.  It was a little uncomfortable, because this fan received a lot of ridicule and a lot of media attention, but some people came to her defence and said something that made a lot of sense.

All I can remember is that the fan was a woman who wore a Starfleet uniform to jury duty.  Some mocked her, but others said that (and I’m paraphrasing terribly here) “…if you were on trial wouldn’t you want someone who believed in the ideals of Star Trek on your jury?”

That’s how I feel about Barack Obama.  If you’re going to be the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military in history, it’s not a bad thing to have been indoctrinated into the values of peace and diversity, collaboration and respect that are at the core of everything that is Star Trek.  I might not be an American, but Australia and the United States are close allies and everything that happens over there definitely impacts on us.

If you’d like to check out the Wired article on President Obama, it’s right here.

That’s it for now.  As soon as any news hits the net about series six, I’ll post it here.

To our American friends, good luck as your election day draws closer.  From over here, it’s looking tense and strange and a bit nasty.  Hopefully the person elected to lead your country will do so with grace and a strong understanding of both your own country’s needs and the needs of the wider global community.

Live long, and prosper.

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A Future To Believe In

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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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