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Strange New Worlds is Good Old Star Trek

Published Thursday, May 05, 2022 @ 9:13 PM EDT
May 05 2022

(© 2022 CBS Studios)

Thursday was a decent day for Star Trek fans, with the season finale of Star Trek: Picard and premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on the Paramount+ streaming service.

Picard's finale tied up all the ends that were loosed during the series' second season. Frankly, the entire story could have been told in just two or three episodes. It felt like the writers were padding things out and/or spinning their wheels during the long slog from episodes 3-8. Still, it was enjoyable spending time with the series' likeable characters. Perhaps the ends were tied up a bit too neatly- but the presence of John DeLancie's Q almost mandates a deus ex machina-based resolution to the story. Paramount has announced that most of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast will appear in Picard season three. Hint: the "missing" cast member had a cameo in this episode.

As for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: This is your father's (or grandfather's) Star Trek.

Of all the Trek motion pictures and streaming series released since the 2009 theatrical reboot, this one is closest to the original series in style and content. Back are the vibrant colors, used originally by NBC parent RCA to sell more color televisions in the '60s. The visual effects are state-of-the-art, motion picture quality. While every element of the Enterprise has been modified, there's no J.J. Abrams "Apple Store" feel to the ship. The best way I can explain it: it's how the original series Enterprise would have appeared if Roddenberry had the seemingly unlimited funds Paramount tossed at this iteration. The budget must be huge, indeed; there are over 20 various producers listed in the main titles, which is why the opening credits run for almost two minutes.

The casting is just about perfect. It's an easy adjustment to accept the younger versions of Spock, Uhura, and Chapel. ST:SNW takes place about ten years before the original series, so the captain of the vessel is not James T. Kirk, but Christopher Pike. Pike is played to perfection by Anson Mount- he has the best qualities of Captain Kirk, minus the ego, scenery chewing, hairpiece, and odd speech patterns.

The story is classic Trek, and restores the optimism and utopian view of the 23rd century- while recalling the "21st century, when everything went wrong."

"Our conflict also started with a fight for freedoms," Pike tells the aliens who have acquired technology that surpasses their maturity to use it properly. "We called it the second civil war, then the eugenics war, and finally just World War III." End result: the loss of 600,000 plant and animal species and 30 percent of the world's population.

Can we just skip directly to the 23rd century, please?

The show is mostly drama, with some droll humor and sharp asides sparingly used to good effect. The episode begins with Pike watching the classic film "The Day The Earth Stood Still," deftly foreshadowing later plot developments. It's a clever easter egg for Trek fans as well: "Day" was directed by Robert Wise, who directed the first Trek theatrical, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."

Scriptwriter Akiva Goldsman does an overall good job imbuing classic Trek vibes into this incarnation, but he continues to irritate hard-core fans with inane errors. Spock somehow manages to travel 16.5 light years from Vulcan to Earth in less than eight hours. But to be fair, all iterations of Star Trek are well-known for playing fast and loose with warp speeds and distances. The rest of the episode was interesting and entertaining, so hey. At least they're not traveling via a subspace domain composed of the mycelia (roots) of space fungi, like in Star Trek: Discovery.

Here's a look at the two shows:


On the subject of going boldly (or boldly going) where a Russian had gone before, on this date in 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into outer space, on a 15 minute, 28 second sub-orbital flight.


Speaking of classic television, on this day in 1952, the I Love Lucy episode "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" was first aired and was seen by 68% of the television audience.


Remembering Erie, PA's Ann B. Davis (May 3, 1926 – June 1, 2014):


Michael Palin is 79 today.



The New Yorker:

Kavanaugh asks if anyone has seen briefcase he left at bar last week. (Borowitz)


I have faith that one day we will get to the bottom of why neither women nor abortion are mentioned in a document that was written by 55 men in 1787.
-Andrew Wortman

If life begins at conception, when does stupid start?
-Middle Age Riot

The last time I saw authoritarians this upset about their evil plans being leaked, it involved a Death Star.
-John Fugelsang

Categories: Alan Shepard, Andy Borowitz, Ann B. Davis, I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball, Michael Palin, Star Trek, Twitter


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