Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

Star Trek: Discovery (2017), created by Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman, starring Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones

I'm not the biggest Star Trek fan out there. While I've seen the original series and a lot of episodes from The Next Generation as well as the other series and some of the movies, I don't really dwell deeply in the vast lore of the series nor do I think it's somehow sacred series. Star Trek banner, just like any other long-running series, has produced some great things as well as mediocre to utter trash. In a word, it's pretty typical franchise in that it can't get it right everytime or even most of the time, no matter if we are talking about its origin points or what came after.

So, Star Trek: Discovery, a series that is based in time before the original series starring Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, but that was produced decades after the original aired. How does it fare and are the preliminary fears of some of the fans of the series valid? Not that I can really give a fan perspective to that.

I'll start with the easiest, which is visuals. Despite Discovery is set in a time before the original series, it does look technically far more advanced and slick than the original ever did. That's because the original was made in the 1960's and the sets were made of plywood and plastic, whereas these new sets clearly have more of a modern concept of how the future will look like with all the computers and tech on display. Sure, the control panels on the bridge still explode in the same ferocity they did in the original series, but they just look more modern and it's difficult to see how the tech in a bit more distant future would develop in the way it was shown in the 1960's.

That's the problem with prequels coming out decades after the originals, as the tech has changed. The same happened with Alien movies for an example when you compare the tech shown in Alien and Aliens to teach that was shown in Prometheus. With Star Trek, the same happened with Enterprise, as the ship, while plotwise way less powerful than the Enterprise in the original series was, managed to look technically more advanced.

So in that sense, there's nothing surprising that the tech shown in the new series looks more advanced. And that's the key, I think, that it only looks more advanced as it's flashier. Perhaps the federation decided that less flashy is better as far design goes and went with that at some point.

But more than technology, a big noise has been made about the new Klingons, who have been drastically re-designed from what they were in the original series or even in the Next Generation. This time around they look even more alien than before. Sure, they have their trademark xenophobic hostility, but they do look far different. Again, though, the appearance of the Klingons is something that has been changed a quite a bit during the years, from the ridgeless Klingons of the original series to the deep ridged Klingons of the Next Generation. Their apparel has changed as well. So that is something you either roll with or don't. Personally, I thought they looked far better on the move than they did on the still images. And their warlike culture seems even more deeply ingrained in their culture than it has done before.

The first two episodes of Discovery introduce the main character of the show, lt. Commander Michael Burnham (Marin-Green), a woman, who was orphaned in young age after a Klingon raid and was then raised by Vulcans and is the first human to undergo the Vulcan education system. At the start of the series, she has already served for 7 years on a federation ship U.S.S. Shenzhou, commanded by Captain Georgiou (Yeoh). The mission they are on is a simple one: to fix a federation coms prove at the edge of Federation space. From the getgo, it smells fishy, as the probe clearly looks like it was intentionally damaged.

And it turns out the prove was intentionally damaged by T'Kuvma (Chris Obi) of the Klingons, aiming at a war with the federation so that the divided Klingon's would be united against a common foe.  And that's the situation after the first two episodes: a war is looming on the horizon, as the skirmish at the border has convinced the bickering Klingon clans of the Federation threat.

Personally, I was positively surprised by the Discovery. It doesn't feel like Star Trek as such, but it does feel like a competently made sci-fi series. The writing was all in all decent, not avoid of sci-fi cliches or tropes, but it worked in setting the scene of what might be coming in the future.  The two characters to get the most exposures are Burnham and Georgiou. Yeoh especially does a solid job with her character and Martin-Green isn't bad either as a human raised by the Vulcans. She's an interesting mix of human emotion and very often poor attempts at trying to keep up Vulcan appearances of calm logic. The other members of the crew are left with a pretty typical statistic roles. Not even the Doug Jones's lt. Saru, the real alien member of the crew, get a lot of time. But, again, a time will tell what's done, if anything, with them.

The safest option for old Trek fans could be to approach Discovery as a sort of an alternative take on the material.  If you are looking for a decently made sci-fi series, it just might turn out to be one. It all really depends on how the series will continue.

So that's my take on Discovery based on the two episodes I've seen. It's far from being a home run, but it's not the worst thing done in the name of Star Trek. Personally, I liked it better than the whole first season of the Next Generation, but your mileage may vary.

Personally, I checked the episode from Netflix, but I've understood they're available on other platforms as well. At least based on these two episodes, I'll be seeing the next one as well.