Like the good relapsed Star Trek geek that I am, I found myself grudgingly signing up to CBS’ All Access streaming service for the week trial just to watch the first two episodes of the new Star Trek: Discovery. I don’t know if I’m so tempted as to actually pay for the service (I did get an extra month free when I went to quit the sub), but I certainly was pretty enthused about this show after watching both premiere episodes back-to-back last night.
Really, we had so little advance information about Discovery, which wasn’t necessarily a good sign. No advance previews, no plot, just scant sketches of info and character points. I thought that the series had pretty much bombed out after Voyager and Enterprise and that it was a good idea to let it lie for a while until someone had a better idea of what to do with it. But another prequel series? That wasn’t as episodic? And had very lackluster trailers? I wasn’t on board.
Maybe I’ve changed my mind. We’ll see. The weird thing is that the first two episodes are a prelude to the rest of the first season, an extended setup of what’s to come afterward. It’s a very interesting move that allows the writers time to set up the story and some lead characters without feeling like they need to shove in a ship tour and a “lets get the crew together” mission right from the get-go.
Some things I liked:
- Love the main character of Michael Burnham. She’s flawed, she has an interesting background (tragedy + Vulcan training), and you get to know a bit more about her as the episodes go on.
- Incredible special effects and alien designs (esp. the teaser’s scene).
- The ongoing nature of the story, which allows for death, downfall, change, and progression.
- Conflict in Star Trek. A captain who is really level and has a lot of nuance and balance. Would’ve loved to have had a whole show with Michelle Yeoh. She’s really tremendous and does a lot in the little time she is afforded.
- A main character trying to do the right thing but also doing the wrong thing — and I agree that it was wrong. Michael is not a Mary Sue and that is refreshing.
- Sarek — the first Vulcan since Spock that I actually like? You can see the ambassador in him and some deeply buried emotions.
- It kicks off with a confrontation and battle and a whole lot of upheaval, which makes an audience wonder where it’s going to go from here.
- The initial ship is so sterile and lacking personality.
- Using an actual telescope when sensors failed, genius.
- The bit with radiation poisoning and the sickbay was also a neat touch.
- A couple of scenes where the bridge crew reacted in subtle but understandable ways without saying anything.
Some things I disliked:
- The first five minutes were Awkward Exposition City, with the two lead characters telling each other things that they each should know already. It was really, really wince-inducing.
- Boy I am not sold on the Klingons. They look even worse than before and I have never warmed to their battle-hungry, honor-obsessed culture. If this is going to be Klingons 100% of the time… I dunno.
- Those uniforms are kind of tacky. There, I said it. Enterprise and TOS had much better outfits.
- The battle was kind of underwhelming. Like “pew pew pew” from afar. A few moments helped to redeem it, like the one ship crashing into the other, or the force fields holding together a damaged ship, but it wasn’t as dynamic as it should’ve been.
- Feels a bit — a bit — like it’s taking cues from the recent Star Trek movie series in some of its set dressings and special effects. Not a big fan of that.