Star Trek TV reveals are multiplying like Tribbles as of late. Beginning with 2017’s Star Trek: Discovery — the primary Trek present in additional than a decade — the enduring sci-fi franchise has rolled out 5 new reveals on Paramount+ up to now 5 years. As a lifelong Trekkie, it’s been a pleasure to navigate this wealth of Trek content material, however I additionally must be sincere: It hasn’t all the time been easy crusing.
Each Discovery and the Subsequent Technology sequel sequence Star Trek: Picard began out sturdy earlier than working into narrative quicksand in later seasons. (Discovery has change into relentlessly grandiose, with infinite speeches in regards to the glories of area journey, and Picard has gotten head-spinningly sophisticated.) It’s a aid, then, that the most recent Trek providing, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — premiering this Thursday on the streamer; I’ve seen the primary 5 episodes — will get again to fundamentals, intently hewing to basic Trek with an old-school vibe and an episodic alien-of-the-week format. (It even brings again the normal uniforms and opening narration from the unique sequence.) It’s a throwback, to make certain… and a welcome one.
Unusual New Worlds finds Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) — Kirk’s predecessor as captain of the Enterprise, who performed a serious function in Season 2 of Discovery — in a snowy Montana cabin, casting him because the archetypal reluctant hero referred to as again to obligation to rescue an outdated good friend. That decision places him again within the Enterprise‘s captain’s chair, flanked by his first officer Quantity One (Rebecca Romijn), science officer Spock (Ethan Peck) and wide-eyed cadet Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding).
We get just a few passing mentions of Discovery‘s Michael Burnham, however Unusual New Worlds largely charts its personal course with clear-cut missions and a brand new planet/alien/thriller every week, whereas nonetheless weaving in just a few serialized strands all through. The weekly format retains it gentle and nimble, and it doesn’t get slowed down by impenetrably dense technobabble like Discovery and Picard do, opting as an alternative for gentle comedy, fist fights and eye-candy particular results like an exhilarating chase by an asteroid belt. It’s extra private and bodily, much less cosmic and cerebral.
It additionally assembles perhaps the strongest crew of the present Trek sequence. Mount makes a terrific captain, with a commanding presence and a twinkle in his eye that recollects William Shatner’s Kirk. He was an important addition on Discovery, and he will get to go even deeper right here, with Pike unable to shake a haunting imaginative and prescient of his tragic future. The long-lasting function of Spock is in good palms with Peck, and we get to see a sexier aspect of the logical Vulcan by his encounters with girlfriend T’Pring. Plus, Gooding brings contemporary life to Uhura, and Jess Bush is appealingly snarky as Nurse Chapel. Episode 2 even takes day trip for a chummy crew dinner that helps deepens our understanding of those characters, and different crew members trace at extra connections to basic Star Trek lore.
A warning, although (or a pink alert, I suppose): The standalone tales are simply OK thus far. The early episodes are fairly commonplace sci-fi fare: the mysterious object with formidable powers; the mysterious virus that infects the entire crew. I’d wish to see these new worlds get a bit more odd. (Episode 4, although, is an successfully tense thriller, because the Enterprise faces off in opposition to the ruthless Gorn alien race in a stripped-down area battle.) There’s nothing right here but that stacks up in opposition to the perfect episodes of the unique Star Trek or Subsequent Technology… however then once more, which may be an unfairly excessive bar to achieve this early on. It’s off to a promising begin, with a stable crew brimming with potential. By going again to the previous, Unusual New Worlds factors the best way to a brighter future.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: Star Trek: Unusual New Worlds will get again to fundamentals with an old-school, episodic format that reinvigorates the franchise.