“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a worthy prequel to the original series. It hits all the right notes and lures us in with a sense of nostalgia alongside an amazing new direction for the franchise to go.”
The wait is over UK fans. It’s time to boldly go in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. But is Paramount+’s all-new Trek series worth the wait?
I adore ‘Star Trek.’ Ever since I first set eyes on the U.S.S Enterprise, I have been hooked. Those original adventures with Captain Kirk and his crew are some of the best TV I’ve ever watched. But what happened before Kirk took the center seat? What adventures did the Enterprise go on? This was answered in the original series but we wanted to know more. Thankfully, ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ season two helped us on our quest to find out more about Captain Christopher Pike. Forget the ‘Kelvin’ universe that the new movies created, this is the real story.
TO BOLDLY GO…
The new show on Paramount Plus, ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ follows the adventures of Pike and his crew. One that features Mr. Spock once more, as we already knew from the original series. Anson Mount once again dons Pike’s uniform and takes command of our beloved Enterprise. The series is set a decade before Kirk took over command of the ship. But the seeds that will bear fruit in the original series are firmly planted here. And thanks to its return to the episodic format, this new ‘Star Trek’ series is sublime. I dare to say it but it COULD even be on par with Kirk’s three-season adventures. And I don’t say that lightly.
STRANGE NEW WORLDS
The first episode of the series has the title of ‘Strange New Worlds.’ It is quite fitting, in many ways. Christopher Pike is recalled back to the U.S.S Enterprise after his first officer, Una Chin-Riley (Number One) goes missing during a first contact mission. However, after the events of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ season two when Pike saw his own death foretold, he is reluctant to return to space, in any capacity. But with the aid of Spock, who has recently become engaged to T’Pring (and we all know how that turns out), he takes the center seat once again to find Riley and bring her home.
They travel to where she was last seen, on the planet Kiley 279. The planet is similar to 21st century Earth. And is in a state of civil war. It is here that Pike will discover a terrible truth, one that goes back to one of our first encounters with Pike.
The episode does a grand job of introducing us to the new characters. And some we have encountered before. For example, Jess Bush plays Christine Chapel. A nurse aboard the Enterprise but not yet under the gaze of Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy. We have Dr. M’Benga, played by Babs Olusanmokun. We encountered him back in the original series episodes ‘A Private Little War’, and ‘That Which Survives.’ Celia Rose Gooding as Nyota Uhura. And of course, we re-encounter Ethan Peck as Spock. Others include Adrian Holmes as Robert April, the Enterprise’s first captain. Gia Sandhu as T’Pring. And Dan Jeannotte as George Samuel ‘Sam’ Kirk, James T. Kirk’s elder brother. All in all, the first episode is a great little adventure for what is to come.
CHILDREN OF THE COMET
The second episode is named ‘Children Of The Comet.’ This time, we focus on Nyota Uhura for the main part of the episode. It starts with Uhura being invited to Pike’s cabin for a meal with other crew members. It is here where she tells everyone that she is unsure about her future in Starfleet. The Enterprise’s mission is to divert a comet away from the population of a desolate planet. But the comet seemingly has a force field protecting it that renders the attempt to alter its trajectory futile. Uhura, alongside Spock, Kirk, and La’an Noonien-Singh (Yes, Noonian-Singh and yes, her famous descendant is mentioned) beam to the comet to get to the bottom of the mystery. All the while, the comet is still on its deadly flight path.
The episode is an entertaining one, and it allows us to focus on Uhura and her qualities. She isn’t the Uhura we have come to know and expect. Yet. But her famous traits are there for all to see. Celia Rose Gooding does a terrific job of playing the young, fresh-faced cadet. Christina Chong as La’an will fast become a fan favorite in her own right. Her character is strong, strong-willed, and does whatever it takes to get the job done and the crew back safe. This is the kind of episode that we came to expect from the original series, and it harkens back to those days in completely enjoyable ways.
GHOSTS OF ILLYRIA
The third episode carries the title of ‘Ghosts Of Illyria.’ The Enterprise is called to investigate the disappearance of a colony of Illyrians. These people have been banned from The Federation due to their genetic engineering. An Ion storm is threatening the now abandoned colony and its buildings, causing most of the away team to beam back to the ship, leaving Pike and Spock below. But unknown to the team members that have returned to the ship, they have been infected with a virus, one that makes them addicted to light. The infection spreads throughout the crew, leading to Pike and Spock having to attempt to ride out the deadly storm below on the planet. and their chances of survival are slim.
This is the kind of episode we are used to with the original series. Does anyone remember ‘The Deadly Years’?. Or ‘The Naked Time’?. Surely you must remember ‘This Side Of Paradise’?. This follows the same formula to produce an episode that is highly enjoyable but emotional at the same time. This episode brings Rebecca Romijn’s Una Chin-Riley to the forefront, and she leads it in great style. Secrets are revealed and the entire episode carries some real emotional weight. If this is a clue to how the rest of the series episodes will go, then I’m all in.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The stories that have been written for these opening three episodes are pretty strong. The writers have a real feel for everything that the show must possess to reach out and grab the Trek fans out there. And thankfully, they have delivered. We get the usual introduction to new characters but these are brief, to the point, and quickly moved on from, allowing the story and the action to take place. The episodes are directed deftly by Akiva Goldsman, Leslie Hope, and Maja Vrvilo in a classic kind of way. Yes, the special effects are up to modern-day standards but they harken back somewhat to the original series, giving the audience exactly what they want and need to see. The sets and production designs are top-notch and we know and feel like we are in a ‘Star Trek’ show.
THE MAIN THEME
Without a decent theme tune, the show wouldn’t be as good as it is. It is lucky then that we are granted a re-scored and different variation on the classic theme tune. Jeff Russo has again composed the theme music while Nami Melumad composes the rest of the score of each episode. But it is that simple use of Alexander Courage’s original theme that continues to send goosebumps down the spine. The creators of the show have pulled out a masterstroke by including it. It is different enough to let us know that we are back with the Enterprise once more but with a different captain. This makes the opening theme to be unique and not just a retread of Courage’s theme.
Based on the three episodes that Paramount Plus has shown us, we are in for a treat. This really is ‘Star Trek’ back to its very best. Once used to the idea of Kirk not being the captain, it is easy to sit back and enjoy the show. But don’t let that fool you. Anson Mount as Pike is easily as likable as William Shatner as Kirk. In fact, they seem to have the same sense of humor at times! And some of their mannerisms are almost identical. It isn’t a carbon copy of Kirk, Pike is his own man. And Mount plays him as such.
Rebecca Romijn as Una is also highly likable and should go on to become a fan favorite. Ethan Peck as Spock has the thankless task of playing our favorite Vulcan science officer. But we can’t help but like him in the role. And he manages to make it his own without straying into Leonard Nimoy or Zachary Quinto’s territory.
The supporting cast is likable as well. Jess Bush as Christine Chapel is a firecracker but one with a sense of duty and purpose. And the character comes to the forefront in the show and is not relegated to being in the background where Majel Barrett sometimes was. Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura will grow into her role over time but so far, she is just a tad too smiley, too teenage girl-like. Babs Olusanmokun as M’Benga is a brilliant replacement for ‘Bones’ McCoy and again, I can see him going on to becoming a fan favorite. Christina Chong though is a revelation. Her performance as La’an Noonian-Singh is wonderful. She shows just the right amount of likable qualities but we can see some of Khan’s traits under the surface. And it will be interesting to see where her journey takes her.
‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ is a worthy prequel to the original series. It hits all the right notes and lures us in with a sense of nostalgia alongside an amazing new direction for the franchise to go. I love it so far. And I think you will too. We have been waiting for this for a long time. But finally, it is time for us to go where no one has gone before once again.
‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ debuts with the first three episodes followed by a weekly episode release every Wednesday, exclusively on Paramount Plus.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!