Why Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is So Good
I’ve been a “Star Trek” fan since I was a kid, when I watched reruns of the original series. (My mom would often organize dinner with my dad around me watching Kirk, Spock and Bones at 6pm on WPIX.)
I’ve stuck with the entire Trek universe across all of these decades, and I’ve generally enjoyed every iteration.
Born from “Discovery”
“Star Trek: Discovery” has been the main “Trek” property over the past few years. It’s felt heavy at times and has gone through narrative course corrections in each of its seasons.
Honestly, it’s been a bit too dark and stiff for me. Universal destruction is always just around the corner. Yes, the writers keep adding lines about how the crew is family and how much they love each other. Yes, there’s a lot of hugging and tears. But, I just don’t feel it. Not really.
When a younger Starship Enterprise showed up in season 2 with Captain Christopher Pike, played by Anson Mount, the positive change in energy was dramatic. Sure, it was a gamble giving us another Spock, played by Ethan Peck, but it worked. Plus, we saw Pike’s bold Number One, played by Rebecca Romijn. And instantly, I wanted the storytelling to stay with this younger pre-Kirk Enterprise.
And clearly, I was not alone.
Now, we’ve got “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” a new series on Paramount+, which follows the voyages of the Enterprise in the decade before Kirk took over. If you’re a Trekkie, you know that Captain Pike and his crew were introduced in “The Cage,” the first pilot for “Star Trek” way back in 1965. (That footage was eventually repurposed in the two-part “Star Trek” episode “The Menagerie.”)
After watching the first two episodes of “Strange New Worlds,” I’m happy to say that this series perfectly captures the energy and fun of the original show.
Saving the galaxy used to be fun, right?
There are lots of complementary elements that are helping this new series to hum at warp.
The Strong Cast
Though Pike is now (minor spoiler alert) burdened by knowing his future, Anson Mount continues to give us a compelling Starfleet captain who’s collaborative, funny and also a tad irreverent.
The writers are quickly focusing on exploring the supporting cast. We’ve already got a nice sense of Nurse Chapel played by Jess Bush, and the second episode focuses on Cadet Uhura played by Celia Rose Gooding.
The producers have taken some creative license to update these younger versions of these famous characters, and it’s all for the better. I’m not going to hold the producers to perfectly reflect every detail of the original “Star Trek.”
Better Special Effects
The same goes for the Enterprise. Yes, it’s the same ship, but there are subtle differences on the outside and major enhancements on the bridge. And thanks to modern CGI effects, this ship can really fly. And I cannot tell you (Geek alert!) how much fun it is to watch the Enterprise in action.
The more advanced special effects are a welcome improvement.
Back to the Future
“Strange New Worlds” also benefits from a healthy dose of nostalgia. Sure, there’s a lot of runway for the missions of this previously unexplored crew, but everything feels so familiar and immediately comfortable. The communicators, the tricorders, the transporter beams, and all of those techie sounds… you know all of them!
“Star Trek” series have spent decades trying to differentiate themselves from the original show. “Strange New Worlds” doesn’t need to. These are actually the first chapters of the same Enterprise story.
It’s refreshing that we again get to see the Federation during its peak years, when everything seemed possible.
No More F-Bombs
And I am so happy that this is again TV-PG Star Trek, void of all that unnecessary bad language and occasional F-bombs that have plagued “Discovery” and “Picard.”
“Star Trek” doesn’t need to be so dark and “edgy” to connect with it’s 2022 audience. I think especially these days, we need a reminder that being bright and optimistic is achievable.
I’m looking forward to inviting my 12-year-old son to watch “Strange New Worlds” with me. (He’s not yet connected with “Star Trek” the way he has with Marvel and “Star Wars.”)
Time to Enjoy
No, it’s not groundbreaking “Trek,” but it’s not trying to be. “Strange New Worlds” still succeeds on many levels. It firmly represents “Star Trek’s” core, gives us a great Captain Pike (Thank you, Anson Mount), and most of all… it’s simply refreshing.
It’s exactly what we need.