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Why my Son Prefers Star Trek: Strange New Worlds over Obi-Wan Kenobi

My dusty Star Trek and Star Wars toys have been waiting for years for the next generation to choose a champion. That moment has finally arrived.

I can’t tell you how happy I am. I’ve spent years unsuccessfully trying to introduce my 12-year-old son to the vast Star Trek universe.

First, I offered a couple of the original episodes. Way too slow. Then, I served up the Kelvin timeline with the 2009 J.J. Abrams’ movie. It didn’t stick. My boy didn’t want to go further “Into Darkness.”

“Discovery” and “Picard,” the two new Star Trek series on Paramount+ weren’t at all designed for him simply because of all those damn swear words. I didn’t even make the attempt.

I’m a life-long Trekkie, and I’ve been unable to pass the torch.

Family-Friendly Star Trek
Then, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” came out, and I watched the first couple of episodes. I was in shock. Could it be? Could this new series really be okay for kids to watch? Was this the moment I’d been waiting for all of my adult life?

I sat down with my wife and son on a Sunday night after dinner and nervously played the premiere for them. They were both skeptical.
(My wife was never a big Star Trek fan.)

The episode ended, and I stared at both of them. They each displayed a Vulcan look of mild satisfaction. They agreed to watch another episode. My hopes were bolstered.

The New Adventures of Ben Kenobi
But the next time we came together to watch a show, I really wanted to see the new “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series on Disney+. So we watched that two-part premiere. I certainly enjoyed this new Star Wars entry, but it was arguably a bit sluggish out of the gate with a slow build. (I did love that reveal shot of the light saber on Obi-Wan’s waist at the end of episode 2.)

I performed the same ‘Lester-insta-poll,’ and received a similar response. Good, though not crazy good.

Padawan or Cadet?
The third family screening would tell all as our son had been given the power to choose what to watch next. (We rotate that honor between the three of us.)

“Strange New Worlds” or “Obi-Wan-Kenobi?”

I could barely look at him.

I’d been waiting my whole life to again experience “Star Trek” through the eyes of a child. I still remember as a kid being blown away by the storytelling of the original series. That’s what always differentiated “Star Trek” from other sci-fi. It was so character-driven. Serious… and fun. And yes, occasionally even funny.

And then I watched as other sci-fi franchises muscled their way to the top of the public’s preference. Marvel and Star Wars. Of course.

I must admit that Marvel has really earned it. Movie after movie. They’ve barely stumbled. And then the expansion on Disney+. It’s impressive. Most impressive.

Yes, I think more impressive than Star Wars, simply because the entire body of work from that universe is uneven. Still, that galaxy far, far away is far from losing its grip on this planet.

And I know that has a lot to do with Darth Vader.

The Enduring Power of Vader
I remember seeing “The Return of the Jedi” at the Ziegfeld theater in New York City back in 1983. The giant theater was packed with kids munching on popcorn. And then there was the big moment towards the end of the movie when Emperor Palpatine was zapping Luke with dark Force lightning. Then, the camera shot cut to Darth Vader watching Luke’s apparent end.

Suddenly I sensed a huge wave of emotion flow throughout the young audience. Then the sound. It was a combination of hundreds of gasps and a few screams. Some kids just yelled.

The shot cut back to Luke writhing in pain. The audience’s roar of emotion increased.

And then back to Anakin staring at his son.

The entire theater exploded. The chorus of every kid there screaming at Vader to do the right thing.

Whoa.

Yes, Star Wars endures because we love to watch that struggle between the dark and the light. And who better represents that than our fallen friend Anakin?

The Federation Wins
Fast forward four decades, and Disney+ is now serving up a lot more Anakin/Vader.

But that’s only teased at the end of episode two of “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

So when my boy has the foundational choice between watching the best of Starfleet or a fallen Jedi, he goes with… Star Trek!

I have to admit, it wasn’t really a fair fight because of the timing, but I still relished the victory.

Finally.

For the past few weeks, my son has consistently asked for more “Strange New Worlds” episodes. I think I can safely say we are officially now a “Star Trek” family!
(My wife is enjoying the series with us as well.)

It all comes down to great storytelling and character development.

Always.

At the beginning of every “Strange New Worlds” episode, there’s that short sequence where the Enterprise takes a few colorful victory laps before the Star Trek logo settles.

Yep, I’d say they’ve earned it.

Never Dismiss the Power of the Force
We eventually got around to watching episode 3 of “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” And I observed my son during the Darth Vader scenes. The James Earl Jones voice. The iconic breathing. The sheer power of the dark side.

My boy was mesmerized. He then started to mimic the breathing. And I saw the smile on his face.

Yep, even after 40 years, some things don’t change.

Hit It!
But a heathy dose of Vader in episode 3 doesn’t change the fact that “Star Trek” has finally beat out “Star Wars” in the Lester household.

I’ve been playing the long game, and it’s finally paid off. Thank you, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” You’ve got a lock on the Lester family.

The torch has finally been passed.

Why Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is So Good

Another “Star Trek” series? Yep! And this is the one we’ve been waiting for. Here’s my review…

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.

Hit It
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.

Yes, fun.
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.

And fun.

It’s exactly what we need.

Why Star Trek: Discovery and Picard are Worth Watching Now

If you haven’t been following these series on Paramount+, now’s a great time to finally check them out. Here’s my review.

When I was a kid, I watched the first reruns of the original “Star Trek” and was completely engaged by the adventure and adrenaline-fueled fun. I connected with this family of characters and it locked me in to follow an ever expanding universe of Star Trek stories and characters for the next several decades.

I’ve continued to watch Star Trek throughout my life. All of the series, movies, different timelines and the recent iterations on Paramount+.

And Star Trek has been evolving along the way.

Finding Balance in “Discovery”
“Star Trek: Discovery” currently represents the new norm, and the writers have clearly worked hard to boldly go where no Trek has gone before. They even introduced four-letter words into the scripts. I’m still stinging from the first time they dropped the F-bomb (although I’m finally getting used to the occasional salty language).

“Discovery” has paid significant attention to presenting us with a truly diverse set of characters. DE&I themes run deep throughout. Bravo.

“Discovery” also focuses on feelings. A lot.

Kirk never needed to talk through how he felt. But these Star Trek characters do. Yes, it’s more realistic, but it sometimes slows the pace of the show. You’ve just got to get used to it.

Speaking of feelings, “Discovery’s” scripts often point out how much the crew love each other. There’s lots of hugging and crying.

When this started, I wanted the stories to first spend more time with the secondary characters. I didn’t really know them. So I didn’t really buy all of the intimacy that writers were suddenly pushing into the scripts.

In this fourth season, that dynamic has finally been properly balanced, and the love/respect/admiration factor is more believable.

Fully Embracing the Cliffhanger
I’m also pleased with another important factor that “Discovery” is finally getting right.
It’s the classic Trek cliffhanger moment that gets you so excited for the next scene or episode.

A great example is the pre opening-credits scene that sets up the entire episode. The original series did it so well, and I’m really happy that the writers have paid more attention to that device.

I always love it when the image suddenly cuts to black, I hear the opening notes of the Star Trek theme, and then I get that tingle of adrenaline. Or maybe you catch your mouth curling up into a little smile. That’s when you want to say, “Thank you.”

“Star Trek: Discovery” has finally landed in the back half of its fourth season.

“Picard’s” Reunion
The second season of “Star Trek: Picard” is also a blast to watch. As I write this, “Picard” is only two episodes in, but this series clearly holds all of the cards. It packs together the best of the more evolved style of Star Trek storytelling with classic Next Generation Trek. It feels so good to be going back to this future.

More Jean-Luc, played by Patrick Stewart, and Seven, played by Jeri Ryan. More Borg queen, this time played by Annie Wersching. More Q (John de Lancie) and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg).

More classic starship designs, with a crazy new Stargazer. More classic uniforms and less developed transporters. The sounds and special effects are all so familiar. And they tap into little pleasure nodes throughout my brain that haven’t been activated for so many years.

This entire series has a huge impact. How can it not? I know this family. This Star Trek. These characters. And the new characters are well defined. You don’t have to wait four seasons to really get to know them.

If you’re a Star Trek fan, resistance to “Picard” is futile.

Star Trek Happiness
I’ve stuck with Star Trek across the decades like a dedicated football fan. Some years are better than others, but you don’t give up, because you just know the next year is going to be a winning season.

We’ve got two winning Star Trek seasons going on right now, simultaneously.

Fans aren’t always looking for something entirely different. Sometimes what’s old can be new again. And when the new finally aligns with what we already love, then you’re going to have happy Trekkies.

Yes, they’ve finally made it so.

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