Star Trek: Discovery may be set a decade before the original series that found its place in the countryís pop culture zeitgeist, but it has more in common with its distant cousin, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
It possesses all the grit, grime and conflict of DS9 while containing flourishes of the original.† However, make no mistake, this isnít a Star Trek thatís about peace, love and understanding.
Thereís conflict on the U.S.S. Shenzhou, the Federation ship of Cmdr. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Green-Martin). Tension grips a crew and that includes some between Burnham and her leader, Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).† And, of course, there has to be a villain.
To begin the first new Trek series in 12 years, the showís creators elect to go to a familiar foe, the Klingons, to ensure they cast as wide a net as possible to capture fans.
In this case: mission accomplished.
This incarnation of Trek likely wonít have a lot of time to gestate, unlike most of its predecessors.† Normally, fans could count on any sequel series taking two years to find its voice.† Thankfully, they wonít have to wait that long. Those who waited through the inevitably tepid debut episode, sampling the free bite that CBS provided on Channel 19 locally, received a much bigger payoff Ė a show that shows signs of setting itself apart from its cousins. DS9 represented the only Trek show that sought to accomplish that Ė until now.
Rich Heldenfels: Four thoughts on 'Star Trek: Discovery'
Burnham, a child of Earth, but raised by Sarek (Michael Frain portraying Spockís father), is seven years into her time with Georgiou and has risen in that short span to be her trusted first officer.
Burnham puts that trust to the test when she accidentally starts a war with the Klingon Empire, whose leader TíKuvma seeks a war to burnish his credentials as a potential unifying leader of the Empire.
The Federation, being the explorative institution intent on making and keeping peace, seeks a diplomatic solution when only a violent one will do. Burnhamís unique background informs her insight into the situation, but her superiors choose to ignore that, setting up a surprising situation that caps off a the first two episodes.
No, this isnít any Star Trek thatís been seen before.
And the performances?† Weíre given an inkling of how Burnham can and will grow.† And given her Vulcan roots, like Spock in the original series and TíPol in Star Trek: Enterprise, the evolution could be fascinating to watch.† Watching Martin-Green vacillate between the two cultures offers some of the first two episodes more interesting moments.† She sells the audience on being at war with who she is, a feat considering who her foster brother is.
Some critics were allowed to screen the first three episodes.† I only received the chance to watch the first two.† In my world, casting hasnít been completed yet and wonít be until Burnham meets with her new shipmates.
Martin-Green and Yeoh, however, carry the first episode and in their time together create some chemistry. Itís refreshing to see two strong women leading an action show.
As for the look?† According to reports, CBS is pumping more than $8 million per episode into the show.† Every bit of it shows on the screen in the sets and special effects.
CBS hopes that this is enough to make fans shell out hard earned cash ($6 with limited commercials, $10 without) for their All Access screening service.† For Trek fans, itís a no-brainer.