"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" Season 1 Talkback (Spoilers)

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Fone Bone

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds "The Serene Squall"

This is going to be an overwhelmingly positive review with a couple of major negative notes. I think I won't either start with them, or save them for last. I'll try to talk about them as organically as possible.

I have to say I love Captain Pike more than Captain Kirk. By like a lot. It's genius that he offers to cook the Pirates a good meal. He's not just a good Federation captain, he's a shrewd diplomat in being instantly able to size up what a person needs or would value. Him being a good cook isn't outside of Star Trek Captains either (Sisko was bit of a gourmand).

I am very happy with that Sybok ending. And I give Eugene Roddenberry a LOT of credit for overriding his father about that. By the end of his life, Roddenberry was making things as uncomfortable and complicated for the franchise as possible. One of the ways he did that is declare parts of Star Trek V, specifically Sybok's lineage. "apocryphal", which is undermining the entire franchise. It was such a dirtbag thing to do, so of course Brannon Braga, the worst thing to ever happen to Star Trek, attempted to say Voyager's "Threshold" wasn't canon either, but out of embarrassment, rather than spite. I love Star Trek: Lower Decks for having the courage to make a liar out of Braga years later, and I similarly punch the air for this episode reiterating, "Everything we saw back then actually happened." Does the series and the Kurtzman era play fast and loose with canon? Absolutely. And it pisses me off. What I like about acknowledging the hot messes of Sybok and "Threshold" is the Kurtzman and Roddenberry Jr. era is not dismissing people who worked hard on a previous Star Trek project, simply because the producer didn't like it. If Braga was truly ashamed of that "Threshold" script, he shouldn't have submitted it, much less brought it to air. Since he did, he has an obligation to stand by it (as stupid as the story was) and not basically tell the director and actors on the show they don't matter. A canon exists as to what is on-screen (for good or ill). If Discovery or Picard (or this show) does a retcon, I like that the Sybok thing is suggesting that is a failing (or conscious decision) of the current stuff. As far as the producers are concerned, all of the original stuff happened, even if some of the writers haven't seen everything, and their work lazily contradicts stuff. I much prefer knowing the Kurtzman era is wrong, and Star Trek V and Voyager are now official parts of the canon, no matter what those whiny producers said at the time. That's a win for honest storytelling.

Memo to show: Whatever Sybok stuff you show, keep Uhura out of it. That will be a tall order, but it will be a necessity.

Stonn appears, which is great, although if the show does it right, they won't really show an evolution or love story between him and T'Pring. I think that probably only happened once Spock roundly ignored her during Kirk's tenure. He's still quite an attentive fiance here, which if you think about it, makes Amok Time Spock's treatment of T'Pring even more horrible in hindsight. You kind of got the idea that Vulcans kept their love lives and professional lives SO separate they only had sex every seven years, and never saw their loved ones in between, which is a ridiculous notion. Nerdy fans are gonna complain that it's out of character that Spock is not ashamed of sex here, but being so is actually illogical. Yeah, it involves emotions and attachments, and it's hella messy. But it's also a part of the biological experience, and a truly logical species would understand that. The Star Trek novels (which are admittedly hit or miss) have shown Vulcan romances and sex encounters that weren't Pon Farr before, so I won't hear people saying this is outside of the franchise. And even if it were, I think that was a franchise weakness that should be ignored, if I'm being honest.

One of the two things I didn't like was the reveal that Aspen was actually the head pirate Angel. Tell me if my anger is unjustified there. But my logic goes, I don't like feeling shammed. It's one thing to show characters being taken in by a con, but to have a character so fully fool the audience doesn't feel like a clever twist. I feel as embarrassed and betrayed as Spock does. I don't actually believe it is out of line for writers and producers to take a viewer's feelings into account about things like that. She was TOO good of a therapist and TOO healthy for Spock, so I'm way more pissed than if the betrayal had occurred during more standard non-personal interactions with the crew. There is a difference between a surprise twist you don't see coming, and being deliberately made to feel stupid. And I did. I was going to comment in my review how dumb it was for a counselor to wear a face tattoo, an ear full of rings, and a belly-shirt, but truthfully Troi's boobs hanging out every week made that plausible. I don't like being made the fool in such a bald way. And yeah, I argue that writers SHOULD take the audience's feelings, (and even pride) into account about things like this. I will never thank or praise the show for making me feel stupid. And I feel that that's what a lot of praise for similar unexpected twists is for. A series making you feel dumb doesn't make the series smart and clever. It makes it less enjoyable. You can feel free to disagree about this, but I'm not going to change my mind.

The other thing I didn't like was the kiss between Chapel and Spock. I half-appreciated that they cooled it at the end, and that Chapel was much more, well SANE, about the subject than she ever was on The Original Series. But really, that's also my problem with it. This level of emotional maturity should not be occurring ten years before the hot mess Majel Barrett played. Basically, in this episode Spock gave Christine everything she ever wanted for Christmas, so if I keep this episode in mind when I rewatch the old show (and I will) I'll have to think TOS Chapel is crazy. And I will. Because the Sybok stuff says everything we saw back in the day actually happened. It simply appears Chapel is going to devolve and go bonkers, which as bad a message as the character already sent on the first show, somehow makes it even worse.

Yeah, Pike, no pirate impressions at the end. You have become my third favorite captain after Picard and Sisko (in remarkably short order, no less) but that's painful.

I'm loving and enjoying this show. And one of the things I love most about it is it's imperfect and gives me controversies worth talking about. It's great. ****1/2.
 
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Yojimbo

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Episode 8 "The Elysian Kingdom" - June 23, 2022
The U.S.S. Enterprise becomes stuck in a nebula that is home to an alien consciousness that traps the crew in a fairy tale.
 

the greenman

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So still catching up slowly. My comments on:
"Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach"

First up I love the title. Reminds me so much of the original series, eps like "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield". Anyways, enjoyed this one as well. I like how they seem to be trolling U'Hura as a cadet. For some reason I thought this was going to be a commentary on something. Then, I realized it wasn't. Then, I realized, yeah it kinda is.

One thing once we got going I enjoyed the relationship with the boy "First Servant". This really reminds me of actual Indian traditions I have knowledge of (as seen in Temple of Doom). Child sacrifices. However, this is toned down.

The conflict seen in Pike with his lover wasn't quite what it could've been. But it got the point across. I still have reminders of Dr. M'Benga's daughter and an episode of DS9, with Salli Richardson. Different, but for reason it reminds me. TBH, I still want to see more of the Pilot episode cast show up eventually. Even as a tease.

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Fone Bone

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds "The Elysian Kingdom"

I liked this the least of all of the episodes so far. It definitely did some things right. But I was disappointed to the resolution of the story of Dr. M'Benga's daughter. It was a BIG ending, which is good, but I also feel that it came too soon. I was looking forward to him having an arc of finding a cure for her.

I thought the fairytale stuff was more stupid than it was amusing. But truthfully, Anson Mount and Christina Chong are far more game for silliness than you'd picture those characters being.

I would have liked it better if Pike's "jinx" had been allowed to stand at the beginning. It's SUCH a cliche, and it would have been refreshing to acknowledge that superstitions aren't true. But of course, it IS Star Trek, and the ship DOES need to go on an adventure, but it's still kind of aggravating.

I'll tell you one thing it did right that most current genre refuses to do. It committed to the premise. I seem to recall a recent episode of The Flash had a similar unexplained high-concept mystery, but they spoiled what was going on because they felt the need to do a flipping B story. This is Star Trek, damn it! It COMMITS to the high-concepts. Cutting back to B stories is the kind of weak, punkass move that's appropriate for trash like The Flash, not freaking Star Trek. We take our inexplicable nonsense VERY seriously, thank you very much. And, no, that's NOT a tribble on Mr. Shatner's head. It's just his perm. They are both equally fictional though, so I see the confusion.

I also liked seeing Hemmer wasn't effected, because it raised the stakes and mystery to find out it was actually happening, and realize that it's not just a hallucination on M'Benga's end. I would have liked it if he been allowed to remember what happened at the end though.

It was all right but imperfect. Television in a nutshell. ***.
 

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Episode 9 "All Those Who Wander" - June 30, 2022
The U.S.S. Enterprise crew comes face-to-face with their demons – and scary monsters too – when their landing party is stranded on a barren planet with a ravenous enemy.
 

PicardMan

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No. Hemmer. :( What a soul crushing death scene. Part of what makes it so sad is just how well this show does at portraying this crew as a family and seeing them grieve as the audience grieves. This has been a very good show even if some people think last week's fairy tale episode went to far into the Voyager-esque camp direction.
 

Fone Bone

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds "All Those Who Wander"

That was the best horror movie Star Trek ever did. Really leaned into the TV-14 aspect of it all.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I DO believe Hemmer's death probably counts as the first good Star Trek death EVER. Data and Q got good exits on Star Trek: Picard too, but not like this.

I think Hemmer is probably the fan-favorite character, and I think the show knew it, which is why killing him is such a gutsy move. And he imparts on Uhura the lessons she needs to learn. To be honest, I would prefer it if Uhura takes a sabbatical from Starfleet until Kirk's era. Any future Sybok stuff will be MUCH less messy if she isn't on-board.

Speaking of Kirk, Samuel fills me with distaste. I don't know if the show was taking a legit shot at Kirk himself for making his brother so loathsome and racist, but it's not lost on me the first cruddy Starfleet member on this show is named Kirk. I don't consider that a coincidence.

I think they overpowered the Gorn here. Now it makes no sense that one seemed evenly matched with Kirk on The Original Series.

Lotsa interesting Spock stuff going on. But I'm still unhappy with Chapel's portrayal.

I like that when Pike schedules an impromptu meeting, he cooks something nice. That is a really cool facet to give that character and I'm glad they are returning to it.

I will miss Hemmer but the episode he sacrificed himself during will go down as an all-time classic. *****.
 

the greenman

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Okay, onto another late review of "The Serene Squall":

I enjoyed this one too. This one, so far, felt the most like a film. The duplicity of Spock and the duplicity of a trans person. FASCINATING. Even though I'm trying to quell my dislike for altered Prime- universe stuff, I have to say having T'Pring show up is a delight. T'Pol was practically the only thing I enjoyed of "Enterprise", so maybe I have a little precedential bias.

This looks like their first real villain of the series in "Dr. Aspen". Also, lest we forget the duplicity of the pirates who kinda remind me of those next generation raiders who captured Wesley Crusher once. Even though they didn't exactly speak well, they were sinister. All-in-all they produced another good episode. Surprised they're doing so well for a 1st season. I fear cancellation by that principle.

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the greenman

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Okay another late review "Elysian Kingdom":

WOW! Yet another great episode. This one seemed to be placed around the Father's Day holiday; possibly. I mean I seriously was tearing up toward the end. Not sure if it was the subject matter or the fact that this series is so good it's almost unbelievable.

This one is indeed classic Trek. With a scientific mystery that can only be solved through the ingenuity and scientific know-how of the crew. So, yes, I was waiting for the indelible episode that the cast and crew take advantage of the Paramount costume department.

There are a few episodes of Trek that this one reminded of DS9 "if wishes were horses" and TNG's multiple Sherlock Holmes episodes. However, the final 15 minutes of the episode cemented this one in the annals of Trek emotional stories like City on the Edge Forever, or The Visitor. I'm preparing for some duds in the future now.

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Yojimbo

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Episode 10 "A Quality of Mercy" - July 7, 2022
In the season one finale, just as Captain Pike thinks he’s figured out how to escape his fate, he’s visited by his future self, who shows him the consequences of his actions.
 

Fone Bone

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds "A Quality Of Mercy"

I loved the episode and I'm giving it five stars. And yet part of me just doesn't buy what the episode is selling about James T Kirk. First of all, Kirk is shown in this episode to be far more cunning, intelligent, and reasonable than he was in every single episode on The Original Series. And that's not even a question. So if you want to argue Pike is a lesser Captain for the moment than THIS specific Kirk, I get it. But the Kirk on The Original Series blundered through the galaxy, and I think really, if he made the "correct" decision in "Balance Of Terror" it boiled down to a coincidence that the Romulans of that era were as brash and stupid as he was, and respected that. Many times Picard's reasonableness has seemed VERY attractive to the Romulans, so Pike getting stuck with an insane populist Praetor seems more like rotten luck than anything else.

I think what budged me in favor of accepting the scenario is knowing Future Pike had indeed tried to game things out several ways and each time led to the death of Spock, who is frankly the biggest wheel down at the cracker factory regarding the Romulans. No peace would have ever been possible without him. First him (and then Picard) are basically the reasons Vulcan was reunified. And knowing Spock's death seems to be a fixed point if Pike lives means him telling himself that lets him know that isn't gonna work.

I have very curious about the Klingons at the monastery Future Pike came from. Are they Turtle Headed Klingons from the movies, Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine? Or the Augment Klingons from The Original Series and Enterprise? Or the appalling monster Klingons from Discovery? Considering Future Pike's Uniform, I hope they are the Turtles Heads (although I'll accept the Augments in a crunch). I hope like hell we never see the monsters again. Holy crap were the first two seasons of Discovery an utter mess.

Have I noted in a previous Star Trek review how awful the movie uniforms have always looked? I love Wrath Of Khan and The Voyage Home as much as anybody. But the costuming was outright dreadful.

Starfleet taking Una Riley in custody at the end feels extremely unjust and another example of the show showing seamier aspects to Starfleet and the Federation than we were used to. I never really bought that Julian Bashir was in THAT much real trouble over the fact that he was essentially an Augment. This episode tells me his fears about both his career and freedom were well-founded. Whatever Starfleet was in the 22nd Century, and whatever the humans there were, they were still far less evolved than Picard's era. And that's how society works. I think until this show we had simply assumed that once humanity reached its supposed full potential it plateaued and everything past that was sunshine and farts. In reality, the humans from Kirk's era happened to be less evolved than the humans from Picard's era. And Una Riley being arrested for who she is is proof positive of that.

How is the guy playing Kirk? He doesn't have the voice or the Shatner cadences down right. He's better than Chris Pine, but so is a kick in the head. Also, not to be indelicate, but he's far too lean and thin. Kirk was also notable to me because he seemed to have an actual weight problem at times. Shatner's body type went a lot of different places during his tenure. Except for the skinny, lean body type. He never had that.

We hear Scotty, but it's wise we don't see him. If they bring him in in the future, that just means they can cast who they want.

That was great finale. I don't love this show as much as I do Star Trek: Picard. But it's my second favorite Kurtzman era show by like a MILE. I look forward to Season 2. *****.
 

AdrenalineRush1996

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I saw the first six episodes of Strange New Worlds on Paramount+ on Wednesday since the streaming service launched in the UK three weeks ago and honestly, why couldn't this been the first Trek show since Enterprise instead of Discovery?
 
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PicardMan

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I saw the first six episodes of Strange New Worlds on Paramount+ on Wednesday since the streaming service launched in the UK three weeks ago and honestly, why couldn't this been the first Trek show since Enterprise instead of Discovery?

I'm pretty sure that Discovery scared off a lot of Star Trek fans from coming back to the franchise. That and Paramount Plus lagging behind its competition has really affected its popularity. I've found it hard to convince people that Strange New Worlds is worth seeing despite Discovery being unTrek.
 

the greenman

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I'm pretty sure that Discovery scared off a lot of Star Trek fans from coming back to the franchise. That and Paramount Plus lagging behind its competition has really affected its popularity. I've found it hard to convince people that Strange New Worlds is worth seeing despite Discovery being unTrek.
Yeah, my coworker had Paramount+ to get rid of dvds of Trek. It took him about a month or so to check out SNW. He binged it on my recommendation last weekend and thanked me.

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Fone Bone

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I'm pretty sure that Discovery scared off a lot of Star Trek fans from coming back to the franchise.
Here's an opinion. Both Voyager and Enterprise were MUCH worse than Discovery. By like a LOT. And I think Discovery sucks butt. But I cannot picture it being the straw that broke the fandom's back if people can't acknowledge this.
 

the greenman

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Next up on ST: SNW, "All those who wander"; a very special tribute to 80's science fiction classics. Aliens & Predator, and for good measure a little nod to Duke Nukem, in the newly commissioned Lieutenant who gets offed. A very good one-off action thriller. I think I can only remember one DS9 episode that truly tried to emulate these kinds of sci-fi horror successfully. Don't think I cared for that one much, but this one adds in true pathos. We got a body count, but also lost a brand new old loved one in Hemmer.

Other than that, liked seeing the continuing inner turmoil of Spock. On top of that Kirk foreshadowing McCoy's racism of Spock. Not certain how I feel about cadet U'Hura losing her mentor like that. We'll see how they develop her further. I have my issues with having her and M'Benga being here for diversity quota instead of the original 'Cage Pilot' crew. I like the characters, just feel like could've put in new actors. Case in point Mitchell. Anywho. Nice filler episode that does its job well.

For @Fone Bone:
I think Voyager was the last good series. Enterprise was following exactly what people blame DS9 for doing. DS9 turned into Star Wars (for real) and Enterprise did as well. September 11th occured during production of this series, as it premiered shortly after. There was a deliberate change.

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PicardMan

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Here's an opinion. Both Voyager and Enterprise were MUCH worse than Discovery. By like a LOT. And I think Discovery sucks butt. But I cannot picture it being the straw that broke the fandom's back if people can't acknowledge this.

Enterprise was the straw that almost killed the franchise and it seems like Star Trek has never quite recovered from it. Personally, I think Voyager and Enterprise were better series than Discovery as uneven as the former two are.
 

Fone Bone

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Enterprise was the straw that almost killed the franchise and it seems like Star Trek has never quite recovered from it. Personally, I think Voyager and Enterprise were better series than Discovery as uneven as the former two are.
I don't agree with your last sentence, which is great. If all fandom agreed on everything we'd be a boring bunch.

Edit:

Let me also offer this defense of Discovery. Discovery is a crappy Star Trek show. But it's a damn good sci-fi show. Period. If is were an unrelated sci-fi show similar to The Orville I would love it unreservedly. Because it's botching the Star Trek premise is the only reason I don't like it. It's scripts and acting and direction are actually great. Which is not something true of either Voyager or Enterprise.
 

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