Last week a trailer was released for Star Trek: Discovery that actually showed us some footage that wasn’t spaceship porn. Weird, right?
Much has since been written about the new Star Trek series. If it will take off, if it will be a good TOS prequel, what kind of stories they can actually tell, and whether or not it will actually be good. Neither of these questions can be answered by a simple trailer. All we know about is that our new main character is called Number One, who will be the first officer of the Discovery, which wasn’t shown in this trailer but instead we got Michelle Yeoh and her ship, which totally doesn’t mean that she will bite the dust two episodes in so we can transfer all the characters over to the Discovery, no sir, totally not going to happen.
And aside from the trailer showing glimpses into Number One’s past where Sarek tells her that as a human she will never fit into Vulcan society, and some Klingon stuff, because isn’t there always, that is pretty much it. I’m actually okay with that. I don’t need to know that much about the project going in, I just need to know what it will be about in order to be a valid piece of advertisement. This is a compelling trailer in that regard, it shows us that we will get some classic Star Trek adventures on a ship on the edge of space with some Klingon shenanigans. That’s the classic formula that pretty much every series has conformed to, even DS9. Many other elements, however, are different: the POV being on a first officer instead of a captain, who is also a human expat living on Vulcan from what I can tell, multiple ships being the focus of the series with a much bigger cast, a grander scope that will probably include arcs, it gives the show a feeling that you don’t often get from Star Trek: the fact that they might know what they are doing.
You see, Star Trek’s big tagline “exploring strange new worlds” has always been a hollow one, let’s be honest. Planets of the hats left and right with little morality tales here and there to make a point, but the universe was always rather beige with barely any long-term consequences. This trailer alone has shown some new facets of the Federation and the Klingons, we see a human expat living on Vulcan, Klingons of different casts from the ones we’ve known so far. And going into the realm of speculation, now we have a budget to actually do strange new worlds on the small screen. The movies will always be tied to being action films, when you have a budget of 150 million dollars or more you are tied to the old cliches, but on television, or rather with this being a Netflix co-production, we will finally have Trek series that is no longer held back by behind-the-scenes problems of money and conservative producers.
People have asked whether or not it’s a good thing that once again the Klingons are the bad guys, that it’s set in the TOS era, that it’s not a DS9 or Voyager sequel series. I say good. The Star Trek universe has always suffered from being a mile wide but an inch deep. Always running ahead without actually doing something that we already had. Whenever Trek actually did this with DS9 and latter-day Enterprise, we got some amazing Trek stories out of it. Morality tales are all fine and good, but the best social commentary in Trek was always when they were inspired by real events and could weave fictional stories out of it, like the Klingon cold war and its conclusion in Star Trek VI. So no, I don’t need a new quadrant of the galaxy or a different galaxy to explore. Explore the one you have. By all means give us more stories set in the time periods that we already know, expand on them by showing us different ships and different characters. I love that we can now explore the TOS time period from a modern perspective without the cheese. Star Trek Beyond showed how it could be done in the movies, I am sure this will show how it can be done on the small screen. Besides that, it finally breaths some air into a stale period, show the diversity Trek has always claimed to be about, show that not every ship in the fleet was crewed mostly by male humans.
So yes, I’m optimistic. Bring it on.