NOTE: Minor SPOILERS ahead for the first episode. You have been warned!
A few of my friends and I gathered with pizza and ice cream on Sunday evening to watch the premiere of the latest iteration of Star Trek: Discovery. We settled around the television excited as we waited…and waited. The football game on CBS ran long so the premiere was delayed. Why a football game delays broadcast television is easy to understand. Why said game delayed the launch of Discovery on the streaming service CBS: All Access still leaves me scratching my head.
I could probably spend this entire post griping about how much I hate the fact I have to pay for yet another streaming service to get my Trek fix but I will save you all my grief and just say KHAAAAN!
I began watching Star Trek: The Next Generation in the sixth grade. Thanks to Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise I was able to watch Trek through high school and into my naval service. In fact I got to see the premiere of Enterprise while deployed on the USS Enterprise! Needless to say, I grew into an adult with Trek as my guide and my friend. Until Sunday evening, it had been more than a decade since I had seen a new episode. I’ll admit, even with the All Access crap, I was a little excited. How would my perspective of the show differ than the sixth grade version of me? Would I catch all the subtle social commentary? Would it be profound?
The playback started and there were Klingons (they were speaking Klingon anyway). There was a really cool music theme recorded not with computer generated instruments but with a live orchestra! There were Vulcans and starships and the prime directive and phasers ! It was all those things I remembered about Star Trek (except for the albino Klingon). A female captain AND first officer?! And neither of them is white?! Talk about where no Trek has gone before!
It felt different, modern, new, Kelvin. Wait, the ‘Kelvin effect’ was done with a budget, this show has a budget? It must, it looks so amazing! (for those that don’t know, Kelvin is what Trek fans call the J.J. Abrams reboot films as they take place in an alternate “Kelvin” universe, “Prime” refers to all other iterations of Trek (original series, next gen etc.)).
As for social commentary, the premise behind the show is a war with the Klingons. T’Kuvma, a devote follower of Kahless, contrives a way to unite the 24 noble Klingon houses in a conflict against the Federation. He does this with the help of a mantra “Remain Klingon” as if the Federation were somehow polluting the Empire. That sounds familiar. Qo’nos first!
So I liked it, no question. There’s action, drama, conflict and a myriad of social issues taking place today for the writers to weave into a Trek narrative. It doesn’t feel like the Trek of the 1990’s, but I think that’s a good thing. There is a generation of kids and young adults who need to experience Star Trek in a way that is relevant to them. I sincerely hope Discovery can do that (it could do it even better on broadcast television, stupid All Access).
Star Trek has been in hiatus far too long and America needs it now more than ever. We need a shining example of what our future could be, a future where we can live in peace with one another (except for maybe with the Klingons…and the Romulans…the Borg… gee maybe the future’s not so peaceful after all…).
LLAP (Live Long And Prosper)