REVIEW: Star Trek: Discovery

This show set its phasers on fun. And I really did enjoy the first hour of Star Trek: Discovery. (The Free Hour) I know I’m the DC Comics TV and Movie Man. But I’m also a big Trek fan. I’ve watched Star Trek: the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and a lot of Enterprise, which was my least favorite series. And I’ve seen all of the films, in the theater, even the bad ones. So, as a fan, I was a bit skeptical about this new TV version. When the first images were released, I wasn’t onboard with yet another version of the Klingon race.   And I thought that their new costumes looked like Marching Band uniforms. But the first episode won me over. Though I still think the uniforms look ‘meh’, but I’m getting used to them. Maybe in season two they’ll be redesigned.   It happened on Star Trek: Next generation.

In case you don’t already know; Discovery takes place ten years before the original series, with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Though due to advancements in Special Effects and audience tech knowledge, things look a lot more advanced than they did in the 1966 Star Trek series. They even conduct long-range communications via hologram, which was always more of a Star Wars thing. And there’s a cool looking robot on the bridge that reminds me of a high-tech and much cooler version of Tweeky from Buck Rodgers, or Alpha from the Power Rangers. There are also more advanced looking space suits that have jet packs, allowing you to space walk or fly through space, no ship required.

And speaking of ships; they’ve been re-designed for the better too. Though we didn’t see the new starship ‘Discovery’ in episode one. Which probably means that they ship they’re on now, The Shenzhou, gets destroyed by the Klingons. And gone are the old-school Klingon Birds of Prey, which is a good thing.  The new Klingon ships look like floating battleships. They are big, bulky and more imposing, much like the actual Klingons themselves. And in an interesting twist, we see Klingon racism. The Klingons we see in episode one have very dark skin, along with more exaggerated ridges on their bald heads. But we meet a white Klingon, possibly an albino, who’s fighting to be accepted, despite the color of his skin. Color me interested.

The main character in Discovery is not the Captain, it’s the first officer. Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green, is a headstrong, to heck with the rules, First Officer. So much so, that when the Captain disregards her suggestion to shoot first and ask questions later, Burnham attempts a mutiny. Having grown up an orphan on Vulcan, she learned how to use the Vulcan nerve pinch. And she uses it to incapacitate the Captain so that she can order the crew to fire on the Klingons. Though the Klingons at that point haven’t fired on the Shenzhou. But the Captain revives in time to stop Burnham. In fact, she revived so fast, I’m guessing that being a non-Vulcan, Burnham didn’t do the neck pinch quite right. Because whenever Spock does it, that person is down for the count.

When the episode begins, Michael Burnham discovers a strange Ship hiding in a debris field. She goes to investigate in her jet-powered space suit and discovers that it is a Klingon ship. A Klingon attacks Burnham, but in the struggle the Klingon is killed. And I’m guessing that this is going to trigger a war between the Klingons and The Federation. Because the Klingon ship sends out a distress call, and by episode’s end, an entire Klingon armada shows up. And it looks like they are ready to fight. But Michael Burnham is in the brig for Mutiny. And as yet, Federation reinforcements have not arrived. So the episode ends on a cliffhanger: The lone Federation ship is facing off against a swarm of Klingon battleships. Plus, on a personal note, we find out that Klingons killed Burnham’s parents when she was a child. YIKES! That’s a pretty big coincidence.

But if you want to see what happens, you’ll need to pay for CBS All Access, the network’s new streaming service. The first episode of Discovery was aired on network TV for free, to entice you to sign up for the pay service. And their strategy seems to be working. The premiere of Star Trek: Discovery triggered a record number of single day signups for the CBS’ digital streaming service.

Will hardcore Trek fans like the show? I did. But I think a number of devout fans may not because of the changes in style and Star Trek cannon. They may also resent having to pay for a streaming service just to see Discovery. After all, there are no other shows like it on CBS All Access. So do you pay for the service just to get your Star Trek fix? I guess time will tell.

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