Star Trek: Discovery: Why We Shouldn’t Start Panicking Just Yet

PART I: Impressions from the Teaser

The teaser trailer for Star Trek: Discovery was released mid-May. It had a little space action, a few throwbacks and enough prosthetic-laden aliens to sink a spaceship. It also left Trekkies everywhere divided over whether the latest Trek is a glorious addition to the saga or a steaming pile of Klingon dog crap.

We won’t find out a definitive answer until September 23rd, when the show actually airs, but that hasn’t stopped fans from dissecting and critiquing every frame of what little they have so far. Some have even gone as far as to give up on the new series entirely. This is a rash move. There is still hope. This article aims to dispel the major concerns raised by Trekkies, and the media, in an effort to give the series a chance to debut before they brutally rip it apart and feast on its carcass.

The So-Called New Age of Trek Diversity

Lt. Uhura: The Chief Communications Officer on the Enterprise, played by Nichelle Nichols

There has been some ‘fan backlash’ to Discovery in regards to the casting. From the trailer, it appears that Sonequa Martin and Michelle Yeoh will be the leads for this series. A small branch of people have decried that the social justice warriors have infiltrated Star Trek and now they are pushing a social justice agenda.

Nobody is disputing that a small fraction of people on the internet said these things, but the media labels these people as fans and then slanders every Star Trek fan in the process. We saw the same thing with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The fans were all discussing theories about what this latest film might be about. Nobody saw anything but a couple of negative comments about diversity; but of course, the ever-clickbaiting media manipulated a handful of comments to suggest that every Star Wars fan was a racist, misogynistic pig that couldn’t handle a woman being in charge of their beloved franchise (and if you look at the box office statistics, it’s clearly sensationalist journalism).

The truth of the matter is that sci-fi/fantasy nerds have been ushering in diversity long before many of these people knew what the word meant. Ellen Ripley (ALIEN), Leia Organa and Lando Calrissian (Star Wars), Mako Mori (Pacific Rim), Steve Hiller (Independence Day) and Sarah Connor (Terminator) are just a small sample of diverse characters that sci-fi/fantasy nerds have embraced; so seriously, guys, lay off the nerds. They’re fine with diversity.

And to attack Star Trek fans is particularly insulting, considering that Star Trek kickstarted the trend of diversity in the genre by always pushing the boundaries from representation to interracial kisses. From the very beginning in 1968, when The Original Series first aired, an African-American woman had never been seen in such a high-ranking position in any fictional series. Uhura was the communications officer: one of the six leading crew members on a star ship that contained hundreds, if not thousands, of crew members. They also had Sulu: A Japanese commanding officer, an even more underrepresented minority on television.

Nobody should be surprised or concerned about an Asian female captain in Star Trek, but if the series was to approach the idea of female captains or captains of a different race as a social issue, that would go against everything the show stands for.

The fictional Earth of the 2250s is very different to the world we live in. Race, gender, sexuality: these are no longer issues. Starfleet has crafted a utopian meritocracy. Treating a captain of a particular race, gender or sexuality differently, whether it is prejudice or preferential, would be counterproductive to the ultimate message of Trek: that nobody should be treated better or worse because of who they were born as.

This is not to say that the human race doesn’t see the need for diversity in the 2250s. They understand that to take in people from all walks of life can be an asset. This was demonstrated in TOS in an interaction between Kirk and Spock.

Kirk: “You were actually enjoying my predicament back there. At times, you seem quite human.”

Spock: “Captain, I hardly believe that insults are within your prerogative as my commanding officer.”

This interaction, though intended as a throwaway quip, demonstrates that humans and Vulcans (along with the many other different races under the Federation banner) have different traits that strengthen society when they work together. Spock and Kirk have a symbiotic relationship. Humans are governed by emotion; Vulcans by logic. It is only when they put their heads together and meld their perspectives can they work through a problem. If you throw real-world sensibilities into this mix, you lose the potency of Gene Roddenberry’s vision. Starfleet take their diversity for granted; they cannot fathom a world where somebody is judged on something as irrelevant as their gender, the colour of their skin or who they love. It is their background and the experiences they have had that prove valuable to enriching Starfleet.

Which is why any person who complained about Michelle Yeoh’s Malaysian accent missed the entire point of Trek; but so too have the people who expect a story about Yeoh’s struggles as an Asian female captain. Starfleet doesn’t care about her race or gender, and neither should we. If she’s great, then she’ll be great (and she will be. Have you seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?)

The Klingons that Don’t Look Like Klingons

Lt. Worf: The first Klingon to ever join Starfleet.

Another point of contention amongst fans (actual fans this time) is the idea that the Klingons look different from their previous counterparts, and more like the Kelvin timeline versions from Star Trek Into Darkness (it still bothers the grammar Nazi in me that there is no semi colon).

There have been more versions of the Klingons than casual fans think. (Left) TNG era Klingons (Centre) TOS era Klingons (Right) Discovery era Klingons.

This is a legitimate concern. It’s irritating to say the least when a prominent creature from your favourite TV show suddenly appears different without any explanation, but something that people seem to forget is that the Klingons did not originally appear in their now well-known form. They did not have deformed foreheads and sharp teeth until Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Klingons appeared in The Original Series in a more humanoid form, with bushy eyebrows and droopy manchu mustaches. This was later retconned, explaining that the Klingons were infected with a virus that altered their appearance, and the smooth-headed Klingons are the result of an attempt to rectify that. While this fixed the gaping plot hole about the Klingons, it does make a bit of a conundrum for Discovery.

Star Trek: Discovery is a prequel, set ten years before TOS. If you are going to follow this canonical explanation, then it stands to reason that Discovery Klingons should maintain their image of humans in thick brown make up. At best, they would look terrible; at worse, they would be deemed racist and the show would be dead before it has even begun.

Given the writing constraints Discovery has given itself by making the series a prequel, the most logical explanation would be to make this a different species of Klingon. Perhaps they come from a different settlement on the other side of Qo’noS, or perhaps they have been banished many years before and have evolved in a different way to the Klingons of previous iterations. This explanation makes sense in the grand scheme of the larger expanded universe, and if it is integrated as part of the narrative, it will not seem like an afterthought like the retcons of the past.

Star Trek has always been about trying new things, and Discovery seems to be no exception. If the series is exploring a different clan of Klingons, it’s important to go in with an open mind. New shows should offer new perspectives, and maybe Discovery will do this in the form of new Klingons.

This isn’t such an unbelievable idea. If you get humans from around the world, they wouldn’t all look the same, so why should Klingons?

This Isn’t the 2250s I Know

Would you honestly be happy with a 2017 CBS show looking like this?

Whenever you do a futuristic prequel, whether it is Star Trek or Star Wars, you will always run into the same problem. How are you going to approach the technology? This issue is more pertinent for Trek than any other series, with the original being made on a television budget in the sixties. Do the showrunners break continuity and have dazzling displays with high-tech HUD menus that reflect the current era’s technological aspirations? Or do they stick to rigid canon and have cardboard sets and blipping LEDs with strange sixties lighting effects?

For CBS, there is really no question.

The television market has never been more cutthroat than it is now. We live in the golden age of television. The budgets are higher, and the special effects are now rivaling those of film: Game of Thrones has special effects that outweigh those of Warcraft. Concessions need to be made. Even the biggest TOS purist would scoff at a modern Star Trek series made on a sixties television budget. The showrunners would ultimately please no one.

But this hasn’t stopped some fans from expressing their desire to see such a product.

The day after the Discovery trailer was released, FOX premiered a trailer for Seth McFlarlane’s new Trek parody series: The Orville. Due to the timely release of the trailer, fans have been drawing comparisons between the two, and many have claimed that the series looks more like Trek than Discovery. Much like the fan films that have cropped up over the years, it is easy to declare them better than the source material when the content isn’t considered canon. While there is no denying that the set design and special effects are mimicking TNG, the quality of the visuals is enough for a sitcom, but if Discovery was released with the same sets and special effects as The Orville, you can bet your last bar of gold-pressed latinum that fans would revolt over the terrible visual effects and, again, deem it a failure.

And yes, a prequel may not have been the best idea. The ideal solution would have been to take the current cast and plonk them into an unknown quadrant of the galaxy in a post DS9 world, but you can’t have everything. If they are going to do a prequel, using up to date visual effects and set design is really the only way for CBS to move forward. The key thing to remember here is that Star Trek isn’t about phasers or photon torpedoes, it’s about something much deeper.

The Show Doesn’t seem to be About Space Exploration

The cast of Star Trek: Discovery.

This is a common theme that is debated amongst Trekkies and Trekkers alike. What makes something inherently Star Trek? The truth is that every iteration of Star Trek brings something new to the table, and that is part of the brilliance of it. The Original Series was like nothing anybody had ever seen before; then Next Gen had a much bigger emphasis on philosophy and moral dilemmas; Deep Space Nine looked at the idea of fundamentalism and restoring peace to a world shattered by war; the list goes on. Every Star Trek has brought something different. Star Trek has been everything from a courtroom drama to a police procedural to a sitcom (The Naked Now, anyone?)

Like any TV spin-off or sequel, certain elements might be changed (provided that they don’t contradict canon). Angel was about a vampire that ran a private detective business; completely shifting from the format of Buffy. This was part of the appeal. Viewers didn’t want to watch Buffy 2.0; they already had a show like that. They wanted something set in the same universe but with a different flavour.

It’s also important to remember that right at this moment the sword of Damocles is hovering over the Discovery showrunners’ heads as they revive an old franchise that is destined to get some fans backs against the wall. If you try anything different, as Discovery has done, fans will claim that it doesn’t follow the initial rules of the original; but then if you follow the original, as J. J. Abrams did when he essentially remade Wrath of Khan, then fans will complain that everything is the same and the series doesn’t bring anything new to the table. But in a world of nothing but dull remakes and bland rehashes, it is refreshing to see a series that isn’t afraid to break tradition and try something new.

Star Trek has never necessarily about one thing. It is an exploration of the human condition, which is the essence of good storytelling. So, yes, the focus of this series at this stage does seem to be on hostile relations with the Klingons. This could be just the trailer hyping a certain facet of the show, but even if Discovery is more DS9 than TNG and loses its focus on exploring space, does that make it somehow not a true Trek? Star Trek is an ever evolving beast that has given us a multifaceted universe, and it is all these fresh takes that have kept the series alive today. It is great to try new things. They might not always work, but if you stick with the series, they might have enough time to find their niche in the Star Trek universe.

Even the best Treks Got Off to a Rocky Start

While Next Gen might be one of the greatest shows of all time, its first two seasons were less than stellar.

When most people think Star Trek, they think of bumpy headed Klingons, replicators and holodecks. Though it is a hotly contested issue, many fans of Star Trek consider The Next Generation to be the pinnacle of Trek greatness, but this wasn’t always the case. Back in 1987 people were horrified at the notion of bringing back Star Trek without the original crew. Replacing William Shatner’s young, brash and impulsive Kirk with an older, critical thinker like Jean-Luc Picard was an impossible thought, and the fans were having none of it.

Admittedly, TNG‘s first couple of seasons (season one in particular) were not great. Of the twenty-five all-time worst episodes of Next Gen as voted by the fans on IMDb, fifteen of them were from the first two season. As time marched on, the TNG writers managed to push through the awkward episodes. It became comfortable in its own skin. It outgrew the original series, lasting more than twice as long. The show ended up with far more depth and introspection than its predecessor and explored themes that nobody else was game to tackle. This elevated TNG‘s status as the benchmark for what Trek should be, often ahead of the original.

But this was back in the 80s: a time when people (and more importantly studios) would give a television series a chance. Due to increased budgets, television shows need to perform much better and much quicker to warrant their existence. Netflix’s Sense8 was one of the latest causalities as it couldn’t bring big enough crowds to command its enormous budget. Discovery has two big obstacles to face with this new television market. It must pull in the numbers to justify the most expensive television Trek of all time. It must also entice fans enough to subscribe to a brand new CBS streaming service to watch it. The creators of the show understand this, and they realise they don’t have the freedom of having a couple of trial seasons with mediocre episodes. They are going to bring their A-game with the pilot.

At the time of writing this article, Discovery is only about a third of the way through shooting its first season. It is still early days yet. This is not to say that you should go into Discovery expecting it will immediately surpass Next Gen (or that it will at all); that would be setting the show up for failure. Wait until the show is released. Watch the entire first season, and you never know. If you go in with an open mind, you might just fall in love with this latest iteration.

PART II: More Content, More Context, but Does it Change Anything?

An Increase in Diversity, Including Prominent Gay Characters

Discovery‘s Lt. Stamets (his eye, at least)

Since the first portion of this article was written, we have been inundated with new information about the series, including multiple trailers, promos, and character bios. The internet and mainstream media have been praising the show for the character of Lt. Paul Stamets: the first openly gay character to appear in the prime timeline (after the very brief nod to Sulu’s homosexuality in Star Trek: Beyond‘s Kelvin timeline). The question of whether Lt. Stamet’s sexuality should be a prominent part of Star Trek: Discovery is much the same as the controversy over Michelle Yeoh’s ethnicity and gender. It’s great that a gay character is featured, but making a fuss about it goes against Star Trek‘s core belief.

The small group of conservatives struck again, this time taking to the internet to declare that CBS need to ‘keep the fags out of Star Trek‘; but the introduction of gay characters is not a new concept shoehorned in by social justice warriors. Gene Roddenberry himself had quite a bit to say about homosexuality, even publicly expressing a change of heart in the early 90s.

“My attitude toward homosexuality has changed. I came to the conclusion that I was wrong. I was never someone who hunted down ‘fags’ as we used to call them on the street. I would, sometimes, say something anti-homosexual off the top of my head because it was thought, in those days, to be funny. I never really deeply believed those comments, but I gave the impression of being thoughtless in these areas. I have, over many years, changed my attitude about gay men and women.” ~ Gene Roddenberry

After making these statements to The Advocate in 1991, Roddenberry vowed he was going to push for LGBT characters in TNG‘s fifth season. Unfortunately, this never panned out due to Roddenberry’s death on October of that same year.

Of course, homosexuality would clearly be accepted in a meritocratic organisation such as Starfleet; but we do not currently live in a meritocracy, and the bigotry doesn’t come from a single source. Obviously, we have the right-wing politicians demonising homosexuals as nothing more than a pack of perverts, but it is important to note that our modern society, which for the most part embraces homosexuality, it is still perfectly acceptable to use somebody’s sexuality as an appropriate topic for gossip. You only need to check mainstream media outlets (many of them calling themselves news sites) to see article after article speculating or celebrating celebrity homosexuality.

If Discovery does Trek justice, Lt. Stamet’s sexuality will never be formally acknowledged. His partner and relationship will be treated exactly the same as any other couple’s, without adding another layer of social commentary. Leonard Nemoy summed it up perfectly when he said:

“It is entirely fitting that gays and lesbians will appear unobtrusively aboard the Enterprise—neither objects of pity nor melodramatic attention.” ~ Leonard Nimoy

A perfect example of modern gay representation is Kurt Hummel from Glee: He is a one-note character seen as a sympathetic victim, completely defined by his sexuality. Every plot line stemmed from his oppression at the hands of society. The heterosexual characters would often look down at him in sympathy, albeit well intentioned. We don’t treat heterosexual characters as tragic heroes destined to a life of misery and oppression, so why do gay characters need to be defined by these terms? Who you love is irrelevant to who you are. Being gay should be just one facet of the character and not some one-dimensional template for character creation. As a general rule: If you remove the homosexuality from the character and you are left with nothing, it doesn’t reflect a real homosexual. Hopefully, the writers of Discovery understand this and make their characters with a little more depth than Glee.

The Show is Going to Take Inspiration from Game of Thrones

Does this blood smeared Klingon represent a darker, grittier version of the Trek universe?

It is safe to say that Game of Thrones is the biggest television series in history, with stellar ratings every year and an ever-growing fan base. It might also be a safe bet to assume that other shows are envious of GoT‘s popularity and would love to emulate its winning formula.

Discovery showrunners stated that the show was influenced by Game of Thrones in an article with Vanity Fair. But surely Discovery is incompatible with something so dark and bleak as Game of Thrones; if they were truly going to stick to Roddenberry’s Trek (and considering it is set in the same era as TOS, that might be a good idea).

While it was stated that character death would feature more prominently than other iterations, there are many other lessons that Discovery can learn from Game of Thrones.

The biggest of these is an idea that has already been confirmed. Star Trek: Discovery will not be episodic. It will have a full season arc. This is not typical for Star Trek, but it is important to consider that television viewing has changed a lot in the last fifty years: People don’t sit down at a specific time to watch a television program once a week anymore. With the introduction of streaming giants like Netflix (which will be streaming Discovery outside of the U.S.), people are more inclined to watch things at their own pace. The sharp and steady rise of ‘binge watching’ on streaming services encourages showrunners to create content that leaves the viewers on a cliffhanger.

In addition to this, back in the day, people would have a handful of channels to choose from. Now, people don’t even worry about channels. They literally just click the icon of their favourite show and away they go, destined to spend the next three days glued to their TVs. The quantity of the programming has never been higher. Viewers need more reason to try new shows. If Star Trek: Discovery has big cliffhangers every week to drag the viewers back, that might be a necessary tool to securing longevity; and honestly, are Star Trek fans really so opposed to cliffhangers? TNG had at least two or three cliffhangers a season.

HBO (the creators of Game of Thrones for those of you who have been living under a rock) follows a very British/Japanese production philosophy. They make fewer episodes with stronger content, rather than having padding episodes (and let’s face it, Star Trek has had its fair share of terrible filler episodes). The average HBO drama lasts between eight and ten episodes, while the average Star Trek season was about twenty-five episodes. We already know that Star Trek: Discovery is trimming down from the standard Star Trek season to only fifteen episodes (much like how Game of Thrones just shaved its most recent season down to seven episodes). Perhaps Kurtzman and the other showrunners are considering the idea of having a more condensed season that won’t be dragged down by needless filler (again, a must in the Netflix market).

When the writers for Discovery say they are inspired by Game of Thrones, it does raise some red flags. There are certainly different elements of the two series that are absolutely incompatible with each other. Game of Thrones is bloody, violent and pushes the boundaries with explicit content. Star Trek has always been about promoting peace and harmony through storytelling. Though the two shows are very different, Game of Thrones has raised the benchmark for storytelling and visuals in a television series, and if Star Trek wishes to thrive in this new market, they are going to have to employ some new strategies to adapt. Does that mean we should completely discard everything that Starfleet and the world of Trek stands for just for the sake of ratings? No. That would be insane. While there is going to be a heavy Game of Thrones influence, Yeoh’s quote from the original teaser should be enough to instill hope that Starfleet’s ultimate philosophy hasn’t been lost.

“Starfleet doesn’t fire first.” ~ Captain Philippa Georgiou.

Discovery is Dropping a Core Element of Classic Trek

Captain Philippa Georgiou and her First Officer Michael Burnham

Star Trek fans have a reputation for being finicky when it comes to the minor details like incorrect ranking badges, or office locations on a starship (and of course there are people out there who have starship maps fully committed to memory). But one thing that has fans calling for red alert is the notion that the core elements that make the show are being tinkered with. This is not baseless speculation. The creators fully intend to do just that. They have already stated that they are ditching the long held tradition that the crew will not have conflicts with one another, breaking the illusion of a truly harmonious society.

The details on this are still too vague to really assess whether this is going to be the monumental failure that some fans protest it will be. It all depends on context. If Starfleet’s crew are fighting over trivial things, that is simply human behaviour and adds an element of realism. This is also not even a new concept for Trek, as Deep Space Nine included this kind of conflict and it was never really a problem because they were ultimately on the same page when it came to the bigger picture, they were simply having disagreements on the nitty gritty details. Often their discussions would make everyone understand that both perspectives may be right (or at least partially). Much like many examples in this article, it is all very context dependent. If Starfleet officers are in conflict about the idea of a woman piloting a ship, or Starfleet’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, that is a completely different story.

Starfleet has survived some conflict within its ranks before, and it will again. The key to solving most, if not all, of the issues in this article is for Discovery to ensure that it doesn’t lose the humanist message of Star Trek: that every person, though offering different personal and cultural perspectives, should be treating exactly the same. No better. No worse. That is the core of Star Trek‘s ideology.

Just Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride

The Discovery cast’s impromptu dance party

Take yourself back to the stunning desert scene from the opening of the original teaser. Georgiou and Burnham are trekking along the dunes when Georgiou says: “It is hard to imagine you have served under me for seven years.” Similarly, it is hard to imagine that the last four months of promotion have gone by at light speed and before you know it, we will be faced with the final product; then we can pick it apart till our heart’s content.

But as Trekkies and Trekkers, it is important for the future of the franchise that we don’t look upon this critically or favourably, but honestly. This series should be judged on its own merit. Yes, it will probably be different from previous installments, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Also, it is important to remember that this series and all other fictional books, movies, television shows, comic books and video games, all share a common goal: to entertain us. While these worlds can teach us so many things about our own, and they can dazzle us with their visuals, at the heart of every story is the need to entertain. So it is imperative to go into this series with an open mind. Go in with hope in your heart. Hope that it is going to be great. You might love it, you might hate it, you might be indifferent to it. Just give it a try and assess the source material based on its own merit, just like Starfleet does its recruits.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. BackRoom

    There are a lot of grumpy old timers in the star trek community. From what I hear, people said this about Voyager, TNG, DS9 and Enterprise too. Yet when we look back, given time to develop, they were excellent shows. Personally I’m excited to see this, it looks new, interesting and puts a new spin on star trek. If this was just a regurgitation of old star trek, y’all would be pointing out that it had been done before. I’d still rather it went post TNG tho, as the past is very revisted and I wanna see what’s past Picard and Janeway. But I think this will be new, interesting and put a different spin on things.

    • A G Macdonald

      I hope so. I’m really looking forward to this series. I do fear that people will go in with negative attitudes and pick it apart without giving it sufficient time to find its footing.

  2. As a star trek fan i can’t say i’m impressed by the trailer and especially the cast. This is not star trek quality for me, compared to all previous series. Really to bad. I expected much more.

    • A G Macdonald

      I’ll agree that Discovery doesn’t look perfect. The series does seem to have some flaws, although I’m not sure I agree with the cast. Is there anybody in particular that you have an issue with?

  3. Love to see Michelle Yeoh , I am so excited!

    • A G Macdonald

      How could you not love Michelle Yeoh? People complain about her accent. I could spend hours just listening to her reading the phone-book.

      Also, fingers crossed that her character has even half the martial arts skills of Shu Lien from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She’s going to be amazing, but I do worry that her lack of presence in the trailers indicates she is going to be one of the first people to die.

      • Amyus

        “I could spend hours just listening to her reading the phone-book.”

        Amen to that! 🙂

        • A G Macdonald

          Have you seen The Lady? A terrific movie about an unbelievable human being. Yeoh is amazing in it.

          • Amyus

            You must be psychic! I picked that up just a few days ago. Haven’t watched it yet, but I will this weekend. I’m glad you’ve given it a thumbs up. Cheers.

      • Amyus

        A quick addendum – looking at the photo you placed under the ‘Just Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride’ heading…the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams leapt into my head. LOL.

  4. Star Trek showed us the grandeur of the Cosmos. It showed us that this vast and incredible universe we live in is filled with wonders beyond our imagination. It made us feel part of something far bigger and far greater than ourselves. It humbled us and taught us that we do not have a central role in the cosmic drama. Star Trek showed us that human beings are capable of greatness. That we can set aside our differences and unite. Star Trek was about ethics, politics, law, science, friendships, love, culture and much more. It made social commentary, it celebrated our beautiful traditions and criticized those traditions which stood in the way of science and progress towards a future in which the human race is united, it also taught us respect towards the traditions and rituals of other cultures. It revealed the beauty of the human endeavour to understand the world. Star Trek was many things. It gave us hope, it made us better people, and it tackled the deepest of questions. Star Trek: Discovery? I don’t know. All I saw in the trailer were explosions and a lot of CGI; no profound or interesting ideas, no distinguishable characters. With everything that’s happening Star Trek: Discovery seems like generic sci-fi action series, which tries to push a political agenda (social justice, feminism, political correctness). This is not Star Trek.

    • A G Macdonald

      Hi Mcvey, I sent you a comment, but it doesn’t seem to be connect as a reply. I agree with you about political correctness having no place in Star Trek, and while there seems to be some social justice talk in the promotional material, there doesn’t seem to be anything to suggest that the social justice themes are in the show itself. It will be interesting to see when the show is finally released in September.

  5. Sean Dailey

    “This was later retconned, explaining that the Klingons were being altered to look more aesthetically pleasing to humans.”

    Dude, where did you pull this from? The canon explanation from Enterprise is that the ridgeless-Kinglons were the result of a cure to a the Augment virus.

    • A G Macdonald

      I have to admit that Enterprise is the only series I haven’t seen. My research was off. Thanks for the heads up and I’ll make the necessary changes.

  6. A G Macdonald

    I completely agree that social justice has no place in Star Trek, because the human race is already living in harmony with all kinds. While there is a diverse cast, there is no evidence at this stage to suggest that it will be about social justice. We haven’t seen any characters discussing about how starfleet is a boys club, or how there aren’t enough gays and lesbians in higher ranking positions. If the showrunners were to include themes of social justice it would ruin the series and taint the franchise as a whole, but simply having female character, or Asian character, or gay characters doesn’t mean it is pushing a political agenda; no more than Roddenberry was in the 1960s.

  7. I’m excited. It won’t be everything–what show is?–but it’s doing it with gusto and respect for history. My concern is if it becomes a war show, or is too like the first two Trek reboot movies (Kelvin timeline).

    • A G Macdonald

      That is a valid concern, and it is possible that the series might go in that direction, but I am holding onto the idea that they will be respectful to the original material. I keep repeating Michelle Yeoh’s words in my head: “Starfleet doesn’t fire first”. This at least acknowledgement that the creators understand what Star Trek is about.

  8. I think you should proofread more. The occasional typo happens, but it is clear you didn’t even look at this after you typed it.

    • A G Macdonald

      Hi Zach, Thanks for the comment. Since so much information came out after the initial article, I wrote the second part about all the new information we had received, but it was set for publication before I had a chance to make the final edits. This will be rectified shortly.

  9. Every time I see these Klingons they look more and more like people with modelling clay covered faced mumbling around a mouth-full of oatmeal because of the physical restrictions of an over-designed rubber suit. Great cast selection but so many places that the storytelling is falling apart at the seams for the sake of lens flare, explosions and Hollywood strobe-camera action scenes. I really hope this doesn’t suck, but trek has been treated far too poorly for too long. Especially so with Axanar getting crippled by paramount instead of being forced into a franchise deal to get a cut of royalties, merchandise and sales for the use of a non-cannon spin-off setting (that was set to put the franchise firmly back into peoples awareness). Voyager and Enterprise suffered from the same issues, too many time travel episodes that were ok initially but resulted in vast swathes of wasted story-time.

    • A G Macdonald

      I understand your concerns. These Klingons are not my favourite ones (though they’re also not my least favourite), but give it time and people come around to them. I don’t think we’ve seen too much of them moving or speaking, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt (for now).

  10. WhoWillBeNext

    From an avid Trekkie, I approve of this article and this new series. It’s going to be great. Stop complaining people. 🙂

  11. looks awesome but ide like to imagine this in the abramverse because of all the canon inconsistencies with TOS like the look of the Klingons and the technology difference but looking at it that way it looks awesome

    • A G Macdonald

      It’s also important to realise that some of these inconsistencies might have canonical explanations when the show is released.

  12. Once upon a time when I was a kid, and for most of my life in fact, I was a trekkie. I love it, more than Starwars. In part they were an educational tool. Today, its the reverse. ST has become more and more inconsistant hogwash. Whilst SW has again become exciting and fresh, every single time. This stuff right here is just strikingly underwhelming and not even remotely interesting as far as science, exploration and the advancement of humanity goes.

    • A G Macdonald

      It’s interesting that you mention Star Wars. I too am a big fan of both, but the success of Star Wars, particularly in recent years, has heavily impacted Star Trek in the last decade. J. J. Abrham’s Trek universe was a lot more like Star Wars than Star Trek. Studios think that a space series needs to be filled with action (and it looks like Discovery will be action-packed), but I’m still optimistic that there will be some measure of philosophy and morality behind the stories.

  13. Donald Silver

    Star trek is all about discovery…of the universe and of ourselves. Is these series? I doubt it. Funny thing you call that. A nice thing about star trek also was the infinite new ideas for technology. They had pads, touchscreens, medical tricorders, hyposprays, universal translators, online databases and many more things that come to life as the years pass by. Will these series give such inspiration? I doubt it. It may be fun to watch and I’ll do but I doubt it will fill me with the excitement of some series long gone. As William Shatner once said to Charlie Sheen on a Roast Show “relax…take your time and smell the flowers” don’t feed the fans with fast scenes, short stupid dialogs and exploding ships…Everything happens so fast… Give us what the star trek should. Things to think about. Philosophical Questions, Science, Strategic Plans, Character Relationships, Struggle for Self-Improvement and lessons of life in general.

    • A G Macdonald

      I think there is still hope that Discovery can include these things. It is possible that the trailer is only showing a few exciting scenes to entice the new Trek film fans (as they know that traditional Trekkers are going to check it out no matter how much they protest). Scenes with deep philosophical discuss don’t make for interesting trailers.

  14. Proctor

    I have a little anecdote concerning Mr Shatner: In the days when I was still watching television (yes, I’m a superior human being), I saw Mr Shatner on the six o’clock news. He was in Montreal for something, maybe for that room at one of our universities that had a plaque to his name. Such are the laws of my province that the plaque was bilingual and Mr Shatner, on the English news program proceeded to read the French part of the plaque (I don’t know what the hell you call these things) and he said it in perfect, flawless French. This was years ago, but I’m still tickled pink he did that.

  15. Amyus

    Although I’m not a Trekkie or Trekker (still not sure what the difference is), I am probably one of the few who actually appreciated ‘Enterprise; not so much for its stories but for the ‘clunky’ technology and the delightfully retro look of the ship (yes, I know it was just an Akira Class look-a-like turned upside down). To me, it looked as if it could be a fitting forerunner to the classic TOS U.S.S. Enterprise. I also thought the uniforms were well thought out and practical, unlike those awful spandex/lycra (or whatever they were) jumpsuits the poor actors had to squeeze into during the first TNG season.

    I’m prepared to give the new ‘Discovery’ series a go, although I admit that’s mainly because of the inclusion of Isaacs and Yeoh; both excellent actors in my opinion, but I fear that the new series is going to have quite a battle ahead of it to make its mark. Only time will tell.

  16. A G Macdonald

    They do have a battle ahead of them.

    Speaking of uniforms, I think it’s interesting that Discovery is choosing to go with Starfleet crew wearing armour for away missions. In retrospect, it’s kind of a no-brainer. I mean, how many red shirts would have survived the series if they had worn armour?

  17. Amyus

    Ah yes, the Lament of The Red Shirt! A few years ago I started to write a short story, tentatively entitled ‘A Day in the (very short) life of a Red Shirt’. It was meant as a spoof, but a few trekkers/trekkies I knew were offended by it so I stopped. The armour idea makes sense. Hmm, you’ve got me intrigued. Another reason to give the new series a go. Thanks 🙂

  18. I’m gonna wait and see what this is like, people are ragging on this show, and though personally not a huge fan of the Discovery starship design (the Shinzon looks better in my opinion) or the Klingon look (personally if the producers decide on the idea of different sects of Klingon, some religious, some warriors would the characters more variety (like as humans we are not all the same across the planet) I think this change could be a good one (though not so drastic) the production value looks amazing, attempting to challenge the new breed of great sci-fi shows like The Expanse I bet (I hope I don’t have to eat my words for this show).

    • A G Macdonald

      While some people are genuinely concerned (and that’s fine), there are plenty of people that get a feeling of superiority for disliking something (especially in favour of an original).

  19. Definitely think this is going to be good. I think it looks different to anything we’ve seen before, but the truth is it had to be. I’m super excited to see where it all goes.

    • A G Macdonald

      As others have stated in the comments: If it were exactly like TOS, then there would be a bunch of people complaining it’s nothing more than a rehash.

  20. I am giving a chance this new series.

  21. Maile Beal

    Remember when Star Trek was about “To go where no one/man has gone before”? Now days its more like “To blow shit up like no one has blown it before”.

    • A G Macdonald

      I’m fine with blowing stuff up just as long as that’s not the only thing that happens throughout the series.

  22. Annelle

    Great actors , great cast but why can’t we get a new Star Trek series who plays after DS9 and Voyager ? Who cares about what happened before the Enterprise existed ? And where to hell does this dark elves and mordor Orcs come from ?

  23. I just hope they don’t use good charismatic actors like Jason Isaacs and Michelle Yeoh for the premie just to draw in the crowd and then kill them off and hand it to some random girl cause that’s the thing nowadays.

    • A G Macdonald

      I’m genuinely concerned that Yeoh is not going to be in the series much (I’m worried her character will be the first to be killed off).

  24. The older Star Trek shows were more ‘an adventure per episode’ instead of ‘one long story arc’. I’m not sure if the latter will be as enjoyable, because there is less room for philosophy and mystery.

    • A G Macdonald

      They could do something like DS9 did and have a series of individual episodes that are linked by a larger narrative (though it doesn’t sound like that is the case).

  25. Can’t wait!

  26. Brandon

    Tended to agree with most people that this doesn’t look like the Star Trek I know, but then got to thinking that it is covering something that was only glossed over in most previous series which was war. Yes they were explorers but when the Federation was at war with the Klingons, a warrior race, what was that like? That may be what this show will be trying to answer. Crappy looking Klingons aside this show will get one episode to get my attention, if I have nothing better to do.

    • A G Macdonald

      You’re absolutely right: There’s a ton of ethical questions that are raised during war. It is completely conceivable the show could be about war with the Klingons and still retain its philosophical tone.

  27. There will always be dark periods in life and so I can live with that in Star Trek. Continuity, however, is vital to the believable nature of the franchise. Ship design, uniforms and the appearance of the Klingons are the main issues. All the Shenzou needed externally was round nacelles to give it a TOS Miranda class look, without Paramount having a dicky fit about other elements there could have been a much closer tie in with the TOS pilot uniform because there have been cross-over uniforms throughout the original timeline with TNG-DS9-Movie period and the change with the Klingons could have been less subtle. The earliest ship that has the Constitution shape (though not necessarily a constitution class) has an NCC 956 registry so the Discovery looks like a throwback whether original or alternate timeline. Working forwards with the NCC registry 956 would be close to 2210 AD as a build, therefore even the main ship of the series needs a major redesign. There are plenty of ship designs that could be used for the Discovery including an Excelsior prototype but these people in charge seem to have very little imagination and are using the Paramount vs CBS problems as a poxy excuse.

    • A G Macdonald

      While I agree it doesn’t look like original Star Trek, I don’t think they could pull in new viewers if it did have that look; and without a bigger fan base, I’m not sure the show could survive in this cutthroat market that needs an instant hit or the show is cancelled.

  28. This looks awesome. I can’t wait till it comes out

  29. War and conflict is the part i like the least about star trek. I want my brain challenged with interesting paradoxes with a side of akward humor.

    • A G Macdonald

      If done correctly there is plenty of critical thinking and moral dilemmas that can come from war, though I will concede that humor seems to be non-existent in this series.

  30. I love star trek but sometimes I find myself trudging through some “The anomaly of week” episodes. I’m rewatching Voyager and it’s amazing but the inconsistancies are glaring you’ll find a character’s entire personality changed to explore a theme for that one episode, the theme of being stranded far from home has no real affect on the crew or you as the audience after a while too untill you come across yet another episode of depleating dilithium. Most aggregious is Janeway whom the writers decide is either understanding compationate and fair one second and then completely irrational and only obsessed with getting her crew home the next (sometimes within the same scene). Star Trek loses it’s way when it forgets to talk to us today or at the very least makes us question our humanity. My perfect example of Star Trek at it’s best is still TNG’s A measure of a man which brings me to tears to tnis day whilst still making me feel a little conflicted. Some of this is rambling but what i mean essentially is the look of the galaxy within discovery as well as discovery herself is growing on me but whats most promising is the tone and themes this trailer looks to be exploring.

    • A G Macdonald

      I think it’ll be good. It looks different, but at the same time it seems like a hybrid between DS9 and TOS.

  31. In a franchise as old as Trek you need to make constant, sometimes drastic changes to keep it relevant. Star Trek has always reflected the attitudes and fears of the world during the time it was made, this looks perfect for modern audiences with the constant threat of war and terrorist attacks it plays to it (just like most shows/movies made post 9/11) .

    • A G Macdonald

      Couldn’t agree more. Also storytelling in general has embraced darker tones and grittier stories. So long as we retain the humanist message, the show should be great while more appealing to the current generation.

  32. Dont JUDGE a book by its COVER! If Star Trek has taught you Trekkies anything, it is this.

  33. This just looks so WOW. I was afraid it was going to be the same old start trek, which was ok, but no longer suitable for a new younger generation of viewers. Judging by this trailer I’d say they have certainly managed to provide something exciting and fresh and bang up to date. Not quite sure how to watch it here in the UK as I’m not a fan of Netflix. I may have to subscribe.

    • A G Macdonald

      Though you might not like Netflix, it’s better than in the US where it will be exclusive to CBS All Access.

  34. Unlike most people I am actually looking forward to a different Star Trek series. They are trying something new from the looks of it, seems people hate the word “changes” when they have grown accustomed to something. Everyone is so quick to judge, perhaps it will indeed be crap but not being preemptive with an opinion based on the fact that it is very different from what we are used to.

    • A G Macdonald

      I’m all for change, as long as it doesn’t betray Roddenberry’s original vision. If I want to watch TOS, I can just watch TOS.

  35. Looks great, Screw the haters!

  36. I think that the great Alan Moore is right, and things after a while should be allowed to end, or at least go into the public domain, as so anyone can use them. Its not for nothing a house wop named sonny bono was the driving force to allow a perpetual copyright for mickey mouse and superman, which is why i use them both as was Jesuit pre law, and thus can talk any hacks now in circles. But as a boy, and have done well with this idea with three comics published of it this year, in watchdogging star trek always wondered why are there no heirs to Amerigo VESPUCCI in this star ship Anglicize, despite issuing all Roman and italic mythology with both hands….? After a while leave things be, as saw its origin on a day tribute to great character actor Richard Anderson, a stalwart of television and saw and realized no one is doing Wagon train anymore, …

    • A G Macdonald

      I still think there are fresh stories to be told in Star Trek, and in a world filled with retold stories that are washed, rinsed and repeated, I’m happy to take that.

  37. Thanks for the analysis and heads-up. I didn’t realise we were in for another helping of one of my all-time favourite shows. As you say, it would indeed be close to heresy (well, you don’t say that, I do), if they messed with the core humanist approach and turned it into something black and twisted. But hope springs eternal, so I look forward to enjoying a renewed confidence in mankind after the dismal show we’ve been putting on in so-called “real” life, this last year.

  38. It looks excellent. I just hope they have more non-human looking aliens. They seem to rely too much on using actors with rubber prosthetics.

  39. I will wait and see, but I fear that the makers of discovery have strayed too far away from what Star Trek represents and have moved it towards the more common place SFX fest style of production. Discovery will be popular, of that there is no doubt. Whether it remains popular or becomes an eternal institution like all other Star Trek series remains to be seen.

  40. Delphia

    Oh Yes! Please, be good!!! Love the new Klingons

    • A G Macdonald

      Don’t know if I’d go as far as to say I love the new Klingons, but I can live with them if it makes sense to the story.

  41. This looks like an excellent generic sci-fi. But they’ve changed so much it doesn’t really look like Star Trek any more.

  42. Whenever I look at Star Trek now, I won’t see a powerful Cardassian warrior. I will see a scared little boy, who is powerless to defend himself.

    • A G Macdonald

      Star Trek has definitely changed, and the first two Kelvin films lost touch with the core of what Trek is about, but I think people are projecting their worries about movie Trek into the new series. Stylistically they might be the same, but I think Discovery will be much closer to a ‘real’ Trek.

  43. Jeffries

    I did not want to see the trailer at first and now that I have seen it. Well I am really happy and excited!

  44. I don’t mind the new Star Trek films even tho they have quite a lot of fighting in them…but this just isn’t Star Trek anymore! Because Star Trek definitely isn’t about war but piece and diplomacy

    • A G Macdonald

      Star Trek is about peace (on Earth), but the Klingons were always hostile and at war with someone (if not each other); even after their truce with the federation.

  45. I am actually looking forward to this as a trek fan.

  46. this could be better if they continue the “Enterprise” saga, it already had 3 movies so why took another cast???

    • A G Macdonald

      The better idea would’ve been a sequel series, but I guess you can’t have it all. I love getting to know new Trek casts and all the weird and wonderful characters.

  47. Cicelianiach

    I kind of just want another Star Trek like Next Generation where it’s mostly exploration and diplomacy with a bit of action. From the trailer, this show looks like Space Western…

    • A G Macdonald

      Too be honest exploration and diplomacy don’t seem to be the focal point. I would like another series in the style of TNG, but I’m going in expecting otherwise.

  48. Why does everything have to be so dark and gritty these days? This series doesn’t look like it’s going to have any kind of relaxed (dare I say silly/fun) episodes.I like how real they’ve tried to make everything look but that’s also my biggest problem with it, it’s taken far too much from the recent movies rather than the original shows. Kind of sad really. I know I’m going to hate it but I’m still fucking gonna watch it damn it.

  49. A G Macdonald

    Though they haven’t shown any yet, I am really hoping they have a comic relief character to shift the tone from time to time.

  50. A G Macdonald

    Just over two weeks to go. Anybody getting excited yet?

  51. Jeff MacLeod

    Well-done . They have a legacy to support and many hard acts to follow, I hope this show can live up to that legacy.

  52. Josh Williams

    I do feel sorry for Enterprise as a series. I’ll be the first to admit its glaring faults, particularly the character relationships and the frankly dire first couple of seasons… but if people could bare to stick around for the season 3 arc, and the season 4 mini arcs, it developed into some excellent and compelling ‘Trek’. Obviously in my opinion and all that 🙂

    Which is also why I’m hoping they do as you suggest, in this really rather brilliantly written piece, and present these particular Klingons as a different off-shoot of the race. The virus that sparked their mutation towards looking human-like was addressed in the show, and it would be a shame for that to be swept under the rug. Especially when Enterprise undertook to give us a gander at internal Klingon politics, social castes and structures in a more revealing light than we’ve seen before… all with that iconic look that we’re familiar with from the ‘future’ series.

    Here’s hoping the rumours aren’t true and Discoverer finds its feet.

  53. A G Macdonald

    Thanks for the compliment. I do hope that people give Discovery a chance to get on it’s feet. I watched the pilot for The Orville and was overly impressed, but I’ve seen nothing but rave reviews. I guess people are going to be more forgiving of a knock off than the real thing.

  54. A G Macdonald

    Discovery is finally here and it’s even better than I thought! 🖖Anybody else have thoughts?

  55. JulieCMillay

    Very well written piece. I think I will just always adore the original show the best, but I loved your take on it as well! Great article!

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