From the moment Anson Mount, Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck landed on Star Trek: Discovery, viewers have been clamoring for a spin-off focusing on the adventures of the pre-Original Series Enterprise crew. The audience’s demand for the show began on social media comments, amid confessions of crushes on Anson Mount. Then came the bearded Spock “controversy” that had its moment before being eclipsed by worldwide love for Ethan Peck’s portrayal of the half-human/half-Vulcan officer. We all had a feeling (something Spock would disapprove of, probably) that the farewell we saw between him and his sister at the end of the second season of Discovery was not the last time we’d see him.
Then came the Short Treks featuring the crew right as an online petition demanding a spin-off show with this cast gained serious traction, and with every subsequent castmember interview whole-heartedly endorsing a spin-off, the warp dial kept spinning up, getting us closer and closer to the show.
Recommended reading: our review of “Ask Not,” which predicted the Short Treks episode being an undercover new character mini-episode of the upcoming series.
All this has led to the announcement of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, bringing great joy and cheer. There will be fan speculation, wild theories, endless deconstructions of every little detail of every scene featuring this crew, but for now: here are five things that we would love to see in Strange New Worlds.
5. Make practical effects great again
Part of the old world charm of TOS and to a certain extent, TNG, was the extensive use of practical effects. In today’s television landscape shooting a sci-fi series on a green screen makes the most economic sense but the tsunami of digital backgrounds that have taken over our TV has come at a cost: an abandonment of practical effects. What better a show to welcome back the power of practical effects to the forefront than the successor of a show that, using cardboard doors and styrofoam rocks, inspired people to go to space? There’s a humility and, dare I say it, a magic in knowing that Nomad, for all its unmatchable intelligence, was a simple cylindrical setup with a voice box. Even though we visited a different world, do we not profoundly remember the humble flute most of all from “The Inner Light”? Discovery and Picard have made every starry background and interstellar vista look like a million bucks, but if Strange New Worlds aims to be truly original and different, a reduction in the use of green screens and an emphasis on smaller sets and real environments would be a great place to start.
4. Not going where we’ve been before
J.J. Abrams’ “Kelvin Timeline” was a reimagining of aspects of The Original Series. Discovery features Original Series characters heavily. Picard continued the story of the TNG’s Enterprise-D Captain. All of these have been greatly enjoyable but the criticism of reliance on already existing characters and tropes is justified. Strange New Worlds stands at a unique juncture in the space-time Trek Continuum. Standing on a ground mostly unexplored we hope that the stories it tells end the cycle of dependence on what has come before. We’re fully aware that at the show’s center is the franchise’s most recognizable character but, for inspiration on telling new stories with him, Discovery’s second season handling of Spock as dyslexic and mentally burdened is a great example. We know very little about Number One and Pike and the world they inhabit. If the show aggressively stuck to keeping the trio as the only tether to already told stories and forces themselves, and us, to head out into unseen directions, then the creators have already begun earning the moniker of strange and new.
3. A return to all-ages-friendly Star Trek
We live in a television universe where darkness seems to reign supreme. Discovery and Picard have both committed to telling stories about mature, complex, adult themes. That makes the shows necessary and watchable but the hunger for a “WHERE’S MY OPTIMISM IN TREK?” grows with each passing day. When Pike stood on the bridge of the USS Discovery and declared that he was not Lorca, that was not only a welcome change for the crew, it was the turn to a path of hope and light for the show. Strange New Worlds can take this to a whole new level by telling stories that regularly fuel hope and family-friendly brightness back into the Star Trek universe. Since Pike was able to do it effortlessly in the second season of Discovery, Strange New Worlds should place this burden of telling stories that forgo gore and cussing for all-ages inclusive storytelling on the broad and sturdy shoulders of Anson Mount and his crew.
2. A persistent and irredeemable villain
The Original Series introduced the Romulans. The Next Generation gave us the Borg. Deep Space Nine terrified us with Cardassians. Every great Star Trek series has introduced an evil so great and horrible, that just the thought of them becoming a reality makes one shudder. It wasn’t the way Romulans looked that made them terrifying, it was the metaphor of Cold War era Soviet Union and the unease they brought to our heroes that made them so formidable. In spite of the instantly iconic look of the Borg, we remember them so starkly because they came at a time when mankind’s growing connection to technology seemed unstoppable. Their “Resistance is futile” war cry served—and continues to serve—as a strong warning. Strange New Worlds should focus on building a new villain – in the form of a civilization, a species, a single unit – that would make these previous iterations’ villains proud. One that not only would look great and horrifying, but also becomes an antagonist that serves as a strong metaphor for where we are in the world today and what our greatest threats are.
1. Episode-of-the-week stories
The roots of TOS and TNG lie deeply in the world of early-to-mid 20th century pulp fiction magazine short stories. Tales that are intriguing, exciting, and brief windows into enchanting worlds. The power of season-based storytelling clearly has great strengths as proven by Discovery, Picard and most current television series. The entire appeal of binge-worthy shows is owed to the episodes’ cliffhanger nature that keeps us hooked. A return to episodic storytelling puts Strange New Worlds in an interesting position.
First, by telling focused, compact stories through single episodes it relieves viewers of the pressure to have seen every episode of the show prior to the new one. It makes onboarding a show easy.
Secondly, with episodic storytelling, SNW will go back to the roots of Star Trek. Most TOS and TNG episodes were designed to be great short stories that play out on our screens. By bringing back episodic storytelling Strange New Worlds might lose viewers that come for the binge but what it has to gain is far greater: the seemingly unattainable and profound power of standalone episodes that have changed television like “The City on The Edge of Forever,” “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” “The Visitor,” etc.
What do you hope to see in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds? Tell us in the comments below.
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David Zane Taylor
May 16, 2020 at 12:34 pm
The secondary characters will be interesting.
May 16, 2020 at 3:05 pm
No. TV evolved, the world evolved. If I wanted all of the above, I’ll watch 60’s reruns.
So much of the “let’s return to this” in the article was because of the times, not because of intention.
No cussing? It would not have been aired otherwise.
Less gore? Try watching TNG: Conspiracy again.
Effects? It was the limitation of the time. Each new series had new special effects and not all of those were practical.
Episodic was because of the times. That need disappeared with streaming services and shorter seasons.
All the gatekeepers will probably disagree but Star Trek has to keep evolving, keep pressing forward if it wants to stay relevant.
May 16, 2020 at 3:21 pm
Cheaper sets probably would mean more episodes. Back in the day, a season had 20 to 25 episodes. Now we are lucky to have 10 or 12. I would gladly exchange more bling for more story.
May 16, 2020 at 12:59 pm
Please no more LGBQT BS, and make every episode different no more movie length series. Also don’t use the word,”Fuck” it totally degrades what Star Trek is about!.
May 16, 2020 at 2:59 pm
LOL where do they find you people? Crying for what Star is about right after you have a statement pretty much proving you don’t align with what Star Trek is about.
May 16, 2020 at 10:54 pm
Frak that feldercarb.
May 19, 2020 at 7:32 pm
What Jeff is saying sounds a lot like what people said about having an interracial crew in the 60s.
Jeff, please, stop watching Star Trek, you didn’t get the point.
May 28, 2020 at 2:39 pm
May 16, 2020 at 9:04 pm
We all know where Pike’s story begins and ends, but nothing is known between those to incidents. Some suggestions are:
Pike taking command from Captain April.
Updating the initial “The Cage” episode
Pike accepting his fate as seen in Discovery, being promoted to fleet captain and Kirk taking command from Pike to end the series.
May 17, 2020 at 10:03 pm
No need to rehash and update. That’s what’s wrong with Trek today.
May 16, 2020 at 10:54 pm
Hire real sci fi writers. That way you can maybe avoid the risk of standalone episodes, that they’re just going back to the same old tired tropes – Romance of the Week, character has a personal problem they try to hide, time travel hijinks, aliens take over the ship (with embarrassing ease) – that seem like they just dusted off an old Voyager script.
May 17, 2020 at 10:03 pm
Nail on the head 100%.
May 21, 2020 at 2:57 pm
I mean, people are free to look for what they want in a new show, but I don’t personally view any of these as priorities.
One of the things that stunned me about the Kelvin films was how far
along CG has come. A lot of it is indistinguishable from model work,
yet has the dynamic movement of CG. The future of
safety-conscious filmmaking is going to involve a lot more CG. I think
we’ll look back at Sky Captain as a particularly influential film.
Going where we haven’t before is a subjective thing, especially in a
prequel. It’s a YMMV thing. So, I just hope that whatever we see is
just well-executed. Newness will be an inevitable by-product.
All-ages Trek is something I’m really agnostic about. Frankly, all the
older shows are ones I’d love kids to watch, but they should all be
watched with an older person to place them in historical context. Even
as recently as Into Darkness, the gender and sexual politics of Star
Trek has aged badly. So, even those shows aren’t really appropriate for
youngsters without any guidance.
Irredeemable villains are the polar opposite of what Trek’s about.
Even the most implacable foe has had some form of humanity to them. The
Borg have the xBs, the Cardassians sought Bajoran help to overthrow
their Dominion oppressors, the Romulans and Klingons have both had
plenty of periods of easier, if tense relations with the Federation.
Some of my favorite episodes to use to introduce people to Trek are The
Corbomite Maneuver, Errand of Mercy, Devil in the Dark, Arena, Balance
of Terror. And looking at the chronology of Trek, it’s a history of
species having adversarial relations with humans before learning to
coexist and thrive together, from the Vulcans, to the Xindi, to the
Klingons, to the Ferengi, to the Cardassians, to the Borg.
Episodic Trek is another thing that’s merely an aesthetic choice. I
don’t really care. I just want to be engaged by the show. I want it to
have characters I care about that are well-acted, and provided with
great dialogue. Anything else, whether it’s intricate plots, simple
plots, self-contained episodes, sprawling epics, are all basically like
watching someone else do a crossword puzzle. It’s all an intellectual
exercise devoid of emotion. Fiction is an emotional medium. The
plotting is merely a setting to showcase that emotion, a series of
consequences that comes from the choices those characters make because
of who they are and how they feel in a given circumstance.
May 27, 2022 at 8:07 pm
I cried after the first episode of Strange New World’s. Finally! Real Trek. I love, love, love this show and I’m in high hopes that it will be with us for many years to come.
But don’t get me wrong, I also love Discovery as well. And although season one of Picard was horrible season two has more than made a great turn around.
Please do not change anything with Strange New Worlds. The crew, the ship, the special effects and the writing is perfect. Don’t change anything! Thank you so much for making the old New again and for giving this old die hard fan a chance to live long enough to see and enjoy it.
July 17, 2022 at 7:54 am
I am sorry but SNW is not worthy or true to the cannon of the original startrek. 1, the writers are weak, the got to pull parts of the other treks to make storys. We are already hearing of Khan, The first officer is a product of that said mess and yet its throw out the rules and law and allow it. 2, the this is so huge on the inside the bridge, crew quarters so huge, so much eye candy needed to get viewers to watch the show. TOS and TNG i though right on spot, the shows depended on Great acting and scripts, I understand we have more advance tech to account for the bridge controls but McCoy did not like transporters let along have one in his sickbay to keep his sick child around when it was a feat of Accomplish that was invented and though up by Scott on TNG episode. I tried to give SNW a chance but they have stolen from other shows, and use of eye candy just is not true space and thought. and i agree with the person above, drop the pushing LGBT junk, i want more aliens, not sex freaks.