Strange New Worlds revives science fiction by going back to its roots

The landing party Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. (Paramount+)

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — streaming on Paramount+ from Wednesday June 22 — has arrived when star trek fans need it more.

It’s been a bumpy ride for Gene Roddenberry’s space opera since it entered the era of “prestige” television.

Recent departures including Discovery Y Picard Sometimes I have felt quite sad. More of a slog than a hike. The stories have been flimsy but painstakingly drawn out, as if the writers haven’t yet taken on the task of charting a season arc.

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Where has the humor been? What happened to the joy and that sense of optimism that was baked into the original series Y the next generation?

Anson Mount as Captain Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.  (Paramount+)

Anson Mount as Captain Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. (Paramount+)

Well, it seems that all these elements were saved for this latest version, whose title: strange new worlds – goes back to James T Kirk’s mission statement. Only it’s not Kirk in the captain’s chair on this gleaming new bridge, it’s his predecessor Christopher Pike, played with homey charm by Anson Mount.

Where William Shatner’s buccaneer hero was acknowledged to be a sci-fi Horatio Hornblower, Mount’s captain is a more folksy figure, a sort of futuristic Pa Walton, but with a sculpted pompadour that grows taller with the episode.

And yet, despite the fact that it features a main character who isn’t as familiar to the passing viewer as Kirk undoubtedly would be, this is the only show of the five spin-offs currently in production to capture the spirit of what he is. that Roddenberry created in the 1960s

Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) and Spock (Ethan Peck) in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+)

Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) and Spock (Ethan Peck) in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+)

It helps, of course, that we’re back aboard the USS. Business, a starship prized by fans but also instantly recognizable to the layman. It’s a great meeting place. A place you want to inhabit instantly. And on board are certain crew members, including Spock (Ethan Peck) and Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) that those with a cursory knowledge of the franchise will already know. All, I might add, wearing upgraded versions of those classic blue, red, and gold Starfleet uniforms.

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But look beyond the stage and the wardrobe and what’s most important to you is that key optimistic spirit of exploration. Of views that are transmitted. Aliens found for the first time. And it presented us to viewers as good old-fashioned episodic television.

Now this is going to upset Deep Space Nine devotees (of which I am one) who loved the season-spanning Dominion War, but star trek it’s not at its best when the narrative gets serialized. And if the last season of Picard It proved something, it’s that the characters deserve more than being stranded in 21st century Los Angeles doing nothing for weeks at a time. The galaxy is a vast place, and strange new worlds you are wisely choosing to give us a tour.

Rebecca Romijn's number one leads a landing party in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.  (Paramount+)

Rebecca Romijn’s number one leads a landing party in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. (Paramount+)

So despite debuting in the age of binge eating and multi-part narratives, what we have here is a welcome back-to-basics approach. Uncomplicated but with an undeniable style, with attractive dramas from the planet of the week and complicated ethical dilemmas. Because, yeah, that’s another key feature that strange new worlds is resuscitate: the allegory.

A little too much on the nose sometimes, but since when was star trek Moralize and preach ever so subtle? And at least the episodes feel like they strive to be about something. I whisper it, but the main concern of Picard seemed to be deferring gratification for a wet squib ending that didn’t reward our investment.

It’s true that things aren’t perfect at Pike’s. Business. The inclusion of Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) in the infirmary feels wrong, as her personality is at odds with what actor Majel Barrett gave us in the ’60s. Then there’s the use of the antagonist Gorn, which may leave the fandom. struggling to square his actions here with what is already established canon.

Jess Bush as Christine Chapel in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.  (Paramount+)

Jess Bush as Christine Chapel in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. (Paramount+)

Aenar’s chief engineer, Hemmer (Bruce Horak), is underutilized in the first half of the first season, as is the enigmatic Number One (Rebecca Romijn). And then there are the massive housing and state-of-the-art graphics, which look far more sophisticated than anything that came out in Shatner’s day; strange, as this is essentially a prequel to that beloved original seriesyes

But these are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things. After five years barely getting by on impulse energy, it finally feels like star trek has recharged its dilithium crystals.

It certainly made this jaded fan believe again, so here’s hoping the record for this particular captain stays open for quite a while.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds launches boldly with three episodes on Paramount+ starting June 22, with new episodes released weekly. Check out a teaser below.

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