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My Hot Take on the Star Trek: Discovery Trailer

You’ll have to give me a minute. I just watched the new Star Trek: Discovery trailer, and I’m struggling to adjust. See, I had been led to believe this new show was to be a return to The Original Series/Next Generation canon, making a clean break from the revived Abrams’ timeline. That may, in fact, still be true, but holy hell does this just look a TV show version of the Abrams movies, with plenty of lens flare (drink! – someone said lens flare while talking about Abrams) to spare and a return of the Into Darkness version of Klingons. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I generally enjoy the Abrams movies, but I wasn’t expecting Discovery to remind me of them, albeit with more Enterprise-like costumes and less of an Apple store vibe for the ship’s interior.

Talk amongst yourselves while I gather myself. Here’s the trailer if you haven’t already seen it:

Quick film score nerd note: At the very end of the trailer, the Jerry Goldsmith Star Trek fanfare finally plays over the logo, but it feels entirely out of place. That music simply does not go with those visuals. Instead, they should be more honest with themselves and use Michael Giacchino’s fantastic main theme from the Abrams movies.

Pushing my expectations vs. reality conundrum aside, what are we to make of what we just saw? Andrew Cunningham at ARS pretty well nailed it:

As a lifelong fan my impulse is to be pretty forgiving of Trek, but the trailer doesn’t do much for me. In some ways, it’s Trek-by-numbers: warp signatures are detected, crewmembers are beamed up, (newly redesigned and honestly sort of off-putting) Klingons are engaged, computers are spoken to, objects are viewed onscreen, frontiers are explored. But a few wooden performances and editing that leaps wildly from scene to obviously unrelated scene does the trailer no favors.

Part of the problem is that the trailer aggressively avoids anything that could be called a “spoiler” for the show ahead, making it hard to say just what kind of stories Discovery is trying to tell. We see a few landscapes, a few interior and exterior shots of Discovery itself, and what looks to be a Klingon meeting. But we lack context, and it isn’t helped by broad world-is-gonna-end dialogue that is ratcheted up to soap opera levels of melodrama.

Plus, there’s an alien who actually says, “My people were biologically determined for one purpose alone: to sense the coming of death; I sense it coming now.” In-context, that might make all the sense in the world. Out of context, it’s so groan-worthy I’d swear they slipped in a scene from the Orville trailer where at least they could play the line for comedy.

Ultimately, I don’t have a good sense of what this show is yet. It’s called Star Trek and has some of the classic Star Trek trappings, but what’s actually in that trailer doesn’t do much to communicate character or plot other than “again with the Klingons” and a vague sense of prequel wanderlust and thirst for discovery, which, really, didn’t Enterprise already try to sell us on that same kind of thing? I gather we’re in store for the Klingon-Starfleet war, have Sonequa Martin-Green as the female lead and the special effects are top notch. So, that’s something, but not enough to overly impress.

And now I probably sound like one of those “that’s not my Star Trek!” cynics. That’s not my intent. I’d like to believe I’d be saying the same thing if this was just some trailer for a new SyFy Original Series, not something coming to us with Star Trek branding. The show CBS is peddling looks fairly muddled, and also surprisingly drab and dark in terms of its color palette. It also just happens to be called Star Trek.

And I’ll totally watch all 15 episodes when the season starts sometime in the fall.

Wait, what?

Yeah. Dude. It’s Star Trek!

So, CBS’s many delays and cynical branding hasn’t deterred you at all?

Well, it’s certainly lowered my expectations, and if I’m being more honest I won’t automatically watch all 15 episodes just because it’s Star Trek. But I’ll watch the pilot for sure. I’m a nerd. It’s Star Trek. I have to watch it. Them’s the rules.

Do you dare defy the rules? Huh. Do you? No, seriously. I’m talking to you, the reader, now. What do you think of the trailer? Beam down to the comments to let…did I seriously just say “beam down”?

Yep. That’s right. I closed out with a lame Star Trek joke because of course I did.

Source: ARS


  1. I’ll watch it. But I don’t expect to love it. Star Trek on TV hasn’t done well for a long time. Enterprise had so much potential but it never even came close. So, I don’t expect Discovery to be great. And I hate that it’s more like Abram’s Trek than Roddenberry’s.

  2. Oh dear!! This is a pure cash in. All I can see here is a corporate boardroom with producers saying “Its been 50 years since star trek started, how do we make some money?” “Another Star Trek Movie?” “Nah they all have let their contracts lapse and that last sequel was a bit on the ropes for the money we spent”. “What about a TV show?” “Nah we cant do that we milked them for decades remember? We did one on a ship then a next gen reboot chaging all the character behaviours and mixing up the uniform colours too, then one where they stayed at a base so we could use old western storylines and recycle them into sci-fi stories”. “We also did one where the ship gets lost and has to find home”. “What about a prequel?” “No we done that too and it was the weakest of the lot. Everyone expected it to be like TSO but instead they got something else”. “Ok Nobody leaves until we get a new idea.. you know like a Malibu Stacy with a Hat”. ”
    This TV show is not needed. It isn’t Battle Star Galactica in the reboot vein. Its a cash in on our nostalgia. The programme is in trouble. See Prison Break, Dallas and 24 Legacy for other examples. And I’m sure the teaser before said mostly new aliens. This trailer shows Klingons. Always with the Klingons. Couldn’t they have taken on some different aliens from TSO that we also remember given this is a nostalgia trip.What have they done to the Klingons anyway. They don’t look like the movies, the next gen, Enterprise or TSO? Considering Enterprise tried their best to bridge that these guys have unravelled it all.ARGH how many more days before the Han Solo movie comes out!!!

    1. Well, you know, they’ve got to make money on all the nostalgia and the 50 years thing, so who better to do that then the Klingons!? – Or the Romulans, cause they were in TOS, too, but it’s harder to re-do their look to make them appear all badass and such, lol! So they use Klingons, ’cause they look cooler, which is all people want anyway, right, a cool looking movie? Forget the fans and what they want and totally forget Rodenberry and decades of work on a great franchise, let’s look cool and blow crap up! ;P (((this is meant as funny/sarcastic in case that wasn’t obvious)))

  3. It’s weird to me. It looks more like cinema than television.

    Was it really a trailer? It felt more like a teaser. I don’t know what the show is actually about. I know it’s based on Star Trek but it doesn’t even reveal the premise. Is it about exploration, diplomacy and/or warfare?

    1. All fine questions, really.

      For starters, perhaps I – and many others – misspoke by calling this a trailer. It more resembles a teaser, which communicates tone, not plot, than it does an actual trailer. Even so, the fact that it’s left us with the “what is this show even about?” question is not good.

      “Is it about exploration, diplomacy and/or warfare?”

      The trailer wants to have it both ways, emphasizing the sense of joy in being explorers in the even wilder west of pre-Kirk space while also throwing lots of warfare at us. My understanding is that there has long since been a referenced, but never-depicted Klingon-Starfleet war, one wich Into Darkness seemed like it was finally setting up to be shown on screen. Then they dropped it, but Bryan Fuller stepped forward with an idea for how to do it as a heavily serialized TV show.

      But I am by no means as knowledgeable about Trek lore as, well, the internet. So, I could be wrong about the exact timing of the Klingon-Starfleet war. However, I am looking at Discovery under the assumption that this will be very similar to the final season of Enterprise, with Klingons in place of the Xindi.

      An actual trailer, whenever it arrives, will hopefully clear up a lot of things.

      1. In TNG, Riker reminisced about the old days of Star Fleet — when there was less structure and more guns a blazin’.

        That’s what Enterprise should have been. It’s would Discover could be, but won’t.

        Sad. I would really enjoy a Star Trek where they’re like wandering around the old west. No law, other than what you can enforce, yourself.

      2. I dont want to watch a klingon tv show. Moght as well watch a tv show about storm troopers

      3. Both TNG and DS9 had seasons which were particularly Klingon heavy, and I wasn’t crazy about either of them. So, I’m not exactly dying to see this on Discovery, but I’m also not someone who has learned to speak Klingon, which is one of those pop culture cliches for how you can tell if someone is a super-duper nerd. Not throwing stones or not meaning to, just saying Klingon culture has never really grabbed me. But I know that it means a lot to a lot of fans which leads me to assume there are probably a bunch out there who have een dying to see this Starfleet-Klingon war.

      4. That is pathetic. Its like watching doctor who and the baddies always being daleks. That shows lack of imagination. Especially as this was promised to be different to other treks. I am calling bs on this.

      5. I’m not even sure if I am being overly harsh by asking what this show is about. With DSN, “Voyager” and “Enterprise”, they had a premise that can be summarized in a sentence eg “Starfleet ship gets stranded in never before explored space and it’s going to take them hundreds of years to get home”. Bam! You’ve given your friend/significant other a quick entry point to understanding what we are watching.
        With TOS and TNG, the premise is even simpler “Space adventures” (but TNG had a theme that bookended the series that I mostly forgot about – Q judging the fate of humanity based upon the TNG crew).

        “The trailer wants to have it both ways, emphasizing the sense of joy in being explorers in the even wilder west of pre-Kirk space while also throwing lots of warfare at us. ”

        Indeed. Ultimately, all Trek shows had a mixture of things – there were a lot of episodes and each episode emphasized something different… usually. I probably should look up the trailers for the previous shows. I wonder if they are mixing it up because people who started at JJA Trek want action and traditional viewers want the exploration and diplomacy.

        “My understanding is that there has long since been a referenced, but never-depicted Klingon-Starfleet war”

        I’m not sure when/if the Klingon-Starfleet war took place. I’m also too lazy to look it up in Memory Alpha. I can’t even remember what happened regarding conflict in “Enterprise”. The only thing I remember is the Organian (Forced) Peace Treaty from “Errand of Mercy”. Starfleet has many wars off-screen.

        I’m assuming that the idea of having a different crew and different era for each season is dead now?

      6. Its orginal star trek times but watching it from the point of view of an officer rather than a captain. It will damage the star trek movies for sure.

      7. Maybe I just don’t “get it”. Following a single character is not a premise – it’s a manner of storytelling. I don’t even think it would be good one for the show since one of the things that made Trek interesting and complex was there were diverse characters with different perspectives.

        I also don’t think it will be stuck to either. All Trek some shows have had episodes focusing on one character then another. It’s too limiting.

      8. The “let’s follow a single character” track Discovery appears to be taking is likely just their effort to do something new, like one of those character-centric episodes but as the whole season instead of a mere single episode. However, it flies in the face of every single Trek show which came before, and probably will not be something they actually adhere to throughout the season or else everyone in the cast not named Sonequa Martin-Green will have jack shit to do.

      9. Agreed. They didn’t cast Jason Isaacs just to kind of be around in the background.

        I remember TNG did an episode near its end where we focused entirely on younger officers on the Enterprise, one whose daily lives only occasionally intersected with the main crew members. It was kind of fun to see their alternate views of Riker and what-not, and what they would talk about in their free time together. That’s what I thought Discovery was going to be when I first heard the main character wouldn’t be the Captain and would actually hob-knob with a bunch of other also-rans on the ship. I was very, very wrong, though. I don’t believe Martin-Green will carry this show like the trailer indicates, but it sure looks like she’ll be on that bridge a lot, not some junior officer still working up the ranks. In retrospect, it probably makes more sense to do it this way than what I had envisioned.

      10. Actually Kelly you may be onto something there. Imagine they had used the original start trek crew or the remake ones (lookalikes or discount substitute actors) and then shot it the way you said they did at the end of TNG with younger officers occasionally bumping into them. I’d watch that. Seeing the original crew but through the eyes of more junior staff would be interesting .especially if they occasionally revisted the orginal stories like tribbles or original Klingons but could still have new stories too. Boom I smell a production right there.

      11. “Seeing the original crew but through the eyes of more junior staff would be interesting .especially if they occasionally revisted the orginal stories like tribbles or original Klingons but could still have new stories too. Boom I smell a production right there.”

        That’s an original idea on reusing something that used to be original.

        Boom! It is a stinker. Remarkably awful idea for several reasons.

        Firstly it’s a side-quel. We know how the episodes end as soon as we realize which episode is being side-quelled.
        Secondly why should anyone care about these minor characters *every* week? They are going to be 99% passive to events outside their control. The interesting things will be done by the bridge crew – the original will have Sulu fly carefuĺly through an asteroid field while redshirt hears a red alert klaxon and occasional thuds on the hull or Scotty prevents a warp core breach while redshirt hands over a spanner. They will do their jobs and be mostly competant but who cares? So do most people in real life.

      12. There’s a reason this is not the direction Discovery went with it. As for interacting with the old shows, DS9 already did that with its Trouble with Tribble tribute episode. So, it can be done, but as a one-off, not as a whole show.

      13. Thats exactly why the new star trek will also fail. I saw the trails and tribbleations episode and was great but hardly serious. The enterprise takes loads of crew to run. It is possible other crew members are pivitol. This new show sounds as appealing as an extended cut of the cage pilot

  4. I used to come home from school every day and watch the reruns of the classic series in the 70’s. I really liked TNG, for the most part. I watched the first season of Deep Space 9, but it became such a soap opera that I quit watching. When Voyager started, I tried it, but hated Janeway and the fact that they were always portrayed as the victims, and quit after a few episodes. Finally, Enterprise: didn’t watch it, heard it was worse than Voyager. Here’s hoping the new series is good, but I’ll be waiting to hear it is from you all before I sink any time into watching it.

    1. Thanks for sharing your Trek history, and I feel like your experience with each individual show is fairly common. My experience, as I recall it, is watching the Trek movies as a kid in the 80s, then TNG via syndication, then quitting DS9 after that first season, somehow sticking with Voyager first-run before bailing on the final season and dropping back in for the finale and bailing on Enterprise after maybe just 3 or 4 episodes. I eventually circled back around to TOS, DS9 and Enterprise thanks to Netflix, and have a love-hate relationship with the Abrams movies. My first Captain is technically Kirk, but the first real Captain I loved is Picard.

      And after seeing all of that I’m still disappointed in how subpar Discovery looks. However, I try to keep reminding myself that every single Trek show other than TOS had a generally crappy first season or even first couple of seasons. Discovery won’t be afforded nearly as wide a birth, but it’s entirely possible nay likely that it might not be great out of the gate. But, yeah, I’ll be giving it a chance and reporting back on this site.

      1. Sorry? Opinion seems to be dividied on The Orville (if I’m remembering the show title correctly). I’m in the crowd of thinking it looks fairly awful; others are looking forward to it more than they are Star Trek: Discovery.

  5. I’ll definitely check it out. I’m not sure what to expect, either. I haven’t even seen Beyond yet; I’m not in a big rush since I haven’t heard good things about it and I’ve been unsure about the way the Trek universe has been handled in the re-boots, but the new series should be interesting nonetheless. I’m mostly curious about the story lines, since I figured they’ll take a page from Abrams’ films in regards to the visuals. That being said, I didn’t hate the visual aspect of the re-boots, and I actually loved the re-booted Klingon look in Into Darkness; I was, like many fans am concerned with the prioritizing of visual over story. Also, I don’t know if you know this, but the video isn’t showing up in your article.

  6. I’m going around the internet looking for one thing. People who also puzzle at the sensing death thing.


    Sense death? By giant spaceships flying around and threatening atomic rage at each other? Or by communion with future timelines? Ah, the whole species?

    I just can’t think of what would make this sensical (if still noncompelling) other than one thing I read somewhere: maybe his people are a humanoind version of vultures. The bald head and neck would seem ideal for plunging right into piles of necrotized flesh.

    Other than that, it sounds utterly like magic or predestination and even though Star Trek has had its share of mystical mumbo jumbo I find ut suffers every time. People love Deana Troi yet no one thinks her best moments were when she was ms. feeling-at-a-distance. I haye this one aspect of the trailer.

    Everything else is fine – Klingons, lighting, ship design, ‘social justice casting’, prequelness, vulcan snobbery, half-vulcans, bla bla bla. All explainable and matter of taste.

    But sensing death? Crewman why wasn’t that in your personel file? I would have called on you (and your whole extended family) before last week’s mission when we lost 14 crew due to bad planning!

      1. And maybe right before the deaths happen they see little gray, gremlin-esque monsters setting about altering things to bring about the deaths, but they can’t tell anyone about it because no one else can see those damn little monsters.

      2. In 5 years, you’ll be writing a really interesting article about how Discovery would have been with Fuller onboard and integrated with the Fullerverse. I wonder if Muffin Buffalo is still around in the 23rd century.

      1. I disagree. Deana and any character with these skills are just ex machinas for movies. A cheat. The best example of this is team america world police (why didnt they make a sequel) where the person would use these sensorary skills to state the obvious. Cant see what this show brings to the franchise yet.

      2. I actually think we are in agreement, or maybe it is I who misunderstood Christian’s comment. I thought his point was that while people admire and enjoy Troi they generally do so in spite of her uselessness as a glorified mood ring on the bridge. The type of science she espoused was more or less Roddenberry and others’ effort to glom on to the hot trend of psychotherapy, and while that paid some dividends when she actually acted as a therapist in one-on-one sessions with the crew it was often outright laughable when she was constantly telling Picard vague emotion-sensing stuff which any sensible viewer could discern on their own from context clues. “I sense great anger in him,” she said. “Yeah, no shit, Troi,” thought Picard.

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