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.
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.