Strange New Worlds poster

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

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What it’s about:

This is the prequel fans have been waiting for! This new live-action Star Trek series follows the adventures of Captain Pike—predecessor to Captain James T. Kirk—and his crew on the U.S.S. Enterprise. The show promises a return to the episodic feel of The Original Series, with planet-of-the-week storylines, new aliens as well as familiar ones, and a look at the early days of Starfleet exploration.

Names you might know:

If you watched Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, you’ll know the show’s three stars: Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels) as Captain Pike, Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, The Librarians) as Number One, and Ethan Peck (grandson of Gregory) as Mr. Spock.

Photo Cr: James Dimmock/Paramount+ ©2022 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

You may not know these other actors, but if you watched Star Trek: The Original Series, you definitely know some of their characters. Celia Rose Gooding (a Tony nominee and Grammy winner for Jagged Little Pill on Broadway) plays Cadet Uhura, giving us a glimpse into the early days before Uhura was opening hailing frequencies for Captain Kirk every week. Babs Olusanmokun plays Dr. M’Benga, a character seen twice on Star Trek, Jess Bush plays a very much revamped Nurse Chapel, and Christina Chong is La’an Noonien-Singh, a new character with a nefarious family history familiar to anyone who saw the TOS episode “Space Seed” or the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. (And if you thought that was a rough enough legacy, wait until you hear the details of her own personal backstory.)

And if you’re hankering to see more of T’Pring, Spock’s mysterious fiancée who rejected him on The Original Series, you’re getting your wish. Same for those who want to know more about how the half-Human/half-Vulcan’s personality developed into the one we’ve known all these years from the shouting, smiling character in Star Trek’s first pilot, “The Cage.”

Jonathan Frakes, everyone’s favorite celebrity director (and Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation), was too busy to helm any Season 1 episodes, but you’ll see his expert behind-the-scenes handiwork in Season 2.

You’ll also see plenty of familiar species, and a ship we’ve all come to see as a character in itself: the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701.

Why it’s worth your time:

Live-action Trek has been heavy on serialization and dark themes in its new incarnation (Discovery, Picard), but Strange New Worlds promises a return to the episodic and exuberant original Trek, with new planets to explore, a young fresh crew, and a sense of fun without the long mystery arc that’s been a staple of the other shows. While viewers should expect plenty of callbacks, Easter eggs, and fan service, Strange New Worlds should also be the perfect show to serve as an entry point to the franchise for new fans who felt the other shows were too serialized or required too much knowledge of previous Trek series.

Photo Cr: James Dimmock/Paramount+ ©2022 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

But hey—if you love the new Trek shows, you’ll be happy to see the return of Pike, Spock, and Number One, and see how the dramatic events of Discovery have affected the first two in particular. Pike starts out the series having retreated to the wilds of Montana, sporting a wild beard to show us just how long he’s been there and how he’s been wrestling with the vision of his own future death.

Most of all, you’ll get what Star Trek is famous for: combining sci-fi aliens and adventure with thoughtful takes on philosophical and moral issues, all wrapped up in a futuristic, allegorical package—sometimes heavy handed, other times with a lighter touch, but always aspirational. And Anson Mount has tipped us off that once this Pike has wrestled with his demons, he’s all about the FUN side of space exploration, with a zest for adventure and more casual approach than we might be used to from our other Starfleet captains.

The takeaway:

If you love the idea of an old-fashioned Star Trek that lives up to today’s standards of inclusion and diversity (so, minus the ‘60s sexism), this is going to be right up your alley.

Watch it with:

Old school Star Trek fans, newbies, and sci-fi fans. This one also promises to be more family-friendly than the other live-action shows (but don’t expect a super kid-friendly Star Trek: Prodigy vibe).

Worth noting:

The show’s taking advantage of new AR Wall technology—you could almost call it a holodeck—for many of its planetary visits, and the results are gorgeous. It’s also produced in Toronto, providing plenty of geographical diversity in the area to play with, and we know they’ve already filmed at least one scene in the heart of downtown.

Another fun callback: One of the main characters, Hemmer, is Aenar, a species only seen before on Star Trek: Enterprise. They’re a sub-species of Andorians, so they have antennae, which is fun. They’re all blind and telepathic, and this one is quite the curmudgeon, beautifully played by legally blind actor Bruce Horak.

Expect this to have a long run. Season 2 was announced before they’d finished production on Season 1, and given the amount of enthusiasm around the show, it seems destined for success.

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