Title: Star Trek: Discovery – Series Premiere Review
Air Date: September 24rd, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama
(Before beginning, I’d like to note that this review is a week late due to personal issues and taking a wrong turn in a time warp!)
It’s been 12 long years since fans have been able to consume a Star Trek television show, ever since Enterprise was canceled by UPN in 2005. While the J.J Abram’s movies may have satisfied some, truly hardcore fans have missed the culture, unique sense of wonder, and interesting science fiction storytelling. Based on its first two premiere episodes, Star Trek: Discovery has a lot of potential to harken in a new, modernized era of Trek tv dominance, but also has a lot of bumps in the road to overcome.
Despite the fact that I don’t think the older shows have aged entirely too well, the series carries some of the most unique themes and storytelling in all of Sci-Fi. While most Science Fiction focuses on action-oriented stories, Star Trek is about exploration. From the outset, the new series has promised to uphold and modernize those ideas, but the premier has me somewhat worried that is not the case.
The majority of the story of the double feature premiere, “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle at the Binary Stars,” surrounds the discovery and hostile engagement of a long (somewhat) forgotten race. So instead of a focus on exploration, Star Trek: Discovery immediately falls into two cliches home to Sci-Fi entertainment right off the bat. Yes, it makes sense that this would occur since it’s based around the Klingons, a warrior species, and it makes sense they’d introduce such an important race so early, but it all seems far too aggressive for the series to start with.
On top of that, I really hope that the exposition-heavy dialogue and scene sequencing stops soon. Exposition is necessary and important, no matter how boring it can be sometimes, to build a world and introduce new characters, but Star Trek: Discovery was laced with far too many flashbacks and tell don’t show scene. This is encapsulated within the first few minutes of the premiere, in the scenes where Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) are walking on a desert planet.
All that being said, Star Trek: Discovery really nails it looks and feel. Space has always been so alluring because of its vast, unknown depth. The sheer scope showed off in the premiere embodies that feeling perfectly. Be it shots of the Shenzhou floating in space or Burnham’s flight, the visuals are breathtaking. Despite my dislike for the current plot, the ambiance is perfect too. As soon as the Klingon ships warp in, there is an immediate sense of dread that overcomes the scene.
Alongside that, the make up department has done wonders modernizing and humanizing the few aliens we have seen so far. I found myself immediately connecting with Lt. Saru (Doug Jones) despite the fact that he is a lanky, odd-looking creature. While I am not fluent in regards to Spock’s character from previous iterations of the series, Saru gives off a very similar vibe, and will easily become a fan favorite. The show’s lead, Sonequa Martin-Green, still has a long way to go with winning me over though.
Sonequa Martin-Green casting as a main character is certainly an interesting one, as just about every lead in the past has been male, white, and the captain of the ship. While are those glass ceiling breaking attributes are certainly commendable, it doesn’t make up for the somewhat rigid performance Martin-Green has given off so far as Michael Burnham. Whether it’s how she delivers her lines or expressions, so far I haven’t wanted to root for her character. It doesn’t help that she has been given a prodigy, orphan backstory, though the adoption and subsequent relationship with the Vulcans is really interesting.
I’m willing to attribute a lot of the rough edges to trying to establish the series and the world so that it can get up and running, but I hope that the show’s focus will shift sooner rather than later. If it doesn’t, I’m afraid it will get lost in the shuffle of all the other action-filled shows that are on television nowadays. Be sure to check out the review for each episode of Star Trek: Discovery immediatly after it airs on CBS All Access every Sunday.
VERDICT: Star Trek: Discovery’s series premiere was filled with a lot of good and bad, but there is no doubt that the show has potential. Despite exposition-heavy dialogue and flashbacks and an unrelatable lead character, I am itching for more lore and especially visuals in the show. There is still a long way to go in the first season, so I will be sticking around to see how it plays out, and I think you should too.
- Stunning visuals, ambiance, and character makeup
- Doug Jones as Lt. Saru
- Exposition aplenty
- More discovery, less action-driven plot
- Sonequa Martin-Green's acting