Strange New Worlds: Star Trek can still be fun

With 10 episodes, the Paramount series “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” concluded its first season last Thursday (July 7th). First impression: very likeable, although not without weaknesses.

Most Star Trek series are now continuous narratives that are fed to the audience in weekly chunks. Starship Enterprise: The Next Century (1987) started this trend with recurring characters like Q and the Borg. Sister series/successor “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (1992) consistently relied on a continuous framework story from the third season, which developed further with each episode.

Subsequent Trek series such as “Spaceship Voyager” (1994) and “Enterprise” (2001) consistently continued the idea of ​​the following comprehensive story arcs (arcs). The advantage: loyal viewers who keep watching even if the quality of the episodes fluctuates to find out how everything turns out. The disadvantage: If viewers didn’t want to lose touch, they had to remember all sorts of details. Anyone who joined in the middle of a season quickly lost track.

“Discovery” (2017) and “Picard” (2019) are more film-like miniseries, the consequences of which lead from one cliffhanger end to the next like book chapters. Not so with “Strange New Worlds”, where each episode satisfactorily concludes at least one story arc.

However, the episodes are not completely independent: Here, too, there are broader story arcs to keep the viewer hooked. Some arcs will be resolved within the season, others have remained open. After all, the filming of the second season has already been completed; it is to follow in 2023.

The order of “Strange New Worlds” is complicated: The plot begins after the rejected pilot episode of the first Starship Enterprise series “The Cage” (The Cage), ties directly to the second season “Star Trek: Discovery” and must necessarily end before the “classic” series from 1966. Everything is fine so far?

The lynchpin of the new series is the starting point for the entire franchise, Starfleet’s flagship, the USS Enterprise. Many well-known names ring out in the corridors: Mr. Spock, Lt. Uhura, Nurse Chapel. And also lesser known: At T’Pring, Lt. Kyle and Sam Kirk expertly click their tongues, especially at Trek veterans.

The central triple constellation on the bridge was last introduced in the second season of “Discovery”: Captain Pike, Number One and a very young Spock.

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The central triangle of “Strange New Worlds”: Rebecca Romijn as Number One, Anson Mount as Captain Pike and Ethan Peck as Spock
(Image: Paramount)

Anson Mount plays Captain Christopher Pike with an intriguing blend of authority, charisma and empathy. Rebecca Romijn as Number One initially seems strict and unapproachable, but has a soft core – and finally a definitive name: Una Chin-Riley. Ethan Peck reprises his role as the immature half-Vulcan Spock, who even grins at first – but his Discovery season beard is history.

Nyota Uhura is still at the very beginning of her career here: Despite all her technical skills, she is still unsure whether Starfleet really suits her. Like great uhura Nichelle Nichols, the new iteration is showing her singing voice early on – actress Celia Rose Gooding is a renowned Broadway star.

The new Christine Chapel makes a much more independent impression than her ancestor: while the Ur-Chapel (Majel Barrett) still looked after her patients with her hair pinned up and a tight skirt, the current embodiment (Jess Bush) wears a platinum blonde curly hairstyle and a white one-piece suit.

The rest of the crew of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” are new characters: the fun-resistant security chief La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) finds her counterbalance in the sarcastic helmswoman Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia). The widower Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), around the engine room the blind Andorian Hemmer (Bruce Horak), and around the transporter the young Chief Kyle (André Dae Kim).

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