‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Review: Playful Retro Romp Sets Phasers to Fun


The USS Enterprise is again and boldly returning to its original-series roots in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Beaming right down to planets! Weird diseases! Submarines in house! Shirts coming off!

Strange New Worlds premieres on Paramount Plus this Thursday May 5, with new episodes streaming each week. Right from the off, it is a rollicking go back to the standard Trek that longtime fanatics would possibly’ve ignored within the contemporary wave of mold-breaking Star Trek displays like Discovery, Lower Decks, Prodigy and Picard. From its stirring new take at the iconic theme track from Star Trek: The Original Series, to chunky bridge consoles, a square-jawed captain and weekly episodic adventures, the sequence is a playfully unfashionable romp.

That mentioned, Strange New Worlds takes the standard Trek components and stirs in more-modern parts, like deeper personality backstories and overarching storylines. But that is a long way looser than in Discovery and Picard, that have been powered nearly solely by way of ongoing plotlines.

The sequence starts with Captain Christopher Pike hiding out within the snows of Montana after his misadventures in Star Trek: Discovery. You do not want to have stored up with Discovery: All you wish to have to grasp is he is haunted by way of visions of his personal dying and it is made him sprout a large beard. Adventure briefly intrudes on Pike’s introspection, alternatively, as a Starfleet commute sweeps in and whisks him again to the Enterprise on a rescue challenge to save lots of his trusty first officer.

Celia Rose Gooding as endearing younger Cadet Uhura in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

James Dimmock/Paramount Plus

And then it is off to the races. In the primary 5 episodes made to be had to press, the Starship Enterprise has a brand new journey each and every week, doing vintage Trek stuff like investigating comets and negotiating treaties. Allegories are unsubtle. Lessons are realized in private logs. And the manufacturing design additionally sidesteps certainly one of my private bugbears about Discovery, that it used to be supposed to be a prequel but appeared extra technologically complex than any of the Trek that supposedly got here after. Strange New Worlds tempers this with its satisfyingly chunky starship aesthetic, all fireplace engine pink surfaces and bodily regulate consoles. 

Following the daring however quite divisive departure from the Trek components in Discovery and Picard, it is tempting to peer Strange New Worlds as an olive department to disgruntled fanatics. Within mins the display mentions Bob April, the USS Archer, Lieutenant Kirk and quite a lot of different bits of continuity which can make a Trekker’s pointy ears perk up. Cleverly, despite the fact that, a few of these references be offering a bait-and-switch to stay you for your ft.

While there are a number of new faces, the display takes its cue from the film reboots to deliver us new takes on vintage characters like Nurse Chapel and Cadet Uhura, led by way of Captain Pike and Number One (who seemed in the first actual Sixties pilot episode sooner than being changed by way of the workforce we all know and love). And the advent of stricken younger officer La’an Noonien-Singh is an impressed setup for long term drama. I’m in particular intrigued by way of a teasing glimpse of an normal sequence enemy given a heightened air of risk and worry.

The new Enterprise workforce: Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura, Melissa Navia as Ortegas, Ethan Peck as Spock, Bruce Horak as Hemmer, Anson Mount as Captain Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Una, Jess Bush as Chapel, Christina Chong as La’an and Baby Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga.

Paramount Plus

At the center of the display is Anson Mount’s Captain Pike. Sort of a brand new personality but additionally kind of an outdated one, Pike suffers from being somewhat too very similar to Captain Kirk. Dispensing down-home, Western-inflected knowledge from the captain’s chair, Pike is principally Kirk with grey streaks. His nation retreat even seems like Kirk’s dream domestic in Generations. But the square-jawed but twinkling Mount is an immensely captivating chief, and generously stocks the highlight with a workforce of officials who’re extra rounded than earlier bridge crews.

Celia Rose Gooding is especially endearing as younger Cadet Uhura, whilst Christina Chong will get the meatiest drama as La’an. For my cash, Ethan Peck is not as Spock-y because the smoldering Zachary Quinto within the films, however his dynamic with the remainder of the workforce is a laugh to look at. Rebecca Romijn has a bit of of a thankless activity taking part in a stern first officer who is not Spock, however the display offers her enough room and a spotlight to slowly expand a personality of her personal.

While Strange New Worlds without a doubt hearkens again to Star Trek: The Original Series, that does not imply it is staid or overly reverent. It’s playful, zingy stuff, pushed by way of a various forged having a laugh working round of their swish Starfleet uniforms. When I say the sequence takes its cue from the film reboot (starring Chris Pine as Captain Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock and Zoe Saldana as Uhura), I imply that those are more youthful variations of the acquainted characters. Younger, and sexier. Spock has his blouse off within the first 10 mins, and is readily tractor-beamed towards a love triangle with Chapel’s adorkable flirt, sparkily performed by way of Jess Bush.

And just like the film reboots and up to date TV displays, the total tone is playful and quippy. These Starfleet officials one way or the other make time for Joss Whedon-esque banter and soul-baring emotional confessions even at life-and-death moments. This helps to keep issues energetic, despite the fact that your mileage would possibly range with a constant barrage of strains like, “We without a doubt pissed them off!” whilst they are supposed to be busy dodging photon torpedoes. Also, you might roll your eyes at each and every successively extra melodramatic revelation of overwrought tragic backstory for reputedly everybody at the send.

Still, Strange New Worlds is the Paramount Plus Trek display that in any case relaxes and embraces the vintage Trek structure, whilst nonetheless feeling contemporary and leading-edge. It jogged my memory of the 2005 Doctor Who revival: Clearly made with love by way of fanatics of the unique sequence, it jazzes up the theme track, appears deeper into the emotional dynamics between characters and whisks you off your toes with fast moving motion. If that insects you, neatly, return for your starbase and your TOS VHS, Admiral Fun-Sponge. 

It continues to be observed how this new sequence will expand its ongoing plot threads via its episodic structure. But to start with look, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is agreeable, irreverent hokum. Sure, beam me up, why now not.


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