Old characters, old starships, new ideas?
CBS is taking Star Trek back to its roots. Mr. Spock, Captain Pike, and Number One return in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds for an optimistic, episodic new adventure.
Strange New Worlds will be the product of fan feedback on the two most recent Star Trek series, Discovery and Picard. It will begin where Discovery left off: the starship Enterprise led by Captain Pike, boldly going where no man has gone before. Ethan Peck will return as Mr. Spock, as will Anson Mount as Pike, and Rebecca Romijn as Number One. The three are set to have another decade of adventure together before Captain Kirk assumes command of the Enterprise, and the timeline of the original series begins.
The series will be written, produced, and directed by an ensemble of familiar faces. Akiva Goldsman and Alex Kurtzman, both pivotal in shaping Discovery and Picard, will resume their leadership positions. Adding a helping hand are Henry Alonso Myers, Jenny Lumet, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Heather Kadin, Aaron Baiers, Akela Cooper, and Davy Perez. Yet despite sharing staff and actors, Strange New Worlds could have very little in common with Picard or Discovery.
“We’re going to try to harken back to some classical Trek values, to be optimistic, and to be more episodic. Obviously, we will take advantage of the serialized nature of character and story building. But I think our plots will be more closed-ended than you’ve seen in either Discovery or Picard,” Goldsman told Variety. “I imagine it to be closer to the original series than even DS9.”
Modern Star Trek is delivered in a format quite unlike any previous entries into the franchise. Discovery tries to disentangle dozens upon dozens of plot lines, and it makes for a gripping series, but one so dense with ideas that it can’t let the dust settle over the serenity of space to create that hallowed Trek atmosphere. Picard does nothing but chase that atmosphere. But its optimistic themes clash with dark content matter, the questions of morality that should define the series are ignored by the characters’ focus on action. An episodic Star Trek series could create a better balance by easing the long term tensions that accelerate the other shows to speeds faster than they can handle.
Nevertheless, a change in format is unlikely to draw in fans that have rejected Discovery and Picard. Fans of earlier Star Trek series commonly accuse ‘new Trek’ of compromising its storytelling by prioritizing populist ideologies over artistic merit. The counterargument is that Star Trek has always been progressive in theme and that rejecting ‘new Trek’ because of its ideas is a sign of personal political bias and not a change in the franchise. Star Trek’s politics are unlikely to change with Strange New Worlds, but unlike Picard, for example, which primarily focuses on discrimination towards synthetic lifeforms, the new show will deal with a variety of themes and that may be easier to digest.
Ethan Peck said, “I believe so much in what we’re doing. I don’t think that there’s ever been a better time for Star Trek, because of its ideology. It’s all about coming together and using the ways that we’re different from one another for the advantage of people as a whole.”
Strange New Worlds will be a CBS All Access exclusive when it releases sometime in the next couple of years.