We finally have a trailer for the new Star Trek TV series to watch a thousand times and chew on for rampant speculation. In the midst of CBS's Upfront presentation of their new fall lineup, the first look at Star Trek: Discovery was unveiled, which will be released on the network's All Access streaming app later this year.
I've watched the trailer more than a few times now and the best way that I, a Star Trek fan for the last 26 years of my life can describe it is to blatantly steal the signature catchphrase line from one of my favorite characters in the franchise, Mr. Spock:
I will admit, because of all of the stories and issues that I had heard about this show, from Bryan Fuller's role changing to constant delays and reported setbacks, my expectations for this were low and it was largely off the radar for me. The thing is, it doesn't take much for Star Trek to get back on my radar and this trailer certainly accomplished that pretty fast.
Visually, it looks as gorgeous as the Kelvin Timeline movies do, but clearly on a TV budget, which is interesting considering the word is that this show takes place in the Prime Timeline, ten years before the adventures of James T. Kirk and the Enterprise begin. That might be a peculiar choice, especially considering how much of a struggle it could be to envision this show's future looking like the push-button click "old future" of The Original Series produced from 1966 to 1968. I guarantee that new fans of the Kelvin Timeline are going to be confused at some point, especially if Discovery references Prime Timeline events involving the Enterprise crew members directly. In the Prime Timeline, we see them all together in 2266 for the first time, but in the Kelvin Timeline they come together nine years "too early" in 2257. We'll have to wait and see how the show treats the foreshadowing of The Original Series and its characters.
On that note about characters, this first look trailer didn't give us a look at everyone set to be in the show, most notably absent being Jason Isaacs who will play Captain Lorca of the Starship Discovery. We do however see the main character of this ensemble cast, Sonequa Martin-Green who is previously known from The Walking Dead and Once Upon a Time. She will play First Officer Michael Burnham of the Discovery and during the course of this first look trailer, we see her paired with MIchelle Yeoh's Captain Phillipa Georgiou, who commands the Shenzhou. So that's an interesting choice, right? Our first look at the main character is with the other captain that she served with, not the one that she will serve with on the ship that the show is named for. Believe it or not, that could be a clue in itself as to how this show's structure is going to be built.
One of the key announcements made by CBS for this show also involved the episode count for Season 1, which will be 15 episodes total. Previous Star Trek shows on NBC and UPN had been earmarked for 24 to 26 episodes a season, but 15 is right in the middle range of what cable dramas are doing now with 10 to 16 episode seasons. It's clear that this new Trek show will be modernized not only with VFX but also with TV structure for shows of this type today. It also likely means that it will be more serialized and focus on story arcs as opposed to being deftly episodic and self-contained within each episode, also a trend of modern dramatic television.
Aside from secondary crew-members and a number of aliens, including what appears to be a radically different design for the Klingons, we see Doug Jones' character Saru, a science officer whose species is brand new to us, and Sarek, played by James Frain. Frain is a very interesting casting choice for Sarek in that as an actor, he has been comfortably playing bad guys for a while now on shows like Grimm and Gotham. Sarek, the father of Spock is anything but a villain in the Star Trek universe and if this show holds true to the Prime Timeline, then this will be a definite departure for Fraim and it will be intriguing to see how he plays it.
Very little, if anything about the plot of Discovery has been revealed yet, but it is said to focus on exploration and seeking out new life as the original charter of Star Trek began on. The trailer and subsequent poster for the show tell us that Martin-Green's Burnham clearly has a Vulcan connection, but appears to be and act pretty human so it will be interesting to see what her personal dynamics are. It is a departure from previous versions of the show to focus on a ship's first officer instead of the captain, but that is an intriguingly welcome change of pace in my opinion and presents an entirely new angle to see these stories with. I also like that her character is being referred to as Number One, an homage to the original version played by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry in The Cage pilot episode for The Original Series (TOS).
There's a lot of questions about Star Trek Discovery that are yet to be answered even with this first look trailer dropping, and it is admittedly somewhat all over the place in terms of what the show is supposed to be doing in the trailer, but Star Trek is one of those franchises that you have to at least give a shot before deciding yay or nay on it. Just as with the Kelvin Timeline movies, you're going to have die-hard fans that have a big problem with it and likely already hate the uniforms and insignias that look very different from TOS and even the Kelvin Timeline crew, but it's a good thing that CBS and the show runners are not to be deterred on that and are proceeding as planned. Like I said before, I've been a Trekkie for 26 years of my life and a new Star Trek show simply always has my attention, even if I end up not liking it. It deserves a fair shake though and I can't wait to give it one this fall on CBS All Access.