Building on the success of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek trilogy, Star Trek Discovery introduces a period ten years before the famous exploits of the USS Enterprise led by Captain James T. Kirk.
Instead, we follow the story of the USS Shenzhou and then the USS Discovery, in their war with the infamous foe of Star Fleet, the Klingons. The main protagonist throughout is Star Fleet’s Michael Burnham, endearingly referred to as Number One to honour the character with the same name from the original Star Trek pilot, portrayed by Sonequa Martin-Green.
Showrunner and creator Bryan Fuller purposely gave the character a male name, as well as casting a non-white, female lead. These are themes throughout the show, with the two most prominent characters in the first two episodes being non-white women, as well as a number of LGBTQ characters featuring throughout the show, with their relationships being treated the same as heterosexual relationships.
Other the progressive attitude to casting, the show is aesthetically stunning throughout. It seems very unoriginal at the moment to keep highlighting the consistent improvement in visual effects, but Star Trek Discovery utilises that improvement in the best possible way, using it to provide the sense of scale and grandeur of space that the new Star Wars films fail to achieve.
However, for all of the successes of the casting and cinematography, there are serious drawbacks in the writing and direction of the series. Despite the on-screen chemistry between Martin-Green and Michelle Yeoh, the dialogue in the early episodes of the series is clichéd and occasionally uncomfortable, even though it was delivered well.
Likewise, the Klingons are too one-dimensional, with their portrayal being very typical of Star Trek villains; a seemingly safe choice by those behind the show despite having the option to have a new take on the recurring antagonists. Though die hard Star Trek fans will love deep history that the show goes into, the prologue throughout the early episodes is too long and often at seemingly random points.
I’d recommend those that enjoyed the recent Star Trek films to give this one a go, but anyone new to the Star Trek universe may struggle to stay engaged with this show and see it through to the end.
Last modified: 26th February 2018