Even though it is still struggling to make its way to the starting gate, after a lot strife behind the scenes, the new Star Trek television series is still set to drop this fall on CBS All Access, and they finally are just now letting us have a look with the first full trailer. A few things to keep in mind: despite the fact that the original release date for this series was to be January of this year, there was no way all the stars (ha ha) were going to line up to make such a date, especially after show runner Bryan Fuller left due to creative differences, and they are still filming this things, so it seems logical (ha bloody ha) that the footage we are seeing is not so much from the series itself as it is from the pilot episode, and the effects are still needing a bit of extra polish. Also, after watching it, I got on some YouTube channel to hear some fans (who were clearly more in the loop as to the production of this series than I have been) and they started yapping about the Shenzou, which sounds like a futuristic dog breed, but is actually the name of a ship that will feature prominently in the pilot episode’s story. Maybe something happens to that ship and at the end of the pilot the crew (or at least a few of them) will find their way to the Discovery) or that the Shenzou (insert high-pitched dog yapping sound here) will actually itself become (ooooh!) the Discovery. The point: the ship we see in the trailer may or not be the Discovery.
We actually barely get a look at the ship anyway. It’s fine, I suppose. Note about that later.
That all aside, what did I, a long time Trek fan, think of this thing? I liked it well enough, I guess. But I don’t know. It still bugs me that CBS is gonna throw this series on Netflix so everyone in the civilized world can watch for free but they are going to make us Americans pay extra to see it in on their new channel, CBS All Access. So, with that hatred flowing through me (good… good). I tuned into the trailer and could see that they are putting their money where their mouth is, as the interiors of the ship come across as sleek, shiny and impressive, and they opted to film in real deserts that the SFX team have tweaked to make these places actually look like alien planets. Like Enterprise, this series takes place before the original series but it can’t look as dated as that series was, I suppose. Putting aside some mild disappointment that they can’t do a whole series on a 60’s style Constitution-class starship (I mean it worked fine on Enterprise’s “In a Mirror Darkly Part 2” so why not?) I was curious to see whatever was new. We got new a bridge new bridge, new uniforms, new Klingons, and wooden acting.
Supposedly the main character is not the captain but is the first officer. Ok, we will see how that goes. My guess, based on the trailer, is that she’s a human raised by Vulcans. Also one of those Vulcans we saw might be Sarek. There is a new alien that talks all stolid and can sniff out the sense of death. And I am still not sure if I like the new Klingon look or not.
I guess that I’m just too bitter to really know what I think of the series. I’ve watched so much Trek over forty years of my life, and for all that time, I’d play old episodes in the background while doing other things. I never minded and always respected how each series kind of evolved and then one day I found that I watched it so much that I went well beyond the breaking point and that I just can’t watch Trek anymore. I can’t be objective about it, and watching the new trailer was just another “captain we have Klingons” and no doubt someone will fire first and then someone will give a grand speech about humanity and how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. I’m sure it will be great, and, with it being a new series, it will have a fresh take on the material. But at this point, can this franchise do anything that can surprise me?
Well, I suppose its attempt to frustrate me by asking me to subscribe to a new channel counts as surprising. Thanks. Maybe I’ll just watch some of the older ships fire on some Klingons.
Normally I’d end that review, such as it is, right there, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Seth McFarland spoof The Orville which automatically makes me think of Galaxy Quest, as its a “look at how witty I am” Star Trek spoof. I actually like GQ, I suppose for its fresh take on being a sci fi celebrity and how cast-members are not actually the crew their rabid fans pretend them to be, but in general these live action satires don’t sit will with me. Trek broke new ground in sci-fi storytelling when it came out in the 60’s and that was more important than the cheesy parts that are way to easy a target, specially when Trek isn’t afraid to poke fun at them within it’s own continuity. It already rides the line of being its own satire, and other live action satires can feel like smarmy put-downs of a series that is more influential than what modern audiences give it credit for.
Yet.. that Orville trailer had so much energy to it.. And some of the jokes landed. And the effects rode the line of being both really good and really cheesy. And, to bring back some note from the beginning of this (splendid) article, we actually get to see what this ship looks like, and it’s cool.
So if I was at a job with a water cooler nearby where people would go to chit chat about pop culture and whatever, would anyone even be taking about Trek anymore? And if they were, I’d have guess that The Orville is just more the more memorable of the two.
Note: MacFarland is a funny guy, but sometimes his jokes often hit one note only and don’t quit. I was surprised how much I laughed during that trailer. Loved the joke about being in the center of the viewscreen. Yeah!