In part 1, I pointed out how many, many Trek fans have warmly and enthusiastically greeted STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS in a way they didn’t for DISCOVERY and PICARD. It’s not that those other two CBS Studios-produced series have been universally panned—in fact, a good number of fans (including me) enjoy both series much of the time.
But from reading reviews and comments on social media and websites, fans seemed to feel almost immediately that SNW felt like “real” Star Trek. I put “real” in quotation marks because “real” likely means very different things to different people. But in general, “real” Star Trek seems to be anything produced by Paramount prior to 2005, with the stuff debuting on CBS All Access (now Paramount+) from 2017 onward seemed to miss the mark. And I’ve decided to exclude the J.J. ABRAMS Star Trek movies in to avoid turning this into a three-part blog!
Anyway, I wondered what is what about SNW that made it feel like “real” Star Trek…which is such a vague and undefined term. So I decided to list some very specific reasons—obviously in my personal opinion. Here were my first five items (counting down from ten) from Part 1…
10. THE MAIN TITLE SEQUENCE
9. ESTABLISHING SHOTS ALLOW YOU TO SEE THE SHIP
8. NO SEASON-LONG STORY ARCS
7. A TRUE PREQUEL
6. MUCH LESS OF A “MANIC/DEPRESSIVE” PRESENTATION
Now let’s move up to the “top” five…
5. “WOKENESS”…IN MODERATION
And here’s where I get myself in trouble right out of the starting gate! Be advised, I am all for “wokeness” in Star Trek, and I applaud Discovery for introducing prominent LGBTQIA+ characters—along with a Black female lead and a solid mix of ethnicities including Asian, Latino, and Middle Eastern. Likewise, I support Picard in deciding to include a same-sex couple…even if the cast isn’t as ethnically or racially diverse as Discovery‘s.
And as we all know, Star Trek has never shied away from “wokeness” and progressiveness, with racially diverse characters dating back to Sulu and Uhura on TOS, Black admirals commanding Starfleet in the early Star Trek movies, a Black leading man on DS9, a woman commanding Voyager, and a fair range of other characters of color across the various TV series.
But for every super-woke episode like “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” and “A Private Little War,” there were many, many non-woke episodes like “The Tholian Web,” “Dagger of the Mind,” and “The Immunity Syndrome” (to name but a few)…and even some anti-woke episodes like “Turnabout Intruder.”
And indeed, when we talk about LGBTQIA+, nearly everyone mentions TNG‘s “The Outcast” and DS9‘s “Rejoined,” both of which made strong statements about homophobia. But beyond that? There wasn’t much for the gay or trans crowd to celebrate…even though something was certainly better than nothing.
All of this is to make clear that while, yes, Star Trek IS a “woke” and progressive franchise at its core, such things are typically done in moderation and in matter-of-fact ways. For example, Ben Sisko was Black, but so what? Kathryn Janeway was a woman, but who cares by the 24th century?
So in this way, Star Trek normalized what once seemed controversial. It took TOS three years to acknowledge that Uhura was Black when Abraham Lincoln refers to her as “a charming negress.” And when that happened, it was a MOMENT. And even Lincoln apologizes, “Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know that, in my time, some used that term as a description of property.” And Uhura explains, “In our century, we’ve learned not to fear a word.” Seventy-nine episodes, and only one scene like that because, in the future, a Black woman on the bridge wasn’t as big a deal as it was in the late 1960s.
So let me ask you something: which character(s) on Strange New Worlds are gay or bisexual or trans? I’m sure some will say Lt. Ortegas, and possibly so. But are we certain? Yeah, there was that brief scene with Number One in “The Elysian Kingdom” where it’s implied that their fantasy characters had a romantic history. But those were personas. And indeed, if Una and Ortegas had had a previous relationship, there would probably have been more discussion or at least another reference to it at some point in the season. If anything, there was an implication that Una and La’al might have some kind of history.
But my point is: we don’t know! The show isn’t making a big deal of it—like TOS didn’t make a big deal about Uhura being Black or Sulu being Asian. Sure, Pike and Spock are obviously heterosexual, although that was established in TOS, as was Chapel’s attraction to Spock. M’Benga had a daughter, so he’s probably straight, but we don’t know for sure. And that’s because SNW doesn’t consider it necessary to call attention to anyone’s gender or sexual preference unless a script calls for it…much like Star Trek prior to 2005.
In other words, SNW lets the “wokeness” happen when it needs to rather than pushing it to the forefront, like Discovery and Picard do. Not that the latter two series are inherently “woke” or overly progressive every single episode. But the progressive message can often become more prominent and noticeable than on SNW.
Neither is right or wrong. Indeed, many LGBTQIA+ and minority ethnicity people applaud the prominence of characters and actors on those series who are representative of segments of viewers who their often invisible and too-frequently persecuted . And indeed, all I am saying is that I believe that one of the many reasons that SNW feels more like “real” Star Trek is that it’s more, shall we say, “reserved” in calling attention to the progressiveness rather than wearing “woke” on its sleeve like a rank braid.
Okay, let’s move onto something less controversial…
4. NOT TOO MANY SIMULTANEOUS STORYLINES
As I mentioned in part 1, SNW is the first of the live-action CBS Studios-produced Trek series to opt for an episodic format rather than season-long arcs. And of course, over the course of five Paramount-produced series (six if you count the animated series) spanning over two dozen individual seasons, only one season was ever dedicated to the resolution of a single main storyline (the Xindi arc of Star Trek: Enterprise).
But that’s only part of the story when it comes to why SNW feels more like “real” Star Trek. Another is how many stories are being told simultaneously during each episode. TOS usually had only an A-story (for example: “The Return of the Archons” or “Patterns of Force”) or at most a simultaneous A-story and B-story (like “The Galileo Seven” and “The Paradise Syndrome”). I’m not sure if TOS ever had an episode with a C-story (maybe “Shore Leave,” but not really).
TNG usually had a minimum of an A-story and a B-story, with C-stories quite common, as well (for example, “Family” where Picard is back on the Vineyard with his brother, Worf’s parents visit the Enterprise, and Wesley deals with a holo-message left for him by his late father). And every so often, you’d get a special episode like “Disaster” where the crew is split up and there’s more than three simultaneous stories (Picard trapped in the turbo-lift; Troi, Ro, and O’Brien on the Bridge; Geordi and Beverly on the hangar deck; Worf with a pregnant Keiko in Ten Forward; and Riker and Data crawling through Jeffries tubes to engineering…did I miss anyone?). That’s an A, B, C, D, and E-story! But with TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT, those kinds of “crowded” episodes were definitely the rare exception.
On Discovery and Picard, episodes limited to just an A-story and B-story are the exceptions. Usually, there’s at least a C-story, as well…and often a D-story, too. In fact, there were a couple of Discovery episodes this past season that pushed the counter all the way to an F-story! As I recounted in this blog, one episode featured…
1) Book’s emotional devastation over the destruction of his planet and loss of his family, 2) Michael’s struggles balancing command with personal feelings, 3) Saru’s return to Discovery, 4) Tilly’s problems adjusting to her new normal, 5) Adira’s uncertainty about Gray getting a new Soong-synth body, 6) Stamets’ feeling of inadequacy and struggles relating to Book…plus there was the anomaly to learn about and the fact that flames and rocks are spontaneously erupting onto the bridge during red alert!
Of course, one of the reasons that Discovery and Picard juggle so many storylines simultaneously is because, in addition to having a major season-long story arc, they also have character arcs that develop over multiple episodes. On Discovery, this often results in what I like to call “Meanwhile…” scenes that cut to sickbay, engineering, Adira’s quarters, etc. that show something important happening with a character who might not have anything to do with the main A-story or B-story or even C-story. But because their story arc is currently “in play,” the scene becomes necessary.
Keep in mind, previous Star Trek series (other than TOS) have included continuing character arcs—for example, Worf’s discommendation, Gul Dukat’s descent into madness, Tom and B’Elanna getting together. And SNW has them, too. But on SNW, there aren’t “Meanwhile…” scenes that seem to almost interrupt the episode. Instead, the main stories “trigger” the character development scenes in specific episodes.
For example, Dr. M’Benga’s daughter Rukiya first appears in “Ghosts of Illyria” when Hemmer discovers that the emergency transporter in sickbay is sucking down a lot of power to the pattern buffer. Her next appearance is in the episode “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach“, when it appears that the inhabitants of the planet Majalis might be able to help cure her (but it doesn’t happen). Rukiya’s final appearance in “The Elysian Kingdom” brings her story to a bittersweet end. So each time we saw Rukiya, it was an important part of the main storyline.
For this reason, SNW doesn’t tend to juggle as many simultaneous storylines in most episodes, giving the stories that are featured more time to breathe and develop.
3. MORE LIGHT-HEARTED MOMENTS
Remember when Star Trek used to take time out to laugh? Kirk or McCoy or Scotty would crack a joke, and the bridge crew would laugh. Data would try to crack a joke and fail, but the crew would still laugh. Even in the darkest days of the Dominion War, there were still opportunities for episodes like “Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang” and “Take Me Out to the Holosuite.” Neelix was constantly trying to lighten things up on Voyager, as was Tom Paris.
Now think about Discovery. In the first season, there were almost no light-hearted moments other than awkward ones when Tilly provided the desperately-needed comedy relief (and occasional F-bomb). Pike lightened things up a bit in season two, but all too often, Discovery had to carve out time for scenes of “breaks” or “celebrations” when the crew gets together specifically to let their hair down. I shudder to think what would happen if Discovery were to try to do comedy like the aforementioned DS9 episodes or “The Trouble with Tribbles,” “The Outrageous Onoka,” “Deja Q,” or “Bride of Chaotica.”
As for Picard, the one truly light-hearted episode they had was “Stardust City Rag” in season one. And while the series has had a few lighter moments—most of them involving Seven and Raffi, as well as Rios and Dr. Teresa, in season two (plus Wesley’s fun cameo)—the overall story of Picard is dark with a slightly elevated ending each season. Even Q, who has been known to be quite comedic at times, took on gravitas and intensity during most of his scenes in season two.
Neither of those two series could have done an episode like “Spock Amok” or “The Elysian Kingdom” and retained its integrity. But SNW established early on that “anything goes.” Like the Paramount-produced series from 1966-2005, the creators of SNW effectively demonstrated that they could do serious, playful, suspenseful, dramatic, emotional, and even horror episodes. Discovery and Picard lack that range.
And while I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, there’s nothing wrong with that! You don’t need to have scenes where your captain is making omelettes or your first officer and security chief are sneaking around the ship on an ensign-level scavenger hunt. You don’t need to do comedy. The Battlestar Galactica reboot and The Expanse got along fine without a “Spock Amok” type of episode.
So it’s fine to establish an identity and a series of expectations from the viewers. It’s simply that TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT all tended to span a wider range of tones and genres of episodes, meaning that a show like SNW feels more like Paramount-produced Star Trek than either Discovery or Picard.
2. THE TITLE IS WHAT THE SHOW IS ABOUT
A “star trek” is a journey through the stars, and that was exactly what the original series was about. The second live-action series showed us the “next generation” of officers to go on that same trek. (Actually, I’d consider Dimora Sulu to be the next generation, so TNG was probably a few generations later.) Deep Space Nine was, of course, the name of the space station where the next series took place. Voyager voyaged. That series could have also worked if the lost starship has been called Pathfinder, Valiant, Explorer, or even Intrepid. It would NOT have worked had the series been set on the U.S.S. Repulse! In the same way, an “enterprise” is a challenging project that takes a lot of work, which very accurately described the NX-01 (as well as the first space shuttle orbiter prototype back in 1975)…much more so than naming the series Star Trek: Columbia.
And speaking of space shuttles, Challenger would have been a decent Star Trek series name, as would Endeavor (although Star Trek: Atlantis would have created all sorts of lawsuits!). But Discovery…man, what a perfect name for a Star Trek starship and series! Discovery and exploration is what Star Trek is all about! And yet, what did the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery actually discover? Not much!!! The first season was set during a war. At best they “discovered” the Mycelial Network and the Mirror Universe, but I suspect that wasn’t what fans had in mind going in when they saw the title. (And although Picard is, in fact, about Jean-Luc Picard…it was also about a lot MORE than just aging Frenchman with a British accent.)
But Strange New Worlds has, so far, visited a fair number of strange, new worlds. They are seeking out new life and new civilizations. (Sadly, one of those races seems to want to eat the crew and use their bodies to gestate their young, but don’t get me started on that!) However, if you want your series to feel like “real” Star Trek, then be sure it delivers on its TITLE!
1 CHARACTERS YOU’D LIKE TO HANG OUT WITH
When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, I used to imagine myself on the U.S.S. Enterprise, wearing a blue shirt, doing science with Mr. Spock. And most likely, you imagined something similar…either on the original 1701, the refit, the Enterprise-D, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or even the NX-01. And why? Well, yeah, those starships and that space station were cool, and we loved the uniforms. But what REALLY made us want to be on those particular ships (and/or space station)?
If you guessed “the people serving on them,” give yourself a cookie!
The officers and crew on each of those series were good people, decent, admirable, trustworthy, loyal, dedicated, and with very few exceptions, nice! Yes, even Worf, Tuvok, and Odo were just ol’ softies underneath it all. And I knew I could trust any of them with my life…except maybe Quark.
Remember when Discovery premiered and, just three episodes in, Michael Burnham was like the new kid in school that nobody wanted sitting next to them (literally)? And the only kid who would be nice to her, Tilly, was the awkward on-the-spectrum cadet that no one else seemed to like either. Captain Lorca was cold and mean. Paul Stamets was grumpy. The original security chief Landry (the one who got mauled by a giant tardigrade) was meaner ad grumpier than both of them put together. Back then, Saru had a huge chip on his shoulder and always seemed to be afraid of something bad happening. And don’t get me started on how much I totally didn’t want to be anywhere near Michael Burnham! Heck, I didn’t want to be around ANY of them…that ship was totally dysfunctional!
Fast forward to Picard, and while the ol’ man had earned my eternal respect and admiration, he was beginning to lose it upstairs a bit in season one. Raffi was a recovering addict, depressed and angry at the universe. Rios had his own demons to fight (and the demons were winning). Seven-of-Nine had turned into an angry, haunted ronin with PTBD (Post Traumatic Borg Disorder). And Agnes Jurati killed her boyfriend, Bruce Maddox, in cold blood! Honestly, the only main character who didn’t creep me out in some way was Elnor, and he sliced people’s heads off! Do you honestly think ANY kid is going to daydream about joining the crew of the La Sirena???
And the rest of Starfleet in Picard wasn’t much better! The commanding admiral was a hard-ass who curses out and dismisses our hero, while the Starfleet chief of security and her assistant are BOTH spies. The Federation has panicked and outlawed synths like Data and refused to help the Romulans in their hour of greatest need. Yeah, they’re the enemy, but if there were a huge earthquake in Iran right now, you know the U.S. would be the first to rush in with humanitarian aid. How the mighty had fallen in Picard season one! If it hadn’t been for the brief detour to Nepenthe to check in with the Riker family, I would have lost all hope for the 25th century.
And that brings us to, what I think, it the biggest and most important reason that SNW feels like “real” Star Trek again: I want to hang out with this crew. Sure, Number One’s a bit of a cold fish, and La’al can be a piranha. But Pike is the nicest captain ever! Ortegas is just plain fun. Uhura is impressive and humble (kinda the opposite of Burnham, who could use some humility!). M’Benga and Chapel really know their stuff. Even Hemmer, who was anything but humble, was still dedicated to his ship and crew, AND a character I really wanted to get to know better. You killed Hemmer, you bastards!!!!! And of course, Spock is Spock (and hats off to ETHAN PECK for really nailing the character and making Spock his own…totally blowing past ZACKARY QUINTO).
Anyway, between the good people serving on the Enterprise, the luxurious-looking rooms on the ship, and the captain cooking up delicious omelettes, waffles, and bacon…why would anyone NOT daydream about serving with this crew on this ship in this show (unless you have an egg allergy—which M’Benga and Chapel can probably cure anyway)?
And that, my friends, are my ten reasons that Strange New Worlds feels like “real” Star Trek. Do you know other reasons? Please share them in the comments below…
15 thoughts on “10 reasons why STRANGE NEW WORLDS feels like “REAL” Star Trek while DISCOVERY and PICARD don’t… (editorial review, part 2)”
Very well stated.
I think you hit the nail on the head with #5. I guess you could call it ‘wokeness,’ but I think that the term has a lot of different meanings for different people. In the end, it’s just about portraying characters, letting them be themselves, and interact with each other without judgement. It all comes naturally and without the feeling that they somehow ‘deliberately put someone there’ or with nods and finger pointing by the producers so that we know that they checked off some additional boxes. The approach is more subtle but when we look at it in 20 years we won’t shrug our shoulders and feel like ‘that was so 2020s.’ It’ll just be great TV.
I like that they are not slaves to ‘canon’ but they deeply respect it.
Because you mentioned it, I like Ethan Peck, but I think he still has a ways to go with Spock. I think Quinto was given some suboptimal material to work with. But if you strike out some of the written-in, un-Spock-like moments from the movies, Quinto really ‘gets’ the character in a way that Peck still hasn’t quite got in my book.
Nimoy was a master at presenting a veneer of the emotionless Vulcan but still allowing glimpses of deep emotion beneath the surface. For whatever reason, Peck’s Spock still plays the emotionless side of the character more. I figured–and he admitted as much in the last interview with Will Wheaton–that he was trying to grow Spock from the character presented in The Cage to his later iteration that we see in TOS with Kirk. The thing is, Spock was a very different character in The Cage–he was an alien but not emotionless. Nimoy’s performance in the first episode was not at all nuanced and, truly, totally unrelated to the emotionless Vulcan with the difficult dichotomy between his Vulcan and human halves.
If you go back and watch Balance of Terror and look at the analogous scenes, this is incredibly obvious. Don’t get me wrong, I like Peck a lot and I’m far happier with this version of Spock than the (mostly) brooding version we saw in the earlier episodes of Disco. I was very impressed with Peck’s performance in the penultimate episode, where he had had that scene with Chapel where she helps him restrain his internal violent tendencies. Peck clearly has the chops to do it, but needs to settle into the role a bit more.
Forgetting Spock, I hope that Paul Wesley has more up his sleeve than he showed in this past episode. I think he has big shoes to fill. We all focus on Spock, but I think Shatner’s Kirk (over acting included) is just a tough act to follow. Kirk is hard to write and hard to deliver. You need a streak maverick to him but he has to be a maverick that may test fate but still stays within some pretty defined rules. Shatner’s major quality in his roles has been that the guy just invests everything he has in whatever role he has. That has been true for Nightmare at 20,000 feet, Denny Crane, Captain Kirk, the Priceline commercials, or even the absolutely ridiculous Kingdom of Spiders. I don’t think any actor has come close nailing the combination of at odds traits that make Shatner’s Kirk the levelheaded, all-competent, maverick, boy scout, Casanova, space-cowboy that he was….
I am still a little underwhelmed by the pace of most of the episodes. There is an anti-kinetic drag to them and the actors are often, oddly restrained at times. This may be deliberate, I don’t know.
Quantity of Mercy was a good episode, but I think TOS Balance of Terror was actually better TV. The pace in Balance of Terror was faster and the suspense was better.
However, I do not want to dwell on negatives. The ST-SNW so far is the best of the new series and has the potential to hit the ball out of the park for the next season. I have the feeling that the cast and writers have been holding back a bit, playing a more conservative game to test the waters with fans. If they let go a bit more, man, this thing has the potential to really fly high!
Thanks for the (as always) great analysis!
Thanks for the thanks, JL.
I wrote the vast majority of these two blogs BEFORE “Quality of Mercy,” and so I hadn’t seen Peck’s performance in the finale yet. I understand how he was TRYING to make the future Spock less emotional, and I think he completely overshot it. His younger Spock is comfortable in being uncomfortable. His older Spock leapfrogged into TMP territory when the post-Kolinahr Vulcan returns to the ship for the first time in two and a half years. Peck’s future Spock didn’t resonate for me at all, but it is VERY hard to do Leonard Nimoy doing anything, let alone Spock!
And speaking of actors whose performances are hard to replicate, you’re 100% correct on Shatner. So Paul Wesley was always going to be chasing Tom Brady-level records and coming up short. In fact, the only “convincing” Kirk I’ve ever seen (other than John Belushi on SNL) was Vic Mignogna in Star Trek Continues. Vic played his Kirk as close to Shatner’s as, I feel, is humanly possible. But like the 3D animation “uncanny valley,” it doesn’t always work either. So the question, when you play Jim Kirk, is: do you play Shatner playing Jim Kirk or do you try to make the character your own? Chris Pine and Paul Wesley tried to make the character their own. It’s arguable how well either succeeded, but it’s a Koyabshi Maru. If you’re too far away from Shatner, then you keep missing the target. If you nail Shatner, then you’re simply acting like Shatner and not like Kirk. So you can’t win, can you?
I think someone could ‘win’ with the role. Vic Mignogna probably does come the closest to Shatner’s Kirk without being a parody. He played Kirk in, perhaps, a more levelheaded and restrained way, but it was authentic. You have a real point about Belushi, though. Sure, it was a parody, but–weirdly– Belushi had the unbridled swagger to go toe-to-toe with Shatner. I guess most actors sort of latch on to one or two of Kirk’s character traits and therefore miss the mark. That said, if Quinto could nail Spock, someone should be able to nail Kirk.
The thing, though, that made the original series really work was the close relationship among Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, rough edges and all. With a larger cast, obviously, it will take more time to flesh these relationships out. I think, in part, this is why it took STTNG a couple of seasons to get its footing.
Most of the people involved in TNG credit Michael Piller with getting the show onto the right track. Piller gave the “order” to the writers that every episode had to be about someONE, not just someTHING. There was always to be at least one character-based storyline to explore. Once that became part of the equation, TNG hit its stride.
I could go on and on but here’s a few things that crossed my mind:
5. “WOKENESS”…JUST HAPPENS is how I would have titled that based on your discussion (and my agreeing with what you wrote). Of course we had TOS “Omega Glory” and its patriotic “woke” to the max – nothing subtle about that one. So having a “woke”-forward episode does not stop something from feeling like Trek.
3. MORE LIGHT-HEARTED MOMENTS was part of my response to your first post.
2. THE TITLE IS WHAT THE SHOW IS ABOUT – Picard is of course about Picard. This at least subtly constrains writers to keep Picard front and center and does not permit certain kinds of stories.
1 CHARACTERS YOU’D LIKE TO HANG OUT WITH – True.
But there’s a weird link in my mind between SNW and an opinion piece I read the other day. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/07/08/how-to-fix-news-media/ discusses why people avoid news. The opinion piece had three items: hope, agency and dignity. The first two are my link.
Hope or a sense of optimism needs to be a basic ingredient. If there’s episode after episode where things look dark, I check out. You touched on this already so I’m echoing you. And having light-hearted moments helps me to stay hopeful.
Agency is about the ability to do something to help the situation. Of course in the various trek stories, people are doing something to resolve a situation all the time. But here I’m referring to the effect on myself as a viewer and which I felt watching SNW:
From LoTR: Sam’s speech in Osgiliath:
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.
But it goes beyond all of that to something I noted in various Picard episodes. There’s a fun web page on what someone needs to do to become a successful evil overlord. It’s about avoiding stupid mistakes. If I as a viewer start thinking that “if only they had done X”, then it’s more than half way to being a bad episode. I thought that in Picard a number of times. I did not think that once in SNW.
The last episode especially put it all together. Pike in my view did nothing wrong – he was in fact right in his approach to the Romulan captain as far as it went. But the writers, sticking closely to the TOS episode “Balance of Terror”found a different outcome which was to me pure genius. And it was Christian “wokeness” writ large because, of course, voluntarily accepting horrible suffering for the greater good is one of the central aspects how Jesus’ story is viewed.
However, I wonder how Jesus would have felt knowing that so many wars would be fought in his name, how much death and suffering would result from a holy crusade to force non-believers to agree to follow his teachings, and how many cultures would be destroyed in order to convert “savages” to Christianity.
In that way, Pike’s very Christ-like “do the right thing” approach to the Romulans was what resulted in the endless war with the Romulans. It wasn’t that Pike sacrificed himself for the greater good. What he needed to do what sacrifice his moral compass for the greater good. Apparently, Kirk was right, and the “Vulcan hello” was the way to go with the Romulans as well as with the Klingons.
Thumbs up on that completely, even the last 2 animations were real Star Trek, I love your stuff, don’t say much but I’m always present at attention when you do your magic, your magic is as important as the writers, creators, actors, music wizards and editors personal magics creating fan films
Well, thank you, Rick!
“If you’re too far away from Shatner, then you keep missing the target.. you can’t win…”
I happen to disagree. At least for me, I am not looking for TOS anything. I want the actors to make the roles their own and bring their own take to the characters. If I were to try (and fail) to play Kirk, I’d note the sometimes understated sense of humor, friendship in spite of rank differences, courage and other aspects to Kirk’s character.
In acting classes I’ve taken, we sometimes take turns with the same material. When people bring who they really are to a script everyone succeeds on a basic level. It’s an advanced acting skill to be true to oneself and true to the character at the same time. The best succeed.
I’m aware that a true actor takes from inside themselves and their experiences to play a role. The challenge, of course, is when another iconic actor, like Shatner, has so defined the role. No one was ever the “quintessential” Hamlet or Blanche DuBois. But Shatner so defined Kirk as being such an essential part of who Shatner himself was that any attempt to recreate the character is automatically judged against the prototype. Paul Wesley made the character his own, to be sure, but in doing so, he missed Shatner by a mile. Indeed, he was much closer to Chris Pine. Was that a bad thing? Not necessarily. But for some fans, it felt like it wasn’t really James T. Kirk talking to Pike in that latest episode.
It’s the problem with any recreation–if you surpass the original, you get a win. Anything less and it just doesn’t seem right. When someone played the original role and did it so well, it’s very hard to compete. Obviously this is just my opinion, but I think Zachery Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (McCoy), and Simon Pegg (Scotty), did an excellent job in the movies.
They were able to recreate familiar characters but still make them their own, without copycatting or lapsing into parody. I liked Chris Pine–he was a fine stand-in–but, for me, his Kirk was still missing something. (I agree with Jonathan Lane that Vic Mignogna from the ST Continues fan series comes the closest, so far.)
In the modern era, performances are recorded, so it’s not just some shadowy memory that you might be compared to. If you play King Lear you have to know that you will be compared to Paul Scofield or if you play Hamlet you will be compared to Laurence Olivier. If you play Captain Kirk, you will be compared to Shatner.
For me, Paul Wesley just didn’t command the screen or captivate as Captain Kirk. That said, he wasn’t given massive amounts of screen time and I hope he continues to have a shot at the role next season. (… and in deference to Mr. Wesley, I have to admit that being a critic is still the world’s second oldest profession…)
Drat, J.L., I wrote a really elaborate and well-thought out response, but it never posted, and now it’s gone!
Anyway, the gist was that certain performers just have an A-lister “presence” that hijacks the scene every time they’re on camera. It’s not that they’re scene-stealers; it just happens. Other performers, even if they’re excellent actors, just don’t have that same presence. Paul Wesley is in the latter category. Shatner was in the former category. As such, Anson Mount (who is also in the former category) dominated all of the scenes with Paul Wesley, and so Pike dominated Kirk. At best, they should be equals. But it didn’t come across that way.
A lot of good points but, for me, the key is standalone episodes. If you get a duff episode there’s a reset and a chance to redeem yourself next week. With a story arc it’s like building a tower, one dodgy episode and there’s doubt about the foundations for anything that follows it (although I have to say I thought S2 Picard ended surprisingly well given how it faltered after a strong start).
I have a confession. The one gaping hole in my Star Trek viewing is DS9 (I know, I’ll be phasered at dawn). In my defence, I was a B5 fan and a student at the time with intermittent access to telly when it started to get good (God bless my mum who taped B5 for me so I could catch up when I came home). The important thing is I’m now making amends, I’m well into Season 3 (and have all the seasons thanks to the 2nd hand dvd market). I have to say that some of the episodes (particularly early on) are, well… they’re not very good. Others are great (last ep I saw was Improbable Cause and the way the intrigue built was fantastic) and I understand from your comments that it will only get better still (when Cisco loses his hair). The point is I remember the great episodes and forget the bad ones.
On a side note, your Discovery comments got me thinking. When I think about the credits and the music it is like they were designed for a different show. The music does convey tentative progress into the strange and unkown that steadily builds in confidence (it does to me anyway). If Discovery had done what it says on the tin we’d have all been a lot happier I expect. Incidentally, I wonder how it would fit the titles for Enterprise instead of ‘that song’?
Deep Space Nine started off doing a lot of TNG stories, only set on a space station. Who needs that? It wasn’t until the episode “Duet” at the end of season one (and the following episode “In the Hands of the Prophets”) what the writers began to realize what they had. Season two started off strong with the first-ever Star Trek 3-part episode (if you don’t count “Family” as part 3 of “The Best of Both Worlds”). Then the rest of season two started playing with the idea of this strange “Dominion” that existed in the Gamma Quadrant…not every episode, but there were hints here and there. Also, secondary characters began to evolve, especially Dukat, Winn, Bareil, and (my favorite!) Garak. While there were still some TNG-style episodes, more and more often, DS9 began exploring the cultures and traditions of alien races. THAT was what DS9 had that TNG never did. The Enterprise-D visited a planet with a problem, fixed it, and moved on to the next planet the following week. DS9 showed us that some problems were not so easily solved!
Anyway, yes, DS9 just gets better and better. Sure, there’s still some clunkers along the way. But on the whole, DS9 never broke stride as the seasons progressed, whereas TNG definitely began stumbling in its final season. If you’re not on the edge of your seat in the final 10 episodes of the DS9 series, there’s something wrong with you, Alastair! 🙂
Thanks for info. I’m sure it’ll be great and that there’s nothing (much) wrong with me. I’ll let you know! 🙂
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