What's Happening with
STAR TREK Strange New Worlds
There's been a lot going on lately in almost every corner of our lives. The headlines are almost overwhelming. Winter storms, the continuing pandemic, freak tornados, presidential decrees, spring training, congressional actions...it's all a bit too much. So you could certainly be forgiven for missing perhaps my favorite piece of news - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has embarked on its first season of production.
Cast & Crew assembled this week at the new CBS Stages Canada near Toronto. Literally "The Stages that Star Trek Built" this is a brand new studio that houses no less than six soundstages, production offices, support facilities, and auxiliary services for large-scale television and film production.
The opening and continued expansion of CBS Stages Canada is proof positive of the enormous success of this modern era of Star Trek productions.
The standing sets for the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (and other locations as needed) are here, which allows Star Trek: Discovery to remain in production at the same time down the road in Shepperton Studios Toronto. Star Trek: Picard also got underway in LA this week, and this marks the first time since 1999 that two or more Star Trek television shows have been in near simultaneous production (DS9 season 7 & VOY season 5). This is turning out to be a great year for Star Trek’s 55th Anniversary!
So with Strange New Worlds on the horizon, it's worth discussing its place in the timeline. The last time we saw the Enterprise the year was 2258, and she was leaving Earth to undertake Captain Christopher Pike's second five year mission. This was after the U.S.S. Discovery left that era for the far distant future of 3189. After that we were treated to three more Short Treks involving one or more of the Enterprise's crew (though we're never told specifically when those stories take place).
2258 is a fantastic time for a series like this to be set in. It's close enough to TOS, but mostly unexplored in the timeline. We know that at this point in "the history of the future," Captain Pike's eventual successor is serving somewhere in Starfleet. He's most likely a Lieutenant aboard the U.S.S. Farragut and probably itching for promotion to Lt. Commander. And that's about it. Giving Strange New Worlds a whole new final frontier of stories to explore.
It's been said more than once by SNW's creators & producers, that this new show is something of a throwback to an earlier era of TV story telling style. The show is designed to feel more episodic (think "Planet of the Week''), than its sibling shows. And, more of an emphasis placed on the sort of morality/adventure mixture that Star Trek: The Original Series excelled at.
The Original Series itself is an important player in the development of SNW.
If done correctly, Strange New Worlds will be an important companion series to the original in fascinating ways. It will give us new adventures that will (hopefully) entertain and thrill new Trekkies and old, while at the same time preparing the way for the inevitable arrival of the Star Trek franchise's first & greatest captain. A captain I honestly hope we never really see in the new show.
Strange New Worlds is by all rights Captain Pike's show (as much as it is Lieutenant Spock's, and Number One's), and so I hope the producers can resist the urge to introduce us to his replacement.
I'd be happy with a cameo at the end of the last episode... maybe.
A handshake during the Enterprise's change of command ceremony. That would be enough for me. And should be enough for anybody. After all, science fiction has told us for decades that two iterations of the same person shouldn't meet. If that's the case then our Captain Pike just shouldn't hang out with our Captain Kirk.
I've heard a lot of fans talk about how much they love Anson Mount's performance as Captain Christopher Pike. I do too.
But, I would be remiss as a lifelong Trekkie if I didn't point out that on paper Captains Pike & Kirk are nearly the same character. Toss out the name change and back story (it's less than half an hour from Iowa to Mojave by standard shuttlecraft), and you have essentially the same character. Oh, when we meet Jeffery Hunter's Chris Pike in "The Menagerie'' when he's sullen and contemplating leaving Starfleet due to the ship's recent events. But that does not define who he was, and by the end of that adventure he's discovered his purpose again. He possesses a renewed sense of self and desire to explore.
That's the Chris Pike we meet in Discovery season 2. An energized, "ready for anything" Captain Pike. He's a charismatic leader with wit, and an effortless (seeming) command style. Remind you of anyone? Captain Kirk is (in almost any way that matters) Captain Pike and vice versa. If you can write one, you can write the other. Their motives, ways, and means are so similar as to be identical.
Thus if you like one, chances are you'll like the other. Of course everyone's perception is different, and I'll leave it up to you to see or not - their similarities.
Either way, I'm delighted. Any chance to go aboard the Enterprise makes me happy. I grew up to be a fan of the entire franchise, but The Original Series is my childhood home. It's the one place in all of Star Trek where I am most comfortable. I'm happiest "living" somewhere between 2233 and 2293 (look it up), and Strange New Worlds is going to take all of us there. Transport us all the way back to NCC-1701.
Look at that! No letters after the number and no alternate universe...
Just THE U.S.S. ENTERPRISE.
Its Home. I can't wait! ...Are we there yet?
John is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.