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Editorial
07 Jun 2022

Strange New Worlds Half-Time Review

Strange New Worlds, the fifth Star Trek series since 2017, premiered a couple of weeks ago. As already announced, I have decided against joining the rat race. I will take care of the episode reviews at a later date. But here is a brief half-time assessment of SNW.

The series is clearly much better received in the fan community than Discovery. It is even praised by several critics of new Trek, although SNW inherits the burden of the "visual reboot" and the overblown technology and history established in DIS. I think the popularity of the show has two reasons, of which the first one is obvious. The producers kept their promise and brought back the classic episodic format. Strange New Worlds, unlike Discovery or Picard, is not plagued by dragged out storylines and by episodes that feel like nothing is going on. The series comes with a fresh story every week, while not neglecting the character development. The second reason is that the characters are more natural and more likable than those of the other recent live-action shows. They laugh, they have fun, they are amiable. The basic mood is as positive as it last was in 2005. It has taken them a couple of years, but the people around Kurtzman have finally learned how to get the Trek feel right.

Strange New Worlds is not a groundbreaking show, however. It returns to an old recipe. But it additionally plays the nostalgia card like no other live-action series in the history of the franchise. Pike, Spock, Number One, Uhura, Chapel and M'Benga appear, all as regular characters. There is even a descendant of Khan Noonien Singh against all reason, and a certain George Samuel Kirk. But are these the same characters that we know from TOS? Majel Barrett's Nurse Chapel used to be demure and dutiful, as it was expected from a woman in the 1960's. The new Chapel played by Jess Bush does not only look a lot hotter, her personality is quite the opposite in most ways. She energetic, self-assured and always good for a tongue-in-cheek remark, the way it is expected from a female character in a modern TV show. No one seriously wants to go back to the 60's. But do characters from the 60's need to be "fixed" just like the technology level and the ship's size? Or shouldn't we rather leave them alone?

Robert April is yet another check mark on the list of canon characters that SNW works off. I personally have no big problem with the casting of Adrian Holmes as Admiral April. TAS is animated and only "proto-canon" in my book, and SNW itself has more important canon issues that need to be addressed. Still, it should not remain uncommented. I appreciate if the casting for a new character is color-blind. I don't even mind if "marginalized" ethnic groups or genders are preferred in the process, as it is the rule in modern Trek. But Robert April is an established character from a series that the current creators of Trek regard as canon. And just as the casting of Scarlett Johansson for "Ghost in the Shell" stirred up a controversy for her having the wrong ethnicity, it must be allowed to criticize the decision that SNW's April is black. The preemptive stigmatization of all critics as racists in many channels killed any reasonable discussion of the topic.

All these issues aside, Strange New Worlds is an enjoyable show that brings back some the old spirit of TOS. Four of the first five episodes are revivals of classic Trek plots with superb effects. I wouldn't mind seeing more of this, but SNW should strive to step out of the shadows of TOS in more ways than only by having a bigger ship and more modern characters. In any case, I am looking forward to the second half of the season.

Keep watching out for facts from SNW that I have begun to include to articles at EAS. These are currently tagged as "Discovery Reboot" because the continuity issues are the same in both shows. I may switch to a new name such as "Discoverse" as an umbrella term for them.

Bernd Schneider

Archive

EAS Timeline @ Twitter
  • 24 Nov 2022
    This week's episode "Masquerade" keeps up the fast pace of Prodigy. It excels when it reveals Dal's origin but then falls back into clichéd themes of the series.
  • 18 Nov 2022
    The latest Prodigy episode "Crossroads" comes with a great deal of action, but the story about the crew's run of misfortune when trying to contact Starfleet is unconvincing.
  • 13 Nov 2022
    There are five new commercially available lamps in Star Trek (thanks to several people on Twitter), some new considerations on the Tellarites and additions related to "All the World's a Stage" in The Evolution of the Starfleet Medical Emblem. I have also updated the Links page.
  • 10 Nov 2022
    Here is my review of PRO: "All the World's a Stage". As lame as the idea of yet another totally self-referential Trek episode is, as funny is it how the "Enderprizians" are modeled on classic TOS aliens - or on fans?
  • 05 Nov 2022
    Several alien starships appeared in the first season of Strange New Worlds. I have added them to the database of Discoverse Alien Ship Classes.
  • 03 Nov 2022
    Read my review of the latest Prodigy episode "Let Sleeping Borg Lie". The mission on the Borg cube is entertaining and strengthens character relationships. But as a Borg episode, it should have been more impactful.
  • 30 Oct 2022
    Enjoy the updated and extended Observations in TNG: "Captain's Holiday", with many new findings by Jörg. I have also updated a couple of articles with new facts and screen caps from PRO: "Asylum".
  • 29 Oct 2022
    Here is my review of Prodigy's mid-season premiere "Asylum" that follows up on the exciting events in "A Moral Star" without slowing down in any fashion. I have also supplemented several pages with new facts from LOW: "The Stars at Night".
  • 27 Oct 2022
    LOW: "The Stars at Night" is an exciting season finale, but not among the very best episodes of Lower Decks. I am quite content how it ties together the dangling threads. The action scenes are great. But as already in the preceding episode, the character dynamics could have been stronger. Read my full review.
  • 26 Oct 2022
    The Federation starships from Strange New Worlds are in the database now, for which I have extended the existing page on Discoverse Federation Ship Classes.
Latest Comments on EAS Articles (Overview)
  • 25 Nov 2022

    About "too good to be true", I never noticed that before. I wouldn't have assumed it to be like "If A=B then probably A=B".

    Regarding the option to take into account the destruction of the Protostar, I went back to the scene when Janeway ordered to fire the torpedoes. Asencia was shocked, so I take it she just realized that whatever her plan was, it was about to fail. I suppose that if the ship was destroyed and had revealed the weapon, it would have been useless, unless a Starfleet ship had arrived to salvage it, which we can be sure wouldn't have happened.

  • 24 Nov 2022

    The Romulan rifles are also based off the ones seen in Picard, but just cartoonishy big.

  • 24 Nov 2022
    The Janeway hologram tells Dal: "There's a reason Starfleet has laws about scientific experimentation. If it's too good to be true, it probably is." I listened to it several times, and I am sure she meant to say "...it probably isn't [true]".

    Janeway uses the idiom correctly for English. The "is" has the inferred subject "too good to be true". If you instead use "isn't" it has the opposite meaning. English doesn't do a lot of double negation (well, British English doesn't, apparently Australian English does a lot of it for emphasis which really gets confusing for us Pommies...)

    The series will have a hard time to explain to me how Asencia aka the female Vau N'Akat could infiltrate Starfleet, hide Drednok and, as an ensign, gain Admiral Janeway's full trust - only to miss out on a few excellent chances to get hold of the Protostar. But I don't even have to go back to previous episodes for her actions to make no sense. In fact, still in "Masquerade" Janeway orders Asencia to listen to Romulan channels, which would have been a perfect opportunity to come up with a deception. But her unwisely truthful report on the Romulans trying to take over the ship only leads the admiral to the decision to destroy it.

    We can probably assume the weapon is pretty much indestructible, so destroying the Protostar might leave it in the wreckage, to be recovered. Who recovers it is almost irrelevant.

  • 21 Nov 2022

    Had to comeback and mention that meta reference in the final episode of Billips asking for the device that looked like a Phase discriminator. I thought it was cute. According to Mike McMahan, he came up with that when browsing Memory-Alpha and saw something on reused props.

  • 20 Nov 2022

    Hmm. I wonder if somehow this *one* Kazon has a souped up ship?

    Also I'm so glad you pointed out the romulans committing the very act of war they're warning Janeway against! I hope for some kind of explanation next week!

  • 20 Nov 2022

    Further working on the database improvements. Latest updates: Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans

  • 20 Nov 2022

    Hey, it threw me for a minute too. :-)

  • 20 Nov 2022

    Sure. My bad.

  • 19 Nov 2022
    (On that note, I find it strange that human-alien hybrids are treated as aliens most of the time. The mixed background of Spock or B'Elanna gets mentioned a few times but most of the time they are treated as Vulcan or Klingon, respectively. The only exeptions that come to my mind are Simon Tarses and Devinoni Ral who each only had one alien grandparent and thus seem to have been regarded as humans.)

    We could of course be viewing this from our human perspective. Spock is clearly not human, ditto B'Elanna. From what we've seen, there seems to be a goodly chunk of Vulcan society sees Spock as human, perhaps B'Elanna is seen as human by Klingons because of her "smooth" ridges?

    One thing of course with these alien races is that perhaps their total species identity comes from maybe two or three sets of precursors, what if some of them are still around to a greater and lesser extent? Homo Sapiens probably out competed both Homo Neanderthalensis and the Denisovans which no longer exist obviously, but there was extensive interbreeding and their DNA persists in modern humans.

    Whilst we sort of had this before with the Andorians and Enar, we've possibly now got to content with the DIS/SNW appearances of both as well. Perhaps Hemmer was from another Enar colony that evolved on the other continent where the bumpy Andorians were? Just a thought...

  • 19 Nov 2022

    Just for the record, those were Xindi-Reptilians, not Insectoids.

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  • 18 Nov 2020
    The whole interior of the WaveRider MkII, a refit of the atmospheric shuttlecraft assigned to and docked on the ventral primary hull of the Nova class refit starship. This one belongs to the U.S.S. Nova. Along with the refit of the Nova class, this little ship also received a complete redesign incorporating many of the newest designs and technologies of other small Starfleet ships and shuttlecraft. It can easily and comfortably accommodate up to eight people on relatively long missions and can carry even more people on shorter trips. It is equipped with a transporter, sleeping quarters, cargo hold, lounge, conference table, scientific equipment and even emergency medical facilities.

    For more info on the shuttle, see the WaveRider Technical Manual here.

    Other WaveRider images: Exterior Bullet; White Cockpit Bullet; White Lounge Bullet; White Quarters Bullet; White Cargo Hold
    Other U.S.S. Nova interiors: Briefing Room Bullet; White Corridor Bullet; White Turbolift Bullet; White Cargo Bay 1 Bullet; White Cargo Bay 2

    This project has been long in the making. It was a collaboration with Ray9012, who's been a huge help with the design of the ship, and we've been working on it on-and-off for the past seven months. Fitting such a large interior space into a single model was quite the challenge. Plus, it was the first interior I attempted after starting to learn Blender, which presented it's own hurdles! But I learned a lot from it and I'm very happy with how it turned out.
    My thanks also goes to Geoffryn for his input and financial contribution to the project.

    EDIT (26/08/2021): I overlay the interior cutaway on an image of the exterior to put it into better perspective with the exterior of the shuttle.

    Modelled and rendered with Blender. Computer display textures made with Inkscape.
    Based on and inspired by original designs from:
    -Star Trek (ViacomCBS)
    -Star Trek Online (Cryptic) (LCARS colour scheme)
    -QS Supplies (bathroom components design elements)
    -Po Wang (cockpit seat design elements)
    -Tesla Model X (cockpit seat design elements)

    Some of the assets used are available for purchase on CGTrader:
    Stools in cargo bay
    Conference table

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  • 23 Jun 2019
    "The folks over at the Tyfersia Yards looked at the Nova Class and said: 'We can improve a few things'."

    Christened the "Super-Nova" by its engineers, the Elysion Class is an enlarged iteration of the Nova frame. No longer restricted by its scientific profile, the type places emphasis on its multimission capability. Increased range, marked improvements in amenities and a high capacity engine rated at Warp 9.98 are notable features. Currently, all LRIP Elysions are exclusively built at the Tyfersia Fleet Yards, making it a rare vessel in mainline fleets. Starfleet Command sees the Elysion as a specialist light cruiser and advises a further year of trials before the design goes into fleet-wide production.

    Models by Rengers, JLS and Captain Fingers

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  • 10 Oct 2022
    This is the bridge of the USS Lalo NCC-43837, an unassuming Mediterranean-Class freighter which is unfortunately remembered for being the first starship to be lost to the Borg incursion of 2366.

    For several additional renders, please visit my portfolio.

    The Mediterranean-Class ships are small freighters often tasked with urgent cargo deliveries inside Federation space. They have a small crew complement of only 30, most of which are non-commissioned officers or Ensigns on their first deep space posting. The commanding officer is usually a Lieutenant Commander, as the uneventful and routine assignments provide a good first test of command in relatively safe conditions.

    The bridge of the Lalo was minimal in its layout and comforts. Only the helm was expected to be crewed at all times, with the commanding officer often away overseeing cargo operations or schedules. Usually the only times where all four stations were crewed was when the ship is at port, while the delicate procedure of loading or unloading cargo is taking place, which necesitases the higher level of readiness for a ship of this function.

    For the exterior shape of the Mediterranean seen in the LCARS displays, I'm using a fan-created design by Bernd Schneider, which has since used to represent the class on official Star Trek comics and ebooks. You can see this design in detail here www.trekships.org/mediterranea…


    Software used:
    3D Modeling and rendering: Blender 3.3
    LCARS panels and textures: Inkscape 1.2
    OS: Ubuntu 22.04
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  • 23 Nov 2020
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