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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 Sep 2022
    Major update of the Starship Database, as I have added the missing vessels from Picard season 2 on the pages Starfleet Ship Classes A-K, Starfleet Ship Classes L-Z, Other Starfleet Ship Classes, Federation Shuttlecraft, Earth Ship Classes and Borg Ship Classes.
  • 22 Sep 2022
    Read my review of LOW: "Reflections". I think the series just delivered one of its best episodes so far.
  • 20 Sep 2022
    Continuing the Voyager season 5 retro reviews with "Thirty Days" and "Counterpoint".
  • 16 Sep 2022
    I will gradually add all ships from recently completed seasons to the database, starting with the Confederation Timeline Ships from Picard season 2.
  • 15 Sep 2022
    Here is my review of LOW: "Room for Growth". The story is rather simple compared to most other Lower Decks episodes but not less enjoyable.
  • 09 Sep 2022
    "Mining the Mind's Mines" is the weakest outing of Lower Decks season 3 so far. Although I like the character development, the story feels incoherent and some of the humor does not work for me. There is also a comment on the Picard season 3 trailer, and particularly on the USS Titan-A.
  • 05 Sep 2022
    Catching up to Strange New Worlds: Here are the full reviews of all season 1 episodes.
  • 03 Sep 2022
    In LOW: "The Least Dangerous Game", the series goes where season 1 has gone before and solely draws on story recipes that we already know. But it does comparably well within these narrow confines.
  • 26 Aug 2022
    Many additions and almost 30 new pictures in the article with Observations in TNG: "Allegiance".
  • 25 Aug 2022
    Season 3 of Lower Decks sets off with an episode that is full of trivia and funny situations but that also raises expectations it does not fulfill in the end. Read my review of LOW: "Grounded".
Latest Comments on EAS Articles (Overview)
  • 26 Sep 2022

    Since many pages are essentially 20 years old, I am currently reworking the database. I will include HD caps of ships wherever available, fix display issues, add new facts where necessary and shorten digressive comments.

  • 26 Sep 2022

    General overhaul, new HD caps.

  • 25 Sep 2022

    Yep my eyes just skipped it, thanks.

  • 25 Sep 2022

    That one is listed as "Utopia Planitia shuttle" (although it may well be a "standard shuttle").

  • 25 Sep 2022
    A thing that has always puzzled me is how we can suppose that TOS shuttlecraft are sublight vessels (as the various incarnation of the Galileo shuttle, both from the series and the movies) when those spacecrafts have clearly two scaled-down warp nacelles that matches almost exactly those found in their parent ships. They MUST be warp-capable vessels.

    They have nacelles styled after their parent vehicle, it doesn't make them necessarily warp nacelles. They could be fuel tanks or they could just be decorative.

    Also, what purpose is supposed to serve the small, truncated "wing profile" that we can found on the Galileo 5 in the movies, directly above the nacelles?

    Could just be purely decorative? They might also be hardpoints for some external systems such as sensors or weapons when they needed to be added for particular missions.

    They might actually deploy out into functional wings/aerodynamic structures for emergency landings. Unless Lower Decks play with the type, we'll never know.

  • 25 Sep 2022

    Added emblem in LOW: "Reflections".

  • 25 Sep 2022

    Unless I’m blind, you missed a shuttle type in Picard Season 1
    https://memory-alpha.fandom...

  • 25 Sep 2022
    The registries NCC-42037 (USS Excelsior) and NCC-42023 (USS Eureka) are unexpectedly low and insinuate that the Excelsior II may have been around for decades already. It almost seems the registries were chosen on purpose in the same range as some of the Excelsior-class ships of TNG and DS9. Also, it is an oddity that the hull number of the Eureka is lower than that of the class ship.

    In this instance I'd say it was not necessarily the class ship, but clearly one of the first built, and there may not actually be a class ship as such. It's clearly a development of the Excelsior aesthetic if not actually a development of the hull type and the class name was chosen accordingly (perhaps prompted by the retirement of the NCC-2000 in 2330 ish?

    [[Sepculative stuff]]

    The number range overlap might key into the possibility of the re-registering of ships on major refits which was raised by DIS Season 3 and some of the clustering of registries. It may be more likely that the hull type is not built past the early 2300's say, but to keep them in service they will need regular refitting.

    These strike me as "as built" registries, and retained for whatever reasons or not "significantly" refitted during their lives (though Excelsior isn't seen past 2293 so might have an unseen refit/renumber...).

    USS Excelsior NCC-2000
    USS Repulse NCC-2544
    USS Roosevelt NCC-2573

    And these, given they are higher numbers than the oldest Ambassador Class strike me as a round of refits occurring in the 2320's ish

    USS Okinawa NCC-13958
    USS Berlin NCC-14232
    USS Fearless NCC-14598
    USS Tecumseh NCC-14934
    USS Potemkin NCC-18253

    These would be a result of a round of refits that occurred just prior to the Excelsior II build

    USS Livingston NCC-34099
    USS Intrepid NCC-38907
    USS Crockett NCC-38955
    USS Malinche NCC-38997

    And these maybe at the same time and after the Excelsior II builds.

    USS Gorkon NCC-40521
    USS Frederickson NCC-42111
    USS Cairo NCC-42136
    USS Charleston NCC-42285
    USS Hood NCC-42296
    USS Lakota NCC-42768 [[Though we know this underwent a substantial refit much later on ... so perhaps gained this registry then from a reserved range which may then push many of these much later]]
    USS Grissom NCC-42857
    USS Al-Batani NCC-42995
    USS Valley Forge NCC-43305
    USS Archer NCC-44278
    USS Crazy Horse NCC-50446

    The Melbourne has its own issues so best not to use it as a point of evidence...

    So, as to the clustering, perhaps particular yards are allocated particular ranges, and would specialise in refitting particular classes?

    So mostly as a possible answer to "Why were they making new builds of these old hulls so late?" (not just the Excelsior, but Miranda and Oberth also).

  • 25 Sep 2022

    Now what were the fighters seen at the end of ‘INTO DARKNESS?
    Some of the sky craft looked Trace/Kazon

  • 24 Sep 2022

    Indeed!

EAS Timeline @ Facebook
  • 24 Sep 2022
    Starship Database Update: Picard Season 2: Major update of the Starship Database, as I have added the missing vessels from Picard season 2 on the pages Starfleet Ship Classes A-K, Starfleet Ship Classes L-Z, Other Starfleet Ship Classes, Federation Shuttlecraft, Earth Ship Classes and Borg Ship Classes. Listing of all canon Starfleet ship designs, classes A-K
  • 22 Sep 2022
    Review of LOW: "Reflections": Read my review of LOW: "Reflections". I think the series just delivered one of its best episodes so far. Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 episode guide and reviews
  • 20 Sep 2022
    Retro Reviews of VOY: "Thirty Days" and "Counterpoint": Continuing the Voyager season 5 retro reviews with "Thirty Days" and "Counterpoint". Star Trek Voyager (VOY) season 5 episode guide and reviews
  • 16 Sep 2022
    New Page: Confederation Timeline Ships: I will gradually add all ships from recently completed seasons to the database, starting with the Confederation Timeline Ships from Picard season 2. Listing of ships from the Confederation timeline in PIC season 2
  • 15 Sep 2022
    Another mainstream article on the controversy what real Star Trek should be like. Unfortunately the author provides the answer of how she thinks about the debate as soon as in the headline: "Deep Space Whine". In other words, it's only a show, get a life. Well, the article acknowledges that "Star Trek's identity has never been more hotly debated". In light of this proposition, it is surprising that the author then discusses how the Star Trek sequels of the 1990's and 2000's were allegedly just as controversial as the latest ones, until everyone loved them. I know well that it is just too tempting to equate everything that seems to be a mere "fan thing" that the vast majority of people wouldn't care for (such as with the usually cited tabloid newspaper clipping on the alleged outrage about the TNG cast). In this and many other articles of its kind, fans who are worried about aspects of their franchise are given an air of being hysterical, rather than critical when it comes to changes that, of course, they will all love eventually. The author fails to recognize that there is a qualitative as well as a quantitative difference between the criticisms of TNG or DS9 on one hand, and DIS or PIC on the other hand. "The technology was much more advanced than some viewers thought it had any right to be" is the kind of handwaving of errors and of vilification of critics as gatekeepers that I am tired of, coming from people who just don't care although they ought to if they pretend to like the franchise. This is followed by the usual reminder that Discovery was met with racist criticism, and although the author mentions it only comes from the "worst of its fans", it is framed like all critics of the show share the same mindset. Next, there is a complete paragraph on The Orville. I know some of my readers will disagree, but for me The Orville is a totally separate entity than Trek, and while I like several aspects of MacFarlane's show better than modern Trek, it will never take its place. It is just another science fiction show in a very big global market. The article then goes on and calls Strange New Worlds a show that is "just doing Star Trek", pitting it against Discovery and Picard that still don't convince the fanbase. I agree Strange New Worlds is clearly more popular than the two other live-action shows. But citing critics, rather than fans, isn't exactly the right way to prove that the conflict about what Star Trek is or should be could be settled with SNW as a model. Curiously, the author feels uncomfortable about Picard and Discovery getting such a bad rap, considering the IDIC principle, and about SNW being praised so much. She harks back to DS9 that was both darker and more political than any modern series, and to "Star Trek IV" that was more relevant with regard to present-day topics. It is interesting that, after all the perpetuated misconceptions and framing, the article closes with a statement that I can agree on: SNW isn't exactly the show that leads the franchise to a new future with bold visions. In the author's opinion, it is just a building block. In my view, it is just a TOS revival/remake with modern design, technology and characters. There’s a culture war over what’s “the real Star Trek.” It’s highly illogical.
  • 15 Sep 2022
    Review of LOW: "Room for Growth": Here is my review of LOW: "Room for Growth". The story is rather simple compared to most other Lower Decks episodes but not less enjoyable. Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 episode guide and reviews
  • 09 Sep 2022
    Review of LOW: "Mining the Mind's Mines" and Comment on Titan-A: "Mining the Mind's Mines" is the weakest outing of Lower Decks season 3 so far. Although I like the character development, the story feels incoherent and some of the humor does not work for me. There is also a comment on the Picard season 3 trailer, and particularly on the USS Titan-A. Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 episode guide and reviews
  • 05 Sep 2022
    Reviews of Strange New Worlds Season 1: Catching up to Strange New Worlds: Here are the full reviews of all season 1 episodes. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 1 episode guide and reviews
  • 03 Sep 2022
    Review of LOW: "The Least Dangerous Game": In LOW: "The Least Dangerous Game", the series goes where season 1 has gone before and solely draws on story recipes that we already know. But it does comparably well within these narrow confines. Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 episode guide and reviews
  • 26 Aug 2022
    Many More Observations in TNG: "Allegiance": Many additions and almost 30 new pictures in the article with Observations in TNG: "Allegiance". Observations about sets, props and visual effects in TNG: "Allegiance"
  • 25 Aug 2022
    Review of LOW: "Grounded": Season 3 of Lower Decks sets off with an episode that is full of trivia and funny situations but that also raises expectations it does not fulfill in the end. Read my review of LOW: "Grounded". Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 episode guide and reviews
  • 23 Aug 2022
    New Article: The Fleet in PIC: "The Star Gazer" and "Farewell": We have compiled everything about The Fleet in PIC: "The Star Gazer" and "Farewell" in a comprehensive new article: ship movements, identification of all individual ships, fleet statistics, pictures and information on the new classes. Identification and comparison of all ships in Picard's fleet in two episodes
  • 21 Aug 2022
    Review of DIS: "Coming Home": I conclude my reviews of DIS season 4 with "Coming Home". I have also done some maintenance and added HD screen caps to our article on Picard's Shakespeare Books. Star Trek Discovery season 4 episode guide and reviews
  • 20 Aug 2022
    Many More Observations in TNG: "Sins of the Father": Lots of additions to the article with Observations in TNG: "Sins of the Father". Observations about sets, props and visual effects in TNG: "Sins of the Father"
  • 17 Aug 2022
    Review of DIS: "Species Ten-C": I have to speed up my Discovery season 4 reviews because Lower Decks season 3 is coming up. And if time allows, I will go through SNW season 1 as well. So here are my thoughts on DIS: "Species Ten-C". Star Trek Discovery season 4 episode guide and reviews
  • 15 Aug 2022
    Review of DIS: "Rosetta": Love is the message and the message is love. Here is my review of DIS: "Rosetta". Finally some progress in the storyline, at least on the emotional side. Star Trek Discovery season 4 episode guide and reviews
  • 13 Aug 2022
    Review of DIS: "The Galactic Barrier": Here is my review of DIS: "The Galactic Barrier". The storyline is dragged out for little benefit, although one of the plot threads is unexpectedly touching. Star Trek Discovery season 4 episode guide and reviews
  • 08 Aug 2022
    Many More Observations in TNG: "The Offspring": Here is our update to the Observations in TNG: "The Offspring", with new findings and over 40 new images. Observations about sets, props and visual effects in TNG: "The Offspring"
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