Well, we have finally got a substantial update on the new Star Trek series that’s been talked about for a few years now. No time like the present, right?
So I’m sure you want to know all about the characters! . . . sorry, nothing on that front.
Storyline? . . . Nope.
Time period/setting? . . . Kinda. Sorta. Maybe.
What we have is the ship: the USS Discovery, NCC 1031. Here’s the “test flight” video:
You can also read the sum total of the new official information at this link. Not that there’s really that much.
Okay, first thing: holy carp, that does not look like a Starfleet ship to me. It looks like some Trekkie ship hobbyist (there are a lot of them out there, and they make some great designs) was challenged to meld Federation and Klingon ships into one. It just looks weird.
Now, yes, the Internet is currently buzzing about how this is clearly based on a Ralph McQuarrie design for a very different Enterprise back in the late 70s. Here are two examples:
Can we all just agree that the 70s were a weird time?
Next point: like with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I’m not going to get excited without story. I like Star Wars even more than I like Star Trek, and even then I can’t just get excited about it just based on the brand. I want to see more. But that being said, I’m finding myself very “meh” for another reason. Look at that animation. I’ve seen better on Babylon 5, and that was in the mid-90s. Star Trek fan films have better animation today, including the ones compiled on home computers.
So is this just a bit of test footage that they decided to release? If so, why not mention that? Fans love getting “behind the scenes” access. It would actually generate more buzz than fans wondering if this is the quality we can expect. And if it is more of a final product . . . well, someone’s probably about to be fired. (I’m leaning to test footage, myself. We’ve got such a delay before anything becomes final that I think the network just wants to generate buzz for the sake of buzz. And I think that’s why the footage says “test flight” in the title.)
My third and final point: remember I said we kinda sorta maybe have something on the era this takes place in? Well, since the hull number is 1031, we know it’s before the TOS era.
That part has interesting possibilities. Stories about the rise and fall of nations can be really compelling, and if we’re getting the early days of Starfleet while the Federation is more of an experiment than a certainty, then we’ve got tons of story potential. However, that’s also what Star Trek: Enterprise was about, and it got pulled because it took them three and a half seasons to get to what the fans were actually promised — and by then, a lot of them had abandoned it. I rather liked Enterprise, and my “nothing is better than TOS” father absolutely loved it, but I’ve never heard more Trekkie disdain for any of the other five Trek series. (Yes, five. Don’t forget Star Trek: The Animated Series.) If they’re going back to prequel material, they’ll hopefully have paid attention to what went right and wrong with Enterprise.
Years ago, I sat down for a bit of a personal experiment with story construction. I deconstructed Star Trek to see what was most interesting about the franchise, bringing in the elements of English naval tradition Roddenberry loved, the American Western elements the network preferred, and the hints of Classical epic storytelling that crept in after Roddenberry’s death. I then, just for the heck of it, started building up an alternate version of Star Trek, the version that I would write if I ever got dropped into an alternate timeline where Star Trek never existed.
The setting I picked was actually before the Federation, with the Earth-Romulan War forming a major arc, resulting in the destruction of the first Enterprise, and the second being built with the first instance of Earth-Vulcan technology. It was a nice concept, and while this is the first time I’ve talked about it publicly, that re-imagined setting actually fueled a bit of an attempt at a Star Trek/Star Wars mash-up RPG universe I created some years back (mainly because someone told me such a setting was impossible and I replied “Challenge accepted”). Perhaps I should post both of them here sometime.
But while I like the idea, that’s all it is. It’s not even just an idea, it’s my idea, and I have no clue if this is what we’ll get. I have no clue, even if it is what we’ll get, that it’ll even be good. I don’t know who the characters are, who’ll play them, or what kind of quality we can expect. The near-vacuum of information has led me to believe that even the studio has no clue what they’re doing. If this show was green-lit based on just the brand and not a solid concept, then I have my doubts about the eventual quality.
Here’s hoping that I’ll look back on this in a few years and think “Boy, was I pessimistic,” and not “See? Told you so.”