I adore Strange New Worlds! While I have been disappointed with recent Star Trek shows (I hate Discovery and Picard was only been ok) this newest series hit it out of the park. I shared in a previous post that I feel the episodic storytelling serves it well- while of course there is continuity over the episodes, the self-contained episodes have been working to SNW‘s advantage.
Strange New Worlds
The first episode lays down some background for Captain Pike, establishing his knowledge of what he knows will befall him, and his affable nature as the first captain of the USS Enterprise. When his second-in-command, Una goes missing on a planet during a first-contact mission, Pike needs to work around Starfleet rules when he realizes the planet’s government has recreated some technology and possibly will use it as a weapon. This protocol breach results in the Prime Directive.
Children of the Comet
A comet is headed towards an inhabited planet, and when trying to course correct it, the Enterprise is blocked by a group of zealots who tie the comet’s journey into religious significance. Of course, the crew figures out how to modify its trajectory, and realizes that the comet is some sort of living entity. We have some lighter moments of seeing Pike host crew dinners in his personal quarters and viewers get to know some background on Cadet Uhura and find out the pilot Ortega is quite the jokester.
Ghosts of Illyria
A colony of Illyrians, who have been kicked out of the Federation due to genetic engineering, have disappeared and the Enterprise crew tries to find them. We learn a secret about Una in this episode, plus that the widowed Dr. M’Benga has been keeping his terminally sick daughter in stasis while he tries to find a cure for her.
While bringing an air filter to a space colony, the Enterprise crew finds out that many of the colonists are dead due to a Gorn attack. Security chief La’an Noonien-Singh recognizes the threat since she is a childhood survivor of a Gorn massacre. (Aside- In TOS Kirk fought off a Gorn in a ridiculous wrestling match, and the actor in a reptile suit was comical looking, even by 1960s standards).
The crew is given shore leave, and Spock plans to reconnect with his fiancee T’Pring, but is called away for a mission. There is some levity, with Spock and T’Pring accidentally changing minds for a time, and the serious Una and La’an trying to understand a bingo game that new crew members play. Spock and T’Pring show some serious chemistry (to Nurse Chapel’s disappointment), so I wonder how they will handle the relationship in SNW, as in TOS the engagement ends.
Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach
This was a heartbreaking episode, as the crew meet a child who is doomed to be a sacrifice so his people can live in paradise. Pike is horrified that the child will endure years of pain, and tries to thwart the ceremony to no avail.
The Serene Squall
A space pirate captain fools the Enterprise crew for awhile, but then reveals her true motive- she demands her lover, who is being held by the Vulcan government be released. It is revealed in the last moments that the prisoner is Sybok, Spock’s half-brother, who was infamously in the movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (directed poorly by William Shatner). This movie has been derided for years, but hey, SNW is leaning into it.
The Elysian Kingdom
I loved this fun high fantasy episode! When surveying a nebula, the crew is knocked out and wake up dressed as fairytale characters. Only Chief Engineer Hemmer, who is a telepath, realizes that the nebula has a consciousness and is trying to entertain the doctor’s daughter. Later the doctor is given a heartbreaking decision, as the nebula can cure his daughter but she will have to remain behind. But the nebula is kind and will give her a good life, and the doctor can come back and visit her in the future. You can tell the actors had fun with these roles- they got to act against type and go full-out camp. See the below YouTube video for a fun preview of the episode.
All Those Who Wander
The Gorn are back! The crew beams to an ice planet to try to save the survivors there, but one of the main characters of this season becomes infected and they bravely sacrifice themselves so others can live. This death took me by surprise, and I was saddened to realize this character won’t be in S2.
A Quality of Mercy
Pike’s vision of his future death tie into this episode, as Pike thinks if he changes a few choices he can prevent his death, but a future Pike comes back to warn him that those changes set off an even worse chain of events. Despite this sobering news, Pike remains optimistic as he knows his sacrifice will be for the greater good. We also are given a surprise cameo of the future Captain Kirk played by Paul Wesley (famous for his role Stefen in The Vampire Diaries) and I like the casting. But in the last minute, a cliffhanger is established when the Federation shows up to arrest a member of Pike’s crew.
I really believe the producers and writers of Star Trek really took fans’ concerns to heart in this new series. The tone is much lighter, similar to the iconic original series that started this entire franchise. While they still tackle big issues, we aren’t burdened with overly long and dark story arcs. I like all the main roles, and I personally find Pike incredibly dreamy. SNW is everything I hoped it would be, and I speak for many when I say that this series is exactly what the franchise needed. In the meantime- live long and prosper!
As I said in my synopsis of S1 of Picard: While I had been fond of Star Trek (TOS) from watching re-runs, it was Star Trek: The Next Generation that cemented my love for the franchise. I have watched every episode of the seven-season series (many multiple times) and the four movies afterward. I was also a big fan of Voyager, DS9 and the Kelvin timeline movies but didn’t care for Enterprise and have found the recent Discovery unwatchable; so when I heard that there would be a new series about TNG’s iconic Captain Picard, I was in! Plus, I was thrilled that my husband would watch the series with me, for while he was a fan of TNG and DS9, he hasn’t watched any newer series with me, until now.
Overall, I was pleased with S1 which was set in 2399 and showcased the retired Ambassador, who had left Starfleet in disgust after they backed out on their promise to help the Romulan population escape a planet-destroying catastrophe, as he covertly worked with some “synths” (like his former crewmate and friend Data). Picard works with a new crew but a highlight was Picard working with Riker and Troi from TNG, who are now married parents, but I missed the original crew.
Set two years later in 2401, this time the premise is that the alien Q traps Picard and many of the S1 crew in an alternate reality, and they must travel back in time to the 21st century to save the future of the galaxy. First off, I have to say- I have always hated Q. That the entire second season revolves around his whims, already set me on edge. While they brought everyone back from S1, a few characters’ roles were reduced, which was fine with me, as I hadn’t really jelled with everyone.
Having Star Trek episodes set in our era is an easy way for producers to save money on sets and costumes, but is overused, paling in comparison to when TOS utilized it in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In fact, there is an awesome Easter egg that connects that movie to this series (hint-they both take plus on a bus) that had me so excited that I rewound it a few times to enjoy it again. There is also a connection to TNG when we meet a younger Guinan before she and Picard meet officially in the future. One other character falls in love with a doctor, and predictably but implausibly chooses to remain behind with her once the mission is over. The Borg Queen is merged with someone else, making them less evil, but TBH, I’m a bit confused if that changes the future. Finally, we are given a surprise (and kinda weird) cameo by Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher, with the show doubling down on him remaining a Traveler (even though he didn’t seem to be one when he returned for Riker & Troi’s wedding in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis).
All in all, this was a mediocre and uneven season. But then I found out they are bringing back the original TNG crew in season three!!!! Forget about everything else- we will see Worf, Geordi, Crusher, Riker, and Troi again. So while I eagerly await the third and final season of Picard, I wish that you may live long and prosper!
It has been 40 years since the second Star Trek film, The Wrath of Khan, was released in the theatres. This now classic film saved the franchise, as the first movie had been rather underwhelming. When my oldest son told me that Fathom Events was sponsoring the movie for a week in the theatres and wanted to know if I’d like to go, I was ALL IN! While Star Wars has been an easy sell to my children, and all three are fans of that franchise, sadly, none (until now) have shown any interest in the Star Trek universe.
In preparation for watching the movie, we first watched the episode Space Seed (1967) which was one of the last episodes of season one of TOS. My God- was it equal parts awesome and cringy! The Enterprise crew come upon an old spaceship of 1990s origin, a time referred to as WWIII and the Eugenics War, thus records were spotty during that era. The ship is named Botany Bay, in reference to the penal colony of Australia from the late 1700s to the early 1800s. Kirk, Spock, Scotty and ship historian McGivers beam down and find 70+ people in deep hypersleep. The first to revive was no other than Khan Noonoen Singh, a genetically enhanced human who ruled much of Earth in the 1990s. McGiver is much taken by him, attracted to his charisma, and the feeling is mutual. As the rest of his followers awaken, he convinces McGivers to help him overthrow the Enterprise, in a disturbing masochistic scene. Of course, they don’t succeed, and in a surprising move, Kirk offers them sanctuary on a nearby uninhabited planet, with McGivers very willingly choosing to go with Khan. In the last lines of the episode, Spock and Kirk ponder what their society will be like 100 years from now.
Flash forward fifteen years, and Kirk has now been promoted to Admiral but a recent birthday makes him feel old and out-of-touch. Spock and Scotty are training a new batch of recruits on the Enterprise while it is docked, and Kirk, Bones, Uhura and Sulu head to the ship together for a tour. In the meantime, Chekov, who is now a first officer on another ship, and his captain encounter Khan and his remaining crew on the now desolate desert planet, that was knocked off orbit six months after they arrived. Khan’s wife and many of his followers are dead and he wants vengeance! This all ties in with a group of scientists who are developing the Genesis device, that alters dead matter into new life. Khan is able to use Chekov’s ship to capture the Genesis tool and they go into battle with Kirk and his ship of young and untested crew members. While Khan has the chance to escape with his followers with an incredible cargo, instead he is a revenge-obsessed megalomaniac, who is determined to make Kirk pay. An epic battle and a devastating sacrifice are made, while these two men helm their ships in a game of cat and mouse.
While I had seen both the original episode and the movie years ago, it was obviously the first time for both for my son. He laughed at the sexism (both unintentional and intentional) found in Space Seed, but he was impressed with the movie and now wants to watch the fourth movie, The Voyage Home (the one with the whales!) with me in the future. As with books and movies you revisit years later, you pick up on new things that you didn’t notice or had forgotten about. Why was Khan now so old, yet his followers were so young? I was glad that my son also noticed the glaring inconsistency with Chevok (which the actor later admitted knowing about, but he didn’t want to ruin his chance for a juicy scene) but I was truly bothered by the lack of character development that was given to Uhura and Sulu. In light of Nichelle Nichol’s recent death, it made me angry to see how little they gave her and some of the other characters to do in these movies. I still cried at Spock’s sacrifice and admired the brio Ricardo Montalban brought to the role of Khan.
This was a fun experience to share with my son, and reminded me why I became a fan of Star Trek so many years ago. Live long and prosper, my friends!
I LOVE Strange New Worlds! I now consider it one of the best Star Trek shows, giving my beloved The Next Generation a run for its money.
I have to admit I have been disappointed with Trek for many years now- although I will always be a die-hard Trekkie. As a child, I watched re-run TOS episodes and watched all of the original movies, but it wasn’t until college that I became a true fan because of TNG and Captain Picard’s tenure. I also adored Captain Sisko’s DS9 and Captain Janeway’s Voyager series. However, I was disappointed with Captain Archer’s Enterprise, which I considered not up to par and not Trekkie enough, but now it has moved far up in my estimation due to my extreme dislike for Discovery. The new Picard series has been good but doesn’t have the same appeal as TNG (but the original crew will be back for S3!).
Many Star Trek fans have been very critical of Discovery and accused it of being too “woke”, and for awhile I tried my best to embrace the show, but eventually I gave up early into its third season. The main character Michael Burnham was much too much for me, it had long convoluted storylines, and it kept on introducing new characters and ignoring its bridge crew. The only bright spot was the second season was when Captain Pike, who was Captain Kirk’s predecessor, came aboard to help the USS Discovery crew. He brought along a young Spock who had a ridiculous plot line with Burnham, and these two plus Pike’s second-in-command Una became fan favorites.
Anson Mount has done an admirable job of playing Captain Christopher Pike, a role originated by Jeffrey Hunter in the 1960s. Hunter shot the original pilot for Star Trek, but tv execs wanted to re-tool the concept, and Hunter was let go and replaced by William Shatner who played Captain Kirk. Only the character Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, was kept, and eventually, the footage of the first pilot was brilliantly worked into the episode The Menagerie linking Spock and the two captains of the Enterprise. That episode establishes that Pike will have a terrible accident and he will become disfigured and live his final years on an alien planet. Strange New Worlds is a prequel, as was Discovery for the first two years (before they jettisoned into the far future-gah!), so the specter of the accident hangs over the dashing Pike who has had a vision of his fate.
The original pilot, in addition to Captain Pike and Spock, featured Pike’s second in command Una Chin-Riley whom he typically called Number One. She was played by creator Gene Roddenberry’s soon-to-be IRL wife, Majel Barrett, who later played Nurse Chapel on TOS and Counselor Troi’s mother on TNG. Plus, we have more familiar characters- Doctor M’Benga who served under both Pike and Kirk, Nurse Chapel (which is funny because Majel Barrett played both her and Una), La’an Noonien-Singh who is a descendent of the famous Khan from Star Trek II:The Wrath of Khan movie, Spock’s fiancee T’Pring, and best of all a young Nyota Uhura. Then there are a few new characters such as the brash pilot Ortegas, and the gruff blind engineer Hemmer.
This season had ten episodes, which nowadays is considered a full season, and every single one was excellent. The first episode laid down some background for Captain Pike, establishing his knowledge of what he knows will befall him, and his affable nature as the first captain of the USS Enterprise. We meet all the characters I mentioned in the above paragraph, and as the season progresses we get to know every single one of them. What I found a problem on TOS and on Discovery (but not so much on TNG, DS9, Voyager or Enterprise) is that some people fade into the background and they concentrate too much on only a handful of the main characters. Of course, a series can’t always be equal, and some characters will naturally get the main storylines, but they seem to be really trying to flesh out all of these characters and also a few others on the ship.
The episodic storytelling is going well- while of course there is continuity over the episodes, the self-contained episodes have been working to SNW‘s advantage. They have been able to have episodes that center on certain characters, and have some dark storylines but also have some comedic moments, with one episode going full-out fantasy. In fact, I will have a future post just centering on the episodes!
All in all, this new series has hit the sweet spot for me and many other Star Trek fans. I look forward to season two and picking up the threads that were left in the finale. In the meantime- live long and prosper my friends!
As Women’s History Month draws to a close, I am concluding our Fiction’s Fearless Females series with two Star Trek friends, Doctor Beverly Crusher and Counselor Deanna Troi. This is the fourth year that Kathleen and I have participated in this series and joining us is Michael of My Comic Relief, Kalie of Just Dread-full, and Jeff of The Imperial Talker. What is wonderful about this series, is there are no winners, as each woman featured is fabulous and ALL are deserving of praise!
Star Trek is my favorite fandom, as many of the posts on my blog revolve around the movies, television and web series that have been inspired by the original classic. While some of my previous posts were about the iconic Lieutenant Nyota Uhura and the indomitable Captain Janeway, here I picked a duo who were on the series The Next Generation, which is the series that forever cemented me as a Trekkie. Many of our FFF posts this year have centered around female friendships, so these two women aboard the Enterprise-D came immediately to mind.
The Next Generation was the first Star Trek to feature a brand new crew (there had been Star Trek: The Animated Series in the 70s and there had been the movies, but both utilized the original crew) so establishing a new set of characters is a fraught move, as you want everyone to work well together. And while I could wax poetic about my favorite Trek show’s crew, I want to feature the two characters that ended up standing out to me.
Authentic friendship representation in books, tv shows and movies is scarce. Perhaps you have heard of the Bechdel Test, which is a measure of the representation of women in fiction. It asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. So often the only time you see females interact is because it somehow revolves around a man, or the women are being snarky and undermining one another. I think there is more effort nowadays to represent female friendships, but when this show was on the air from 1987 to 1994 it was still rare.
Doctor Beverly Crusher was introduced as the ship’s doctor, a widowed mother whose teenage son Wesley later became an ensign on the ship. Counselor Deanna Troi was a half-alien empath who gave counsel to Captain Picard and offered much-needed counseling to the crew during their long space journies. The first season was a bit dicey, establishing the tone of the show and fleshing out the characters and how they related to one another. The character of the doctor was off the ship during the second season, but once back on during the third season and onward, Crusher and Troi’s friendship developed in a believable manner.
At this time IRL, I was in high school and college and developing my own female friendships, some of which were fleeting, while others I still have to this day. I have seen females support one another, and others backstab one another, but in this ideal, Crusher and Troi rocked their friendship. Sure there were times that they met to talk about men (the below picture of them meeting to exercise showcased a bawdy conversation between the two that was refreshing to hear) but talking freely and without judgment is a true indicator of the realness of a friendship.
Another plus with these women is their development in their professional life on the Enterprise. The actresses were hired partly because of their beauty and their potential to be love interests (Crusher with Captain Picard and Troi with Commander Riker) but they were able to grow as officers on the ship. Both characters retained their original jobs, but got command experience and moved up in ranks during their tenure on the Enterprise. And they supported each other as they moved through the ranks.
I have been blessed with some wonderful friendships, many of them lasting for decades, and I realize that it takes time and effort to maintain them. But I truly think watching women who developed a genuine friendship and who supported one another, during a critical time in my life, helped shape my ideas of the worthiness of prioritizing friendships and extending kindness to others.
Star Trek presents an idealistic and Utopian future, with Earth moving past its racial and cultural differences, and ready to explore space. The tagline was “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”. And boldly go it did- the series has given us many iconic friendships (both male and female)- and seeing people look for connections and community in the future is something we can all aspire to.
Live Long and Prosper, my friends.
My post is the last in this year’s series, so make sure you check out the previous entries:
In celebration of Women’s History Month and for my entry in this year’s Fiction’s Fearless Females series, I am choosing Star Trek’s original fearless female – the one and only Lieutenant Nyota Uhura! This is the third year that Kathleen and I have participated in this series and joining us is Michael of My Comic Relief, Jesse of the newly revived Green Onion, Kalie of Just Dread-full, and Jeff of The Imperial Talker. Please give them a follow to catch their posts (all have great content outside of #FFF), or look out for them here, throughout the month.
My first entry in this series was the brilliant Captain Janeway of the Star Trek Voyager series and my second was the ever-vigilant Sarah Connor of the Terminator movies. For my third entry, I circled back to Star Trek and choose Uhura, for all strong female Star Trek characters owe a debt of gratitude to her. Beautiful, smart, ambitious, and an equal to the men – she is the original Star Trek role model. Even Uhura’s name has important meaning – Nyota means star in Lingala, a language from the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Uhura is the Swahili word for freedom.
Star Trek is my favorite fandom, as many of the posts on my blog revolve around the movies, television and web series that have been inspired by the original classic. The series was conceived by Gene Roddenberry to present an optimistic view of life in the future and show a diverse crew, thus actress Nichelle Nichols was cast as a 23rd-century Starfleet officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise and she served as a communications officer. The crew’s mission was “to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Fluent in a myriad of languages, human and alien, not only was she head of the communications department but she was an excellent bridge officer, as she could additionally work the helm, navigation, and science stations as needed.
The show debuted in 1966 and was groundbreaking because of its disparate cast, and Uhura’s role as a professional Black woman was a rarity on television, as they were usually relegated to portraying characters with menial jobs. Now I am going to take a brief detour here and mention that IRL Nichelle Nichols was not only an actress, she was a singer and was hoping for some Broadway success, so she briefly considered leaving Star Trek to pursue other creative opportunities. She told creator and producer Roddenberry that she wanted to leave, but before she made her final decision she attended a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) luncheon and was introduced to Martin Luther King Jr. He wanted to meet her and express his admiration for her, as Star Trek was one the only shows he let his children watch, as Uhura was an example he held up to them, as what could be achieved in the future. Shocked and thrilled by his words, she stayed with the show, and the rest is history. For an exaggerated but hysterical reenactment of this incident, watch the Drunk History video – Nichelle Nichols Lives Boldly – at the end of this post!
Another pioneering moment in the Star Trek franchise was the first interracial kiss shown on US television between a Black woman and a white man that involved Uhura and Captain Kirk. Lore has it that producers were worried that the kiss would run up against Southern censors so they were supposed to film two versions – one with a kiss and one without. But Nichols and co-star William Shatner deliberately messed up the without-a-kiss scene, so that the kiss scene would have to be used. That indeed was a fearless move, for everyone involved knew that interracial relationships were taboo and in some places against the law at that time.
The Enterprise’s five-year mission proved to be only three, but Uhura’s story did not end there. A few years later in 1973 Star Trek: The Animated Series gave the crew another year on the ship (and this animated series gave her some surprisingly good plotlines), and in 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered in the theatres. Uhura would play an integral part in the six theatre movies that spanned twelve years. While Kirk, Spock and Bones always got the lion’s share of character development; Uhura, Sulu, Scotty and Chekov were shown as moving up in rank and with key moments hinging on their assistance. In fact, Uhura continued to be an influential character, as she was shown as a mature woman who was lovely, capable, professional and didn’t need a man to fulfill her life. She put her career first, and the universe was better for it, as she is now ranked as a Commander (and Admiral in some non-canon books and movies) in Starfleet.
Star Trek presents an idealistic and Utopian future, with the Earth moving past its racial and cultural differences, and ready to explore space. Its opening line, “Space, the final frontier…” proved prophetic, as I must once again mention Uhura’s real-life counterpart Nichols, as she became a space ambassador for NASA from 1977-2015 and helped recruit diverse astronauts, including women and minorities such as Mae Jemison. Uhura and Nichols have merged into one incredible icon – who is fine, fierce, and fearless!
As I wrap up this post, I now pass the baton to Kalie who is planning to write about Norma Bates from the Bates Hotel (of Psycho fame). Bringing us home will be Jeff with a post on Nomi Sunrider from Star Wars Legends. Please check in weekly as this series unfolds.
Could I truly call myself a Star Trek fan without watching this series from the 70s? I felt I was missing out on some classic Trek, so what better time than quarantine to watch all 22 episodes!
There are a few changes in this series vs TOS, although chronologically it would only be a year later. Due to cost-cutting, Walter Koening was not invited back, with Nichelle Nichols and George Takei barely making the cut due to Leonard Nimoy advocating for them. Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett- Gene Roddenberry’s IRL wife, who would later play Troi’s mother in TNG) gets a larger role, and two unlikely crewmembers are added- a feline woman and a strange three armed long-necked alien.
At first not considered canon, the series is now considered the fourth season that TOS never got, and information found in it is considered part of the Star Trek chronology, with references to characters and situations in future Trek series. Warning- some spoilers! But really, are you reading this post truly worried about learning plot points? 😉
Beyond the Farthest Star
As the first episode of the series, thus establishing the caliber of this series, it wasn’t good. The Enterprise is being pulled into the orbit of a dead star. An evil non-corporeal alien entity tries to trap the ship there, but the crew is able to engage a slingshot maneuver and escape. The animation took some getting used to, as the characters are simply, if not crudely, drawn caricatures of the crew from the 60s show. The space shots were fun, with some psychedelic coloring.
Spock enters the Guardian of Forever to correct a time discrepancy in his childhood. He masquerades as a distant cousin and helps his young self correct the problem that will right the timeline. This was a surprisingly poignant episode that showed young Spock’s homelife and the bullying he endured by his peers for being half-human. This storyline was replicated in the 2009 Kelvin Star Trek movie that had a scene of Spock’s childhood that obviously was inspired by this episode. This proved to be one of the better stories.
One of Our Planets Is Missing
A massive space cloud is destroying planets and is on course to destroy a planet that has a Federation colony on it. Aiming the ship into the cloud, they discover that this cloud is actually a living entity so Spock mind-melds with it to show this creature that it is destroying life. The creature then decides to find lunch in another part of the uninhabited galaxy and the Enterprise has saved the planet from destruction.
The Lorelei Signal
Uhura and Chapel kick some ass! The ship is nearing a Burmuda Triangle of space where several ships have disappeared in a 27-year cycle. On a planet nearby they discover a race of beautiful women aliens who lure men to their planet to suck their life force from them. As the males are immobilized Uhura and Chapel are able to save the day, plus find a hospitable planet for the women to move to where they can lead regular lives and meet men without having to kill them. I was glad that the women crew members were able to get a significant storyline and didn’t have to depend on the men to save the day.
More Tribbles, More Troubles
Klingons HATE tribbles so when they are at risk of being overrun with them. Kirk reluctantly works with Cyrano Jones, an intergalactic trader. Jones knows how to neuter them, yet the Tribbles still grow to ungainly sizes and are still a threat. When the Klingons (who still don’t look anything like Worf from TNG and what we have come to expect them to look like) threaten the Enterprise with a weapon, Kirk is able to negotiate a treaty by giving the Klingons a Glommer, a creature that feeds on Tribbles. Here the Tribbles are pink, which is yet another animation mistake.
When the Enterprise finds a small private ship they think they have found Winston, a human philanthropist missing for five years, and reunites him with his fiance who happens to work on the ship. But he is actually a Vendorian, an alien species that can shapeshift, and the real Winston is dead. But because he absorbed the feelings of Winston, he begins to fall in love with Winston’s former fiance and he rebels against his Romulan captors. This was actually a touching episode and made you think about loving someone for who they are not what they look like.
The Infinite Vulcan
Written by Walter Koening (Chekov) who unjustly was not in this series due to budget constraints, this was a rather convoluted episode. While on an away mission, Sulu is poisoned by a plant, but the plant-like creatures residing there save him. The crew discovers the planet was damaged by a plague brought in by a human scientist escaping the Eugenics War (which was a war led by Khan in Earth’s past). A clone of this scientist kidnaps Spock and makes a giant clone of him, but the crew convinces him that the war he escaped is no longer a threat. The two clones remain on the planet to restore the plant civilization, leaving the regular crew to head back to the Enterprise. So, a giant Spock is left behind???
The Magicks of Megas-tu
The Enterprise encounters an alien species that for a time lived on Earth, and set off the Salem Witch Trials when their alien skills were perceived as dark magic. The alien Lucian puts them through a trial similar to what happened in Salem, but their evolved humanity shows him that he needs to forgive them. His form is revealed to look like a cloven devil, so the connection is made that our mythology is based on prior alien contact. This episode had a noble idea but the follow-through was messy and is an example as to why this series is often laughed at.
Once Upon a Planet
Crew members are looking forward to some shore leave at a planet known for being similar to an amusement park. But the caretaker has died, leaving things to go awry for the crew who beam down. For a time Uhura is kidnapped, as the sentient computer resents its duty and rebels. But Kirk teaches it to be a good boy and to enjoy obeying. This episode rubbed me the wrong way- as this computer and the robots are tricked into being subservient again.
Harry Mudd is back with a new con- a love potion! Mudd is an iconic character that only appeared twice in TOS, and once in this animated series. Here he preys on Nurse Chapel who has a crush on Spock and soon he falls in love with her once the portion actually works. But the potion has a kickback turning love to hate, and once again Mudd is sent to the brig. I enjoyed that Discovery had him in two episodes plus a Short Trek, and I am hoping the Pike series will use this character who is now portrayed by Rainn Wilson.
The Terratin Incident
This was an amusing episode where a mishap causes the crew to start shrinking. They desperately try to fix the situation before they become too small to use the controls. This is an example in which the animation was an effective way to have this type of story that would have been impossible to film in live-action at the time.
The Time Trap
The narrative of entering yet another space Burmuda Triangle was utilized again, with the Enterprise and a Klingon ship both being drawn into a pocket of the universe in which other ships have become trapped in over the eons. Descendents of these crews have formed an alliance and have formed the Elysian Council. Although these aliens say there is no escape, we all know Kirk will figure a way out!
The Ambergris Element
While on a water planet, Kirk and Spock are in an accident that makes them become water breathers and they discover a lost city under the sea, very similar to our fabled Atlantis. There is an amusing scene where Kirk and Spock are in a water tank on board the Enterprise where Kirk expresses he can’t captain while in a fish tank. The duo work with this planet’s swimming aliens and are able to fix themselves and save the civilization from ruin. Barrett voiced all the extra females in the episode and it was distracting to have them all sound so similar.
The Slaver Weapon
This episode concentrated completely on an away mission with Spock, Uhura and Sulu- so it became my favorite, as those three happen to be my favorites from the TOS crew. While transporting a relic from an ancient alien race, they encounter the war-like Kzinti, who look like felines wearing some groovy pink uniforms. These aliens became canon in the new Picard series when Riker mentioned that the Federation is “having some trouble with the Kzinti.” When I watched Picard the quote meant nothing to me, so I find it amusing that a few short weeks later I discovered the meaning of this Easter egg comment.
The Eye of the Beholder
Telepathic aliens put Kirk, Spock and Bones in a zoo when they go to a new planet to rescue crew members from another Federation ship. But the crew members work together to send messages to the aliens and convince them to release them. Scotty plays an important role when a baby alien is beamed onto the Enterprise and he communicated with it before reuniting the baby with the parents.
Spock and Kirk are called upon to join a motley group of other aliens to retrieve a stolen religious artifact. Oh man- this series creates the most ridiculous aliens! They obviously felt they could design animated aliens that could not be shown on a live-action series due to the cost of special effects. Even nowadays with better special effects, these aliens have not been replicated into series, because they were so damn absurd. Plus there was an additional laugh of an alien woman who blatantly puts the moves on Kirk.
The Pirates of Orion
Spock contracts a deadly disease and the Enterprise arranges to rendezvous with another ship to get him a cure. Some space pirates intercept the ship and Kirk has to negotiate with the deceptive Orians to get the medicine that Spock needs. Guess what- he wins.
This was a surprisingly streamlined episode, that despite its laughable colony-creature (its body parts can separate and move on their own) actually had a good message. Always a Uhura fan, I liked how she had a moment taking the helm of the ship and demanding crew members follow her orders as procedure dictated they do.
This episode also included Kirk saying “There are times, Mr. Spock when I think I should have been a librarian.” Spock observes “The job of librarian would be no less challenging, captain, but it would undoubtedly be a lot less dangerous.” As a librarian myself, I enjoyed the idea that my job is as challenging as a spaceship’s Captain!
The Practical Joker
The computer gets a virus and becomes a practical joker. Not a fan of slapstick humor- this episode was really lackluster for me. That Barrett voiced the computer is a precursor that she would voice most onboard computer interfaces throughout several of the future Star Trek shows. The highlight of the episode was seeing Kirk wear a shirt that says Kirk is a Jerk that I have seen on memes but not understood the context until now. And yes, sometimes he is.
Dr. McCoy is accused of causing a plague on an alien planet 19 years ago and is put in jail. Determined to prove his innocence, Kirk finds an alien whom he helped during that era, but then the entire ship falls ill. When I think the aliens on this series can’t get any stranger, TAS proves me wrong!
How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth
This episode was problematic and included the trope of gods-were-really-aliens again. Within the first minute, I clued in that a crew member at the helm that we never met before, Ensign Walking Bear, was going to be important, yet a one and done character. He recognizes an attacking ship as looking like Kukulkan, a Mayan deity since he is Comanche and studied other Native American cultures. This alien beams Kirk, Walking Bear and others to his ship where it is revealed that this alien visited Earth in the past and influenced the Mayan and Egyptian civilizations, but feels rejected as they did not meet his expectations of gratitude. Kirk convinces this alien that humans have grown since he last visited and to let them go and continue evolving. I think this line of thinking reinforces some misguided people who believe that some non-white civilizations couldn’t have developed as advanced as cultures as they had at one time and thus must have had outside influence. The title of this episode refers to Shakespeare’s quote from King Lear “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is / To have a thankless child” which is a good quote but quite derogatory here.
The Counter-Clock Incident
This last episode was also cringe-worthy and reinforced that the show needed to end. Traveling on the Enterprise is Commodore Robert April who was the first Enterprise captain and his wife Dr. April as they prepare for mandatory retirement at age 75. They encounter a supernova that pulls them into an opposite universe and they began to de-age. Spock and the April’s maintain the ship since they are older and aren’t turned into babies like the rest of the crew, although they too grow younger. The problems I had with this episode were the ageism and sexism- Dr. April is referred to as Mrs. April repeatedly and they are not utilized to help until the end when the need for their assistance was quite obvious from the beginning.
My youngest son asked what was worse- this series or the Star War’s Holiday Special. I had to pause and think because they are both unique and horrible in their own ways. But these last two episodes pushed me to pick this series. I must keep in mind that this series was a product of its time- the early 70s was still mired in old-fashioned stereotypes. But the crude animation torpedoed this series, as their numerous continuity mistakes were obvious, and their stock footage (there should be a drinking game for how many times the same footage was used of Spock looking into a viewfinder on the bridge) was distracting. Some of the storylines were more nuanced than others but that begs the question- was this series geared for children or adults? But overall, I am so glad I watched The Animated Series. It was an interesting look into Star Trek’s uneven history and there were nuggets of good storytelling found in it. I now await Discovery’s third season and was thrilled with the recent announcement that Captain Pike, Number One and a young Spock would be getting their own series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. In the meantime- Live Long and Prosper!
While I had been fond of Star Trek (TOS) from watching re-runs, it was Star Trek: The Next Generation that cemented my love for the franchise. I have watched every episode of the seven-season series (some multiple times) and the four movies afterward. I was also a big fan of Voyager, DS9 and the Kelvin timeline movies but didn’t care for Enterprise and have found the recent Discovery uneven; so when I heard that there would be a new series about TNG’s iconic Captain Picard, I was in! Plus, I was thrilled that my husband would watch the series with me, for while he was a fan of TNG and DS9, he hasn’t watched any newer series with me, until now.
Set in 2399, twenty years after the last movie (Star Trek Nemesis), Admiral Picard is retired from Star Fleet and has been living on his family’s ancestral vineyard in France. We find out he left Star Fleet under less than ideal circumstances, as he was an advocate for helping the Romulan population escape a planet-destroying catastrophe. When some synthetics destroyed the Mars ship-building colony, Starfleet reneged on their offer to help the Romulans due to their fleet being depleted. Picard resigned in disgust, and the public has taken a dim view of his perspective on what happened.
A young woman, Dahj, is introduced when Romulan assassins try to murder her, and she inexplicably manifests super strength during the fight. She has a mysterious vision of Picard and finds him, only for the mystery to deepen when signs point to her being an android and somehow connected to Data, another android who served with Picard and gave up his life to save others in Nemesis. As synthetic life was banned after the Mars disaster, Picard is trying to piece together what happened when he is then led to a former Borg cube, where former assimilated Borg are being released from the collective and rehabilitated.
We meet a lot of new characters, as Picard commissions a ship with a motley crew, and frankly, the storyline is rather wonky and confusing here to summarize. We have an uptight scientist who gets away with murder, a young Romulan swordsman (who looks like an elf), a rascal of a captain who is Han Solo-ish, another Romulan who is a slimy Lothario, a troubled drug-addicted former Starfleet officer with a heart of gold, Dahj’s twin Soji, and Seven of Nine from the Voyager series. Seven was a former Borg who wore skin-tight clothes and was the hottie who got Kes kicked off the Voyager series (aside-I was in the minority in not liking her, as I had preferred Kes). At least in the new series, her character was more developed and I actually liked her (yet another aside-as a bonus that frees up Chakotay to be with Captain Janeway, as I always shipped them, and I was so flippin’ mad that Seven had been paired with Chakotay). At least Picard meets up with Will Riker and Deanna Troi, former crew members of his who are now married, and they assist him at a critical juncture.
The last episode of the series was somewhat controversial for me for several reasons- there are huge leaps of logic, a confusing fantasy/mystical element is introduced and a poignant moment concerning Picard is erased which eliminates the emotions associated with what happened. There are a few romances between characters, but they are so quick and unexpected that you don’t build up investment in their relationships. Perhaps that will develop in the future.
I just have to say that I missed not seeing more of the Enterprise-D crew. I know it’s not TNG-Part 2 and wasn’t supposed to be a nostalgic stroll through the past, but still. As I had guessed would happen, the series diverted from The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard (2017) as in his supposed memoir Picard had married Dr. Beverly Crusher, and she is nowhere to be found in this series. This was wrong! So wrong! I also want to see Worf (who should have a series based off him IMO) and Geordi LaForge (LeVar!).
Picard’s first season was stronger than Discovery’s first and second seasons, and I’m not really anticipating that series’ season three. Picard’s second season is already greenlit, and I look forward to seeing what further adventures await our intrepid captain. And of course, I hope the remaining original crew members get a small cameo, as when you have been as invested in a series and characters for years, you want to know what has happened to your tv family. In the meantime, live long and prosper!
Star Trek Discovery tried an innovative approach in keeping it’s audience’s attention and building interest- it put out four shorts (each approximately 10-15 minutes long), between Discovery’s season one and two. This second time around there were six episodes, two of which were animated, and timed to coincide with the premiere of Star Trek Picard.
The first episode took the popularity of season two’s young Spock, Number One and Captain Pike and gave them their own prequel to us meeting them on the U.S.S. Discovery. Spock is beaming aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise for the first time as an ensign and meets Number One who he gets trapped in a turbolift with. Their prim and proper conversation takes a turn for the personal, with a fun but odd singing rendition of I Am The Very Model Of a Modern Major General by both of them. They later pretend to meet for the first time in front of Captain Pike. I did have two problems with this episode- they should not have been wearing those uniforms yet, but most importantly, I like them so much that I want them back on Star Trek Discovery in season three (or even better- a spinoff of their own)!
The Trouble With Edward
This episode was hysterical! I was laughing so hard that my oldest son sat down with me to finish watching the episode after I gave him a quick overview of the iconic TOS episode The Trouble with Tribbles. While my three children are all Star Wars fans, I’ve never gotten them interested in Star Trek (to my everlasting shame) so having him watch this short trek with me was a victory indeed!
New Captain Lynne Lucero is assigned to the starship U.S.S. Cabot (and is escorted there by Captain Pike) where she meets scientist Edward Larkin who is conducting some morally questionable experiments on alien Tribbles, for he wishes to use them as a food source on a starving planet. Ordered to stop, he does not, and the Tribbles start to breed out of control, eventually overtaking the entire ship. While Starfleet officers are usually professional, Edward’s ego got the best of him (as did the Captain’s frankly), and the sequence of events afterward is comical. Captain Lucero’s explanation to an admiral board of review is accurate and a perfect ending to this episode. (BTW, this is the first time chronologically we see a Trill alien in Starfleet)
The third Short Trek with dreamy Captain Pike! When Starbase 28 is attacked, Cadet Thira Sidhu is tasked with guarding a mutinous prisoner who no surprise is Captain Pike. Pike attempts to convince Sidhu into releasing him, but she refuses despite her husband being on board the starship in danger. Pike then reveals that this is a simulated test, and because of her fortitude she is welcomed aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise as an engineer. We even get a brief look at Spock and Number One when she beams abroad. While I very much enjoyed this mini-episode, the likelihood of a captain taking the time to screen applicants for his ship like this is extremely unlikely. But I’ll let is pass, as this might have been our last opportunity to see Pike, Spock and Number One together.
Ephraim and Dot
I was unsure about the animated shorts, but this first was adorable! Set in TOS timeline, a mother Tardigrade wants a safe place to lay her eggs, when The Enterprise disrupts her, so she follows the starship to see if it would be a viable location. She is witness to some iconic episodes- Space Seed (Khan!), The Trouble With Tribbles, The Naked Time (shirtless Sulu with a sword), Who Mourns For Adonis? (giant green hand in space), The Doomsday Machine (the big planet killer), The Tholian Web (orange energy cube), and The Savage Curtain (hey, whats President Lincoln doing in space?!), along with some other shoutouts to TOS happenings. A droid, Dot, tries to stop her but later realizes her intent and there is a heartwarming ending. The animation was colorful, amusing and will appeal to all ages.
The Girl Who Made the Stars
As much as I loved the previous animated short, I did not like the second one at all. In this episode, we are shown Michael from the Star Trek Discovery crew, as a young child who is afraid of the dark. Her father wishes to reassure so he tells a tale of a young girl from Africa who brings stars to her tribe, as a gift from an alien she met. This story rubbed me the wrong way because a problem I have been having with the Discovery series is that Michael is just so earnest, and she and she alone is the savior of her ship and mankind. This cloying fairy tale-esque episode reinforced that issue which makes me wonder if Star Trek Discovery will fall to the wayside for me soon.
Children of Mars
This mostly wordless episode ties in with the Picard series as a prequel to Picard’s timeline, set in 2385, when Mars was attacked by deviant synthoids. The story begins with two girls who attend boarding school on Earth, speaking with their parents who are workers on Mars before they leave for school. The girls get into a skirmish at school and escalate it until they are truly fighting in the hallways. As they are awaiting punishment from the Vulcan principal, the news is announced and the girls each realize they have lost a parent, and link hands in solidarity. We briefly see Picard on a screen when he was still an Admiral and this all fits into the mystery of Picard’s storyline. This episode was effective on many levels- it showed youth in school as we don’t see many children or family units in the Star Trek world, the catastrophe will sadly remind viewers of iconic tragedies such as 9/11 or the Challenger explosion and ties in neatly with the timeline and reasons for Picard leaving Starfleet.
All in all, I found five of the six episodes strong. These shorts allow some additional ideas to be developed that there is no time to explore in regular episodes. Fan favorites such as Pike, Spock and Number One got more character development, and threads that connect to the newest series were introduced. It a smart move by CBS to produce these mini-episodes to keep interest strong in the franchise and keep subscribers from dropping the paid platform. However, for me, I waited until Picard premiered to re-up my subscription and just caught up with these shorts at that time. So, soon enough you can expect a Star Trek Picard post from me. In the meantime- live long and prosper!