I have a confession to make: I didn’t want Paramount to make Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
At least not at first. During the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, there was an increasingly loud drumbeat for a show featuring Captain Pike, Spock, and the crew of Enterprise. And while that idea was certainly intriguing to me, I couldn’t help but couch a lot of the clamoring for the new show in the context of the vitriol being thrown at Discovery and the nonsense idea that “what Trek really needs is another White captain!”
This, of course, is utter nonsense. But as the season went on, I realized how much I enjoyed what Anson Mount and Ethan Peck brought to the roles of Christopher Pike and Spock, respectively. And I was intrigued by Rebecca Romijn’s portrayal of Number One (though she was sadly underused in Discovery).
But I was still hesitant. I think it was because Discovery was still the only new Star Trek show being made. In spring of 2019, Star Trek: Picard had yet to debut, and Star Trek: Lower Decks was just a rumor (it wouldn’t be until that summer when we would see anything of the show). Of course, at this time, the show that would become Strange New Worlds only existed in the minds of the Trek fandom.
Fast forward a couple years to when Strange New Worlds has been officially announced. While I was still not convinced that we NEEDED a Captain Pike show, some of the details that had emerged had certainly caused me to be intrigued by the overall concept.
The biggest one was the reported commitment to a return to more episodic storytelling. Both Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard had committed to season-long story arcs that, regardless of one’s opinion about the specific stories being told, did not lend themselves well to the types of “dropping by a planet” or “random encounter in space” types of stories that were the bread and butter of starship-based Trek of the past.
In the lead up to the premiere of the series, the fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery only enhanced my feeling that a new, episodic form of Trek was the way to go. While I have been a fan of Discovery from the beginning (and remain so today), my honest opinion of season four is that they stretched about five episodes of story into a ten-episode season. The idea that complete stories would be told over the course of individual episodes felt more appealing than ever.
And then the show came out, and I loved it!
That’s not to say I loved everything about it—I will certainly touch on many of those things as I go through my rewatch. But on the whole, I found the entire show wonderfully entertaining and a superb mix of modern Trek with a nostalgic flair that reminded me of growing up watching TOS reruns and TNG as it aired.
As I go through the rewatch, I will be ranking the episodes as I cover them. You can also find my original rankings to the right (or below this post if you’re reading on a phone).
Preconceived Notions From My First Go-Around
Obviously by already having rankings, I have some idea of which episodes I prefer to others. That said, I’m keeping a fairly open mind, as I haven’t watched all of them multiple times yet. So my opinions are likely to change after repeat viewings. I’ll also say that, despite ranking all ten episodes and thus having to have some in the bottom quarter (just by the nature of how rankings work), I would only really give one episode anything less than a B grade.
Of course, to stay on-brand, I’ll be talking about the show’s music as I go. If anyone reading this has been following me on Twitter for any period of time, you’ll know how much grief I was giving Paramount for the delay in releasing the soundtrack album, so it will come as no surprise when I say that I absolutely loved the work that Nami Melumad did in Season One. I can’t say I was surprised, as she had previously done a superb job with Star Trek: Prodigy. I won’t go as into specifics here but save things for the individual episodes.
I will say that I went in less enamored with the main title theme written by Jeff Russo. While I had been a fan of his music from Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard, I felt that in the more recent seasons, he had become…predictable I guess is the word for it. The music isn’t bad, it’s just less interesting than it used to be, at least to me. And that’s not necessarily a knock on Russo so much as the reality of being the only composer for six seasons of Trek shows.
Then there was the matter of him getting to write the main title instead of Nami Melumad, a situation that would have bothered me in isolation but did so more because it’s the same thing that happened to her with Prodigy (where Michael Giacchino wrote the main theme). It also didn’t help that the theme Russo wrote is, to put it charitably, very much a play on Alexander Courage’s theme to the Original Series. Over time, my opinion on the theme has softened considerably, though I don’t think I will ever rank it in the top tier of Trek themes.
Where would I rank the show itself? Off the top of my head, I would put it in the running for my favorite of the New Star Trek™ shows along side Star Trek: Lower Decks. Whether that’s fair given that we have only had ten episodes so far is certainly debatable. It’s also a question that I will revisit somewhat during this rewatch.
Next up: Episode 1, “Strange New Worlds.” As Captain Pike would say, Hit It!