‘Star Trek’ is a franchise that seems to always find new life. Beginning life as a TV series in 1966, the future didn’t always look rosy when it was cancelled after only three seasons. After making a leap to the big screen in 1979, ‘Star Trek’ firmly established itself as a pop culture phenomenon and over the years it has spawned countless spin-off series including ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ and more recently ‘Picard’, a continuation of the story of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), which began in ‘The Next Generation’.
The franchise returned to the big screen in 2009 and so far there have been three films released, the last being ‘Star Trek: Beyond’ in 2016. At the time of writing there are four ‘Star Trek’ series on air – ‘Star Trek: Discovery’, the animated ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’, the kids-aimed ‘Star Trek: Produgy’ and the Paramount+ hit ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’. Following its release on DVD and Blu-ray, ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ is finally receiving a 4K UHD release so fans can enjoy the series in glorious high definition.
A spin-off from ‘Star Trek: Discovery’, ‘Strange New Worlds’ is a prequel to the original ‘Star Trek’ series. Taking place in the decade prior to that series, it follows Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) as he is called back to lead the crew of the starship USS Enterprise following the disappearance of Number One (Rebecca Romijn). The first episode of the series, ‘Strange New Worlds’, has a lot of set-up to do but it does so without ever feeling like it’s dragging. The pacing is great, and the introduction of new characters comes thick and fast. It also helps that in Anson Mount the series has a very capable and charismatic leading man.
Fans will be quick to notice that Spock is part of Pike’s team and in this series he’s played by Ethan Peck. I’m pretty sure we’ve never seen a Spock so buff before and I didn’t initially find that distracting, but Peck makes the part his own paying loving homage to Leonard Nimoy’s take on the character while finding his own spin. One of the cast standouts is Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh, the Enterprise’s chief of security who is dealing with the trauma of the murder of her family by the Gorn when she was a child.
As you’d expect from ‘Star Trek’, the series features a variety of gripping missions and plenty of development for the characters. It feels a lot closer to the original series and ‘The Next Generation’ than it does any of the other ‘Star Trek’ shows that have come along since. For those who loved the original series, you get to dig into the history of the universe and see what the Enterprise crew got up to prior to Kirk (William Shatner) taking the reins. You do get to see a younger version of Kirk played by ‘The Vampire Diaries’ star Paul Wesley during this first season too.
One thing to point out about ‘Strange New Worlds’ is that the series is very accessible to those that haven’t kept up with every iteration of the franchise. It doesn’t rely on you knowing everything about the ‘Star Trek’ universe and it stands on its own two fight as an engaging science fiction drama. Of course, if you’re a hardcore Trekkie then you’ll get even more out of the series than others but it’s not a requirement if you just fancy dipping your toe into the universe for the first time.
For those who like extras, the 4K UHD release is packed with them. There’s over 90 minutes of features to dig into including Anson Mount’s video diaries from the making of the first season, a fascinating look at how the world of the series was built through the eyes of Production Designer Jonathan Lee, and an exploration of the storylines and characters from the first season. There’s also a commentary from Anson Mount and Akiva Goldsman, a selection of deleted scenes and a gag reel.
‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ shows that the ‘Star Trek’ franchise has plenty of life in it yet. The 10-episode first season is easy to watch and it’s pure escapism, of the kind we don’t really see on TV that often any more. Whether it’s your gateway into the universe or the latest franchise series you’re sinking your teeth into, you’ll find lots to enjoy. It’s well-made, doesn’t take itself too seriously and does enough to hook you in for the upcoming season 2.
Cast: Anson Mount, Rebecca Romijn, Ethan Peck, Jess Bush, Christina Chong, Celia Rose Gooding, Melissa Navia, Babs Olusanmokun, Bruce Horak Certificate: 15 Duration: 525 mins Released by: Paramount Home Entertainment Release date: Monday 15th May 2023 Buy ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ now
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