It may be hard for a younger generation of Star Trek fans to understand, but there was a time in the pre-cable and pre-internet streaming days when the only episodes of Trek that you could see were syndicated reruns of the original 1966-69 series. I grew up watching those rebroadcasts of the show on New York's WPIX, and quickly became a fan of the show. The original series built a devoted following around the world via those reruns, and a legion of fans clamored for more Star Trek. An animated version of the show aired on NBC from 1973-75, and in 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a big screen adventure reuniting the original cast, was released, leading to a string of follow-ups. Then in 1987, Trek returned to television with Star Trek: The Next Generation, a sequel set 100 years after the original show. The Next Generation was followed by a number of other new series, including the most recent addition to the Star Trek universe, Strange New Worlds, which currently airs on Paramount+.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a prequel to the original Star Trek, featuring the adventures of Captain Christopher Pike and his crew. In Trek lore, Pike commanded the USS Enterprise just prior to Captain James T. Kirk. The character was first featured in "The Cage," the pilot for the original series, where he was played by Jeffery Hunter. When NBC passed on "The Cage," a second pilot. "Where No Man Has Gone Before," was produced, this time starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk, and, of course, the rest is history. Footage from "The Cage" was later incorporated into the two-part Star Trek episode entitled "The Menagerie." The character of Captain Pike, along with a younger version of Mr. Spock, recently appeared in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, a series that was initially set in the time just before the original series. The response to the new versions of these characters was extremely positive, so they were spun off into their own series.
Strange New Worlds features self-contained adventures in each episode, rather than the season long stories that have been the norm for recent spinoffs such as Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard. There are arcs for the main characters, however, and it will be interesting to see them developed as the series goes on, especially Pike's knowledge of his ultimate fate, which he learned in a Discovery episode. Based on the two episodes of Strange New Worlds aired so far, the writers, directors and cast are making a concerted effort to capture the essence of Classic Trek. In the pilot episode, Captain Pike gets to make a speech that wouldn't have sounded out of place in an original series episode. The writers are deftly using science-fiction as a platform to explore themes that reflect current issues, just as Gene Roddenberry and his writers did on the original series, while also having a blast playing in the sandbox of the Classic Trek era. In a way, the writers (including series co-creator Akiva Goldsman) have to perform a difficult balancing act, paying homage to the show's history, while telling exciting and interesting stories that aren't fully shackled by many years of Star Trek continuity. The weight of such a vast canon can be a daunting prospect, but thus far the writers have done an excellent job capturing the essence of classic Trek, while also telling compelling new stories.
This is an enjoyably retro series with a terrific cast, including Anson Mount as Captain Pike, Ethan Peck as Spock and Rebecca Romjin as Number One. Mount is fantastic as Pike, capturing the essence of classic era captains like Kirk, while giving the character added nuance, and a welcome sense of humor. Peck and Romjin are also excellent in their roles, and Peck in patricular has a tough job, given the iconic nature of Mr. Spock. There are also new versions of other familiar characters, including a younger iteration of Uhura, portrayed by Celia Rose Gooding, in the role played by Nichelle Nichols on the original series. The show is filled with Easter eggs, call-backs and visual references for long-time fans. In the two episodes that have been aired so far, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has managed to capture the sense of fun, adventure and thoughtful drama that are the hallmarks of the best Trek stories. This could turn out to be the best Trek series since Deep Space Nine, one of my favorites. If you're a fan, it's absolutely worth checking out. Check out the trailer for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL4iCAB6MFo.