That’s what we’re being told anyway. Fans of the previous incarnation of the Star Trek Universe, the “classic” timeline as opposed to the “Prime” timeline of CBS All Access or the Kelvin timelines of the movies, may not be getting their timeline back but a show that more accurately approaches the feel of the classic shows, the hopeful and optimistic future where the Federation is the good guys and have established peace on Earth. Discovery dropped this and from what I’ve heard Picard outright tosses it out in a way Deep Space Nine didn’t even desire to do. So is this truly the return to the humanist, uplifting series seen in the first three series (and questionably attempted in Voyager–oh, and “three” includes the animated series)? Or is it just more BS by Hollywood who wants to get fans hyped and hope that their “superior” version wins the fans over after tricking them into watching it?
In a recent interview with Variety, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds co-creator and executive producer Akiva Goldsman discusses how this show, which will most likely take place in the Prime timeline since it spins off of Discovery and focuses on the Pike years of the Enterprise (much like the Marvel/Paramount Comics Star Trek: Early Voyages comic did with the classic timeline–you can find reviews for that here at the Spotlight), will be closer in tone and style to the original Star Trek, but with a few modern updates.
“We’re going to try to harken back to some classical ‘Trek’ values, to be optimistic, and to be more episodic,” Goldsman tell Variety. “Obviously, we will take advantage of the serialized nature of character and story building. But I think our plots will be more closed-ended than you’ve seen in either ‘Discovery’ or ‘Picard.’”
Optimism. That’s something Trek’s been missing for awhile. It’s why Trekkies flocked to The Orville (which is now behind the Hulu paywall much as the Trek shows are for CBS All Access–the jerks). As far as serialized versus close-ended, Goldsman expands on that later in the interview.
“I imagine it to be closer to the original series than even ‘DS9,’” Goldsman says of “Strange New Worlds.” “We can really tell closed-ended stories. We can find ourselves in episodes that are tonally of a piece.” Of the type of episode that “Strange New Worlds” might attempt that “Discovery” or “Picard” might not, Goldsman says, “It’s hard to do a shore-leave episode in the middle of a long, serialized arc.”
But episodes won’t be quite so contained as, say, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” the classic original-series installment in which William Shatner’s Kirk and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock meet Edith Keeler, a brilliant social worker played by Joan Collins whom history has fated to die young.
“I think one thing that we always struggled with [as fans] was that Kirk is heartbroken at the loss of Edith Keeler in ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’ and has to be just fine the next week,” Goldsman says. “I think what we would want to do is keep the characters having moved through and recognizing the experiences they’ve had in previous episodes, but to be able to tell contained, episodic stories.
Now this I can get behind. It’s also what I’d like to see out of comics but that’s another commentary. It means if you’re new or a casual viewer you can watch any episode and still get something out of it while someone who watches every episode gets something special out of it as events from story to story will still matter…like life (that should appease the “grounded in reality” types I hope) and the casual/new viewer may go back and watch the old ones. Of course since it’s all right there on All Access (provided you’re plopping money down for the service or perhaps internationally seeing it on Netflix or Prime or whoever CBS can convince will be different this time) that will be rather easy.
However, it’s not the serialized storytelling that has disturbed Trekkies versus the fans of CBS’s prior takes (“neo-Trekkies” if you will), but that the shows prior have focused on a darker and less optimistic vision Starfleet or heavy-handed politics based on current events rather than general humanist commentaries on the human condition in a period where Earth finally got their act together and became better people. How will Strange New Worlds compare to the rest of the franchise? Unfortunately Goldman doesn’t go into that any more than the comments I’ve already posted above (that or the writer, Daniel Holloway, or his editor didn’t go into detail in the interview or article). We do however get this from Prime Spock actor Ethan Peck:
When he first landed the part of Spock for “Discovery” Season 2, Peck met with the family of the late Nimoy, who originated the role. But the Spock he played on “Discovery” was different from the logic-driven half-alien Nimoy made iconic. Peck played a younger Spock at a time in the character’s life when he had come to question himself and his identity. Peck anticipates that the Spock of “Strange New Worlds” will have matured since his “Discovery” days.
“It’ll be a whole new challenge for me as an actor portraying Spock because you’ve had this transformation,” Peck tells Variety. “I can’t wait to see what we explore.”
I know at least one commentator I follow on YouTube makes fun of Discovery Spock quite often, using a quote where he goes “I like science” like he’s mentally disturbed compared to classic Spock. If this show is going to give us the Spock we know and love in this new timeline (and Peck just may be able to pull it off–and it sounds like he really wants to) then there may be hope for this show, depending on how it approaches the rest of the series. Of course we were happy about Picard until we learned the politics would be heavy-handed, be more concerned with current events which will horribly date the series, and present a darker Federation because Patrick Stewart wasn’t happy about the UK parting ways with the European Union under the declaration of national sovereignty. And no, I’m not interested in any comments for or against Brexit. That’s not what we do here. As it is I’m only saying what I’ve heard about Picard because even if I had money coming in I haven’t seen anything that makes me want to spend it on CBS All Access.
Speaking of Spock though the article ends with this:
Both Goldsman and Peck are mum on story details. (When asked if “Strange New World” viewers will get to see Spock during pon farr, Peck — without needing it explained to him that pon farr is a period of extreme sexual desire that Vulcans experience once every seven years — laughs and says, “I really have no idea, but I would think it’s a strong possibility.”)
Sorry, you’re not going to outdo “Amok Time” so don’t even try. Maybe if you involved a different Vulcan and explored it with him or her, but with Spock himself we’ve seen it twice (if you count teen Spock in the third movie) and I don’t think we need to see it again.