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After five years of building out a rebooted Star Trek franchise on the small screen, Paramount+ (formerly branded to the public as CBS All Access) has finally gotten to the heart of what makes the long-running science fiction IP tick.
That's what critics are saying about the latest television effort — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — which is simultaneously a Discovery spinoff and prequel to the original show from the 1960s. Despite a few in-universe anachronisms and stilted performances here and there, the reviews can't deny that the show (premiering this Thursday) is a smartly-concocted back-to-basics outing and, perhaps, the best piece of Trek media since The Next Generation.
Named after a snippet of introductory narration featured in The Original Series, Strange New Worlds takes place aboard the USS Enterprise when it was still under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). Of course, a number of up-and-coming crew members — including Ethan Peck's Science Officer Spock, Rose Gooding's Cadet Nyota Uhura, and Jess Bush's Nurse Christine Chapel — will later serve under the leadership of James T. Kirk.
Rebecca Romijn (Number One), Christina Chong (La’an Noonien-Singh), Melissa Navia (Lt. Erica Ortega), and Babs Olusanmokun (Dr. M'Benga) co-star. Akiva Goldsman wrote and directed the pilot episode. He also serves as co-showrunner/executive producer alongside Henry Alonso Myers. Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet, Heather Kadin, Frank Siracusa, John Weber, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, and Aaron Baiers are executive producers.
Check out the reviews below:
"In returning to a familiar ship, familiar characters (Pike, Spock, Number One, Khan, Uhura, Dr. M'Benga, Nurse Chapel), and Trek's classical and well-worn hour-long episodic format, the franchise has finally reached a point where it is ... however unbelievable it might be ... legitimately good once again. No qualifications are needed any longer. Strange New Worlds is, quite simply, the best Star Trek show in decades." -Witney Seibold, /FILM
"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds ... doesn't particularly care about the version of the Enterprise or its crew you may or may not be holding in your head, and heart. It simply wants to tell Trek stories the way they used to be told — one space battle, one diplomatic summit, one alien virus, one spatial anomaly, one transporter accident at a time." -Glen Weldon, NPR
"The production values on Strange New Worlds are the most lush of any of the Paramount+ shows: the reimagined Enterprise feels somehow totally contemporary yet informed by the pop art ’60s version. This isn’t a vision of the Enterprise designed to supplant the ’60s Enterprise, which is rather what the new ship in the J.J. Abrams movies felt like, when you could actually see it through all those lens flares. This one feels like it complements the original version, like this show could lead right into The Original Series." -Christian Blauvelt, IndieWire
"Trek purists will undoubtedly quibble the fact that some of the gadgetry is inconsistent with the pre-original series setting, the crew frequently making use of tech that, in the Star Trek timeline, shouldn’t become commonplace until The Next Generation era. But otherwise this is an extremely promising start for the latest branch of the ever-expanding Trek universe. Strange New Worlds may be boldly going where its predecessors have gone before, but it’s doing so in style." -Richard Edwards, GamesRadar
"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ premiere takes a classic approach to the franchise, not just in terms of its setting or characters, but also in its storytelling. Standalone tales are the mission statement, presumably on strange new worlds where, you know, new life and new civilizations can be found. But the characters’ ongoing arcs will be the thread that holds the season together, with the already established (and terrific) Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn leading a group of promising new faces. Funny, inspiring, and kind of amazing, Strange New Worlds is, so far, the best new Trek in years." -Scott Collura, IGN
"SNW is a return to more episodic live-action Trek storytelling, with an emphasis on theme and character. With a winning cast and connections to some of the most beloved storylines in the franchise, this one’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. But where the show really soars is in its uncompromising vision for our future." -Avery Kaplan, Comics Beat
"Overall, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is an absolute blast. It’s full of compelling characters and its episodic format not only serves as yet another bridge to The Original Series, but also allows viewers to see the action aboard the Enterprise from multiple perspectives, which is refreshing. Smart, addictive and flat out fun, Strange New Worlds is the best Star Trek series since The Next Generation and acts as a faithful love letter to the original. Old fan or new, this is a trek you’ll certainly want to take." -Terry Terrones, Paste Magazine
It's not a perfect show. A couple of the cast give slightly wooden performances, and despite an extended backstory in the third episode Romijn’s First Officer still feels a little underdeveloped and extraneous – like Kirk, Pike seems to prefer hanging out with Spock. But these feel like normal issues for a series to work out in time (remember, it was a while before Jonathan Frakes grew his beard). Overall, Strange New Worlds is absolutely nailing the basics of what used to make Star Trek great – and I can’t wait until they boldly go to seek out new civilisations (i.e. officially announce when it’s coming out in the UK) so I can see more." -Huw Fullerton, Radio Times
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres on Paramount+ this Thursday — May 5.
Looking for more space-set sci-fi? The original run of Battlestar Galactica is streaming now on Peacock. Looking ahead, SYFY has The Ark coming next season (from the architects of the Stargate franchise), and Peacock is developing a fresh revival of Battlestar Galactica.