I am a Star Trek fan. I am a Star Trek Discovery fan. And this new series seems better than the first.
So; Star Trek fan. I, along with many others I’ve spoken to or heard from on entertainment podcasts, have very fond memories of BBC2 at 6pm during the week in the mid to late 90s, when Star Trek was on. According to my memory it was every night of the week but I don’t imagine that was true. Partly because Quantum Leap was also on and a big part of my life. My gateway Trek was The Next Generation, followed by Voyager, the Original Series, Enterprise then a little bit of Deep Space 9 (I felt I’d missed the beginnings of an ongoing storyline and never got into it).
I definitely cried when Tasha Yar died. I had two consecutive editions of the Star Trek Encyclopaedia, saw Insurrection and Nemesis at the cinema, and even had the point and click TNG computer game (never completed). But I always had a slight block to enjoying it fully. There was an earnestness to the tone and stiltedness to the dialogue that made me a little embarrassed to watch it. The characters never really felt like real people interacting, despite the generally excellent actors. The worst culprit was Enterprise, and I was fairly quickly put off that entire series because of it.
So; Star Trek Discovery fan. I was very excited to hear of a Star Trek series to be made in the modern ‘peak TV’ era. I had enjoyed the JJ Abrams films, which never struggled with a lack of dynamism and flow but also didn’t quite capture the feel of the Star Trek I knew and loved. Others had a major problem with that change, I accept it as an expansion that can never harm the original (in the same way the Star Wars prequels don’t tarnish anything before or after them).
Discovery Season 1 looked beautiful and made me excited for weekly Star Trek again. The post-episode discussion show After Trek flashed up an interstitial card (between slightly too reverential interviews and discussions segments) under the title Cadet Training. This was a list of thematically linked episodes from all previous series, including the discarded Enterprise and unfamiliar Deep Space Nine, that I completed in full.
But Discovery had a different kind of earnestness through the huge universe-changing/threatening scope in almost every episode. This left no time to find out who most of the crew were, even on the most basic level. And Star Trek is about a crew and a ship (or station) and what that can say about our own world.
So; Season 2. This first episode introduces a new upbeat captain and, very pointedly, the names of all the vaguely recognisable crew on the bridge one by one. It also has a much healthier dose of comedy, primarily from my personal superstars of the show, Ensign Tilly and Commander Saru. There were still mis-steps; the science officer who came aboard with the new captain was clearly only written and performed to be killed quickly and without mourning (despite his lack of red shirt), the chief engineer needs to be relieved of the excessive gravity of last season’s storylines and what seems to be the season arc could be a little too high stakes.
But I have high hopes. Another pointed bit of dialogue came from the new captain, something like “Let’s have some fun along the way, while we’re exploring this really important universe ending arc we’re probably doing again”. As a mission statement, I like it.