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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Star Trek: Discovery is a prequel to Star Trek: The Original Series. The story is set 10 years before Kirk and Spock first embark on the USS Enterprise and sees the start of the battle between the Federation and the Klingons. Expect plenty of violence in the form of explosions and phaser fights, with multiple prominent character deaths. The story also raises questions regarding authority and subservience in war. Happily, there's a strong female lead in Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), who's unflappable under pressure. This series benefits from modern visual effects and diverse casting and is likely to have appeal even for sci-fi fans who aren't Trekkies yet.
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What's the story?
In STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, a routine mission takes a fateful turn when the Starship Shenzhou encounters a mysterious presence near a damaged Federation probe. Determined to learn more, Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) persuades Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) to let her check it out. In so doing, she engages a member of the Klingon race not seen or heard from in more than a century, and inadvertently gives away Starfleet's proximity. This launches the crew into an epic battle with their longtime enemy and its formidable leader, T'Kuvma (Chris Obi).
Is it any good?
Set 10 years before the story told in the original TV series, this sci-fi adventure gets a boost from two modern factors: absorbing special effects (including Klingon makeup) and cast diversity. The story doesn't break much ground -- save for a few surprises here and there -- but it does an excellent job linking itself through Michael to the tale of the Enterprise and its crew that's no doubt indelible memory for Trekkie fans.
Its arrival as a prequel to the classic series that boldly went where no man had gone before is fortuitous for non-Trekkies whose introduction to the events of the mid-20th century is Star Trek: Discovery. Rather than feeling like you have to backtrack to understand who's who and what's what, with a few basic facts (Sarek is Spock's dad as well as Michael's mentor, for instance), you're able to see connections between the two stories start to emerge.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of right and wrong in a story like Star Trek: Discovery. Is it always easy to identify the good guys and the bad guys, or is that distinction subjective? Does this story allow the Klingons to be sympathetic characters? If so, does that change your impression of the Federation's actions?
What qualities make Michael a role model? Do her actions ever contradict that distinction? How does it feel when someone you look up to disappoints you by what he or she says or does?
If you have seen other Star Trek shows or movies, compare them to this one. Besides the modern advances in visual effects, does this story eclipse the others in another way? Does it do enough to make connections between itself and the original series, or does it work better as its own show?
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