The New Face of Star Trek
So, yes, to watch it you have to pay for yet another streaming service. In my humble opinion CBS is taking advantage of generations of fans, millions of us, but it's a genius business move. Fans will pay anything for more Trek. And Discovery is very much worth the monthly 7 bucks. The show takes us back to the youth of the United Federation of Planets, a conglomeration of peaceful species and worlds, working for the benefit of galactic society and scientific endeavor. The setting of the story is based 10 years before William Shatner's Kirk of the 60s, a short century after Kirk's predecessor, Jonathan Archer and the first voyage of the first Enterprise. Because of this the Federation's rules aren't nearly as fine-tuned, progressive, and equitable as they come to be later in the timeline of the fictional universe, the period which we 80s kids were raised watching. We as humans, and our allied extra-terrestrial members of the Federation, have explored so little of the galaxy at this point that we've yet to encounter little more than legends of the Klingon Empire. When we confront them, it's immediate war. That is the nature of our inexperience with the beings beyond our star's little bubble. The nature of Klingons, a violent, prideful, devout, rooted-in-tradition, xenophobic warrior race. In the eyes of the Empire, we of the allied planets are sinister trespassers bent on aggressive cultural assimilation. War is bloody, therefore I give a word of caution to parents wary of tainting their resilient kids' minds with graphic violence. In my strong opinion, the violence and foul language depicted in Discovery is quite conservative compared to much of what kids watch nowadays. In context this show's rough parts are solidly appropriate. From the mass mauling of a ship's crew by a misunderstood and terrified creature painfully studied and experimented upon to the gore of battle with a species that prefers the glory of a bloody blade to the arguably more humane phaser, it all fits. There is far more conflict and uncertainty in this period of time, much like in the real world. As mentioned before this is the Federation in its youth. These are the first steps and stumbles of a grand vision of the future, so turmoil is inevitable. I'm very comfortable allowing my 9 and 11 year old daughters to enjoy the show with my wife and I, if only for the strong female role models.
Star Trek has always pushed boundaries, therefore with every iteration of it there are bound to be big new questions asked, many of them uncomfortable. What does diversity mean? What is equality? How can we learn from our mistakes and progress as individuals and as a civilization? What is empathy? What do we as people stand for? What are our limits, our potential, as a sentient species? So far Discovery has impressed me with how boldly those kinds of topics are delved into, just like Gene Roddenberry, the mastermind behind all Trek, intended them to be. Not only is the subject matter current, relevant, and respectfully true to form, but the cast seems to have thrown themselves into their rich, multi-faceted characterization. The special effects, the set design, the breath-taking and serenely peaceful energy beings and their forest world, the tense space battles, the real connection between characters, the costumes, the humor, and so much more, they all take Trek to where it belongs. I love it. The bogus science can be forgiven; remember folks, there once was a time in which the idea of a personal communicator was laughably ridiculous, fantastical. Now we have smart phones that can function leaps and bounds ahead of supercomputers of old. The universal translator is already a real thing. Existence of dark matter has been all but proven. We can see literally to the edges of the known universe. Watch a bit then decide for yourself whether you want to share with your children the new face of a franchise that's inspired generations of adventure lovers, stargazers, scientists, astronauts, teachers, students, musical virtuosos, accomplished stage and screen actors, and artists of every kind.
Who knows. Maybe your little fan-kid will someday be the inventor of the mushroom-powered spaceship teleporter. But not if she misses Discovery!