‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Proves To Be One Of The Best ‘Star Trek’ Series In Years In Its Debut Season

Courtesy: CBS/Paramount+/Paramount

Fans of CBS and Paramount+’s latest addition to the ever expanding Star Trek universe – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — got some good news about the series late last month.  The news in question was the announcement that the series has been renewed for a third season, this despite the fact that the fledgling series’ second season has not even premiered yet.  Its premiere date is scheduled for June 15.  Such a statement from higher ups at CBS and Paramount is quite the statement of faith in the series.  For those who have yet to even take in the series’ first season, it may well be justified.  That is because as the recently released first season shows, it is the best installment of the Star Trek universe since…well…The Next Generation.  The writing that went into this season makes that clear.  It will be discussed shortly.  While the writing does plenty to make the show fully engaging and appealing, Season One’s recent home physical release does have some issue, that being its packaging.  This will be discussed a little later.  The packaging is not enough to doom the new release.  To that end, there is still one more positive to note, and it comes in the form of the cast’s work interpreting the writing.  This will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the new home physical release of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.  All things considered, the recent home physical release of this standout series’ debut season largely a successful presentation despite its packaging concerns.

Late last month, CBS and Paramount+ brought their latest addition to the ever expanding Star Trek universe home on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray steel book.  The recent home physical release proves to be largely a welcome addition to the home library of any Star Trek fan.  That is saying a lot, considering it took its predecessor, Discovery, three seasons to finally prove itself a worthy addition to the Star Trek universe and it took another of its predecessors, Lower Decks, two seasons to finally become appealing.  Picard only barely improved from its first season to its second, but not by much, too.  The immediate positive impact of Strange New Worlds comes in large part through its writing.  Unlike so many series out there today (including so many Star Trek series), this series brings audiences back to the days of episodic writing.  This means that audiences do not feel like they have to invest so much of their time into the series to really appreciate the show.  This even despite the fact that each episode opens with the standard “previously on…” introduction.  The show’s writers are to be applauded for their work throughout the season, even from early on.  Season premiere episode “Strange New Worlds” takes audiences back to the golden age of Star Trek as Captain Pike and the crew of the Enterprise have to hide their identities in order to rescue first officer Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn – X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand) from an alien world where she is being held prisoner.  Things don’t go quite as planned as the genetic change used to hide the crew’s identity wears off on Spock and they are revealed to not be from the planet.  Ultimately it leads to a powerful climax when Captain Pike (Anson Mount – Hell on Wheels, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Crossroads) stands at a tense political meeting of the planet’s representatives, offering them to join the Federation or destroy each other using the technology they have gained.  As it so happens, the writers reveal the warp technology the planet’s people have obtained was the result of the events of Star Trek: Discovery Season 3.  The tie-in there is handled expertly by the writers, who allow the reference but do not let it overpower the bigger story line.  The result is that said reference will likely get newer audiences to go back and watch Season 3 of Discovery

Another example of the power of the writing comes much later in the season in the form of the episode, “Spock Amock.”  In the case of this episode, Spock (Ethan Peck – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, In Time, The Midnight Sky) and his fiancée, T’Pring (Gia Sandhu – A Perfect Plan, The Moth Diaries, A Simple Favor) accidentally change bodies when going through part of their courtship.  Yes, it’s the old familiar plot device that’s been used in so many science fiction series.  The thing is that in this episode, the writers do not allow it to fall into all of the trappings that those series have used and allowed to make the plot device to trite.  Watching Sandhu (who is supposed to be Spock through most of the episode_ lay out another Vulcan makes for such a hilarious moment.  That is because as serious as Spock is all the time, seeing that surprise moment is just so shocking and lighthearted.  Meanwhile, T’Pring, in Spock’s body, has to help Pike navigate negotiations to being another alien race into the federation.  The way in which Peck presents T’Pring handling Spock in the moment makes for an equally engaging juxtaposition to how Sandhu took on Spock being in her body.  The whole is a surprisingly engaging comedy of errors, so to speak.  How the pair finally return to their own bodies will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  It is a little bit too familiar, but still kind of funny in its own right.  The whole here shows that even with an all too familiar plot device, the series’ writers are able to bring audiences something fresh, engaging and entertaining.

Another familiar plot device that has been used in previous Star Trek series (and other science fiction series) is that of a mystery ailment making its way through the Enterprise.  One of the most notable times then happened was in TNG when a virus spread through the ship that essentially acted like alcohol, inhibiting the crew’s actions and judgements.  The Enterprise is almost destroyed as a result.  It all happened after the Enterprise’s crew went to investigate the death of another ship’s crew.  In the case of “Ghosts of Illyria,” the virus gets onboard the Enterprise after the crew is beamed up from the surface of another planet that was ravaged by the effect of ion storms.  The whole story will not be revealed here, but the virus infects the Enterprise’s crew and makes them crazy for light, to the point that they nearly destroy the ship, right down to Chief Engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak – Warehouse 13, Transplant, In The Dark) trying to transport part of the planet onto the ship.  Had Hemmer succeeded, it most certainly destroyed the ship.  The tension that the writers create throughout the story makes this familiar matter fully original and in turn just as engaging and entertaining as the stories in the other episodes discussed here and the rest of the season’s episodes.  The whole of that content and the bonus feature-length commentaries that accompany some of the episodes pair to make for plenty of appeal for viewers.

While the general content featured in the new home physical release of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season One does plenty to make this season a strong start for the series, the packaging thereof detracts from that appeal to a point.  Speaking specifically about the season’s DVD packaging, the season’s 10 total episodes are spread across four discs.  The discs overlap each other on the inside front and back of the case, with two discs on either side.  One cannot help but wonder why all involved would use such an archaic packaging method, considering how easy it would have been to place one disc inside on the front, on inside on the back, and then put the other two discs on either side of a leaf inside the case.  That would protect the discs while also allowing at least slightly more access to the welcome episode guide printed inside the case’s wrap.  Instead, by placing them in overlapping style, viewers lose out.  That is because they have to remove both discs on either side to get to just one disc.  In the process of removing and replacing the discs, this packaging format dramatically increases the odds of the discs marring one another, in turn potentially reducing their life span.  Keeping that in mind, this packaging used for Season One’s home physical release is very problematic.  It is not enough to doom the season’s home physical presentation, but hopefully when the series’ second season becomes available to home viewers, all involved with rethink the packaging and do something…well…smarter (for lack of another word) with that season’s packaging.  Knowing that the packaging is clearly problematic but not enough to doom the set, there is still one more positive to note.  That positive is the cast’s work on camera.

Mount leads the way in terms of the performances as he returns to the role of the famed Capt. Pike.  For those who might not be too familiar with the latest Star Trek series, Mount took on the role of Pike in the third season of Discovery in a standalone episode that threw back to the original Star Trek series, what with the whole issue of Harry Mudd and the Tribbles.  He stood out just as much in that performance, too and it was likely that it was that performance that led to the creation of Strange New Worlds.  The confidence that Mount brings to Mount in the needed moments and the controlled vulnerability that he displays as he faces his own mortality makes him just as enjoyable to watch as William Shatner (Capt. Kirk) and Sir Patrick Stewart (Cpt. Jean-Luc Picard) in their respective series.  The moment when he sits down with the bridge crew and welcomes a young Uhura (played by relative newcomer Celia Rose Gooding) throws back to the performances of Stewart and Shatner in its own enjoyable way, too.  Gooding herself presents her own impressive performance as the then cadet Uhura.  The growth that she brings to Uhura as a persona makes her a fully sympathetic character because of the growing confidence that Uhura gradually displays.  Her performances in the role are fully believable and enjoyable to watch during those formative years of Uhura’s career even as Uhura doubts her place aboard the Enterprise.

Peck deserves his own share of credit, too, as Spock.  He is not the same Spock portrayed by the late great Leonard Nimoy, but his presence in the role really does its own share to mirror Nimoy’s performances, both in his more serious moments and at least one lighter moment.  In similar fashion, Horak’s gruff Chief Engineer Hemmer is so lovable because he is that persona who still does have a certain amount of heart.  Horak does so well balancing those sides of Hemmer throughout the season as does Babs Olusanmokun as ship’s doctor M’Bega.  M’Bega is no Bones, but his moments on screen allow him to portray some personality, too.  Speaking of medical staff, Jess Bush (Home and Away, Playing For Keeps, Skinford: Chapter 2) surprises as the young nurse, Christine Chapel.  Chapel is essentially M’Bega’s second in command, yet every time she is on camera, the duality that she brings to the pair with her energy makes for its own share of engagement and entertainment, too.  That is because of the comic appeal that she creates opposite M’Bega’s more serious tone.  It is just one more example of the importance of the cast’s work here in SNW’s debut season.  Between the performances examined here and those of the rest of the cast (all of which are just as deserving of praise in their own right), the overall work of the cast throughout Season One makes for so much engagement and entertainment.  When the overall work of the cast is paired with the work of the series’ writers, the whole makes watching each episode so fully engaging and entertaining.  That overall content makes Season One’s home physical presentation all the more deserving of praise, even considering the issue of the packaging.  All things considered, the home physical release of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season One proves to be one of the best of this year’s new DVD and Blu-ray releases for grown-ups.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season One’s recent home physical release is a mostly successful presentation and start for the series.  Its success comes in large part through its writing.  The writing brings viewers something new and something familiar throughout its 10 total episodes.  The writing makes the new stories fully engaging and entertaining because of their originality.  The more familiar story lines are given equally, welcome new life thanks to the writing staff’s work.  While the stories that were crafted for Season One are enjoyable, one can only hope that viewers will be able to watch them for years to come.  That hope is due to the issue of the packaging method used for the set’s four discs.  The overlapping of the discs greatly increases the risk of the discs scratching one another during removal and replacement of each disc, greatly increasing the risk of the discs’ life begin reduced.  Thankfully this is not such an issue that it will doom the set.  Keeping that in mind, there is one more positive to Season One’s presentation.  It comes in the form of the cast’s work.  From the bridge crew to the Engineering staff and others in-between, each cast member brings his or her own flair to the show that is enjoyable in its own right along with the writing.  When the writing and performances are considered together, they ensure Season One is a strong start for Strange New Worlds and even despite the packaging issues, is one of the year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for grown-ups.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season One is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and steel book Blu-ray.  More information on the series is available along with all of the series’ latest news at:

Website: https://paramountplus.com/shows/star-trek-strange-new-worlds

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‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Neither Succeeds Nor Fails In Its Debut Season’s Home Release

Courtesy: Paramount/Paramount+/CBS Studios/CBS All Access

Paramount+’s latest addition to the ever-expanding Star Trek universe, Star Trek: Lower Decks, is scheduled to launch its second season this summer, roughly a year after the series saw its debut season premiere.  As audiences wait for the series’ second season to air, they can take in the show’s first season on DVD and Blu-ray beginning Tuesday.  The debut season of this newest addition to the Star Trek universe is an intriguing presentation even in its new home release.  While Lower Decks is not a complete disappointment or failure in its debut season, it also is not a total success.  That is proven in part through its writing, which is itself both a positive and negative.  It will be discussed shortly.  For all that the writing does to both benefit and detract from the series’ presentation, it is just one of the elements to examine in addressing the home release of the series’ debut season.  The bonus content featured in the home release of the show’s lead season is a positive in its own way.  It will be discussed a little later.  The two-disc set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the home release of the series’ lead season.  All things considered, they make the presentation such that Star Trek fans will find it worth watching at least once.

Paramount+’s home presentation of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 presents the series as neither an improvement on nor a lessening of the long-running franchise that is Star Trek.  That is proven in large part through its writing.  The writing benefits the show first and foremost in the fact that each episode is only half an hour instead of a full hour.  What’s more, the writing brings the franchise back to the episodic presentation style that was once the franchise’s norm.  Every episode finds the crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos going from planet to planet facing all kinds of adventures.  The whole thing opens with a zombie plague overcoming the Cerritos in “Second Contact” and Ensign Boimler inadvertently being the one to save the day.  “Moist Vessel” keeps the action on board entertaining as Captain Freeman (who is revealed early on to be Ensign Mariner’s mother) teachers Mariner a lesson about maturity as she continues to cause trouble for her mother and much of the ship’ senior staff.  “Veritas” meanwhile presents audiences with a familiar twice-told tale type plot element that is so common to sitcoms.  It’s a surprisingly funny story that, as with the other noted episodes and the rest of the season’s stories, boast a certain stylistic similarity to the writing used in Futurama.  To that point, the writing does a lot to make the debut season of Lower Decks worth at least a chance.  At the same time, the writing also suffers from one major downfall, that being that it takes itself too seriously in trying to not be serious.

Yes, the stories featured throughout the first season of Lower Decks are original and funny, the dialogue that is used therein proves very problematic.  The snarkiness and the amount of foul language that is used throughout each episode proves very problematic.  Considering that the series is the creation of Rick & Morty writer Mike McMahan, that should come as no surprise.  Things like Mariner getting drunk, Captain Freeman essentially cussing out lower ranking officers, and the overtly over the top silliness as the ensigns testify before a court for something that happened, and more, the writing just suffers in terms of its general content.  That against the enjoyment brought by the less serious nature of the stories and that the episodes are standalone presentations offsets one another.  It works together to once more show why the writing makes this season worth watching at least once.  While the writing featured in the first season of Lower Decks proves both good and bad, the bonus content is featured in Season 1’s home release proves positive, somewhat offsetting the  concerns raised in the writing.

The bonus content presented in the home release of Lower Decks Season 1 is positive in that it gives audiences a look behind the show’s scenes.  The most notable of the bonuses comes in “Hiding in Plain Sight.”  This roughly six minute bonus featurette presents just some of the items used in past Star Trek series that are tossed in here.  The shows’ creative heads point out in this segment that the inclusion of the classic items was intentional as a means to add to appeal for fans of those shows.  Any diehard Star Trek fan will agree that there is something special in seeing this generation of Star Trek so lovingly throwing back to the franchise’s early days.  As with the writing, this follows in the shoes of the writing of Futurama.  It is interesting to see the tasteful way in which so many classic Star Trek items and characters were thrown into this series, not just to generate nostalgia, but to use them as story elements, too.

“Hiding in Plain Sight” is just one of the set’s notable bonuses.  The “Lower Decktionary” segments give even more insight into the show’s creative process.  From the animation, to the title credits (which themselves throw back to the look of TNG’s credits), to the show’s music, audiences get brief but in-depth discussions on so much of the show’s “secondary” content.  Those discussions, along with the talks on the throwbacks to classic Star Trek will add its own level of engagement and entertainment for audiences in this presentation.  Together with the more positive side of the show’s writing, the two aspects collectively make the show slightly more worth watching.

The bonus and content and writing featured in the home release of Lower Decks Season 1 does well to make this debut season of the Star Trek universe’s latest addition worth watching at least once.  They are just a portion of what works to the presentation’s positive.  The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.  Audiences will note that a brief but concise episode summary list is printed inside the case’s front and rear box art.  This inclusion allows audiences to make a quick decision as to which episode they want to watch.  Making this aspect even more appealing is the fact that the episodes are aligned specifically with each of the set’s two discs.  This means that audiences immediately know which episodes are on which disc, and in the process, will be that much more capable of deciding which episode to watch.  Those behind the presentation in this aspect are to be commended for this move.

Making the packaging even more of a positive is the fact that the set’s discs are wisely presented inside the case.  Disc one is placed on a leaf inside the case by itself while Disc Two is placed on its own spindle on the box’s rear inside.  This protects the discs from marring one another.  On yet another level, the smart placement of the discs also makes the packaging ergonomic.  This will appeal to any viewer who prefers the physical object to streaming.  Keeping this in mind along with the positive impact of the packaging’s episode listing, there is no doubt that the packaging proves important in its own way to the whole of the set’s presentation.  When this element is considered along with the positive impact of the set’s bonus content, and the mixed impact of the writing, all three elements make the home release of Lower Decks’s debut season somewhat engaging and entertaining, but still neither an improvement nor lessening of the Star Trek universe’s overall legacy.

Paramount+’s new home release of Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 is an intriguing first outing for the latest addition to the ever-growing Star Trek universe.  The show is neither an outright win nor a total failure.  That is proven in part through the season’s writing.  The writing brings together the best elements of Star Trek and Futurama, but the worst elements of shows, such as Rick & Morty and Family Guy at the same time.  That whole makes the writing somewhat entertaining, but also equally lacking.  The bonus content that accompanies the season in its new home release makes up for the writing’s concerns.  That is because of the background that it offers on the show in its lead season.  The packaging of Season 1 in its home release rounds out the set’s most important elements.  It enhances the viewing experience because it makes choosing an episode easy for viewers while also protecting each of the set’s two discs.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this set’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the debut season of Star Trek: Lower Decks worth watching at least occasionally, but not much more.  Star Trek Lower Decks Season 1 is scheduled for release Tuesday through Paramount, Paramount+, CBS Studios and CBS All Access.

More information on this and other content from CBS All Access is available online at:




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