Sunday, 24 September 2017

The End in Sight: The Eve of Discovery


November 2015 seems such a long time ago but we are now less than a day from The Vulcan Hello in the US.

After a wasteland of 12 years where we've had just three reboot movies to keep us fed and watered among the sea of Star Trek repeats, a new series will be with us - the first season of at least two. 

Opening with the free to view pilot, the second episode which we know is titled Battle at the Binary Stars will follow straight after almost exactly 30 years to the day after The Next Generation premiered with Encounter at Farpoint. That episode however will be available only on subscription TV such as Netflix and CBS' All Access service.

How far we have come in those three decades with the gap of transmission in the US and UK shrunk from three years to less than a day; a time when all the sci-fi elements were models rather than CG and the captain was played by an Englishman... well maybe not everything has changed.

The titles of the first four episodes are officially revealed as Battle at the Binary Stars (think we can work out what happens there), Context is for Kings and the lengthy The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry which screams "Klingon episode" if ever there was one. In fact the last week has been a real steam-roller/headf*ck of Discovery and I'm inclined to think there's been far more publicity and media storm around this than any of the three reboot movies individually or combined.

As episode titles go I think these are a total break from the punch "norm" of a Star Trek episode title. These are more cerebral, more diverse and suggestive. While a The Next Generation episode title could tell you about the story straight up, these just don't and I love 'em for it. It's another way that Discovery is setting itself apart from the previous generations.

In the UK we can expect to see the first two episodes drop at 7am on Monday so for us working peeps that means either a lunchbreak glimpse or a long wait for the evening. I'll be honest, I wasn't booking a day off for it.

There is so much speculation and even more excitement following the CBS premiere on the 19th where everyone who attended seems to be lauding praise on just about every aspect of the new show. Is it really? Well the rest of us will be finding out for ourselves very, very soon. I actually feel a bit overTreked this week with the onslaught of teasers, uniform vids, promo photos, schematics, warp diagrams and even half-page pieces in the TV magazines. There's been a lot and with the family changes I've experienced in the last couple of months it's been hard to keep up with. What I have to applaud is that they have kept fans enwrapped for months and the quality we have seen has been judged to perfection. Remember that Beastie Boys soundtracked first trailer for Beyond that totally mis-stepped us all? Nothing like that over the last few weeks - everything has been aligned to the vision of the show and all seems to be demonstrating that Discovery will be proper Prime Universe Star Trek. Heck, we've even had suggestions that we might see a dovetail into The Original Series style uniforms at some point.

The cast themselves have been key to the promotion of the show, perhaps none moreso than Anthony Rapp via his Twitter account which just seems to be a constant feed of Discovery info, retweets of fan media and praise for the production of the series. A brilliant ambassador for the series if ever there was. That said, who can't love the enthusiasm that the whole cast has shown for the show nor Jason Isaacs' brutal honesty? This really is going to be a new age for Star Trek. The first time part of the TV franchise will be open to the wonders of 21st Century social media.

It has been exhausting but after such a perfect PR journey it's finally time to see the results. I don't know that much about the plot, the characters or, really, anything, but it feels like I might have made that decision sub-consciously and I hope that it will mean I enjoy the spectacle of Discovery that little bit more. Whether us UK fans will get to see the After Trek post-episode show is still not confirmed but I'm thinking it's a big fat NO at the minute.

Couple of really exciting things that I have tracked this week though. Firstly Timelines, the mobile game, has updated its content and all players received a Saru (yay) plus there's more content well on its way from the new series including crew and ships. Secondly and more expensively Eaglemoss have announced that their Discovery Starships Collection lands in January 2018. Issue one - USS Shenzhou - will be an introductory £9.99 with every issue following coming in at the shocking price of £29.99 per month. Oh. My. Issue two is USS Discovery.

In regards to the future of the show, episode director and former Commander Riker, Jonathan Frakes let slip that there is going to be a Mirror Universe episode in season one. How flippin' cool is that?! Saru with a goatee? Stamets with a scar? Has to be better than The Emperor's New Cloak at the very least. 

I remain ecstatically optimistic for the experience we are about to see in the next 24 hours. This may be the dawn of a brave new era of exploration for Star Trek, new characters and new possibilities. Discovery promises to be different, it dares to challenge our preconceptions of Star Trek and while there will be significant changes to the fabric of the show I believe that it will, at its heart, still remain faithful to the positive vision of the future that inspired Gene Roddenberry over 50 years ago.

I will, as you would no doubt expect, be reviewing every episode - at least that's the intention at the moment but time will be dependent. 

So here we go...let's fly.

What are your thoughts on the buildup to Discovery? Too much? Too little? Was everything a winner or did they miss a trick?

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