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Star Trek: Discovery – The Vulcan Hello (Review)

What does Star Trek look like in 2017?

Star Trek: Discovery was always going to have to reinvent the franchise. It exists twelve years removed from the end of Star Trek: Enterprise. That is a lifetime in pop culture; it is worth noting that Star Trek: The Next Generation was thirteen years removed from the end of Star Trek: The Animated Series. Resurrecting the franchise was always going to require innovation and reconceptualisation, and it is clear that any new interpretation of Star Trek would look as different from the Berman era as the Berman era did from the original series.

Navigating by the stars.

Still, that does not answer the question of what Star Trek looks like in 2017. In many ways, Discovery is an effort equivalent to The Next Generation, an attempt to return the franchise to television after some time as a relaunched movie franchise. The parallels all but suggest themselves; the chaos unfolding behind the scenes, the distinctly British character actor playing a senior officer with a much more continental surname, the use of the Star Trek brand to embrace a relatively unconventional distribution model.

Given all of this uncertainty, the vocal objections of a certain strain of fandom are almost reassuring, striking a consistent note at this most inconsistent of times. Star Trek fandom has always responded with trepidation to anything new or challenging, anything the pushes beyond the boundaries of expectations of what Star Trek can be. Fandom strenuously objected to the very concept of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Fandom dismissed The Next Generation. Fandom argued that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was an affront to the very idea of the franchise.

Time is the fire in which we burn.

However, while all of this provides a framework through which Discovery might be understood, it comes no closer to answering that core question. What does Star Trek look like in 2017? Even the question itself comes loaded with all manner of ambiguities and uncertainties. Is the question being asked in terms of television production? Is the challenge being made in terms of political and social values? Is the inquiry posed in terms of continuity and legacy?

Discovery does not have the answer, at least not in The Vulcan Hello and Battle at the Binary Stars, but it is certainly asking the right questions.

The next phase.

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