The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. After spending Discovery’s second season thinking, “Holy crap, a Pike series starring Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn would be fabulous,” the powers that be at CBS have shown (a) that they agree, and (b) they’re willing to put their money where all our mouths are.
In light of this joyous occasion, here are seven thoughts on this new series from me…
If at all possible, they should find a way to get Laurel Goodwin onscreen at some point.
The actor who played Yeoman Colt, Goodwin is the only cast member from “The Cage” who’s still alive. It would be a nice tribute if she could get on camera, even if it’s just for a minute.
Will Spock eclipse Worf’s record?
Currently, the character of Worf, son of Mogh, has the record for most appearances in the Trek canon, having been in 276 episodes of TNG and DS9, as well as four feature films. At present, Spock, son of Sarek, has appeared in 115 episodes of the original and animated series, TNG, Discovery, and Short Treks, as well as eight feature films. Will SNW last the 150+ episodes needed? And will Worf appear on Picard to extend his record? The gauntlet has been thrown!
The casting should absolutely not be beholden to “The Cage.”
Conveniently, Discovery season two took place in 2257, which is three years after when “The Cage” took place. This means enough time has passed that people can have transferred off and other people have come in—so there’s really no excuse for having an all-white cast like “The Cage” had. The Earth of the 23rd century is supposed to be united, and we should follow the leads of both Discovery and Picard and see people from all over the Earth.
I’m not really concerned on this front, as one of the hallmarks of the Trek shows produced by Secret Hideout is a commitment to casting (and nomenclature) choices that represent the entire planet, not just white folks and/or folks from the United States, a default that previous iterations of Trek tended toward far too often. (The first four TV series had all of three Asians in the main cast, and two of them were established as being born in North America.)
In particular, I hope that they bring Amrit Kaur back from “Ask Not” to play Thira Sidhu. I also would very much like an Indigenous character who isn’t a big honking stereotype, just to wash the taste of Chakotay out of everyone’s mouth.
One potential exception: Dr. Boyce. Established in “The Cage” as Pike’s best friend and confidant, I think it would be good to bring him back. (Some fans online have been pushing Jeffrey Combs, who has already played 974 different Trek roles, though Combs himself has said there’s little chance of it.) I mean, somebody’s gotta be Pike’s drinking buddy. My only concern is that it might become too much of a rerun of the Kirk-McCoy friendship (which was pretty much Gene Roddenberry redoing the Pike-Boyce friendship anyhow).
Let’s hope Akiva Goldsman meant it when he said it wouldn’t be serialized.
Serialized shows certainly have their place, but it shouldn’t be the default—any more than standalone shows should be the default. The sweet spot, to my mind, is what Deep Space Nine did—and, for that matter, what the Stargate shows did—and have each episode tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end, but have the character arcs continue from week to week. Discovery and Picard are obviously going to keep following the serialized model, and that’s fine, but Strange New Worlds needs to distinguish itself beyond “yes, we’re giving these cool actors more to do.” Making it more of a series of adventures instead of huge season-long storylines is a great way to do that.
My only real disappointment with Discovery moving the action a thousand years into the future is that we wouldn’t get to see more of L’Rell in her new position as head of the Klingon Empire. She quickly became one of my favorite characters thanks to Mary Chieffo’s noble, elegant portrayal, and the existing relationship that Pike has with L’Rell is something that they’ve just got to play with. And as someone who has written a lot about Klingons over the years, I’m really looking forward to how they continue to bridge the gap between the Empire as we saw it in Enterprise and how we saw it in the original series.
This needs to be Number One’s show.
We know what happens to Christopher Pike, both before and after when SNW takes place. We know—in graphic, gory, endless detail—what happens to Spock, both before and especially after SNW takes place, in his case going a century into the future.
But we don’t know diddly about Number One. Unlike Pike and Spock, her role in Discovery’s second season was minimal (but fantastic), and, outside of a couple of Short Treks, she’s never appeared in any other iteration of Trek. She’s a complete blank slate.
On top of that, she’s fabulous. That the network objected to Majel Barrett’s presence in “The Cage” is, perhaps, the most frustrating of all the notes NBC gave Gene Roddenberry about his failed pilot, as the character had many great moments throughout, culminating in her crowning moment of awesome where she calmly sets her weapon on overload to avoid continuing as the Talosians’ slaves. And she wore blue nail polish!
Romijn took that template and ran with it, giving us a smart, sassy, supremely competent officer. I’ve wanted to see more of Number One ever since I saw “The Menagerie” as a kid on my tiny TV screen at home in the 1970s, and Romijn’s tantalizingly brief portrayal on Discovery has increased that desire a billionfold. She’s already proven she can handle any role she’s given (she was superlative on The Librarians as Eve Baird).
With Pike, there are limits, because we know he will wind up badly injured and then sent to Talos IV to live out an illusory happy life. With Spock, we know he’ll find his best friend in Pike’s successor and have two distinguished careers, first as an officer, then as a diplomat, before falling through a black hole to an alternate timeline where he’ll inspire his younger alternate self.
But the sky’s the limit with Number One. So let’s see all of that sky, please!
Is this a new record?
So, “The Cage” was filmed in 1964 as a pilot for a new series. It finally got its series order in 2020. I gotta ask—is this the longest period between pilot and series order in television history?
What are your thoughts on Strange New Worlds? Let us know in the comments!
Keith R.A. DeCandido has done rewatches or reviews of a great deal of Star Trek for this site. His rewatches of the original and animated series, The Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine ran from 2011-2017, and he’s currently in the midst of a rewatch of Voyager, and he’s also reviewed every episode of Discovery, Short Treks, and Picard as they’ve been released. His other Trek work includes sixteen novels, thirteen novellas, seven short stories, one reference book, and six comic books, as well as articles for various magazines and essay anthologies.