Star Trek Guide

How Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Will Differ From Discovery & Picard

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds must be different from the existing Star Trek shows to succeed. CBS All Access recently announced a brand new Star Trek TV series under the title Strange New Worlds, featuring Anson Mount, Ethan Peck and Rebecca Romijn reprising their roles as Captain Pike, Spock and Number One respectively. The trio first appeared in season 2 of Star Trek: Discoveryand the combination of a young Pike and a traumatized, hairy Spock was certainly a risky addition, but thanks to stellar performances and a lovingly realized interpretation of a pre-Kirk USS Enterprise, fans were left desperate see more of the new (old) Enterprise crew. That call has now been heeded and an eager audience awaits.

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However, the Star Trek franchise is far from a clean slate. Star Trek: Discovery's first 2 seasons took place a decade before the beginning of the Original Series and gradually incorporated more familiar elements and characters. Season 3 is due out later this year and has moved the action into the far future. Meanwhile, Star Trek: Picard indulged in a more nostalgic route and picked up after the events of J.J. Abrams' movie reboot. Season 2 has already been confirmed. Both Discovery and Picard are very much made for a modern audience, utilizing sex, violence, swearing and a darker tone of storytelling. Both shows also weave long-term overarching narratives that draw viewers in on the threat of losing the plot if they miss a single episode.

To differentiate itself from existing Star Trek output, Strange New Worlds should (and looks set to) go in entirely the opposite direction, with adventure-themed episodic seasons akin to The Original Series and The Next Generation which were based on exploration and hope; the "Wagon Train to the stars" that Gene Roddenberry envisioned all those years ago. This is what Star Trek: Strange New Worlds needs to capture, and although it's early days, all signs point towards exactly that. Firstly, the fact that Pike's series brings back an on-duty Enterprise hints heavily towards an old-school approach - why bring back the original Star Trek ship just to rehash the modern tone of Discovery? Furthermore, the "Strange New Worlds" title evokes the kind of upbeat, less intense spirit of original Star Trek.

As well as a lighter tone, Strange New Worlds might also take a rest from season-length story arcs. There's a big upside to Discovery and Picard's serialized format, but with 3 separate shows on the boil at the same time, Strange New Worlds could benefit from standalone scripts - maybe with a couple of two-parters and a juicy cliffhanger for good measure. The modern Enterprise cast have already made moves into this direction. After debuting in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, Anson Mount and the gang returned in Short Treks, where their popularity was cemented. "The Trouble With Edward" was an undoubted highlight, beautifully executed with completely new characters and brisk running time. Part of early Star Trek's attraction is that viewers never knew what their favorite crew would encounter week after week and Short Treks proved the Enterprise is still ideally suited to these one-off missions, even over half a century down the line.

Not many franchises can juggle 3 shows, meaning variety will be key in Star Trek's near future. While the modern approach spearheaded on CBS All Access has brought success to the franchise, Discovery and Picard have also courted a certain amount of controversy, largely due to their deviations from the usual Star Trek format. Evidently, there's a big market for a Star Trek series more in-keeping with Kirk and Picard's original adventures, and Strange New Worlds is the ideal opportunity to deliver that, especially as the other project in the pipeline, a Section 31 spin-off, is hardly likely to be bright and breezy. With Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard hitting the darker, more mature, more long-term notes, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds offers a place in the franchise for a more traditional approach - something many fans have been missing greatly in the new era.