As with any long-running franchise, the chronology of Star Trek is deeply confusing.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is both a prequel to the original Star Trek series from the 1960s and a spin-off and partial sequel to Star Trek: Discovery (partial because that show spanned, what, nine centuries?).
In fact, Strange New Worlds’ main character, USS Enterprise captain Christopher Pike, originally appeared in the unaired pilot to the original series in 1965, and two of his crew members were originally played by the same actress 60-odd years ago.
It’s all baffling, but it looks great. Just don’t think too hard about what the next few years has to hold for everything to look as shonky and cardboardy as it will when William Shatner comes along.
Anson Mount plays the impossibly dashing, square-jawed silver fox of a captain, who does a fine line in heroic speeches and whose blow-dryer has been set to stunning.
He is surrounded by a crew including young versions of Spock (Ethan Peck) and Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), the former surprisingly hench, the latter finally given more to do than repeat what a computer tells her.
Along with Rebecca Romijn as Number One, they are joined by a diverse team of charismatic relative newcomers, the standouts being Babs Olusanmokun as Dr M’Benga and Jess Bush as Nurse Chapel. There’s definitely a drinking game in taking a shot whenever Chapel injects someone in the neck.
While there is an overarching story, the show is more than content to serve up a bunch of cheerfully old-fashioned ‘this week we’re on… the windmill planet!’-type tales, one-and-done 45-minute romps where the Enterprise crew encounter a new predicament and overcome it with, like, ingenuity and friendship and punching and loop-the-loops and stuff.
It’s all terrific fun, upbeat and colourful, a refreshing throwback after Discovery’s heavily serialised storytelling and Picard’s bleakness. And, while there are endless Easter eggs and references for hardcore Trekkies, it’s all incredibly accessible and requires no prior knowledge of the franchise at all.
Will almost every species they encounter be about five-foot-ten and distinguishable from humans only by some forehead-based goofiness? Sure.
Will there be a few glib one-liners from wisecracking helmsman Ortegas (Melissa Navia) before booting up the warp drive? Absolutely.
Will most of the predicaments they find themselves in be, if you think about it, easy to escape given their teleportation technology, faster-than-light travel capabilities and massive weapons? Absolutely, but don’t worry your pretty little head about it. It might be boldly going where a whole lot of shows have gone before, but it’s a great ride.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds airs on Paramount+ on Wednesdays