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CBS: All Access rolls out second season of hit new 'Star Trek' series

W. Kenneth Medley II • Feb 4, 2019 at 2:11 PM

The network CBS has re-booted Star Trek on the small screen with a new series, “Star Trek: Discovery,” sporting a massive budget and new means of distribution.

One cannot set the DVR to record the latest episode. However, one can watch at their leisure after the episode release. You will just have to pay a little extra to do so for CBS: All Access, the streaming service offered by the massively lucrative network.

First things first, there are spoilers to follow. If you have not begun to watch the new “Star Trek: Discovery” series, and plan to, stop here. If you have no interest in the show then read on and become a fan.

The new series takes place 10 years before the original series on the USS Discovery. An experimental star ship equipped with a “Spore-Drive” engine, one that can travel instantly anywhere in the universe and as the audience learns, the multiverse. This is achieved by traversing a mycelium network using an organic navigator. OK, do you have all that?

The main character is Commander Michael Burnham, a disgraced mutineer portrayed by actress Sonequa Martin-Green. She is a human who was raised on Vulcan with Spock, the longtime beloved character. Burnham is conflicted between emotion and logic. This is an outcome to her upbringing with Serek, a Vulcan Ambassador and Amanda, his human wife and Spock’s birth parents.

The character, Lieutenant Paul Stamets, portrayed by Anthony Rapp, is chief engineer and one of two scientists that developed the spore drive. He is an expert in astromycology, which just means he knows a whole lot about space mushrooms. He becomes the organic navigator and must be plugged into the ship to achieve the jumps. His character is named after Dr. Paul Stamets, a mycelium scientist of today.

Apart from my issues with the advanced technology not really fitting in with past Star Trek tech, the show is good. The visuals are stunning. This has to do with the high price tag per episode and why fans have to pay more to watch. The USS Discovery is often scene traveling through space on a scale compared to what one normally sees in a big budget box office movie.

The writers do a great job of paying homage to Star Trek’s ability to tackle current social issues. The original series featured Captain James T. Kirk kissing aliens and woman of color. The series featured the first interracial kiss on screen.

In “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” one man, Captain Jean-Luc Piccard, was put on trial for all of humanity’s transgressions, by a being that could manipulate space and time. The antagonist was tempting, powerful and twisted words to connotative meanings that for his agenda. He carried the name “Q,” a designation given to an unnamed writer of the New Testament. Yes, THAT New Testament.

The new series tackles social issues in other ways too. L’Rell, a Klingon chancellor played by actress Mary Chieffo, becomes pregnant. She hides the baby from her followers so as not to appear weak. Klingons are a race of warriors and strength plays a major role in their politics. In a male-dominated society she is forced to give up contact with her child and the baby’s father to maintain her position in the empire.

Lt. Stamets has an open relationship with the ship’s chief medical officer, Dr. Hugh Culbert. They live together on the starship, and life goes on regardless. They highlight the relationship during an episode where Stamets becomes trapped in the mycelium network.

Another character with the name Saru, is a Kelpian. His species is new to the “Star Trek” universe and he is the first of his kind in Starfleet. His race has been raised as prey on their home world and as a result can sense fear. Xenophobic glares of disgust can be seen on the face of others when his ganglia extend from the back of his head, sensing danger.

The new show falls short of continuity in many ways. The technological advances in society today, as compared to when the original series aired, spill across on the screen. Medical implants that would not have been available to the future crews of Enterprise and Voyager can be seen on crewmembers of Discovery.

There is also the extra cost associated with streaming the show. This is perhaps my greatest grievance with the entire production. Yes, the show is good. Yes, I want to keep watching and I would recommend any fan of “Star Trek” to check it out.

But that does not excuse the CBS corporation to charge an extra $5.99 a month to each CBS: All Access customer. Why not formulate a model like HBO, Starz or other broadcast/streaming partnerships? It seems unnecessary for a company as large as CBS to scrape a little more change from the little folks.

In conclusion, it is a great addition to the “Star Trek” franchise. The series has better production quality — and acting, thank gosh — than “Star Trek: Enterprise.” The writers have not jumped to some of the weirder moments of that series, but have still pushed the boundaries. The Voq/Ash Tyler character is an example. One should check it out if they have been fans of any previous “Star Trek” material. There are recognizable characters like Captain Pike.

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