Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the latest entry in Paramount+’s ever-expanding roster of Star Trek shows, and it’s definitely worth a watch. I had the chance to watch the first five episodes of Strange New Worlds, and I think it’s a show that manages to recreate and even put a new spin on elements of Star Trek: The Original Series. It’s also a great jumping-on point for Trek fans, old and new. With that in mind, here are the four reasons why Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is worth your time.
Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike
The majority of Star Trek media has followed the captain of a Starfleet vessel. Kirk, Janeway, Picard, Sisko…their exploits have entertained generations of fans. Strange New Worlds continues this tradition by turning the focus to Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), who served as the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise before James T. Kirk. Mount’s performance as Pike is the major reason to watch the show: he’s charming and witty, yet he also gives off a sense of stability and steely resolve that screams “leadership.” Pike is also dealing with a haunting secret he witnessed during the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, which serves as a recurring element throughout Strange New Worlds‘s first season. This continues Mount’s tradition of playing characters haunted by dark secrets, specifically his turn as Cullen Bohannon in AMC’s Hell on Wheels.
The Ensemble Cast
Mount is joined by an ensemble cast that is either putting their spins on beloved Star Trek icons or has connections to Trek lore. Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck reprise their roles as Una Chin-Riley/Number One and Spock from Discovery; joining them is Celia Rose Gooding as Starfleet Cadet Nyota Uhura, Babs Olusanmokun as chief medical officer Dr. M’benga, Jess Bush as Nurse Christine Chapel, Melissa Navia as hotshot pilot Erica Ortegas, Bruce Horak as the acerbic Aenar engineer Hemmer, and Christina Chong as security chief La’an Noonien Singh.
Many of these characters come with their baggage and secrets, particularly La’an, who is dealing with a traumatic experience that left her orphaned. Fans will also notice that she shares a surname with the genetically enhanced tyrant Khan Noonien Singh; rest assured that connection is touched upon. The standouts of the cast are Gooding and Spock, who add new dimensions to Uhura and Spock, respectively. Gooding plays Uhura as unsure of her place on the Enterprise until a pair of catastrophes force her to step up. Peck’s Spock feels torn between his duties to Starfleet and his impending nuptials. Yes, we have a Star Trek show where Spock’s engaged!
A Return To Episodic Storytelling
Many of the Star Trek shows released under Paramount+’s umbrella have taken the serialized story approach. It makes sense, especially considering how serialization has taken off in the age of streaming shows and prestige TV. However, Strange New Worlds takes the opposite approach and decides to go back to the episodic approach that Trek first utilized. The benefits of this approach are twofold. First, it shakes the narrative as each episode features a different threat. The premiere feels like a classic Star Trek episode; other episodes feature sci-fi tropes, including a sentient asteroid and a mysterious plague that ravages the Enterprise.
The second benefit is that each episode focuses on a certain character and how the current crisis relates to their issues. In perhaps the most genius approach, showrunners Akiva Goldsman and Henry Alonso Myers have each episode open with a personal log from the character who’s the focal point of the episode. This helps the audience get into the crew’s heads and empathize with them, not to mention that it puts another twist on a long-running Trek trope.
The Diversification Of The Star Trek Franchise
Strange New Worlds also continues to diversify the offerings that the Trek franchise has brought to the table. Fans looking for something new can watch Star Trek: Discovery and longtime fans looking for a show that taps into the well of nostalgia can check out Strange New Worlds or Star Trek: Picard. If they’re looking for a laugh, there’s Star Trek: Lower Decks. And for parents looking to introduce their children to the world of Trek, there’s Star Trek Prodigy. Star Trek is the rare franchise where I can genuinely say that there’s something for everyone.
Star Trek Strange New Worlds premieres exclusively on Paramount+ on Thursday, May 5th.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.