Space is the final frontier for TV once again—and it's a good thing CBS decided to go back there with Star Trek: Discovery.
The new CBS All Access streaming series, which debuted on CBS proper on Sunday, Sept. 24 is worth your time. Yes, you can breathe a sigh of relief. It's not like the other Star Trek shows, so that could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. The success of the series rests solely on the shoulders of Sonequa Martin-Green. She's more than capable of handling the load.
As Michael Burnham, Martin-Green is the franchise's first woman of color lead. Of course there are pressures that come along with that, but she's ready. She's more than ready. Martin-Green's portrayal of the human raised by Vulcan character is key to the show's success. She is the window into this world of Klingons, Vulcans, phasers and other world travel. You don't have to be a Star Trek expert to know the difference between a Vulcan and a human—it's explained in the show—and the emotional conflict between the two ideologies in Michael Burnham is perhaps the most interesting part of the series, and presents a fascinating window into the world of Star Trek: Discovery.
The wonder in Martin-Green's character's eye as she explores space mirrors the viewer's experience. Not only are Star Trek: Discovery's special effects visually stunning, but the inclusivity of its casting is pleasing as well, especially on something put out by CBS, which is raised more than a few eyebrows with the diversity (lack thereof) on TV. The supporting cast is far more than window dressing. You will want—no, yearn for more of Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou and her interactions with Martin-Green's character by the time the first hour is over. These two should and will have the same effect Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman had on young girls. Here are two capable, smart women leading the charge in (fake) space, heroes to be looked up to.
And then there's Doug Jones' Lt. Saru who is an instant fan-favorite and Mary Wiseman's Cadet Tilly, a breath of fresh air amidst the very serious Starfleet drama. Some of the dialogue and characters introduced in the third episode were wooden and a tad over the top, but the show seemed to be very much in world building mode and there's still time for that to be corrected. At the end of the day, the interpersonal dynamics between the characters are just as interesting as the space travel and aliens.
The stakes are high in Star Trek: Discovery, specifically the first two episodes. The introductory two hours are a wild ride with a fair amount of action and breathtaking visuals that is best consumed together. It's a slow build to a world that fans are both familiar and unfamiliar with. Loyal Trekkies will be rewarded with references, but this isn't overtly a fan-service series. There's a balance that's struck almost expertly.
The third episode sees a shift in dynamics again, which made it feel a little off compared to the first two, but regardless, the mysteries laid out and the characters viewers get to spend time with make it easy to come back on a weekly basis.
Bottom line: If you thrive on character interactions, have an appreciation for science fiction and are fine with reading Klingon subtitles, you'll like Star Trek: Discovery. Oh, and you can sure as hell expect the theme song to be a contender for the 2018 Emmys.
Star Trek: Discovery also stars Jason Isaacs, Anthony Rapp, James Frain, Chris Obi, Mary Chieffo, Rainn Wilson, Kenneth Mitchell, Rekha Sharma, Wilson Cruz and Maulik Pancholy.
New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery drop Sundays on CBS All Access.