SPOILER ALERT: This review contains details of tonight’s Star Trek Discovery debut.
Having started a bit later tonight on CBS than planned due to NFL overruns, Star Trek Discovery aims to boldly take CBS All Access on a new subscriber rich adventure.
After all the behind-the-camera drama, delays, secrecy and hype for the Sonequa Martin-Green-led 15-episode first season, Discovery has finally taken off. It’s a launch Leslie Moonves hopes will result in a signup windfall for CBS’ nearly 3-year-old streaming service CBS All Access. After all, Discovery is the first new small-screen installment of the Gene Roddenberry-created franchise since Enterprise premiered in 2001.
And Moonves’ plan just might work. Despite its often over-explanatory scripts, jittery direction, scattered plot points, silly Beatles, Chuck Yeager and Amelia Earhart shout-outs, Discovery is conventional and solidly satisfying serialized TV that speaks to our times, as war drums beat culturally and perhaps internationally.
From what I’ve seen, with The Walking Dead vet Martin-Green’s Vulcan-raised First Officer Michael Burnham, The OA’s Jason Isaacs as USS Discovery captain Gabriel Lorca, Michelle Yeoh as USS Shenzhou captain Philippa Georgiou, and Grimm’s James Frain as Spock’s father and Burnham’s guardian, Discovery is essentially NCIS meets Aliens, in the best way.
Kicking off a setup for the intrinsically and tonally different season to come and set in 2256 A.D. — about a decade before the William Shatner-led original series — tonight’s action-packed “The Vulcan Hello” is set to be the one and only Discovery episode airing on broadcast television. The second episode, “The Battle of The Binary Stars,” is on CBS All Access tonight, with future episodes of the first part of the Bryan Fuller- (who was shown the showrunner door back in October) and Alex Kurtzman-created Discovery dropping every Sunday in the U.S. until November 5.
With all that CBS has riding on Discovery, and more episodes to come next year, there are a lot of star systems to still be covered in the clearly evolving journey of the series, now showrun by Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts. Sure, it may not break as many barriers as the original Star Trek, despite proudly flying a “the future is female” flag and having the first openly gay character in the franchise’s long history. Even with the howls of those Klingon war cries and the often exquisite and meticulous production design, Discovery’s narrative thrusters are far from reaching the dramatic realm of Next Generation’s Borg-based “The Best Of Both Worlds” episodes from 1990. However, as I say in my video review above, the building blocks are there, and that’s a foundation on which to live long and prosper.
So, before you watch the second episode on CBS All Access, click on my review above. Tell us, after you watched the video filmed earlier (when it looked like the Kansas City Chiefs and L.A. Chargers game would end on time), do you think Discovery approaches the final frontier in this Peak TV era?
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.