The Enterprise Incidents


UK/US Paramount+, streaming now Showrunner­s Akiva Goldsman, Henry

Alonso Myers

Cast Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Rebecca Romijn, Christina Chong, Babs Olusanmoku­n, Jess Bush

Strange New Worlds is the best first season of live-action Star Trek since the original run in 1965. A bold claim, but all of the previous spin-offs have taken a while – usually three years – to find their feet. Strange New Worlds arrives with a remarkable sense of its own identity. Like the show’s lead, Christophe­r Pike (Anson Mount), it has a swagger and a reassuring charm that immediatel­y lets you know that you’re in safe hands.

Pike is having a hard time following the end of Discovery’s second season (you can tell he’s depressed because he’s grown a big beard). Thanks to a vision of the future, he knows that in a few years he will save the lives of four Starfleet cadets, but at a terrible personal cost. Still, he’s a man of duty and when Starfleet calls him back to active service, he gets out the clippers and returns to the Enterprise bridge alongside Spock (Ethan Peck), Number One (Rebecca Romijn) and a cast of new characters.

Despite spinning off from two previous shows, Strange New Worlds is refreshing­ly light on backstory and almost entirely episodic in nature. Character arcs continue and a couple of Big Bads are set up (one of whom will draw incredulou­s chuckles from long-term fans), but these are all self-contained stories of the type that used to be Trek’s bread and butter. There’s a planet with a dark secret, a tense starship duel, an unashamed Aliens rip-off and an old-fashioned ethical dilemma. There’s even – in the one lousy instalment – a fairy-tale-comes-tolife yarn that feels like a riff on TNG’S Holodeck episodes.

But while the stories have a retro feel, the series’ nuanced characteri­sation allows it to sit happily alongside more contempora­ry shows. Pike is as swashbuckl­ing as Kirk and as thoughtful as Picard, but with a quiet melancholy. Peck grows more impressive by the week, referencin­g Leonard Nimoy’s performanc­e while adding a touch of youthful vulnerabil­ity. Christina Chong and Babs Olusanmoku­n give more grounded performanc­es as La’an and Dr M’benga than we’re used to on modern Trek, and the show is pleasingly free of endless heart-to-hearts.

It’s hard to join the dots between Jess Bush’s sparky, funny Nurse Chapel and the distant performanc­e given by Majel Barrett. And a few characters are a little underwritt­en. Still, this is only season one and it’s great. Imagine what it’s going to be like when we get to year three...

Will Salmon

Dr M’benga appeared in two ’60s episodes ("A Private Little War” and “That Which Survives"), played by Booker Bradshaw.

 ?? ?? “Spock, could you look at the cam – oh, never mind.”
“Spock, could you look at the cam – oh, never mind.”

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