At the edge of the universe, discovery begins. But, here, it's a lot closer to home as Paul Robinson looks forward to Star Trek Discovery, coming to Netflix in the UK on Monday...
"I'd love to change the world. But I don't know what to do - So I'll leave it up to you ..." - Jetta
I was only nineteen when Enterprise premiered in 2001. A friend from America taped the first three episodes and sent them over to me - and in return, I sent her a copy of a UK edition of the first Harry Potter novel. She's still a friend now.
But that was sixteen years ago. I'll be watching the first two episodes of Star Trek Discovery - the first new Star Trek on television in twelve years and the first new Star Trek series to debut in sixteen years - from an entirely different perspective. I'm now a thirty-five year old who 'lifts heavy stuff' to relieve stress and who came out of the closet just over fifteen years ago - just as the first season of Enterprise was winding up. But this is the first time that I am going to sit down to watch an episode of Star Trek where two of the series regulars - and one of the leads - are like me. Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber - Science Officer and Medical Officer respectively - are in a same-sex relationship - and not only that - are played by openly gay actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz. Both Rapp and Cruz have talked about the enormity of their responsibilities in this regard - as role models both as actors, and the characters they are portraying. They understand how important this is - not just to those struggling to come to terms with their sexuality but also those of us who have been out of the closet for almost two decades.
Representation matters. And Star Trek Discovery has attempted to embrace diversity from the start.
I spent most of my time as a teenager struggling to come to terms with my sexuality - spending many breaks, lunches and weekends using the escapism of Star Trek to distract myself from my life. I used to get sheets of paper and trace the Enterprise D from the pages of the Star Trek TNG Technical Manual and spent several weeks attempting to design its successor vessel (this was prior to Star Trek First Contact) - the Andromeda Class Enterprise E under the command of Captain Riker. I was similarly fascinated by the design of the SeaQuest in the show SeaQuest DSV which debuted at precisely the right time to make me think that joining the Royal Navy was the right thing to do (it didn't happen - though I passed most of the tests at the age of 30 and got rejected at the medical stage because I had recently had tonsillitis, and then subsequently had to take anti-depressants). And now, I've found myself fascinated by the design of the Discovery and the Shenzhou and spent two hours attempting to piece together the design of the Bridge of the Discovery yesterday and have spent the past several month attempting to pin down the design of the Salvation, the main ship in my Trek fan-fic, and its Bridge. Whilst the ship designs and sets might not reflect the designs we saw in the sixties (and honestly, when it comes down to it, who expected them to), they have certainly caused discussion amongst the fans, some enthused and others less so. But Star Trek Discovery was always going to polarise opinions - even if it was faithful to the designs in The Original Series.
I happen to love the designs - almost as much as the cast. From the earliest announcement in late 2016 that Michelle Yeoh was joining the cast as Captain Georgiou of the Shenzhou, I watched an impressive line-up slowly be unveiled. I might be in the minority but Tomorrow Never Dies is one of my favourite Bond films (and possibly my favourite of the Brosnan films) and Yeoh had just come out of the final season of Strike Back where she had played one of the villains, as well as a relatively small part in The Mechanic: Resurrection. A couple of days ago, TrekCore posted a video of Yeoh meeting fans who had dressed as Captain Georgiou at the World Premiere of Discovery last Tuesday night and her interaction with them made me smile.
Even now, just a few days before the show debuts, we don't know, with the exception of Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, who is considered part of the main cast and we don't even know who is playing the role of Voq - a character so important they had their own motion poster on the 19th August. I can't comment on her casting as Burnham: zombies freak me out so I've never seen The Walking Dead, but from the glimpses we have seen in the trailers and discussions of the character in interviews and panels at conventions, she plays a Human trying to out-Vulcan the Vulcans very well but simultaneously appears to be an enthusiastic cheerleader for the show. Mary Chieffo, who plays the Klingon L'Rell, is likewise infectiously enthusiastic in interviews.
In turn, I may have developed a bit of a fan-boy fascination with the character of Captain Gabriel Lorca, played by Jason Isaacs, and not just because I think that he's a total DILF. This is Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter that we're talking about. The guy has some hardcore franchise experience. Isaacs has described Lorca as 'one of the most f**ked up Captains yet' and the actor seems unafraid of offending the hardcore fans, making comments reminiscent of Shatner's 'Get a life' retort - but this attitude has simultaneously managed to endear him to the fans as much as it has offended them. For myself - my response to 'those' comments were 'Jason Isaacs, you absolute legend ...'
I booked September 25th off at work as soon as they announced the date that it would arrive on Netflix and I booked the following day off to read the tie-in novel, 'Desperate Hours' by David Mack. I've bought a Star Trek Discovery poster and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the inevitable Funko Pop figure of Captain Lorca - to take position on my bookshelf alongside my current figures: Iron Fist, Poe Dameron and Cassian Andor - and I'll buy a trio of Krispy Kreme donuts on Sunday for consumption with a cup of tea during my first few viewings of the first two episodes.
You might think I'm insanely excited for this show.
And you'd be right.
Follow Paul on Twitter @TheFourteenth
Images - IMDb