Since Tom only saw what was essentially the first hour of a two hour premiere, I thought I would add a few thoughts, having seen the rest. But to be honest, I don’t know how much more there is to say.
What Tom missed in that second hour was mostly an hour of all out war with the Klingons. Are they Klingons? They don’t look like any Klingons I’ve ever seen. And I don’t mind subtitles, but damn, listening to the Klingons in their native tongue got very annoying very fast. Maybe it was just the lead Klingon character, as others didn’t seem to bother me as much. I found the Klingons to be the least interesting aspect of the two hours. Which is unfortunate since the Klingons are generally great characters and have been used to great affect in previous shows and movies.
There is some good action once the battle begins and an inventive use of the Klingon cloaking technology to take out a Starfleet ship, but otherwise it really wasn’t (pun intended) engaging. It brought to mind other epic space battles like the Federation versus the Borg or dogfights in Battlestar Galactica, but without the heart.
I do agree with Tom that it doesn’t particularly feel like a Star Trek show. One of the characters even brings that up when reflecting on the fact that they are explorers, not soldiers. The ending of the second episode also sets up a very different status quo going forward. And maybe that’s ok. They are seeming to break from the mold of other Trek shows where it’s like “here’s the pretty new ship and their star Captain and their merry crew”. This show looks like it will try to go where no Trek show has gone before. Does that mean that hard core Trek fans will grumble and complain along the way? Maybe.
Having never watched The Walking Dead, I doubt Tom was familiar at all with Sonequa Martin-Green. Whereas I’ve been watching her as Sasha for the last several years on that show. She’s usually very solid, but I found her performance here very unbelievable. Maybe she is still struggling with the nuances of her character as a human raised on Vulcan, but the delivery of her lines seemed more like a newcomer than a veteran TV actor.
The show does fall into the typical trap of it being a prequel (it’s set 10 years before the original series) yet seeming to have technology far greater than anything shown previously. Not just in the original series, but other Trek shows. The biggest of these being that no one talks to each other on viewscreens anymore. All communication seems to be done with holographic projections that can move around a room…and even sit on a desk at one point. There’s some level of these things you can forgive. At least it’s not R2-D2 being able to fly.
Overall, I liked it well enough. I’ll probably come back for more, but it won’t be high on my list of things to watch, so who knows how up to date I will remain on it. And usually when shows fall into that realm for me, I usually fall way behind. That said, the first season is only 15 episodes, so maybe I won’t be too far off.
If anything, I’ll watch just to see Doug Jones do Doug Jones things.