The Pitch For Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Was A Thing Of Simple Beauty

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" feels like a miracle. It's a "Star Trek" series in the age of streaming that not only appeals to fans of the franchise, but has caused a whole new generation of fans to fall in love with the adventures of the USS Enterprise. The series is both a delightful throwback and something new, mixing the things that made "The Original Series" shine with bigger budgets, sharper special effects, and a perfectly picked cast. The first season of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is potentially the best first season of any series in the franchise, with the highest score of them all on Rotten Tomatoes, and it already has a rabid fanbase, myself included. It almost seems like magic, bringing characters from the 1960s television series back to life with new actors and new stories set before the show that started it all, but it turns out that sometimes magic starts with a very simple idea. 

The new series was honored recently with a special award from the Hollywood Critics Association, and executive producer and co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers was on hand to accept the award. He shared some details about how the "Strange New Worlds" team managed to show their love and respect to the rest of the franchise without becoming pure fan-service or nostalgia-bait. 

'What if we just did Star Trek?'

"Strange New Worlds" took home the HCA Legacy award for being a "respectful tribute to the past while modernizing [the franchise] in a fun and meaningful way," and Myers shared the origins of the series and the importance of staying true to "Star Trek" creator Gene Rodenberry's vision:

"This award belongs to all of them, but it also belongs to Gene Roddenberry because it's his legacy that this award is really all about, as well as the legacy of the many talented people who worked with him, like Nichelle Nichols, who we lost just a couple of weeks ago. In the first pitch document that we sent to the network ... we opened with a question asking, 'What if we just did "Star Trek?"' And they said, 'Okay.' Every day in the writers' room, we try to imagine how would Gene Roddenberry and his team make 'The Original Series' if they were doing it today? They would use state-of-the-art visual effects. They would ask questions that deal with the politics of today. They would approach character thoughtfully like we expect from the best dramas. But most importantly, they would tell stories about the future that give us hope that there will be a future like this to look forward to."

While "What if we just did 'Star Trek'?" doesn't seem that groundbreaking, it's actually an incredible return to form for the franchise. The other streaming shows are all fairly removed from "The Original Series," whether it's the constant chaos and catastrophe of "Star Trek: Discovery" or the cartoon antics of "Star Trek: Lower Decks." "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is optimistic. It's earnest. The episodes are almost entirely self-contained, moving away from the serialization that's become the norm in the era of binge-watching. It feels like "Star Trek."

The Star Trek we need right now

When "Star Trek: The Original Series" debuted in 1966, American society was in upheaval. Between the violent clashes in response to the Civil Rights movement, the horrors of the Vietnam War, and the fallout of the paranoid McCarthyism of the 1950s, things looked pretty bleak. The adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and the crew of the starship Enterprise were not only an escape from the brutality of reality, but they were a way for people to process some of the hardest parts of life through the stories. "Star Trek" has always been heavy on allegory and progressive messaging, and if there was ever a time when we needed a "Star Trek" that promotes radical empathy and Roddenberry's idealism, it's now. 

Thank goodness for Myers and the rest of the "Strange New Worlds" team for making the old new again in a way that actually matters. It just goes to show that sometimes simpler is just better. 

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" season 1 is streaming on Paramount+.