The Shuttle Pod Crew Explores Where The TOS Characters Are During ‘Strange New Worlds’

This time on the Shuttle Pod, the crew discusses the known whereabouts of the classic characters from the original Star Trek during the first season of Strange New Worlds (set in 2259). But first, the crew shares their general impressions of the first half of season one of Strange New Worlds.

NOTE: For international fans, be warned there’s some SNW spoiler talk in this episode.

Here’s a link to Kayla’s article from 2017 that inspired this podcast episode.

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My take: they are in a different universe, because SNW is a reboot. I can’t reconcile some of the changes otherwise.

Granted, it only matters so much; I love the series so far.

My thoughts exactly.

I will never understand why fans take that kind of stance. TNG introduced a sentient android and acted like Data was the only one out there… even though TOS introduced a whole planet of them. DS9 introduced a shapeshifter and acted like Odo was the only one out there… even though TOS, TAS, TNG and Star Trek VI introduced a dozen different shapeshifting cultures. Are TNG and DS9 separate universes from TOS? No, of course not. Is “Where No Man” a separate universe because Kirk has a different middle initial? How about the changing number of Kirk’s nephews? The fact that “Squire of Gothos” sets TOS 800 years in the future, “Space Seed” sets it 200 years in the future, and the movies set it 300 years in the future? Or TMP introducing lobster-headed Klingons? Or TNG changing their look again? Or Star Trek VI changing their look again? Or Discovery changing their look again? How about the Andorians and Tellarites looking completely different every time we see them? Or DS9 moving the timeframe of World War III? Or World War III and the Eugenics Wars sometimes being the same war and sometimes being different wars? Or the Borg having a queen and being into assimilation, despite having been introduced as a hive-mind with no individuality and no interest in anything but technology? Star Trek has ALWAYS been filled with inconsistencies and changes. It’s part of its franchise’s charm. SNW is not a different universe, any more than the other examples are.

A lot but not all of those inconsistencies you point out are more in the nature of details than things that run roughshod over what went before. As such, many of those errors & omissions just come off as stupid or irrelevant rather than a focused effort to to overwrite matters, which is what the stuff in the last several years seems more intent on. In large part this is because they’re dealing with already established and also already-portrayed characters (and at least one ship) so they don’t manifest as something that could be corrected by a bit of postdubbing, like SQUIRE’s 800 years. Instead they’re changes made knowingly, intentionally.

Obviously mileage varies on viewing/interpreting stuff like this. Personally I find it unforgivable that in FC they visit post-ww3 Earth and couldn’t even spare a shuttlecraft overflight to SHOW at least a sliver of the devastation. (Berman wanting ILM to erase most of the clouds in the orbit shots so you could see the terrain the ship passed over made things worse … this isn’t nuclear Winter, it makes it seem like somebody spilled just a few patches of talcum powdr on planet Rand McNally (which ties in with some poor early TOS vfx, but certainly can’t be intentional or desirable.) When you’ve got a feature film budget and you’re trying for a feature-film sensibility, then you oughta be looking at things from a cinematic perspective, like what an op that kind of vista would have been for Goldsmith to score, instead of piling up horrorflick tropes.

It might even have been the way to really turn Cochrane’s head around. Fly him over 2161 Hell, then project a heads-up display over the window showing the view of that section of Earth in their time, or a progression.

Everybody knows that in the trekverse, we somehow come back strong after the lows (the stuff I guess we’re now entering), but the talk stops when it comes to portraying how it happens. That’s as dumb as the thing Gerrold pointed out about SW — where there is a lot of talk about ‘the force’ but you don’t really learn more than the blurb that would be on the label of any ‘Force’-related product box … presumably because GL didn’t see fit to explore the matter or think it through, at least not until the huge detour into midichlorian madness decades later.

You could take TOS seriously as future history for maybe, at most, a decade or so after the show was cancelled. I remember seeing THE WRATH OF KHAN in 1982 and a couple nervously giggling behind me as Ricardo Montalban ranted about his exile from Earth in 1996. That people in 2022 insist on clinging to the minutiae of a TV space opera set aboard a fictional starship whose infrastructure isn’t as sophisticated as that of a modern office building is frankly beyond me.

The mythos, and how it speaks to our dreams and hopes — yes, absolutely. But “canon,” seriously? I still think the best take on that subject was Admiral Kirk’s “introduction” to Roddenberry’s novelization of STAR TREK; THE MOTION PICTURE, where it is revealed that what we know as TOS was actually a dramatization of the events depicted, not a documentary, and where Kirk takes the producer (ostensibly Roddenberry himself) to task for the liberties he took with what “really” happened. If there’s any reasonable way to think of the Trek franchise, with all of its various talents and non-talents and egos and agendas, as producing anything like a coherent universe over the past 55 years, that would be it.

You say all that like I’m not already aware of it. I am.

I so wish I could do that. Just pretend the show is a reboot. It’s odd because back in season 1 of Star Trek Discovery I was able to just pretend the show was set in the KU. Not sure why I have such difficulties here.

I just can’t imagine why the ability or not to apply a word like “reboot” would affect anyone’s enjoyment of anything.

Because some people can accept a certain amount of fudging and changes to a beloved genre but when certain really important elements just get blatantly ignored for no reason whatsoever except “because we wanted to” then I can understand why some feel a lot better about the project if it were officially called a “reboot” instead of making a blatant lie to the fans.

Yeah, I’m in that camp regarding the storytelling issues. But even if they were being utterly respectful of the important stuff, a part of me would still not buy any of this being the same continuity, just over the visual differences. I hate misuse and overuse of lens flare, always have, because it destroys any ability to use it selectively as an artistic tool. The last fifteen years of so have seen this on runaway, not just with Abrams but other places (I guess Seth Rogan loves it too, according to his partner Evan.) So the look of things is always going to distance me from wholesale acceptance (something that did not happen with TMP, even though I disliked most of that look of the interiors! — to be said like Spock crying out ‘the women!’ — rather intensely.)

So you agree that a producer’s willingness or unwillingness to use a given word in an interview is sufficient reason to dislike a series irrespective of its actual quality? Well, far be it for me to gatekeep the reasons why anyone should like or dislike anything — but, nope, I sure don’t get it.

And it’s funny that you should mention TMP, because the production design was one of the factors at the time that kept me from fully buying into a movie I desperately wanted to love. I didn’t know about the “Ship of Theseus” conundrum back then, but was vaguely aware that the drydock scenario couldn’t really account for the fact that the Enterprise had been thoroughly altered down to the last detail and proportion, inside and out, and bore only a superficial resemblance to the starship I’d fallen in love with during endless reruns in the ‘70s. (Literally the only prop that made the jump was Uhura’s earpiece.) Of course, 40 years later much of that film’s production design DNA managed to seep into the sequels and spin-offs that followed, for better or worse, so in terms of the franchise it all looks more mainstream now. But as a fan it sure didn’t feel that way to me in 1979.

Regarding the reboot word, I think it is a sense that there is an inherent dishonesty (or is it being disingenuous? Is there a difference?) in walking the continuity tightrope while having a cloaked net deployed underneath. I really don’t like it when creatives try to have it both ways. The Craig reboot is a prime example of this. They tried to say ‘we’re doing it realistic this time, like we’ve never done before,’ but they pull out the same moron-movies twists, the ones you roll with in a dumb-fun movie but reject out of hand in a smart one … but nobody called them on it, at least not until the later Craig sequels came along. CASINO and SKYFALL are filled with moron movie bits, and even some of the niftier twists are just lifted from other films or from Fleming, but taken out of context and become suspect or bad in their re-plugging-in.

On the TMP issue: The colors or lack thereof bothered me as much as the design sense on TMP. I guess it does all play into the ‘procedural’/real aspect of the film, but that still doesn’t make it fun to look at. There’s a shiny metal wall in engineering and I wish they’d done the bridge in that same material, would have picked up reflections from the viewscreen in a visually interesting way without distracting the eye in an Abrams-level fashion while ducking the refit’s obsession with looking like a Lockheed lunch room with all the beige. The pebbly grain fiberglass bridge may have been done for sound recording purposes, but the look is just annoying as all get out for me, and represents maybe the single aspect of Joe Jennings design for p2 that I most dislike (along with the oval space-wasting monitors, which we pin on Lee Cole.)

Spock and Sarek never met in Discovery, did they? At least, not when Spock was really aware of what was happening around him.

So far the canon quibbles have been only that for me, quibbles. Or I should say I don’t care about changes to Chapel, Spock/T’Pring, and the Gorn, because they were never that important to me. Just as long as they don’t do something really dumb, like revealing Sarek had a clone who became a Romulan commander, da Dah DUMMMBBB!!!, then I’ll be cool with this show.

Here is the funny thing about that. That “dumb” situation you describe would not technically NOT be a canon violation. I would call it more a bad creative decision. Which Secret Hideout has made a lot of, too. I’ve never been a HUGE canon guy. I’m fine with small changes or they make a canonical mistake they don’t ever return to. The canon issues I have problems with are when they ignore HUGE already established events (in this case 7-10 years in the future) and completely ignore them and worse, return to them or use the mistake again in future episodes.

Well, what is or what isn’t a technical “violation” isn’t important to me. I’m not a cop. Or a referee. ;-)

It only bothers me when it adds something to the canon in a big way that doesn’t need to be added, like in a prequel retcon way, and especially if it makes the universe feel smaller.

“Threepio, I am your father.”

“Just as long as they don’t do something really dumb”

Like giving Spock an insane half-brother who hijacks the Enterprise to go find God at the center of the galaxy?

Haven’t listened to this for a while but this topic interests me.

My theory with Kirk & McCoy is that they were old friends already and Kirk requested him to be his CMO. Probably knowing him so well that he knew “Bones” would speak up and get in his face to make his point. We do know very little about McCoy so where they met up I have no idea. Many possibilities. The Academy. On the Farragut. Who knows? But next season when Kirk does show up I think it very likely at that point in Kirk’s live he and McCoy were already good friends.

I’ve said this before and it’s worth repeating here… The one character that makes the most sense to be on the ship at this point is Scotty. He very well could be on the Engineering staff. We just haven’t seen him. But Scotty serving on Enterprise before being promoted to Chief Engineer (my head canon says Kirk did that when he arrived) explains his deep attachment to the ship. And I think it was a mistake not to cast Scotty for this show, not as a regular but as a recurring character Hemmer uses from time to time.

Agreed about Chapel. She was changed so very much she ought to have just been a different character. They could have done the exact same thing with her. It does bother me but to be honest if that was the worst transgression the show made I would very likely live with it and accept the show for what it was. The problem is there are other, bigger canon violations that are just too hard to get past.

It’s one thing to creep through the cracks in canon. It’s quite another to take a pick axe to them and tear the whole wall down. Which is what they did.

As a person that was always referred to as “the smart one” I also cringed when Uhura was referred to as a prodigy by Pike. I hope they never do that again. But at the dinner party when Uhura was explaining WHY she can speak many languages made much more sense. I really like this version of Uhura. In fact, I really like all the characters on SNW. I just wish they practiced more decorum and professionalism between characters of different rank, I find them too informal.

About Sulu: didn’t he start as an astrophysicist in WNMHGB? He may still be in the academy, but perhaps in just a standard university studying physics/astrophysics. And then he joins Starfleet later?

Sulu was a botanist at first in TOS and hen he was promoted to helmsman.

It’s interesting that people get so caught up in this timeline and that timeline and canon. These are fictional characters in a fictional series. Why do we think of it all as real?1

Strange New Worlds has a lot of interesting avenues they go down, but there are so many near misses it’s frustrating. It’s like watching a baseball game of tick fouls. The acting is good, but the writing is lacking some vision. They have captured the spirit of TOS well, with their encounters literally being “strange new worlds”. But in the characterization details the odd writing choices get to me. Una is an Illyrian, and basically lied to Starfleet her entire career until this one moment? It takes a lot to swallow that. Rukiya is regularly pulled out of stasis because of the transporter buffer. Meh, interesting idea, although Dr. M’Benga doesn’t seem too worried about being caught with such a flagrant Starfleet violation and theft of resources for personal benefit. And the daughter is always being pulled back to be read bedtime stories? How does that work? Is it just hours and hours of bedtime stories, like an unending nightmare? Sounds like a living hell for her. Oh, Chapel had a same sex fling before and is therefore bi? Cool! So why did the conversation end up being about finding the “right man”? Tick foul! There are plenty of opportunities that could have been an interesting direction, but the missed opportunities hurt.

Totally agree that Chapel is an interesting character and I enjoy the actor, and it’s a plus that they diverged from TOS canon (and yeah, why not just make it a different character).

As a UK fan, thanks for the shout-out and thanks for the podcast. I can’t wait to start watching SNW when Paramount+ launches here in a few weeks.

I suggested in the comments section of one of Tony and Laurie’s podcasts that it would be great if you all got together once the season had finished to discuss the season as a whole; what worked, what didn’t, top three episodes etc. Importantly, what do you hope for S2. Thanks again.

Loved this discussion. Learned a number of queries I’ve only THOUGHT of, never brought to words!!! Thanks again😃