2022 was a big year for Star Trek television with the release of 51 episodes spread across all five current Paramount+ series. This increase in output has garnered notice from the industry and the media, not just for quantity, but also quality. Over the summer the New York Times dubbed Trek the “quiet franchise,” praising the “throw-it-at-the-wall diversity” of the Trek shows, compared to the “calculation to the Marvel and Star Wars Wars portfolios.” As the year comes to a close many outlets – including TrekMovie – look back to offer praise for the best shows and performances and moments from the year, and Star Trek is showing up. The debut season of Strange New Worlds is getting the most notice, but the other shows are also showing up on the lists. Here is a sampling of what some critics are saying about the best of Star Trek TV in 2022.
Strange New Worlds
Vulture – The Best TV of 2022
The newest addition to the Star Trek franchise is its best, because it — nearly alone among the vast wasteland of milquetoast TV-franchise extensions — remembered that people like to watch TV. Even Andor is at best uneasy with its own role as a TV series. Not SNW, which is a deliberate throwback to the episodic rhythms of old-school Trek while embracing the long-arc characterization standard from more recent decades of TV. It is beautifully made and anchored by a rock-solid performance from Anson Mount as Captain Pike. It is a freewheeling romp of a show, and every episode is a new adventure. Episodes! What a concept.
Newsday – Best TV of 2022
The Star Trek cinematic universe spent decades seeking new spinoffs and franchises, to boldly go where the rest of TV has since gone (you know — reboots!) But at long last, here was the spinoff (from “Discovery”) that felt like the embodiment of that famous line, to paraphrase: After all our watching, we’d arrived back where we started from and knew the show for the first time. With Anson Mount as Capt. Chris Pike — a proto Jim Kirk, — “Strange New Worlds”‘ mostly just reaffirmed our love for the original.
Esquire – The 10 Best TV Shows of 2022
In a year crowded with self-serious science fiction, Strange New Worlds rose above the pack for its commitment to good, clean, swashbuckling fun. This back-to-basics return to the episodic storytelling of Star Trek: The Original Series is set during the captaincy of Christopher Pike, who preceded Captain Kirk aboard the Enterprise. If you’re not a Trekkie, have no fear: there’s no learning curve here, and there’s a lot to love for any science fiction fan. Uplifting, exhilarating, and gloriously retro, Strange New Worlds is a character-driven series where each episode pairs a top notch sociocultural story with a freewheeling adventure. Whether the Enterprise is battling a lethal enemy or just trying to undo an accidental body swap, it’s always worth beaming up with Strange New Worlds.
Rolling Stone – The 20 Best TV Shows of 2022
… Strange New Worlds remembered that the franchise tends to work best with a Mission of the Week approach. It was fun to again see a starship traveling from planet to planet, and to see it crewed by such an appealing cast of characters, first and foremost led by Anson Mount’s impossibly charming and empathetic Captain Pike. Sometimes, the boldest move is to go where many shows have gone before.
Paste Magazine – The 25 Best TV Shows of 2022
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is an absolute blast, and a big reason for its success is that it’s deeply rooted in the DNA of the Star Trek mythos. It’s full of compelling characters, and its episodic format serves as one of several bridges that link it to The Original Series. Allowing viewers to see the action aboard the Enterprise from multiple perspectives is refreshing. Smart, addictive, and incredibly fun, Strange New Worlds is the best Star Trek series since The Next Generation, and acts as a faithful love letter to the original. Old fan or new, this is a trek you’ll certainly want to take.
LA Times – The 14 Best Shows of 2022
A gaily canonical return to the anthological form, swashbuckling spirit, social commentary and puckish humor of what is now referred to as “The Original Series,” with technological upgrades and built-out characters. Set on the Enterprise, it finds young Spock (Ethan Peck) and Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) already aboard, with Anson Mount’s Capt. Pike a most appealing blend of hero and comedian, like a nontoxic Shatner.
Vulture – The Standout TV Performances of 2022
The magic of Anson Mount, Space Daddy Captain Extraordinaire, is in his remarkable flexibility. In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Mount’s role as Captain Pike could have easily been restricted to a narrow tonal bandwidth — and the show itself could’ve played with fewer emotional colors. But as an old-school episodic series, SNW toggles from silly to poignant to suspenseful and back again, and in any series attempting to contain that much breadth, the performances need to be roomy and nimble enough to work in all sorts of contexts. Mount’s Pike can do it all. He is tragic, swashbuckling, paternal, and quippy, and in the moments when he needs to, he can anchor an absolutely straight-faced thriller plotline. SNW and the rest of the show’s cast can pivot around him, exploring new life and civilizations without losing themselves.
Led by Anson Mount’s warmly smoldering Capt. Christopher Pike, the entire cast — including Ethan Peck’s sexy Spock, Rebecca Romijn’s commanding First Officer Una Chin-Riley and Celia Rose Gooding’s searching Cadet Nyota Uhura — took total control of their characters from the first episode and delivered a show that hardcore and casual “Trek” fans alike could love. “Trek” has never been nominated at the SAG Awards; perhaps this year, it will reach that final frontier.
… Lower Decks actually got me curious about the Star Trek universe. It’s approachable, has an incredible cast and delivers a hilarious take on Star Trek. The stories take very familiar Star Trek/space exploration situations and show them from the perspective of the cadets from the lower parts of Star Trek ships. The series shows the grunt work, the bureaucracy and rivalries and I’m laughing every episode — not just because the writing is great, but because the show makes fun of the Star Trek universe in such a way that even someone who knows next to nothing about that world can appreciate it.
Now in its third season, some might feel that Lower Decks leans a little too far into fan service. Those people are entitled to that opinion, but it’s not one I share. Rather, I delight in a basket of Easter eggs contained within each 22-minute episode, with callbacks to episodes like Conspiracy (the brain parasites that took over some Starfleet officers), the Bajoran occupation, or the hologram of Dr. Leah Brahms. Lower Decks manages to give us a slightly snarky, slightly cynical look at life as a peon in Starfleet, especially as experienced by ensign Beckett Mariner, yet it manages to always return to showing the organization’s good side as the crew work together for the common good. But what’s the deal with the koalas?
Tell-Tale TV – 20 Best Animated TV Shows of 2022
One of the most entertaining things about Prodigy is the way it incorporates the larger Star Trek world. It’s not uncommon to see a familiar face or a reference to another series. Season 2 takes those connections even further, finally bringing Starfleet into the action directly. It even brings the real Captain — now Vice Admiral — Janeway into the mix after she appeared only as an AI computer interface for the first half of the season. Whether you are a long-time Trekkie or a Trekkie-in-training, Star Trek: Prodigy is a lot of fun. It is the perfect show for parents and kids to enjoy together.
Stacey Abrams (United Earth President)
We’re used to seeing Abrams doing grassroots work ensuring that voting is accessible to everyone in Georgia, so it was a surreal surprise to see the politician and activist emerge from a space shuttle as the President of Earth in the Season 4 finale. And what a fitting role!
Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher)
Wheaton popped up in Picard‘s Season 2 finale as former ensign Wesley Crusher, who now heads up a team of “Supervisors” keeping the spacetime continuum intact. He recruited Kore to join his team… and it’s nice to see the young guy all grown up and thriving, right? Our main lingering question: Do you think Wheaton confided in Sheldon and Leonard about this gig?
Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.