With the arrival of the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Blu-ray and DVD coming next week, TrekMovie had the opportunity to chat with two of the stars about the show. Celia Rose Gooding (Uhura) and Melissa Navia (Ortegas) talked about their experiences in season 1 and what’s new in season 2.
One of the defining characteristics of Strange New Worlds is the episodic structure along with a variety of different styles and genres. What is that like for you as performers to change things up each episode?
Melissa Navia: I think, for me, it feels like every episode is like a mini-movie. We get to kind of create this new world, but within a world that we are also very familiar with. And then also, every episode has a different director who brings their own talents and worldviews, and experiences. So every single every one for me has been like a new day. But I think it’s worked. We’ve seen that it’s worked with fans with this idea of a new adventure every week. You’re still going back to that ensemble that you love and the camaraderie that you love, but putting it in a new element. Star Trek allows us the freedom to kind of go where nobody thought we could go… boldly going to all sorts of new places. And that is all I will say about season 2. But in season 1, we already saw that. We’re able to kind of play in a lot of different genres and it was a blast to do it. This cast and crew are so talented that we’re able to do and it feels almost seamless.
Celia Rose Gooding: Agreed. I think that it’s a testament to our cast, and testament to our showrunners, and to our crew and our directors, how we can keep these sort of grand arcs when it comes to characters, but also, we can drop into these different genres and have it still feel like us. And not like we’re trying too hard to do something just for the sake of saying that we did it. As you said, it feels very organic. And I’m so glad it was well-received by fans, because, not to spoil too much for season 2, but we continue the trend of trying new stuff.
As each director is coming in with a different take, are they taking you aside and saying like “this is a comedy episode so play it looser” and the other way around for a more military action type of episode, or is it just scene by scene?
Melissa Navia: I don’t feel like it’s ever like “you can loosen up more” or you have to be more of this. Because just like in life, as humans, we go through all those different emotions and those things, but what’s kind of underneath us and what makes us who we are is still present. So for Ortegas in season 1, we didn’t know too much about her background as a soldier, but I did, and the writers did, and the producers did. So that influenced what I did with her as a character because that was all there. So you can still be a soldier and you could have gone through wars and death and grief and still be able to laugh and have a crazy episode of hijinks. I think that it speaks to the nature of the writing and that the writing is so good. It’s so true to our characters, no matter if we have if we’re doing a more comedic episode or we’re doing a more serious episode. The writing is so good that we’re just able to inhabit that new world for that episode.
Celia Rose Gooding: I completely agree. It’s never really a sit-down conversation of like, this is the episode where we feel this way. It’s very clear in the writing of like, ‘Oh, my character is going through this experience over this over the season, but in these moments…’ There’s a great quote that Ortegas has [in season 2]–I cannot say the exact quote because I want to keep my job–but it was basically a commentary on how you never know when you’re going to get your next laugh and you never know when you’re going to get a moment to sort of relax. So, if you are given those moments, even though we’re living in this very-high stakes universe, it’s important to smile even though you may not know when you’re going to be able to do it again next.
Melissa last year we talked about how you would get the graphics guys to give you stuff to do for your console even when it wasn’t on screen. So were you also poking the writers to give you more about Ortegas’ backstory?
Melissa Navia: No for that I didn’t need to poke them at all because they put that all in the breakdown. The breakdown was very much true to the Ortegas that you saw on screen. But they kind of presented me with all this information. Looking back at season 1, I can see it because I know what informed the decisions that I made as an actor and what I gave to the character, and how we created Ortegas. But I’m excited about season 2 because now audiences and fans are going to see more of Ortegas and then they’re going to be able to look back at season 1 and be like, “Aha! So that makes sense.” Again that goes back to the writing and the story and the fact that the writers were so sure of the characters that they were creating and trusted us to do that. But yeah, with the graphics, they were all fantastic. Sitting there at my console, I was just like, “I need to know what my evasive maneuvers look like.” What am I doing on the screen when I am doing these evasive maneuvers? Beneath that, I think it was knowing that Ortegas had a background as a soldier and as a super-competent pilot, that allowed everything else to kind of come from that. There was this foundation, which is everything.
Celia, much of Hemmer and his arc was built around Uhura and Bruce Horak said he knew from the beginning Hemmer was going to do die, did you?
Celia Rose Gooding: I knew. I think in our first initial meetings I think it was told to the entire cast, but I may be wrong. But I remember hearing that and being like, “Okay, now immediately forget it.” Because–and you see it in season 1–Bruce is a fantastic actor and a fantastic storyteller. Hemmer and Uhura’s relationship meant so much to Uhura, of course, but it also meant a lot to me because to have someone who takes you very seriously as an actor, but to also have a character that doesn’t sugarcoat the experience for you and really has faith–that was very important for a Uhura to have. And yeah, those were very real tears in Hemmer’s final moments, not just because of that loss as a character but also that loss as an actor of “Oh no, that’s my friend and I’m not going to be able to see my friend again in this universe in the same way.” It was very real emotion. But yeah, I loved working with Bruce. I hope we continue to find ways to like have his presence as a part Uhura’s life because we’re sort of figuring out which relationships mold Uhura into the character that we all love and the future, the lieutenant Uhura. And so I’m very grateful for that relationship. And I can’t wait to continue to showcase to audiences how their relationship has influenced the person that she is.
One of the special features of the new Blu-ray/DVD set is about the AR wall. This is a brand new technology. Can you talk about lessons learned in season one and maybe how you applied them in season two?
Celia Rose Gooding: I think it was totally a learning experience because of the technology of how it works. The wall moves to make sense for the camera angle. The wall is constantly moving and they’re constantly things happening and at first, it was about having to like gain your bearings of understanding that while the world may move around, you are standing very still. It was almost trying to remember not to get dizzy or if there are grand movements it’s best to not try and follow it because you will confuse you brain. For me, it was definitely a learning curve. But once you get used to it, it’s really, really something special. The work that we do in season 2, it’s just fantastic and phenomenal and really, really exciting. I cannot wait for audiences to see what we do with that incredible piece of technology.
Melissa Navia: My favorite thing was in season 1, it didn’t happen in season 2, but it would like occasionally stop working. Like half the screens go black, and then it goes a little green and you feel like you’re in the Matrix. I would get so excited because it was my first time doing it and everyone else who’d done it before, like Rebecca [Romijn], would be like, “This means we’re going to be here that much longer.” But really when you are on the AR wall, you are a storyteller. So much of what you’re doing is you’re creating a world that might not necessarily exist in front of you, but on the AR wall, you really do see it. That makes it slightly easier for us, but also, it’s a whole new level of doing what we do. Yeah, we have some fun times coming up in AR wall in season 2.
Strange New Worlds arrive home on Tuesday
Season 2 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debuts on Paramount+ later in 2023. Season 1 arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and limited-edition Blu-ray Steelbook on March 21. The release features over 90 minutes of special features.
Amazon has pre-order links up now: Blu-ray $33.59 / Blu-ray/Steelbook $39.89 / DVD $29.39
Season 1 of Strange New Worlds will also be the first Star Trek TV title to get a release on 4K UHD Blu-ray, coming on May 16. This 4K release is a limited edition Steelbook, and the set includes Ultra HD Blu-ray discs only. You can preorder the Strange New Worlds Season 1 4K UHD Steelbook at Amazon for $59.99.
Launch party in L.A.
All Star Trek fans are Invited to Hollywood’s Scum and Villainy Cantina to celebrate the home launch of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season one. CBS and Paramount are hosting a special Strange New Worlds trivia night on the evening of Friday, March 24. Hosted by Star Trek science advisor Dr. Erin Macdonald, the one-night-only event features special guests, giveaways, a limited-time menu with Star Trek-themed food and drinks and an exclusive Q&A with the host and special guest. Fans will also receive a special sneak peek at behind-the-scenes footage from the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. It all happens at Scum and Villainy Cantina – 6377 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 – doors will open at 6:30 p.m. PST and trivia will begin at 7:00 p.m. PST.
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I had my issues with SNW, but for all the things I wish had been done differently I thought they pulled-off a mostly very solid first season, with a brashness and energy that recalled TOS about as well as anything I can imagine in our current environment. Here’s hoping Season 2 builds on their strengths and that they learned from their mistakes (drop the space pirates and the PREDATOR pastiches and we’ll get along better).
For me, it’s the best first season in the franchise’s history. Not all episodes are A+, but there’s not a stinker in the bunch, and every episode made me want to go back and watch again.
Nothing will ever top TOS S1, but this and DS9 I have tied for the second best first seasons of any series.
The two worst first seasons I would say would be Enterprise and Lower Decks.
It tops TOS by a country mile for me. It’s not even close. As for worst, there is no way anything tops how bad S1 of TNG is. Enterprise is actually higher up for me than most. It’s mediocre, but not awful. Lower Decks I didn’t watch much of, so can’t really comment.
Starting a rewatch of DSC S1 last week, with the news the show is ending, and you know what? I think I like it a little more than I did initially. Still don’t LOVE it, but now that you can go in knowing what to expect, it’s a tighter story than I remembered.
Same for me with TOS and SNW. Never been much of a TOS fan. I like its first season but I think SNW is easily better. But I think LDS first season is better than SNW. Also think TNG first season is bad but DIS is easily the worst and another reason I’m not crying it’s cancelled.
I rewatched season one of Discovery for my grand rewatch back in 2021 and while I don’t think it’s super awful or anything, I don’t have an inkling to ever watch it again either. I have a lot of issues with its first season but to be fair, probably no more than a lot of first season Trek shows; but it’s still more bad than good for me overall.
Lower Decks’ first season is brilliant, in my opinion, but to each their own.
True story but I thought I was going to hate first season of LDS and love PIC first season but the opposite happened with both. 😂
You just never really know how you will feel until you sit and watch them. But now I am loving season three of PIC over season three of LDS although I loved that season too. But PIC season three is probably the best season of NuTrek for me so far although its second season is probably the worst of NuTrek overall and the worst second season of every Trek show.
My feelings on that show has become Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde lol.
Off topic, but my gut says S3 of Picard is what they always wanted it to be, but they had to warm Patrick Stewart up to the idea first… getting him onboard at all meant doing those first two seasons.
Definitely agree as well. I think everyone, certainly the fans, wanted a TNG revival show on day one. People have been begging for more TNG for well over a decade now so it’s nice we finally got it.
And based on the first two seasons, this is the show we should’ve gotten on day one and so happy it’s been so well received.
Agreed as well!
I actually rewatched all of season one again, which is something I’ve never done with any season of any show these showrunners have produced. I enjoyed it even more the second time.
Agree with this 100%.
Same. Definitely my favourite season (so far) of SH live action Trek.
It’s also your favorite season of ANY Star Trek.
Actually not. I think seasons 3 & 4 of TNG were peak Trek for me.
There’s also specific episodes throughout all of the franchise library that stand out. Voyager more than once took some of the high concept episodes of TOS and TNG, reworked them, and did them better. And some new things, like “The Thaw”
as well as “Demon/Oblivion”, we’re exceptionally well done.
But my taste leans to high-concept, and that’s just a slice of the audience.
I really liked The Cage, and had been looking for more cerebral Trek again. At its best, TNG leaned into that.
SNW season one is something I love in spite of the choices to lean heavily into the prequel stories of legacy characters when what I hoped for was to see Pike’s Enterprise with Number One’s story and some new/original characters.
Strategically, understand why SNW had to meet Paramount’s strategy of franchises, familiar faces, and fandoms, but I’d like more onscreen investment in original characters and willingness to take risks with a high concept that’s more novel.
It’s funny to me how far people have come around on “The Thaw.” It used to be one of the most reviled episodes back in the day, but it was always one of my favorites.
I didn’t get the hate at the time. (But I also tuned out a lot of the BBS fan rants of the era about Voyager.)
People focused too much on the episode’s reworking the concepts and beats of the movie ‘It’ in a Trek context.
But in my view it was better than ‘It’ and was no more a ‘rip-off’ than TOS episodes that take directly from submarine movies, classic Greek theatre and myths, or Shakespeare.
I feel the same way about how the Gorn episode in SNW works with the concept and beats from Alien and Aliens.
I’ve always loved The Thaw as well. As you know, I love high concept or weird trippy Star Trek stories and this one fits the bill. It did feel very much like a TOS episode as well. But the last minute of the episode with it closing on Janeway as it fades to black and her “I know” line is still one of the best scenes in the entire show.
Season 1 of Strange New Worlds was wonderful, and I’m SO looking forward to Season 2! Okay, I wasn’t wild about the pirate episode or about the homage to the Alien movies, but I adored the other eight. It felt exactly like what TOS would be like, if TOS had been made with modern technology and modern sensibilities. Totally what I’ve been longing for since 1969!
They nailed it in terms of casting, perfect series so far
Close to perfect. They screwed up the Gorn. But otherwise I love it.
You say that so definitively. Well, as long as we’re being declarative, I’ll give the facts: they made the Gorn better! Hoping they’ll continue to be a recurring nemesis, they’re a compelling threat, finally.
How did they make the Gorn better? The whole point of “Arena” was that it encouraged Our Heroes (TM) to look at things from their adversary’s point of view. Their world became a lot less Manichean after that.
SNW has erased that (assuming we don’t get some twist, such as there being two species of Gorn or what not).
You assume that I care about continuity with Arena. The episode has a compelling moral message, but that doesn’t mean the Gorn themselves were interesting. I say retcon it, we can still enjoy Arena as it is.
They improved the Gorn by making them a scary, terrifying, and alien adversary, with goals and motives that aren’t fully understood (I know we’ve seen “hunter” species before, but this one for the first time actually seems interesting).
They are now a true compelling alien species, and a threat that challenges the crew. It will be interesting to see how they develop… as opposed to the old Gorn, who I never found interesting at all and the more we learned the less interesting they became.
The Gorn in Arena provide probably the most memed and ridiculous images from the entire franchise.
They desperately needed some kind of reworking, “dancing in between the raindrops” of canon or not.
I love high concept sci-fi, I even still adore the guy-under-rug Horta, but the average non fan can see how utterly campy the images are of shirt-ripped Kirk fighting the guy in the silly dinosaur costume near a bunch of rocks.
I can understand why fans are attached to the IDEAS in Arena, but it’s as schlocky as Trek ever gets. Instead of broadening the accessibility of the franchise with an extinguisher action adventure story, it’s actually something that is a barrier to newer younger viewers.
So, I feel we old guard fans need to chill a bit on things like this.
Thank you for putting it way more eloquently than I did :)
All the more so because my predictive editor decided ‘extinguisher’ was a better word than ‘exciting’ and changed it when I hit send. 🥺
Not sure why it interacts with the TrekMovie portal the way it does, but I have to reread everything and clean it up with editing.
I don’t know… schlocky is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I don’t need everything retconned. Intellectually I am aware that special effects and make-up technology have advanced in the last 50 years, so I can view TOS Klingons without ridges and later Klingons with ridges and not really be bothered by it. I know the producers thought they needed to address that within canon, but I didn’t feel it necessary for me. I can look at an old black and white photo and know that the people in it weren’t actually shades of gray; not everything has to be colorized to be appreciated. Thus I can enjoy Arena and accept the Gorn costume for what it was, a product of its time, and it doesn’t bother me. Regarding the Gorn in SNW, that was a strong episode, and a very effectively depicted adversary, but sometimes I wonder, why take an already known species in the Trek universe and change it up so very much instead of just creating something new and original?
the Gorn were just a plot device. Good for them to be fleshed out, it doesn’t matter if it contradicted TOS.
I wasn’t referencing the costumes as a problem for the Gorn in Arena, and I’m fairly certain TG47 wasn’t either when he described it as schlocky. It’s all in the storytelling, which often in TOS is quite schlocky.
In fact, that’s kind of its one drawback: the series Roddenberry wanted to make was more like The Cage: slow-moving, and thoughtful. The network wanted action schlock. He compromised, and we got something in between.
But what that means is that often times, even good stories are full of dumb sequences, and that’s Arena: pure schlock with some complex themes.
Got it Alpha Predator.
This was one of Roddenberry’s moments where he was transparently in the mode of ‘NBC wants a handsome hero fight scene, ripped shirt all the better’ so give them that and we can get back to sci-fi concepts.
The low budget 1950s monster-thriller costuming is just the kind of thing Roddenberry originally pitched Star Trek would avoid.
He was going for as close to Forbidden Planet levels of production quality as was possible on television. But using schlocky tropes to please NBC also led to using schlocky costumes.
Agreed as well. I know it bothers some fans that SNW’s Gorn contradicts Arena, but that episode is so cheesy I can’t really care that much lol. Yeah strong episode story wise, but it just comes off too campy to the point I can totally ignore it if SNW decides to retcon it completely. But I understand why it bother others.
The thing for me is that I would much rather they used these concepts for something completely new and fresh, without pre-conceived expectations or canon limitations, than to reinvent something that served a strictly limited and specific purpose.
Imagine if we found out these things laid eggs inside Gorn – the old costume opens up to these little monsters unlike anything we’ve seen before. I think that might have been more fun for me, personally, like the contrast of the Borg with Species 8472.
It is sometimes too awkward a marriage to me to take something cheesy and try to reimagine it as something dead serious. That’s just a matter of opinion but that is mine.
Damn I hate the double dip..
buy the blurays for the features and then the 4K AGAIN for the episodes..
can’t they do better?
Where does it say that the 4K release doesn’t come with any special features? It won’t come with bluray copies of the discs (as some 4K do), but nothing here would lead me to believe that the 4K release only includes the episodes themselves, with the special features being a bluray exclusive…
I don’t even play the game, I just don’t buy any of it. Not the DVDs, not the blu rays. None of it. I get the occasional ship model and old action figures if I find any I want. That’s all I get.
First season was great. I still love LDS and PRO more because I’m more of a 24th century kind of guy but this was the first prequel I loved off the bat. Hope season 2 is good too.
Executive Producer Akiva Goldsman just mentioned that Season 3 of Strange New Worlds is currently filming. Not a surprise that it’s getting a third season, but good to see confirmed (though it is something of a surprise to see it filming so soon).
That’s from the MIT talk right? He also said that the air date for season two will be announced soon too – so hopefully that’ll happen within the next few weeks and we can get a look at what’s in story for season 2! Can’t wait, especially for the cross over with LD!
I think it makes sense that they’re filming, or just about to begin filming, on season 3. They started shooting season two around Feb last year so it is consistent, and also that means that we’ll be able to see season 3 premier next year without any major delays, finger crossed.
I know they started filming S2 around this time last year, but it’s still odd to me that they are filming S3 months before S2 even begins airing. That happened with PIC S3, but that just seems like an odd choice.
It’s how DC got caught with their pants down on Justice League: they started filming before BvS hit theaters and so they had to suddenly re-evaluate the movie when that film didn’t meet expectations and got roasted by critics.
If I’m remembering correctly, didn’t they start filming Picard season 3 immediately after finishing work on S2? I don’t recall if that had to do with covid-related reasons or not, but as far as SNW goes, maybe it’s due to scheduling or budget considerations? Just a guess… Agree, glad to see Season 3 confirmed!
What I mean is, the season was mostly if not completely filmed before Season 2 started airing. Thats highly unusual for TV unless a series is a bonafide smash hit.
Let’s put it this way: it’s a good thing S3 is a TNG reunion season — and vastly different — because imagine if they’d started filming before they knew how fans reacted to S2. (I still maintain that the reason they released the S3 trailer in the middle of S2 was because they wanted to lighten the mood after reaction was so poor to S2).
It seems this is just how they’re doing it now. Can be risky on these huge budget series, though.
SNW is the Trek I’ve been waiting for since I was eight years old in 1989 and there was talk about a new Trek on TV! It’s great to see a crew explore a vast dangerous final frontier on none other than the Big-E 1701.
You know, I wonder what the reaction would have been to a prequel if it had been released back then. I’m betting it would have been wildly popular, the idea of seeing those characters again.
Now everyone wants NEW NEW NEW but it wasn’t always that way.