Podcast: All Access Finds Harmony With The ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Musical Episode

With the TrekMovie gang at the 57-Year Mission Convention in Las Vegas, this week’s podcast focuses solely on reviewing the new musical episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. TrekMovie editor and Shuttle Pod co-host Matt Wright joins Tony and Laurie to talk about “Subspace Rhapsody.” As is certainly the case with fans in general, this “big swing” of an episode garnered differing opinions among the group. Tony isn’t a big fan of musicals but still finds some Star Trek to appreciate inside the episode. Laurie loves musicals and can’t stop watching the episode and singing along. And Matt is somewhere in between. All the podcasters were impressed with the artistry that went into crafting the original songs and choreography and how the songs were tied into the character arcs from the season.

For this week there are no news or bits links, just the review.  

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Now imagine a Star Trek musical with William Shatner in the cast…

Typing this from my own room at STLV, and having watched the episode late last night, I can grok the mixed reactions. Not a huge fan of musicals in general (though genre favorites like THE WIZARD OF OZ and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS are exceptions), I can admire much of the artistry in “Subspace Rhapsody” while not being convinced, at least on one viewing, that it really works as a Star Trek episode. I don’t mind so much the paper-thin justification for the proceedings, but in the end a scene where Uhura looks on while Spock warbles about his feelings can’t be anything other than a scene where Uhura looks on while Spock warbles about his feelings, no matter how that plot justifies it. As a fan, it just feels awkward, in the way that Jerry Seinfeld once complained that watching Mel Torme sing made him feel awkward. Much of the music and singing was pretty good, at least.

(One peculiarity of the episode: the brief mention that the crew of the Enterprise numbers around 200 people. This is in line with the figure given in “The Cage,” but seems an odd choice given that the ship is conceptually larger than the TOS version and thus could accommodate more than the 430 who served under Kirk. But it does explain why the damned ship feels so underpopulated onscreen.)

As someone who also hates musicals, I thought it was a delightful episode and as Trek as it gets. Embraced sci-fi weirdness while telling an engaging character focused story.

I didn’t love it, but having seen it early I knew the normal naysaying fools would hate it and I love that.

Never said that I hated musicals, just that I’m not particularly a fan of the genre. And I’m perfectly okay with being perched on the fence with respect to this one, at least for the time being. It was, to coin a phrase, a pretty big swing. 😊

One of the best qualities of being a fan is finding pleasure in other people’s suffering.

“I didn’t love it, but having seen it early I knew the normal naysaying fools would hate it and I love that.”

This really really wasn’t necessary. Why are some people here so obsessed with other people’s opinions here? It’s bizarre to me. Just focus on yours, especially if no one is getting on your case about it.

I get your point! I don’t want to speak for others but I have wrote similar things in the past. I always wrote them with the intention of enjoying the fun discussions I know Star Trek fans would have. Less polarizing episodes don’t tend to produce such diverse opinions.

If you figure everybody’s quarters is 10x the size of the TOS ship quarters, you’ve got to reduce someplace. Maybe multitronics works in this ‘reality’ and so they can let the computer do more than it did on TOS and pare back the crew. That would really be ‘ultimate.’

We’ve seen the cabins in TOS, and they’re WAY smaller than the ones in SNW. So I guess they go from around 200 crew to around 400 by cutting each cabin in half…

I’ve now fully warmed to Paul Wesley’s Kirk. So no, I don’t the Shat necessarily…

I think he’s fine for this version of Trek. My biggest issue is the same I have with Spock in this show. I can’t imagine Nimoy or Shatner playing these roles as they’re written. Oddly enough, I could do that with most of the stuff we got from those two characters in the Kelvinverse movies.

Don’t think there’s a FX budget imaginable that could make that work.


William Shatner was a great Kirk, but a singer he is not. :-)

The worst star trek show ihave ever seen

Don’t mince words, Cory. What do you really think?

Don’t you love it when you can use that Kirk quote?

That makes me happy to hear.

That we live in a multiverse which contains such gems as “And the Children Shall Lead,” “Shades of Gray,” and “Threshold” makes such a sweeping statement difficult to take seriously. “Subspace Rhapsody” may be a one-off masterpiece or Trek’s biggest misfire ever, depending on one’s tastes, but there’s no denying the artistry and technical competence with which much of it was put together; as opposed to the aforementioned shows, which have hardly a redeemable moment between them.

And the Children Shall Lead is a wonderful episode, truly scary and awesome. And it stars the inventor of TMP’s strangest instrument :-)

I can’t through ten minutes of that episode today. I truly hate it.

It’s one of the only eps I’ve never rewatched in the homevid era, going all the way back to the 80s. I did show my wife the ‘I’m losing command’ scene just to give her a laugh, but that’s as far as I go with it.

To show you how low-rez the show looked on 16mm prints and a small TV back in the 70s, I never knew those were swords that Sulu saw on the viewscreen, I thought they were licks of flame!

You, sir, have just disqualified yourself.

Here’s the thing. The premise, the “sciencey” explanations.. it’s all so utterly ridiculous, that it just doesn’t matter. It’s pretty easy once the singing starts to just forget this is any semblance of a serious episode, so anything they try to do just won’t be taken with any seriousness.

The best star trek ep I have ever seen!!!

The bunnies thing is a “Once More With Feeling” reference, where Anya is terrified of bunnies and thinks they are responsible for the singing outbreak!

So the bunnies reference, along with Uhura saying I’ve got a theory, are all references to the Buffy the vampire Slayer musical episode, once more with feeling. They were basically acknowledging the similarities between those two episodes.

It was an enjoyable episode. The music and storyline blended well. Not a musical fan but a good job nonetheless. As musicals go, my favorite was Jesus Christ Superstar.

Mine woud be ALL THAT JAZZ, though I’ve argued that it isn’t a musical at all. To me, the whole film has to be in that goofy/fantasy realm to qualify, like GREASE (which I also enjoy immensely.)

My favorite scene in ATJ is when Roy Scheider tells the woman who got the part only because he’s screwing her, “I can’t make you a great dancer. I don’t even know if I can make you a good dancer. But if you listen to me, I can make you a better dancer.” Which he does. There’s lots of brilliant stuff in that movie, but for me that’s the only scene with real heart.

There’s a genuinely twisted sense of heart when he agrees with his girlfriend about how he can go out with any (every) girl … but then adds, “I stay home with you.” And I think his love for his daughter is utterly genuine, which is evidenced during the finale when it seems like that is the one thing Death bitch can’t touch, even when laying claim to him. Damn, I’m gonna go rewatch this tonight, I think my only complaint with the whole movie is that Sandahl Bergman’s breasts look so damned weird (but she dances great.)

You’re right that Fosse’s brilliance is mostly in tech … the scene where the audio cuts out during the table read always takes my breath away, plus the genius of how Joe Gideon uses his ex- as a sounding board for his inability to solve a scene, only to solve the scene as a result of bemoaning it all to her. Fosse was very good friends with Paddy Chayefsky and Herb Gardner, two awesome writers, and I think there is a New York intellectual aspect to their thinking that differentiates them from other filmmakers, even very good filmmakers like Lumet, where there is obvious intelligence but manifesting with subtlety rather than bravado. (BTW, I just rewatched Lumet’s THE ANDERSON TAPES and it well & truly is a bold precursor to THE CONVERSATION … I really think TAPES has been massively overlooked for 50+ years. Maybe now that it is coming out on Blu-Ray soon, somebody will give it some critical reappraisal. It even has a scene about all the various words we use instead of “kill” or “murder” — something that turns up again a decade later in another Connery film, WRONG IS RIGHT, which is a mess but a very fun one, with great scenes strewn among serious weirdnesses.)

I really wish I could get into more of Fosse’s films, but CABARET just left me cold to the point I didn’t even get halfway through, and I just had no interest in the STAR 80 subject matter, especially with that Hemingway in the lead (I only find her barely tolerable in CREATOR, a movie I love in spite of numerous faults, but a big part of that could just be that Virginia Madsen hadn’t gotten into her platinum phase and was absolutely the girl I wish had lived nextdoor.) LENNY might be quite good, but I just really wish he had done it with Cliff Gorman and so I’ve always resisted watching it on that basis.

APOCALYPSE NOW and ALL THAT JAZZ were the awesome one-two punch for me there right when I was turning 20, and the way they straddled long-awaited films that were disappointments (TMP and THE BLACK HOLE, esp the former, which I only developed love for years later) was even more frustrating when KRAMER VS ____ing KRAMER got best picture. No justice!

Of course now I’ll have to screen JAZZ just to see what my interlocutor km is referring to wrt Ms. Bergman’s, uh, assets. (I remember that she went on to star as Arnold’s love interest in CONAN THE BARBARIAN, then pretty much disappeared; wonder whatever happened to her.)

CABARET has its issues, but I think it approaches the subject matter in a way that few but Fosse could have pulled off. Definitely not to everyone’s taste, but I’ve never quite got over the chill its final tracking shot left me with.

I agree that Gorman should have played Lenny Bruce, and would guess that the role went to Hoffman purely for business reasons. Yeah, APOCALYPSE NOW and ALL THAT JAZZ were one helluva way to close out the decade. BTW, don’t know if you’ve checked out the YouTuber Cinema Tyler, but he’s done a number of really great videos on the production of APOCALYPSE which are not only hugely entertaining but always contain at least a fact or two I hadn’t previously been aware of, which is is quite something considering its status as one of the most throughly documented productions in movie history.

Started watching it, stopped after 20 minutes. I found the signing parts went on for too long so I got bored (which doesn’t happen to me usually)…

But I feel I will like this episode. It’s like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Don’t we all need this right now? I absolutely loved the opening title sequence. Wish they would use that one permanently.

I liked the fact that this music thing made them share their innermost selves. A very imaginative way of getting to know the characters. That was well done.

I do have a question. So this subspace whatever-thing made them sing, but how could it have made them sign in rhymes and together in unison? And how does the dancing come into it?

I was very curious to hear your thoughts. I thought you might have liked it but now I see I thought wrong lol. I got bored of the singing myself. I actually liked most of the songs, but it was just too many of them IMO.

And I don’t have an answer to any of your questions. I think it would’ve worked better if an evil Q just showed up and forced them to do it for his amusement or something.

I just finished watching. I maintain that the songs go on way too long. I listened a bit to get a feel of the harmony but then just fast-forwarded through them. Celia Gooding has one hell of a voice, but none of the songs really engaged me. I’m an engineer so things that don’t make sense really irk me. Case in point my questions above. Singing I get, but they sing together with the same refrain and rhymes and dancing? No this makes no sense! But I know, shut up and just enjoy the show, and for that I can appreciate it. It was a feel-good episode. We got to know the characters more. The Klingons were hilarious and had excellent moves. Wasn’t my best episode but in the top half.

Well glad you went back and gave it another chance. I said after I watched it, I had no desire to ever watch it again and just two days later I’m thinking of watching it again. ;)

What I love about Star Trek is that it exists in the kookiest universe ever. Star Wars is suppose to be the sci fi ‘fantasy’ franchise and yet I can’t figure out how you would ever find a way for Luke, Leia and Han to break into song in that universe. Once you take away the Jedi it’s a very grounded universe. But not for Trek. They can literally figure out a way to make whatever story they want no matter how bizarre and weird…but even for me I think this was a bit too much. None of it really made sense.

But I loved the Klingons too lol. I didn’t care they didn’t do opera this time, it was fun to see them do something different and boy band it up. I would’ve loved an entire number from them. But as said, it was just too many songs. I really did get bored by the halfway mark but pushed through. So not a great episode for me, but I expected it to be much worse and there were definitely some fun moments.

Well, if you ever watched the infamous Star Wars Holiday special then you’d see that Han, Luke and Leia eventually did break into songs :))

LOL yes I have gotten through a third on that on YouTube before I couldn’t take it anymore…but it’s not canon either.

a third? You are a lot more resilient (or open to visual abuse) than I. Spent something like five or six bucks to rent it on VHS back in 2002 but was driving the thing back over the bridge to the store within ten minutes of popping it in. I think I got AIRPORT 79 – THE CONCORDE as a replacement stupid/fun choice, something I knew would live up to the moron level I needed, but wouldn’t bore me.

There’s a Portland video store called MOVIE MADNESS that is — or was, as I haven’t been on that side of the water in years — supremely well-stocked, not just with obscure movies (used to rent PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS from them every year till it came out on dvd) but with movie memoribilia, like Orson Welles’ coat from TOUCH OF EVIL and a model building used in BLADE RUNNER and GHOSTBUSTERS. Now that so much is available for cheap via streaming, I don’t go anymore, and I feel kinda guilty about that, because I liked supporting the place.

I think I got AIRPORT 79 – THE CONCORDE as a replacement stupid/fun choice, something I knew would live up to the moron level I needed, but wouldn’t bore me.

I love the entire AIRPORT series, even the three bad sequels. And ’75 and ’97 have great soundtracks, the latter composed by Lalo Schiffrin of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE fame!

fun story but the holiday special was never legally released on VHS. Maybe it was a bootleg copy at best, or just a silly tale

Tons of stuff I rented at Movie Madness were bootlegs; that was true for a pricey vidstore on Almaden Expressway in SJ back in the 80s, too. I guess my fancy sense of ethics deserts me when it comes to wanting to watch what I want (though I’ve always drawn the line at pirating vidsignals – not sure of the distinction there.)

So this subspace whatever-thing made them sing, but how could it have made them sign in rhymes and together in unison? And how does the dancing come into it?

Don’t ask, don’t tell.

It’s best if you don’t think about it too much. Just go with it. I think when it comes to technobabble, this is easily the most ridiculous. To me, the tone of the episode just makes that not matter.


I’ve been critical of this season. I haven’t been happy with the direction of the show. However, I did get some enjoyment out of this one. I have been wanting them to do something that’s bonkers and crazy and they did. Here is what I liked:

1. Ethan Peck was a big surprise. He was really good.

2. Chapel broke up with Spock in a brutal fashion, song and dance. That was messed up.

3. We’re getting our Spock back. Kudos to Boims in Those Old Scientists for setting that up by putting those doubts in Chapel’s head.

4. I knew Kirk/La’an would not happen, but for some reason, I like the two. They have chemistry.

5. The Klingon pop thing was hilarious. The Klingons resistance to it was funny.

I tried to keep my disapproval face of a musical episode, but the smiles and laughs cut through it.

Now, I’m ready to see Batel get eaten by the Gorn next week.

Hi Kevin,

I like your point about Spock and Chapel. That was brutal but I think it’s Boimler who set all that up and I’d kind of forgotten the impact that would have on her. We should have talked about that on the podcast.

Yeah, Batel is definitely getting Gorned. I feel like I’m gonna get Gorned too because of my Gorn feelings. Ha!

I’m listening to the soundtrack again as I type…

I just listened to it on Amazon music. I’m even talking about watching a musical. What have they done? Lol. :)

I’m so with you on the Gorn. I’m already dreading it. Ugh.

Now, I’m ready to see Batel get eaten by the Gorn next week.

Talk about water-cooler TV, that would be something. You couldn’t show it on SkinaMax, how about HideaMax, as in Gorn have thick hides?

Kevin, great post.. this is where I”m at as well. I’m still surprised at how well Kirk / L’aan works for me, and how much I want to see more. I think that episode cemented Christina Chong / L’aan as my favorite character on this series. I feel like I’ve seen more subtlety and nuance out of her than anyone else on the show.

The idea that you can only pull off a musical because it is an episodic series and a bottle episode doesn’t really hold here as a musical focuses on feelings and emotions, and ironically, this episode relied entirely on a serial understanding of all the characters’ relationships, motivations and experiences to date. And there were some big big advances in those characters that will influence their forward stories.

I absolutely loved it! I thought it was hilarious. I burst out laughing multiple times. But at the same time, I appreciated how the songs built on each character’s development and moved some major plot points forward. I can’t believe Matt thought that Spock’s song was corny. I thought it was heartbreaking and I actually got choked up a bit, lol! And I was so embarrassed for Pike having his singing argument with Batel in front of the bridge crew. It really helped that they were aware that they were singing and thought it was weird. That made it different than a typical musical. This one was just pure fun from beginning to end.

I haven’t listened to the podcast yet and so not sure what was brought up but this just hit me the Spock and Chapel thing is even MORE confusing now. In this episode we saw Chapel breaking up with Spock and (I’m assuming) will set up her romance with Korby.

But we all know in TOS, it’s Chapel the one pining for Spock and certainly not the other way around. So what are we missing?? The break up came waaaay faster than I thought but I assumed whenever it happened, it would be Spock doing it because he realized T’Pring was true love and all of that. It just made this part of the story line more confusing.

Or I guess the other option is they are not done with them and it will continue to be this back and forth, will they or won’t they (again) melodrama for the next three seasons. That’s probably the answer now thinking about it.

I like SNW, I think it’s been great overall even with its flaws. But the canon stuff just feels very wonky to me and I really wish they stayed away from the whole Spock/Chapel CW type romance they are now doing. At the very least I wish they could’ve played it a bit more mature like how they handled Riker and Troi on TNG. They were previously together and they had flashes they still had feelings for each other but they never turned it into a full on ‘thing’ either. It was just below the surface and the characters handled it very professionally. But with SNW, it’s like teenagers being in love.

Not listened to the podcast either but….It’s easier to pine for someone that isn’t available. It has a built in safety net. In a past episode she said she ran when things got serious. Chapel also never really got explore her relationship with Spock so maybe she built up what they could have been in her head. Fantasy being more powerful than reality. I also think her regrets will play a big role in her future decisions. With Korby gone she will probably begin to wonder if she made the right choices romantically and finding she didn’t decides to be bolder this time around.

At least that’s my guess…I personally wasn’t a fan of their relationship as I never thought the chemistry worked that well romantically. I also thought some of the stories didn’t serve either of them that well.

I can definitely see all of this as a possibility, but if so, frankly it just hurts my brain man. Like you, I don’t think they have great chemistry to begin with but then this idea they will go back and forth with her feelings, should she choose Korby or really really loves Spock just sounds so tedious and unnecessary, especially because we know how it will all play out by the end. Another reason I hate prequels.

And I have no problem having more romance in Star Trek. I loved relationships like Worf and Dax, Tom and B’Elanna and even Trip and T’Pol. I was even one of the weird freaks who liked the Spock and Uhura relationship in the Kelvinverse. But this situation is just really really eye rolling because it never should’ve been a relationship ACCORDING to canon in the first place and no offense to these writers, but they don’t seem to know what the word ‘subtle’ means…or at least can’t write in that way. It just feels so forced and written in such a teeny bopper way.

I rolled my eyes after Spock and T’Pring broke up, not ten minutes later he and Chapel meet up and start making out. I literally thought about, and I kid you not when I was a teenager watching Beverly Hills 90210 and there is an episode where Dylan and Brenda decided to break up and ten minutes later Dylan was at Kelly’s house now making out with her. They are practically done scene by scene. But I digress.

But yeah, this will probably continue next season.

They were committed to it in the abstract but not in the reality. I never believed that relationship for a second. They also made the Pike-Batel relationship boring and bland and pointless, too just to set it up in the place they want it to *end.* Not even *go.* They just want their **shocking twists.** This entire season feels like first draft stuff they tossed together and shot without a second thought. Akiva has never been a patient boy.

The Pike and Batel thing also feels like a waste because they’ve done nothing with it other than hang out in Pike’s quarters and come up with tedious conflicts to give them. Another reason why I really didn’t like episode 4. They ‘broke up’ just for Pike to realize it was wrong thing to do. What was even the point?? It really felt like they needed to come up with some drama for drama sake. This episode was no different. Pike not telling her he didn’t want to go to some touristy planet? Really??? They used to make stuff like that into jokes with Worf and Dax on DS9 when Worf would roll his eyes every time Dax wanted to do something ‘girly’ or out of his comfort zone. I’ll be fair, this was already a VERY light episode so I know it’s not suppose to be taken that seriously but the point is there is no depth to their relationship at all. I mean if she is killed in the finale, I don’t think most people will care. I certainly won’t and I like the character, but I can’t begin to care about their relationship.

Nothing against the actress, she played what she had written for her, but my main takeaway on Batel was that for Pike, she was like, ‘Boyce with benefits.’

I agree that her death will probably carry very little weight for viewers … reminds me of how opening day on TSFS, everybody cheered each credit in the titles, except when they got to Merritt Buttrick, and nobody clapped — and then everybody burst out laughing about it. I knew he was going to buy it before going to the movie, but I also knew that the audience wasn’t going to get all blinky-eyed over it.

 “Reminds me of how opening day on TSFS, everybody cheered each credit in the titles, except when they got to Merritt Buttrick, and nobody clapped — and then everybody burst out laughing about it.”

That’s hilarious man. I saw it in theaters too but I was still a kid, maybe 8 or 9 at the time so can’t remember the crowd reactions. But yeah David wasn’t the most interesting character.

“Boyce with benefits”

Lol! You just made my weekend better! Love it!

I was pretty pleased with that one myself. Usually I’m only sharp in the morning posts, but last night after work when I was in the shower that occurred to me (and no I was not singing in the shower, I don’t want to be the cause of another death in our building — there was an unexplained death next door to us on Thursday that had so many cops outside you’d have thought it was a terrorist thing.)

Yeah, I agree with you on Pike-Batel. It always felt forced. Not much zing or chemistry between them and it all felt like a big setup.

What I’m hoping is we see him be a captain about it, and not overly emote on the bridge. Then privately break down after it’s all over, because of course he cares, but also want to see him realize he wasn’t in love with her.. which isn’t to say he shouldn’t mourn her.

Or it could be that Chapel broke up with him as a sacrifice to allow him to fulfill his full potential and destiny as described by Boimler in the turbo lift. Still in love with him, her true feelings bubble up later on TOS…or not…

Well, if they follow TOS at all (and they’ve kind of set this up that they have to, in regards to Chapel’s feelings) then she always will care for him. In TOS it’s portrayed as an innocent crush. I think that’s out the window. It’s more of a former lover kind of thing that she’s resigned to let go, but she still cares. It’s just going to be weird.

All I want to say, is I feel Anthony on this podcast, and applaud his ability to be objective. And I don’t mean just for this episode, but this seemed to really not be his cup of tea, and he powered through anyway. Great job. As someone who has not thought this season is very good overall, I found this a fun excursion, and it made me happy that she was so happy with it. I found it fun, and thought they should just hand wave the whole thing, not try to get into the psudeo-science of it. Something like this begged less explanation, not more.. on that I agree. Personally, I thought this should just break the 4th wall and remove it from canon completely, but that doesn’t take away from the fun of it… not being a musical person either, I did enjoy it.

So, I’m team Laurie. I really loved the episode. And the songs even grew on me more after listening to them more now the soundtrack is out.

Question for the podcast team: From what I heard you guys thought the gold Klingon uniforms were done for camp and/or K-pop reference. But I actually thought they were the new uniforms and I liked them a lot. Do you think they were just for this episode?

Ps: am I the only one that gets shivers every time Ethan Peck talks… let alone sings??

I personally think they were done for camp. They looked exaggerated and silly to me. And I LOVE Ethan Peck’s singing and speaking voice. I’m still just wowed by this cast, especially after this musical episode, even with all the sweetening. They did a great job.

TOS Klingons had gold lamé coverlets so imo it was neither camp nor K-Pop (lol) – but an updated reference to TOS