Discovery Has Premiered
NCC-1031.COM creator Cassius Adams was at the world premiere on September 19th and relayed to me, in detail, information about the Discovery intro credits.
CBS placed an embargo on press that were present at the world premiere. The embargo means we can’t write reviews before the show airs for fear that spoilers would leak out. Now that the credits have been aired publicly, we can show and write about them openly. Reviews on the actual episode will be published shortly.
History of Classic Title Credits
There have been 6 Star Trek television shows up to now, when you include The Animated Series. Each series has its own unique title credits that mostly follow a particular formula, Star Trek: Enterprise being slightly different. This formula has served each series well over the last 51 years, achieving two primary goals:
- Delivery a musical score that identifies the series and the show’s tone
- Presents visuals of space, exploration of space, or situation within space and history
The opening credits for Star Trek: Discovery change this up to the point where it is, in essence, completely different. Unrecognizable as Trek even.
In case you’ve forgotten what any of the title credit sequences looked like, here they are. Sure, there are subtle differences. However those differences aren’t enough to write them off as un-Trek-like, though Enterprise does come close.
Star Trek: The Original Series title credits
Star Trek: The Animated Series title credits
Star Trek: The Next Generation title credits
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine title credits
Star Trek: Voyager title credits
Star Trek: Enterprise title credits
No Apparent Reason for Divergence
Star Trek Discovery diverges from this simple formula for seemingly no reason other than to be different. That’s not a good reason; actually I’d argue that’s a bad reason. Rather than the beautiful depictions of space and exploration achievable with modern-day visual effects, we’re given schematics, line drawings, and basic but stylized 3D animation.
Seriously, there isn’t even a shot of the USS Discovery flying through space in it. It feels like a completely wasted opportunity. Not even a photo-realistic appearance by the Discovery.
What strikes me as strange and convoluted is that the title sequence is done over an orchestral theme that’s clearly an homage to the title credits of Star Trek shows of the past.
Between the sound and the visuals, it’s almost like the production’s left hand had no idea about what the right hand was doing. It wants to be completely different than any Star Trek before it visually while not being different at all audibly.
The results are a mashup of opening credits that don’t sit well with this writer, nor do they feel in any way to be Star Trek in nature. I will admit that they are heavily stylized and of-the-day, which may be what the showrunners were going for. Television Star Trek has never had to resort to these strategies so why now? Likely because of the massive budget. At about $8 million per episode, Discovery needs to draw in an audience that’s likely bigger than what Star Trek traditionally receives on any given week. Putting out something that appeals to a larger audience may help in the quest of cost-recovery.
If the rest of the series is as divergent from Trek tradition as these intro credits are, CBS may as well have just called this series something else all together. We’ll figure that out over the next few episodes.
There May Be a Surprise
I’m going to go out on a limb here for a moment. This is, after all, an Opinion piece.
There is one possibility.
If the USS Discovery were not to make an appearance in either The Vulcan Hello or Battle at the Binary Stars, the premiere episodes, then CBS may not want to fully reveal what the ship looks like. By doing the credits this way, they haven’t really given away many details about the leading starship.
Perhaps we may get different title credits sequence once the third episode drops – or whatever episode is after the first reveal of the USS Discovery, assuming it’s not in the premiere(s). We’ll need to wait for the premiere to end, or for the next episode, before we can know that.