Star Power Not Equaled by Previous Series
Star Trek Discovery begins in just a few months, and there are thousands of people waiting with bated-breath who are filled with hope; and perhaps just as many who have already dismissed the new series as a mess that exists far outside of Gene Roddenberry’s dream of the future. It is clear that a consensus is far from likely even if the show becomes a critical and/or a commercial success.
One of the aspects of Discovery that was striking as new cast members were announced was the number of well-known, or at least known, actors. Looking back at Trek series over the last five decades, few of the actors recruited into the “Fleet” were well-known. The two biggest exceptions are Scott Bakula, and Avery Brooks, as each of those actors had starred in long running TV series prior to their roles in Trek.
While Sonequa Martin-Green is best known for her role in The Walking Dead, in which she was a supporting character until the last two seasons when she was elevated to a starring role, the addition of Michelle Yeoh, and Jason Isaacs – both internationally known for dozens of film roles – creates a precedent not equaled by previous series.
A Mainstream Appeal
The hope seems to be that enough star power might thrust Discovery into the main stream quickly, and for the long-term, including notable guest stars such as Rainn Wilson for a reported nine episodes. However, it seems reasonable to conclude that much of the appeal of previous series was that the casts were hungry, looking for success and striving to keep their respective characters fresh and interesting. The one recurring exception being Michael Dorn, appearing in six films and 272 television episodes across two series.
This hope might well be misplaced and could doom Discovery to a short span of trying to appeal to a mass audience that has never really existed for Trek.
While the producers and show runners are changing much of Trek lore in order to seemingly revitalize interest in the franchise, stuffing the cast with so many stars could actually have much of the reverse effect leaving many disinterested in not seeing actors they are already familiar with, or actors they might have already decided they do not appreciate.
None of this means, of course, that Discovery does not have the potential to be an amazing Trek series. However, if Star Trek: Enterprise (with Scott Bakula in the Captain’s chair) is any example of a post-Roddenberry series, there could well be quite a lot of push back – as there has been on other fronts – against the somewhat obvious attempt to garner star power to draw in viewers.
Star power can be a wonderful thing, and in the recent golden age of television it has made for wonderful series in several genres, but for long-term Star Trek fans, it may feel a bit too much like a cheap gimmick. Let’s hope it isn’t.
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