On May 1, 2022 The Paley center for Media in New York City held a special event focused around the newest addition to the Star Trek franchise: Strange New Worlds. The show is set ten years before Captain Kirk would take command of the Enterprise, focusing instead on his predecessor Captain Pike and his crew. The crew is a mixture of characters from the original series such as Spock and Uhura and new characters including Security Chief La'an Noonien-Singh and Chief Engineer Hemmer. This event featured an exhibition of costumes and props from the show but perhaps the most exciting part was a special screening of the first two episodes of the series four days ahead of its debut on Paramount Plus. As a long time Star Trek fan I jumped at the chance to attend this event.
Having attended Paley Center events in the past, I can tell you they always put on an impressive show. This was no different. As soon as you walked up to the building, there were Star Trek graphics all over the front. After a brief check in, you are greeted by a gigantic Star Trek delta symbol inside. And then taking a cue from convention experiences there is a Captain's Chair set up for a photo op! Behind it was a print out of the Enterprise bridge from Strange New Worlds. This serves as a perfect warm up to get you jazzed for the event.
When I arrived I had to quickly head down to the screening room. It was packed and the crowd was enthusiastic. There was cosplay spanning shows from The Original Series all the way to Lower Decks. Lots of people were greeting each other with the Vulcan salute. These were truly my kind of Geeks and I loved the energy everyone generated as a collective. After a brief introduction by a staff member, the show began.
Series stars Anson Mount (Pike) and Ethan Peck (Spock) pre-recorded videos to introduce the screening and that was fun. Personally I had hoped at least one cast member would be in attendance, but I understand schedules do not always work that way, especially in the era of Covid. In the end it didn't matter. I was getting to see the latest entry in the Trek franchise days before its debut and that was the main show. I will not go into a long review here (I could type several paragraphs with only non-spoiler thoughts) but I can sum up my feelings best by saying that Trek has been very experimental in the past five years or so. However, most of the current shows have shied away from the traditional episodic format of Star Trek, generally choosing instead to follow long story arcs. Strange New Worlds is a return to tradition, with each episode a self contained adventure. There are emotional arcs for characters which will run through episodes, but that is fine by me as it ensures we do not hit a character "reset button" every episode. For me, who started my Star Trek fandom with the original series, this format is both comforting and refreshing at the same time. The show is full of adventure, likeable characters and follows many of the principles of classic Trek including a powerful sense of optimism and "can do" attitude. The audience cheered and laughed multiple times and there was a huge buzz in the air when we left the theater. I'm really looking forward to more!
After the screening, I headed upstairs for the exhibition. The exhibition had both costumes and props from the show, and I won't lie, seeing props right in front of me from a show that I just watched and enjoyed gives me a very specific thrill. Among the props on display were a piece of Vulcan jewelry, Tricorder, Phaser and Communicator. One section had a beautiful Enterprise model all lit up. Now, the show uses all CG models, so this was not a "shooting model", however, the other fans and I speculated that this might have been a 3D print of the CG model used in the show with lights rigged up into it. It was beautiful and you can see it in the video below.
Also on display were costumes from the show. This includes Vulcan civilian costumes and of course those worn by the Starfleet crew members including Pike, Spock and Uhura. What is stunning about these costumes is the sheer level of detail on them. While inspired by the costumes from the 60's series, these have details on them that are not even necesarily visible on screen, yet they add to the visual texture. This includes patterns on the costumes featuring the symbol in their badges and Star Trek deltas on the boots. There were also a couple costumes from episodes that have yet to be aired, which was a fun hint of what is to come. Many costumes sat on platforms that were lit up, resembling a Transporter Pad which I thought was a fantastic touch. There were also QR codes by each costume letting you access a page for more information.
On the way out, fans were given a free Strange New Worlds mini-poster and the Paley Center staff was on hand to answer questions and check in on guests. It was a wonderful (and very Geeky) way to spend an afternoon and I had an absolute blast. Ben's World of Transformers sends its appreciation to the Paley Center for holding a wonderful event.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debuts May 5, 2022 on Paramount Plus.