In theory, one of the upsides of a TV streaming service is that your favorite shows are always available. In practice, however, that hasn’t always been the case. For that, you still need a physical release, something a lot of shows made for streaming services don’t get. But fans of Star Trek: Discovery are in luck as Paramount and CBS Home Entertainment have released Star Trek: Discovery: Season One (Blu-ray, DVD), which not only includes all fifteen episodes, but the kind of extras that fans of this sci-fi space opera will appreciate.
Set about ten years before…
the adventures of the Enterprise — the William Shatner one, not the Chris Pine movies — Star Trek: Discoveryfollows Michael Burnham [The Walking Dead‘s Sonequa Martin-Green], a human who was raised on Vulcan, studied under Spock’s dad Sarek [Gotham‘s James Frain], and eventually ended up in Starfleet. While serving as the science officer of the USS Shenzhou, a Klingon named T’Kuvma [American Gods‘ Chris Obi] unites a splintered Klingon empire by declaring war on The Federation, which ultimately leads to Burnham being posted on the USS Discovery.
What follows is a very different kind of Star Trek show, one that’s more in the mold of the newer versions of Lost In Space and Battlestar Galactica than any previous Trek (save for the Dominion War episodes of Deep Space Nine). Not only are major characters killed with impunity, or no foreshadowing, but this also takes a more serialized approach. In fact, the Discovery isn’t even mentioned until the third episode, “Context Is For Kings.”
Star Trek: Discovery also differs from previous Star Trek shows by largely (though not completely) eschewing the technobabble that was de rigueur during Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. Though, on the flipside, it does occasionally have the kind of pop culture references that were oddly absent from those shows.
It also helps that Star Trek: Discovery boasts a great cast. Martin-Green is as likeable here as she was on The Walking Dead; Jason Isaacs has as commanding a presence as he did when he voiced The Grand Inquisitor on Star Wars: Rebels; while Doug Jones is as convincing as the alien Saru as he was as the fish man Abe Sapien in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
they make Star Trek: Discovery the strongest Star Trek show since Deep Space Nine, and on par with the best of the new movies.
That said, it does have one rather annoying issue, something made even more irritating by being unnecessary: the time frame. As I said, Star Trek: Discovery is supposed to take place about ten years before the events of the original ’60s show. But the technology on the USS Discovery is well beyond what Picard had on his Enterprise, let alone Kirk, while the design of the ship, uniforms, and tech is more in line with the new movies. It’s a disparity that can be rather distracting, especially when you realize most of the episodes could easily take place after — albeit long after — the events of the third Chris Pine movie.
Not surprisingly, the episodes presented on the Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD have pristine visual fidelity and matching audio, especially the Blu-ray.
As for the extras on the Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD, they include deleted and extended scenes on seven of the season’s fifteen episodes. Granted, most wouldn’t have added much to the story, but they are interesting nonetheless. And while there isn’t anything to indicate why they were cut or cut down, or from where in the episode the former were excised (though it’s usually pretty obvious), this does thankfully put the link to these scenes on the same menu as their respective episodes.
The Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD also has a ton of making-of featurettes. In “Discovering Discovery: The Concepts And Casting Of Star Trek: Discovery,” we learn how this show came about, and are introduced to the cast and crew; “Standing In The Shadow Of Giants: Creating The Sound Of Discovery” explores the show’s music; the special effects are explained in “Creating Space,” with a special focus on the spacewalk scene from the first episode; while “A Woman’s Journey” is a look at women who work on the show, both in front and behind the camera, and how this fits with the franchise’s progressive approach.
There’s also a bunch of making-of featurettes on the Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD that explore the design process behind the costumes and non-human characters (“Creature Comforts”), the ships and buildings (“Designing Discovery”), the phasers, tricorders, and other props (“Prop Me Up”), the costumes (“Dress For Success”), and even the food (“Feeding Frenzy”). All of which are informative, though also, of course, full of spoilers.
The Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD…
also includes the original promos they released to promote both the show’s launch and every episode after the first one. Which is a welcome inclusion given how often movie and TV show collections leave them out, despite being an important part of the movie or show’s history. Even cooler, the episode promos, like the deleted and extended scenes, are located on the same menu as their respective episodes.
While the Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD has a lot of good extras, it is missing a couple that would’ve made them either better. For starters, it could use commentaries by the cast and crew, though only if they were all in the same recording studio at the same time. There’s also no mention of how co-creator Bryan Fuller [American Gods] left the show, or what the original plan for this series was going to be.
It also would’ve been good if the Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD had something about the companion novels (David Mack’s Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours, Dayton Ward’s Star Trek: Discovery: Drastic Measures, and James Swallow’s Star Trek: Discovery: Fear Itself), and the comics (Star Trek: Discovery: The Light Of Kahless and Star Trek: Discovery: Succession by Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson).
It’s also odd that the Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD doesn’t include the trailer for the second season they showed at San Diego Comic-Con in July, or the newer one they unveiled at New York Comic-Con in October.
The Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD also has some placement issues in that the making-of extras — y’know, the ones you shouldn’t watch until you’ve seen every episode — are spread out over the four discs, as opposed to all being on the last one. In addition, the featurette “Feeding Frenzy” is not in one of the “Special Features” sections, but is instead in the menu for the episode “Vaulting Ambition,” while the “Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage Of Season 1″ promo is on the last disc, not on the first with the other seasonal promos.
Even with these shortcomings, though,
the Star Trek: Discovery: Season One Blu-ray and DVD is a great way to watch this exciting new chapter in the Star Trek saga.