When “Encounter at Farpoint” first aired, I watched it in my Grandmother's kitchen in South Jersey. “Let him go watch his program,” she said, as the rest of the extended family sat in the living room. Now, a lifetime later, I saw the next chapter in Star Trek, Discovery, unveiled at its world premiere in the Cinerama Dome at Hollywood's Arclight Theater. A night I won't soon forget.
I think the enormity of it all hit me when I was on the red (okay, blue) carpet, recording audio for ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast. Every actor, writer and producer I spoke to seemed like they were part of a circle of friends who knew a great story, and decided they were going to let you in on it.
Some of them, like producer Heather Kadin, said she'd been working on Star Trek: Discovery for over two years. More than anything else, they just wanted to share.
What grabbed me was the way this new and modern show has bent over backwards to respect the fifty years of franchise history. The “first fans” of Star Trek, Bjo and John Trimble, were some of the earlier guests to arrive, and a small collection of revelers in costume off to the side of the theater began shouting their names.
The Trimbles initiated the first letter-writing campaign in the late 1960s which kept Star Trek on the air, thus granting the show a third season, meeting the threshold for rerun syndication - a domino effect that led us to today. Now, five decades later, they were taking selfies with young Trek fans.
This respect for the elders was matched by enthusiasm for tomorrow. That same cosplay crowd went wild when Mary Chieffo, in an elegant green gown, and looking nothing like her Klingon character L'Rell, made her way down the carpet. In a way, it didn't make sense. No one had seen the show yet. For all they knew, they'd hate it. It is not logical to judge something before you've examined it yourself! But Chieffo has already been mixing it up with fans, talking about learning Klingon and her radical makeup. Her passion for this project is obvious.
I was privileged to stand just a few feet from a photo op of the whole Discovery gang posed with Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner.
Moments later I spoke with Sonequa Martin-Green, who told me that that was the first time she'd met the original Uhura face to face. “This is yours now,” she told her. “Enjoy the ride.” It was another great example of the old and new coming together.
Inside (where I sat next to a gal who said “Wait, are you the podcast guy? I follow you on Twitter!”) a slew of producers and actors came onstage for a quick bow before screening the first two episodes. This show is huge and very modern, but still instantly recognizable as Trek. And when we first saw some closing credits, I couldn't tell if I'd seen only one or both episodes. I'd completely lost all sense of time. Traveling at warp can be disorienting. And I can't wait to take another ride.
Jordan Hoffman is also the host of Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast, from CBS Radio, CBS Local Digital Media and CBS Consumer Products. Engage is available via Play.it/StarTrek, iTunes and StarTrek.com, with new episodes released weekly. Hoffman is also a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels.