Genre-Trekking: 10 Cinematic Styles We'd Like to See Strange New Worlds Tackle

Genre-Trekking: 10 Cinematic Styles We'd Like to See Strange New Worlds Tackle

In just twenty episodes Strange New Worlds has ushered our crew through a series of familiar new genres! Ranging from fantasy, horror, courtroom and war dramas, to the first ever musical, the writers clearly enjoy playing with their Star Trek toys in a variety of genre sandboxes. And we’re having a blast watching them do so! We recently learned that Frakes’ season 3 episode is a Hollywood Murder Mystery. Showrunner, Akiva Goldsman, is quoted as impishly suggesting “Could [SNW] do Muppets? Sure. Could it do black and white, silent, slapstick? Maybe!”

Color us inspired! We thought we’d day dream about some of the genres they might tackle in future seasons! Here’s 10 styles we’d like to see Strange New Worlds stories told through, some familiar to Star Trek and some…inarguably outside-the-box.

- Film Noir -

Captain’s Log Stardate 1941.18 - This planet smells of spent dilithium and crushed dreams. Starfleet says I take the Prime Directive merely as a suggestion, so they removed my badge and left me with an away team that consists only of bitter disappointment and this bottle of romulan ale. Still, I pursued the woman from the distress call - she was as stunning as the setting on my phaser - but now the trail is colder than the dark side of Rura Penthe.

Star Trek has often flirted with noir. See TNG’s “The Big Goodbye” or TOS’ “A Piece of the Action.” It’s only a matter of time until Strange New Worlds takes a detour into the seedy underbelly of hard-boiled storytelling. Imagine how good this crew would look in Bernadette Croft designed three-piece suits and glittering gowns. There’s not a single cast member who wouldn’t wear the hell out of a fedora! 

Plus I hope they finally pull the trigger on giving us a full black & white noir story. Okay, yes, there’s Voyager’s serial pastiche “Bride of Chaotica” and Prodigy did it in “Ghost in the Machine,” but I’m still waiting for the live action monochromatic gritty detective tale! I have faith of the heart that science advisor, Erin Macdonald, can come up with some relatively plausible reason a planet’s star only outputs the black and white ranges of the color spectrum to provide an in-universe reason for the de-saturated environment.

Perhaps M’Benga learns about someone from his past on this planet which leads to Pike discovering the truth about Dak'Rah’s death. Or maybe Ortegas gets a distress call from her sister and we get Erica and Christine working together, cracking wise and solving the mystery to clear her name! And don’t we deserve a Ferengi as a Peter Lorre style henchman! (I know they haven’t officially been discovered by the Federation yet, but there could be a random one on this planet) Well I just think an episode like that would be real swell, see?!  🕵️‍♀️-Cameron

- Spaghetti Western -

Star Trek is no stranger to an old western pastiche, from “Spectre of the Gun” to “A Fistful of Datas”, we’ve seen more than one crew saddle up and strap on the spurs. We already know that Pike is an accomplished equestrian, why not throw him in a pair of jodhpurs and really let his lasso fly? We’ve also seen that Ortegas can pilot anything, why not a horse? Round out the posse with the unflappable Doctor M’Benga and we’ve got ourselves a show!

Of course, we can’t just have a regular, paint-by-numbers genre jaunt in Strange New Worlds, it really needs that extra something to feel like it fits. This is where we get saucy and suggest a load of spaghetti. We want every spoken word to be dubbed over with minimum accuracy. With a literally infinite array of planets available to play on, perhaps the crew discovers one with an atmosphere that dampens the speed of sound - allowing Spock to comment on the strange phenomenon of lips appearing to be mismatched with their words.

We’ve also heard plenty of musical variation throughout SNW’s run, with the show having recently pulled off the franchise’s first ever full-blown musical. This is another chance for an audio experiment in the style of Ennio Morricone, a challenge we’re certain series composer Nami Melumad is up to. Just imagine the mournful wail of a soprano recorder over a long slow pan as our trio rides into a town at high noon, unaware that they’re on a collision course with a group of local outlaws - it’s a thing of beauty before it even exists. Toss in some social commentary and we’re staring down a standoff. 🤠-Jesse

- Medical Mystery -

The Captain is down! Much like Riker after him, Pike has been stricken by a mysterious ailment that leaves him locked-in…paralyzed, unable to speak and the biobed is as baffled as the tricorder. As M’Benga and Chapel are driving themselves to the edge of madness looking for a cure, each crewmember comes to visit Pike and have their talks with him. We get flashbacks! How did Pike hear about Ortegas and her bravado? We get to see some brotherhood times between M’Benga and Pike but also M’Benga has his one-sided conversation about what happened with the Butcher in this very sickbay. What were the Pike/Sam Kirk drinking-story Starfleet Academy frat-boy days like??

But why…why are Spock and Una so unconcerned about whether Pike will ever recover? They know that this isn’t where his story ends! The rest of the crew gets more and more agitated not only at the ongoing mystery but at how calm the first and science officers are. Finally, a small amount of progress is made and they are able to communicate with Pike, but all he can do is blink in response. And Una tells him to blink once for yes…twice for no.

This would be a good opportunity to contact and visit a few places and faces we’ve seen before in SNW.  Would Pike, for example, accept a First Servant-powered cure?

This could be a redemption of Shades of Grey, and show how a flashback episode can REALLY work. Think in shades of “Out of Gas” rather than “Grey.” 👩‍⚕️-John

- Christmas Special -

In our first interview with showrunner Henry Alonso Myers, the idea of doing a holiday episode really seemed to jingle his bells! Were the idea to reach our screens, what could it look like? I have a theory!! Bill Wolkoff’s one-word tease for season 3 was #Mortegas. But I suspect that doesn’t JUST mean an Ortegas-centric episode. I think we’ll literally see multiple Ortegas’ (Ortegi?) take to the screen! Trek loves their “doubles” episodes. We got a taste of that in A Quality of Mercy, and though that may have been a classic It’s a Wonderful Life type story, we still haven’t seen A Christmas Carol as told through the Trek lens.

I posit that we find out Ortegas is a bit of a Scrooge. She loves to have a good time, but we know that’s just fancy wrapping paper around some coal-black trauma deep down inside. Perhaps Christmas brings those scars too close to the surface and a sudden mission around that time of year threatens to have them rip their way out like a misguided attempt to wrap a puppy as a Christmas present. 

The only one who can save Ortegas from herself is…herself! Three versions of herself to be exact. One traveling from the past, one traveling from the future and one traveling from another timeline’s present. Only together are they able to help Erica navigate the correct path to save her crew, her ship, the mission, and…the Christmas Spirit. Heck, I’ve talked myself into making it a two-parter. ‘Tis the season’s cliffhanger?  🎄-Cameron

- Cooking Competition -

We’ve seen alien entertainment in this franchise on more than one occasion. “The Gamesters of Triskelion” and “Tsunkatse” spring to mind - but what if there were an extraterrestrial society whose entire culture was built around reality television competitions?

The snootiest aliens imaginable have invited the crew of the Enterprise to dinner aboard their capital ship, assuming their custom of holding a contest to see which crew can best prepare a diplomatic meal is common knowledge. Despite being caught off-guard, Pike smiles at Una as he realizes his First Officer has just become a sous-chef.

Spock is nominated to serve as a panel judge due to the famed impartiality of the Vulcan palate. Bruce Horak guest-stars as the judge least likely to be impressed. We learn that the whole process will be televised to the alien homeworld, with the prize being a new treaty with the Federation. Defeat would mean a lifetime of competition in the enemy’s galleys for the entertainment of the masses.

A meeting is held in the conference room to determine the dishes that will compose the menu, with each officer giving input based on their own cultural backgrounds and favorite flavors.

Competitors on both sides don sleek white coats, and the games begin! Uhura, Ortegas, and Sam Kirk dart around the kitchen operating their designated stations, periodically responding to Pike’s commands with “Yes, Chef!” Scotty maintains all cook-tops with genius efficiency, offering all-too-honest taste tests when asked. Chapel and M’Benga serve as food safety experts, observing and reviving judges who have negative reactions to new cuisine.

Spock raises an eyebrow after he tastes the alien entrée, indicating to his captain that his final dish must be absolute gastronomic mastery to have any hope of winning. With new allies on the line, Pike decides to keep it simple and rely on a dish that never fails to satisfy - barbecued ribs. He adds a pinch of Deltan parsley to the sauce as he brings it to a simmer, then demonstrates for the skeptical ambassadors that this is a meal to be eaten with one’s hands and without regard to napkins. Overcoming their initial horror at having their appendages bathed in foodstuffs, the judges give in to their enjoyment and declare Pike’s staff the victors.

Video journals accompany the credits, which roll at twice their normal speed to complete the pastiche.  👨‍🍳-Jesse

- Spy Film -

Ensign Uhura has said her goodbyes in private, shed a tear with some, hugged others, and hasn’t spoken a word to Captain Pike…Everyone knows why, they all saw the logs, the record of her disgrace, the bloody aftermath and the body count. The last thing she sees is the Captain’s cold glare as she steps onto the Enterprise transporter pad with her belongings for the last time.

When she materializes the Section 31 representative is there to greet her, he’s distracted, watching a complex web of connections unfold on a display. “Fantastic work, Ensign!  The Starfleet rumor mill is churning full speed, you’re now persona non grata on every ship in the fleet. The perfect cover for our mission.”

Uhura is risking everything to help the shadowy agency uncover and dismantle a plot that will shake confidence in the Federation to its core.  No one is trying to destroy entire systems or exterminate species, they are working to create small cracks of confidence that will lead to an unstable and collapsing foundation of trust and cooperation.  Who better to help keep the story straight and make sure the right ears hear the right words than our talented young ensign?  She joins a popular musical group known to frequent systems and civilizations far and wide, becoming a rising star for her captivating singing voice and mystique at the blood on her hands.

It’s time for “The Departed”* in space!  Lots of slow-burn intensity and not knowing who to trust!  Can our daring Uhura use her talents and guts to keep the saboteurs from gaining a foothold?  Who in Starfleet is part of the plan?  Which of her bandmates will double-cross her??  Will the Enterprise be there to pull her out if she’s exposed???

*No there won’t be a bunch of phaser headshots in the end. 🔍-John

- Talking Animal -

Tribbles. Spot. Porthos. Despite being an omnipresent part of the Star Trek universe, pets have never been the central characters in an episode. That ends right meow. Have you heard of the alien planet with vistas so beautiful every equestrian takes their favored steed there for a ride? Well Pike has, and he’s brought his horses from Earth just for this bit of shore leave. We open with him and a rather uncomfortable Spock riding over the horizon on Tango and Mary Lou, while up on the ship we’re introduced to some of the crew’s other pets: Of course La’an’s pooch, Runa, Jenna Mitchell’s cat, and Chapel’s Betazoid flufflump (an adorable puff of pink fur with large eyes).

As Pike and the horses beam back up to the Enterprise, an unknown alien ship approaches, attaching a probe to their hull. Is it a friendly probe? Neigh! It consists of a highly advanced universal translator which allows the aliens to mind control the crew and mimic every aspect of their language, spoken and unspoken. How ruff!

But as cluck would have it, this translator inadvertantly allows the animals on board to communicate with each other! And you know what that means; an opportunity for some fantastic voice casting! I humbly submit Danny Devito as the telepathic flufflump (yes, all creatures from Betazed are telepathic), Jonathan Frakes as the cat, Sarah Silverman as Runa, Reba McEntire as Mary Lou and (I accept no alternates here) James Cromwell as Tango. Purrfect!

While the mind control fools all those back at Starbase 1, naturally our animal heroes can sense that their fellow bipeds are no longer themselves. Working together they manage to ferret out the devious plan, subdue the crew, take over the ship, and convince Starfleet to destroy the attached probe, returning everyone/thing to normal. Not a moo-ment too soon!

Sounds like a hoot, huh? Not so fast! Even the goofiest Strange New Worlds episodes have had a moment of tear-jerking poignancy and this barn burner is no different! Who among you wouldn’t get choked up watching as our animal friends, who’ve overcome their differences and bonded during this romp, realize they can no longer speak to each other and must watch their metaphoric Tower of Babel fall? What a cock-a-doodle-doo!  🐴-Cameron

- Mecha Anime -

Two words: “giant robots.” We've seen that the Strange New crew looks great in two dimensions as well as three, and rather than attempt to clear the high bar set by “Those Old Scientists,” we think this crew’s next animated outing would benefit from a pivot straight into anime. And there better be a high-octane, blisteringly-paced, bass-heavy metal rendition of the opening theme song to go along with it.

A brilliant scientist still reeling from her time spent fighting in the Klingon war has developed a technology that turns starships into mighty morphin’ combat bots. Unbeknownst to her, her estranged half-Klingon sister and bitter rival has stolen her research and shared it with the remnants of the Broken Circle, naturally. 

The Enterprise is running tests on the new Direct Engagement Lethal Transformation Algorithm in a remote part of Federation space. Just before the tests are set to conclude, two Klingon D-7s and Bird of Prey appear and seem ready to overcome our heroes. With a well-timed one-liner, a glint in his eye, and the tallest hair he’s ever had. Pike commands the crew to fall back and initiate Sentinel Mode. Cue transformation sequence!

The engineering hull tilts on its end to become the barrel-chested torso of a shining knight, the deflector dish folds into a gleaming golden helmet of the warrior. The bridge detaches and spins into position as the helmet’s visor. One nacelle glides into place on the figure’s back, serving as a warp-capable jetpack. The struts reconfigure themselves to form the shoulder blades. Shuttles exit the bay, dropping into tractor beam-aided formation to create the knight’s arms.  The saucer section lowers itself into position to become a shield held abreast. The saucer neck attaches to the left shoulder as the remaining nacelle settles into place atop it to provide a mounted Bussard cannon.

After a quick demonstration of the Enterprise’s new capabilities, pushing the Klingons to the brink of defeat. The enemy commander looks through disheveled strands of hair and shouts a command from the bridge of the D-7s to engage Kahless Configuration. The battlecruisers combine to assume the form of a heavily-armored pseudo-samurai, the Bird of Prey morphing and taking its place as the soldier’s bat’leth. 

The ensuing battle crushes moons to dust and deals heavy damage to both fighters. The Klingon space-blade clangs off the knight’s shield. The D-7 bot seems to shrug off blasts from the Bussard cannon. Pike mentions under his breath that the best offense is often a good defense, and brandishes the saucer shield as a bladed disk. A short warp jetpack jump later, the edge of the saucer is swiped through the enemy’s neck at blinding speed, ending the clash decisively.

The Klingon commander bows his head in defeat, but mutters that honor delayed remains honor nonetheless, retransforming his ships and warping out of the system while swearing vengeance. End credits play over a decidedly dreary song featuring black and white still-frames of scenes we never saw in the episod.  🤖-Jesse

- Mockumentary -

The Enterprise is the subject of a new Startfleet documentary series, and the cameras are rolling on all decks!  Our crew has to do talking head segments and give tours of their departments for the citizens of the Federation to enjoy.  Will there be an action-packed emergency rescue that will require the crew to come together and show the levels of heroics and potential sacrifice that are required to be the best of the best on the flagship of the fleet?  Or, will diplomatic hijinks ensue with comedy and romance in the air as some visiting ambassadors cause havoc the likes we’ve seen in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Lower Decks?

Who will shun the spotlight?  Who will hog the glory of the lens?  Will this be the moment we get to see a redemption of Una in the eyes of Starfleet and the start of being a poster-officer for future generations of academy cadets?

Will we get a “The Office” style Mockumentary in space?  Or will we get something as poignant as Stargate SG1’s “Heroes”?  📹-John

- Mermaids -

Full credit for this one must go to Costume Designer, Bernadette Croft, from her interview with us. We’ll let her speak for herself: “We're always thinking, what can we do next season? How can we outdo season 2? I know “genre” has been thrown around a lot. You know, film noir, or the western, 1920’s speakeasy. But I’m thinking…Mermaids. I’m thinking underwater. Our cast would be so gorgeous as mermaids. Admiral April as a mer-king with his trident. That would be so captivating. There’s just lots of amazing opportunity there.”

Throw in a loving tribute to The Animated Series’ "The Ambergris Element" and we are sold! We don’t care what technobabble (technobubble?) has to transpire to make it happen, give us Ortegas zipping gleefully through a coral reef! Give us La’an earning the respect of the Shark-folk by way of fin-to-fin combat. Give us Uhura dancing and singing along with a hot crustacean band. Show runners, give Bernadette Croft her underwater dream and make mermaids - everyone sing along now - part of your (Strange New) World.  🧜‍♀️-Bernadette & Cameron

Jesse Bailey
Jesse Bailey
Cameron Harrison
Cameron Harrison
John T Bolds
John T Bolds