Originally Published on There Are Four Mics – A Star Trek Podcast
(We’re moving our Star Trek Discovery related content over here where it belongs)
To celebrate the season two release of Star Trek Discovery next week? I’ve decided to get myself hyped by re-watching the first season Star Trek Discovery Blu-ray. This bad boy finally came out back in November. Is it worth it?
Yes. Of course it’s worth it. It’s nearly 700 minutes of Star Trek Discovery content on Blu-ray, you dummy. While the video isn’t in 4K, not being held hostage by the reliability of the internet connection to the questionable CBS All Access servers is beautifully liberating. And this was a series designed to be watched at the highest video quality available.
Plus, the extras!
The only problem with these extras is that they aren’t centralized on a single bonus features disc. For some ungodly reason they’re spread out across all four discs. It was a bad choice.
But the content itself is actually pretty great. You get ten little features that are all fascinating. Here’s a breakdown of all the featurettes:
This gives some great interviews with the cast talking about how momentous they feel being involved Star Trek truly is. Obviously you wouldn’t expect a featurette on the Blu-ray to have the cast belly-aching about what a drag it is, but I still love hearing them talk about how seriously they are taking the position. Sonequa Martin-Green’s excitement, in particular, is palpable. It’s contagious.
Jason Isaacs was also especially interesting, as he really emphasized how important Star Trek Discovery is at this time. In the current political climate where our affinity seems to be reverting back to a “might means right” mentality and a tendency towards supporting autocratic strongmen, Star Trek can serve as antidote.
A featurette focusing, logically, on creature design in Star Trek Discovery. The Klingons are obviously discussed, and Lead Creature Designer Neville Page offered a fascinating explanation of the various appearances the Klingons possess: Since it’s an empire, the assumption would be that not everybody is from the homeworld, and that populations living on other planets might have some variance. It’s the first time I’ve heard the explanation, and I’m kind of in love with it.
We also get to see Doug Jones transform into Saru! Jones dives into the pressures involved in pioneering and defining an entire species in Star Trek with his performance. He references his weird hooves, and also alludes to some underwater abilities?! That’s news to me, and am looking forward to some sweet underwater action.
Mary Chieffo is also a real charmer in here, as she seems to have immersed herself in her and the Klingon backstory to a really impressive degree. Pheromone glands behind the ears in Klingons? Chieffo knows. An actor being excited about their role is a contagious thing.
The real highlight of this section, though? Just watching them piece together these aliens. I want to watch a weekly reality show about the crew trying to design and create all of these creatures in time for filming. It’s got all the makings of an excellent show that I would obsess over. These folks are magicians.
Standing in the Shadows of Giants: Creating the Sound of Discovery
Speaking of magicians, Jeff Russo absolutely brings magic to Star Trek Discovery with his score. We’ve only clocked in one season at this point, and the score for season one is my most listened to soundtrack of 2018. That entire thing is a blessing. This little featurette gives us a look behind the curtain, and gives Russo the opportunity to talk about his influences.
Now we’re over on the second disc of the Blu-ray because they’re goofy like that. This one focused on the production design team, where they talk about the millions of minor details they consider when creating the world. Going for a captain’s chair with a ‘60s vibe, but with some added colors designed for a bit of warmth? Watching a featurette of people who spend an incredible amount of time thinking about things that will literally only be on the screen for seconds is absolutely fascinating. Watching these elevated my appreciation for this show, and dramatically expanded the rewatchability of it.
There is so much to notice in this show, and a big shout out needs to go to Tamar Deverell, who is apparently the first woman lead production designer in Star Trek history. I have no doubt the show would be of far lower quality without her at the helm.
Also, apparently the computer screens you can see through on the show, but also have writing on them? THOSE ARE REAL. Those aren’t visual effects. Discovery is literally creating the future.
Here’s an exploration of the visual effects team that was just about as stunning as you would imagine for a show as beautiful as Star Trek Discovery is. Displaying the before and after scenes side-by-side is almost worth the price of admission to this Blu-ray set alone. I could watch hours of that alone. But instead this featurette goes even further and breaks down the entire pre-visualization process. Showing it translated into something that the director can use to get the needed shots.
Prop Me Up
I didn’t realize the phasers on Star Trek Discovery were incredibly gorgeous until this featurette gave me an up close and personal exploration of all of its features. They also talk about the difficulty of trying to balance the limitations put on the props department by the clunky nature of technology in The Original Series, and also what actually exists already in the modern world. With people literally experimenting with medical tricorders in our own world, it’s a struggle to create something that doesn’t already feel outdated while respecting Star Trek’s canon.
Also fun little tidbits explored in this feature, like the nature of the Klingon Bat’leths. They’re flipped around from what we’ve seen in shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, where the blades are pointed outward. They flipped them so the back blades are pointing towards the person holding it, thinking that it would make a subtle suggestion of it being a more defensive weapon and reflecting the state of mind of the Klingon Empire at this time. Similarly, all the Klingons have wildly different weapons based on the idea of militias in our world, where everybody is just kind of bringing what they have from home. They aren’t ordering from a centralized retailer for their weapons. An exploration of the thought that goes behind the decisions we see on screen will always be fascinating and worthwhile.
A Woman’s Journey
This featurette is compelling evidence that behind the scenes of Star Trek Discovery they are being just as inclusive as the Star Trek philosophy it espouses. At a moment when Donald Trump sits in the White House, it feels especially potent that the showrunners centered the story of the only Star Trek on a woman of color. This highlights how all of the women characters in this show, whether L’Rell, Tilly, Cornwell, Georgiou, or Burnham herself, are all demonstrating great strength but in wildly different ways. It’s also true behind the camera as well. Staff writer Kristen Beyer talks about the moment that she looked around the writer’s table and realizing it was just four women breaking an episode. This was almost certainly the first time in history that the direction Star Trek was going to take was determined exclusively by women.
Dress for Success
This focuses on costume design, and is one of the longer and most detailed featurettes. It was also unfortunately one of my least favorites as clothing production is not a topic that I apparently find very interesting. But if you have any interest in this topic, I have no doubt you will find this featurette absolutely fascinating. Especially when Gersha Phillips, the Discovery’s lead costume designer, is on screen. She’s endlessly compelling, and when she’s talking I am absolutely feeling it! It’s when the others are on-screen that my interest tends to wane.
Star Trek Discovery: The Voyage of Season One
This is the longest of the features, clocking in at slightly over forty minutes. This one has interviews with the cast discussing key moments or impressions as they gradually work there way through the entire season. We get small insights into behind-the scene moments that definitely add value to the experience. Like when Mary Chieffo makes the decision to turn the script direction from “inspire” into “seduce.” And a few episodes down the road we get Rainn Wilson talking about how he ended up joining the cast. This special is jam-packed with highlights and reminiscences about the season.
I can only think of three downsides to this collection:
- It was subtitled in Klingon on Netflix outside of the United States, but that option isn’t on the Blu-ray. I mean, that’s fine, because I don’t know Klingon. But it would have been a neat novelty to try once.
- It isn’t 4K
- There are zero episode commentaries on this set, which is clearly disappointing.
If you are a fan of Star Trek Discovery, getting this Blu-ray should be a slam dunk. It retails at $50.99, but at the time of this writing Amazon is selling it for a cool $30. I haven’t yet encountered a Star Trek Blu-ray set that hasn’t been worth it. Star Trek Discovery continues this trend.
Plus, if you don’t have enough time to watch the entire season before the next episode? The “Star Trek Discovery: The Voyage of Season One” featurette will help give you a fun refresher of all the highlights.
If you decide to pull the trigger and pick it up through Amazon, be sure to support the show and buy it through our affiliate link here.