Transporting Back in Time?
Creating a Star Trek series during an established time period offers some major technological challenges. With touchscreens and powerful computers in our pockets, the 23rd century, especially the tape-deck-on-a-lanyard tech, needs a few aesthetic tweaks to appear more advanced than the 21st century.
Transporters, on the other hand, are a different matter. From their inception on The Original Series, the SFX were created using simple camera tricks and basic special effects to reduce costs. Later films and TV shows integrated and updated the beaming process, thanks to advances in practical and digital effects. Naturally, every new saga sought out its own look and feel for the transporter, and Discovery is no different. Beaming up in 2250, however, is evocative of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. While the Shenzhou’s transporters have a similarly reddish-orange hue, they also update the look with some nifty computer-generated effects. The upgrade may be a little off-putting to era-purists, but the loose connection is appreciated.
Photon Torpedoes at the Ready
Another technological curiosity shows up in the trailer. During a tense sequence, where Martin-Green’s first officer (at least) verbally defies Yeoh’s captain, we clearly see a readout displaying a full complement of photon torpedoes locked, loaded, and ready to fire. The clip also gives fans a good look at the refined look of The Shenzhou. The vessel is clearly loaded to bear, but will its trigger-shy commanding officer hesitate and cause the ship's demise? Or, does maintaining the balance between peace and all-out war ensure a longer life for everyone aboard? With all the cast reshuffles afoot, it doesn't look good either way.
Brand New Uniforms
The latest uniforms are culled from the various relevant eras in the franchise. A callback to the royal blue look from Enterprise, the new regalia comes complete with gold, silver, and bronze piping to differentiate departments (between command, science, and engineering, we assume). The Starfleet insignias are also comparable to those on Enterprise, although more ornate than the communication badges of Next Generation, hence they're probably non-functional. With a few updates, though, including losing the shoulder to collar piping, they close down the gap between the NX-01 and the NCC-1701 – while also adding a few subtle flourishes from the rebooted Star Trek films.
Are they era-appropriate? Well, that depends. Most of the attire from the 2250s, before Kirk and crew commanded the Enterprise, is similar to that of TOS – as detailed in the pilot episode “The Cage.” Throughout the course of Discovery, though, the uniforms may evolve to resemble those of 2260. Their new duds could also be retconned to become the standard garb for the era.
The EVA Gets an Upgrade
One of the most memorable scenes from the dry yet fascinating Star Trek: The Motion Picture is Spock’s jetpack run into V’Ger’s technicolor maw. After that, every Trek-loving child wanted a rocket pack of their own. Better known as a thruster or environmental (EVA) suit, these single occupant, self-contained, propelled getups first appeared in Star Trek: The Original Series, before being tweaked for each consecutive series, well into the 24th century.
Similarly, the Discovery trailer spends a fair amount of time (for a trailer) with Lt. Cmdr. Michael Burnham and her thruster suit. She first climbs into it to investigate an “object of unknown origin” – which is a very Star Trek thing to do – soaring into a beautifully rendered space-scape. Although it's unclear whether she encounters the Klingons during the same mission, she's still rocking the EVA when she goes head-to-head with a redesigned Klingon, perhaps atop his vessel.