New 'Star Trek: Discovery' Clips Show Off Beautiful, Retro-Futurist Tech (Including a New Phaser)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017 - 11:39AM
Star Trek
Star Trek Discovery
Wednesday, 19 July 2017 - 11:39AM
New 'Star Trek: Discovery' Clips Show Off Beautiful, Retro-Futurist Tech (Including a New Phaser)
Image credit: CBS
A lot of noise has been made by creative decision-makers involved with Star Trek Discovery concerning the show's very impressive production quality. Apparently it's the design of props and costumes that caused significant delays to the show's release this fall.

We don't just have to take their word for it anymore—the Discovery Twitter account has been sharing small glimpses at the heavily redesigned technology of the show, which draws inspiration from the original Gene Roddenberry Star Trek series, but has been updated to make it look a little more impressive.

Here we have a Star Fleet officer's badge, which will probably not serve as a communicator as it does in later periods in the timeline—continuity is important here, as in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies.




Instead, the classic flip-top communicator, which inspired real life cell phones, will return. This time, though, it sports a neat little computer display that makes it look at least a little more modern, if not hugely futuristic. There's something of a CASIO watch design to its circular screen and illuminated display, which can't be an accident.




Finally, there's the new phaser, which, if anything, resembles a very old movie camera from the early days of film. One thing's for certain, it's very pretty.




If there's a theme to these props, it's the idea of futuristic technology hearkening back to the old days—this continues the theme of the very retro-looking transporters that we've already seen on board the Discovery. That is, except for this laser rifle, which looks like something out of a SWAT kit:


The challenge with this new show stems directly from just how forward-thinking Star Trek was. At the time the original show debuted, big screen TVs, video phones, high-powered lasers, and portable computers were all impossibilities. Now, with Star Trek having set the stage for a lot of these inventions becoming real, the "cool" factor isn't quite the same, and audiences are in danger of being distracted by how basic and dull all of this future tech appears.

The solution, then, is to deliberately bake vintage designs into these items. Discovery is almost claiming that in the far-flung future, humanity prefers something that looks older and traditional because it makes space travel feel less sterile. It's a smart design choice, as it definitely reflects modern society, with our obsession with retro fashion, vinyl record players, and Instagram filters that make photos look worse. Our current culture reacts to Star Trek-style advancements in technology by yearning for our simpler past, and it seems that Discovery's props are a reflection of this.

Star Trek Discovery premieres on CBS on September 24th, 2017.
Science Fiction
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