Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Arming the Final Frontier: Discovery Stuns

In a week where just about anything could happen, the Discovery Twitter account is rapidly becoming the go-to location for new teases of the prequel show.

Not satisfied with the Starfleet delta or the flashy new communicator? Well how about the big guns. Literally.

For their latest two shorts previewing Discovery, we have the (re) introduction of the phaser and the phaser rifle. Let's take a ganders at the more oft-used hand weapon first in the few seconds we've been granted.

To be fair we've already seen a slight glimpse of the phaser in the shot of Georgiou and Burnham on the transporter platform (after a few conversations I'm not convinced 100% that this is the Shenzhou transporter pad) as part of their away team armour. Now though these CBS ten second trailers are giving us a bit more access to the 23rd Century. 

The parallels to The Original Series' weapon of choice are far closer for this item than they are to the phase pistols of Enterprise or the laser weapons of The Cage. The close-up shots mean we can spot the familiar grilled rear and the crystal control at the top of the handle plus the very shape of the weapon harks back to its 1960's Wah Chang origins.

While it does remain obtrusively out of focus you can clearly tell there's a distinctive Type One lump on the back which, for once, we might get to see detached in action. I'm loving the metallic finish on the trigger and the panelling which keeps it in line with canon but also adds the detail that Discovery seems to be lauding into every aspect of its designs. While the bulk of the phaser is immediately identifiable the big change has to be at the business end with the pointed barrel seemingly a thing of the future. Instead there are three different apertures which reminded me of microscope magnification lenses. Could these be for different beam widths or intensities perhaps? There has to be a good reason why they are three different sizes.

The phaser is a weapon that has stretched appearances right across the franchise including the recent reboots which have their own take on it. In that case they've opted for something that melds The Original Series with some of the design elements from the movie era hand phaser plus a nifty reload feature. The new movies from the Kelvin timeline also reintroduced the phaser rifle to the Kirk era.

Now that's something that only made one onscreen appearance plus a few publicity shots right back at the dawning of the Star Trek universe for pilot number two; Where No Man Has Gone Before

A very distinct grey and metallic orange, it was wielded by both Kirk and Spock as they attempted to stop a transformed Gary Mitchell. Maybe with the phaser rifle it's more a legendary design because of that singular appearance. Enterprise was a big fan of rifles too with them being the chosen armament for the MACOs. Even The Next Generation dabbled n its later years before the rifle made a strong return for First Contact where two versions were used in the fight against the Borg. Voyager's take on the weapon was somewhat bulky at times before they reverted to the First Contact variant. 

What is noticeable is that the rifle - especially The Next Generation version - echoed the design of its' smaller sidearm version. With Discovery they've opted to return to that concept with a weapon that carries a similar barrel style magnification wheel as well as trigger style. There's also that dial crystal control on the rear grip. Seems they've avoided going for that long, needle-point barrel here, instead choosing something more chunky and functional.

What the pictures echo about this and the phaser is the metallic finish which gives it a harder but yet more solidly crafted feel to it. Again these photos from CBS are a little sketchy but there's a clear forward and rear grip to the rifle plus at the back what appears to be some form of shoulder stock.

Something similar to the First Contact rifle here is the sight/light fitting that is attached to the top. The shape has distinct design traits to the later weapon through this piece but the detail versus any of the weapons of the past 50 years is incredible - just take a look at the drilled out metalwork and then at the main body where there are those vertical slit sections. Now the eagle-eyed will already have noted the homage in the design to that original Kirk phaser rifle - there's even what seems to be an orangey tinge under the skin to hark back to the 60's one-off prop. 

Finally there's another snappy teaser that's dropped which seems to hint at several things. The first appears to be some form of weapon cartridge (above) possibly for the rifle (which does seem to be out of shot) followed by what might be a shot of the new tricorder since there are clearly buttons and a screen on there AND it's definitely bigger than the communicator. Hands up who thinks there's going to be a shoulder strap and a big boxy reboot here?! 

Third is sure to be another shot of the phaser as it's got a slight close up of the Type One locked in place and more detail is displayed on the pistol grip (below). Look and you can see the distinctive side shaping of the palm-sized weapon which then leads the eye down to the pistol shaped Type Two. Seems there's some gold going on there as well as silver and gunmetal. 

These are accompanied by the Starfleet delta shield (seen in the previous ten second teases) before finally there's the gold braid for the uniforms. These seem all a bit random and don't fit together as nicely as the previous four tech ones. I've included some screenshots here but I'm up for suggestions as to what the first few might be and perhaps what you might want to see teased in the near future. Any expectations for Comic-Con for instance?

Again I can't help but be impressed with the overall feel of Discovery. The more I see of the designs the more I am confident that this will be the show of the year and a series that brings Star Trek firmly back to TV. How can we not have faith in a show which has now pulled in Jonathan Frakes to direct an episode?!

What do you think to all the new designs and teases for Discovery?

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