10-07-2017 10:56 AM
As I'm sure everyone knows by now, CBS All Access began running the newest series in the venerable Star Trek franchise, Discovery, a few weeks ago. As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I have watched all of the series on TV as they were broadcast (except maybe the first since my parents were in control of the TV at that point in my life) and have enjoyed them all greatly. My truest love remains for the original series that started it all. As great as the subsequent captains have been, there has only been -- and can only be -- one Captain Kirk.
Fifty years later, enter Star Trek: Discovery, possibly the most different incarnation yet of the show, not taking into consideration the current trilogy of films set in the alternate universe conceived by JJ Abrams. Discovery doesn't differ in that it's a prequel -- Star Trek: Enterprise was the first prequel series in the Star Trek universe. But it is different in significant other ways: its design is indicative of modern (early 21st Century, that is) sensibilities. It's what Star Trek should look like if it were conceived today, but it takes its lead from the work done for Enterprise two decades ago. Great care has been given to detail in props, ship design, and even the appearance of the universe through which the ships and their denizens travel.
Discovery also differs from the series that have preceded it in that it has been conceived and executed with a single protagonist, Michael Burnham. It remains an ensemble show with all of the principle characters contributing to the ongoing plot, but this is clearly Michael's story and the document of her epic adventure.
At this point, three episodes have been made available via CBS's streaming service, only the first having been broadcast on network TV. This in itself has been something of a scandal and debate of the show's availability is not the intended direction for this discussion.
To begin, I'd like to say that I find Star Trek: Discovery to be superior science fiction in almost every way. Its photographic style is nothing short of cinematic with many nods to its predecessors (including JJ's ubiquitous lens flares). The acting is top notch. The characters are remarkable. Michael's backstory is in itself fascinating (I hope you'll forgive that) and her relationship with her mentor, Sarek, is truly in the best tradition of Star Trek. Long story short, the show is beautiful in absolutely every way a contemporary incarnation of a longstanding franchise should be.
And you know a "but" is coming. But (he said, fulfilling the prophecy) while Discovery is superior science fiction, is it Star Trek? In my view, not yet. It's had a handful of moments that are pure Star Trek and I find myself longing for more of them. Moments alone do not a Star Trek show make, especially not one in the spirit of the show I grew up with. Discovery depicts the Federation in a time of war, not what Star Trek was ever supposed to be about in any of its incarnations. I didn't like it in Deep Space Nine and I don't much care for it now.
But what do you think? If there's one thing I know about Trekkers, it's that they have an opinion. What's yours?
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10-10-2017 12:30 PM
I watched the first episode and I'm done with it.
A first officer assaulting her captain, an arrogant command, and Klingons who could barely speak their own language. Just terrible.
Nice eye candy doesn't make it a good series.
10-12-2017 10:26 AM
I'm a die hard Star Trek fan, so there was little doubt that I was going to be watching Discovery from beginning to end. Here at episode four just having aired, I remain hopeful that the Trek I know and love is going to emerge out of this story.
I agree with your points to be honest. The Federation doesn't have mutineers, at least not the Starfleet I remember. I can't imagine the Vulcans did either, so for Michael Burnham to determine defiance was logical just kind of makes me incredulous. I don't buy it.
And I've got numerous problems with how the Klingons have been re-imagined. In fact, Discovery's Klingons are the biggest bone of contention I have with the show so far. The use of the language aside (I've always found Klingon to be harsh, guttural, and too simplistic to express the complex ideas the subtitles expressed, so that's nothing new), I'm not sure I can accept the highly filigreed and ceremonial design employed for them. I've never thought of Klingons as frilly, yet hear they are in Art Nouveau splendor. I mean, it's all very beautiful, but completely at cross-purposes to the armor, functionality, and simplicity one would expect from a race of imperialistic soldiers.
Also, they look a little too much like the Scarrans from Farscape.
Taken out of the context of Star Trek, I think Discovery is a fine entry into the modern science fiction lexicon. The story so far is compelling; it's just not a Star Trek story. I keep hoping that will change. There are still eleven episodes to go.
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