Monday, September 25, 2017

Star Trek Discovery Review

I try to keep an open mind when watching new shows or movies based on something already established. I try to put all my personal bias to the side and look at what is presented, judging it accordingly. Often, I've felt pessimistic about something that eventually impresses me. Some of you may recall my apprehension about the first Avengers movie. I said there is no way it could work. But today, I consider Avengers to be one of my favorite movies. I also had a lot of doubts about the new Wonder Woman, but was pleasantly surprised. And of course, I love the 1970's television version of The Incredible Hulk, even though the comic book version is a lot different conceptually. I can enjoy it, because the core of it is still there, and everything around it is well written.

So with that said, I recently posted my feelings of dread regarding the new Star Trek Discovery series for CBS, (read all about it here). I really hoped I would be wrong. Unfortunately, it seems I was right.

As many fans of Star Wars will tell you, some incarnations of an established series are better than others. I feel the same way about Star Trek. Some of them I love, and some are very cringe-worthy. I'm a big fan of The Original Series (TOS) from the late 60's. This was Gene Roddenberry's vision, mixed with script editor DC Fontana's tweaks originating from genuine science fiction writers unique stories (David Gerrold, Normal Spinrad, Harlan Ellison). My personal favorite episodes are Doomsday Machine, Amok Time, City on the Edge of Forever, Trouble with Tribbles, Where No Man Has Gone Before, This Side of Paradise, Space Seed, Corbomite Maneuver, Piece of the Action, Galileo 7, Man Trap, The Naked Time, Squire of Gothos, Arena, Tomorrow is Yesterday,
Mirror Mirror, Assignment Earth, Tholian Web, Wink of an Eye, The Mark of Gideon, and All Our Yesterdays

To be clear, there are some TOS episodes that I NEVER want to see again. I would prefer Star Wars prequels to re-watching some of those episodes. 1979's Star Trek the Motion Picture is also painful on some levels, but then Wrath of Khan is quite nearly perfection.

I will even say, season one of Star Trek The Next Generation originally bothered me to the point that I stopped watching it. But they eventually found their space legs, and had many good episodes. But it still had plenty of not-so-great episodes littered throughout.

When Star Trek is good, there is a perfect balance of intelligent story telling, action, suspense, and some drama involving interesting characters. And, just like Star Wars fans, (dare I say also Doctor Who fans?), we want continuity. Star Wars seamlessly blended Rogue One, which was made in 2016, with the original 1977 Star Wars A New Hope. Doctor Who has plenty of aliens and tech that were created in the 1960's, and uses them effectively in current stories. Why can't we do this with Star Trek???

Okay, I get it, the original Star Trek series had a very low budget, and technology has come a long way since the 60's. But you can take those original concepts and design a universe around it, giving things a more modern look. You could keep the integrity of what was originally designed only updated. But it seems Star Trek Discovery threw out the entire book and started from scratch.

What went wrong?  Let's take a moment and dissect the first two episodes of this Denebian Slime Devil, known as Star Trek Discovery, (aka STD).


1. Klingons. Why are we changing the look of Klingons again?? Why do they sound like they all have cotton stuffed in their mouth??? Why do we have to read 15 minutes (or more?) of subtitles?? I have no problem reading subtitles but seriously...? Sure it's an alien species and I don't expect them to speak English. But can we maybe spend a bit more time with the Federation, where everything is universally translated. I also recall one Star Trek movie, brilliantly began with the Klingonese, but creatively merged it to English, so you could understand them, but also knew they were still speaking their own language.

Yes, these are all Klingons.
 These are Daleks from 1963, and 2010
 Here is Darth Vader from 1977, and 2016
You see where I'm going with this...

2. Due to the popularity of Star Wars, let's begin our story on Jakku.

And why can't the ship detect you in a sandstorm, but they can see your footprints?

3. Uniforms. What is seriously wrong with the Federation that they have to change their uniforms every four or five years? I'm so confused...

This series is supposed to take place ten years prior to the events in TOS. With that being said, this is how the Federation should look.

4. In the future, the only light available in space will be from your console, and of course the overly used lens flares.

5. So... the Federation has hologram technology now?? And conveniently it gives you a 360 view so you can see who is behind you.

6. VULCAN WOMEN DO NOT HAVE THE BOWL HAIRCUT! Yes, I had a problem with this in many other versions of Star Trek.

7. A Vulcan Hello? The most peaceful race in the galaxy would never fire first. Highly illogical.

8. Vulcan nerve pinch. Vulcans are stronger than humans. This was established long ago. How do they do a nerve pinch? I thought humans could never learn this due to their physiology. But, taking a leap of faith that a human could learn, in this first episode, the moment was so fast and ambiguous that I barely caught it. There was no establishing moment of her learning it. People unfamiliar with the technique would be extremely confused. But again, for her to mutiny like this, and expect the crew to obey is also highly illogical for someone who spent so much time training on Vulcan.

This is a phaser:

10. What moronic command decisions says, "Let's beam over our two highest ranking officers to take on the entire Klingon ship by themselves!" I can understand if one of them wanted to go, but the other should stay on the bridge. Realistically, even IF the two command officers were to beam over to an enemy vessel, they would take a team of red shirts. Oh, wait, blue lens flare shirts?  Either way, this was guaranteed to fail.

There were plenty of other cringe-worthy and/or eye-rolling moments, but I think you get the idea. The writers either don't care about fans, or they have no idea what Star Trek really is.

Currently, I'm enjoying The Orville, which is conceptually, more like Star Trek than anything else I've seen in some time. Yes, it's got a comedic edge to it, but after three episodes, the overall stories are very well developed, and thoughtfully crafted. Creator of the series is Seth MacFarlane, is a big fan of Star Trek. He gets it. So he put together a universe based on those concepts, and it's pretty cool.

I also recommend the Youtube series, Star Trek Continues, created by Vic Mignogna. He's also a big fan of TOS, and quite literally begins his series where the original series ended. The look is very 60's, which could be good or bad, but the stories are nicely put together and fall in line with what Roddenberry originally had in mind.

If you've never seen any version of Star Trek before, maybe the pretty lights and big explosions will pull you into Star Trek Discovery. But for many reasons, this isn't really Star Trek. It's just STD, and you really should have yourself checked.

Boldly Reviewing,