My Star Trek fandom is – well – balanced. If I enjoy a TV series, I’ll watch it from start to finish and over and over again. Loved the original series. Loved Next Generation. Even loved Voyager.
But after one season of Star Trek: Discovery, the new Star Trek iteration on my CBS All Access subscription, I had mixed feelings about the show.
There were moments when I really wanted to watch new episodes of the series – heck, I even skipped the second half of the Super Bowl to watch a new episode. And there were moments when I watched an episode and went … “What the hell was that? Why did I waste time with that broadcast?”
I watched the entire series, all fifteen episodes. There were really awesome moments on the show … and there were seriously painful head-scratching moments.
The characters – I did enjoy some of them. Every Star Trek series has their characters in specific archetypes – the daring, bold main captain (Kirk / Picard / Janeway) which could have been the Vulcan-raised human Michael Burnham; the dispassionate alien first in command (Spock / Data / Tuvok) which was definitely the Kelpian Saru; and the comic relief character (Chekhov / Neelix) which definitely fit the character for Cadet Sylvia Tilly.
But the other characters just made me want to bang my head against a rock. Captain Lorca, I never really warmed to. There was a seamy underside to his character, and when it was revealed that Lorca was part of a visit to an alternate universe (the Original Series’ “Mirror, Mirror” or Star Trek: Enterprise’s “In A Mirror Darkly”), it was like broadcasting a spoiler from across the table. Ditto for the conflicted security officer Ash Tyler, who was revealed later in the season to be a genetically altered Klingon in human form (so THAT’s why the Klingons looked so human in the original series’ “The Trouble With Tribbles,” now it makes sense). Tyler was a character built just to be taken down. There was no reason to get invested in his character, and I was glad to see him depart in the final episode.
The other issue I run into with this show – and this is part of being a Trek fan – is continuity. This series is set ten years before the actions of the 1966 NBC show that started this program. But the technology and special effects look as if it was produced two hundred years after the Star Trek timeline’s latest stardate show – which, not counting movies, was Voyager. This being said, Star Trek: Discovery has a plot point where they actually have the ability to use “spore technology” to teleport the ship from one part of the galaxy to the other in a heartbeat. Boy, I wish Captain Janeway knew about that technology, they wouldn’t have ended up 70,000 light years from home on their first mission and spent seven seasons trying to return. Hmm…
And when they do bring characters from the original series into Discovery, the characters look WAY off. Yes, I know, you’re not going to be able to get Mark Leonard or Roger C. Carmel to climb out of the grave and de-age 50 years just to replay their roles of Sarek and Harcourt Fenton Mudd, but the guy Discovery hired to play Sarek looked more like a Vulcan from a Star Trek cosplay convention. And Rainn Wilson’s take on Harry Mudd seemed much more maniacal and diabolical than the gallant swindler of the original series. Kinda throws things off for me.
I’m also not a big fan of the show being tucked away on the CBS All Access streaming video service. Yes, it allows the show to have some mild cursing and full frontal (Klingon) nudity, but honestly, this is the kind of show that, if given the chance, could have really held up on a Sunday night for CBS’s main network. As it is, there are Star Trek fans that are flocking to The Orville on Fox for what they consider a better interpretation of the Trek narrative. A missed opportunity, for sure.
That being said, I am glad the show is coming back for a second season. It often takes a half a season, even a full season, for a Star Trek series to shake off the cobwebs and really come into its own. In the Next Generation episodes, I thought that the arrival of the Borg really jump-started the show to awesomeness. Same thing with Voyager – they got rid of some of the more annoying characters (Kes) and brought in Seven of Nine (arguably my favorite Voyager character).
Maybe that’s what Star Trek: Discovery needs. Introduce the Borg in some fashion into the series. Or bring in Q and the Q Continuum. Heck, if you’re going to go back to the original series, how about an episode with Gary Seven from the Assignment: Earth episode?
Or maybe … just maybe … there’s a chance that the Star Trek: Discovery writers can come up with their own unique, detailed, awesome character or plotline and integrate it into the Star Trek: Discovery universe. At least I hope so.
The show has potential.
I just hope it doesn’t get wasted.
So let’s hope for Season 2 and a possible improvement on the series.
And maybe, if things turn out well … how about airing an episode or three on CBS’ main network when another series gets cancelled?
You’ve got the episodes … a little bleeping over the cursing, maybe cover up the Klingon nudity, and you’ve got a ready-made program.
Just a thought…