“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come not to praise Caesar but to bury him.” — Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Let that serve as notice to the tone of all that follows.
The long awaited Star Trek: Discovery premiered last night and it was a mixed bag, at best.
From a purely aesthetic view, it was beautiful. The special effects are nearly flawless, with a high budget movie quality to them. They are almost too detailed and overwhelming on the small screen.
The show takes place 10 years before Captain Kirk. Why the Trek braintrust insists on going back in time versus going forward, is an enigma.
But they did and that causes a whole slew of continuity issues.
Start with the Klingons. It was hard enough to explain how their species evolved from the Asiatic human-looking villains in the original series to the ones with the ridged foreheads and mullets in Next Generation, but now how do they explain that they looked like demons just a decade earlier?
Still, it’s nice to have the Klingons as villains again instead of allies, as they became in Deep Space Nine.
And they didn’t even try to backwards retrofit all the tech in order to give the series a look and feel older than TOS, as they at least attempted to do with Enterprise.
One example is the phaser pistol Captain Philippa Georgiou (sadly, Michelle Yeoh is only a guest star and not the main character) holds on the traitorous First Officer Michael Burnam. It looks more like something that would have come after the TOS phaser. They should have made it look more rounded and bulkier, something more akin to the pistols from the TOS’ pilot episode, The Menagerie.
And the bridge itself looks far more advanced than the one from TOS or even Next Gen. And that makes you wonder why the design would change from this very high-tech, spacious bridge to the more cramped one on the TOS’ Enterprise.
And personally, I like the character of Captain Georgiou, which is disappointing because she is not the focus of the series, nor is her ship or crew.
The focus is on the First Officer, the mutinous Michael Burnam, who I think should be keelhauled, but I guess they don’t do that in the future. Seems traitors and mutineers aren’t drummed out of the service to spend the rest of their lives rotting in a brig. Instead, she’ll be demoted down to First Mate on the starship Discovery.
I don’t like Burnam, which is a shame because it seems she will be the series main focus. Of course, my prejudice against her came the moment she assaulted her Captain and tried to commandeer the ship. I don’t mind hot-headed characters or the take charge sort or even ones who bend the rules at times, but what I don’t like are hot-headed, irrational characters who are so inflexible and narrow-minded in their views they commit violent acts of treachery to get their way.
And what’s with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch. I understand she was raised on Vulcan by Spock’s father, went to the Vulcan Learning Center and then their Science Academy, but she’s still only human. Even Kirk never learned how to do the neck pitch and as Spock said, “I tried to teach you.”
To me, this sets bad precedence. Now we’ll always wonder why no one else ever learned the neck pitch, which was an invaluable tool in deescalating so many situations.
Something else I didn’t care for: ending on a cliff-hanger. What I liked most about Star Trek overall was an absence of cliff-hangers, but even more than that, each and every episode was self-contained. I can turn on any episode of any Star Trek series and can watch it without needing any prior knowledge of what happened previously.
I understand we dodged a bullet when the original director quit, his plan had been to make it like Lost, with an overreaching, continuous story arc. I am not a fan of those kinds of shows. I wasn’t happy with some of Deep Space Nine’s story arcs. It forces you to watch every episode in order and if you miss a few, you just sit there confused.
Another thing, as much as I loved the look of the show, it was the feel that left me lacking. It didn’t feel like Star Trek. There was no sense of wonder. No sense of hope. No sense of Mankind aspiring to become better. There was no Roddenberry, child-like sense of awe.
Instead, it felt like a set-up to a mindlessly violent military drama. No sense of space exporation, no seeking out new life, or new civilizations, no going boldly where no one has gone before, just a sense of forboding and doom as we prepare go to war.
Which brings me to my overwhelming judgement that this series seems too dark for Star Trek and that saddens me.
Its possible the series and characters would have grown on me over time, but CBS isn’t giving me that chance because this is the only free episode CBS will show.
This was a teaser, my friends. CBS is like a blackmailer sending you the severed ear of a loved one and demanding payment if you want to see them alive and whole again.
This is nothing more than extortion, forcing Star Trek fans pay for their stupid subscription service, CBC All Access. Star Trek should be accessible and affordable to all fans, not just the rich.
I’ll wait for the series to come out on DVD, or possibly when the entire season is finished I’ll subscribe to CBS’ seven day free trial and binge watch.
But paying $10 a month to watch one show — which is what I’d be doing because I can’t name any other shows CBS does, or has ever done — is fiscally irresponsible.
I don’t negotiate with terrorists, CBS. Fuck you.