Star Trek is back on the small screen!
Now, I can’t exactly say it’s back on television, because that wouldn’t exactly be the truth, now would it, CBS All Access? But I’ll get to THAT in a bit.
So, this post on Star Trek Discovery won’t necessarily be a straight forward review, and perhaps that’s for the best, since I have the habit of being spoilery at times. So strap on your seat belts, because I have some OPINIONS on this new series!
Now I do not mean to shock and offend my Star Wars friends, but I love Star Trek more. There, I said it! I adored the original trilogy of Star Wars as a child, for it was a cultural phenomenon. But it came and went, and it wouldn’t come back until 1999. In the meantime, Star Trek: The Next Generation became my geek cornerstone. If you knew me as a child and teen you knew I had my geekish tendencies, but I hid it pretty well. I had watched Star Trek: The Original Series on reruns and had enjoyed most of the movies, but when TNG came along, and I was IN LOVE. The series ran during some of my high school and college years, but it was in college that I became a super fan. My sorority sisters knew when the show was on, I took over the telly, and if they walked in during the show I would excitedly give them recaps and tell them who every character was. That they were so accepting of this, and would buy me Trek memorabilia, is one of the many reasons that I am friends with them to this day. (In fact a group of ten of us are having a ladies-only winery tour weekend later this month!)
What does this have to do with Discovery? Nothing and everything! Having also been a fan of the other Trek series (except Enterprise-hated it, let’s never mention it again), I have been eagerly anticipating this new series. With production delays, my wait became longer, and then I heard the show would be moved to a paid subscription platform on CBS All Access. So lets, get this part out of the way- I am pissed that I have to pay a monthly fee to watch this show. One episode to get the public watching, and then the show switched to a paid subscription. This is a classic bait and switch. F*** that. I am already ripped off by Comcast, so to have to pay extra to watch is unacceptable. I do not watch much television, and I don’t believe I watch a single other CBS show, so I am paying $10 a month just for Discovery. It better be worth my while!!
So, is it worth my while? Yes (ish)!
I am three episodes in, and it is very promising. Discovery is a prequel to TOS, but it feels like anything but. I think prequels are always a dicey bet, no matter what the series. How do you show a time frame before the original, when technology IRL has advanced so much? I thought Star Wars did a good job visually with episodes I-III (but not so much with the storytelling) to match the original, but Star Trek doesn’t want to look as cheesy as the first set admittedly looked. Ok…it’s a reimagining, I can live with that.
The narrative angle has changed for this series, as we follow a non-captain lead, Michael Burnham. The first episode starts out on the ship USS Shenzhou under Captain Georgiou, with Burnham as the First Officer. Burrnham is a human, but was raised on Vulcan with foster parents Amanda and Sarek, making Spock her foster brother. As the ship nears the outer limits of Federation territory, they run into the Klingons, who have not been seen in 100 years. Things do not go well, and Burnham makes a radical decision on the ship, partly fueled by her hatred of the Klingons, as they killed her parents when she was a child.
The first two episodes end up being a prequel of a prequel, for we do not meet Captain Lorca (♥♥) or the ship USS Discovery until episode three. The Klingons are obviously going to be the baddies of this series, as they have not entered into a peace treaty with the Federation yet as in the TNG era. Burnham is specifically brought onto the USS Discovery by Captain Lorca despite what she did on the USS Shenzhou (look at me- I avoided spoilers!) and a mysterious mission is under way.
The visuals are outstanding- film quality in fact, with a bit of an Alien movie vibe.. They have assembled an excellent cast with some big names. Jason Isaac is easy on the eyes, plus Michelle Yeoh is regal and my favorite Bond woman ever. Sonequa Martin Green is wearing the mantle of being the lead well, and the other characters are a solid crew.
But what I can not let go of is the new Klingon look. They made this alien species look so very different than the Worf-era look. You must understand- Worf from TNG is the perfect Klingon, and the series and movies since then have followed that template. In this series they are too extreme. While I like how the actors speak Klingon, with English subtitles, Discovery is pushing the envelope too far. They need to ground themselves in the universe most fans are familiar with and tweak it, not radically change it.
Another big variance is knowing Michael was raised with Spock. In a TOS movie Sybok, an older half brother was introduced, which many fans hated, so does Spock have even more siblings to be discovered? Why would the producers take a previous issue that fans had and add to it? I will try to be understanding of little inconsistencies, such as a Tribble on Captain Lorca’s desk (which should not have been discovered yet), because I aim in the future to look at the big picture, and not nitpick, thus ruining the experience for myself.
In conclusion, I am pleased with Star Trek Discovery. I just hope that it’s success doesn’t mean more networks will move to paid subscriptions for prestige projects. Star Trek was created to show a united future, and making fans pay for it seems to go against that very notion.
Live long and prosper, my friends!