First of all, let’s address the streaming issue. I didn’t get CBS All Access for this show, I already had it for other shows that CBS doesn’t stream, which, by the way, is most of them. I’ve been pissed at CBS for not streaming, basically anything, for a while now, so you Star Trek fans lamenting this are late to the game. CBS has always been this way, so it isn’t like they are just doing this for Star Trek. Also, they used the word “fucking” twice “This is so fucking cool” was the sentence, something it can’t really do on network television. Not that this means paying for the service is worth it, but it will be interesting to see if they do other things that CBS network television can’t do because of FCC rules.
That said, I get wanting to see it for free and just suffer through commercials, but since I was already paying for the service and I don’t watch things that don’t stream, I kind of find the complaints annoying.
On to the Star Trek Discovery – this fucking show… So many things about it that I truly, deeply hate. First of all, I don’t give a fuck about Klingons. I found them annoying in the previous series and they are downright unwatchable in this one. For a race that talks constantly about honor, they are one of the most dishonorable races with a crooked society that is deeply criminal and dishonorable. Klingon honor has been a lie for decades.
My husband said their new make-up makes them look like orcs, and yeah, it sure does. Also, the writers are clearly Klingon fanbois because in at least half of the episodes, they get about as much air time as the Federation characters, and it’s all in Klingon. Since I don’t care about Klingons in the first place, reading what they are saying simply isn’t going to happen. I tried in the first two episodes and that trained me to not even care. I can paraphrase all of the conversations of the Klingons “I’m a huge asshole and going to be insulting to everyone to show I’m powerful. Honor! Revenge! Killing! Arg, Klingon honor!!”
I don’t give a fuck about the Klingons – they were mildly interesting in the original series, but since then, they’ve been boring as hell and about as honorable as rats. So I find them to be boring, annoying, and their makeup is godawful. However, if you’re a big fan of Klingons, or even orcs – especially if you learned the Klingon language – this show is a wet dream for you.
On to the main character, Michael Burnham. I actually like her, however, when I said this to my husband he said, “What? I’ve lost my train of thought because you’re saying insane things.” Clearly, she isn’t for everyone. However, even when she is hated by everyone on the ship, she still works to do what she thinks is right. It’s actually pretty interesting to watch her interactions. Having a Starfleet officer who basically has nothing left to lose is pretty interesting, especially since she is still trying to be moral and compassionate. Not because she’s supposed to be those things, but because she can’t help but be them.
The Captain of the Discovery, Captain Gabriel Lorca, is a really interesting character and a war captain. Most of the captains in the past have been scientific explorers, but this man is a sword with the destruction of Klingons as his only goal. Since I really detest the Klingons, I’m rooting for this man. He is focused on victory at any cost and it is really cool.
Oh, hey! The show does some cool things that I like such as mentioning Elon Musk in with a list of names of scientific innovators, which was very awesome. The show is also very pretty, with good special effects, but while this is visually interesting, it poses it’s own set of problems.
The technology they use in the prequel series is leaps and bounds ahead of all of the other series, which were set after this one. Holographic messages? Not in the other shows, certainly not the original series. They talked to Starfleet through screens not with holograms. Did this technology just disappear after the war? Doubtful.
We have all kinds of new technology as humans since the other series came out, so if the writers wanted to showcase all of this new technology PUT THE SERIES IN FUCKING FUTURE. This could easily happen a decade or two after Janeway returns to the Alpha quadrant. Hell, you could use the exact same storylines, and even include these weird Orc-Klingons as a NEW villain, in a new war. Then all of this crazy ass technology they are showing off would make logical sense canonically and wouldn’t be a problem.
Instead, we are left with a Star Trek show that is deeply anachronistic in basically every episode multiple times. Sci-fi requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. The best way to achieve this is to make sure the universe has rules and that you follow them. This makes the fantastical elements more believable and holds the integrity of suspension of disbelief.
Star Trek has rules and technology that are very well known to a lot of people. To throw a lot of new technology we’ve not seen in any of the other Star Treks plays havoc on suspension of disbelief. It pulls you right out of the show and in my house, it causes the television to be paused while one of us is ranting about what bullshit this is and how THIS is why prequels are fucking lame and more than a little played out.
This prequel shares a lot in common with the new movie franchise JJ Abrams put out – it is shiny, has some good action, and it is visually interesting (for the most part) but it is weak on common sense plotting and character motivations. It’s like they take a lot of time and money for special effects while glossing over the writing or leaving wide holes and gaps in the story.
Wilson Cruz – who forever holds a place in my heart for playing Rickie Vasquez in “My So-Called Life” – is in this show and he is amazingly wonderful. He manages to convey an entire relationship with another crew-member in fucking look (well, two looks, but one of these looks had like a paragraph in it that was easy to read.) He looked at this man in the crew and I said to my husband, “Holy crap, they are together – they’re a couple,” and low and behold I was right. Also, good on Star Trek for having a same sex couple – it’s about damn time. I do fear for the longevity of this couple, but that’s another story and while I don’t mind giving some spoilers, others are simply too big to give out.
This show would be about 1000 times better if they had set it in the future AFTER the other Star Treks. The new technology would make a lot more sense, the fucking Orc-Klingons could be morphed into a new species of alien (hey, remember when Star Trek wrote new stories every week instead of tired old stories from the past?), and much of the cool ideas and cool technology that seems doomed to die in this war could be kept. But alas, this world we live in is into anti-heroes and prequels rather than original story telling, so here was are.
Every time we watch an episode of this show – which is compelling and watchable – I’m in a bad mood afterwards. I’m pissed about how good this show could be if it weren’t hamstrung by being a prequel, if it didn’t jerk me out of my suspension of disbelief every few minutes, and if it weren’t so dark. The lighting is dark, the mood dark, and our main character is deeply depressed and has nothing in her life anymore other than working on the ship, which is depressing, too. The best future for her after the war is life in prison. What joy.
Luckily, they gave Michael Burnham and chatterbox roommate who is predisposed to be nice and happy and fun. She is also the character that just from sheer scientific joy exclaims, “This is so fucking cool!” and then she immediately apologizes, while the scientist in charge says, “No, it is fucking cool,” while they share nerdy grins all around. Happy nerds are my favorite because they discover cool shit. Anyway, she breaks a lot of the tension and darkness inherent in each episode and provides a lot of the comic relief.
The bridge is populated, but other than the captain, Saru – a member of a prey species – and a bunch of other interesting looking people I know nothing about. I would love to know more about the crew, but I will focus on Saru. I like Saru, but he is set up to be an antagonist of Michael’s. They served on the same ship, the ship where she mutinied, and he’s pretty pissed at her, while recognizing her talents. He has ganglia that comes out when he feels threatened (prey species) and overall he is just really interesting. I like him a lot, but while Michael and he sometimes get along, he is very angry about the death of the previous captain and he doesn’t really trust her, so the relationship is an antagonistic one.
With only 5 episodes it is difficult to know much about where the show is going and how it plans on getting there, but it is a dark journey, I’m sure. I’m a huge binge watcher, but I’m glad that I have the ability to watch this show merely once a week, as it’s really frustrating in many ways, so small sips of the show work better for me.
Currently, since we are still watching the show and enjoying it, I’m giving it a C-. It’s not an entirely bad show, but it has yet to be a good one, either.