(Note: I drafted this before the announcement this week that Discovery will take place ten years before TOS in the Prime Universe. I didn’t get around to finishing the edit/polish until this morning. I also saw Beyond a few nights ago, contrary to the following text, and I’ll write about that soon.)
Nine Things I Think About Star Trek: Discovery
So I know everyone is probably desperate to hear what I think about the idea of Star Trek: Discovery.
Yes, I said Star Trek: Discovery. I haven’t seen Beyond yet, but I have time booked with my son to see it tonight. And I have higher hopes for the film than I would have under the previous writing team.
But this is about Discovery.
So, here’s what I think at the moment:
- I think that Star Trek, much as I’ve enjoyed some, even most, of the movies, needs to be on television. Common wisdom holds that the theater audiences don’t have the patience for exploration of ideas and concepts but only want action and excitement from their science fiction. I happen to disagree, but I’m not in charge of Hollywood, or even tiny part of it. I do get to vote for what I like with my wallet or my eyeballs. On TV, you have the opportunity to explore ideas and characters in far more detail, and those have always been at the heart of Star Trek. And it’s been off the air for far too long. Syndication doesn’t count.
- I think that someone looked at some of the original concept art for Star Trek Phase 2 and updated it pretty heavily, producing what from the teaser (the real teaser, not the one with vague promises and a new logo) is actually a pretty cool looking ship. The design is still clearly Starfleet, still clearly Star Trek, but it’s old and new at the same time.
- I think that there has been a lot of misinformation and speculation, and some of them are designed to deliberately muddy the waters and keep us speculating and in suspense. I’m okay with that. Talking about it is fun.
- I think the most likely time frame for Discovery is before the original series but long after Enterprise. I’m not a purist, exactly, but it’s my general understanding that hull numbers go up the further into the federation’s history you go. The original Enterprise had a hull number of 1701. The Discovery’s hull number is 1031. If the tiny scene we are seeing is a freshly commission starship, logic dictates that it is taking place before the original series. To geek out a bit for a moment, it was built not too long after the first Constellation class cruisers were built, of which the Enterprise was one. I offer as evidence the episode “The Doomsday Machine”, where we see the near wreck of the USS Constellation, numbered NCC–1017.
- I think the second most likely setting is sometime just after The Motion Picture timeframe, probably within a few years. For this, I have no direct reference, only consider that the hall and engine nacelles are a bit of a departure from the original series (although perhaps a little Klingon-like). Consider that the Enterprise herself had a colossal, and keel up refit ending as The Motion Picture began, and she looked the more or less the same, but quite a bit different. In universe, I’d expect other ships had similar upgrades over the coming years. Potentially cheaper for Starfleet then building entirely new vessels, though I expect there was a lot of that to.
- I think that discovery will continue the Star Trek tradition of broadening the definition of normal. We will likely see something very close to gender parity in the crew, representations we haven’t had before, and likely some alien crew members as well.
- I think will also continue to Star Trek traditions of dealing with the issues of the day in disguised form, where the crew of the Discovery stands in for us.
- I think it’s likely that this will not be the traditional 22 to 26 episode television season, but will be more along the lines of the Netflix model (which is a knock off of the European model) of probably 12 to 15 episodes.
- I think there’s a good chance that, in keeping with other modern, popular genre shows, the new Star Trek will be less episodic than is traditional. There will probably be only one major story arc. This is both limiting and broadening, and we’ll see how well they do it.
Before I say anything else, I will say that I want to be excited. I know I didn’t get excited when I posted a few months ago about the teeny tiny supposed teaser trailer. The reason being that it really wasn’t a teaser or a trailer. It was a logo unveiling with a vague promise. Nothing to get excited about.
Now there might be something to be excited about, and I want to be. I haven’t done an exhaustive analysis of the trailer. I’m not going to. Other people have done that in far more detail than I would ever want to, and there is a very, very deep rabbit hole you can go down speculating on every little detail you might find in one minute of video. I’m sure there’s information in the trailer that can support it every bit of guesswork that someone has done somewhere. Some of it will eventually be proved right, and most of it wrong, and that’s how it works. It will be what it will be, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to affect what will be. I’ve done everything I can to, and I’ve done that by being a fan of Star Trek my entire life through every incarnation.
(Yes, I know I haven’t been a vocal proponent of the reboot universe–kind of the opposite, really–but that’s been solely due to the writing. The acting, the aesthetic, the design, the sound effects, the music are awesome. The writing sucked, and it’s just that simple for me. Mediocre action movies with Star Trek trappings and enough technobabble to try to make the connections. But it has brought people into the Star Trek universe, and that’s a good thing.)
I grew up on The Original Series, watching every episode in syndication every chance I got and eventually being able to quote most of the dialogue and identify the episode by any random line thrown at me (non-generic ones, at least). I love every episode, even the bad ones.
The Next Generation came when I was teenager it became my second Star Trek love, with a brighter future, a longer run, and a broader set of characters and stories. It came when I needed it, and it’s still there when I still do.
I had a harder time with Deep Space Nine, and maybe partly because rumors at the time, subsequently somewhat verified, suggested that TNG ended prematurely to give DS9 a greater viewer base, which didn’t work. But later seasons, with a bigger story arc and an intergalactic war, did get me back to the show in a smaller way.
Voyager came at a time when I didn’t have enough time or inclination to be into television, but I made up for that later, not quite catching up to seeing all the episodes by the time the series ended, but I watched both the first and the last episode the first time they aired.
Enterprise was harder to like, especially the first season, and didn’t find its feet fast enough as an early 21st century television show. I came back to it sometime late in the third season, and enjoying a lot of the fourth, when the writing actually started to get good, actually very good near the end of things, about when the notification came that it had been cancelled.
I have seen every Star Trek movie in the theater, though the case The Motion Picture, not first run, but in a small theater many years later. I’ve found things to like, in all of them, but to different degrees. If I’m not all that fond of the reboot universe, that’s mainly due to what I see as major weaknesses in the writing. But we talked about that already.
But it comes down to the fact that Star Trek needs to be on television. Discovery is the next television incarnation, coming to an Internet or streaming service near you in January 2017.
Works for me. And I want to be excited. So, a shout out to everyone involved in Discovery, if you want me to be excited, promise big and deliver bigger. Promise me Star Trek.
Be well, everyone.by