Television

Star Trek Sunday: Discovery

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Confession time. Or is it? It seems unlikely I that I haven’t expressed this particular opinion before. Either way, I don’t like Discovery. And I didn’t like it enough that I never went back after the mid-season cliffhanger in season one. People say the second season is better. That may be true, but it’s too late for me.

Not because it’s “not my Trek”. Not because I resent the creative team doing something different. Not because I’m hung up on canon.

No, it’s not my Trek. My trek was TOS and my second Trek love was TNG. But I’ve enjoyed DS9, VOY, and ENT in their turns.

No, I don’t resent the creative team doing something different. To keep life in the franchise, you have to keep doing new things, pushing boundaries. But a lot of the differences in Discovery seem to be there just to be different rather than to serve any kind of purpose.

No, I’m not hung up on canon. Every show has mucked with canon, going right back to TOS.

But Discovery seems to have made a dark and gritty Trek because someone felt that’s what the market demanded. And it hasn’t just mucked with canon, it doesn’t care about the fifty plus years of culture and universe building that came before it. You don’t let canon get in the way of a good story, but Discovery doesn’t seem to have any interest in telling a good story, or hadn’t when I left.

It had fair to middling dialogue at best, with regular trips into infodump territory. Supposedly set in the prime universe, it redesigned things for the sake of redesigning them. We have hundreds of hours of how the Klingons look but it wasn’t enough just to tweak them to fit the new aesthetic. We were given a mind meld that worked across light years. We were asked to believe that Vulcans, almost the ultimate pacifists and logicians, blew up the Klingons whenever they saw them. We were asked to reimagine Harry Mudd as an amoral psychopath instead of an oddball rogue. Twice. We were told that the underlying structure of the universe was a ubiquitous fungus.

I’m not hung up on canon, but I am hung up on respect for the source material, and Discovery doesn’t have any as far as I can tell. Compounding that was the generally bad writing in the first half season.

Then add in that they had no compunctions about going back to the mirror universe yet again. If I hadn’t already made it a general guideline to skip mirror universe episodes, I would have gotten there within another episode or two, and it’s ultimately the reason I stopped watching. Although I’m pretty sure I could have found another reason if I needed one.

And I haven’t even gotten to the worst part yet for me. I could have gotten past all of that and waited for the show to get better if it was willing to show me it was Star Trek, but it wasn’t.

For clarity: Star Trek, at its best, is about exploring what it means to be human and reminding us that we can be better than we are. Discovery, to the point I watched it, is not. It’s about how you can only succeed if you abandon your principles and sink to your enemy’s level.

Again, maybe it got better, and I may someday find out, but right now I’m still firmly in the ‘do not like’ camp.

Here’s the thing, though: it doesn’t matter what I think. Watch it for yourself and decide, on the merits or not as you see them, if you like the show. Much like my final verdict on the reboot movies, if more people find Star Trek as a result, I’m good with that.

Live long and prosper.

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