Star Trek: Discovery – Initial Reactions


Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in the Fall of my Freshman year in college. I missed the first airing, but watched a VHS copy with my roommate, David Melton, a couple of days later.

For the premiere of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, there was a watch party at my friend Matt Harrop’s place. I remember mostly being annoyed that, while NextGen used Goldsmith’s title music for Star Trek: The Motion Picture as it’s theme music, DS9 did NOT use Horner’s brilliant main theme from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, my all-time favorite piece of music from the franchise. (I was pre-disposed, even as a Trek fan, to dislike DS9 at the time, as I felt that it was a blatant lift of the concept of Babylon 5, a show that I was hugely into.)

When Star Trek: Voyager premiered, the watch party was at my place. I wasn’t that impressed. I ended up barely watching (only finally going through the whole series via Netflix a few years ago).

I don’t remember watching the premiere of Enterprise, and didn’t really watch the show (another gap that I addressed via Netflix fairly recently).

So here we are, at the premiere of another Trek. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure where I am on this one. I’ll give it more time (I mean, hell, I Netflixed Enterprise fer chrissakes), but I’ll admit that my problems outweigh my interest, at least so far.

First, I remain irritated that CBS keeps Trek looking backward, instead of forward. There seems to be NO reason to set Star Trek: Discovery in the past of the franchise, and, in fact, as I said to Laura this morning, if they’d set it in the future of the Prime universe, decades after the destruction of Romulus (the last event mentioned canonically occurring in the main setting), it would eliminate pretty much all of my canonicity nitpicks: the tech designs, the look of the uniforms, even the new design of the Klingons. (Tell me that the Klingons now have shed the last of the Augment Virus, and this is what they really look like, and I’m there.)

Second: The writing. Flat as hell. Lots of characters telling each other things that they already know. A ridiculous amount of info-dumping exposition in the form of subtitled fucking Klingonese (seriously?). Worst yet, two episodes spent telling very little story at all. I’m sorry, but in the age of Game of Thrones, The Expanse, and Westworld, that’s just not good enough.

(Also: I saw a comment by a friend this morning where she said that if this was Kirk and Spock, Kirk would’ve come out of the ready room, and ordered the attack — trusting that if Spock had taken so serious an action as mutiny, he had to be sure of his reasoning. Yeah, I never got the “we’ve served together for 7 years” level of connection that we’re supposed to between Captain Georgiou and Commander Burnham.)

The music — doesn’t really do anything for me. I love the re-apperance of the Alexander Courage “call to action” fanfare, but generally, the opening music is just meandering staccato strings which go nowhere. Coupled with the “production design” style opening, and I’m immediately drawn to make comparison to HBO’s Westworld.

Lastly — I suspected, given things I’d heard, that people praising the presence of Michelle Yeoh were going to be disappointed by what I’d assumed (correctly) to be her fate… but I have to say that launching a series with two women of color as leads, only to end the pilot with one dead (soon to be replaced with a white guy as Captain) and the other being stripped of her accomplishments and position, and headed to prison? Comes off as massively tone deaf on the part of the producers.

But we’ll see where it goes. Trek has always had weak pilots — hell, weak early seasons, for that matter — so hopefully it improves.

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