Well now it was bound to happen wasn’t it. When one of us just HAD to write something about a TV show because they just need to get a whole lot onto the tubes of the interwebs about a show, what better show than Star Trek Discovery.
Before I start you on this voyage into the Star Trek universe, please note there WILL be spoilers. So, if you have yet to go watch Star Trek Discovery, please do because I think it’s a wonderful show and isn’t exactly like any OTHER Star Trek you have seen before. Go do it, do the thing before I spoil the crap out of the show for you.
A QUICK INTRODUCTION TO THE STAR TREK UNIVERSE
The Star Trek franchise (at least on TV) main premise can be summed up fairly easy by saying the following: to boldly go where no one has gone before. To explore and seek out new life and civilisations. Or at least, for the most part. What we have come to expect from Star Trek is a bunch of folks jumping in a spaceship to explore the galaxy, all the while getting into trouble along the way and looking at both interpersonal and diplomatic relationships. For the most part, we have been getting that for years ever since Star Trek the original series. A series that, at the time, was first thought would fail and crumble under the weight of something that had never been attempted before and a mix of different human (and alien) races coming together for a common goal. Exploration. Don’t worry, Discovery isn’t and yet, IS, like the Star Trek we all crave.
THE TIME LINE
The messy part of Discovery is where it sits in the time line of the official cannon of shows. I say this because of tech used such as Holograms that we have not seen before in Trek. Below I will break down the full list of shows by where they are supposed to fit in with the current time line. Be aware, I have not included the movies due to timeline changes within the “Kelvin” universe and other factors.
Enterprise Set roughly 2160
Discovery Set roughly 2245
The Original Series set in the year (roughly) 2260
The Next Generation Set in the year 2360
Voyager Set near the end of Next Generation
Deep Space 9 Set near the end of Next Generation
CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
I started watching Star Trek when TOS when I was a kid, I remember vaguely tuning out the rather boring adventures of Captain James T Kirk, not my captain at all. This middle aged man when the deep “sexy” voice and his band of misfits just didn’t interest me. Mind you, I LOVED Flash Gordon for some odd reason and NOT Star Trek. I make the comparison because the ORIGINAL Flash Gordon actually paved the way for so MANY sci-fi series/movies and had such a cultural impact that it changed the world of entertainment. So you may be asking yourself “so who IS his captain?”, and this is a pressing point of nearly all Star Trek fans, everyone has a captain or at least, most do. My captain is Picard (Patrick Stewart), but it took a while for him to grow on me as during the first two and a bit seasons, he was sort of… a prick. He was stiff and hated kids, he repeatedly talked down to Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) and yelled at him to get off the bridge of the ship without listening to him. As time went on, he grow into a much BETTER captain (because the writing got better and the writers finally figured out who where what).
When I was in my teens, probably about 1994 (16 years old, roughly) I caught Star Trek the Next Generation on a cable service. It was much different than all our crappy Australian wanna-be sci-fi shows, not aimed at children and not overly dumbed down or “simplistic”. Here was a show that was adult and yet sci-fi. A show that has a mix of ethnicity treated as equals and complex science-like themes. A show that had a deep voiced middle-aged man but wasn’t as terrible as kirk, this was full blown season three William Riker, and man was he a sex bomb.
I was hooked, the characters were all seemingly fantastic, the uniforms were amazing, the aliens looked cool and interesting and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) was the hottest women I had ever seen (I think I have a thing for curly hair because she looked like a girl I had a major crush on growing up). I mean, she still is… did I mention I was sixteen? Okay good.
I had tried other Star Trek shows and the results were largely a failure to me. Voyager’s captain and crew weren’t interesting enough, Captain Janeway just always seemed angry and cold. Deeps Space Nine’s Captain Benjamin Cisko, even though breaking the mould as a black actor heading up a Star Trek show, felt far too stiff and boring and wasn’t helped by being set largely on a space station and not exploring space. Star Trek Enterprise’s Jonathan Archer was a second for me though and the show, in my opinion, was actually far better than it was deemed to be by many critics and fans (people REALLY hated it for some odd reason) and this felt like the first Captain that had a much more relaxed feeling about them.
Enterprise was steadily becoming my favourite show, and then they chucked it in the dumpster, set it on fire and dumped it out a torpedo tube. See, this is the thing about LOVING something. Not everyone will love it the same way as you, and that was CERTAINLY the case for Enterprise. As the third and fourth season were airing, critics were turning around and hailing it as improving. I didn’t, I hated the direction it was going with the Temporal Cold War. Yeah, you read that correctly. So the first two seasons for me, felt like a fresh new Star Trek, while for a lot of fans and critics, they felt the exact opposite. That’s cool, it’s okay of those people to be totally wrong.
Discovery starts out straight up throwing what is perceived as two main characters (Michael Burnham the first officer and Phillipa Georgiou the captain) into a dangerous sand storm on a planet in a very Trek styled episode of daring feats and crazy escapes and escalates fairly quickly to establish a war is about to start between the Federation of United Planets and the Klingons in a very NOT so Trek style. In fact, a lot of people were thrown by the first four episodes being amazingly action-heavy and less exploration, leading to a lot of critics slamming the show that it was too much like a movie. But those people were idiots, yeah shots fired. Also, the Captain gets killed by the Klingons and isn’t the Captain everyone had a tanty about.
This isn’t a show that really needs to find its feet, it already knows where they are. Even if some of the dialogue is a little clunky.
The problem with a lot of Trek in the past is bad writing from not understanding the characters and the interpersonal relationships, the roles and the dialogue and taking few seasons to find that steady footing. Discovery seems to have learned those lessons for the most part from previous Trek and straight off the bat has a solid direction and knows where it is and what it’s trying to do. The dialogue, at times, feels dry and forced almost like it was rewritten so many times it was stretched out and lost that warm feeling it should have. Or maybe it’s just those damn green blooded goblins we know and love called VULCANS.
Captain Lorca– What becomes of a person when they are pushed to the edge? When they are pushed into war and realise they have to win, no matter the cost. desperate to make HELL as short as possible to ensure the suffering is short and the trauma lessened. Lorca IS that type of captain, not holding to the Federation’s rules as a black and white steadfast set, but rather flexing and bending those rules to do what needs to be done. I doubt you will LIKE him, but you will certainly RESPECT him for what he does, even at the risk of his own sanity. Loca carries deep scars (physical and mental) from having to abandon his own ship before it was destroyed, and this weighs very heavily on his soul.
Michael Barnham AKA, the REAL central character. Michael was adopted by the Vulcans after her settlement and everyone she ever new were eradicated by the Klingons. Wait for it… She’s 100% human, not a half breed, a full on human that was raised like a Vulcan. I have some gripes about this below, but what you need to know is she breached a directive from her previous captain and tried to mutiny and take over the USS Shenzhou in an attempt to fend off the Klingons.
Instead, she was captured by the ship’s captain (failed Vulcan nerve pinch) and locked up, helpless while the ship was getting torn apart. Her captain ends up dead, she ends up locked away for Mutiny and so Lorca decides he wants her on his ship because of her brilliant track record as an officer of the federation and as a brilliant Science Officer. Well, minus the whole MUTINY thing.
Paul Staments is not only the Discovery’s engineer, but one half of the first openly gay and interracial ship mates. Fairly ground breaking and about damn time. Staments is a highly intelligent engineer that has assisted in perfecting a new warp drive called a “Spore Drive” and I will leave it there before we get too heavy into the science behind it.
PLEASE NOTE: Sure we have had Sulu in star Trek Beyond was PORTRAYED as a gay man with a husband and daughter, but we never saw that relationship, it wasn’t THAT meaningful. Stemant’s is portrayed as very much out in the open and you see his relationship with a very loving partner
Silvia Tilly, Starfleet Cadet – Redheaded fireball that is extremely nervous and anxious, more like me than I really want to admit. If you meet me, I am quirky and I usually try to rely on humor and fast-talking to settle my nerves and this means I always say something stupid and then ramble to try and fix it, making it worse. Tilly is very much the same bundle of nerves with a much overbearing “I MUST MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION AND SOUND SMART AND FUNNY AND CRAP NOW I SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT FIX IT FIX IT!” that leads to a lot of eye rolling, but is actually spot on for a stress disorder, I should know.
“Hey thanks for hanging out I really appreciate it, did you want an ice cream? I can go get some or coffee or a soda or some chocolate, when did you want to hang out again, hang on let me make sure I have your number so I can text you and arrange stuff with you or your email address or OH I love that shirt!”
Saru, First Officer– First Officer of the USS Discovery, Saru was previously Science Officer of the USS Shenzhou. Saru is the first Kelpien to enter Starfleet. Kelpiens, a new species created for Discovery, were hunted as prey on their home planet and thus evolved the ability to sense the coming of death, giving them a reputation for cowardice.
I hate Saru.
Ash Tyler Chief of Security– An Ex-Klingon prisoner saved by the Discovery’s Captain Lorca as they escaped from a Klingon prison. He was there for far longer than anyone should have been, was tortured and… Ummmm. Look, TRIGGER WARNING.
Its made out that he was also either raped or had sex with the Klingon female captor to stay alive. I don’t know, its really messy and I don’t want to know much more than that…
THERE ARE SOME ISSUES
Michael turns out to be a human that was adopted by Spock’s father from an early age after her settlement was destroyed by the Klingons.. Except how is it that Spock never spoke of her? Why did their parents never mention her ever? I highly doubt they would be so disgraced by her, that they would erase her from the family history, right? Then again, we didn’t know about his brother Sybok until Star Trek V, so I might just be upset at nothing.
I have to state the obvious here and I am REALLY nit picking, but the upgrades between Star Trek TOS and Discovery in terms of design and tech is extremely noticeable, and there is no way around that at all. Hologram technology, consoles and general designare all leagues above what TOS had, but that was FIFTY ONE YEARS AGO. Despite this, holograms were not in and not mentioned in the original, so should they have left them out at least?
The Klingons don’t look like the Klingons we’ve come to love (or hate, maybe?) with massive nostrils and strange faces, but this was actually explained away during Enterprise (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that though). Basically the Klingons were all altered by a DNA virus they created in an attempt to make augmented warriors in response to The Federation doing the same supposedly. According to Worf “We do not speak of it with outsiders.” sighting that they have a great shame about this subject, trying to create a warrior race rather than the strongest survives.
The most frustrating thing for me (and MANY others I have discussed this with) is the damn SUBTITLES. Rarely do we hear Klingons speak in ENGLISH (or translated to English), even if a Federation officer is around and the un universal translator was functioning within parameters.
WITH ALL THAT SAID AND DONE…
As someone that has enjoyed a large portion of Trek before this, I love that it reeled me in with all the action in the first half of the season, proved that it wasn’t just another clone or dry story with something to prove. Then it eased off the gas into the first corner in an effort to keep you racing but let you know it wasn’t going to crash and burn a horrible, horrible death. First half of the season is done and dusted, so here is what you need to do: Go order some takeout, grab a bottle of your preferred libation and binge-watch this in one shot. I wasn’t disappointed, people I know that don’t watch Trek weren’t disappointed and it really is. That. Damn. Good.