My family and I had a great weekend up at my father-in-law’s house, looking for driftwood detail pieces for our house remodel and eating Dungeness crab and playing cribbage by the fireplace and whatnot, and since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Star Trek: Discovery are on Friday and Sunday nights, respectively, sometimes I’m not so current with my raw critiques and pithy observations. I can watch the shows when I get home, but it’s hard to congeal a new way to observe and report after a three hour Sunday drive. Today, I’m only getting you an STD column and S.H.I.E.L.D. has to wait until Wednesday, which I hope my editors and you, gentle reader, will not mind. S.H.I.E.L.D. is off until March 2nd, so perhaps a couple days wait might take the edge off and reward the patient.
But, in the betweens, a friend of mine said, dang, Larry, you need to see this episode of Black Mirror and I’d been giving the whole thing a miss because “21st Century Twilight Zone” sounds good if you can fit it in, but everything we’ve got going on now at Chateau Lar is ten pounds of pastrami in a five pound bag. Catching another show that’s on Year Four is kind of low on the totem pole.
But I’m reminded it’s an anthology show, just watch this episode, it’s “USS Callister,” you’ll love it, Mimi will love it, you will dig the rip of your thing in her tech world, and she will love the tech world thing ripping on your world, and you will both love the incisive commentary on both and neither. So I couldn’t sleep, and I cued it up, and between this and every episode of The Orville, if I wrote or produced Star Trek: Discovery I would be so embarrassed by these guys doing my job better I would go back to nighttime teen soap operas.
Let’s just hit the bullet points on episode fourteen of this mess, shall we?
- I love how Saru is constantly checking his pockets for his phone, wallet, and keys. Watch his head tilt, his shifting weight on those boots, the flittering fingers. Doug Jones is doing a yeoman’s job making his nothing character feel like something to the audience. Whenever he is onscreen doing nothing, I always see Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven, sitting on the cart listening to the crap monologue from the ostensibly main character droning on about nothing… but twirling his hat. Little bit of business indicating he’s got something else going on. Doug Jones, you hero. You are slaying it under five pounds of rubber.
- Speaking of Saru, this ship has had four captains in fourteen episodes. Talk about the writer’s room not knowing what pitch to swing at.
- Sarek is forcibly mind-melding everyone. If you needed any more evidence these nighttime soap opera cats don’t understand Star Trek, here it is. That’s as wrong as doing a show about the Civil War and showing Lincoln playing cards and whoring around the whole time. Might make for an interesting TV show, but it’s not the Civil War.
- Science note: Starbase 1 is described in dialogue as “a hundred AUs from Earth.” That right there is Exhibit A in the case against these guys not even giving a shit about Star Trek. Anyone who passed eighth grade science knows an Astronomical Unit is the distance from the Earth to the sun, 93 million miles. Anyone who watches Star Trek much less writes it knows how to use Google, so there is no excuse not to know a hundred AUs is 9.3 trillion miles, which is the edge of the Oort Cloud, the give-or-take edge of our solar system. There is no way the first Starfleet outpost isn’t further out than at least Alpha Centauri. But, you know, that’s just kids and their book learnin’.
Man, remember what you liked about Star Trek? The incredible fictional science, written by actual fictional science writers? Frederic Brown, Theodore Sturgeon, George Clayton Johnson, Robert Bloch, Harlan friggin’ Ellison? These guys flipped your lid and slipped in some social commentary without knocking your teeth out like a prison rapist.
… and everyone thought that the JJTREK Enterprise hiding underwater was beyond belief? Next week, the Discovery will be flying through caves in the season ender.
Let that sink in, for a second.
And, in housekeeping news like painting your registry to say ISS DISCOVERY instead of USS DISCOVERY, if you guys aren’t reading John Price’s articles every time he writes about Star Trek: Discovery, you’re missing out on what I consider to be the best commentary on the show today. Sure, I’m awesome, but I’m too interested in the cheap joke, and my hate is so pure for this trash that it comes across as a little too mean-spirited. Price shares my white-hot hate for the missed opportunity, but as a social historian, he has the half-Vulcan powers of intellect at his command and somehow makes his rage more palatable to the kids. Click that link above for his latest, and, no matter how badly your day is going at work, know that you don’t have someone with his sense effortlessly skewering your hard work for the entertainment of others, like Harberts and Berg do when Price posts about their whiffed swings.
Funny thing I’ve noticed is that Harberts “likes” every post of Price’s when John shits on Discovery, which I find simultaneously telling and completely tone-deaf to how creators and audience interact on social media. “Liking” a post or comment doesn’t take away its speaking-truth-to-power component; as a creator it just makes you look like a moron.
But, honestly, I’m not sure these STD guys could look any more clueless.
I didn’t even talk about how CBS All Access showed commercials to the commercial-free subscribers. I don’t want apologies, Les Moonves. I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS