Boy, these CBS All Access cats are really making it difficult to watch this show. Remember last week when I congratulated them for putting two not-sucky episodes on in a row? There’s a famous adage that once is an accident, and twice is a coincidence, while three times is a pattern. Unfortunately, Star Trek: Discovery is still at the “coincidence” stage, what with “Point of Light” by Andrew Colville just being a train wreck of who cares. Spunkybuddy R. Francis Smith wrote this morning that it “was a hot mess all around anyway, and I say this as someone who enjoys the series mostly. Narrative threads that achieved nothing, contradictions, and of course, the obligatory people acting dumb in order to put characters where they wanted them to go. (Tilly has what clearly looked like a massive breakdown on the bridge and Captain friggin’ Pike sends nobody after her? Tyler calls Starfleet from Q’onos because he’s, I guess, suicidal?) A script editor with an iron hand could improve this show considerably. Right now I wish they’d just give Doug Jones the show. And Lady Robocop. They fight crime.”
I quoted that fully because fans are just coming up with brilliant stuff like that off the top of their heads which beats the network-approved oatmeal without even trying. Now, sure, everyone paying attention to this skidmark of a show knows about the Viacom breakup and that Paramount owns theatrical Star Trek and CBS owns broadcast Star Trek and this is why CBS came down so hard on Axanar and fan films and probably some law firm somewhere knows what one can use and the other can’t so you have lunatic things like H. R. Giger-designed Klingons and ridiculous uniforms that have no design antecedent and internal inconsistencies like two different D-7s and for God’s sake the whole thing is a mess and it’s not ever going to get better. But I just don’t understand, instead of insanely trying to explain or justify stuff that is obviously wrong like that insignia nonsense or that the Klingon culture suddenly looks like a really well-funded Ren Faire weekend, why the producers who just can’t seem to shut up and let the work speak for itself just come out and say, “Anything that feels weird or wrong is a new thing we have to do for legal reasons that we hope won’t impact your enjoyment of the show. This is the best Star Trek we can do, now, and we hope you like it!”
Most of these fanboy criticisms and nitpicks would just go away, because… whaddaya gonna do? This is Star Trek, now, because lawyers. Everyone can understand that. Spending all your time on explanations and mental gymnastics and lines of dialogue dropped in out of nowhere just sounds false and contrived and hollow. Which, you know, is exactly the opposite of the rich fifty year history of Star Trek as a world of heroism and danger and alien souls being the most human and metaphor and deep exploration of outer space and the inner soul. Our ships look wrong and the uniforms stupid and nobody coming new to the show ever knows what’s going on would never be a problem if it just felt like Star Trek. Which it doesn’t.
The current stewards of the property make it impossible to watch it as Star Trek. The U.S.S. Discovery went from having a super-secret magic mushroom drive with a hidden, elite cadre of black-badged Section 31 cloak and dagger badasses able to go anywhere in the universe and literally do anything once they got there to… being the ship that has freshman “cadet trainees” running through the hallways? If that’s the show, just do it, but make it internally consistent. No running track on an elite ship with a party club? Nobody on the STD writing staff is being allowed to write anything that makes actual sense. The first season was all about the mirror universe and an alien war featuring characters the audience didn’t care about yet. So they took some well-placed criticisms to heart, added a stabilizing central captain character, did a couple of not-idiotic episodes, and then… returned to… the Klingons? How about writing a show about exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life and new civilizations? That’s how Dad did it; that’s how America does it. And it’s worked out pretty well so far.
Honestly, if you’re going to grab from the past and do a modern take on Star Trek “ten years before Kirk and Spock,” just destroy the Discovery and put Saru and Lady Robocop on Pike’s Enterprise. Every time this show makes a mis-step, they go nuts trying to explain the inexplicable or double-down on it. After making a Lorca a pedophile in the first season, you’d have thought they would have written Tilly’s dialogue about being violated by the May-spore as “She’s grooming me for something.” It’s rare you get a television show with the resources available to STD displaying such a massive amount of tone-deafness to an established audience.
Captain Pike is the only character who seems to realize he’s in a Star Trek show.