They’ve finally committed to making Discovery the anti-Star Trek. I have such a giant disconnect watching this show, because it is clear the current stewards of the property have no idea what the audience gets out of Star Trek. I often flippantly say “it’s the future where JFK got two terms” and that’s as good a shorthand as any. Some audience members take that to mean it’s a Utopian future where there is no conflict and all needs are taken care of and it’s just basically the humans in WALL • E but it just isn’t. It’s the acceptance that humans are a bunch of assholes but aspire to do the right thing anyway. This constant handwringing the main characters do about whether or not they are living up to their best selves is a trial to people who have watched the other iterations of Star Trek over the years. It’s not just TOS or TNG or DS9 or VOY or ENT or whatever. Say what you want about all the different takes, they were of their time and addressed themes and challenges of the “modern” with a tip of the hat to the intent of property. Members of the audience can tell you if a Batman movie scratches the itch or if a version of Much Ado About Nothing shot in Joss Whedon’s kitchen works or not.
But imagine The Shat and Lenny staring at a plywood wall and telling us about all the stuff we should care about. Not, you know, a poignant philosophical discussion about what excellent set-up and action with ramifications we just saw; no, just staring at the wall and trying to sell the audience on some stuff we’re told is important in the teaser. That’s how they start this ep. And, honestly, they could probably do it, because those two could chew scenery on one side and digest it on the other. Discovery’s bridge crew isn’t up to the task. This is what they’re asking the audience to buy. Look at all this VFX shot by another director we added later and hope it matches up to what you’re doing on set. There’s just a massive disconnect between audience expectation and writers’ room intent and physically on-set live action and special effects. Some episodes are more successful than others about integrating all the moving parts into a cohesive narrative but when you compare it to other shows it’s just a mess. It’s like people are making the best pizza crust they can and the best cheese they can and the best toppings they can but a blind guy is making the pizza and he’s thrown blue cheese on the pesto sauce and used onions instead of sausage. It’s a pizza, technically, but it isn’t going down as smoothly as it could be.
I guess I just can’t wait until Lower Decks Season Two, because those pizza makers are all facing the same direction. I think CBS should worry about delivering good Star Trek and not doing four or five different Star Trek shows and hoping people respond to the Starfleet spaghetti thrown against the standard issue bulkhead.