Why STAR TREK: DISCOVERY makes me sad… (editorial)

WARNING – some spoilers from the fourth episode of  Discovery.  Read at your own risk.

It seems that I’m now doing weekly reviews/ editorials about this show.  Not sure how long I’ll keep it up, but with each new episode, I realize something else that I want to share with you guys.

But before I do that…!

I AM ENJOYING STAR TREK: DISCOVERY!!!  It’s a very well-written and well-produced show with strong visual effects, amazing production values, fast-paced editing, interesting characters, fantastic music, and a very compelling story line.  It’s excellent television, and I am truly entertained when I watch it.

But it’s still not Star Trek to me.

Star Trek doesn’t make me feel sad about the present and possibly the future as well.  Star Trek doesn’t remind me of how much the world has changed (for the worse) since the terrorist attacks of 9-11.  Instead, Star Trek gives me hope for a BETTER future than what we have now.

Star Trek always made me believe that human beings can and will achieve something better for ourselves and for others.  Want to make America great, or better yet, make the world great?  Then make HUMANITY better, and the rest of what we do will follow.  Star Trek used to demonstrate those possibilities to me…episode after wondrous episode.

So why does Star Trek: Discovery make me feel sad?  And why the heck do I have pictures of a Pakled, Hugh the Borg, the USS Voyager alongside the USS Equinox, and the Tardigrade creature from this week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery?

Because I’d like to make a point about this new series—one of many, I admit, but continuing on with my central theme that, as good as this show is, it isn’t “my” Star Trek…and why that makes me sad.

Up until now, Star Trek always made me feel happy and excited (JJ ABrams reboots notwithstanding).  And I am so enjoying introducing Star Trek to my 7-year-old son Jayden, who gets equally excited.  We watch episodes in the evening while I exercise.  We’ve completed two cycles through TOS and TAS, and just a few nights ago, we began watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture together for the first time.  (And yes, he’s actually enjoying it!)

And there’s a LOT more where that came from, Jayden!  After TMP (and after we join the Star Trek Continues cast at the Los Angeles Comic Con in two and a half weeks to watch their series finale live), we’ll be re-watching “Space Seed,” then finishing up the first six feature films, and onto TNG, DS9, Voyager, the rest of the feature films, and  Enterprise, too.

But not Discovery.

It’s not that Discovery is too mature or scary for Jayden (although that scene with Security Chief Landry from episode 4 might be pushing it).  But hey, Jayden just saw two people “melt” in the transporter of the refitted Enterprise, and soon enough he’ll watch a fully grown Ceti eel crawl out of Chekov’s bloody ear and Scotty holding the charred body of his nephew Peter Preston.  Sure, I’m not about to let my kid watch The Walking Dead with me, but I don’t feel that Star Trek: Discovery is too violent or bloody for him just yet.  Nor do I think the weird uniforms and technology that don’t match classic Trek will confuse him.  That’s not why I don’t want him to see the new show.

The reason much simpler than that: the message is all wrong.

Star Trek always inspired me…and it’s inspiring Jayden, too.  His favorite character is Scotty, and Jayden wants to become an engineer.  In fact, if you’ve got a few minutes and would like to hear one of the most adorable Star Trek podcast interviews ever, check out Jayden discussing his thoughts about “Mirror, Mirror”…

You can hear the inspiration and enthusiasm in his voice, just like it was for me when I was a kid growing up on TOS.  Star Trek is teaching Jayden life lessons, even if he doesn’t realize it yet.

That’s not to say that previous Star Trek series were intended as children’s shows.  But most were at least child-friendly and presented very positive role models (well, maybe not Quark, but he wasn’t in Starfleet).  These captains and their crews were almost always looking for ways out of a crisis where the ends were NOT justifying the means.  And to me, that’s an important concept to teach a child.

Look at the episode “I, Borg” where Picard has the option of using Hugh to end the Borg threat with one swift, almost too-easy move.  He can infect Hugh with a virus to introduce into the Borg Collective, essentially shutting them down forever.  Instead, after struggling with the moral dilemma, Picard decides the ends do not justify the means.

When the USS Voyager encounters the USS Equinox and learns that they’ve been capturing and killing alien beings to use their antimatter energy to “turbocharge” the ship’s warp drive, Janeway and her crew are horrified.  Is this a case of “There but for the grace of the writers go I”?  I like to think that, no, Janeway would never kidnap and trap sentient beings just to get her crew home.  She would find another way.

And yet, when I watched episode four of Discovery, the aptly titled “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry,” I thought back to the two-part “Equinox” episode of Voyager from 18 years ago (two years before 9-11) when our world still had the “luxury” of not always allowing the ends to justify the means.  And now, here we are in 2017, and in this new Star Trek series, the USS Discovery is doing almost the exact same thing that so horrified Janeway and the Voyager crew.

Star Trek has come a long way, folks…but in which direction?

Yes, the situation is dire.  A Federation mining colony that supplies 40% of the Federation’s dilithium (and is strangely not being guarded by a dedicated squadron of starships—no wonder we’re losing this war with the Klingons!) is under attack.  They’re all about to die, and only a starship that can jump between any two points in space can rescue them.  So yeah, maybe the Discovery doesn’t have the “luxury” to weigh the morals of the situation either.  If that creature can help them navigate the cosmic network (or whatever it’s called), then is anybody NOT ready to do this?!  And let’s face it, the jumpy-whumpy-spinny effect looks really cool…maybe even better than the TARDIS’ timey-whimey-spinny effect!

But (and this is where I finally bring in the Pakleds from TNG‘s “Samaritan Snare”), aren’t the USS Discovery and USS Equinox just looking for things to make them go?  Sure, Discovery isn’t killing the worm/navigator/Tardigrade like Equinox killed the extra-dimensional aliens, but they’ve still essentially kidnapped this thing and are holding it captive, forcing it to help them.  How is that any different than the Pakleds kidnapping Geordi LaForge, holding him captive, and forcing him to help them?

Sure the heroic captains of Star Trek and the members of their gallant crews weren’t always perfect, and they sometimes did bad things.  Longtime fans probably recognize at least one or maybe even all of the following scenes and know exactly when, where, how, and most importantly WHY they happened…

Sure, none of the above scenes was the proudest moment for any of these captains.  But that’s my point!

Star Trek was always about these NOT being the kinds of actions or decisions that defined these men.  These were the notable exceptions, and fans remember each of the scenes for the intense thoughts and emotions that went into what ultimately happened.  These heartbreaking moments of deciding when the ends DID the means, and the effect that conclusion had on these men, those scenes were made all the more powerful because they were NOT the norm but the extreme.

“I study war…and this is where I hone my craft.”

Of course, one could argue that Captain Lorca is also facing the extreme.  He is at war.  But that is also the baseline of his character.  He’s not a scientist.  He’s not an explorer.  “I study war,” he tells Burnham in the fourth episode.  And he seems to believe as a starting point to his decisions that the ends DO justify the means…ANY means necessary.  And while Burnham felt sorry for what they all decided to do to this alien creature, she still went along with it.  And if you think about it, the ends justifying the means is not that far removed from the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few or the one.  That’s why Burnham mutinied against her former captain.

But again, is that the kind of lesson I want to teach Jayden?

The ends justifying the means was so often the OPPOSITE of what Star Trek taught me.  And that’s why I won’t be watching the new series with my son.  However, I will still be watching the show myself.  I enjoy it.  I understand what they’re trying to say with these characters and the situations fate has put them into. Perhaps they will even grow and evolve as characters, realizing that what they are doing to this Tardigrade creature is immoral….and perhaps even coming to the conclusion that the ends don’t always justify the means.

But that suggests that these Discovery characters will have to GROW into having the kind of moral compasses that were “pre-installed” in characters like Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, Archer, and most of their Starfleet crews.  Many on Discovery, from the captain on down, are meant to be more of a reflection of who we are TODAY (the viewers and perhaps our leaders, too).  These new characters are not an imagined ideal of who we could someday become 300 years into the future.  They are not particularly good role models for a child to look up to.

It’s still a perfectly valid approach for the creators to make—good storytelling, good TV, and very easy for viewers to relate to.  I ENJOY watching the show. And let’s face it, series like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad don’t have characters who are particularly good role models, either.  Star Trek: Discovery, in a very deliberate way by the producers, was cut from the same dark and gritty cloth as these other modern TV series.  This is the “new normal”…and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

Except Star Trek always strove to be something greater.  Creating Star Trek used to be just a little more challenging specifically because the writers couldn’t just imagine a world (galaxy) with better technology and gadgets.  They had to create one with better PEOPLE.  Star Trek was the alternative to most everything else that was on television that could only show us ourselves as we are.  Star Trek always showed us who we could become!

And that, my friends, is why I feel a sadness when I watch Discovery and realize that the Star Trek I grew up with is now only a cherished memory.

The Star Trek that gave me characters with lofty ideals and high morals, the Star Trek that inspired me and taught me and made me yearn to be a better person…

…that Star Trek seems to have passed into what was.

41 thoughts on “Why STAR TREK: DISCOVERY makes me sad… (editorial)”

  1. Jonathan, great post, as usual. But there’s something I feel compelled to point out: this might be a case of comparing apples to oranges. All of the examples you used from past Star Trek shows/movies were complete stories, Discovery is not yet a complete story.

    This is something I only recently realized myself. It can be hard to wrap one’s head around, since we’re so used to seeing Star Trek as episodic television or stand-alone movies, but Discovery’s story is taking place over an entire 15 episodes (or however many they’re making this first season). So comparing an episode of Voyager to just one episode of Discovery is like comparing a short story to just one chapter of a novel. It’s not a fair comparison.

    In that episode of Voyager you mentioned the crew sees the benefit of the new tech, realizes how bad it is, and puts a stop to it, all in 44 minutes. In Discovery that same story arc could take place over three or four (or more) episodes.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying that we can’t know for sure yet which way it’s going to go.

    I still have a ton of complaints about the new show, most of which you outlined in your excellent first post on the show, but when it comes to stuff like this I’m willing to wait and see where they go.

    I’m still not paying for the show (I watch it at a friend’s place) but, after the season ends, if I ended up liking it I will probably buy the discs or buy downloads thru iTunes or something similar.

    1. As I said in the blog, I expect (hope) there to be some kind of character development/evolution that ultimately leads to the crew deciding NOT to use the spore drive. They start out as dicks and mature into moral beings…which is probably why there’s no spore drive in TOS or later.

      That said, my point is more that these characters have to GROW in order to find their moral compasses. The Starfleet crews in previous series already had those moral compasses. They weren’t perfect, of course, but they didn’t need to start off as dicks either.

      I realize the apples-to-oranges comparison, though. If you’ve got 15 episodes and 12 hours of story (as opposed to 44 minutes), you need to have characters that grow and develop over that time…possibly slowly. I don’t begrudge them that. It just makes me sad that I can’t share these characters with Jayden because many of them are crappy role models…at least for now.

      1. Also this war has only been going on for 6 months. Lorca studies war, okay, but one does not make Captain in 6 months. Where did he come from, how did he get to the position of Captain with such a personality? I can’t imagine someone like Lorca, such an arse, studying war, growing up in the Federation, born around 50 years after the Birth of the Federation, and around the same time as the death of Jonathan Archer (Assuming Lorca has about the same age Issacs, and Archer lived to around 90).

        1. It would be interesting to discover Lorca’s backstory (and I suspect we will). Like Tom Hanks’ character of Captain Miller in “Saving Private Ryan,” Lorca might have come from a different, non-combat background and simply discovered that he is a very good soldier. (That’s HIS “discovery.”) And in some ways, the same is true of Garth. He was an explorer who became a soldier because he had to…and he become a damn fine one. However, Garth wasn’t a dick. 🙂

          1. Aye, but then Lorca has quite a collection of weaponry back there, all collected in six months? I don’t think so, it looks like he has been studying war since he was 12, or perhaps even 6.

      2. So far they’ve only used the drive for one mission, they didn’t develop it, and Burnham is the only one to actually see the creature in action. They don’t yet realize what it’s doing. The crew of Discovery hasn’t seen the Voyager episode in question so they need a minute to figure out what’s happening. 🙂

        I think Burnham was concerned about the creature from the very start, it’s Lorca who’s going to take some convincing. The “Next On” teaser made it clear that this is going to be the plot of the next episode.

        This show is really challenging the way we watch Star Trek, isn’t it? I keep reminding myself that the captain isn’t the main character, his role is to be more of an obstacle for Burnham’s wants.

        When Burnham wants to go back to prison to do her penance, the captain makes her stay; when Burnham wants to work in engineering, the captain makes her develop weapons, and now when Burnham wants to stop hurting the tardigrade, the captain is probably going to make her keep using the creature.

        So we can’t expect this captain to act like any other captain we’ve seen in a Star Trek show. He’s going to be acting much more like those captains we’ve met who are commanding *other* ships.

        My big complaint from the episode is more along the lines of what was that security officer thinking, letting that creature loose before confirming that the knockout gas actually worked on it. That was some real Darwin Award stuff right there. I find it extremely annoying that a Starfleet officer at that level would make that kind of mistake.

        1. All good points. As I said, I actually think this is a very good show. If it didn’t have “Star Trek” in the title, I’d probably be gushing over it even more than “The Expanse,” (which is also a great show–although badly paced). But I can’t fault the Discovery folks for doing anything other than calling their show “Star Trek.” Petty and pedantic, aren’t I? And maybe that’s why CBS wasn’t aiming the new series at me. 🙂

  2. I too thought about the Voyager episodes while watching this with the same feelings. Perhaps it is the sign of the times where art is reflecting the feelings of the public. If that is the case, then maybe we have devolved as a society further than I want to believe. But, until I’m sure, I’m just going to say the show runners have devolved.


    1. The show-runners made a choice, and it’s a perfectly valid one. Had this not been a Star Trek series, I would have thought it was great television (I still think it’s great television). But it isn’t “my” Star Trek…and it just doesn’t feel like Star Trek. And I don’t just mean that in that it’s totally serialized. It’s that the crew generally just piss me off. They don’t make me feel good about the future of humanity…and Star Trek should make us feel good.

      1. I might quibble some details but I can’t say you’re wrong about the larger issue. It’s so damn maddening that we get this portrayal of the war instead of the Axanar film.

      2. It is a little like you are invited for a rib-eye steak and you are served a meatloaf instead.
        It can be a darn good meatloaf. But this is just annoying that you were lured for and had an appetite for a steak and they serve you a meatloaf, even worse: they keep calling it steak even though you have it already on your plate. And they keep inviting people for a steak.
        Eventually people that did not know a real rib-eye steak start calling the meatloaf steak.
        It is just not right.

  3. I find it interesting how sci-fi tackled 9-11, two shows spring to mind Star Trek: Enterprise whose aired just a couple of weeks after 9-11, and of which the Xindi arc seemed like a direct allegory for 9-11; and then there was Farscape which ran from 1999 to 2003 (plus 2004 special), which as a contemporary sci-fi dealt with 9-11 directly.

    For me personally I much preferred Farscape, I found Enterprise handled the allegory in quite a ham-fisted way, and I didn’t like the reactions of the crew, probably because it felt too much like the reactions of the present, too hot-headed. It took them many episodes to cool off, perhaps (hopefully) not too unlike Discovery, not knowing what these characters have been through over the last 6 months. Farscape on the other hand dealt I felt dealt with it in much more of a grown-up TNG way, as if Picard had somehow managed to arrive back to Earth in 2001.

    1. When discussing sci-fi shows that either depicted or, more precisely, drew allegories to 9-11, please don’t leave out the Battlestar Galactica reboot. That series was all about a post-9-11 attack and the stresses that came along with it.

      1. Ahh, I think I have mentioned the BSG reboot before, I haven’t watched it. I grew up watching the old BSG reruns part way though, and this felt nothing like that, it seems they did the same thing with this reboot. I remember BSG as quite light and cheerful, like Dory, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep travelling towards Earth, and lets make new friends along the way :). BSG reboot just felt dark, depressing and gloomy, so I only watched the first 3 or 4 episodes, it didn’t do anything for me. I think I got as far as the point where they destroyed a ship because they had no information as to what was going on and gave into their fears. It just kept going episode after episode with no real progress of plot so, with dodgy values, and so I have up, simultaneously feeling horrible about the decisions, and bored because it dragged out so long. It felt like TNG:Drumhead, but with Satie’s interrogation going on for episode after episode with no end in site. In a way Disco feels the same, but with the knowledge that things will get better somehow because we know (hope/have been promised) that this will somehow lead into our Star Trek, the Star Trek of TOS/TNG, but to paraphrase Scotty, “I don’t know how many more depressing virtually nothing happening episodes we can take Captain”. That said, you say you enjoy Disco, so does that mean you enjoyed the BSG reboot too?

        But yes, on a lighter note, did you watch Farscape?

        1. ARRRRGGHHHH! You stopped watching BSG one episode too early!!!

          Seriously, I once tried getting a husband and wife into that show. I brought over DVDs of the first season. We binge-watched the first four episodes during ComiCon weekend (they lived near San Diego at the time, and I crashed at their house). Those four episodes were the two-part pilot, and then the episodes “33” and “Water.” To be honest, even I was a little bit bored by the time they ended (and I LOVED the entire series!). After nearly four hours, the wife went to bed, saying that she didn’t really like it. The husband was willing to give it one more episode. That episode was “Bastille Day,” Richard Hatch’s first episode playing Tom Zarek. (He would go on to become a series regular.) After that episode, the husband was hooked and went on to watch all the rest of the episodes over the next few months. The wife never watched another episode after the fourth one.

          So watch “Bastille Day” and see if you still don’t like the new BSG. Of course, it’s not the original. And I will always have a place in my heart for the original. But the reboot changed sci-fi television forever. It should be required viewing for any true sci-fi fan…for the sake of historical knowledge if nothing else. 🙂

          As for Farscape, I started binge-watching that with the same friend I now watch Discovery with. We had a slow summer three years ago and began watch the first five or six episodes. Then we began watching other stuff–Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones, Hell on Wheels, Preacher, Fear the Walking Dead, and now Disco. We’re pretty backed up! In fact, we’re only one episode into this past summer’s Fear the Walking Dead and three episodes into Preacher. We’ll eventually find our way back to Farscape. I liked what I saw, but I’m told it got MUCH better.

          1. Okay, I shall consider watching another episode of BSG… I also stopped watching GoT after the first 30 mins or so (yes, I didn’t even manage to the end of the episode) as it just seemed like bad acting combined with the horrible pimping that was going on.

            Farscape, first 5/6 episodes huh, that gives me a rough idea of which episodes you have seen, the US and the UK aired the first 7 episodes in a different order to each other (and wikipedia lists it in a third order, by production code). This makes it all very confusing, especially both for us, and the cast (listening to their commentary). But yes, I really enjoyed it, it came at a time when I found my love of Star Trek diminishing, with Voyager feeling too squeaky clean perfect out there for a crew trying to get home, especially since I had (the original) BSG to compare with, and then along came Farscape and it had the same ethical moralising, but done from a more real perspective, more down to earth, and through this, at least I find, we get some very deep episodes.

          2. The main reason I began watching Farscape (and why I will someday finish the series) is because so many people raved about it. Same for The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and a number of other shows. So yeah, there was a reason that so many people fell in love with the new BSG and with GOT. Sure, neither series is perfect. BSG spent waaaaaay too much time on Kobol, and the New Caprica story line had two or three of the worst episodes of the series. But you have to suffer through them to get to amazing climax with the Galactica and the Pegasus. Same with GOT. They don’t always fire on all thrusters, but as you go along, all of the slow-moving stuff pays off big-time. And truth to tell, I have the same hope/expectation for Discovery.

  4. I believe it only passed because we idley stood by and refused to hold the studios to any kind of standard. Even now there are fans swooning over STD just because the ST stands for Star Trek.

    1. Some fans are swooning, others are kvetching. I actually think that CBS isn’t particularly happy right now. (More on that new week…assuming I have time to write the blog I wanna write.)

  5. Jonathan,
    The Star Trek that you yearn for is still there. More than 700 hours plus fan movies… and hundreds and hundreds of books. What you have with your son is… quality time and add to that the ideals and lessons that he is learning mostly from you and your wife that will last a lifetime. That is far more important than Star Trek Discovery. What you are doing far exceeds any TV Show. From the short time that we have exchanged comments I can tell that you an intelligent caring person and worried about the real world. No TV show will change that even if is full of positive messages. The best that Discovery can be is a little more optimistic and I think that’s where they will get to. Monday was Thanksgiving in Canada and our children and their families were here for dinner. Sometime after dinner my wife pulled me aside and gave me a big hug and whispered we’ve done a good job. I could feel a little tear in my eye and I replied yes we did. What I am trying to say is this… a TV show in the greater scheme of life is not important… You and your son and I and my kids are teaching them life skills and yes included in that teaching is the hope for a brighter future and Star Trek is part of that teaching. It’s too bad Discovery doesn’t fit into that mold. As I said before I think it will get there but for now the journey is a rough one.

  6. Actually, Trek stopped being “Trek” for me back on Voyager when captain Janeway was written in that she deliberately made the decision to put her ship and crew in jeopardy multiple times resulting in both damaged ships and injured/killed crew. (Season one finale comes to mind where she tries to ‘rescue’ Chakotay’s ‘baby’ even though it was conceived from ‘stolen’ DNA and “The Swarm” where she stops her ship in a dangerous area to rescue an alien who winds up dying later on anyway and gets major damage to the swarming invaders.) Kaptain Kirk, she ain’t. On a real naval ship, the commander would not put crew lives nor ship at risk in similar circumstances.

    That’s when I gave up on Trek. I’m glad you lasted longer, but the basic fact is that you and I are no longer the prime demographic for this show as the showrunner(s) clearly show their don’t care about maintaining the essence of what Trek was all about. So if that results in lower viewership, so be it. I didn’t make the choice.

    But it does leave a big hole for those of us who yearn to see the story of how Kirk became the captain he was in TOS. It wasn’t “Never Give Up Never Surrender” ala ‘Galaxy Quest,’ it was more of his line in WOK: “I’ve cheated death. I’ve tricked my way out of death… and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity.” How did that ever happen? What did he learn? From who? How was the man we saw in TOS forged? What missteps did he make along the way?

    Now THAT show I’d watch, even if it wasn’t called “Trek.”

    1. I think we all have “our” Star Treks, David. Many are really liking Discovery and seeing it as taking its place in a long line of proud Star Trek series. And that’s fine. Discovery simply isn’t “my” Star Trek. I was fine with Voyager, though. The writing and acting could have been better, but I never had a problem seeing it as Star Trek. Same for Enterprise (although early season 3 was painful). But hey, live and let live. What I say here is no more or less valid than any other blog or vlog or podcast. We all have two things, and one of them is an opinion. 🙂

  7. I have to say Jonathan.

    To me this Episode was really the straw that broke the subscribers back.

    I too feel that Star Trek stands for something greater. It makes me sad that we’ve not seen that. And the way things are going we never will.

    Personally I hope the Klingon’s manage to steal the Gimmick drive and use it against the Federation.

    It makes me really sad to say that I have cancelled my subscription, removed myself from all Trek Related Social Media and checked my fan card at the door.

  8. Hi. First comment here, though I’ve been following your highly interesting blog for a while.

    I’ve read your Discovery reviews with interest, and many of the comments. I am also glad to see Trek back on the telly, but see little of its 50 year legacy therein. It certainly reminds me more of the Jar-Jar Abrams movies, and seems to fit poorly in a so-called ‘prime’ timeline. (Here’s a side-thought for nit-pickers: if it’s set 10 years before the adventures of Kirk & Spock, then K&S are alive and well. And we know that Kirk’s destiny was changed by Nero on the day of his birth on the Kelvin, which is when the Kelvin timeline started. So, isn’t STD therefore set in the Kelvin timeline? Discuss…)

    Anyway, back to Discovery. Many of my personal issues lay around credibility. For good science fiction to work, it has to have its scientific rules. Yes, we all know that warp-drive and transporters aren’t real, but they have been established into canon over 50 years. So when JJA comes along with long-range transporters (portable ones!) and death-curing tribble blood, then the producers and directors are moving away from science fiction and into the realms of magic. And so Trek begins to lose its hard-won credibility.

    So when we’re introduced to a ‘spore drive’ that can leap anywhere, any time, whilst controlled by a giant, captive, mushroom-loving alien, I also wonder if the current producers aren’t dipping into the magic pot. Such a drive would have had a tremendous impact on future series which we know have already happened. Heck, we might have been spared seven seasons of Voyager…

    I’m part of the camp that really liked Enterprise (or most of it, anyway). I loved the enthusiasm and naivety of those early adventures (“Earth to Neptune and back in six minutes!”) and seeing how those early interstellar relations began to develop. There were adventures, battles, discoveries, pathos and humour, and all the things we’ve traditionally loved about Trek.

    Yet so far in Discovery I’ve only seen dark times and relentless battle, with belligerent and dysfunctional characters who sometimes border on the repellant. I’ve yet to find a sympathetic character in any of it, and one of the most interesting characters has just been killed off in episode 4. I’d like to see much more of Lorca, but we know that the highly sullen character of Burnham will be the focus of attention.

    Before anyone suggests it, I’m not a hater of it, and certainly hope for better things. As other commenters have hinted at, TNG was pretty awful when it first started but grew to be loved just as much if not more than the original. I’m hoping for a similar rate of progress with Discovery.

    Have a great day.

    1. I’m now hearing the Discovery’s spore drive being referred to as the “Magic Mushroom Drive.” Has Star Trek: Discovery introduced magic into Star Trek…and tried to disguise it as science? Interesting thought to ponder…

      After all, it is possible in the established Trek universe to jump between two points in space almost simultaneously, and Deep Space Nine had one for seven seasons. It’s called a wormhole. But is allowing a single starship to go anywhere anytime it wants to tantamount to “magic”? Is it a step too far? Look at how fans reacted to beaming across light-years in Star Trek 2009. Look at how Dr. McCoy was able to cure death in Star Trek Into Darkness. We Trekkies believe in a lot of unproved stuff–faster-than-light travel, subspace communications, transporters, phasers–why do we have so much trouble pushing that belief just a few inches farther to transwarp beaming, Khan’s blood curing death, and the “Magic Mushroom Drive”?

      Are we hardcore fans really THAT picky about what impossible (or at least wildly improbable) things we believe in before breakfast?

      1. You may well be right, sir. However, here’s an alternative (and altogether briefer) version of Voyager – just for fun.

        J: Commander Tuvok!
        T: Yes, captain?
        J: What’s our situation?
        T: Captain, we are stranded in the Delta Quadrant, and it will take seven seasons to get home.
        J: That’s unacceptable Tuvok. My library books will be overdue, and Neelix is really beginning to get on my nerves.
        T: That is entirely logical, captain. What are your orders?
        J: Do you remember your history, Mr Tuvok? The Klingon Wars?
        T: Yes Captain.
        J: Do you remember how the USS Discovery and the USS Glenn experimented with a field-displacement spore drive that could instantaneously zap them anywhere they wanted to go, using the very sinews of the galaxy?
        T: Indeed captain. Though as I recall, the process was nearly fatal to the tardigrade creature to which the drive was connected…
        J: Yes Tuvok, but then they plugged it in to their chief engineer, and everybody got back safely.
        T: By Grabthar’s Hammer, captain. You are correct!
        J: Listen carefully Tuvok. Find me some mushroom spores. Then call up the drive specifications from the library computer, and program the replicators to build one. And then plug it into Lt Torres!
        T: Fascinating captain! But the process may harm Lt Torres…
        J: Tuvok – it’s only one jump. B’elanna would volunteer in an instant. So would any member of the crew.
        T: Be that as it may Captain, I cannot allow you to harm Lt Torres…
        J: Okay, okay. But what about… Neelix?
        T: An entirely logical choice, captain
        J: Excellent! Carry on, Mr Tuvok. We’ll be home in time for The Orville…

          1. Yes, that WAS hysterical, and you should pass it onto whoever is doing Voyager fan films, or just spoofs of Trek. This new guy has a very wicked sense of humor!

  9. I don’t feel compelled or enticed to watch The Discovery, it’s not real trek to me either and I find myself not caring about any of the characters (haven’t watched ep4, I’m not sure I’ll watch any more), but I really enjoy Star Trek Orville. It’s so close to a drop-in replacement for TNG to me. Fantastic.

  10. ST:D Leaves me with concerns that really bother me. The first is that I’m forced to wonder if any of the creators, writers, producers or actors are actually fans of Star Trek. It seems rather apparent to me that they don’t even really understand what Trek is, which I would consider to be a prerequisite for having any real respect for it. If that is the case, why make this show? Is it for name recognition? Is it to push an otherwise unpopular video streaming platform? If it’s anything like that, then those are specifically reasons NOT to watch this show.

    As a viewer, if I want quality programming that is faithful to the lore and world it creates (and, really, what other reason is there to HAVE lore if you don’t intend to be faithful to it?), then I would consider myself morally required to not encourage or support things that conflict with, or could possibly interfere with future faithful adaptations.

    If this show takes off, runs 5 seasons or whatever, and gets CBS all the subscriptions they could hope for; what future actions will this encourage? Will this increase the likelihood that there will be additional, official, faithful Trek shows? Is that how this works? Is the next TNG or DS9 contingent on ST:D becoming popular? Somehow, I doubt it. I would venture to speculate that support for a product will encourage more of the same.

    Sometimes I encounter the sentiment that if I don’t support it then I want the show and the people that worked on it to fail. I had to think about this notion long and hard, and I came to the conclusion that such a statement is actually asinine. I don’t know a lot about how TV and movies work, but I know how video game development works. Employees changing jobs after a project is the RULE, not the exception; and alone this never suggests that somehow the employee is considered to have failed or that their career may be in jeopardy even if the project is a failure. On top of that, I don’t owe CBS/Paramount ANYTHING(!); and in fact they actually owe me if they want my money and patronage. Their goal should be to put out a product that sells and pleases the customers for whom it is catered. As a Star Trek fan who wants more Star Trek, I see nothing for me here. As a sci-fi fan, I see no good reason for this show to be called Star Trek, and that name prevents me from buying into it the same way that I wouldn’t buy a Hershey’s chocolate bar if they suddenly added coconut to it and insisted that this is what Hershey’s Bars are now.

    I read an article in a blog several years ago titled “A Comprehensive List Of The Similarities Between The I Robot Book And The I Robot Film.” And the body of the article was simply “1: The Title” and then it ended.

  11. During the discussion throughout the comments about the various series, the thought occurred to me, that out of all of them, ST:TNG was the worst in the beginning. I think it took the longest for the crew characters to gel. Voyager probably next, but I think TOS, DSN, and Enterprise were much faster to bond together, as actors and characters. Right from the start, captain Sisko was warm and friendly, and made it a point to get to know the others. Namely Kira to start with, and what better way to do that than pitching in to clean up together. TNG had very few of those types of interaction until much later in the first season.

    Anyways, I largely agree with Jonathan on this new series, except, I don’t like it, or really, anything Hollywood has produced over the last decade or so. Especially the stuff made for TV. Perhaps for many of the same reasons stated above by others, and then some.

    1. It’s funny, but I actually think we’re in the new golden age of television. I love so much of what is being produced lately…even Discovery. It’s simply that Discovery still doesn’t feel like Star Trek to me. But I still think it’s an excellent show.

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