It’s not what’s in DISCOVERY that bugs me – it’s what’s MISSING! (editorial review)

As STAR TREK: DISCOVERY  completes its initial season, I have one final chance to kvetch about the new series before what looks to be a year or more hiatus while production proceeds on season two.

I know it seems like all I ever do (or most of what I do) is criticize this show…and many have asked why I’ve even bothered watching it in the first place.  It’s a fair question, and the answers I can come up with are: 1) it’s not that the show sucks, and 2) I’m a 50-year Trekkie…how could I not watch this show?  Even if I’m choosing to be critical of it (as I am of the rebooted Star Trek films, as well), I want to know what it is that I’m criticizing.

But as I said, folks, the show doesn’t suck!  It’s well acted, well produced, well edited, has great music, mostly great pacing, looks visually stunning, and is obvious the result of a team of very dedicated individuals working very hard to produce a quality television series.

So why the heck don’t I like this show more?  Why don’t I LOVE it???

It’s not simply that I don’t like the bling-shiny uniforms or that I wasn’t thrilled with the new-fangled Klingons and their crazy ship designs that look more like bats  and the Federation technology that looks like 25th century rather than 23rd.  I moved past all the cosmetic issues I had with the series early on.  So their USS Enterprise NCC-1701 doesn’t match the original.  My head canon can just shift this entire series into an alternative reality, and all is good.

So again, why don’t I like this show more?

I know I’ve sounded like a disgruntled broken record in my editorial reviews.  But that’s just me trying to figure out the answer to this question in my head (and sharing those thoughts with all of you).

And as the first season brought with it what I considered to be a very unsatisfying end to the Klingon war, I finally put my finger on what’s been bothering me the most…

No it’s not the fact that there’s little-to-no banter, as I blogged about back in December.  Although that led to me not becoming invested much in the characters (other than Tilly and Stamets…mainly ’cause they’re the only ones getting any decent banter), it didn’t feel like the main thing that was bugging me.  But as I watched the finale, I realized that banter isn’t the only thing the writers are leaving out!

In short, the show-runners have likely told the writers to hit certain stepping stones, or “beats” as they are called in the entertainment industry.  These are moments when there is a big reveal—yeah, a discovery!—that changes a character significantly in some way.  Michael mutinies against Georgiou and later kills T’Kuvma.  Stamets becomes the spore driver.  L’Rell tell VoQ that he needs to give up everything he is in order to win.  The Discovery winds up in the Mirror Universe.  Lorca is revealed as Mirror-Lorca.  Tyler is revealed as VoQ and tries to kill Burnham.  The list goes on, and the paths to these “beats” are all too often fill with a whole bunch of contrived set-ups.  However, that’s not the main problem.

When it comes to Discovery, the beats seem to be the tail wagging the dog (or the targ?), as we get there and—DING!—it’s suddenly time to move on to setting the table for the next beat.  No time for the audience (or the characters) to sit with and process the beat…only a frenetic sprint to the next beat.  It’s like a “connect-the-dots” of storytelling with the writers checking a box “DONE!” so they can move onto the next dot on the picture they’re drawing.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach.  It certainly makes Discovery a fast-paced show where you can easily say “this happened then this happened and then later on that happened.”  But that’s kinda all it is.  Way too often, when the writers had a chance to truly explore the ramifications of any one of these major beats, it was already time to move on to the set-up for the next one.

I could write a super-long blog listing examples going back to the earliest episodes, but to save you from that (hey, stop cheering!), I’m going to focus on just a few of the most recent examples from the last half of the season.


What we got – The big “surprise” that Lorca is (gasp!) really from the Mirror Universe.  And once he’s revealed, this deeply complex character turns into a 2-dimensional caricature of a sadistic, power-hungry arch-villain, full of sound and fury, who ultimately falls into the so-often-overused “pit of hell” and is heard from no more (until the writers bring him back next season through some mycelial network “somethin’-somethin'”).

What we did NOT get – How this realization impacted the Discovery crew.  For months and months, they blindly and loyally followed a man who turned out to be a would-be tyrant…a man who then turned around and tried to obliterate his former crew without so much as a second thought.  What does that do to the officers Lorca betrayed?  Do they question the actions they took under his command?  Do they have regrets?  I’d imagine that some of them might feel like many Germans did after the end of World War II.  But alas, I can only imagine…because the writers needed to move the plot along quickly, and the characters seems to “get over it” so quickly that you’d think Lorca had never betrayed anyone.  In fact, the only real reaction we got from anyone was the disintegration of a perfectly good bowl of fortune cookies!

Those poor fortune cookies never saw it coming…


What we got – Michael Burnham just seems to be drawn to mutinies and insubordination.  In the first episode, she mutinied without the backing of her crew.  In the episode “Choose Your Pain,” she disobeys a direct order from Saru to stand down.  In the last episode, Burnham almost mutinied yet again (this time with the backing of her crew) when she challenged Admiral Cornwell.  It’s a quick scene—only 87 seconds (yeah, I timed it)—and Cornwell abruptly backs down.  Later on, Burnham gets her commission back for challenging the chain of command yet again because, this time, she got lucky (see below).

What we did NOT get – Any real challenge BACK to Burnham’s challenge.  Cornwell was not acting alone.  Sarek was in on the plan to annihilate Qo’noS, and likely the full Starfleet Admiralty, as well.  They had their reasons…and they are in charge, after all.  And frankly, I don’t really blame them.  Ruthless enemies like this version of the Klingons are irresistible forces stopping at nothing, and they present the Federation with two possibilities: defeat them or be obliterated by them.  That was the choice Starfleet was facing, and with the full Kingon attack forces bearing down on Earth, Starfleet ideals would mean nothing if Starfleet isn’t around anymore to provide the positive example!

Sure, the writers allow Cornwell a half-sentence to explain her side, “We do not have the luxury of principles—” before Burnham cuts her off and says, “That is ALL we have, Admiral!”  And that’s it!  No more arguments from Cornwell.  To me, this is a HUGE debate that needed to happen.  Sure, Burnham could ultimately have come out on top, but…half a sentence?  That’s all the other side gets before receiving the inspirational “We are Starfleet!” speech?

But hey, we needed to get to the next scene…time’s a’wastin’!

Oh, and I’d just like to point out that Cornwell, Sarek, and the Admiralty were right: the bomb DID end the war.  Sure, they didn’t need to explode it and actually destroy Qo’noS, but they did need to at least plant it, which was Emperor Georgiou’s idea.  So let’s hear it for the Terrans ’cause they saved the Federation!

“Oh, well, when you put it THAT way…”


What we got – The bomb is planted, and Burnham gives L’Rell control of the detonator and yet another inspirational speech.  And then suddenly, for some STUPID reason, L’Rell, says she’ll stop the war.  Remember, she’s a Klingon, and from those many scenes of her in her cell, she doesn’t much like the Federation.  Her people are minutes away from eliminating their sworn enemy completely.  All she needs to do is let it happen and then she takes over the Klingon Empire, using the bomb threat to grab and hold power.  Once in charge, she can unite the houses and expand into Federation space.  Everybody wins…well, everybody who happens to be Klingon.

What we did NOT get – Why is blazes would L’Rell call off the Klingons’ final attack on Earth???  Oh, I get what the writers were trying to do: conquering an enemy wasn’t uniting the houses, only dividing them further, and L’Rell wanted them uinited.  So war wasn’t the answer.  Therefore, she stopped the war.

But, but, but…

L’Rell pretty much hates humans and the Federation.  She’s been a prisoner for weeks, possibly months, sitting in a cell with nothing to do aside from wonder that the heck “black alert” means.  It’s not like anyone has been sitting down with her for some friendly “get to know us better” conversations.  And even if they had, her first instinct would probably have been to spit in their face.  As it was, Georgiou ended up beating her to a bloody pulp.

“You…have already lost.” (Actual quote from L’Rell.)

L’Rell has every reason to say, “Hey thanks for the detonator…suckas!”  So why does she NOT say that?  Did something happen to L’Rell while she was in the cell?  Did the loss of VoQ affect her that deeply?  If so, nobody on the production team saw fit to show that to us viewers.  Or maybe it’s just another one of those “magic speeches.”  This time, the discussion lasts 49 seconds (yep, timed it again!).  Burnham says something, L’Rell answers, then Tyler/VoQ says something else.  Done.  War over.

Sure, I love a happy ending as much as the next guy.  But in this case, I just didn’t see how we got there in just 49 seconds.

In some ways, I feel cheated by the ending of this war.  In fact, I almost feel like… “What war?”  Did we really see a war?  Blink, and you’ll miss it, folks.

But then again, I realize that the writers weren’t presenting a show about a war with the Klingons.  They were presenting a show about people.  I get it, and I don’t inherently have a problem with that approach.  But if you’re truly interested in telling a story about people, then go ALL IN with that!  Don’t just write to the beats, moving on to the next “big scene” as quickly as possible.  Don’t be afraid to sit with these characters for a little longer and really explore who they are and how they react to what happens to them.  Life is more than just the beats…it’s actually made up mostly of moments BETWEEN the beats.  Show us more of those!

Otherwise, the tail is indeed wagging the dog, and we’re simply watching a show that’s rushing to check off boxes to move things along.  If you feel exhausted after watching the first season of Discovery, that’s probably the reason: you were never allowed time to process anything along with the characters themselves.

And if you feel exhausted after reading my editorial review blogs about Discovery, rejoice!  You’re about to get at least a year to recuperate.  (Well, I actually have one more blog to write, but then I’m done till season 2…)

Congratulations, you survived my season one editorial reviews…here’s your medal of honor!

52 thoughts on “It’s not what’s in DISCOVERY that bugs me – it’s what’s MISSING! (editorial review)”

  1. Thank you for telling everyone about this subject here. It is not the real way of star trek fan don’t like. It is a jj film. I only saw a 2:37 min short film and i don’t like it. It is just way out in left field i will not pay or see the film at all.
    Please give me your answer next time by my e-mail ok please.

    1. “Please give me your answer next time by my e-mail ok please.”

      What answer, Kenny? You didn’t ask any question. And I usually answer comment questions here in the comments section.

    2. Wait, uh… WHAT? Either you’re a decent bot or a rather stupid guy. Either way, go play somewhere else, please…

      1. Please, Olaf, no insults. I’ve allowed Kenny up until now to post essentially the same incoherent rant repeatedly on multiple blogs. However, I’ve now decided that I will no longer be approving his comments unless they are fresh, relevant to the blog I’ve posted, and don’t repeat things he’s said previously multiple times. Also, I will be requiring him to read his comments at least once out loud and make his own corrections if his sentences sound incoherent as he reads them. I don’t require comments to be typo-free and perfect, but I do expect at least a little common courtesy to communicate clearly. I understand that not all of my readers are native English speakers, and I allow more leeway for them. But Kenny is a native English speaker living in southern California. So I’m expecting clearer communication from him.

  2. You have to admit I can pretty close Jonathan…last week I predicted 3 negative blog posts would be written on Discovery but actually we are getting two (I’m still kind-a holding hope for the other one). I’d say I did really good….2. Out. Of 3 is a winner. Although now that I think of it 66perscent is still a fail. Damn.

  3. Disappointment, is what I feel after seeing this series … trust until the last minute to see something of Star Trek somewhere, but not ,,,
    You are right they are not characters, they are pieces on a board ,,, Picard need at least one episode, Family, to start, just start, to accept everything that happened as Locutus ,,, here there is nothing of that, it seems that everyone has a reset button ,,,,
    I only do the same as you, this is the “Discoverse” ,,,, not my Star TRek Thank God for the fan films

  4. I seem to have enjoyed “Discovery” overall more than you did, although that’s of course subjective. Maybe I’m overstating. Regardless, I certainly agree about the lack of character work. Reading this blog post, I was continually reminded of the McCoy/Kirk argument in “A Private Little War” about whether and how to arm the villagers on Neural. You’re right–where were those moments? The “Discovery” writing room is certainly capable of providing them, which has to mean exactly what you say here: they’re focused on writing to the major events instead of writing to explore the specifics of the characters. Perhaps season one will become a proof-of-concept sort of thing. Now that we’ve sort of been through the Klingon war, *and* gotten the now-obligatory trip to the Mirror Universe out of the way in this arc, maybe we can slow down enough to get to know the folks we’ve been traveling with.

  5. I think that just about sums it up. For season 2 I hope more of the money goes into the writing room so that they can get some “real” writers because this set are …… not so hot.

    1. Some writers are better than others. I looked into the resumes and backgrounds of the writing staff, and it’s a mix of rookies and experienced veterans. Interestingly, not all the veterans wrote strong episodes and not all the rookies wrote crap. But in general, yeah, the more experienced the writer, the better the episode. This was particularly noticeable in the first two episodes that took place in the Mirror Universe. The first was written by a relative newbie. The second had a more experienced writer. Which one did YOU think was better? 🙂

  6. I thought the whole ideal of “Story Arcs” (as opposed to stand alone episodes) was to allow time for characters to develop, for lack of a better word, naturally and to give the audience time to absorb those changes.

    As for Michael Burnham, in any real world military organization, she would have been Court Martialed and kicked out of the service by the end of the second episode. I’ve spent over a quarter century in the U.S. Military and I’ve known people like Burnham. Their careers are very short and their actions are an embarrassment to themselves and their command.

  7. Well I cannot disagree with your reasoning or logic but I feel that your conclusion is not fully thought out. Yes I agree totally it does feel that the writers are basically ticking boxes and onto the next bit also the characters experience life changing events and 2 minutes later it has no effect on them and is more or less forgotten, I especially agree that the characters motivation seems more driven by what is needed to advance the plot rather than what they would actually do. I can and do attribute a position of this to the more episodic nature of American TV series. Ironic where there has been so much fine american TV especially SCi Fi where you must watch in order e.g. The Expanse even BSG. Also apparently it is a very collaborative process with a writers room I may well be wrong but how can you have pride in your work if you are a mere cog especially if you are a creative person.

    Where I feel most that your conclusion is wrong and the reason it does not feel like Star Trek is quiet simply CARING. Looking at the finished product on screen that is exactly what you get a product, there is no sense of people going that extra mile of caring about their characters or indeed much of anything. It is a fine product polished, well produced, very professional everything you mentioned earlier but no heart or too wax poetic no soul. I am sure that some of the people working there do care very much about Star Trek but no one in a position to do anything about it.

    For Example if we look at the other Non Star Trek show and compare it objectively, production values, writing, acting etc etc I feel it would lose in most categories if not all of them, not by a lot certainly within hailing distance but definitely lose. However because the people in charge obviously love the show it feels a lot more Star Trekey, if that is a word guess it is now; If you could only have one and because I am a Star Trek Fan then Discovery would lose. Don’t get me wrong I am glad to have both but with Discovery I feel like a crack addict whos dealer has stepped on the product too many times but hes the only dealer in town.

    For season two I hope they make major changes maybe slash the budget to a quarter of what it was (is it possible that too much money was ruining a show?) just employ a few good writers who have at least seen the films or even a series. Perhaps have Michael Burnham come out of the shower and it was all a horrible dream. Though come to think of it they should start of every episode with that. Bet the viewing figures go up then! If someone like your friend can come up with such a great episode on a tiny budget maybe the studios should rethink there whole idea, I presume he is pretty much persona non grata there otherwise wouldn’t he make a terrific showrunner. Though got to say I am liking my shower idea more and more, they could replace those terrible opening credits with it!.

    1. Maybe they could have an entire episode take place in a shower!


      Oh, and there’s a rumor floating around that, yes, CBS is trying to reduce the season 2 budget from $8.5 million per episode down to just $5 million, but the show-runners actually wanted $9 million per. That said, it’s just a rumor at present and nothing I’ve been able to confirm or deny yet…so take from that what you will.

  8. I sometimes thought “maybe I’m wrong for judging this show without having seen it.” Now, not so much.

    You see, at its core Star Trek has often been about people and society. Every time I read one of your blogs, and then this one, I’m like “but what about people?” The show isn’t Trek, no matter what it’s called and no matter how many Starfleet Deltas are on chests. So sad.

    1. I still think you should pick a weekend, sign up for a free trial to All Access, and then binge-watch the entire season with Melanie. Maybe you’ll actually like it and discover that your ol’ pal Jon is full of crap! (Well, you probably already knew that anyway, Jakerz.) 🙂

  9. > 2) I’m a 50-year Trekkie…how could I not watch this show?

    I’m a 72-year old Trekkie and I did not watch the show. Maybe it’s just age.

    Your review reminded me of the difference between a plot outline and a true story. It reminded me of “paint by the numbers”: Trekkies hate Klingons (not really but), so give them evil Klingons – up the ante. Trekkies love alternate universe stories so give them that. Trekkies love special effects, so heave a bunch into the mix. And so forth.

    Well, this Trekkie loves well crafted stories which include characters I care about, even bad guys such as, depending on the episode, Gul Dukat. When I’m watching a show about three dimensional characters that has a good plot, I’m happy.

    After all these years and with multiple re-watchings, I still love TNG “Inner Light” and DS9’s “The Visitor” because they had emotional depth, a great plot and had what I love about classic Trek – heart.

    And those two were not the only ones, I could list quite a few more from TOS, TNG, DS9 and even Voyager and Enterprise.


  10. I’ve never been as harsh on Discovery as you’ve been, but this is your first commentary that I’m with 100%.

    I really do believe that the people behind Discovery are capable and love what they’re doing, though I do have significant nitpicks – I wish the Klingons had hair and that they were using more traditional ships like D5s and D7s. I wish that the uniform undershirts were at least the department colors of the TOS uniforms. But I’ve been okay with most of the season’s character and plot developments. It just has felt rushed, and I think you finally pinpointed why.

    On the positive side, I don’t feel like any of the episodes were wasted. Usually, when I look over a season of Trek (or any show), there are episodes that I can skip (even in Enterprise’s Xindi arc) without missing out on anything important. I can’t do that with Discovery. Every single one added a relationship or plot element that was important later on. That’s impressive, and it shows planning. But like you said, it’s almost as if the show had too much planning crammed into too small a space. If they had used the same beats over a 20-24 episode season, it would have still been busy, but maybe it would have felt more natural. They crammed all of those plot elements into 15 episodes (originally only 13)! I’m not sure that they should have. Because of fast pacing, we never really felt the war. And we never got any of those character reactions beyond a single scene for each major plot twist (at least they did give us that handful of scenes – Stamets and Culber in the network, Tyler and Burman after their return).

    I’m reminded of the Dominion war arc in comparison. If Season 6 of DS9 had been progressed at this pace, we would have lost the station in the finale of Season 5, but A Time to Stand and Rocks and Shoals would have been 1 episode. Sons and Daughters would have been reduced to a single scene of Dukat, Ziyal, and Kira. Behind the Lines and Favor the Bold would have been combined for faster pacing and centered only on the resistance. Worf and Dax’s wedding would have been 1-2 scenes at the end or beginning of a single episode. Dukat would have escaped Federation custody off-screen.

    In the end, I’m glad they made Discovery, and I’m glad it’s getting a second season. I know there was a period about 6 years ago when shows progressed super-slowly (Caprica, Stargate Universe, etc), and maybe this type of hyper-pacing is a reaction to that, but I’d happily settle for something in the middle.

    1. Wow, I finally reached 100%! Y’know, these blogs actually aren’t all that easy to write. I try to come up with ways to be constructively and intelligently critical…and that means looking very hard and carefully both at what is working and at what isn’t. Then I need to find a coherent way to explain it. Not everyone will always agree with me, but it’s nice that they’re at least taking the time to read what I bother to write.

      Anyway, thanks for an equally insightful commentary, Brendon. I think your hypothetical “rushed” DS9 description is very appropriate and on-target. Oh, and the way I figure out which episodes of Enterprise to skip, anything that says “Written by Brannon Braga.” 😉

    1. Not Herbert! I’ve missed ya, man! (Actually, you could be a woman. I have no idea. I only know that your name is not Herbert.) 🙂

      Anyway, don’t stay away so long next time. And no, I don’t think Discovery sucks. But I don’t think I need to watch each episode 100 times like I did for TOS, TNG, and DS9.

  11. The reason they can’t fit in the consequences better is they only have 15 episodes? That doesn’t give them sufficient time for character development and all the plot points they have to write? Also let’s face it the uniforms do suck. Also the ships architecture while better than Kelvin is also pretty awful. The interiors are better at least. As for the Klingons, hate the new look, not as much as the federation uniforms but yuck. They put all the Klingon hairdressers out of work, shame on them.

    1. In my mind, there are still Klingon hairdressers in the prime universe. This is the Disco-verse…where there are no Klingon hairdressers and shiny boot soles never go out of fashion on Starfleet vessels! 🙂

  12. Jonathan, having not seen the show, let me ask you this: Did you think things happened on the show because the CHARACTERS wanted it to happen, or because the WRITERS wanted it to happen? From this description (having not seen it) my interpretation is the latter. This is (from a the spouse of a Master’s in screenwriting from UCLA) is classic ‘bad’ storytelling. It sounds like they didn’t concentrate on the characters ENOUGH.

    For example, in Game of Thrones, the whole GOT story pretty much begins when Jamie shoves Bram out the window. This sets up the conflict between all the Houses and makes Cercei, Arya, Sanza, Jon Snow, Danerys, LittleFinger, Tyrian, Joffrey, Theon, Ramsay Bolton, and everyone else turn out to be the people we all love (or love to hate) after 8 seasons. Those characters made things happen because THEY wanted it to happen, NOT because the writers wanted it to happen (well, the writers DID want it to happen, but it was organic to the story. But hopefully you get my meaning.) That’s what makes good writing.

    Do the Disco showrunners need to go back to film school?

    1. I don’t think it’s fair to say the Disco writers need to go back to film school. And when you think about it, most stories happen because the writers want it to happen, not the characters. An interesting exception is Animal Man #26, a comic book from the late 1980s written by Grant Morrison (his last of that series), where a distraught Buddy Baker (Animal Man), after losing his family, discovers that he is only a character in a story. He somehow is able to confront the writer (Grant) and beg him to bring back Buddy’s family. It was, quite literally, one of the most powerful stories I had ever read up till then. In the end, Buddy convinces the writer to put things back the way they were. It was a totally deus ex machina ending, but purposefully so. The character had managed to change the writer’s mind.

      That said, sometimes characters do affect their writers and change the way they are handled. That’s happened to me in the unsold script I wrote called “The Uncertainty Principle” (yes, everyone in L.A. has written a script; I didn’t want to be the odd man out). In it, I had a main character who began the story not able to conceive a child with his wife. I felt so deeply for the couple that I found a way (it’s a sci-fi story) for a final resolution that gives the protagonist and his wife a child. Interestingly, I wrote this story more than a decade before discovering that Wendy and I couldn’t have children and deciding instead to adopt.

      But I digress…

      Outlining and writing to the beats is a perfectly valid way of crafting a book or script. It’s very organized and can ensure the writer covers important plot points, stays on schedule, and wraps up loose ends. But it can also be limiting and constraining to the story. I remember once, back in 1997 I think it was, talking to John de Lancie (yes I just name-dropped; feel free to oooo and ahhhh) about his role of Q on TNG. He told me that, initially, the character wasn’t going to be brought back all that much–if at all–until the writers saw what de Lancie did with the role, the “twinkle” he added. For example, the “mon capitan” was never in the script; de Lancie ad-libbed that and the director loved it. Eventually, by the second season, the writers were writing not for the character of Q but specifically for John de Lancie PLAYING the character of Q. He gave Q a unique voice, and the writers wanted desperately to do things with that voice and the actor behind it.

      Discovery never really had the opportunity to do that in the first season. Yeah, they got super-lucky with Doug Jones playing Saru, and he pretty much owned every scene he was in (acting while wearing the equivalent of a basketball on his head, no less!). But the story outline only had room for certain scenes for Saru. I suspect that, in season 2, the writers will be scrambling to do more Saru stories. Similarly, I predict more Tilly and Stamets stories and probably less Burnham. Despite Sonequa’s impressive acting ability, Michael Burnham turned out to be too stilted and uptight to really shine. She’ll continue to be prominent because she’s the star and main character, but I suspect we will see more of an elevation of the other characters that I mentioned to Burnham’s level. We’ll see if I’m right in another year or year and a half.

      What was the question again? 😉

      1. “What was the question again? ”

        Yeah, that went off track, so let me ask it another way: Jonathan, can you please compare the entire season of ST:Disco that you just watched to, say, just 4 or 5 episodes of USA’s Sci-Fi series “Colony?” It’s streaming on Netflix, so you don’t have to pay anything.

        Please compare the main characters and their motivations to attempt to achieve the same desired result: both parents want to get their lost child back. One becomes a ‘collaborator,’ the other a ‘resistance’ fighter, often at odds with each other but both wanting the same thing. Compare any character in Disco with the highly complex character that is Snyder.

        I personally think Colony is written very well, but you be the judge and let us know.



        1. Well, as much as I appreciate being given homework assignments and essays to write, David, I have to respectfully decline your request. I haven’t watched a single episode of Colony, and I’m currently trying to keep up on all my regular shows (there’s, like, a dozen hours per week!) plus try to binge-watch Stranger Things (by myself) plus The Crown and the Killing of Gianni Versace (with Wendy). After that, perhaps the Handmaiden’s Tale. I’m also still playing catch-up with all the Marvel Netflix series (still haven’t even gotten to Defenders yet–let alone Punisher or Jessica Jones season 2!). I’ve also been told The Tick is excellent (at least the first half of season 1), and I might check out more episodes of Black Mirror over the summer if I have the time. And these two weeks of The Winter Olympics have been problematic as I fall farther behind because I watch curling religiously (John Shuster is my hero!).

          Oh, and remember that I’m still a full-time dad and I’ve got this silly blog that I insist on writing for some reason. 🙂

          1. Jonathan, put Colony on your must-watch list. Really. You won’t be disappointed like you were with Disco.

            Just try 4 to5 episodes, and if you don’t like it, you can stop. (I dare you.)

  13. Yup. It’s all been a bit like catching the wrong train. All you can really do is go with the flow and try to enjoy the journey, but the destination and the scenery you were expecting just ain’t the same…

    I thought the finalé was poor on so many levels: humans walking unnoticed around a market on Qo’nos, Burnham’s second mutiny, the Klingons snatching – well, nothing – from the jaws of victory, and Burnham’s emetic medal speech in from of a smug-looking crew. And while it was kinda cool to see the Enterprise, I also thought it a slightly cynical move to win over detractors right at the very end, complete with TOS theme music.

    The ‘principles’ mutiny was pretty awful, and not a subject to take lightly when you’re on the losing end of a war. Is this supposed to be a revisionist history lesson? Should the crew of the Enola Gay have done the same thing? That is a long discussion indeed.

    Generally, I think Star Trek: Diversity would have been a more appropriate title for the series. I have no problem with that (nor did Roddenberry in the 60s) but the producers haven’t been very subtle about it, appearing to randomly throw women, aliens and minorities into the cast but without giving those characters much depth, and frequently killing them off. Nichelle Nichols apparently once complained about having little other to say than ‘Hailing frequencies open’ in a couple of early TOS episodes, and I can well imagine the actresses playing Detmer, Airiam or The Other One having similar grievances. Yet Tilly seems to know everything about everything, so why didn’t they make her a Lt JG? It seems ridiculous that they’d have the intern solve all the problems on the ship, when they could have made her a smart, strong character to begin with, albeit with some endearing character flaws.

    One last observation: much has been said of the Klingons being less of an allegory for Russians, and instead representing isolationist voices in America. The implication is that the Federation/US is at war with itself (on two fronts, if you count the evil-verse). However, FWIW I also see parallels between the Klingons and disparate Arab/Muslim factions (Sunni, Shi-ite, Kurds, ISIS, Al Q’aeda etc) and issues surrounding unity (or division) in Allah/T’Kuvma’s name. This makes the war and the whole ‘cultural assimilation’ thing a tad more relevant to 21st century audiences. Even the Klingon language sounds more guttural now, to the point where it might as well be Arabic. Whaddayathink?

    1. “Yup. It’s all been a bit like catching the wrong train. All you can really do is go with the flow and try to enjoy the journey, but the destination and the scenery you were expecting just ain’t the same…”

      Boris, you win the Internet this week with that comment! I love it!

      As for the Klingons being allegorical to extremist Muslims in today’s world (not all Muslims are extreme–in fact most of them are quite friendly and peaceful), well, it’s possible. Many Muslim extremists feel that their cultures and religions are being subverted by the relentless march of Western imperialism (both military, political, and cultural), the same way Klingons fear the advancing borders and assimilatory practices of the Federation. So yeah, maybe.

      But the Klingon language as spoken on Discovery bears no resemblance whatsoever to Arabic or Farsi. I have a number of Persian friends, and my wife has clients from Abu Dabi that I sometimes hear when she speaks to them on the phone from home (their business morning starts about 10pm our time, so she does a lot of her calls with them at night from home—I never eavesdrop). I’m familiar with those accents. As Shazad Latif (“Tyler/VoQ”) said in a recent interview, he actually tried to mimic the intonations of certain Native American languages, the way the elders and chiefs would speak during sacred ceremonies, when he spoke his lines in Klingon.

      1. “Boris, you win the Internet this week with that comment! I love it!”

        Why thank you sir : )

        And just to clarify my other comments – as a resident of Birmingham in the UK I’m very aware of how law-abiding Arabs and Muslims are fed up of being tarred with the same brush whenever it comes to terrorism or fanaticism. It certainly didn’t help when Fox News recently described the city as a no-go area subject to Sharia law, which is/was complete nonsense. There are undoubtedly cultural concerns on both sides, including those that you mentioned, which led me to wonder about the Klingon cultural analogy. And yes you’re right – there’s no similarity in the vocabulary or syntax of the languages, it’s just that I’ve noticed a more guttural delivery lately. Probably nothing.

        I always enjoy your blogs – keep ’em coming

  14. I fancy myself a writer. I’ve done some sketchy stuff but when I watch even a few seconds of this show on videos on YouTube, because I can’t pull myself to pay for it, I wonder what literary pothole these writers fell into. I made Star Trek Raven and Voyager Continues: Derelict with almost no funds. So the thought of watching this multi-million dollar budget war on the formula of Roddenberry is a little put-offish. CBS has not given a flying rats-ass about the former fans. They want more “modern” fans. It’s stupid. I can’t speak for my fellow fan film writers, but I know we could have done a much better job than what they’ve done. With the same actors. Same sets, but hell no, not those uniforms. If you bake an apple pie and replace the apples with pears, it’s not an apple pie. “We knew it wasn’t apple pie. Bite me.” I watched a writer of the show talk about the show. All I could think was, he sucks. His ideas suck. I could have done it better. I can think of ten people who could have done it better. I can’t imagine the unbearable agony Frakes must have suffered working with that script. But he is nice so he worked through it. CBS will never hire me fans, so I don’t care what they think about me. If they were to hire me I’d be doing a lot of firing myself.

  15. Same here. It seemed like they just wanted to get in all the “beats” making DISCOVERY totally predictable.

      1. I haven’t watched that or Futureman. Dang, there’s just too much darn good stuff on TV right now! And blast these Winter Olympics! I’m falling even further behind as I spend all my time watching Curling!!!

    1. I don’t have nearly as much to complain about for “The Orville” (other than the crude and vulgar jokes that feel out of place whenever they pop in). And to be honest, simply writing blogs that praise a TV series week after week can get repetitive. “Orville was fantastic again this week. Let me tell you why I loved it.” Yawn! Even I’m already bored. 🙂

      1. Yup, I agree with you completely, but then hey, this was written to capture both the Family Guy audience and the Star Trek audience and just about manages to land it somewhere between the two.

        Why not do a comparison blog post between ORV and DIS now that both have finished their first season :).

        1. Actually, I was just having a conversation about that last night with Vance Major. He felt that The Orville creates a situation where you step into the show immediately feel comfortable with these people. They’re funny and good-natured. You WANT to be on the Orville because the crew feels “real”–like people you know who are funny and playful, occasionally stupid and lazy but overall are dedicated and work hard. And yes, lot of that is the banter, but it’s also that fact that Orville has fewer “beats” that it needs to hit and that characters can sit with their decisions and consequences and really examine them. Look at how long it took Ed and Kelly to really make up and find their relationship again (only to choose to give up that relationship for the sake of their mission–a decision I strongly disagree with!). Look at Bortus’ marital problems and how long each partner has had to try to work through their difficulties.

          Now look at Discovery. In my conversation with Vance, I used an example of Paul Stamets. Did we ever actually see him mourn Culber or really react to the death of his lover? I don’t remember it, and I suspect it was never on the checklist. The only “acknowledgement” of Stamets’ hurt was his 3-second response to Tyler’s apology, but that wasn’t really a reaction to the loss itself, only to the murderer. Imagine if, instead, we saw a scene of Paul going around his quarters and putting all of Hugh Culber’s personal belongings into a box to ship back to his family. He does this with a stern dignity until we see him, later that night in his pajamas about to brush his teeth. As he goes to grab his toothbrush, he realizes that he never took Hugh’s toothbrush off the counter. The site of the two toothbrushes standing next to each other makes Paul suddenly collapse onto the floor, put his head to his knees, and start quietly sobbing. The whole scene takes maybe 45 seconds of screen time, but it would have been so powerful.

          Instead, Paul was back to work, growing mushrooms, and plugging himself into the spore drive as if nothing had happened.

          There, that’s my comparison of Discovery and Orville. 🙂

  16. Hi Jonathan,

    Another thought provoking blog, well done. No need to be apologising for them being too long because:

    a) No one’s making us read them.
    b) If needs be there’s such a thing as skim reading.
    c) Some people just like to complain.
    d) You’re not short of hits on your site.
    e) You get the idea…

    As to Disco, I think I agree. However, I actually quite enjoyed the last episode, the tone was more positive and there was an attempt to think a way out of a problem rather than shoot. The stabs at comedy made me smile e.g. the Klingon intro to the recap, how the crew all managed to find out the location of the temple in their own unique ways.

    But yes, there’s a lot to forgive and I’ve had to do that already or stop watching. You’re right about character changes happening improbably quickly. Several story elements have been executed less than perfectly. Some really just don’t belong.

    Someone else wrote that a story arc should permit you to develop characters slowly. This hasn’t happened here as you’ve evidenced. I stick to my own view that, in this case, stand alone stories should come first with perhaps an arc in the background – at least for the first few seasons. I also maintain that it’s been over thought, there are just too many ideas vying for attention.

    Hey ho, it had its moments, and at least I won’t be missing it too much while it’s away.

    1. ” and at least I won’t be missing it too much while it’s away.”

      Yeah, it’s Sunday night, and I really enjoyed just watching John Oliver and then Olympic Curling and not having to bother with Discovery for a change. 🙂

  17. I think all of the other problems with the show, the lack of banter etcetera, all stems from this checklist writing, because it takes away from any sense of creativeness and fluidity.

    Maybe the problem comes down to the writing, but maybe it comes down to the beats themselves not lining up, like trying to draw a beizer curve and getting the points (aka beats) in the wrong place which forces abrupt discontinuities into the curve (aka story).

  18. Am I the only person who reads Jonathan’s blog who thinks Discovery is actually excellent? It just seems funny that I’m the only positive yeasayer here.

    1. There’s a smattering of other readers who like Discovery, Edward. I think, in general, our society is filled with people who seek out mainly media content that supports their own views and thinking. For example, I never watch Fox News (I actually never watch MSNBC either, as I believe that’s too extreme in the other direction). And I prefer the New York Times and Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal. That’s just me. My best friend is the opposite (a staunch conservative).

      So I find myself more interested when someone has something critical to say about Discovery (as long as it’s intelligent criticism) than when someone is simply gushing. And I suspect my blogs are attracting more of those with like minds that Discovery is not the bee’s knees…and so that’s why the majority of posts here seem to agree with me. That said, at best, only a few hundred to maybe a thousand (if I’m lucky!) people are actually reading these blogs. So it’s not like I’m changing the world here. Just sharing my opinions out loud. 🙂

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