The SHIPS hit the FANS on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! (editorial review)

SPOILERS ARE JUST MY WAY OF SHOWING LOVE!

At first, I was thinking of titling this blog “The Big Good-bye” or “The Long Good-bye” or “We Get It Already—Everybody Is Saying Good-bye!” I also considered, “That’s Not Orange, Dammit; It’s Red!” But in the end, I didn’t want to sound harsh because it implies that I didn’t think this was a good episode.

The penultimate 13th episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s second season, “Sweet Sorrow,” wasn’t a bad episode…far and away not! It finally showed us a redesigned bridge of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 that didn’t feel like an Apple Store. In fact, I wanted to grab a Klingon time crystal, take this bridge back to 2007, kidnap J.J. Abrams, and shout: “THIS!!!!” In fact—looking at the uniforms, the handles in the Enterprise turbolift, the sounds of the bridge and the photon torpedoes, etc.—it might not be a bad idea to take a time detour to 2016, kidnap Bryan Fuller and whoever was the original production designer on Discovery, and shout, “THIS!!!!” even louder.

So yes, I liked the Enterprise and the people in it. And I just signed the Change.org petition to CBS trying to convince them to do a new CAPTAIN PIKE series on the Enterprise in pre-TOS. Serious no-brainer, CBS: don’t let Anson Mount get away!!!

But this episode also suffered from a number of weaknesses…many of them stemming from the fact that the season was originally set to be 13 episodes and, early on, a decision was made to stretch the finale into two parts. And there’s no doubt that the last episode will be an amazing, budget-blowing WOW!-fest. And about half of this episode was equally stunning. But there was also a lot—a LOT!—of filler. And ultimately, this episode felt (to me, at least), like being the passenger with a student driver who is constantly accelerating and then hitting the brakes hard and then repeating the process.

So for the next-to-last time this season, let’s dive into my thoughts on an episode of Discovery

A BRIDGE TO THE ORIGINAL SERIES…

See what I did there? There’s the Enterprise bridge and then there’s the bridge to transport the crew over to the Enterprise…aw, just appreciate the brilliant pun and move on!

Okay, let’s give credit where credit it’s due. The first 12 minutes (longest Trek teaser ever????) was VERY watchable and, in certain places, just a bit of a Trekkie-gasm for long-suffering fans who have been screaming “THIS ISN’T OUR STAR TREK!!!!” for the last two years.

Granted, for those wanting to see an exact replica of the the Desilu sets from 1965, there will never be acceptance. And there were other minor issues like the red alert animations being from the Trek movie era. And of course, that’s NOT the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 that we all grew up dreaming about one day traveling on to the stars. And the mammoth size of the Discovery next to her just brings home that, visually, this is a VERY different “prime” universe.

But then again, there’s the familiar TOS theme music played multiple times—and who doesn’t like that?—along with the whooshing doors, bosun’s whistle when Pike enters the bridge, and the familiar sound of the photon torpedoes firing….like coming home! And those space maneuvers by Detmer were cool…as were those unfolding walkways (Discovery is a veritable Swiss army knife!).

And of course, we get to see Number One again (this is only the second time this second that Rebecca Romijn has appeared—I feel like we were promised Number One and ended up only getting Number One-Half). And did you notice in the closing credits they list Yeoman Colt as appearing in the episode. I’m not sure which bridge officer she was, but Nicole Dickinson has been a ST: Discovery stunt woman and extra (she’s played Klingons and was the female Talosian, by the way). And for those who didn’t memorize useless trivia for a hobby as a kid, Yeoman Colt was the red-haired crew woman who beamed down with Number One into Pike’s “Cage” on Talos IV in the first pilot episode of Star Trek.

THE LONGEST LOG…

While the first 12 minutes were fun, Burnham’s log goes on for a nearly uninterrupted THREE MINUTES!!! The reason, of course, is that we’re wrapping up a dozen episodes of a complex, season-long story-arc with many moving parts. Just in case anyone missed something, has ADHD like Tilly, or simply decided to start watching at episode 13 of the second season, here’s the story so far…for three frickin’ minutes! And yes, class, this will all be on Friday’s test.

And as long as I’m kvetching, did anyone else notice that the auto-destruct seems to be able to be activated without speaking a code or getting a voice verification? This means that anyone coming on board and shooting the captain and first officer with a phaser on stun can blow up a starship just by dragging their bodies to those two consoles and putting their hands on the glass console. Just sayin…’

MOVING THE CHESS PIECES INTO PLACE…

I usually read a few different reviews before I write mine. Sometimes I’m looking for inspiration. Other times I’m trying to confirm that it’s not just me who noticed this or was bothered by that, etc. Most times, though, it’s just because I want to make sure I’m not just writing the same thing everyone else is writing.

But this time, the latter seems to be unavoidable because nearly every review I looked at pointed out that this episode was structured primarily to place the pieces on the board in such a way as to lead into the season finale. Unfortunately, this made the episode super-predictable—at least to me. Cases in point…

  • When Michael was left alone with the time crystal, of course she was going to touch it and get a glimpse into a horrible future because we have to know that what’s coming is bad so that we can be invested in avoiding it.
  • There was such a HUGE build-up to the self-destruction of the Discovery, so of course it wasn’t going to happen! And naturally, it was going to be due to the Sphere archive protecting itself. After all, Discovery needs to be around in 1,000 years for “Calyspo” AND we saw in the coming attractions from last week’s episode that Discovery is still around when the Section 31 ships arrive.
  • Fans have been predicting that the Red Angel is Michael Burnham since the beginning of the season. Granted, I thought it was the future Discovery, so I was wrong. But once I knew that Burnham’s mom (who shares most of Michael’s DNA) “fit the suit,” it was inevitable that Michael would don the suit. So no surprises there, either.
  • C’mon, ya just knew this was gonna turn into a one-way trip for the wearer of the suit! And what’s more, the fact that Discovery‘s spore drive would be inoperable for 12 hours (or however long it took to make sure they couldn’t jump away from the “big payoff” battle in the season finale) was also inevitable. That’s the problem with giving your starship a “superpower”—you sometimes have to find a way to neutralize the superpower or risk eliminating all the drama and suspense.

And that leads up to…

THE WRITERS DON’T UNDERSTAND THE SIZE OF SPACE!

I realize that Control is like Skynet and Leland like the Terminator—they just keep coming at you and won’t ever stop or give up. Fine. But Discovery has the Magic Mushroom drive and can go anywhere in known space. “Oops…here comes Section 31! Hey, let’s jump 25,000 light-years in that direction!” Then, 25 years later, here comes those Section 31 ships again. “I have you now,” says Control/Leland (Conland? Letrol?), as the 30 ships power up weapons. So Discovery simply jumps back to where they started. “Oh, crap…not again!” says Control. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Sometimes I think sci-fi writers on this show really have no idea how big space really is. I mean , you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space! So Discovery really could force Control to spend months or even years catching up with them, and then do it all again and again. And if the crew can’t figure out a way to power up that time crystal in all that…um…time, then they really need to find another sci-fi series to star in.

And speaking of space and time, apparently Vulcans have TARDIS technology or their own spore drive because Sarek and Amanda somehow manage to get from their Vulcan beach house to a spaceport and over to Discovery in record time! And remember, while they’re flying toward Discovery, Discovery jumps to Xahea. And somehow Sarek and Amanda get to Discovery BEFORE the Enterprise does at maximum warp??? C’mon, writers…THINK!

That scene would have been just as acceptable if Sarek had used his interstellar katra-konnection power with Michael to set up a mental conference call between her, himself, and Amanda. And hey, since when was Spock the one who told Sarek to stay away? I always thought Sarek was the schmuck….or maybe they both were. Oh, well…just more canon fodder.

My last big space/time credibility problem has been pointed out by many fans: why do the Section 31 ships all show up at the exact same instant??? If the United States suddenly needed all of our naval vessels in the Persian Gulf or the South China Sea, they wouldn’t all arrive simultaneously. Now, I realize that control is smart enough to want to deal a knockout blow with everything he/she/it has all at once, but those ships are still scattered across a very large amount of space. I just don’t think the writers get how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big space is.

THREE THINGS I REALY LIKED…

Now, before you start thinking that I really hated this episode, I didn’t! REALLY!! And to prove it, here are three things I really liked…

It wasn’t all predictable. I was actually surprised by two things this episode. The first was seeing Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po again (originally seen in the first Short Treks episode “Runaway”). Granted, the writers had said early on that the Short Treks would each work their way into episodes this season. We obviously encountered Saru’s people in an episode, and Mudd had used a time crystal in season one (though not in his Short Treks episode). And I still expect we’ll tie into “Calypso” next episode. So Po was definitely due for a visit. And while I didn’t really love the character in her previous introduction, actress Yadira Guevara-Prip made this outing a lot more fun. Which brings us to my second point of praise…

There was banter—you know how much I love banter! Granted, the banter was primarily in just a few key scenes, but where it happened, it was a lot of fun. And at one point, we get all of the “comic relief” in one room: Tilly, Reno, Po, and Georgiou. The latter seems to now be giving a voice to all the viewers who roll their eyes at certain scenes. And to be honest, as that’s often me, as well, I’m fine being represented by a psychopathic Chinese woman dressed in black leather.

And third, Stamets and Hugh did NOT get back together this episode. Hooray! Yeah, I know we’re all still rooting for them, and if it happens, it happens. But after last episode, I didn’t want Hugh going back to Paul for the wrong reasons. Now of course, it’s possible that the two star-crossed lovers will soon be permanently time-crossed, as well…more on that shortly.

THE MANY, MANY, MANY GOOD-BYES!

The one thing I really didn’t like this episode was all of the goodbyes. No, let me rephrase that because I can already hear the diehard faithful typing those angry comments calling me a hater of all things Discovery because I am not appreciating the emotional scenes now that I’m finally seeing them. So let me start again…

While some of the good-byes were done very nicely and added a nice, emotional impact to the episode, eventually I began to feel that there were just too darn many of them. Approximately 20% of the total episode screen time was dedicated to scenes involving good-byes!

How many goodbyes were there? Let’s count…!

Good-bye #1 – Pike has everyone on the bridge “eyes front” to salute Discovery before she self-destructs. Even though she doesn’t, it’s still a good-bye.

Good-bye #2 – Burnham says good-bye to everyone on the bridge. That was fine. Short, sweet. Next…

Good-bye #3 – Tilly says good-bye to Po…except she’s not leaving! So maybe that’s an “aborted” good-bye.

Good-bye #4 – A pissed-off Georgiou balls out Burnham…which is kinda like a good-bye.

Good-bye #5 – Sarek and Amanda…very touching and well-acted scene. Okay, are we done yet?

Good-bye #6 – Michael and Tilly say the “non-existent” good-bye because Tilly announces that the series regulars are staying with her on the ship because, well, that’s what friends do…and it’s either that or have season 3 feature only Michael Burnham as opposed to mostly Michael Burnham.

Good-bye #7 – Tyler isn’t coming along, so he and Burnham get their heartfelt good-bye…except I felt mostly nothing because I never quite connected with them as a couple in the first place. And of course, Tyler needs to be available for the new Section 31 series. So while I wanted to get emotionally invested in this seventh good-bye, nothing came…not even with the sad, majestic farewell music playing.

Good-byes #8, #9, #10, #11, #12 – Saru, Tilly, Owosekun, Detmer, and Stamets all get to record their good-byes into their iPhones for their loved ones…loved ones who, with the exception of Saru and Tilly, we’ve never seen or heard about before now. So no real emotional connection for me there, either. Okay, now we must be done with the good-byes, right?

Good-bye #13 – Captain Pike says good-bye (individually by name) to each of the bridge officers. Good scene except that the writers punt on giving command to Saru. Why? Well, if season 3 really does have Discovery off in the distant future (or past or both) away from Starfleet, then the fact that there is no clear captain allows for some drama between Saru and Burnham when they don’t agree…assuming that’s what happens in season 3.

Good-bye #14 – Now that Pike’s said his good-byes, the bridge crew gets to say theirs to him with heroic poses. And no one will miss that pepper-haired captain more than us fans! GIVE PIKE HIS OWN SERIES, CBS!!!

Good-bye #15 – This last one was the best of the bunch. Georgiou tries to give Pike one last psyche-out by telling him she’s Terran from “your mirror universe.” Pike smiles and says casually, “What mirror universe?” and then gives her a wink. Does that mean he always knew, that Burnham told him, or that he just doesn’t care? Now, for a moment, I was frustrated that the writers never showed the scene where Burnham tells Pike the truth about Georgiou (as Burnham promised Pike she would do). But while I would have liked to have heard that conversation, I’m okay with just allowing us fans to fill in our own answer…and I’m going with “Burnham told him.”

And now we can finally say good-bye to the good-byes! Take a breath, folks…

SO, ARE THEY REALLY ALL GOING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE?

To flee, or not to flee? That is the question! Or rather, to accompany or not to accompany?

With all those good-byes this episode, it would seem like more of an anticlimax than a head-fake for the Discovery crew NOT to all wind up “out of time” (far future or distant past) going into season 3. After all, we’ve now separated all of the “main” characters (including a token alien) into a “core cast” for next season…which lowers the cost for extras, make-up, and uniforms. All we’ve gotta do now is somehow get Spock to stay in the present and for Dr. Culber to need to rush onto Discovery to save Stamets or something (unless Hugh is leaving the series…again).

And so we have our last chance this season for fans to make their predictions, and most seem to have decided that season 3 will be the temporal-displacement equivalent of Star Trek: Voyager, just with the crew lost in time instead of lost in space (which is yet another sci-fi franchise). Actually, if the Discovery computer herself somehow becomes sentient, then this series might wind up being closer to Red Dwarf! I guess we’ll just have to wait to see if I’m right. I’m still waiting for the seven signals to be sent from the Discovery we saw in “Calypso.”

In the meantime, will this “solve” all of the discontinuities between Discovery and the previous Trek series? After all, Spock might never talk of an adopted sister who is never coming back (although that doesn’t explain the delirium sequence in TNG‘s episode “Sarek” where Michael is never mentioned). And will it adequately explain why Starfleet doesn’t use a spore drive? The only ship it ever worked on is now gone…along with the guy with the tardigrade DNA to plug into it. And of course, Starfleet would never try to recreate such silly technology, right? Uh-huh, yeah…

In other words, I don’t buy it. If flinging Discovery out of time is supposed to make all the continuity “reset,” it won’t…at least in my head. As for what’ll happen to the Discovery crew, well, one would hope that, if this idea works, then Starfleet will survive long into the future, just as it did in the previous Trek TV series. And so, a future Starfleet should welcome Discovery the same way we’d greet a time-displaced Leif Erickson or Magellan into the 21st century. Of course, we know from canon (if there is such a thing anymore!), that Starfleet eventually builds timeships. So if the future really is what it used to be, then the displaced crew can be sent back to their proper time faster than you can say deus ex machina!

Anyway, the best news is that all of our questions will (hopefully) be answered next week, and then I can finally get my Fridays back for the next nine months or so!

DISCOVERY’s twelfth episode: very watchable, but was it GOOD? (editorial review)

WE HAVE SPAM, SPOILERS, EGGS, SPOILERS, BAKED BEANS, AND SPOILERS!

As I watched the 3-minute teaser and opening scene of act one of “Through the Valley of Shadows,” STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s twelfth episode of season two, I was dreading having to write another critical blog. It’s not that I have anything against (of for) being negative about Discovery; I just don’t like having to sit through weak or boring episodes that don’t live up to the potential of the series.

We open on Michael Burnham (of course!) whose review of her mother’s time-logs is interrupted by a call from her adopted mother, Amanda Grayson. Yay, I thought! I love Mia Kirshner‘s portrayal of the character. But my hopes were quickly dashed as I saw Burnham yet again falling into self-pity and blaming herself for everything that goes wrong in the universe.

Amanda gets to complete her second short line of dialog just as she is interrupted by a Spock-knock at the door. Still not in uniform, Spock apologizes for the interruption, but the captain needs them. Amanda gets nine more words, and then the scene that began with such potential is over 63 seconds after it began. Sigh…

Then it’s a cut to a briefing—again! What episode this season hasn’t kicked off with some kind of briefing? But at least this one wasn’t interrupted by Tillybabble. In fact, Mary Wiseman doesn’t appear in this episode at all (she wasn’t available the week of filming)…and to be honest, I didn’t really miss her. The episode felt more “grown up” without Tilly stealing her scenes. The briefing itself wasn’t bad, although every time I hear Tyler or another Klingon say “Kay-lesh” (Kahless), I cringe. Worf managed to get through two different Star Trek series pronouncing it “Kay-less”—is it really that hard for this show to be consistent with canon???

Then we come back from the opening credits with a scene between Burnham and Tyler that, as usual, showed almost no chemistry between the two actors and characters. Some quick exposition, a passive-aggressive zinger from Tyler, and then Tyler hears a beep that starts the real episode.

And that’s when everything started getting really good (and not so really good)…

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STRUGGLE IS POINTLESS on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! (editorial review)

SPOILERS – THEY’RE PART OF THIS COMPLETE BREAKFAST!

Last week, I wrote what was only my second negative review for an episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY for season two. And the blog resulted in surprisingly passionate responses on Facebook, particularly in the “big” (107K member) Star Trek group and the (40K member) Star Trek: Discovery group. Some folks agreed with what I said. Others didn’t. But a disturbingly high number of posts were just plain mean and confrontational.

While I won’t harp on this point too much—because complaining about nasty posts on Facebook is like complaining about the smell of animal poop at a zoo—I’d just like to point out a few examples of how to respectfully disagree with someone…

And here’s some examples of how to be a mean person…

All of this vitriol simply because someone has a different opinion from you??? When I was growing up, not everyone thought “The Doomsday Machine” was the best TOS episode like I did. But if someone thought “Spock’s Brain” was the best episode, I might quietly think they were weird, but I wouldn’t call them an “irrelevant shrub” (what odes that even mean???) or tell them to “PISS OFF” or suggest someone blow them out an airlock.

It seems lately that Star Trek: Discovery (like so many things in this world) has polarized us. And for some people, any criticism of this show is seen as an “attack” that must be defended with a counter-attack. It’s ridiculous…and so discordant with everything Gene Roddenberry ever tried to teach us.

The irony here is that I’ve actually written seven very positive reviews this season (you can read them here). I’m not a Discovery “hater” and happily praise the show when I think it’s been a decent episode. And when I don’t enjoy an episode, I share those thoughts, too. My opinion might not match yours, and that’s OKAY. We’re allowed to disagree.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling strongly about Star Trek and Discovery. But I challenge anyone to defend being obnoxious to someone simply for writing a blog review that they didn’t like.


All right, let’s move on to reviewing this week’s episode, “Perpetual Infinity”—which many of you will be happy (relieved?) to learn that I felt was a much stronger and more watchable episode than last week, and here’s why…

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NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS once again opens their TOS sets to the public for FAN APPRECIATION WEEKEND 2!

When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, watching Star Trek each weeknight at 6:00pm, I used to dream of one day building my own Enterprise bridge. I’d have it on the second floor of my house, in a circular area, with a turbolift elevator that would go up to it, doors whooshing open to shock and impress my friends.

Sadly (at least for me, not sad for my wife), that didn’t happen.

But miraculously, I can still walk onto the bridge of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701. I can sit in the captain’s chair, stand in the transporter, walk through the corridors, visit sickbay and engineering, wander into the briefing room and Captain Kirk’s quarters. And I can even do it in two different locations!

The first place I can go is the officially licensed Star Trek Original Series Set Tour in Ticonderoga, NY. For $22.50/person (less for seniors, military, and kids), I can walk around meticulous, museum-quality recreations of the original 1960s sets that were used to film Star Trek. The sets in upstate New York were used to make the fan series Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase 2, and now are available throughout the year for personal and group tours.

Further south in Kingsland, GA are the sets that were originally used for the fan series Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues. A little over a year ago, those sets were sold by VIC MIGNOGNA to RAY TESI, who has opened them up for free filming (just pay the electricity costs) to any fan production that follows the CBS guidelines. Originally called Stage 9 Studios, the sets were recently renamed NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS to avoid confusion with the Virtual 3D walkthrough of the Enterprise-D that was shut down by CBS.

Last October, Ray Tesi opened his Georgia sets to the general public for a FAN APPRECIATION WEEKEND. It featured tours, photo opportunities, some fan film celebrity guests, and even two different fan productions shooting scenes in front of a live, studio audience.

However, there was also some controversy

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Who let the air out of DISCOVERY this week??? (editorial review)

THE MOTHER OF ALL SPOILER WARNINGS!

The tenth episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s second season was called “The Red Angel.” I call it the “Oh, By The Way…” episode. In my opinion, it was the weakest of the second season so far, and not even as good as some of the first season episodes.

Even the positive reviews I’ve read so far have acknowledged that this was a “talky” episode, filled with a lot of quiet scenes where two or three or four people were just chatting with each other—mainly about plot exposition. The first 37 minutes were almost entirely that, with only the final 10 minutes picking up the pace with an exciting and engaging ending.

So what is an “Oh, By The Way…” episode? Glad you asked!

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AVALON UNIVERSE Indiegogo gets a $1,000 DONATION from a SINGLE donor!

Right now, I’m actively watching four different Trek-related crowd-funding campaigns. I have tabs open for each one, and I check them every day or so to see how they’re doing:

There’s also a few other crowd-funders that I check in on from time to time. You can find them all listed here on Fan Film Factor under the CROWDFUNDING NOW tab at the top.

Usually, there isn’t much movement on a daily basis for these campaigns…just little increases here and there. For the Avalon Universe Indiegogo, the donation total had been hovering in the low $2K range for the last few days…not unusual for a crowd-funding campaign to slow a bit in its second or third week.

And so I literally did a double-take when I checked the Avalon campaign late yesterday to discover their total at $3.4K (bringing them to over 40% of the way to their $8,500 goal). Huh? I’d checked it earlier in theday, and it was still in the low twos. What the heck happened???

I scrolled down through the perks. One of the perks is a $1,000 “Executive Producer Package” where the donor gets their name listed in both the opening and closing credits as—you guessed it!—Executive Producer. Two of these perks were initially available, and one had just been snatched up!

I checked with Avalon showrunners JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX, and they confirmed this is a legitimate donor and someone who has supported fan films in the past (although we won’t find out who until the fan film is released and we check the credits).

I don’t usually report on single donations to crowd-funders, and $1K donations certainly aren’t unheard of. But they are indeed rare…and almost non-existent for “smaller” campaigns with goals under $10K. So for me, this is news worth sharing—and a good reminder for folks to consider donating, if they haven’t already (even if it’s just $10 and not $1,000).

I also allows me to address a recent semi-controversy that has cropped up involving me supporting this and other crowd-funding campaigns…

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ALEX KURTZMAN goes FOUR-for-FOUR in rescuing DISCOVERY! (editorial review)

SPOILERS WITH A CAPITAL “A”!

Remember last week when I said the eighth episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY season two was the best one yet? Well, the ninth episode, “Project Daedalus” just blew the eighth one away! I mean…WOW!

After the announcement last June of the firing of Discovery‘s previous showrunners, GRETCHEN BERG and AARON HARBERTS, fans were nervously awaiting the sixth episode of season two, the first to be produced entirely under the stewardship of new showrunner ALEX KURTZMAN, who was also officially named the Tsar of Trek (actually, only I named him that). Would Kurtzman save Discovery or ruin it? And once the sixth episode (which took Saru back to his home planet) showed a return to Star Trek values of hope and optimism, the next question became: was this one episode just a fluke, or is this the new normal for Discovery?

Well, it wasn’t the new Discovery normal; it was the starting point of a turbolift that has been ascending ever higher with each successive episode—with a trip home to Vulcan for Burnham (where she finds Spock), a trip to Talos IV (where we find Vina, and Spock finds himself), and now a trip to the very heart of Section 31 where we find…um, I did mention there would be spoilers, right?

Anyway, for a third week in a row, I watched the episode all the way through without stopping. I couldn’t look away! And with four episodes in a row that have each been, in succession, the best of the series, I feel that I can finally feel confidence in Alex Kurtzman. YAY!

Of course, a show-runner doesn’t work alone. But he does determine which people to hire and who does what. This episode was written by MICHELLE PARADISE (yes, she was born with that name) and directed by JONATHAN FRAKES. I don’t need to tell you about Frakes, as he’s done a little work in Hollywood before. But Paradise was just named as co-showrunner for Discovery in season three…and fans were again worried that this newcomer Paradise not be up for making Star Trek. Well, after this episode, as with Kurtzman—I’m not really worried anymore!

Okay, let’s start talking about this little gem…

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Take that, DR. SEUSS; TREK MASH-UP is legally FAIR USE!

I’ve been watching this case closely for nearly two years, fascinated by the question of whether a”mash-up” of two separate intellectual properties (in this case STAR TREK and DR. SEUSS) could be successfully defended against a copyright infringement lawsuit using a defense of FAIR USE.

And yesterday, we discovered that the answer is officially “YES.”

For a more complete history of this case, check out any of my previous 15 blogs on the subject (I told you I was watching it closely!). In short, DAVID GERROLD (the creator of the tribbles) and TY TEMPLETON (award-winning comic book artist) set out to create a Seuss/Trek mash-up book called Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!

Together with their publisher ComicMix, they set up a Kickstarter in late 2016 to fund a run of 5,000 printed copies of the book to sell through ThinkGeek. They raised about $30,000 when Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) contacted Kickstarter with a DMCA takedown notice. The money was never collected.

Six weeks later, DSE sued the mash-up team for both copyright and trademark infringement. The case was an emotional rollercoaster ride for both sides, with the judge at one point dismissing the trademark claims and then later (after a re-refiling by DSE) reinstating the trademark claims.

On the copyright complaint side of things (different than trademark), the judge was ready to dismiss the case outright on grounds of Fair Use, but she gave DSE one chance to prove market harm by Team Mash-up. DSE was able to make a strong enough argument for financial damages that the judge allowed the case to move forward. That was 14 months ago.

The case has been complex, to say the least! And it had the potential, according to Ninth Circuit Federal Judge Hon. JANIS SAMMARTINO, to quite literally determine the fate of nearly all mash-ups well into the future. Would this new art form die in its infancy? Was it even a true art form? All of her rulings were carefully considered, and nothing was rushed.

After more than two years of legal wrangling, filings, responses, discovery and evidence and testimony, and motions for summary judgement, it all came down to pre-trial oral arguments made in Judge Sammartino’s San Diego Courtroom five weeks ago on February 7.

So what exactly happened, and is this case finally over…?

Continue reading “Take that, DR. SEUSS; TREK MASH-UP is legally FAIR USE!”

HOLY $#@*! When did CBS suddenly learn to make STAR TREK???

SPOILERS? HOW COULD THERE NOT BE SPOILERS?

I wasn’t gonna blog about this week’s episode. I really wasn’t. We were at Disneyland all day Friday and Saturday, and that’s usually my prime reviewing time. But OMF-ingG! What did I just watch????

It was STAR TREK. REAL Star Trek. The kind of Star Trek that gets me all excited and emotionally engaged and dying to see more. It was the kind of Star Trek that has me caring about the characters and not giving a crap that the uniforms are all shiny or the Tellarites now have tusks or the lens flares are multiplying like tribbles. Who cares??? This was a friggin’ STAR TREK!

If you hate Discovery or refuse to watch it or you stopped watching it in (or after)season one…I totally get and respect that. I spent nearly the entire first season kvetching, feeling angry and frustrated and even a little betrayed as a fan over CBS “ruining” this thing that I’d loved for the entire five decades of my life.

And honestly, I went into season two doubting that they could pull the rabbit out of their butts and fix things. Some “true believers” made the argument that TNG and DS9 weren’t exactly firing on all thrusters in their first seasons either, and they all got a lot better. But in my mind, Discovery was so far down into the hole that I didn’t think they would ever make it back into the light.

So if you’re wondering if Jonathan has been brainwashed by the CBS Talosians and tricked into typing a blog that raves about the eight episode of Discovery‘s second season, I invite you to check it out for yourself—just this one episode “If Memory Serves”—and see if you feel as surprised (and impressed!) as I do.

This was the kind of episode that I used to watch back in college…where it ended and I just wanted to TALK about it with other fans! And that’s why I’m writing this even though the episode aired three nights ago.

Continue reading “HOLY $#@*! When did CBS suddenly learn to make STAR TREK???”

The right captain at the right time – WHY WE LIKE PIKE! (Discovery editorial)

I usually write my weekly STAR TREK: DISCOVERY review editorials on Fridays and Saturdays after the new episodes premiere on Thursday night. But the family and I are leaving on tonight for the weekend. So I’ve decided to pre-write my weekly blog—not about the latest episode—but about a character who is rapidly becoming my favorite starship captain in Star Trek: actor ANSON MOUNT’s portrayal of Christopher Pike.

It was literally the last thing I expected going into season two. I mean, I hoped that the show would course-correct after the disappointing and often frustrating season one (at least in my opinion, but I’m not alone). I was curious to see how they’d handle Pike and some of his crew—Number One, Dr. Boyce, Yeoman Colt, and of course good ol’ (young) Spock. But never in a million years would I have predicted falling in love with Captain Pike and having him rapidly take his place as my favorite Starfleet captain!

Granted, it’s still early. We’ve only had 7 or 8 episodes featuring Pike…versus a hundred hours of Kirk, nearly twice that for Picard and Sisko and Janeway, and about the same amount for Archer. Upcoming episodes could ruin the character or make me start counting the minutes until Pike goes back to the Enterprise.

But I doubt it.

Part of the reason I like Pike (and so do MANY others) so much is the outstanding performance of Anson Mount. He really is an amazing talent…and if you haven’t watched his previous series Hell on Wheels, then you are missing some amazing television and yet another awesome character.

But it’s not just that Pike is being played by a top notch actor. William Shatner, Sir Patrick Stewart, and the others are all stellar performers portraying iconic captains. So why have so many fans (even ones like me who couldn’t stand Discovery a year ago) fallen in love with Captain Pike so quickly?

I think I know…

Continue reading “The right captain at the right time – WHY WE LIKE PIKE! (Discovery editorial)”