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…

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Is DISCOVERY the “STAR TREK SHOW ABOUT NOTHING”? (editorial review)

Spoilers, there’ll be a few…but then again, too few to mention

I touched on the question last week: What is STAR TREK: DISCOVERY about?  The original Star Trek and Next Generation were about exploring strange, new worlds and stuff.  Deep Space Nine was about healing the spiritual, cultural, and environmental wounds of a decades-long occupation…both of a race of people and also of a space station that were suddenly thrust into a role of prime importance in the Alpha Quadrant.  Voyager was about getting home.  And Enterprise was about exploring the final frontier for the first time.

But what is Star Trek: Discovery about?

If you watched the first episode of Discovery, it initially appeared that the show would be about Michael Burnham getting ready for her first command.  That went out the window quickly when she attacked her captain.  By the end of the second episode, Burnham was in chains and a war had started with the Klingons.

The third episode establishes Burnham as a pariah, brought aboard Discovery because, well, because she’s awesome?  Because she deserves a second chance?  Who knows?  It’s still early.  So okay, now we’ve got a show about an “awesome” officer who’s been flung down into the abyss of life and is slowly clawing her way back up the Starfleet Jeffries Tube to a place of respect.  Fine…except the show abandons the “pariah” part pretty quickly.  Burnham makes a best friend, becomes a useful part of the crew, and even gets a boyfriend.  Heck, by episode 5, she’s even giving Saru Captain Georgiou’s old telescope and having a “moment” with him.

So, no, the show isn’t about Burnham’s redemption, as she’s pretty much redeemed by a third of the way through the season.  Hmmmm, maybe the show is about Burnham’s voyage of internal, um, discovery and learning to forgive and love herself the way others have.

Nope, way too much else going on in the show for that to be it!

Continue reading “Is DISCOVERY the “STAR TREK SHOW ABOUT NOTHING”? (editorial review)”

JASON ISAACS says fans who said DISCOVERY wasn’t STAR TREK were right! (editorial review)

IT’S SPOILIN’ TIME!!!!

Last week, I wrote a blog that started with a few paragraphs drawing comparisons between CAPTAIN GABRIEL LORCA and DONALD TRUMP.  Let me be perfectly clear: I WAS KIDDING!!!  But apparently, no, I wasn’t…at least as far as the STAR TREK: DISCOVERY writing team was concerned!

In what was probably the most obvious and direct reference to a political issue since Bele and Lokai were each colored half-black and half-white, LORCA/TRUMP says the following things during the most recent 13th episode, “What’s Past Is Prologue”…

I’ve watched for years; you’ve let alien races spill over the borders, flourish in our backyard, then have the gall to incite rebellion.  The Terrans need a leader who will preserve our way of life, our race.

…we together will make the empire glorious again.

Here’s the full scene:

My wife Wendy, who normally doesn’t watch the show with me but just happened to be in the living when this line was delivered, asked me, “Are the writers always this lazy?”

Now that Lorca is the established bad guy, let’s draw a direct line from him to Donald Trump.  It’s not that Wendy and I like Donald Trump or anything.  But seriously, was this kind of dig really necessary?  Should Star Trek be used to take cheap political shots?

Continue reading “JASON ISAACS says fans who said DISCOVERY wasn’t STAR TREK were right! (editorial review)”

Has DISCOVERY gotten TOO dark to still be STAR TREK? (editorial review)

There be SPOILERS here!

And now we know.  Well, lots of us already knew.  I’ve written about it repeatedly here and elsewhere.  I and others have debated with those in the fan base who believed that Captain Lorca was simply a tough-as-nails leader who would always put Starfleet first.  In this time of war with the Klingons, we needed someone like Lorca to make the United Federation of Planets great again!

But now we have all, er, discovered that Lorca has been playing us this whole time.  He’s really from the Mirror Universe, and he’s a bad dude.  For those fans who supported Lorca, stood up to defend his disturbing behavior and his dark methods—guess what!—you’ve placed your loyalty in someone who is just out for personal gain and doesn’t care about the UFP or anyone in our Prime Universe.  In fact, he doesn’t seem to care about people from his Mirror Universe either…certainly not women.  “Her name was Ava, and I liked her,” Lorca tells the brother of a woman he’d killed years before.  “But you know how it is.  Somebody better came along.”

Sure, he can be charming and talk crew members like Stamets into doing almost anything.  But Lorca’s been keeping a lot of secrets from all of us, including from the people he leads.  As far as I’m concerned, Lorca’s lust for power trumps anything that might have made him seem admirable in any way…and he’s fooled at least 37% of us all along.

Okay, enough of the fun double entendres.  Let’s start doin’ some reviewin’!

Continue reading “Has DISCOVERY gotten TOO dark to still be STAR TREK? (editorial review)”

AXANAR DETRACTOR changes his mind about ALEC PETERS!

On Saturday, GABE KOERNER, a well-known detractor of Axanar and ALEC PETERS, sent me the following e-mail out of the blue:

I’ve given up on the Idea that the guy is some kind of willful criminal. He isn’t. He’s just a mix of Massively Egotistical and Massively Incompetent which can LOOK “criminal” but it really isn’t.

Yeah, it’s obvious that Gabe isn’t ready to finally stop trying to disparage Alec (frankly, I doubt that Gabe will ever be able to completely let this go).  But this was a HUGE revelation and step forward for someone who, like many detractors, had been calling Alec all kinds of synonyms for crook, thief, criminal, liar, embezzler…the list goes on and on!

At the heart of the most extreme detractor arguments has been a contention that Alec had willfully taken money from Axanar donors to fund a lavish lifestyle of things like jet-setting around the world, eating sushi, paying for health insurance, and buying new tires for his car.  I’ve seen the full Axanar financials—endless pages of spreadsheets!—and I’ve tried to explain about a million times here and elsewhere how this wasn’t the case at all.  It was like trying to reason with jello!

And even if you’re one of those people who thinks the Axanar books were somehow cooked, the fact remains that the goal of embezzling is to come out with MORE money, NOT less.  And yet, Alec Peters has put in close to a quarter of a million dollars of HIS OWN money (generated from the sale of screen-used props from his extensive collection) to fund this project.  Of course, you can argue whether or not a studio should have been leased/built or simply rented, But even Alec himself now agrees that he should have filmed Axanar on James Cawley’s TOS sets in upstate New York as originally envisioned.  So that’s not the point today.

Now personally, I have no idea if any other of the detractors on their various public and secret Facebook groups are now in agreement with what Gabe has just acknowledged…and frankly, I don’t feel like checking those crass and vitriolic places to confirm.  And I don’t really have to.

The story today is simple.  I received an e-mail on Saturday, unsolicited, from someone who is a good friend of, and has been conversing with, former Axanar director ROBERT MEYER BURNETT.  And in this e-mail, Gabe Koerner finally gives up on a long-standing claim that he has clung to that Alec Peters is some kind of willful criminal.  That’s a BIG step forward.

And if Gabe can finally move past such a deeply-held belief—despite the other digs that he still feels he must make—then maybe there is some hope for other Axanar detractors out there.  Maybe…

Why the 11th episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY did NOT piss me off! (editorial review)

There’s SPOILERS off the starboard bow…
starboard bow…starboard bow!

After publishing my previous editorial review of the 10th episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, a post from someone named Boris commented: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Capt Georgiou made a reappearance – maybe even as an Empress…”

I responded, “Man, if they make Georgiou the Emperor/Empress…that’s gonna be one angry blog!!! Enough with the doppelgängers!!!!” 🙂

Even as I wrote that response, I knew it was gonna happen.  It had to.  The “faceless” emperor?  C’mon!  In a Mirror Universe filled with probably hundreds of billions of sentient beings, we just happen to run into the dozen or so that are all main characters listed in the opening credits of the show: Captain “Killy” Tilly, the slave Saru, bearded Sarek, Voq leads the resistance, Burnham is captain of the USS Shenzhou, even Mirror-Stamets pops in.  Honestly, I was surprised we didn’t see Mirror Landry (the first Discovery security chief) as the Shenzhou‘s head chef or something!

So really, of course Philippa Georgiou was going to be the Empress.  Boris nailed it.  And that really pissed me off, right?

Surprisingly…no, it didn’t.

Neither was I angry about the Mirror-Tellarites mysteriously growing tusks like wild boar…or the Andorian whose voice reverberated for some strange reason.  Nothing seemed sloppily written or beyond believable.  There was even some banter!

Honestly, guys, I really liked this episode.  Let’s take a look at why…

Continue reading “Why the 11th episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY did NOT piss me off! (editorial review)”

Elementary school kids have a blast filming at STARBASE STUDIOS…and all hell breaks loose in fandom! (part 2)

Read Part 1 of this blog entry if you haven’t already.  Did you do it?  Good.

So it was now a few weeks before Christmas, and VANCE MAJOR was ready to tag out and I was ready to tag in to try to get this compromise settlement for STARBASE STUDIOS to the finish line.  Vance was exhausted, but he got the runners 90% of the way there.  Just a few teensy details left to work out…or so I thought.

Keep in mind, neither Vance nor I is a lawyer.  Instead, we were just trying, as friends, to help SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT EDWARDS work out a way where GLEN L. WOLFE would drop his lawsuit against them, and Starbase Studios could continue without fan filmmakers having to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to use the Starbase Studios TOS sets.

By the time I tagged in, there was a full legal settlement agreement already written up by Glen’s lawyer, ready for Scott and Kent to sign.  But they still had some issues with it.  One of the biggest was that Scott decided that he didn’t want Glen to own 100% of the Starbase sets.  But he was willing to split them 50/50.  Would Glen agree?  Scott didn’t think so.  And frankly, neither did Vance.

“Look,” I said to Vance, “Maybe he’ll say no, and we’ll be back to square one.  But if Glen says yes, then we’re there!  It’s worth it to at least ask him.”

Vance agreed to make the call.  Five minutes later, I had Glen’s answer…

Continue reading “Elementary school kids have a blast filming at STARBASE STUDIOS…and all hell breaks loose in fandom! (part 2)”

Elementary school kids have a blast filming at STARBASE STUDIOS…and all hell breaks loose in fandom! (part 1)

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at STARBASE STUDIOS recently, and I’ll get to that in a moment.  But first, you might want to read up on the current situation if you don’t already know about the lawsuit and all of the other drama going on of late.

All right, strap in.  Let’s start with this past weekend when a group of 5th and 6th graders from Parkview Elementary School Music Club got a chance to film a music video project on the amazing TOS sets of Starbase Studios, currently located in Marble Falls, Arkansas.

The field trip was set up by their teacher, KEVIN CROXTON, who had composed the music for THE FEDERATION FILES’ second episode Walking Bear, Running Wolf last summer.  In exchange, Kevin had asked show-runner GLEN L. WOLFE for the opportunity to bring Kevin’s music students (they’re local) to the sets to film a video project.  So this past weekend’s excursion has been planned for nearly 7 months.

And, really, isn’t this what Starbase Studios is all about?  Sets by the fans, for the fans…and even attracting a whole new (next!) generation of young fans.  So what could possibly be wrong with that?

Well…

Continue reading “Elementary school kids have a blast filming at STARBASE STUDIOS…and all hell breaks loose in fandom! (part 1)”

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY just royally PISSED ME OFF!!! (spoiler-filled editorial review)

Did I mention there will be spoilers?  Oh, there WILL be spoilers!

I actually liked the tenth episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…until I hated it.

Well, “hate” is a strong word.  So instead, I’m just gonna go with “totally pissed me off!”

So what was the straw that stuck in my craw?

Was it the underwhelming “surprise” that Ash Tyler is really the Klingon Voq and that there never was any “rape”?  Nah.  I knew he was Voq all along.  Being predictable doesn’t piss me off.

Was it that Ash/Voq killed Dr. Culber…arguably the only character on the ship I was starting to actually like?  No.  That stung, but as I said in a previous blog, I’m not really emotionally invested in any of the characters.  So I got over Culber pretty quickly.

Was it that I still have to wait to say “I told you so!” when we finally learn that Captain Lorca was/is originally from the Mirror Universe?  Not really.  I can wait another week or two for that “surprise” reveal.

Was it the cringe-worthy scene of Tilly’s first attempt at being “Captain Killy”?  No.  I pretty much expected something like that to happen—the inevitable “fish out of water” scene to establish that our civilized folks are gonna find it tough to pretend to be barbarians.  And it wasn’t too bad.  It was even kinda fun and cutesy.

Was it the Mirror Universe uniforms that somehow managed to be even more outrageous than the Starfleet uniforms?  No, I pretty much ignored the glitzy half-vests…right after singing Let’s Do The Time Warp Again when I first saw the Discovery crew wearing them.  Actually, I was more horrified to discover that the Elvis-like Starfleet uniforms on this show include golden soles on the boots!  Who designed their footwear…Usain Bolt???

Was it the lack of banter?  No.  This episode actually had some decent banter for a change.  (When I see/hear banter in an episode, my friends, I freely admit it.)

So why did this episode piss me off so much…and why did it only piss me off at the end?

Continue reading “STAR TREK: DISCOVERY just royally PISSED ME OFF!!! (spoiler-filled editorial review)”

The TOP 10 fan film news stories of 2017

A few days ago, I posted a blog looking back at the MANY fan film news stories I covered on Fan Film Factor over the past year—nearly 75, believe it or not!  (Not bad for a sub-genre that some predicted would be all but extinct by now.)

But what were the fan film news stories from 2017 that had the greatest impact on the world of Star Trek fan films?  Well, guess who just made a Top 10 list of that very thing!

I’m sure some folks won’t agree with all of my selections.  Heck, some of the stories I chose aren’t even directly Star Trek-related.  But hey, everyone’s got opinions, right?  And if you think a different fan film story should have made it onto the list, feel free to tell me in the comments.  (That’s a sneaky way of turning a “Top 10” list into a “Top 10 Plus” list!)

And so, without further ado, here’s the biggest fan film stories of 2017…

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