Why CBS is NOT “panicking” about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial, part 2)

Yesterday, I began by noting that there were a number of Trek fans who believed that CBS was somehow in a “panic” about the poor performance of Star Trek: Discovery, and that there was some kind of pressure being put onto the production team to retool the series, possibly bringing in the USS Enterprise to somehow replace the USS Discovery…or some nonsense like that.

It’s true that, at best, Star Trek: Discovery is just about breaking even for CBS…or possibly losing a few million dollars.  I didn’t do all the math yesterday as I ran out of space, but I’ll do it quickly here for you.

Since last September when Discovery premiered, CBS All Access has added approximately 500,000 new subscribers (going from 2 million to 2.5 million).  I learned that the majority of those subscribers were actually tuning into the NFL on All Access and not Discovery, but let’s assume that they all joined because CBS added a new Star Trek show.

All Access allows subscribers to watch with commercials for $6/month or without for $10/month.  Let’s average that to $8/month.  Discovery was on for five months:

 [  5 months x $8/month x 500,000 subscribers = $20 million   ]

As I mentioned yesterday, Discovery cost CBS about $30 million to produce (the portion not covered by Netflix licensing).

So how does Discovery break even if it’s losing $10 million?  Advertising.  Also, not all of those subscribers canceled after 5 months, so the revenue continues.  In other words, Discovery is doing just fine as far as CBS is concerned.

On the other hand, the license to stream the NFL on All Access likely cost CBS upwards of $250 million…and there’s no way they didn’t lose money on that deal!  So why keep throwing major bucks into All Access if you’re CBS?  Hasn’t this experiment essentially failed?

And to make matters worse, this is how All Access looks when measured up against Netflix and Hulu subscribers (and this is only in the U.S. alone)…

YEESH!  Sucks to be CBS, right?  So why not put All Access out of its misery?  Why bother keeping Star Trek: Discovery on the air and losing money on the NFL?

There’s a very simple reason…

Continue reading “Why CBS is NOT “panicking” about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial, part 2)”

Why CBS is NOT “panicking” about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial, part 1)

Like a number of Trek fans, I watch and enjoy the Midnight’s Edge video podcast.  The production values are high, and the updates are interesting and informative.  But they’re also full of rumor, conjecture, and innuendo.

I sometimes feel as though I’m listening to fan “wish-fulfillment” and conspiracy theories, and I occasionally find myself wondering what is true and what is simply something that the creator(s) of Midnight’s Edge WANT to be true.

It’s often really hard to tell the difference!  In their most recent video podcastMidnight’s Edge mentions that, “There were reportedly no Star Trek: Discovery toys revealed at the 2018 Diamond Select ToyFair.”  Note the word “reportedly.”  It’s a relatively careful word.   The “report” they reference was a single tweet from Gabriel Koerner, who was apparently there…

Three days later, however, TrekMovie.com reported that McFarlane Toys was displaying a brand new Star Trek: Discovery phaser at ToyFair.  So perhaps sourcing a single tweet from a roving, non-reporter VFX artist might not be the most reliable way to confirm one’s facts.

And so it was that I took the following quote from the most recent Midnight’s Edge video podcast with a pretty huge grain of salt:

“While CBS displayed confidence to the public, there was rumored chaos and panic behind the scenes, and the latter episodes of the series were allegedly retooled to address fan concerns going forward.  Because from season 2 onwards, it is going to be increasingly important to win back the fans.”

Sounds all juicy and dramatic, don’t it?  Of course, notice the words “rumored” and “allegedly” included in there.  Some fans, dissatisfied and angry about the new series not hewing more closely to TOS and established Star Trek designs, would love to think that there are huge regrets at CBS about the way Discovery was rolled out and handled…and that the higher-ups are putting pressure on the producers to fix this and that.  It’s certainly a compelling narrative if you’re an angry and resentful Trek fan.

It’s kind of like Special Agent Fox Mulder on The X-Files wanting to believe in the most far out conspiracy theories.  And who knows?  Maybe they’re right.  But I seriously doubt it.

So it’s time for me to put on my Special Agent Dana Scully red wig and provide an alternative, more reasonable analysis of the situation currently going on with CBS and Star Trek: Discovery.  Then you can decide whom YOU want to believe…

Continue reading “Why CBS is NOT “panicking” about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial, part 1)”

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…

Continue reading “It’s not what’s in DISCOVERY that bugs me – it’s what’s MISSING! (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)


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)”

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)”

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)”

Why I miss THE ORVILLE and I don’t miss STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial)

I already miss The Orville.  I know it’s only been gone for a week, but I just faced a Thursday night without that curious combination of sci-fi, quirkiness, high production values, and low-brow humor.  It’ll be nine long months until I see Bortus and Yaphit again…three-quarters of a year before I find out what new practical jokes Gordon and John play on Isaac, whether Alara has to open another “jar of pickles,” and what else Ed and Kelly can find to argue about.  I feel totally invested in these characters, and I can’t wait to watch more of their adventures together.

And then there’s Star Trek: Discovery.

It’s been on hiatus for nearly a month, and as I lament my now-Orvilless Thursday nights, I realize that I haven’t really thought much about Discovery in the past five weeks.  I honestly don’t miss it.

It’s not that Discovery is a bad show.  As I’ve said many times, I enjoy the series and appreciate the work and attention to detail that has gone into it.  I’ll still be watching the final six episodes of season one when the series returns on January 7, but it’s mainly because I want to learn if I’m right about Lorca being from the Mirror Universe and whether Ash Tyler is really a genetically-altered Voq the Klingon.  And frankly, I don’t much care who wins the Federation/Klingon war because—I’m sorry to say—I just don’t feel invested in the whole storyline or the characters.

Why is that?

I mean, I’m a Trekkie!  Why wouldn’t I care about who wins a war with the Klingons that could destroy the United Federation of Planets???  Sure, you can say it’s because they don’t look like “real” Klingons or those don’t really look like Starfleet vessels or 23rd century uniforms.  But it’s still a war.  If there were a war in the Orville universe, you’d better believe I’d be rooting for the Planetary Union over the Krill.  And I’ve only known this Orville universe for three and a half months, nearly as long as I’ve known the Disco-verse (whether or not I consider it canon).

So why do I just not care about what happens on Discovery?  Why am I not invested in the characters and their fates the way I am for The Orville?

Continue reading “Why I miss THE ORVILLE and I don’t miss STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (editorial)”

If you STILL don’t believe that LORCA is from the MIRROR UNIVERSE…read this blog! (editorial)

Spoilers GALORE!!!

What do STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and GAME OF THRONES have in common?

Answer: they each have only six episodes left to complete their story lines.

Oh, I know that Discovery has been renewed for a second season.  But up until that recent announcement, and all during the writing and filming of the 15 episodes of the first season, the production team didn’t know if they’d get a second season or, even if they did, if the setting and time era of the show would shift (as original show-runner Bryan Fuller has initially envisioned).

So the idea was always to wrap up the Klingon war story in a single 15-episode (originally 13-episode) season.  If the series got renewed, great.  They’d do a new story arc during season two.

The problem, of course, is time.  While Game of Thrones has had SEVEN seasons and 67 episodes (so far) to slowly develop their many intricate plots and sub-plots and mysteries, move their characters into unexpected situations, and quite often surprise the viewer, Discovery has actually had to “rush” things.

Places where this lack of time has been particularly noticeable include:

Continue reading “If you STILL don’t believe that LORCA is from the MIRROR UNIVERSE…read this blog! (editorial)”