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???”

Keep on SPOCKIN’ me, baby! (STAR TREK: DISCOVERY editorial review)

FORECAST: Moderate chance of SPOILERS

In season one, many readers wondered if I was just a “hater” and wouldn’t like anything I saw on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY no matter how good it was. But so far in season two, Discovery has been batting .667 with me, with four positive reviews and only two episodes so far that I felt warranted criticism.

So now that we’ve reached the halfway point of season two and the search for Spock has finally moved into the “found him!” stage, what did I think of the seventh episode, “Light and Shadows”?

I’ll let Spocko sum up my feelings…

Yep, I loved this episode. For a second week in a row, I watched through the entire episode without stopping or stepping away. I was completely engrossed, and the episode seemed to pass so quickly!

Of course, I should note that this was also the SHORTEST episode of the season so far, with a run-time of just 40 minutes. For comparison, the season premiere was a full hour, episodes 3-5 were about 50-52 minutes each, episode 6 was 56 minutes, and only episode 2 was under 50 minutes (only 44 minutes). So this latest episode was definitely a short one (which also means less expensive to make…but don’t tell anyone!).

Okay, before I get to reviewin’, I wrote some song lyrics after watching this episode—as a tribute to Michael Burnham’s “trek” through the two seasons of Discovery. If you don’t want spoilers or have any loyalty whatsoever to the Steve Miller Band, skip this next part…

I went from Shenzhou to the Disco all the way to the Mirro…
then Kaminar down to Vulcan and more…
Section 31 where the things they have done are taking me to Talos IV.
So keep on Spockin’ me, baby! Keep on Spockin’ me, baby!

Ahem. Okay, let’s dive in…

Continue reading “Keep on SPOCKIN’ me, baby! (STAR TREK: DISCOVERY editorial review)”

ALEX KURTZMAN finally brings HOPE to STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! (editorial review)

SPOILERS…GET YER SPOILERS HERE!

Okay, before I get to my review, please indulge me as I provide my own introduction to the sixth episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s second season, “The Sounds of Thunder.” And if you haven’t seen the episode yet, you totally will NOT understand this…

Faster than a speeding human…
More powerful than a Ba’ul wrist restraint…
Able to take command when Pike or Lorca aren’t around…
Look, up on the bridge!
It’s a kelp!
It’s a tall, thin alien!
It’s SARUPERMAN!
Yes, it’s SARUPERMAN…
Strange fugitive from another planet
Who came to Starfleet and proceeded to learn 90 different languages.
SARUPERMAN…
Who can sense the coming of death…
Crush ominous floating robots in his bare hands…
And who, disguised as Commander Saru,
Mild-mannered first officer of the
USS Discovery,
Fights a never-ending battle for balance, blueberries, and the Starfleet way.

Okay, now that’s out of my system. On to the review…

Ever since last June when Discovery show-runners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts were reportedly fired because of cost overruns and also for mistreating the staff writers, fans have been waiting to see what new showrunner and Trek Tsar Alex Kurtzman would do to the series. Would he be the savior who finally straightened out all of the problems with Discovery that made it feel, to many fans, like the show was NOT Star Trek?

Or would Kurtzman proceed to screw things up even worse? Does Kurtzman even “get” Star Trek (as he claims to be a true Trekkie)? After all, this was one of the three writers of Star Trek Into Darkness, a film many fans felt was the worst and weakest of the three reboot Trek movies.

Was Kurtzman to be Discovery‘s salvation or ruination? We would all find out with the sixth episode of season two, Kurtzman’s first episode as showrunner….

Continue reading “ALEX KURTZMAN finally brings HOPE to STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! (editorial review)”

DISCOVERY’S fifth episode of season 2… far from perfection! (editorial review)

SPOILERS UP THE WAZOO!!!

Oh, well.

After four very positive reviews from the guy known for his generally critical reviews of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s first season, some of my readers were beginning to wonder if Jonathan had been replaced with an alternate universe doppelgänger.

Not this time, though. “Saints of Imperfection” was just that: imperfection. Now, it’s not that I expect every episode of Discovery to be” perfect”—that starship sailed long ago!—but this one was far from it. In fact, it regressed into a lot of what I used to complain about often in season one: sloppy and lazy writing, rushing to “hit the beats” without giving characters or viewers a chance to emotionally process all that’s hurtling at us, unbelievable plot contrivances, predictability, and a host of other annoyances (at least in my book).

Granted, this was the final episode produced under the supervision of former show-runners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, who were reportedly fired because of cost overruns and also for mistreating the staff writers. Both reasons are very evident in this episode. Although the VFX looked gorgeous and could easily win an Emmy later this year, I can understand why the budget for Discovery was blown. And while I love watching exciting VFX, I much prefer a good story with characters I care about.

And that brings us to the writing, which surprised me because the writer, Kirsten Beyer, wrote the strongest episode of season one, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” (the one on the forest planet where Saru freaks out), and is also the only staff writer who has several published Star Trek (Voyager) novels. In other words, Kirsten knows her Trek and her writing. So what happened to so totally derail this episode and backslide into many of the old problems of season one?

Continue reading “DISCOVERY’S fifth episode of season 2… far from perfection! (editorial review)”

Star Trek’s DISCOVERY RECOVERY continues! (editorial review)

Admiral, there be SPOILERS here!

At first, I was going to title this blog “Has STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Finally Got Its Groove Back?” Then I realized that it never really had a grove during season one…at least for me.

But the series does seem to have found a new groove that began with the first episode of season two and has continued now into its fourth episode, “An Obol for Charon.” And for anyone wondering what the heck that means, an Obol is an ancient Greek coin that was put in the mouth of a corpse before burial to be taken down to the underworld and used to pay Charon, the Ferryman, for a trip across the River Styx. (Speaking of which, how awesome was this song from 1982?)

Now, the episode itself wasn’t as good the second episode of season two, but it was better than the third episode. And it felt infinitely more Star Trek-like than nearly the entire first season. In fact, let’s take a look at how Star Trek is working its way back into Discovery

Continue reading “Star Trek’s DISCOVERY RECOVERY continues! (editorial review)”

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY makes a major KLINGON KOURSE KORRECTION! (editorial review)

SPOILERS? WE’VE GOT A FEW. BUT THEN AGAIN, TOO FEW TO MENTION…

Along with much of the United States this past week, hell has frozen over yet again as Jonathan Lane writes a THIRD consecutive mostly-positive blog about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! Granted, my first blog of season two was more noncommittal…yet hopeful. But my second blog was 100% raving praise.

So what about the third episode, “Point of Light”?

I wasn’t prepared to like it. In fact, after watching the manic first three minutes where the camera NEVER ONCE STOPPED MOVING (seriously, watch it again), I was feeling carsick…or maybe starship sick. I knew the Klingons were coming this episode, and I really hated them and their incessant subtitles in season one.

So I was prepared to write a blog titled “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad…” or “Well, that Didn’t Last Long…” full of disappointment that Discovery had stumbled and slipped back into the same old problems. I began to mentally compose my opening complaint that saying, “Attention: trainee half-marathon approaching!” should NEVER be followed by turning OUT the lights so you can’t see what’s coming! “Starfleet stupidity or just idiotic writing?”

Yep, I was totally gonna write a blog like that—but then Amanda happened…

Continue reading “STAR TREK: DISCOVERY makes a major KLINGON KOURSE KORRECTION! (editorial review)”

STAR TREK finally comes to DISCOVERY!!! (editorial review)

WARNING – There’s spoilers off the starboard bow!

People seem to think that I only write negative things about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…that I’ll never accept it and will always find something to criticize: uniforms, Klingons, lack of banter, etc.

Well, the pigs are flying folks! Satan is skating to work! And Jonathan Lane is about to write a 100% POSITIVE review of the latest episode of Discovery, “New Eden.”

What can I say? I loved it. It felt like I was watching STAR TREK…possibly for the first time since Burnham and Georgiou walked across that desert planet at the beginning of the premiere episode. Nothing bothered me…not the uniforms or the “non-canon” console graphics or even Tilly. Heck, I didn’t even mind that the magic mushroom drive once again saved the day.

When it’s good Star Trek—when it FEELS like good Star Trek—all the rest of the discontinuities with canon can be safely beamed out of my mind.

So what made this feel like “real” Star Trek to me…?

Continue reading “STAR TREK finally comes to DISCOVERY!!! (editorial review)”

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY season two premiere REVIEW – Am I back on board? Well…

WARNING: Teeny-weeny spoilers ahead

On Thursday night, I watched the season two premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, the episode”Brother.” I also watched the latest episode of The Orville just before because fate and network programming executives have seen fit that new episodes of both shows debut on the same night!

Well…

Mostly, the reviews I’ve read seem to be positive. My friend Dave even texted me the following morning and said, “Considering all the banter, I thought you’d have enjoyed it…”

For me, it wasn’t that simple. “It was good” or “it was bad” or “it was better than season one” or “it was closer to Star Trek” oversimplifies what I consider to be a very complex reaction to a show that is obviously hitting the “reset” button after its first season struggled to attract an audience. Discovery had to make a lot of course corrections for season two, and on some maneuvers it succeeded and leaves me hopeful—and for others, I sigh and shake my head as the show is still missing the mark…at least for me.

In other words: it’s complicated…

Continue reading “STAR TREK: DISCOVERY season two premiere REVIEW – Am I back on board? Well…”

Are video pirates LOSING INTEREST in CBS’s new SHORT TREKS?

Have video pirates lost their enthusiasm for the new SHORT TREKS mini-episodes being released by CBS…and possibly for new Star Trek in general?  If so, then it’s a sorta good news/bad news situation for CBS.  The good news is that video piracy hurts the bottom line for CBS.  So if folks are downloading Discovery and Short Treks without paying a subscription fee (to either All Access or Netflix), that’s potentially money out of CBS’ pocket.  So less piracy is a GOOD thing, right?

Well, here’s the bad news.  Video piracy is also a barometer, of sorts.  Does decreased interest in Short Treks by pirates imply that the general public is also not interested?  And what makes me say that video pirates are losing interest in Short Treks in the first place?

It all began early last month while I was having dinner with a friend (who shall remain nameless) who illegally downloads Star Trek: Discovery and Short Treks.  For the record, I personally do NOT do this, and I subscribed to CBS All Access from October 2017 through February 2018.  Here’s my e-mail receipt from them…

So just to be clear, I am NOT endorsing video piracy in any way.  This blog is simply looking at an existing trend from a journalistic perspective.  Video piracy (or any kind of digital piracy) is illegal and should not be attempted by anyone reading my blogs.

And now that that’s out of the way, back to my story…

Continue reading “Are video pirates LOSING INTEREST in CBS’s new SHORT TREKS?”

CBS ALL ACCESS releases its version of a fan film: SHORT TREKS (editorial review)

WARNING: there will be some spoilers LATER,
but I will give you ample advance notice.

Going in, I wasn’t certain what to make of the first of CBS All Access’ SHORT TREKS, four “mini-episodes” of Star Trek to be released once a month leading up to the January premiere of season two of the Discovery series.

I’ll be honest, part of me was ready to hate it.  It’s no secret that I was mostly disappointed and frustrated with nearly every episode of Star Trek: Discovery‘s first season.  And these Short Treks seemed to be just a way to “lure” fans into paying extra money to CBS not for 4 or 5 hours of new Trek episodes each month but for only 10 or 15 MINUTES of these brief vignettes.

Adding insult to injury for Trek fans outside of the U.S. and Canada (which are getting to see these four short films on the subscription services All Access and Space, respectively), Netflix has decided NOT to offer Short Treks…at least for now.  TrekMovie has some theories as to why (which you can read here), but basically, CBS offered and Netflix passed, as the latter service is more geared toward binge-watching behavior and accepts short films in batched packages, not one at a time.

So Short Treks was carrying a lot of baggage right out of the starting gate, for me and others.  Some fans have even been suggesting recently that CBS ripped off the concept of a short stand-alone vignette from fan films themselves.  To them, I say: so did Battlestar Galactica with “The Resistance” in 2006, “The Face of the Enemy” in 2008, and “Blood and Chrome” in 2011.  The Walking Dead has done numerous short-film webisodes also.  In other words, just because CBS had the idea to make mini-episodes, that doesn’t mean they “stole” the idea from fans…or from Syfy or AMC.  Sometimes a good idea is just a good idea.

But to me, at least, the first Short Trek, an episode entitled “Runaway” which debuted October 4, felt a lot like a fan film…especially now that CBS’s guidelines are limiting the run-time of Trek fan films to no more than 15 minutes.

The question is, though, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Continue reading “CBS ALL ACCESS releases its version of a fan film: SHORT TREKS (editorial review)”