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)”

FINALLY…DISCOVERY does a STAR TREK episode! (editorial review)

SPOILER WARNING (OF COURSE)!

There’s a misconception out there that I never write blogs that have anything nice to say about STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.  To hopefully dispel this silly rumor, I would like to acknowledge publicly that the eighth episode, titled “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” (“If you want peace, prepare for war”) was MARVELOUS!  I enjoyed it thoroughly in ways that I haven’t enjoyed the previous seven episodes.  In short, this episode was true Star Trek.

And it wasn’t just I who thought that.  Many fans, including After Trek host MATT MIRA agreed…

The woman to whom they are referring is episode writer Kirsten Beyer, who has also written nearly a dozen Star Trek: Voyager novels and is working with Pocket Books on the Discovery novels and IDW Publishing on their Star Trek: Discovery comic book series.  In other words, she’s a true, long-time fan…something that I’ve felt has been missing from the writing of the other seven episodes.

To me at least, the Star Trek elements of this series to date have felt more like last-minute add-ons to their scripts rather than an intrinsic part of them…almost like hanging Hallmark Star Trek ornaments onto a tree at Christmas.  Underneath all those decorations, it’s still just a tree without any inherent connection to Star Trek.

Not so with this eighth episode!  It really did feel like Star Trek.

Interestingly, this episode was NOT loaded up with references to canon.  It didn’t need them.  While some other episodes have tended to squeeze canon Easter eggs in like sardines—as if to say, “Look at how Star Trek we are!”—this episode included only a couple: a reference to the Prime Directive and the good ol’ “Needs of the many…” quote from Vulcan philosophy.  But rather than being add-ons to the story, both were essential parts of it.

Really, though, here’s what made this episode feel like it had the  true spirit of Star Trek for me…

Continue reading “FINALLY…DISCOVERY does a STAR TREK episode! (editorial review)”

HARRY MUDD – thief, swindler, con-man, liar, rogue…and SOCIOPATHIC MASS MURDERER??? (editorial review)

I really enjoyed the seventh episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

…until I didn’t.

Perhaps the title “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” forgives Harry Mudd’s descent into a bloodlust resulting in the repeated serial killing of Captain Lorca and the rest of the Discovery crew while stuck in a repeating time-loop.

Perhaps having that kind of “cosmic undo” power made Harry snap and become someone other than the lovable but conniving scoundrel we’d come to know and laugh at over the past 50 years.  And maybe that insanity was, in fact, only temporary—and ten years later, Mudd will return to just being, as Kirk said, a thief, swindler, con-man, liar, and rogue…and no longer a mass murderer.

As I watched this week’s episode, I actually thought it was a lot of fun.  As countless other fans noted, it was like the movie Groundhog Day, only told through the perspective of the other residents of the quiet hamlet of Punxsutawney, and where Bill Murray is replaced by a malevolent sadist who is out to kill all the townspeople and destroy the town itself.  And of course, the parallels to TNG‘s wonderful fifth season episode “Cause and Effect” are also pretty evident…except that the spatial anomaly is replaced by a homicidal lunatic who is out to murder the crew and obliterate the Enterprise-D.

But really, it was fun watching and re-watching and re-re-watching Lorca get murdered and the Discovery blow up time and again.  I’m not sure what that says about me—or about the writers on the show who came up with a script that included such scenes!—but perhaps because we all knew it was a time-loop and that nobody would die at the end, that makes it all okay, right?

Right???

As I thought more about the episode, though, I began to wonder…

Continue reading “HARRY MUDD – thief, swindler, con-man, liar, rogue…and SOCIOPATHIC MASS MURDERER??? (editorial review)”

Are YOU a CAPTAIN LORCA? Am I??? (editorial review)

Spoiler warning!   Beige Alert!

“Choose Your Pain.”

That was the title of the fifth and possibly best-yet episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.  Like many of the strongest stories of literature and cinema, the title “Choose Your Pain” works on multiple levels.

  • “Choose your pain” is what the Klingons say to the captives on their prison ship before beating the living crap out of one of them.
  • Michael Burnham is, arguably, choosing her pain when she holds onto the loss of Captain Georgiou and wallows in her seemingly endless morass of un-Vulcan-like self-pity and guilt.
  • Saru, likewise, is holding onto the loss of Captain Georgiou but also to his pain at having not been chosen to be her first officer and thereby not being able to learn from her experience and wisdom in the same way Burnham did.
  • Captain Lorca can and should get his eyes fixed, but he chooses not to.  He holds onto the pain the light causes him and lives in mostly dark places, a harsh reminder of the heartrending decision he made during his previous command of the USS Buran.

(Please note, there’s a theory currently making its way around fandom that the Lorca we’ve seen so far is actually a Mirror Universe counterpart of the “real” Lorca.  The reason the Buran was destroyed was to eliminate any witnesses—including the “good” Lorca—and that the whole interchange was orchestrated by Section 31 in order to acquire a captain who knew how to be ruthless in fighting the Klingons.  The reason that Lorca refuses to get his eyes fixed—a problem stemming from being transported to this universe—is that he doesn’t want the doctors to discover what he really is.)

Obviously, my blog today assumes that the above theory is NOT the case.  Instead, let’s just assume that Lorca is merely a man who was forced to make a tragic decision to destroy his ship and kill his crew to save them all from slow, painful deaths on Qo’Nos.  For this, Lorca has chosen to keep his pain as a reminder…and potentially as self punishment for what he did.

Like Lorca, I and many other Trek fans who are either not watching the show or frequently complaining about it are choosing to hold onto our “pain.”  We simply can’t seem to let go of our issues with the new series and  enjoy Star Trek: Discovery for everything it gives to us as fans.  Like Lorca, we choose to continue living in our dark places.

In short, WE ARE LORCA! Continue reading “Are YOU a CAPTAIN LORCA? Am I??? (editorial review)”

Why STAR TREK: DISCOVERY makes me sad… (editorial)

WARNING – some spoilers from the fourth episode of  Discovery.  Read at your own risk.

It seems that I’m now doing weekly reviews/ editorials about this show.  Not sure how long I’ll keep it up, but with each new episode, I realize something else that I want to share with you guys.

But before I do that…!

I AM ENJOYING STAR TREK: DISCOVERY!!!  It’s a very well-written and well-produced show with strong visual effects, amazing production values, fast-paced editing, interesting characters, fantastic music, and a very compelling story line.  It’s excellent television, and I am truly entertained when I watch it.

But it’s still not Star Trek to me.

Star Trek doesn’t make me feel sad about the present and possibly the future as well.  Star Trek doesn’t remind me of how much the world has changed (for the worse) since the terrorist attacks of 9-11.  Instead, Star Trek gives me hope for a BETTER future than what we have now.

Star Trek always made me believe that human beings can and will achieve something better for ourselves and for others.  Want to make America great, or better yet, make the world great?  Then make HUMANITY better, and the rest of what we do will follow.  Star Trek used to demonstrate those possibilities to me…episode after wondrous episode.

So why does Star Trek: Discovery make me feel sad?  And why the heck do I have pictures of a Pakled, Hugh the Borg, the USS Voyager alongside the USS Equinox, and the Tardigrade creature from this week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery?

Because I’d like to make a point about this new series—one of many, I admit, but continuing on with my central theme that, as good as this show is, it isn’t “my” Star Trek…and why that makes me sad.

Continue reading “Why STAR TREK: DISCOVERY makes me sad… (editorial)”

My real problem with DISCOVERY – the ship is full of D*CKS! (editorial / supplemental review)

Captain’s blog, supplemental.  While I’m going to try to keep this follow-up review less spoiler-y than my last one, a few minor spoilers might creep in.  Consider this your official warning.

My STAR TREK: DISCOVERY review from last Thursday certainly hit a lot of nerves, but it also gave a lot of people an incorrect impression that I didn’t like the new series and that I wanted CBS to fail.  What I actually said was that I didn’t feel like Discovery was “my” Star Trek—the Star Trek that I have held in my heart for these past five decades.

And yes, when it comes to imagining what a war with the Klingons would have looked like a decade or two before Kirk, my “head canon” will remain with Axanar, and I’ll think of Discovery as some kind of alternate universe like the JJ Abrams movies.

But that doesn’t mean that think Discovery is a bad show or that I won’t be watching it.  In fact, last night at a friend’s home, I had a chance to see the third episode of the new series, “Context Is for Kings.”

So, is Discovery STILL not “my” Star Trek…or did they manage to change my mind?

Continue reading “My real problem with DISCOVERY – the ship is full of D*CKS! (editorial / supplemental review)”

DISCOVERY vs. AXANAR – choose “your” KLINGON WAR! (editorial / review)

WARNING – SPOILERS!!!  Lots and lots and lots of SPOILERS!!!


I really WANTED to like Star Trek: Discovery.  And to be honest, some things I actually DID like.  Sonequa Martin-Green put in a great performance playing the character of Commander Michael Burnham, and I loved the dynamic of seeing two women interacting as captain and first officer of a starship…and neither was caucasian!  (If only both characters could have continued beyond two episodes, but alas, we’ll soon be back to a captain who’s a white male.  Oh well, at least we’ve still got a black female lead.)

I even really liked some of the scenes…like when Burnham talks the ship’s computer into letting her out of the brig before power goes out.  But in the end, I just really didn’t enjoy the show overall—at least the first two episodes.  It was so dark (visually and emotionally), and I just couldn’t grab onto that uplifting feeling I used to get when watching Star Trek.  This new show felt so weighed down to me that even when things were moving quickly, they still seemed somehow slow and heavy.  A couple of times during those Klingon scenes with the never-ending subtitles, I nearly dozed off!

And it wasn’t even the Klingon actors’ fault they were so boring.  The decision to completely redesign the look of the Klingons not only alienated many long-time Trek fans, but it made it virtually impossible for those actors to deliver decent performances.

Imagine if you were asked to give a compelling performance while wearing a medieval suit of knight’s armor with the face-plate covering every part of your face except your mouth. You can barely move your head except a little side to side—very little!—and your arms won’t go any higher than your chest. You can’t even bend your elbows!  And then, before you go in front of the camera, you realize that all of your lines are in Polish…and your don’t speak Polish!  Sounds like an actor’s worst nightmare, right?  Well, that was pretty much the assignment these unfortunate Klingons were given.

And as I was considering this, I began to imagine what Discovery would have been like had they NOT redesigned the Klingons…or the Starfleet uniforms…or made the starships into barely-recognizable whatever-they-were…or had a dark bridge covered with lens flares.  What would Discovery have looked like then?

And then I realized: it would have looked a lot like Axanar

Continue reading “DISCOVERY vs. AXANAR – choose “your” KLINGON WAR! (editorial / review)”

Great news for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…or is it? (news and editorial, part 2)

Rather than writing a review of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (that’s coming tomorrow), I decided to take a look at the bigger picture.  Were the record sign-ups right after the premiere really “big news” or simply the inevitable result of hundreds of millions of dollars in production and advertising/marketing budgets?  Also, what does it tell us that CBS remains so reluctant to provide hard numbers about how many people actually subscribed last night?

As I said in yesterday’s blog, my goal here is NOT to try to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory for CBS.  I’m actually very happy that Star Trek: Discovery did so well in both ratings and sign-ups.  This means that the worst-case scenario—CBS simply assumes that Star Trek has run its course and is no longer a viable sci-fi franchise—has been avoided.  Nearly 10 million people watched the free network TV premiere on Sunday night.  So anyone accusing me of sour grapes is wrong.  Wet blanket, yes.  Sour grapes, no.

My desire, to be honest, is to simply take a wider look at this new series…beyond just Sunday night or this one week.  Now that the horse is fast out of the starting gate, what are the challenges facing Star Trek: Discovery in terms of keeping and growing its viewership?  Obviously, CBS is in a unique situation due to its decision to require viewers to pay to see episodes of the new series.  How does that affect their goal of attracting and keeping viewers?

Continue reading “Great news for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…or is it? (news and editorial, part 2)”

Great news for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…or is it? (news and editorial, part 1)

The news seems to be REALLY great for the premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.  According to a press release quickly and enthusiastically circulated by an exuberant CBS, the premiere of the newest Star Trek TV series has resulted in record-breaking sign-ups for the ALL ACCESS streaming service:

Tonight’s premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY on CBS All Access, the CBS Television Network’s digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service, broke a new record for subscriber sign-ups in a single day, eclipsing the previous record held by the 2017 GRAMMY Awards®.

In addition to its single day subscriber sign-up record, CBS All Access experienced its best week and month ever for sign-ups due to the launch of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, the fall kick-off of the NFL ON CBS on the service’s live local feeds and the season finale of BIG BROTHER and the BIG BROTHER LIVE FEEDS.

Also, the free premiere on the regular CBS network was watched by 9.6 million people.

But before people start gulping down too much champagne (although there is certainly reason for celebration), I’d like to mention a few things that CBS and fans should be noting.

Now, I realize this blog is going to sound like a wet blanket, but please make no mistake: I am ABSOLUTELY, SINCERELY HAPPY that so many people liked the new show!  (I personally wasn’t thrilled with it, although I do plan to watch more episodes eventually.)

But I’m also a business strategist trained to look at multiple aspects of a situation.  As I did in my previous blog about Star Trek: Discovery, I want to take a look at the whole picture…which is, of course, impacted significantly by CBS’s decision to offer their new Star Trek series exclusively as a paid streaming video-on-demand service.

So yes, the news is definitely good for CBS.  But it might be a little too soon to consider the game won…

Continue reading “Great news for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…or is it? (news and editorial, part 1)”

Did CBS doom STAR TREK: DISCOVERY by putting it on ALL ACCESS? (editorial, part 2)

In yesterday’s blog, while many Star Trek fans are debating uniforms, starships, bridge lighting, hairless Klingons, and adopted human sisters, I decided to look at a much more fundamental question regarding the new Star Trek: Discovery television series.  Was it a good or bad business decision by CBS to make the new show available (at least in the U.S) exclusively via subscription to their ALL ACCESS streaming service?

We already looked at CBS’s decision to target the series to a younger audience, based on a statement made be CBS President and CEO Les Moonves back in May.  This means that the older, more loyal Star Trek fans, “yesterday’s fan-base” as I call them, aren’t the primary target…which is kinda why Discovery isn’t sweating the details in hewing to established Star Trek canon.

Instead, CBS is focusing their attention and hopes on younger viewers who are more likely to subscribe to a brand new streaming video on demand (SVOD) service than the older fans.

Ah, but therein lies the rub!

These younger viewers don’t have an existing, decades-long relationship with Star Trek.  They weren’t watching TOS when it first aired in the 1960s or grew up with it in the 1970s.  They didn’t even watch TNG in the 1980s and 1990s as kids.  All those folks are already pushing 40 (or 50 or 60 or 70!)  CBS is targeting viewers in their 30s or even 20s.  By the time these younger viewers were old enough to watch Star Trek, the ratings for the show had already plummeted and few people were watching at all.

In other words, the vast majority of these young viewers aren’t really Star Trek “fans.”  To them, Discovery is more like a new science fiction show based on an old series that their parents or grandparents used to watch…except this version has cool sets, dazzling VFX, action, adventure, and a TV-MA rating.  And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.  I don’t fault CBS for choosing to make the new series young and hip.

But they made another choice to put the new series exclusively on the ALL ACCESS subscription service here in the U.S.  And today, I want to look at some of the consequences of that decision—not from the perspective of an angry fan (which I’m not; I actually want the new series to succeed), but as a business analyst.

Continue reading “Did CBS doom STAR TREK: DISCOVERY by putting it on ALL ACCESS? (editorial, part 2)”