DISCOVERY’s “All Is Possible” is three STAR TREK episodes in one…yes, I said STAR TREK! (editorial review)

My friends, we’ve got SPOILERS…right here in River City…with a capital “S” that’s, um, also the first letter of STAR TREK!

THIS!!! This is what I (and many fans) have been waiting for!

There’s no question that season 4 of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY has been their strongest start so far…although that’s not setting the bar particularly high. Season one was a train wreck. Season two was saved by ANSON MOUNT as Pike (so much so that his new Star Trek series is premiering in just a few more months). Season three started off a bit better, but dystopian futures have been done to death. That’s not what Star Trek should be about. The future is bright in Star Trek—even if there’s threats to overcome like the Borg or Dominion—it’s just knowing that the Federation is there as a beacon of hope to the galaxy that grounds Star Trek in a foundation that promises that…well…”All Is Possible.”

That’s the title of this fourth episode of season four. And it stands as proof—proof, I say!—that Discovery CAN do Star Trek…real Star Trek—not something that, if you squint just the right way, you can convince yourself is Star Trek.

So what happened?

The show hasn’t suddenly changed overnight. The evolution has been slow and steady over the four episodes of this season so far. And it’s possible that this fourth episode was a fluke and the fifth or sixth or seventh episodes (or all of them) will have the same old—or new—problems. Or this could be the start of a run of really strong episodes that make fans think, “Hey, maybe they really are finally figuring out how to do this show.”

But again, what was it about this particular episode that they get so right that they haven’t gotten right before (at least not all in one episode)? Let’s take a closer look…

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Did STAR TREK: DISCOVERY just tell us that Admiral Vance is (metaphorically) ALEX KURTZMAN??? (editorial review)

SPOILERS BE SPOILIN’, BRUH!

After I watched the third episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s fourth season, “Choose to Live,” I was torn about what to focus on in this blog. There were so many possibilities going through my mind! So before I get to paying off the headline that got you here (feel free to skip to the end to read about the how I think there is a “not so secret” message for the Kurtzman haters embedded at the end of the episode), let me tell you a few other thoughts that I had about this one…

BUT FIRST!!!

Before I begin, let me say in ALL CAPS and bold italics: THIS WAS A VERY ENJOYABLE EPISODE!!!! Each of the three episodes this season have been superior to most of what Discovery has done before. People keep reading my blogs and complaining that I hate Discovery and just want to find reasons to trash it. No, no, no! I want to DISCUSS it—both the good and the bad. If the show was perfect each week, I’d have nothing interesting to say other than, “Hey, wasn’t that a great episode???” If all I ever did was bash the show, then why am I still watching it each week? Instead, I try to call balls and strikes as I see them as a starting point for thinking about the series and analyzing what’s working and not working. If that’s not your thing, then don’t bother with my blog. No need for insults on Facebook.

Okay, NOW for my thoughts on this episode…

JUGGLING TOO MANY SUB-PLOTS?

Last week I discussed how many things were going on simultaneously in the second episode: 1) Book’s emotional devastation over the destruction of his planet and loss of his family, 2) Michael’s struggles balancing command with personal feelings, 3) Saru’s return to Discovery, 4) Tilly’s problems adjusting to her new normal, 5) Adira’s uncertainty about Gray getting a new Soong-synth body, 6) Stamets’ feeling of inadequacy and struggles relating to Book…plus there was the anomaly to learn about and the fact that flames and rocks are spontaneously erupting onto the bridge during red alert!

Well, if I (or you) were hoping for a few less spinning plates this episode, that didn’t happen. This episode juggled the following plot lines: 1) Michael’s relationship with her mother, 2) Tilly is still having her existential crisis, 3) Book is still dealing with his pain, 4) Stamets is trying to figure out the anomaly but can’t find those darn tachyons, 5) Gray’s consciousness is now in the new synth body, but he’s not waking up…all of this while dealing with a rogue Romulan ninja nun with an ends-justify-the-means mentality (and a badass sword).

Well, I suppose the good news is that that’s one less ball in the air than last week AND nothing was spitting out flames at the bridge crew…!

Continue reading “Did STAR TREK: DISCOVERY just tell us that Admiral Vance is (metaphorically) ALEX KURTZMAN??? (editorial review)”

Some thoughts on “TOXIC” fandom… (editorial)

The “fallout” from my Star Trek Day blog editorial continues even five days later…on Facebook, in the comments section of that blog, and even via e-mail. In fact, after sharing my excitement over the new Trek series with my best friend, he was adamant in his resistance to the new direction of Star Trek.

You can slap the name on it but it don’t make it Star Trek! Okay, maybe it’s a little bit Trek, but it really is just bad TV, forget bad Star Trek. Terrible writing, terrible acting, bad directing. Unwatchable to me. If I had never seen Trek I still wouldn’t watch it as just below the standards of everything else I prioritize.

Yeesh! Well, hoping that I might be able to change his mind just a little, I sent my friend something I was really psyched about: the just-released trailer for the brand new animated series Star Trek: Prodigy

He watched it, but my friend was NOT impressed…

Terrible.  Not recognizable as Star Trek no matter how much you put old Trek actors in the show.  It’s all young kids, stupid aliens, and action and special effects.  It’s not about people and it lacks any depth and intellectualism.  It bears no resemblance to Star Trek.

I joked to my friend that I was a Star Trek “liberal,” and he was a Star Trek “conservative.” This is also true in real political life. He voted for Trump and other GOP presidential candidates going back decades (although he has recently left the Republican party and re-registered as an Independent, but he is still quite conservative), and I’ve voted for Democrats pretty much since I turned 18. And yet, we’re best friends…we just constantly argue about politics. Yes, folks, it CAN be done!

However, in reference to Star Trek, I was using the terms “liberal” and “conservative” not politically but literally…as in dictionary definition of each word. Liberal literally means “open to new ideas, not bound by traditional forms.”  I’m totally that way when it comes to Star Trek. I have a love/hate relationship with Discovery, and I think Picard did well for eight episodes and then jumped the shark on the last two in its first season (and the villains totally sucked). But I remain open and supportive of the various new series…as I’ve said in countless blog posts.

As a comparison, conservative means “tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions.” That’s my friend (and many fans) when it comes to Star Trek these days. And back in 1987, it was those “conservative” fans who thought Star Trek must be about Kirk and Spock (or maybe Captain Sulu) and 23rd century adventures, not a bald French captain with an English accent in the 24th century flying around in a starship that looked like a pregnant duck.

In short, my friend is Scotty looking at the U.S.S. Excelsior and saying, “Aye, and if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon.” And I’m Kirk responding, “Now, now, Mr. Scott…young minds, fresh ideas. Be tolerant.”

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If STAR TREK supposedly “sucks,” then why did ALEX KURTZMAN just get a $160 MILLION mega-deal??? (editorial)

Over the past few days, there has been a combination of irate indignation, embarrassed disbelief, and smug “I toldja so!”s going around Star Trek fandom faster than COVID at a super-spreader event! And all of this is because ViacomCBS just inked a five-and-a-half year, $160 million development deal with ALEX KURTZMAN and his SECRET HIDEOUT production company.

Make no mistake, this is a HUGE agreement…even for Hollywood. It’s comparable to other recent 9-figure mega-deals like the ones Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy just inked with Netflix and Jordan Peele closed with Amazon Studios. Kurtzman is now sitting quite pretty and comfortably as not only an unquestioned powerhouse in the entertainment industry (and at CBS specifically) but also as the unquestioned and unchallenged “Trek Tsar” (get it?) for at least the next half-decade.

Some fans were not amused.

After confident (and often arrogant) prognostications that Mr. Kurtzman was not only on the way out at CBS but had already been fired—multiple times!!!—over his “humiliating failures” with the Star Trek franchise, news of this mega-deal shocked most of these previously self-assured fans. It has sent many of them into an overly dramatic show of resigned indignation, like this fellow…

Some folks just couldn’t accept that VCBS actually loves Alex Kurtzman—even AFTER the deal was announced. Amusingly, I was chatting with one of these people the day before the announcement, and we had this exchange (I am not sharing this individual’s name). My comments are in blue…

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