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Topic: STAR TREK: DISCOVERY - New TV Series Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 30 September 2017 at 5:47pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I didn't hate Discovery. I thought it was entertaining despite the fact I didn't like the main character. I just didn't think it was very Star Trek. I think the Orville is more of Roddenberry's vision of what Star Trek was supposed to be, a bright shiny future where we've solved mankind's problems and made our way to the stars and are off exploring strange new worlds. A future you'd want to live in. The future in Discovery looks terrifying. As I said earlier, if the producers of this weren't so insistent to say this is a prequel to the original series, despite all evidence to the contrary, and not part of the Kelvin timeline which would've made so much more sense, I likely would've gone a lot easier with the "griping" and enjoyed it more for what it is, which is essentially a prequel film to the actual series, only half of which did they show viewers for free (which also made little sense.. why not show them the whole story to get them to pony up for CBS All Access? Dick move, CBS.). I will be watching more episodes and giving it a chance to possibly improve, though I doubt I"ll ever like the main character. For all its flaws, and it had many, Enterprise still felt like Star Trek (for the most part), and I'm willing to give Discovery the benefit of the doubt and hoping we'll get some episodes that involve exploration and, well, discovery, rather than, as Kirkman said, just war and more war, which is all we've seen so far. Granted, we've only seen the pilot (though we still haven't met the actual main cast).  
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 01 October 2017 at 9:07am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I'd like to reiterate that, from what I saw, DISCOVERY has potential, and is competently made. Gorgeous visual effects, good pacing. I'm not so sold on story and characters.

Not unlike the Abrams films, as a show, it's not terrible. But, if it has STAR TREK in the title, then I'm gonna judge it by that standard. As has been noted by myself and others, a number of problems would evaporate if this was a straight-up reboot and/or not a TOS prequel. As a TOS prequel, it fails on every level. Visuals, continuity, tone. All competely and hopelessly incongruous with the parent show. People make excuses about how you can't be beholden to a 50-year-old series, but it just comes down to writing and effort. If they actually wanted to try, it could be done, and in a way which is both respectful of the material, and doesn't look "cheesy" (a word I've come to hate).

While I respect the notion of trying something different, that something different feels more like chasing a popular trend (the long-form storytelling of GAME OF THRONES and various Netflix shows), and using the TREK brand-name as a marketing hook to sell CBS' streaming service.

I stand by my assertion that the STAR TREK series format doesn't need changing. All you need to do is tweak the style, themes, and production values to fit modern times. But, the episodic, "planet of the week" format gives you an endless amount of flexibility for storytelling, and focusing on a single plotline is a major departure from that. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. We'll see.

In terms of experimental STAR TREK, DS9 is the most relevant example. That show also did a war arc, which ran for several seasons. But--and this is the important part--there were still "planet of the week" episodes interspersed throughout, the tone could still be lighthearted, and the characters will still heroic. Even Sisko, who crossed into major gray areas, was still heroic, and did what he did for the right reasons. 

Again, I can only speak for part one of the two-part prequel to the actual DISCOVERY pilot, but Burnham comes across as a rather unlikeable f***up who will now be on a redemption arc. STAR TREK hasn't really done a redemption arc, unless you count Seven of Nine, or the Maquis who came aboard Voyager. Just as TNG's "perfect" characters who didn't argue took things too far in one direction, so does swinging the pendulum the other way. 

So, right there, several major elements of the STAR TREK format have been removed: the positive, optimistic view of the future, the use of the "planet of the week" format to explore a broad canvas of social topics, and heroic, inspirational characters. Dragging the future down to our level is not the STAR TREK way. 

For me, THE ORVILLE is far and away the winner, in terms of spiritual successors to STAR TREK. It may not be perfect, but I'm engaged by it, charmed by it, and eagerly look forward to seeing each episode. DISCOVERY did not feel at all like STAR TREK, for me. It may head in that direction as time goes on, but I had a lousy first impression.

People have made a lot of comparisons with TNG's rough start, but I call that a false equivalency. TNG had the proper elements from the start, and its problems boiled down to writing and behind-the-scenes conflict. Eventually, the show found its identity, and made good use of the STAR TREK format, with a brightful future and an exploration of a very wide range of topics. People want to live on the Enterprise-D, and with good reason. That future is something to aspire to. 

DISCOVERY has the potential to become a great show, but I'm not sure it can become a great STAR TREK show. As Generic Space Adventure, it's entertaining enough, but that's not enough. For me, at least.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 01 October 2017 at 9:13am
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 01 October 2017 at 10:51am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Unfortunately, STAR TREK is now an exploitable brand name in an increasingly imagination-deficient industry.   Pretty much any identifiable piece of pop culture (and even the cult things) has been dusted off, revamped and mined for it's merchandising potential.   

Unless it's a clean slate sweep like NuBSG or a continuation that at least pays some heed to it's earlier incarnation, like DOCTOR WHO, it usually damages the property in the long term.

ENTERPRISE should have been written off as non-canon like they did with TAS at one point (though some parts of it are now grudgingly accepted as canon) and that should have been the end of it.  The stakeholders and creative types though are in a state of denial about the quality of ENT (regardless of what fans and ratings told them) and instead of just admitting it was a misfire they continue to ram that square peg into a round hole at every opportunity.  The creative forces behind DISCOVERY are also in a similar state of denial.

The people behind STAR WARS crapped out that HOLIDAY SPECIAL and even PHANTOM MENACE was a bit of a misstep (ironically, it's more STAR TREK-ish with it's interplanetary intrigue and dialogue heavy scenes) but they dealt with those mistakes by either ignoring them or never returning to that style of storytelling and aesthetics.  Nor do they force you take the bad with the good if you want to continue to enjoy STAR WARS.  I used to think STAR TREK was the more mature storytelling platform but it can't seem to shake it's equivalent of a four year long HOLIDAY SPECIAL and move on.



 



Edited by Rob Ocelot on 01 October 2017 at 10:57am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 01 October 2017 at 1:59pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Unfortunately, STAR TREK is now an exploitable brand name in an increasingly imagination-deficient industry.   Pretty much any identifiable piece of pop culture (and even the cult things) has been dusted off, revamped and mined for it's merchandising potential.   
+++++++

The inherent problem with good pop culture art is that, because of its popularity, it will eventually be strip-mined and exploited by people who see dollar signs instead of wanting to project artistic ideas into the mainstream. I have little doubt that DISCOVERY is STAR TREK by corporate committee, just like STAR WARS has become. It boils down to demographic appeal and visual razzle-dazzle instead of characters and ideas. 

The good stuff kinda needs to stay under the radar to maintain its integrity, but, if it stays so low that nobody sees it, it doesn't get made. It's a fine line to walk. 

If STAR TREK had been more commercial (dumbed-down sci-fi schlock, in other words), and had become a big hit on NBC, I kinda doubt that we'd still be talking about it, today.

Money ruins everything! Traditionally, the best STAR TREK has always been the stuff produced on a lower budget, and with restrictions. That causes the focus to shift to storytelling instead of visuals and action. The difference between THE MOTION PICTURE (huge budget, boring visual effects extravaganza) and THE WRATH OF KHAN (low budget, down-and-dirty, character-focused story) is like night and day.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 01 October 2017 at 2:05pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I do NOT like the redesign of the Klingons. 
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Bob Simko
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Posted: 01 October 2017 at 6:59pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

As a show, it's kept me interested enough to want to keep watching.
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Bob Simko
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Posted: 01 October 2017 at 7:16pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I do NOT like the redesign of the Klingons.
***********************

This was something I did like. Looked intimidating and ominous without
looking like a bad take on a KISS rip-off.

Their ships were a little unnecessarily wonky looking.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 02 October 2017 at 7:24am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Thought the third episode was pretty good. Burnham continues to be too much of a Mary Sue and Starfleet seems to have a problem with snarky talkback between crew, but I'm finding the show compelling. Jason Isaacs makes an interesting captain and I like Doug Jones as Saru as well, from what little we've seen of him. Cadet Tilly needs to be dialled back a little I think, but that may happen as a natural progression. 
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 02 October 2017 at 7:43am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I should add, the Tribble was an annoying piece of fan service.
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Steve De Young
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Posted: 02 October 2017 at 9:19am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Now that we're getting to know the actual main characters, I am enjoying the show a little more.  There's still the basic problem of me having to ignore the claims that this is an in-continuity, prime timeline prequel to TOS.  I still don't understand why they're making that claim, it creates massive problems for them and solves precisely none.  On top of everything else, we now know that the big research project that is Discovery's main focus...isn't going to pan out, because this is a prequel.

What I Liked:  I liked the idea that the Discovery is a research science vessel, which explains its unique design, and means we'll have different sorts of adventures than the 'responding to distress calls' and popping in on random colonies/unexplored planets that we're used to.  As mentioned before, the characters.

What was Meh:  I have no feel for the bridge of the Discovery whatsoever.  It just seems generic.  I'm not even sure of the layout.  This week's critter.  The whole thing felt like a Doctor Who episode, minus the denouement where we find out that the creature is misunderstood.  Though the critter is still around, so it may be yet to come.

What I Didn't Like:  Rather than trying to get to the core of what Star Trek is about, or what separates Star Trek from other sci-fi, we're getting a (fairly well done) sci-fi show peppered with Trek subreferences.  Oh look, a tribble.  Hey, she called it a Jefferies' Tube.  Also, the uniforms are not growing on me.  Possibly its because of the shoulder bands, but it looks like a 50's sci-fi/Zap Brannigan/Captain Proton kind of thing to me.  Also, the bronze, silver, and gold can be difficult to make out with the way the show is lit, so on Trek staple, different colors for different branches of service, is effectively missing.  Everyone just sort of looks like a Space Cadet to me in those suits.  Uniforms have evolved in the past (see TNG) so hopefully these can be reworked into something more Trek-like.


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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 02 October 2017 at 11:56am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I'm completely baffled by the marketing strategy behind this - show a first episode that features only one (correct me if I'm wrong) of the major characters from the series as a whole, end it on a cliffhanger, and expect people to pay to watch the rest.  It's... weird.  I just don't know what CBS is thinking.  If they want to get a large audience to subscribe to All Access, why not go with a big audience show like the Sheldon Big Bang spinoff, or something?
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 02 October 2017 at 12:16pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Dave, take a look at Steve De Young's post about halfway down on page 16 of this thread -- I think it gives a plausible answer to your question.

As Steve explained, putting Star Trek behind a paywall "gives them a bargaining chip with the cable and satellite companies to get a higher return in the licensing fees they pay CBS to run their channel."
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