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Jul 10 2017

Why I Think Star Trek: Discovery Will Be a Disaster

Yeah yeah, I know. “The show hasn’t even come out yet. Give it a chance.” But I’m usually right, so I’m going to predict the future, and we’ll find out just how right I am in September, or whenever this show actually airs. Star Trek: Discovery will be the first new Star Trek show in over a decade. All I know about this show is based on the trailer, and whatever news I’ve read. I’ve not seen an episode because… well, they haven’t released one yet.

According to Paramount’s press release, “STAR TREK: DISCOVERY will follow the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new lifeforms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself. The series will feature a new ship, new characters and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers.

So let’s break this down. First, production issues. This show has been absolutely plagued by them. Originally, Bryan Fuller was slated to be the showrunner. That was great news to fans because he started as a writer on Deep Space 9 and Voyager. This show was going to be set in the Prime universe, instead of in the JJ Abrams “Kelvin” universe. Social issues were the focal point for Fuller, who dedicated almost the entire Comic Con panel to deep throating the SJWs.

Which, let me be clear, isn’t a problem, if done well. Star Trek has always been a subtle social commentary. Instead of directly talking about segregation, they’d talk about segregation in an alien society. Star Trek broke the mold with the first interracial kiss on American television, and they were able to do it, by putting the two characters under mind control, so the viewers in the 60s wouldn’t have a conniption fit. But the Comic Con panel was over the top and boring as fuck. No new information, just that they would focus on social issues. Then Fuller left the show.

At the same time, Paramount has a stranglehold on the Star Trek franchise, while not understanding Star Trek. They know it makes money, but don’t seem to understand why. It’s like how DC makes superhero movies, right now. They see that Marvel does a thing, so they copy it, but do it poorly. Paramount saw that people liked JJ Abrams and gritty takes on things, so they let him make the Star Trek reboots. I could really go on a separate rant about those movies.

Meanwhile, Paramount will sue the ever living crap out of you, if you make a fan film about Star Trek. It’s their toy and no one else is allowed to play with it. Which, I get. I mean it is their property, but some of the fan films are better than Enterprise was. That’s because they are made by the nerds. They are made by the people who understand Star Trek. Instead of suing them, Paramount should hire them.

It was announced that Discovery would appear only on CBS’ All Access streaming service. Because that’s what the people want. They want to pay for cable and also pay for a subscription. Those of us who have cut the cord, enjoy paying for Netflix. And Hulu. And Amazon. And HBO. And YouTube Red. Of course we want to pay for yet another service. Fuck. At this point, we might as well just pay for a cable package. Now, I won’t be paying, because I have no ethical issues with piracy, but even if I did, it’s still a ridiculous business idea. Take a hugely popular product, and make it hard for fans to see it. Then when it fails (and it will), blame the fans. Well maybe don’t be such a dick about it. Put your popular show where the fans can see it. It will be popular, and you can sell ad space at a higher price. It’s like if they wanted to put the Super Bowl on a special channel where you had to pay extra just to see it. It would be a terrible idea. And it IS a terrible idea. It’s probably the biggest reason why this show will fail. People just wont pay extra for it. It won’t make any money, and Paramount will cancel it.

For Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary, there was almost no promotion from Paramount. No really special things. Even the news about Discovery was overshadowed by issues. It was repeatedly delayed. Cast announcements were slow. All we knew was that it would be on a ship called the USS Discovery, would be from the perspective of the First Officer, and would be set somewhere between Enterprise and The Original Series. For a company that keeps such a tight grip on Star Trek, Paramount doesn’t seem to care about Star Trek.

Speaking of which, that brings me to my next complaint. The timeline. How can I put this? STOP WITH THE FUCKING PREQUELS. Seriously. This is Star Trek. It’s futuristic. The opening monologue literally says “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year (continuing) mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” New. New worlds. New civilizations. To go where no man has gone before. So why the fuck are we doing prequels? I don’t want to see what led to Kirk. I don’t want to see events mentioned in passing during other shows. I want to see new things. I want to see them explore the edges of known space. I want to see them introduce new ships, new species, new cultures. Make the show take place AFTER the existing shows, not before them. I know why they do this. It’s just to milk the nostalgia. It’s as if Paramount saw how Star Wars fans hated Episodes 1, 2, and 3, and thought, “Ooo. Let’s do that.” It’s as if Paramount saw how Star Wars fans hated Episodes 1, 2, and 3, and thought, “Ooo. Let’s do that.”

Stop it.

Not to mention canon issues. The press release even mentions that we’ll see new things. On the face of it, you’d think that it would be exactly what I want. The problem is that if it’s a prequel, then it will influence the shows that take place after it. I mean, Enterprise had enough issues with canon on it’s own. Wait. Starfleet knew about the Borg? The Xindi attack happened and no one ever mentioned it? Oh right. Because it was added to the cannon later. Q knows what they’ll do in Discovery. Supposedly, there will be a crew member who is a new to Star Trek species. So I guess that crew member’s experiences will be so bad, that no one else from his planet will ever again join Starfleet in the entire canon of Star Trek?

The trailer had Klingons in it, I think. I mean, it’s hard to tell, because they don’t look like Klingons. There was a lot of confusion when The Search for Spock came out, because the Klingons looked very different. In reality, it was because the movie was given more of a budget for special effects. Later, in The Next Generation, the Klingons looked like they did in the movies. This was later explained in Enterprise as a failed scientific experiment. I think this was a great explanation, even if it wasn’t perfect. But that’s one time having a prequel worked out. Now we have a third type of Kllingon to explain?

More likely, they will have important events in Discovery, that can’t be mentioned in TOS, TNG, DS9, or Voyager. So what? The events weren’t important to remember? Then why make a show about it. They were important but no one remembers? They remember, but aren’t allowed to talk about them on camera? It just opens a huge Pandora’s Box of Problems.

From what I’ve read, this show has gone through so many changes and so many people have been involved, that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s in the Prime universe, but looks like it’s in the Kelvin universe. It wants to be new, but it also wants to feel familiar. It wants to be Star Trek, but doesn’t want to follow the Star Trek plan. Like, take for instance, the news that broke a month ago. Up until now, Starfleet officers were not to fight amongst themselves. Sure, they have disagreements, but they were supposed to be unified and Utopian. The conflict was supposed to be with non Federation members. Discovery, however, will not be limited by that. Various people involved said that they want to explore the human dynamic and part of that includes conflict.

Ok. I get it. But that’s not what I want to see. That’s not the Star Trek I want. I don’t want to see Kirk and Spock fighting each other. Either set it in the Kelvin universe, and we can just chalk it up to Paramount doing a cash grab, or don’t call it Star Trek.

The press release implies that it will be a sort of coming of age story about the main character. Again, that’s not what I want to see in Star Trek. I’m fine with developing characters over time. Take Jamie from Game of Thrones, for instance, who goes from seemingly quite evil, to a very relatable character. Don’t make it the forefront of the show. Actually, don’t make it about one person, at all. Star Trek works best when it has multiple perspectives. Sure, give each character an episode or two a year to really shine, but it should be an ensemble.

Oh. And what the fuck is with that logo? The star fleet logo with a split down the side? What is that supposed to mean? This is broken from Star Trek? Then why make it a Star Trek show? Just call it Discovery, and make it its own scifi series.

Visually, everything looks wrong. The transporter effect now is a grid? Lens flare? Seriously? The trailer had so many shots on an angle, one would be forgiven for thinking this was a found footage film. Now they have glass screens? Pixelated graphics on the main monitor? So much of the trailer looks like it would fit in the Kelvin timeline. So just do it. Hell, even Alex Kurtzman (who wrote the reboot) is involved in Discovery.

Here’s the thing. We nerds are a picky bunch. We don’t like change. We like what we like, and we like it the way we like it. I understand that Paramount wants to attract a new generation of fans. That’s what the reboots do. So put this show in the Kelvin timeline. To pass it off as a Prime show, is a disservice to the fans, and will be a business blunder to Paramount. If so, it could be decades before we get another chance at a Star Trek show. I fear that the negative reaction the fans will have for this show will outweigh any new fans it makes. Thus, Paramount, in an effort to make more money off of its prize property, will alienate those of us who made it a prize property.

This show could be great. I could be completely wrong about everything. Sadly, so far, I’ve not seen anything to inspire hope in this new trek through the stars. Ok. I feel dirty for that line. But I just rewatched the trailer, so that made me feel even more dirty.

About the author

Chris Dantes

My name is Chris. I currently live in Seattle, though I’m formerly from California. I’m a writer, comic, and superhero (allegedly).

I complain. A lot. About everything. I also tell jokes.

1 comment

2 pings

  1. K. Su

    Totally correct, Chris. Season premiere was very disappointing for many of the reasons you anticipated. Kelvinesque Trek, unwarranted conflict between crew members, meaningless action, no plot, no ensemble, a main character who should act Vulcan but doesn’t, and the Klingons– don’t get me started. Nothing about them was Klingon. Why change it all when Trek fans LOVE Klingons? Whatever committee stitched this thing together clearly did not understand Star Trek. Too bad.

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