Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Star Trek Discovery. A Review and a Performance Review

I have been a fan of Star Trek since the beginning.  I watched the first episode of the Original Series when it premiered and have been at least a moderate fan of even the recent, lesser incarnations of the franchise.  Admittedly it takes a bit for me to get enthused about the frenetic J.J. Abrams reboot movies.

So, here we are in the fall of 2017 with a brand spankin' new Star Trek series.  And for the moment most people will only see, and thereby judge it by, the first episode.

Star Trek Discovery is a creation of a network (CBS) that is trying desperately to remain relevant by becoming something else (Netflix. Also the Huffington Post I think). After the first episode fans hungry for more will have to sign up for their premium streaming service at six bucks a month.

One would think that this being their big chance the bright minds at CBS would have done what it took to create a - ahem - stellar pilot episode.  Alas, not.

The plot was generic.  A Federation communications satellite goes off line.  The Not Enterprise goes out to investigate. Klingons are found lurking.  The very twitchy first officer puts on a space suit to investigate.  She gets a really bad sunburn, kills a Klingon warrior about twice her size and then decides to start a war.  She assaults her captain and takes over command of the ship. Nobody stands up to her because her immediate subordinate is written to be the ultimate timid Beta Male.  And nobody else has any personality at all.  They sit at their stations peering up like browbeaten inhabitants of Dilbert's Cubicleville.

I assume that the First Officer character got the following Performance Review:

"Commander Burnham demonstrates complete dominance over the officers and crew under her command.  Her interactions with other members of the command hierarchy range from visible contempt to active violence.  She assaulted and incapacitated her captain at a critical moment in order to give the command to fire upon a vessel that had shown no hostile intent.  While we do find fault in her failure to actually kill her captain the overall performance of this officer is considered exemplary."

"She is recommended for immediate promotion."

Klingon High Command

The rest of the cast are as I mentioned non entities other than the captain.  She is played by an Asian woman whose depiction of a star ship captain as a serene monk is interesting....but whoever did sound work on this show made her lines mushy, very difficult to understand.  How I miss Patrick Stewart's rich English accent!

Prior to its premier this program was getting a lot of attention, much of it negative, for the degree to which it went down the Social Justice Warrior track.  Don't get me wrong, Star Trek has always been more about the problems of our times than it has been about any kind of plausible future.  And when it is done well it makes for thought provoking and entertaining stuff.  But in the unfortunate footsteps of the Ghostbusters reboot, when you make the "Message" about as subtle as smacking the viewer in the face with a halibut it is off putting.  Let's review, shall we?

Strong female characters, and ethnic females to boot, who are in charge of things and able to slay huge Klingons.

First male character introduced is an alien whose people are genetically programmed to subservience and fear.

Upcoming male character - per trailer during the show - is the fellow who played the sneering, evil, bigoted Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter Universe.

Klingons who are just going about some obscure religious practices. At the end of Episode One they were about to be fired upon by an irrational, hostile Star Fleet Officer who had just usurped the legitimate authority of Captain Al Gore.  (alright, the captains name was actually Giorgiou but its almost an acronym.)  Have a little War on Terrorism vibe going on here?

And so forth.  

Hey, there's a market for all points of view and for all forms of entertainment.  But will this level of technical mediocrity and indolent, hackneyed script writing launch CBS into the financial promised land of profitable media?

Hmmmm.....if so it will be without my contribution.

1 comment:

The Old Man said...

I didn't even bother to watch the pilot - somehow I knew there would be a turd floating in the punchbowl.
Reminds me of the death of the Golden Goose (see NFL 2017)......