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Karl Zimmerman
Tue, Jan 16, 2018, 1:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Wolf Inside

The episodes might not be shorter, but I'm pretty sure they have less dialogue than classic Trek episodes. I can't be certain, because we haven't seen the real scripts yet (just transcripts) meaning the word counts aren't accurate (since a real script has some information about setup of the scene and the like). But I think the average Discovery episode has about a 25% to 33% less spoken dialogue. The ratio is worse when you realize how much of the script is actually monologue rather than dialogue.

As I said, there is nothing "snappy" about how dialogue is scripted in this show. No one ever talks over anyone else. With the exception of Mudd, I don't think anyone has talked in an excited/fast pace. Instead there's a lot of drawn out sentences, and "emoting" involving looking into the middle distance.

In general, I have felt for awhile that they are using rules developed for movies (particularly action movies) for a TV format, which is what is hurting characterization. For example, one reason so many movies fail the "Bechdel Test" is Hollywood screenwriters are not supposed to include scenes with secondary characters talking about something other than the protagonist. The writing room for this show seems to have taken this to heart, with nearly every "inconsequential" dialogue snipped out. When you're trying to do a 90-minute film this is understandable, but long-form serialized TV means you do not have to stick to these conventions.
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Karl Zimmerman
Tue, Jan 16, 2018, 9:56am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Wolf Inside

I'm not one of the "total haters" of the show. I don't understand people who rate the show consistently good to great either however, because it has notable, glaring flaws. It's just not the worst of the worst. I'm never bored with the show, like I was with a lot of Voyager and Enterprise episodes.

The main problems with the show all revolve around a crappy writer's room.

The dialogue in the show is consistently mediocre to horrible. There is too much emphasis on long-form exposition to get the story moving. A little technobabble is okay, but nothing in the show is written in a natural conversational manner. For example, DS9 actually had characters talking over one another when they are in an argument - something we've never seen on Discovery. Certainly nothing has been witty or snappy to date.

The characterization on the show had some brief flashes of goodness in the middle of the first half of the season (the toothbrush scene with Stamets and Culber - Tilly jogging around Discovery with Burnham) but the show has retreated into treating the characters as if they are plot devices rather than people. Name me five things about each of the main characters - their personalities and backstory - which are not related to the main plot. It's difficult to impossible, because we never get to see them in any manner other than is needed to move along the goals the showrunners have for the season.

The individual episodes have no easily discernible themes, unlike a large proportion of the historic Trek body of work. At times they'll lightly touch on an issue (like the question of whether being in the Mirror Universe is inherently corrupting to the moral core of Burnham) but they retreat before going into full "message Trek."

The plotting of each of the individual episodes is okay now. The show has (wisely) settled into the A/B plot structure. Sure, there are dumb plot holes in almost every episode, but this is par for the course for Trek. And if they got the dialogue and the characterization right, a lot more of us would ignore the plot holes.

Everything else in the show has settled into okay to great. I have no issue with anything related to visuals since the show stopped being so freaking "busy" all the time. The acting is on the whole better than previous Treks. The direction has been good to great. My only complaint not directly dealing with writing is casting/extra related - how empty the Discovery is. But mostly, the problem with the series is the writing is fanfic level.

The odd thing is, many of the great Trek writers are still alive. Many are still in their 50s, and could easily be brought on to at least write an episode or two. Yet all they picked up was Joe Menosky, he of the crazy high-concept plots that went nowehere?!? It just makes no sense to have these B-list writers without a lot of genre experience penning the episodes when the greats who know how to belt out a good Star Trek story are still out there.
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Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 9:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Wolf Inside

I really think the previous episode did a better job showcasing how brutal the Mirror Universe/Terran Empire was than this episode. There were only a few really bad things shown: spacing of prisoners, Saru as a slave, and the bombing of the planet. All of these are analogous to things that many normal empires (not even ultra-evil ones like the Nazis) did in human history. Hell, the rebel base was a military installation, so it's not even like they added the pathos of having millions of civilian casualties. Mostly this episode told, rather than showed, us the nastiness of the Mirror Universe in the form of Burnham's overwrought, overwritten opening monologue (please, FFS get some better talent in the writing room!).
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Jammer
Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 7:34am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself

The reveal that Sharon is a Cylon is the last shot of the miniseries. And every episode of the first season, starting with the first, begins with a prologue about the Cylons having many copies, with a split screen showing Boomer/Sharon. Not sure how you can say that wasn't a clear, defining part of the character from the get-go.
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Karl Zimmerman
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 9:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Wolf Inside

Yeah, I'm going with 2.5 stars. Worse than last week, but better than the series started out.

In terms of pluses, the show remains visually stunning, and entertaining on a surface level. I'm never bored watching Discovery these days, although it's seldom a deep experience, and never more than lightly touches on the "message Trek" of yore.

This episode, however, was both contrived and predictable.

The A plot was, I suppose, the one containing Burnham/Tyler on the Shenzhou. It was not entirely bad. We got to have an away mission on a planet's surface (did they even tell us the name of the planet this week?) I actually enjoyed Mirror Voq - that he wasn't just a random personality variation on prime Voq (which they did a lot on DS9) but instead had the same fundamental moral code but took it to a different conclusion. It was a shame that his discussion of Klingon ethics was stepped on by the flashbacks of Tyler/Prime Voq.

The way that the Voq/Tyler thing was finally dealt with was a rather disappointing end to one of the few remaining arcs from the first episode. Latif put in all he could as an actor here, but the writing wasn't that great, and the lack of chemistry onscreen between him and SMG (I get more sexual tension between SMG and Jason Issacs FFS) really blunted the impact.

Oh, and of course the emperor had to be the most obvious person (by logic of both the cheesy Mirror Universe and the drama needs of the show) just because.

In contrast to the A plot, which was mixed, the B plot (trying to heal Stamets) was dumb from front to back. Tilly - an ensign - was inexplicably given control over the project by Saru. Even if Tilly did work in the spore drive with Stamets, she was not the only employee - she just happened to be the one who bunked with Burnham at the start of the show. I am sure there is someone who is not part of the main cast who has more experience with the drive than Tilly. Not only is her role not believable, but the dialogue contains a lot of awful technobabble, and the scenes are all her and Saru sitting around in rooms together - sometimes with an unconscious Stamets, and sometimes without. Again this show is showing "empty Discovery" syndrome. With Stamets unconscious, and Lorca, Burnham, and Tyler off the ship, the show will not allow a secondary crew member to step up (Mirror Detmer gets more exposure than Prime Detmer ever did!).
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Tommy
Sat, Jan 13, 2018, 10:13am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Yesterday's Enterprise

In this day and age of endless remakes and reboots, this is one TNG episode they should turn into a movie.
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Skimms
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 1:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Bliss

Access to the captain's logs is restriced. Unless you walk over to the wall of a cargo bay and pull out one 'chip'. Then you can see whatever you want apparently.

I can pretty much buy that the monster can affect peoples minds, but how does it alter sensor readings? How could it possibly do that? Especially considering all the hundreds or thousands of different ships it encounters.

It's all cliches and gimmicks.

2 stars.
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Karl Zimmerman
Wed, Jan 10, 2018, 1:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself

I'm not as negative on the show as many of the commenters on here are. But I will say that I think it's true if you strip away the visuals there isn't much there.

The absolute best Trek episodes - City on the Edge of Forever, The Inner Light, Duet, The Visitor, In The Pale Moonlight, etc - are basically stage plays. The visuals and even the sci-fi trappings can be stripped away, because ultimately the story is about the journey of the characters - and is still compelling even if you imagine the actors on a bare stage in plain clothes.

Discovery hasn't reached this level yet, but I wouldn't expect it to. I don't try to imagine the episodes as stage plays though. I try to imagine them as episodes of 90s Trek, without modern effects and fancy camerawork. The answer I generally find is mediocre at best. This is because the basic work of character development is still underdone (albeit better than most Trek series in the first season) and the plotting to date has been nothing special.
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Jammer
Wed, Jan 10, 2018, 9:48am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Random Thoughts

10 years?

Try 20.

:)
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Jammer
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 10:42am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself

Wow, you guys are a tough crowd.

Culber's death is important because it shows a character (Tyler) that has now done something truly awful that he will have to answer for -- something that cannot simply be undone (MU and sci-fi twists notwithstanding). It will force consequences. And because it's not a random redshirt, it will have consequences for everyone else. It's a character death that has meaning *because* the character was part of the ensemble. It is not simply "shock value." It was shocking, yes, but it will also have character value (assuming it's not totally botched, which I don't think it will be), because it will simply have to.

And why all the hate for the Voq/Tyler storyline's predictability? The point isn't the reveal; it's the implications that follow. Tyler's persona, even if it is false, has taken on a life of its own. It may not be "real" in the strict sense, but it's real to Tyler, just as Boomer's identity on BSG was real to her. That's the whole point -- the horror of realizing you are not who you thought you were as explored with a sci-fi concept (albeit one already done masterfully on BSG) and what that means to you.
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Karl Zimmerman
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 7:45am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself

Regarding the ship visuals (which I agree are off), I think the issue is the blur filter they are putting on after the rendering is done. Blurring final rendered images is typically done in CGI these days to not make it look more crisp and high resolution than the actually filmed elements. However, in a lot of shots they unintentionally recreate the dynamics of tilt-shift photography by blurring the edges of the shot more than the focal point. The result is instead of having ships which look substantial, they look like dinky little models.
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Jammer
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 11:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself

Review now posted.
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Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 10:54am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself

I'd rate this one as three, maybe 3.5 stars on the Jammer scale.

There was a lot I liked about the episode, most of which was noted by the others. Frakes direction was excellent - this was the first episode where I didn't find anything off in terms of pacing, wonky shots, long drawn out stares which served no purpose, etc. The acting was great (even from SMG, who has underwhelmed me in the past). All of the main characters (other than Saru) were given pretty weighty roles to play as well. In some ways, this is the first episode which didn't feel like the "Micheal Burnham show." And I'm happy we seem to be (mostly) done with the godawful Klingons for now.

That said, there were things which made it imperfect. The biggest is everything in the show was just way too on the nose. Finding out Ash=Voq wasn't a surprise to me by any means, but it seems to have been done in the most straightforward manner possible. The Mirror Universe also wasn't a surprise, but it was spolered, so again it wasn't a shock. Neither was Captain Tilly. There was tremendous foreshadowing in this episode that Lorca was actually from the Mirror Universe, and given the show hasn't had any real red herrings to date, I have to believe that is the case now. The only surprising things in this show were Culber getting his neck snapped (and they stepped on this shock by immediately announcing he wasn't dead off show) and the fanwank of the Defiant getting name dropped. And on a completely different note, Burnham/Tyler remain very unconvincing as anything other than platonic friends.

In the end, while I liked this episode a good deal, there really isn't that much depth to Discovery once you scratch the surface.
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Jammer
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 4:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry

Review now posted.
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Jammer
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 9:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: New Dimensions

Review now posted.
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Skimmles
Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 11:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Waking Moments

@randomthoughts - That was one of my major problems with the episode as well. No one would even know about the aliens if they hadn't invaded their dreams to begin with.

And I hate episodes where I'm just supposed to 'turn my brain off and go with the flow'. I don't watch Star Trek to turn my brain off. Quite the opposite. I don't want to have to accept the fact that the aliens basically couldn't exist as they are made out to be, and they are doing this for some vague reason, etc. etc. Either have an explanation of how and why things are happening, even if it turns out to be a not very good one, or don't put it in the show.

And if the aliens control this dream world, and control what everyone dreams, why would they let them dream they are escaping? If they only want to keep them there until their real bodies die, maybe have them dream they are locked in cages they can't get out of. Or just dream they are on vacation. IDK. Something, anything but the one thing they don't want them to dream about, which is about how to escape. And why would the aliens even reveal themselves to them in the dream and give themselves away in the first place? It all makes little sense.

Whatever. Bad episode.

1 1/2 stars.
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Jammer
Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 10:56am (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S4: Daybreak, Part 2

@FD -- I read all the comments. Thank you for your kind words.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Nov 30, 2017, 10:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: New Dimensions

That was nice overall. There isn't much I disliked about the episode - which is great after three episodes with notable flaws in execution. On the other hand, there wasn't really much truly gripping about the episode either.

The supposed "A plot" of the show - the anomaly/gateway into the two-dimensional universe - was pretty boring. It basically existed for one reason and one reason alone however, which was to provide some actual character development into LeMarr. Up until this point he just seemed to be Malloy's sidekick, except in Majority Rule, where he was an idiot. Here it is established that this was all an act, and he's actually very intelligent. More importantly, despite his own lack of confidence in his leadership skills, he actually has "the right stuff."

The "B plot" was once again revolving around Mercer/Grayson - and similar to the A plot, the focus was on lack of confidence - in this case Mercer doubting himself when he finds out Grayson put in a good word for him. I like that the crew of the Orville isn't so sure of itself, but given Kitan has also had two episodes centering around her command insecurities, I really hope the writers stop going back to the well here.

In the end, I think my feelings on this episode hinge on how much The Orville makes sure to not press the "reset button" at the end of each episode. This could mark the transition into a new season, with a more confident crew more assured in their roles, and something like a character arc starting for LaMarr. On the other hand, if the conclusion of this episode has no consequences on the next episode, it will be very disappointing. Will The Orville be DS9 or Voyager? Time will tell, but I am concerned already that the trailer for next week showed LaMarr back on the bridge in his old seat. Maybe they produced these episodes out of order, and we won't have this issue going forward.
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Jammer
Thu, Nov 30, 2017, 1:37am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Firestorm

Review now posted.
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Jammer
Sat, Nov 18, 2017, 10:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Firestorm

Wow. You didn't find the characters and stories compelling on Lost and BSG? Those shows are both widely heralded for their characters and complex storylines. I happen to love both BSG and Lost, but the one thing I have not heard said about either of those shows is that they lacked substance. If anything, the knock on both shows is that they collapsed under the weight of their mythologies. (Something I would never argue myself.)
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Jammer
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 5:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Firestorm

The review for this episode is likely to be delayed, possibly into next week, because of my schedule.
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Skimmy
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 9:21am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: About a Girl

Better than the first two episodes.

2 1/2 stars.
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Jammer
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 12:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

Regarding my CBSAA issues, I do wonder if it's the Android version that's giving me problems. I've used CBSAA a couple times on my laptop and not experienced the same issues, though it's a very small sample there of only 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe for the next batch of episodes I will try another method and see if my experience improves.

I do think they should make the Android/Chromecast experience better. As mentioned, I've had zero issues with the exact same wireless setup using the Netflix app. Any other Android/Chromecast users having CBSAA issues?
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Jammer
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 12:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

"One of the primary problems I see with this format is that anyone with just a little tech savvy can download all the Discovery episodes for free. I do wonder how many people are paying to watch it opposed to those who are simply stealing it."

It probably depends on time spent versus convenience mixed in with the whole "stealing" ethical thing. I find it much easier to pay for CBSAA to get the best quality I can (although, I've had issues with that -- more on that in a moment) than to look for an "alternate" method that would be much more trouble (figuring out where to get it, then downloading or streaming with some app that would be acceptable to my quality standards) ... rather than just paying the $6 a month, which is really pretty nominal considering I will cancel when the show isn't on.

To me (and probably a lot of busy people), spending $6 is worth avoiding the hassle of some other method. Plus, I do believe in paying for content I consume rather than pirating it.
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Jammer
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 9:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

"I thought you'd get to 4 stars on this one."

It was close.

"Our sensors have just detected the power signature of a cloaked Klingon ship...."

Perhaps they can detect a cloaked ship vaguely as being in the system, but not pinpoint an exact position? It seems there must be some hand-wave explanation, because that line seems too obvious to have been inserted by mistake and not removed.
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