A modest proposal for 'Discovery' and 'The Orville'

September 6, 2017

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Before the month is over, we'll have two new shows set on starships, and I might even be reviewing them both. (CBS/Fox)

A mere 24 hours ago, I didn't even know what the plan was, or if there would be one. Now I think I might have a plan. Whether I can stick to the plan is another question entirely. Whether the plan will make sense in even a few weeks I can't even begin to guess. But I am going to press ahead with this plan, perhaps foolishly.

Here is the plan: I will attempt to review both Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville beginning this fall (starting this Sunday or shortly thereafter with The Orville, and Sept. 24 with Discovery). In my circles, there seems to be a good deal of interest in both.

This plan might very well be completely stupid and quickly abandoned. My wife, kids, and desire for sleep will help me decide that.

You all might help me decide that as well, by confirming whether my gauge of your interest in Discovery and The Orville (and my reviews for them) has been right or wrong.

Some background into my thinking here: It has become clear to me the reviewing game has changed in the several years since I last attempted to regularly do it with newly airing shows. TV episode reviews are everywhere, and people expect reviews to be posted within hours, not days, of an episode airing. The days of yore when I would go days or even weeks (hell, even months) before posting my take on an aired episode don't make sense anymore. That's because the discussion happens — on my own site — whether I weigh in or not.

In many cases in the past few years, I've found the discussion starts before I even have a post in place for where that discussion should actually happen. People start posting on whatever conveniently adjacent post is nearby. (So I'd get posts about the latest Discovery news happening in the Star Trek Beyond comments, for example.) This is confusing and annoying, but I understand why it happens. I also know that this is the chaotic future I'm in for in a few weeks if I don't have a better plan for opening up a new discussion thread for when weekly episodes are being dropped.

Hence the plan: I will do my best to weigh in as quickly as possible, but before that even happens, I will try to post empty placeholders for each episode, hopefully on the day it airs. This will allow you to discuss it in the proper place in lieu of my own pending review.

As for what the actual reviews will look like: Shorter. Much shorter. I can't do long-winded essays anymore with any hope to keep up. It's just not gonna happen. So I won't cover as much ground, I'll scale way back on the synopsis and I will not be nearly as detailed or comprehensive. At best, you can hope for a latter-season TNG-length review. That would be ideal. But it honestly may not even be that long. We'll see what I am able to churn out and how quickly it happens. It might end up as bullet points. I make zero promises here. Only tentative plans. I hate to sacrifice quality for the sake of feeding the assembly line, but this is what this experiment must be if it's to happen at all. And I would like it to happen, if for no other reason than so I can participate with y'all.

In terms of priority, it goes Discovery first, and then The Orville a distant second. If push comes to shove, The Orville will get de-prioritized and possibly dropped from the site. Official Trek still remains my priority.

But I'm looking forward to watching both shows. Both boast veterans of the Trek franchise even as they, in some ways, appear to offer dueling philosophies. Discovery seems to be going all-in on the 21st-century streaming video serialized approach with a more modern and darker take. Meanwhile, Seth MacFarlane is doing his shameless homage and nostalgia thing to the 1980s and 1990s which he holds dear. But we'll see how it turns out after the shows actually start airing.

I've added links to both new site sections (Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville) on my site's home page, as well as in the main navigation. Within each new section I'll add links to individual new episodes as they air, and then add my reviews to those posts after I've written them. Until then, there's a general discussion thread where you can talk about the series at large.

Because all of this exists in my review site using all that infrastructure — very little of which is automated and must be individually updated by hand — there may or may not be weekly updates of the home page's main photo, article links, or any cross-posts to the blog to invoke the RSS feed update. You'll have to come back and visit the new Discovery and Orville pages each week to see if they've been updated. That's the price I (and you) must pay in order to be able to manage this without a huge ordeal.

(It's true I could do this much more quickly and efficiently if I posted all these new reviews in my blog here via WordPress. You may recall I actually tried that approach with Caprica seven years ago. But doing so creates its own host of problems since the blog does not connect directly back to the other site's infrastructure, and all the comments would exist outside the integrated Comment Stream, which is clearly not what we want here.)

But I'm digressing into technical matters you don't care about, so I'll stop now. I'll talk again soon when we have new shows to discuss.

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54 comments on this post

    Yes! Thankyou Jammer in advance.I for one will be very interested in your take on Orville.

    If the early, withering reviews are any indication, you (or anyone) won't be watching The Orville for long. I'm still hopeful for Discovery, though.


    I'm really looking forward to "reviewing" stuff just after it's been aired. I came into this internet Trek stuff after Enterprise was cancelled.

    Looking forward to your reviews Jammer and also am excited about everyone else's input as well.


    I think this is an excellent plan! I look forward to reading your take on these shows-

    I for one don't mind if your review isn't instantly posted three seconds after the episode airs. As they say, good things come to those who wait, and I for one am willing to wait several days for quality thoughts.

    Can't wait to hear your thoughts! I have my opinions on both series, but I'm going to try my best not to prejudge and go in with an open mind.

    I used to visit your page religiously when you were still writing reviews for Enterprise and I am very excited to hear you might be getting back into the review game on a regular basis. I will be checking back often.

    Well! This is exciting.

    I probably won't be watching either show immediately. I don't have CBS All Access and am not rushing out to get it just for Discovery, sight unseen (though I suppose that it might be somewhat worth it for both this and The Good Fight, maybe). What I've heard leaves me with mixed feelings, but Meyer (and Fuller, whose involvement was not nil even if he's off the project now) gives some hope. I am not really a fan of MacFarlaine's work generally -- though his TNG fan credentials are beyond reproach, so fingers crossed.

    I'm hopeful about both series without chomping at the bit, I guess is what I'm saying, and I'm hopeful that they turn out okay -- and hopefully good. I'm looking forward at least to the discussions the new content is bound to create. I'll probably check out one or both shows (especially Discovery) if they sound pretty good.

    I'm more looking forward to your reviews than to either of these two shows. Good to have you back, Jams.

    Looking forward to any reviews, Jammer! I don't think we'll be concerned about delays in posting them, we're still stewing about reviews from 20 years ago.

    On a side note, can someone explain to me why it's been said that MacFarlane has 'Star Trek credentials'? It is just because he guest starred in two episodes? That doesn't seem like much accreditation to me.

    Captain Lorca would have said "That's the spirit.", and captain Mercer would aggregate "I'm thrilled" ;-).

    Very exciting, Jammer! I'll definitely be tuning in for your take. And an abbreviated format, even if it is occasionally delayed, would still be very much appreciated.

    Great plan, Jammer. I discovered your site a few months ago while watching Enterprise on Blu Ray, and now as I'm working my way through DS9, reading your reviews on each episode is something I really look forward to. Don't worry about time between air date and posting your new reviews. I think I speak for many here when I say it doesn't matter how long it takes. We just enjoy your critique and the discussion generated. Engage!

    I'm eagerly awaiting reading your reviews in three to five years...when these shows get put on Netflix. Until then, back to TOS - my first viewing and the show that brought my parents together in the 70's. Love your perspective and the community you've built. Thank you.

    long time reader and big fan thank you both please but do try to give a bit more fir discivery if you can id rather wait than have bullet points for when i come back years down the road !

    I think any effort you make to post a review, in whatever form you have time for, is a bonus for all of us who appreciate your insightful take on anything Star Trek. I wonder how many Star Trek Discovery 'insiders' will be watching for your reviews, to see if they pass the Jammer test of good story telling and quality production. I for one have high hopes for this next ST franchise and hope it can live up to its expectations. Given what I've seen and read so far, it seems the cast have bought into the ST ideals and are willing to push their characters to the max. Thanks again Jammer for all the hard work and time you put into this blog, we do appreciate it! BTW, I'm looking forward to The Orville as well, the trailers are hilarious, but my money is on Discovery.

    I visit your site virtually every single day! Your reviews on Star Trek are invaluable to me. I love your thought process as well as your analysis on episodes. I would personally very much appreciate and enjoy your reviews of both Discovery and the Orville. Count Me In!

    Given the poor reviews of Orville so far, I'm probably not going to watch it at the start. If I hear it gets better (perhaps if Jammer actually gives it good reviews), I'll check into it later.

    I'll probably check out Discovery eventually (even if the reviews are bad), but that probably won't be for some time to come. In the meantime, I'll definitely be skimming over the 1st or last paragraphs of Jammer's reviews to see if it's going well, while trying not to get too spoiled.


    "can someone explain to me why it’s been said that MacFarlane has ‘Star Trek credentials’?"

    MacFarlane has spoken about his fandom for TNG (I think his fandom is focused on TNG), and Star Trek people have mentioned his sincerity.

    Among the large amount of extras produced for the TNG blu-rays that came out recently were at least one panel of the writers that was hosted by MacFarlane, and I think he also was on an audio commentary for an episode. He clearly knows the show.

    I haven't followed MacFarlane's animated shows, but I know he's gotten several Trek actors to appear there. He produced the show "Blunt Talk" which was basically a starring vehicle for Patrick Stewart. Michael Dorn & Nana Visitor both appeared in "Ted 2", and both "Ted" movies were narrated by Stewart.

    Yeah! I want to see Orville reviews from you Jammer, why not?

    Also I think Seth would be honored to see his show featured on a site like this that is so highly regarded with Trek stuff.

    It's always a fine time to see your reviews! I appreciate that your eking out a little time for us doing what you've done so well. I kept checking back here from, what 2006 to 2013 or 2014 to see you complete your TNG reviews. It's always worth the wait in whatever you can spare us.

    Also, would consider reviewing "Firefly", "Babylon 5" and "Red Dwarf"? (kidding! kidding! well, maybe...)

    I've no idea when these shows will be available in the UK so I look forward to reading the reviews here. I watched a trailer for Orville and TBH thought it looked potentially dreadful but time will tell!

    @methane "Given the poor reviews of Orville so far, I’m probably not going to watch it at the start. If I hear it gets better (perhaps if Jammer actually gives it good reviews), I’ll check into it later."

    There are rumors that CBS is actually paying reviewers to pan the Orville.

    Besides, given the incredibly positive reviews of all NuTrek films (into Darkness got 86% on rottentomatoes, for crying out loud!), I've learned not to give much weight to what the "official" reviews say anyway.

    To summarize: I'm going to give the Orville a chance. If the first episodes suck, I can always stop watching. This is a definitely a series I *want* to like.

    "I’m more looking forward to your reviews than to either of these two shows. Good to have you back, Jams."

    Me too.

    Whether we agree or disagree, Jammer's reviews are always a pleasure to read.

    Jammer, as far as I'm concerned you are "thee" 'Star Trek' reviewer. No matter what form it comes in: your opinion > everyone else's.

    Great News! Looking forward to reading your reviews, no matter when they come out. I probably won't get CBSaccess anyway, but would consider it if the reviews are really positive.

    Seth Macfarlane is a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, his show Family Guy has had a few sketches of TOS and TNG in it's run, he got the entire TNG cast for the Family Guy episode 'Not all dogs go to heaven' (be warned it was a B plot in a Danny Smith vehicle), he's given Patrick Stewart a recurring role in 'American Dad', he did a commentary for the TNG episode 'Cause and Effect' on the Blu Ray release and starred in two episodes of Star Trek Enterprise. He might just be it's biggest fan.

    Too bad he's attached to comedies he seems to have a impressive amount of resources to work with and may have helped Star Trek Discovery.

    "There are rumors that CBS is actually paying reviewers to pan the Orville."

    Not necessary, Macfarlane has got a lot of stick for everything his names attached to, but I often find his critics can't get their facts straight and cite his characters views as his own, they also hold him to ridiculous standards.

    My two cents, for what it's worth: I think you should focus on longer, more insightful reviews, rather than just short hot takes. There are millions of other people online giving hot takes. What has distinguished your reviews in the past has been the level of insight you bring. This site has served for years as a great collection of reviews of all of Trek, even years after the episodes have aired. Even if we have to wait a few days or even weeks for a review, I think over the longer-term quality reviews would be better than quick reviews.

    The "quick take" nature is of my own necessity, not just so I can be more timely. I simply won't have the time to do the long-form reviews of yore. Maybe "bullet points" is a bit extreme and it won't come to that, but they will definitely be shorter than past efforts.

    I'm going to second what Dom says. What always drew me to the site was the insights you had. You have a deep understanding of Trek and T.V. and I really enjoyed seeing a cogent and intellectual explanation of what things did and did not work in a show. It's a pity that you won't have the time to do the long-form reviews. I understand this as well (wife, kids, mortgage, "the Man", etc.). I especially enjoyed the panoramic aspects of the season analyses.

    In any case I just want to give a large thank you for those past reviews. They are easily some of the best reviews I have ever seen written.

    This is great news. I still read over these reviews after taking a run through BSG or one of the Trek shows. So to hear that you're hoping to review the new show is great. I think a shorter style similar to your TNG reviews is very reasonable and definitely in keeping with other sites. If you had time, maybe there could be a longer "season recap" review when the shows finish (assuming either gets renewed).

    Jammer, I still remember stumbling on your review of DS9's "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" by complete accident six years ago and being struck by the high quality of writing and thought. I had seen the ep with some friends the day before and wanted to look up something on the Memory Alpha page - the review popped up just below the MA page and I clicked on it by mistake. Best mistake I ever made!

    Your insights always got me to think even when I disagreed and kept me coming back. Intellectually, those reviews feel light years ahead of the curve. Thank you for all your hard work, and again, can't wait to read your reviews in whatever form they take!

    Orville premieres tomorrow!

    This is such terrific news. I'll be watching The Orville but its the Discovery reviews I'm looking forward to reading and discussing. Very glad to hear you'll be weighing in Jammer!

    Glad you're back, Jammer! I've been catching up on Trek - - juuuuuust finishing with Enterprise which has been a long and painful journey. Your reviews were extremely helpful in finding some humor and balance along the way. I'm excited for Discovery - just not sure yet if it'll be coming out same-time on Netflix or not. I'm in Indonesia, so it's uncertain yet where I'll be finding the show. Will look forward to your reviews, though - no matter how quickly they get added or how short they end up!

    Happy to see you will be reviewing these shows. I'm not particularly excited for either but will probably check out both, but I will certainly read your reviews Jammer.

    I would also rather wait for your more thorough reviews. The idea of blanks is a good one since we will all be chomping at the bit to discuss episodes after they air. I have visited your site for years but never while a current ST show was on the air. This is pretty exciting!

    Well I watched some bits of it here and there, honestly it wasn't too great and didn't hold my interest very much. There seemed to be too much dead space where they just kind of stood or sat around without saying anything. I like MacFarlane's American Dad show very much so I know he can do a good series but this one just seems "off".

    The production values are pretty good though. Also an inside joke moment where the guy who played Bashir's Dad says he works with making better genetically enhanced plants or something. There's no way that was a coincidence. Overall it wasn't really funny and it wasn't really otherwise interesting. They also used that camera side to side pan trick WAY too much it was annoying hahah.

    At the very least, please try to review Discovery since it is part of the franchise that this website was initially built upon.

    Reviewing Orville seems like a wasted endeavor in my eyes, mainly because it's a comedy show and that makes it way more subjective than the more dramatic shows that you have reviewed in the past. But hey, if you really want to, go for it.

    Thanks, Jammer! I think the idea to put up placeholders, to allow for immediate discussion, is a good idea. Take your time getting the actual reviews up. . . I didn't discover your site until years after Enterprise was done, and have now read many of the reviews for TNG, DS9, and VOY (though you and I do not agree as often on Voyager! haha, love that show!) I won't necessarily be watching Discovery or The Orville the second (or week/month) the episodes are out. Though I do plan to see both, whenever I get the chance. So I'm not in a major hurry to read read the reviews, either. But I'll be glad they exist, especially during rewatches years down the line (if either of the shows warrant that).

    take your time, I'd take quality and thought over speed in review's any-day of the week

    "Reviewing Orville seems like a wasted endeavor in my eyes, mainly because it’s a comedy show"

    Not really comedy (sitcom) show. More like lightest Voyager episodes ("Message in a Bottle" etc.), with really visually inspiring vision of the 25th century.

    I think the shorter review format will be fine, especially if you keep this in mind: I always thought that the plot summary portion of the review isn't really necessary. At least, it's not what I read a review for, and it can easily be found elsewhere (like Memory Alpha). What we come here for is your insight into the episode and your critique of it, and we really don't need a summary for that. Sure, if you are debating whether to watch an episode a plot summary can be helpful, but you also run into the catch-22 of running into spoilers.

    Also, I am curious what others think about this: Am I the only one who thinks that Star Trek is done best in the now-old-fashioned format for TV shows, as in 23 or so episodes per season with episodes about 45 minutes in length, as opposed to the modern way of making shows more like mini series with 8-10 episodes a season with 50 minute episodes? I think this approach delivers a more satisfying experience for a show like Star Trek. Also personally hope they make the show similar to Battlestar Galactica in terms of serialization; serialized, but not completely... still with episodes that have their own distinct issue and conclusion but with many interconnected story archs (and a number of multi part episodes). I don't really want complete serialization in a show like Star Trek, and I think a show about a moving space ship is well suited to this format.

    What do you all think?

    Decided to move the above post to General Discussion after noticing that section. Please respond there.

    Oh, it's so great to see that you're back! (kind of). This is the first time I'll be reading your reviews in real-time though. I'm looking forward to it - let's hope that Discovery will be something good, because The Orville did not leave me optimistic.

    Great to hear and much appreciated. Reading your reviews has been a delightful extra after watching an episode of any Trek series (plus Caprica and BSG, even if it's for the xth time).

    This would be my first time reading reviews in real-time, but I don't mind the wait, however long it may be. Whether long or short, fast or delayed, your site is the only place I come for reviews. Keep the candle burning!

    "Jammer, as far as I’m concerned you are “thee” ‘Star Trek’ reviewer. No matter what form it comes in: your opinion > everyone else’s."

    This is what Conor wrote about 10 days ago above.
    I second Conor all the way.
    And it seems many others value your reviews too.

    Take your time Jammer, how quick you write after the airing of the episode is if no concern to me either. I will read and enjoy your reviews regardless.

    I'm so happy you're going to be reviewing both shows. I think I might be more excited for your reviews than the actual shows

    Oh Happy Days! Thank you Jammer!

    Has it really been 17 years since I started reading your reviews?! Unbelievable...

    Live long and prosper.

    So excited to see that you'll be reviewing Discovery. I started reading your reviews for Voyager back when I was in high school. So much has changed since then that its great to see your site still around and you still reviewing. Can't wait to read your thoughts.

    Jammer, whatever you do will be fine. But rest assured, that from my perspective, you do not have to "feed the assembly" line. This site has never been about quick reviews for me. It's a historic site that has been company to me since... I think the early 2000s. I still look up early reviews of TNG episodes when I rewatch the series. Perhaps that helps you with the planning. You're not doing it for the quick fix, you're doing it to document these episodes and your valuable insight for posterity. :)

    Hello Everyone!

    Jammer, what I've liked about your reviews, even the shorter ones, is the thought you put into it. Even if I disagree a bit, it gives me a good understanding of another point of view.

    And, there doesn't HAVE to be a certain number of words in a review. I'd bet you'll find one where the words will fall like rain, and you'll realize it's a longer review. Other times the story is somewhat self-explanatory (heh, or horrible), then fewer words will be used. That's cool. It's the thought you put into your reviews that kept me coming back after I found your site lo these many years ago.

    I look forward to reading the reviews and thank you so very much for continuing to do them. Other things might get me down, but when you're doing what you do, the Universe is in harmony for a little while. :)

    Enjoy the day and enjoy the series... RT


    Great to have you back. After watching Star Trek: Discovery last night, I went to read the reviews and found myself typing "Star Trek Discovery Jammer" into Google to quickly find my favorite Star Trek reviewer is back in the game.

    And then to my even more amazement, you're also going to review the other show my kids and I started watching, The Orville. I'm looking forward to watching the shows with my kids, a girl 12, and a boy 10 and seeing how you with all your juggling are also reacting to both shows.

    I'm perfectly good with shorter reviews because out of anyone that has followed Star Trek, you have a grasp as good as any of the official writers and bible carriers.

    Thanks for carrying the torch.

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