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Brian Lear
Tue, Oct 15, 2019, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Imagine there are two patients, both in need of a heart transplant to live. One of them has a lethal disease that will kill him in just a couple years. The other patient does not have the disease and will likely gain decades of quality life years with the new heart. There is only one heart available. Which patient should get it?

This episode initially asks us to judge the relative utility of saving a race that will eventually die out anyway, versus doing nothing. It then seamlessly transitions to asking us to consider the larger question of whether we should even be concerning ourselves with the first question in the first place. And I think that's where a lot of people fell off the train. The first question wasn't really answered. But the second question was. They decided not to answer the first question, because they couldn't. Not that time, not that place.

That non-answer is what really threw people off this episode. But I urge those of you in that category to reconsider. My enjoyment of this episode does not hinge on the decisions made. If it does for you, I suspect you are too close to the material, and not seeing the big picture. Take a few steps back and re-watch it. Try not caring whether they answer the question or not, and just enjoy watching them wrestle with it. It's the journey people, not the destination.
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Brian Lear
Sat, Oct 12, 2019, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Terra Nova

Disagree, I thought this was a good episode. Your vision for what "could have been" on Terra Nova, is definitely the more predictable scenario. I like how they didn't go that direction. They did something different, and, while it didn't succeed wildly, at least it made me sit up and think. The idea of an isolated colony of humans converted to subterranean life after a natural disaster is a good one. I would have liked to see a thriving and complex society down there too, it would be fun. But I think the more realistic scenario is the one we got. Humans completely isolated on a planet with few supplies and forced underground. Do you really think they would have come up with the type of underground society we saw in the caretaker, in just a couple generations? Those types of societies take thousands, maybe tens of thousands of years to evolve.

I do agree that the novans should have gotten better dialogue.
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Brian Lear
Sat, Apr 27, 2019, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

^^^
well put but it still sounds like apologizing for a very poorly conceived scene.
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Brian Lear
Sat, Apr 27, 2019, 12:50am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

Oh I've read the stars explanation page long ago. But then, if they don't mean anything, why do you have a star rating system? Are we meant to skip 1 or 2 star episodes? Because that doesn't seem right. I always recommend people watch all of a good series, even the bad episodes.

The star system seems especially irrelevant with the new serialized format of Discovery, and that's probably all I was picking up on.

Like, are there people out there choosing which discovery episodes to watch based on how many stars Jammer doles out? :)
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Brian Lear
Thu, Apr 25, 2019, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

Jammer, you're awesome and I really appreciate your balanced take on things. But I feel like you rate Discovery according to a completely different set of criteria. You were extremely tough on Enterprise. And Voyager. You do call out Discovery's mistakes but I don't see that ever translating into your ratings. A show that consistently displays deep logical flaws and over reliance on spectacle regularly pulls 3 star ratings and up?

If these episodes had come from any prior Star Trek series, I feel like you'd be giving them 1.5-2.5 stars max. Yet somehow, Discovery gets a huge pass and I believe the justification is that you review each show on its own merits, and there is a "4 stars for TNG" and a "4 stars for Discovery" and those may be completely different criteria. That's fine, I get that. I just feel like you were much tougher on previous Trek series than this one. You seem to call out all the mistakes, bad writing, and poor execution in your reviews, but it never seems to affect the star rating.

For example, you say this:
"Looking back at the season arc from beginning to end, you see the shortcuts the writers often took and the plot holes apparent in doing so, and few of those are mitigated with what happens in the finale. Discovery's plotting has never been iron-clad, and there's always been a tendency for the series' writers to leave big narrative gaps and expect us to fill in the ellipses with our imaginations. This creates a sense of sloppiness more than anything else, as if the writers couldn't be bothered to put in the time to create narrative clarity and credibility."

.....and.....3 stars.

So, sloppy writing, writers couldn't be bothered, plot holes left gaping open, over-reliance on spectacle, gets 3 stars.

What the hell would they have to do to get down to a 1? or a zero? Intentionally insult the audience perhaps?

:)
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Brian Lear
Sat, Apr 20, 2019, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

I sure would love to see the defenders respond to Galadriels points line by line, since he so coherently put them together for us.
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Brian Lear
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 1:02am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

Oh, and is anybody else sick of the fact that only female characters can solve problems on Discovery?
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Brian Lear
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 12:56am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

Oh, and I will also say that the entire idea underlying the Control/sphere data plot makes no sense. Sorry it just doesn't. The sphere is an ancient lifeform that observed and recorded data about the universe for many years. I don't feel that the show ever really convinced me that the data in that sphere could reasonably be expected to allow an advanced AI to obtain consciousness, or, why that consciousness would be evil and seek destruction, as opposed to simply being a reflection of what it observed of sentient life in the universe for its entire history--a complicated mixture of evil, good, and everything in between. I would expect the sphere data to result in a consciousness that was both REALLY evil and REALLY compassionate and good at the same time--just like any living being. Wouldn't have been amazing if that character was created from the sphere data, and, you know, actually made into a likable character? Maybe a sort of "Q" for star trek: discovery.

But no, nothing that cool could ever happen on discovery. The sphere data would be shoe-horned into the rest of the season and used to build a paper-thin, non-interesting villain who was necessary for the plot to advance from point A to B. What could have been an awesome exploration of humanity was squandered.
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Brian Lear
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 12:14am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

The finale does what its supposed to do, re-establishes the canon timeline, and it does so with typical fanfare, and typical Discovery junk-level writing--Cornwell closes the blast door from the inside and, instead of escaping under the closing door, "heroically" sacrifices herself off the show. It was a laugh out loud moment in my living room. We get extended filler sequences such as the video-retrospective of the entire season with Burnham in the superhero suit. Burnham's travel through time was, artistically interesting but it really dragged on. After a few seconds my only thought was "filler".

With each passing moment we see more and more that the Michael Burnham show, excuse me, Discovery, is miles wide but only inches deep.

The "7 signals" plot was not the uber-interesting mystery it was made out to be. It was actually just all about Michael Burnham flying around in a trick super-hero time suit saving the galaxy. Yawn. I knew that would be the case since the first episode of the season. I believe many of us were hoping the red signals would lead to some kind of fascinating exploration of space, perhaps a new ultra-powerful race. Instead, the show remained locked in the tiniest of possible universes, basically the Discovery and Michael Burnham, and those that help her move the plot forward. The entire season was an incestuous circle that never really went anywhere.

Then the writers said screw it let's start over. Ironically, using the exact thing they were trying to avoid with the serialized arc format--the much reviled reset-button. And of course, given us all ample reason to tune in for season 3.

Now that they've gifted themselves a blank slate, we'll see if they just continue the Michael Burnham show in the future, or actually give us a Star Trek show worth re-watching.

I can say that for me, personally, I hated the Michael Burnham show so much, that when she slipped into the future with the Discovery, my first thought was that I hope we never see them again and I'd rather just keep watching Pike and Spock on the Enterprise. Then I caught myself and remembered, no, prequels are bad. Let's stay in the future. But...but...I just don't know how much more Michael Burnham I can take.
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Brian Lear
Tue, Apr 16, 2019, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1

Basically if you are holding out hope that the writers are holding a royal flush, you're about to be bitterly disappointed. They've got a pair of jacks, maybe. They've been bluffing you for a while now, and you missed it because you were too busy trying to wrap your head around the plot minutiae. If you'd stopped for a minute, taken a step back, you would've recognized the signs all along. The chances of this writing "team" (and I use that word loosely) suddenly turning out something great, are pathetically small. However the chances of them throwing out a gigantic TWIST that makes you WONDER what is going to HAPPEN next SEASON, are 100%.
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Brian Lear
Sat, Apr 13, 2019, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1

Re-watched, and it seemed even more contrived than first viewing. I almost think Jammer was right about them extending to 14 episodes in order to force people to renew All-access. Can anyone else confirm, is it true that you have to renew all access just to watch the finale? That seems awfully shady...
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Brian Lear
Sat, Apr 13, 2019, 1:30am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1

I guess what I'm trying to say is...even if the writers follow through and bring Discovery into the future (permanently), I have absolutely zero confidence that they will do anything interesting with that, either.
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Brian Lear
Sat, Apr 13, 2019, 1:01am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1

Thanks Trent, for the perfect explanation of why season 2 just didn't add up to anything.

One thing I'll add, is that Discovery has created such distrust between itself and the audience, with all the constant plot twists, cliffhangers, and WTF moments, that now when the show wishes to "be serious" and "trust us, something big is going to happen" I just don't trust that they are going to tell me a story worth paying attention to.

It's like the boy who cried wolf. The stakes are always so high, and there are so many about-faces and big twists, that we just can't trust the writers to do their job anymore. Perfect example is this episode:

They REALLY need to jump discovery into the future and start from scratch with this show. And the fact that they MIGHT be doing that gives me a glimmer of hope for the future of this show.

But at the same time, that glimmer of hope is stained by a fear that the writers are going to chicken out at the last minute and write something incredibly stupid.

That's how poorly they've done their jobs so far.
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Brian Lear
Sun, Mar 31, 2019, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Perpetual Infinity

@wolfstar
"Both the JJ films and Discovery seem to view Star Trek simply as "space adventure", when in fact Trek can be any genre under the sun (we've had great episodes that were courtroom drama, morality play, screwball comedy, psychological horror, study of religion, murder mystery, comedy of manners, naval thriller, study of loss etc.) It's that understanding of Star Trek not as a genre but as a conceptual category that's missing (not just in Discovery, but in the Abrams films and to a large extent in Enterprise too) - you can take any genre of narrative and do it in the Trek universe."

@Alan Roi
"And if you have not seen most of what you describe in your list (not to mention more) then IMO, you are choosing to blind yourself by the belief that all you are seeing in front of you is "space adventure" and nothing more."

No, Alan. What we are saying, is that it just isn't there, or its been attempted and failed. There has not been any courtroom/investigation/legal story. There have been attempts to peer into Klingon life/politics but its been mishandled. There have been a couple field trip episodes but they weren't that great. An attempt at analyzing one of the alien crew members homeworlds, but brought down by SMG being in the camera too much. You get the point, a lot of things have been ATTEMPTED by Discovery, but they usually don't come together, in any significant way. Your comment that Discovery should never fall into "TNG-mode" is...confusing. What exactly is "TNG-mode"? Whatever it is, it sounds good to me.

Look, I admit that I really don't like this show, and when I think an episode sucked, I let it fly. Maybe what you would call hyperbole. BUT, I give credit where credit is due. My favorite episode of season 1 was "Magic to make the sanest men go mad." It was just an awesome, novel interpretation of a time travel episode and I thought it was really, really good. Likewise, in season 2, my favorite episode so far has been "Project Daedalus". The writing in that one was really superb and was very effective.

The problem is that, due to whatever the production model with Discovery is (always different writers, directors), they seem to only come up with great episodes randomly, and rarely. And my explanation for that, is the show is chained to these pre-determined serialized arcs that, for me, just aren't very compelling. Most of the episodes end up being duds, full of material that I, and frankly quite a few posters here, just don't enjoy.

When Wolfstar asked you to come up with something you felt Discovery needed to improve on, you said: "spoonfeeding the audience" and the show not being gutsy enough to just be what it is, without the fan-fiction, fan service, nostalgia stuff.
I agree with those, fully. The problem I see, is that the entire show is infected with that stuff systemically. Ret-conning michael burnham into the TOS universe is exactly what you said is wrong with Discovery. And the show will not let it go, and is showing no signs of stopping. On that count, I'd expect you to be pretty mad and frustrated with the show, in general. Therefore I'm a little surprised to see you on here calling hyperbole when anyone vents their feelings of frustration. Don't you have those feelings too? It's okay to have them around here.
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Brian Lear
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Perpetual Infinity

@Paul--"It is an interesting companion piece ("The Visitor") to this episode, and I'd love to hear if anyone else has any thoughts on these lines."

Only that "The Visitor" was a near perfectly executed piece of story-telling told with well established characters, that happened to use the concept of time to tell the story. Whereas "Perpetual Infinity", to me, seemed like a hurried, confused jumble of action sequences, technobabble, and poorly conceived plot ideas that amounted to much less than the sum of its parts. Perhaps if it spent less time with the camera on SMG , and less time on the silly section 31 plot, and more time with the guest character, in the future, seeing what she was experiencing, they might've stood a chance of telling a good story. DS9, while a serialized show, was not laden with the burdens of keeping up 4-5 continuous plot lines, and so, it had the space to tell a story like "The Visitor" without any penalty. With STD, doing an episode like "The Visitor" would've meant sacrificing time on several other plot lines, which, when you only shoot 14 episodes in a season, that would tank the continuity.

The final goodbye scene in "The Visitor" contained more genuine emotion than exists in the entirety of Discovery thus far.
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Brian Lear
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Perpetual Infinity

@Mal

Wow. Amazing review man! Directly nails on the head why STD universe feels so small. Not only is the physical universe small because the Discovery, and all peripheral characters, can go anywhere instantly, but the relational milieu is also tiny and, as you said, incestuous. Everyone knows or is related to everyone else in a very contrived, well-isn't-that-convenient-for-the-plot kind of way.
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Brian Lear
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: The Red Angel

thank you, Wolfstar, for the most accurate description thus far for why Michael Burnham isn't working as a character.
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Brian Lear
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: The Red Angel

Disco really doubled down hard on the "end of all sentient life" aspect this week. And I hate it. It's such a lazy way to raise stakes and tension, and it doesn't even work. We've never seen these supposed villains that seek to end all sentient life, so how are we supposed to be afraid of them. Maybe spend an episode showing them coming back and you know, actually, attempting to end all sentient life and being partially thwarted, etc. But no, its this omnipresent "threat" that the entire show supposedly hangs on, yet it falls flat every time. I feel nothing when they mention the threat of all sentient life ending. In fact, my first thought is usually, "well can we just get it over with, it sounds more interesting than whatevers going on in the show right now."

The threat has become almost like a backdrop--like a mural painted in the background of a scene that we are supposed to believe is real, but you can obviously tell its a painting and whatnot. It’s something that could’ve been a two-parter in any other trek series, and then periodically brought back (which is a much more intelligent use of serialization). But no, here, it is drawn out over 10 episodes, having absolutely no impact until the very last, when, we are supposed to have some type of huge emotional catharsis all at once as the whole thing is revealed. It’s like theatrical bulemia.

The writers even ABBREVIATED the threat in dialogue this week. I believe MB was saying something and Spock CUT HER OFF mid sentence, and, so she didn't have to say it, he just said "Yup....all sentient life."

I've never laughed so hard during a discovery episode.

1.5 stars for me.
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Brian Lear
Tue, Mar 19, 2019, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

I actually dont see why people love Anson mount so much. Its like people are grasping at straws. Ive felt like his performances are pretty wooden and his role is minimal. I wont feel his loss at all.
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Brian Lear
Sun, Mar 17, 2019, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Gil, I love you, and your writing. Please never leave this community!
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Brian Lear
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 12:58am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

1 star for me. I felt like this was some of the worst writing in the entire series. Once again too many subplots. Too many random characters inserted. Too many self-aware quips. People don't seem like they're from the future. Prince reference? Jeez. Scenes last 5-10 seconds then shift. Everything is told to the viewer in as wooden a way possible. So many shots through cluttered blue holo screens that look too busy to be real. "Whole episode is about Spock, kind of, except not really." Pacing, direction, and flow is completely off again. Not a single line comes off naturally. It literally feels like lines are being read off cards, and they aren't good lines. And my biggest criticism? Michael Burnham. She still has to be the focal point of everything even in an episode that really has nothing to do with her? What exactly is her role on the ship? I don't even know. Is she first officer? I literally don't even know what she does, what her rank is, or really what her role is on the ship. I think I knew at one time, maybe, but, her character is so muddled, that it's really impossible to tell just what the POINT of Michael Burnham is. Why was that final scene with Saru and Michael Burnham so IN-effective? Many reasons. But for me, the main reason is that it simply reminds me of the fact that the writers MUST write MICHAEL BURNHAM into every scene where anything important happens, ever. It was so distracting that I found myself not even listening to all the probably interesting stuff SAru was saying about his species.

SMG steals every scene she is in. And that's NOT a good thing.

A few, major positives though...
- spore going away?
- Mary Wiseman is one of the best, if not the best actors on the set.
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Brian Lear
Thu, Dec 20, 2018, 2:02am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Changing Face of Evil

I thought this was a pile of crap. Sorry. I know some people love this stuff but it seemed extremely forced. Like a huge hammer hitting you in the head repeatedly with "now here's the part where the main character becomes evil."
I felt like the writers had so little respect for their audience that they felt the need to walk you through each excruciating step in the "story". Not a hint of subtlety or elegance.
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Brian Lear
Sat, Nov 24, 2018, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Fifth Season Recap

I know I'm in the minority but I think the writing became significantly worse in season 5. The whole show seemed to lose its direction, and feel. I think the showrunners recognized it late through the season and seized upon "the dominion war" as a fix, and it only really recovered with the season finale. My wife and I both agreed, that upon re-watching season 5, the quality of writing was a significant departure from all that came before. I'm not super knowledgeable about what went on behind the scenes in season 5, but I'm willing to bet they lost some good writers or changed out a bunch of people.
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