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Steven
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: The Mind's Eye

About Sela - I concur, I've always found her backstory to be extremely weird. She's just 22 years old, but a commander? Any why does she look exactly like her mother? We've seen Trek actors play their own relatives before, but there were usually hundreds of years in between - think of Brent Spiner on "Enterprise".

I know that a core story to define her was how she betrayed her own mother, when she was still a small child, and told the guards that her mother was trying to flee, getting her own mother killed. That's a strong backstory, to point out how this child was brainwashed into thinking like a Romulan from her earliest days. But still... it doesn't go well with being played by the same actress.

I would have made Sela an actual clone of Tasha instead - with no Romulan DNA involved. Effectively, she would've been like Shinzon from the Nemesis movie. Now, I don't really like that movie, but the concept of a clone as such is a good one: You have exactly the same person, from a genetic perspective, just raised in another environment, and you see that beloved person grow up to be evil. I feel this is how the Sela actor should've been done; it just would've made more sense. It could also have explained why Tasha looked older than 22; the clone could've gone through an accelerated growth.

I think the clone should've been created AFTER Tasha's execution, by her husband, in order to replace her with a more loyal version. That would've been genuinely eerie. So yeah, the writers kind of created a sub-par backstory for Sela. It could've been better.
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Steven
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 9:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Night Terrors

> I watched this episode back to back recently with Schisms and I find Night Terrors to be by far the better episode. In fact, I find the episode has really held its own over the years and remains a creepy, unsettling outing even now. My rating would be 3.5 stars.

I guess this is exactly where we differ. I see it just the other way around. The idea that aliens are experimenting on you, severing your bones, possibly injecting you with mind-altering substances etc. and you wake up the next morning, unsettled, but unknowing of what went on, is true horror to me.

"Night Terrors" on the other hand didn't have any substance; there was no real danger, the horror didn't have a face. The horror remains extremely abstract, being a vague "fear of a mental breakdown", while the crew cognitively knows that actually NOTHING is going on. They should KNOW that it's all just in their heads (because Beverly discovers the medical condition early enough, and by that point the whole crew would be informed). How is it interesting for the audience to watch people battle NO ACTUAL ENEMY? Well, it isn't.

I just fail to see how "Night Terrors" constitutes "good horror". Sure, the idea to lose your cognitive abilities is very frightening - and in one of the few good scenes of the episode, Picard talks about how one of his relatives lost his mental capabilities when he grew old and turned into a fragile shell of a man. This struck the right cord, and the episode should have been developed more along those lines. Forget all the stupid horror and paranoia stuff; if the episode had shown us how everyone turned into imbeciles (hard to act, admittedly), it would have realized its potential.

The episode should have been more about the fear of turning into an invalid person, and much much less about paranoia and violence.

Concept/Potential: 3.5 stars
Execution: 1 star
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Steven
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 8:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Night Terrors

This is one of the TNG episodes that I dread the most. It just has too many flaws to be any good.

- First of all, I am not a horror fan, in general. I am just bored by scenes like the one where dead bodies are sitting upright in the morgue. It's like watching a C-grade horror flick.

- More importantly, I just don't think that becoming anxious and paranoid is a logical consequence of getting no REM sleep. It doesn't ring true. I believe that people who are seriously deprived of REM sleep will become extremely passive and "psychologically broken". They won't be able to do much of anything. I once stayed up for like 60 hours and simply was a wreck. Patrick Steward is the only actor who gets it right in this episode: He has serious concentration difficulties, all his mental abilities are coming apart.

I guess my main problem with this episode is that I don't buy into the notion that "the whole crew will kill each other like on the Brittain". REM deprivation just doesn't lead to this. I find it utterly unbelievable.

And the whole trope is worn out anyway. Didn't the crew in "The Naked Now" (season 1) kill each other as well? And wasn't it done on TOS, too? In each of those instances, it was far more believable that the crew would turn violent.

So my beef with this episode is that everyone acted like they're in a run-of-the-mill "crew turning violent" episode (also thinking of Genesis from season 7 here, which had a higher sense of danger to me, even though its premise sucked), although all of them should have acted simply like they're losing their cognitive abilities and turning in some sort of imbeciles or autists. This episode was a misfire. Troi flying didn't convey a huge sense of horror either, because Marina Sirtis played too stiffly. Honestly, the only thing that saves the episode is the clever resolution that the aliens were trying to communicate what they need all along.

2 stars, objectively, although subjectively it's one of my most dreaded stories and I want to give it a lower score.
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Steven
Fri, Mar 16, 2018, 6:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Vanishing Point

This episode seems to be very divisive. People either enjoyed it or felt that it was a boring rehash of older Trek. I count myself among the latter group.

Please let me add a few points to the discussion, to explain why I feel that the episode was crafted poorly - although the main idea was a good one and could've served to characterize Hoshi better.

One problem was that everyone who has a good knowledge of Star Trek will figure out rather quickly what's going on: Like so many people before her, Hoshi is trapped in some sort of illusion (possibly inside her own mind) and probably just needs to wake up. That's what I assumed, and eventually it turned out that I wasn't very far off.

I was immediately reminded of TNG's "Remember Me", in which Dr Crusher fears that everyone around her vanishes without leaving a trace - and her worries turn into a reality. The difference here is that it is not her surroundings, but Hoshi herself that vanishes. But it became clearly pretty early on that, like Dr Crusher, Hoshi was caught in a universe governed by her own mind (her own fears), so it either had to be a parallel universe created by the transporter (unlikely, seemed a bit too far fetched) or Hoshi had to simply be hallucinating the whole thing.

So far, so obvious. Having that figured out without any effort, the pacing of the episode is just off: It is much too slow and boring. The real insult to the audience is though that Hoshi doesn't have to figure anything out. In ANY other similar story, the unconscious character always had to find a way to free themselves:

- Dr Crusher had to realize she was in a parallel universe, in order to escape
- Geordi and Ro Laren had to find a way to de-phase themselves and return to the normal universe ("The Next Phase")
- Dr Bashir had to fight against the deterioration of his mind, in order to stay alive and ultimately wake up (in an early DS9 episode in which he got wounded by a dangerous weapon and felt in a coma)
- The Holo Doctor had to determine whether he was a hologram or a real person (Louis Zimmerman) in Voyager's "Projections"

So the established pattern is, for me, that the captured protagonist has to figure out the reality of his situation in order to escape from it. THAT'S what brings excitement into the story. This episode here was lacking any of that: Hoshi never figured out anything, she was just "along for the ride". She still had no idea what was going on when she was rematerialized. And as other people have pointed out, she sleep-walked through the plot in the sense that she just brushed away things that didn't make sense, such as why another crewmember was suddenly able to break a code that she couldn't. She didn't investigate.

I am sorry, but this episode totally failed for me to shed more light on Hoshi's character - all it did was to make her look stupid. And good character work was the only justification to have this episode in the first place. The main plot was just lame, if you knew it was a hallucination. The ONLY job that this episode had was to be a solid character piece, and it wasn't.

Seems like Hoshi wasn't the only one sleepwalking here. The storywriter was too.
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Steven
Mon, Feb 26, 2018, 7:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

So that you don't misunderstand me: I get the idea that Michael was supposed to make mistakes in the pilot, so that she could "redeem" herself later. That was an important development for her character. However, what they needed to do is to have Michael make bad decisions that the audience could actually sympathize with. Decisions that didn't make the viewer hate her. Frankly, by the end of the pilot, I was *satisfied* to see her thrown into prison and I couldn't care less about what would happen to her. I basically wanted to switch to another character and never hear of Michael Burnham again. Now, by the end of the season, I've finally come to find her bearable; that's the most positive thing I can say about the character.
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Steven
Mon, Feb 26, 2018, 7:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

>> "I guess the bottom line, for me at least, is that DSC is at least taking chances and trying a relatively creative approach to Sci-Fi storytelling."

> "I think it's an old hat approach at this point. To be frank, telling one-off serialized stories would have been the marketing risk, since the most popular shows now are all serialized. And by the way, I'm not dissing that, I had no problem with the idea of DISC being serialized. My problem as I now define it is that their method of doing so is just to copy-paste the structure of Fringe and redo that show with new characters."

Let me be more explicit than Peter G here and say that DIS uses one of the "safest" formulas of any Trek series, which makes it all the more astounding how much the series stumbles, despite the bar being as low as it is. Basically, they don't even risk much and still mess up what little they aspire to.

Serialized storytelling has been the norm since the early 2000s. It's nothing spectacularly new. The grade of innovation is comparable to "Enterprise", a series that (in my opinion) failed because it was simply a more boring version of the Trek that had come before it. Similarly to Enterprise, Discovery can't be called particularly "creative" in what it does. And besides, the turn towards serialized storytelling can already be seen in Enterprise, seasons 3 and 4. The whole of season 3 is just one big arc.

Also thank you, Peter G, for your observation that Jammer's ratings have to be seen as a "sliding scale" whose low- and hi-points are readjusted for every show. With that in mind, I can use my personal "correction factor" for his DIS ratings: Distract one star from Jammer's scores, and they feel about right, compared to the older Trek.

It would be interesting to give new scores in retrospect, though. One good example would be the second part of the pilot: I think it has become more and more obvious, over time, just how catastrophic this episode is for the overall arc, because it contains two cardinal errors that damaged Michael's character: First, her misguided attempt to shoot at the Klingons without provocation, and secondly her mistake to shoot T'Kuvma when Georgiou was already dead, and despite saying before the mission that it was imperative not to kill T'Kuvma and create a martyr. And five minutes later, she does. I recognized pretty much instantly how egregrious both mistakes were, but to be fair the magnitude of the failure (on the writers' part) only became fully clear when we learned during the course of the season that Michael was supposed to be a genius, champion of morality and so on. I wonder whether in such a light, the score of older episodes should be lowered. It feels wrong to me to give the two parts of the pilot the same score, because the second part screwed up which could've been a salvagable setup from part 1.
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Steven
Mon, Feb 19, 2018, 11:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

>> "Take a very simple scene, as an example, a very small detail, that shows you exactly what is important in this show: When they first discover the Klingon satellite, they can not get a visual, because the visuals are blurred... So they look through an analog telescope, and can see it clearly. Can you see the idiocy? The "Optical scanner" (which is just a fancy name to say "telescope with an attached digital camera") can not see the object clearly because a field distorts the photons coming from that object, but an old telescope, which recieves exactly the same distorted photons, can see it clearly? This is a very minor and unimportant example, that is dwarfed by many other, bigger examples (and really, I would have just overlooked it normally as cheesy), where the show thinks its viewers are idiots. The ultimate example of that trend is the final solution to the klingon war: They just give up because Burnham is awesome. The show treats everybody, its cast, its viewers, like an idiot, and expects me to cheer them on for it. No, I will not do that. That has nothing to do with "But muh Klingon redesign" or "But Starfleet wouldn't do that!". NOBODY who is sane would do something like that. Nobody. None of the characters involved, would ever do that. And if they did, it would backfire spectacularly."

That's the feeling that the series has constantly been giving me, ever since the pilot. It's worth pointing out how much this disrespect for the viewer undermines the viewing experience. If you feel treated like an idiot, it gets very hard to get involved or immersed with the movie/series.

I just want to leave a brief comment on this episode: It has indeed shown how inept the writers are, and if it were for me, I couldn't give it more than 1 star. It is absolute madness to presume that L'Rell would abort an already won war, because she simply has no reason to do so. It's no exaggeration, as others have suggested, to call this one of the weakest/least believable conclusions to a war plot that has been shown on serialized television.

But anyway, the silver lining is that I feel now is a good moment to quite watching the show. We've seen the complete arc of season 1; we are capable of judging now; and we have a certain sense of completion. I see little incentive to jump into a new adventure/story next season and get invested into a show again that has HAD its trial run in season one and utterly failed in my opinion.

I really wanted to like the show, but things already started to fall apart in the pilot when I started to feel treated like an idiot, - to come back to the quote from the beginning of my post -, because I was supposed to follow Michael Burnham on her journey to mutiny, while her decisionmaking made no sense to me whatsoever. That experience is not only echoed, but completely dwarved by what we got served in the season finale; so in a sense, the series has come full circle. It's just baffling how nothing makes sense. If you just poke a little bit, if you just use your intellect for an instant, everything falls apart. We are expected to narrowly follow the perspective and narrative from Michael Burnham's POV, which is ultimately insulting to the audience. We are told what to feel and what to think, and all the ambiguity that was tauntingly woven into the series in its first few episodes turned out to be misleading: No, there is no complex use of multiple perspectives here; it's all just the Michael Burnham show. Love her, feel with her, or otherwise this series isn't for you.

Apparently my comment wasn't as brief as I thought... sorry for that. I'm saying my goodbye to those who have decided to stay onboard for season 2. It was a good discussion, really, and more intriguing really than watching the show itself.
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Steven Wieler
Fri, Feb 2, 2018, 6:13am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

> What STD did to Captain Lorca is consistent with SJW agenda of the series: white
> people are bad. You certainly can't trust a white man.

> It's a shame that STD is using Star Trek to promote a divisive political agenda.

On the other hand, there is also the message "you can't trust a Pakistani/Muslim", because look at who the sleeper agent is. And the black doctor has just been killed off (black people are unimportant, I guess?), so the "good" crew of the Discovery is pretty white now. Anti-white people? That's a conspiracy theory that is just in your mind, no offense. You can't cherry-pick one single character and claim that it proves an anti-white agenda. That's just lazy thinking.

White people can be pissed, middle Eastern people can be pissed and black people can be pissed by the portrayal of certain characters on the show. Hey, gay people can also feel insulted because how romantical was it to show Stamets and his lover brushing their teeth together? It was a silly/forced romance. So, basically, every political group can be angry about this series if they cherry-pick what they don't like.

In the end, it's just a poorly made series and the insult to certain groups is non-intentional. It's just a by-product of sloppy writing and character work.
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Steven
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 12:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

You guys have indulged in this fun exercise of comparing the moral make-ups of the Star Trek captains, especially as Discovery is lacking in this department.

So I can't resist; here is my list:

1. Picard
2. Sisko
3. Kirk
4. Janeway
5. Archer

Incidentally, I am very much guided by the moral angle because IMO this list shows whose morality is superior to whose, and my sympathies for the captains go by exactly the same order. I'm just too much of an idealist to enjoy something like "Discovery", I guess. Although I did enjoy the reboot of BSG, which is in many ways the antithesis of Trek. However, BSG was "real politics" done right, in an artistic way, far superior to what Discovery has to offer.

The difference between Picard and Sisko has been detailed by you guys. Picard's morality is preferable in theory - if the circumstances allow it. He would've struggled against the Dominion though. Kirk is on place 3 of my sympathy list because his morality is less clearly defined than Picard's or Sisko's. Kirk generally has his heart in the right place and is the "original template" for a Starfleet captain, but imo he is surpassed by Picard and Sisko. Janeway is most similar to Sisko, in my books, because she has to make many decisions under extreme circumstances - but in the end, she is too erratic to be considered on-par, although Mulgrew understood to sell the character surprisingly well, using her charisma.

On Archer, I had to laugh a bit when reading Peter G's description of "George W. Bush in space"... although that's just the issue I'm having with him, too. Scott Bakula comes across as too "American" for my taste. Admittedly, his diplomatic side works rather well in seasons 4 and I might have ranked him higher if more of "Enterprise" had been about the actual formation of the Federation, as opposed to the boring stuff that we got served in the first three seasons. I refuse to even rank Lorca after his recent outing as a comic-book villain.
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Steven
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 10:55am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

[Quote Peter G:] I'd like to be able to make some grand-sweeping statement like "the moral fiber of this show is completely degenerate" but I think that would be missing the point. It's not that the morals of the writers are mixed up, but simply that they don't exist. They're busting every move to keep the plot twists coming and I don't think there's much more to it than that. There's no consideration for what any broader message might be, and so any message one can draw from the show is going to be largely accidental rather than by design.
...
It's almost like a Terran Empire's version of a Star Trek series, and sorry to those who like reading only positive reviews, but yes, it's an actual betrayal. It's not just some new show we should be thankful for, but it an insult to what I grew up thinking of as Federation values. It's some piece of irony that the story of the series is focused on a character whose chief characteristic is being a traitor.
[/Quote]

To me, that's still the core of what is wrong with DIS. And I noticed something recently: I enjoyed the Mirror Universe episodes more than anything else, ever since the first 30 minutes of the pilot episode. You know, when Michael betrayed her Captain for arbitrary and incompehensible reasons - she's really the first main character of a Trek series that I can't connect to. Now, arriving in the Mirror Universe, the show suddenly became bearable. I think that's because everyone in the MU is so blatantly evil and psychopathic that our "heroes" suddenly become sympathetic - purely by contrast. It's really a sad state that we need the comical simplification and black-white painting of the MU to make the PU crew tolerable.

I haven't posted here since episode 6 or 7, but I've promised to come back and give my verdict on season 1. - So, I think I can do that now: This series is still a failure in my eyes. I mostly share the opinion of Peter G here - no coherent message, no vision, no moral commentary like we're used from Star Trek; instead it's all about action, visuals and paper-thin plots and I don't see the "Trek" in this series any more. There are some technical improvements, granted; the pacing and directing got a lot better recently, but that doesn't change the course of the series which to my taste is all-wrong. In terms of characterization, I have to acknowledge some improvement (from unbearably insonsistent to more or less coherent characters; especially after the reasons of Lorca's erratic behavior have been revealed). Still, I don't expect to pick up this series after the end of season 1.
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Steven Walker
Wed, Jan 24, 2018, 1:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Vaulting Ambition

I loved this episode! One fan complaint that I cannot wrap my brain around is the notion that the show somehow failed because some fans were able to deduce the twists ahead of time. In the age of constant week-to-week speculation by an army of fans, it's literally impossible for a serialized show to keep a big plot twist a secret unless they cheat by not offering enough clues to make it believable. Figuring it out early doesn't mean the show failed. I personally do not try to hard to speculate because I don't want to ruin anything for myself. I never would have guessed Tyler=Voq, nor would I have guessed the big twist in Westworld, if fans had not posted their theories online, and I really wish I had never read them. I actually guessed Mirror Lorca, but not in a serious way. Just in a "this is an answer that would explain why he doesn't embody Starfleet ideals" kind of way, but I didn't really think the show would have the courage to go there, so it still felt like a huge revelation to me. My point is, if you are the type of person who spends more time obsessively speculating about potential plot twists than the writers spent writing them, it's not fair to criticize the show if you figure it out early.
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Steven
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 5:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

@Ubik

I have a hunch that the basis for our disagreement is that we use the terms "vision, coherent narrative or style" somewhat differently. Although I tried to be explicit, these terms are still not self-explanatory and need to be put into context and into a larger artistic/cinematic theory. I won't do that right now because it would be a bit exhausting to dig so deep, but I believe this is where our misunderstanding lies.

So okay, I retract my arguments and criticisms for now, because I can't properly explain them.
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Steven
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 4:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

@Ubik

I see where you're coming from in your reaction to my post. But you ignored what was meant as the keywords of my text - "vision, coherent narrative or style".

My arguments are not, as you say, logical loops (strawman arguments), but they are based on my observation that Discovery doesn't have its own cohesive style but feels like an awkward copy and paste job - at least to me.

I am fully aware that you don't have to share that opinion, and that you might interpret what you see as a good form of entertainment - maybe even having its own distinctive feel - instead of seeing it as something that is lacking. As to "The Force Awakens", it was acceptable entertainment for two hours, but personally, I don't mind whether this movie exists or not. It felt empty to me and I will probably not watch it again. Literally like a copy that makes you wonder: Why not watch the original instead? That's just my feeling towards it.
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Steven
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

To give us conflicting characters may actually be one thing that Discovery got right; they certainly did a better job than on ENT, where everybody was too content and nice to each other. The DIS characters have potential for future conflicts, especially between military and science officers. Kind of "New Battlestar Galactica meets Star Trek".

Unfortunately, the characters still don't intrigue me, so I'm not particularly looking forward to seeing future conflicts between them and I'd rather focus on the exploration and science fiction aspects. But yeah, the character work hasn't been a complete miss; what I don't like though is how inconsistent the characters still are and where their moral compass is, AND how similar they are to 21st century people.
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Steven
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Oh my god, I just read what Trent wrote two days ago. Here's a quote:

>> MisterWooster said: "What we have in DISCO is a Trek that doesn't adhere to
>> the "8ish or so Senior Officers Going on Adventures" template, and the reason
>> behind that is: That Template No Longer Works In 2017TM.

> The template works fine. As someone who reads mountains of new science
> fiction novels a year, I can assure you that deep, unique, philosophically,
> scientifically and politically interesting scifi "adventure" and "first contact" tales
> are everywhere (everyone go read Peter Watts' "Blindsight" and Octavia Butler's
> "Lilith's Brood"). The problem is, television writers live in bubbles and are
> primarily influenced by film and TV, and not literature, and certainly not science
> fiction literature. So they have no tales to tell."

Now THAT is a plausible explanation to me. I have heard a couple of good explanations now for why Voyager, or Enterprise, failed to meet the expectations. None of them are suggesting that the new course that Discovery takes is the necessary cure to an outdated formula. True, Star Trek was (and is) in crisis, but I believe that the course that Discovery has taken hasn't been of much help in solving this crisis; if anything, it has obscured the issue.

Quick summary of some convincing points I've heard:

- "TV writers live in a bubble and don't take inspiration from good literature any more" is a very good explanation. The remix of TV shows that Discovery writers pull off in such a fancy way is not a solution.

- Another very good point was that TNG had a coherent vision from the start, it wanted to be different from contemporay TV and do its own thing; in that regard, it followed in the footsteps of TOS. Where's the vision/boldness in Discovery? And no, it's not bold to do a mixer of existing TV shows. (As I said previously, let's wait till the end of season 1 to do a judgment on what "vision" or narrative the new show has. All I can say is that currently I'm not seeing it.)

- TNG also had a superb production team. The reason why Voyager wasn't as great as TNG or DS9 has largely to do with conflicting ideas of what the series was supposed to be or where it wanted to go. In the first two seasons, there were a couple of good concepts and conflicts between the characters that the writers should have expanded upon. At the core of TOS, there are three characters with conflicting attitudes and ideas (Kirk, Spock, Bones); something similar would've been needed for Voyager. Chakotay and his Maquis crew were too easily implemented into Voyager's crew after season 2 and there was little internal conflict left among the crew. I could go on with this; but I think my point is clear that the "8ish main officers going on adventures" template as such is not the problem.

Let's wait and see.
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Steven
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 3:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

"I just want to add one thing: Star Trek Discovery feels to me like the first Trek series since DS9 that's genuinely committed to trying something new. Voyager and Enterprise tried to be fresh in their initial concepts, and had their moments, but they were largely rehashes of stuff we'd seen before. But a lot of Trek fans now seem to fault Discovery for departing from prior shows too much to do its own thing. My response? If all you want from Star Trek is familiarity and repetition, there are HUNDREDS of old episodes on Netflixa and in TV reruns for you to enjoy."

That's the two camps that we have right now:

1. One camp says: DIS is boring for being too much like any other contemporary TV show. It has lost Star Trek's originality and no guts any more.

2. The other says: I was bored by VOY and ENT, finally we got a new series that has the guts to refresh the Trek formula.

Both are right to *some* lesser degree. The question is which one you think is the more relevant description of what's going. To me, it's clearly number (1) and there are lots of examples to strengthen that argument (which have been brought up during the discussion).

I think the people who defend position number (2) need to explain to us what the new "vision", the new coherent narrative or style is supposed to be. Because if they can't do that, then we have a strong indication that the new series is without artistic direction and a product of mere "copy and paste". At this point, I don't have the evidence to completely rule out that the writers KNOW what they're doing, so I don't want to lean too much out of the window. But I can say that I haven't recognized a coherent narrative *so far*.

The right time to judge will probably be the end of season 1.
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Steven
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 4:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

The series fatigue argument is also unconvincing to me. In "The Force Awakens", the writers took the safe route of doing a - rather uncreative - copy and paste job and sticking too close to the original. But surely, you can't argue that the Star Wars universe had "series fatigue" already and that it would have been impossible to create a new, original movie, that set itself better apart from the original ones.

That is what I also see happening on Discovery. DIS uses the established methods from contemporary shows (2017) plus the established methods from the old Trek shows, mixes them somehow and then the Media hypes the result as a creative new approach on Trek.

I will only subscribe to that positive interpretation when I've discovered a coherent, convincing artistic and narrative direction of the new show. So far, I haven't, and Peter G is right in saying that TNG was much bolder - in setting itself apart from everything else - than Discovery is with its rehashing of things that you've already seen in 10 other TV series, just better (Discovery being a shallow copy of the originals). Who wants to see a worse version of Battlestar Galactica or House of Cards?

It's still possible for DIS to get its act straight, so this is all that I want to comment on this atm.
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Steven
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 6:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

"Steven I find it very disrespectful that you come here again and again writing basically how stupid anybody is who liked this episode or the show overall!"

Well it recently came up as a point in the discussion that some people see the show as anti-science or anti-intellectual, so I posted my view on it. That was a constructive thing to do, as in to clarify my position.

Having done that, I see no point in doing it again, and I'll move on. So don't worry, I am not coming here particularly to insult people. I have every right to write that I don't feel taken seriously by the authors because they don't make the effort to polish their scripts and THEY treat the audience as dummies.

If your conclusion from that is that I wanted to insult the audience and insinuate that they are stupid, well it wasn't meant like this. It's hard to speculate on the general audience, maybe they're just coming from a different angle and for some reason they're not bothered by the same things that I am, maybe the do spot the same mistakes but don't mind them, or they don't spot them... I don't know. I never directly insulted the audience, and if that is what you read between the lines from my posts, well that isn't what I said.
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Steven
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 4:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

"That's sort of the vibe I get off Michael, basically that 'science' for the show boils down to that she's smarter than everyone else and is always right. TNG did quite a lot of science-puzzle shows, and in each one the characters are mostly wrong for the entirety of the episode until someone - or a group - comes around to the solution, which is typically thematic to the episode. In DISCO there isn't any 'getting it wrong until they get it right', Michael is just right. That's not science, it's the Trek equivalent of superpowers."

Thank you for putting it in such good words, that is just the point I am trying to make whenever I say the show is anti-science or anti-intellectual. It's true that they are not directly saying that science is stupid or intellectuals are dorks, and if Lorca says this, it should be treated as a single voice and I wouldn't see it as the voice of the entire series.

This is fine and well. But there is an *indirect* disrespect for science and intellectuals so far on the show, because they give almost no screen time to solving scientific or intellectual puzzles. Nobody has to figure anything out, which is what most Star Trek episodes used to be constructed around. Michael gets the solution instantly right, with no explanation given how she reached her conclusion, and boom, there is your Hail Mary. I don't take the writers' claim that they love science at face value, because they need to show it through their scripts to convince me.

On the "intellectual" topic, for some reason I feel a bit intellectually insulted in every episode so far, because there are always a couple of mind-bogglingly stupid logic flaws, that make the viewing experience much less pleasant than it could be. It's like they don't take the audience and their intellect seriously and don't make the effort to polish their scripts. Which is something that was *different* on Star Trek before. Even Voyager episodes, which often had silly stories, were a bit more consistent in themselves and at least tried to be clever within their own logic, and tried not to give us logical flaws every 5 minutes.

The first Trek movie whose watching experience was ruined for me because they brought huge logical flaws every few minutes (you had just recovered from one, and then came the next) was "Nemesis". That is what I call the Nemesis experience. For some reason, Discovery gives me a very similar vibe. Everything revolves around the visuals and action, while nobody stops for even a moment to think about the contrivances that are called a plot.
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Steven
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 4:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

"Peter G, I totally understand your reading of this episode but I don’t think it was necessarily meant to be read like that."

You assume that Peter G was trying to sum up and judge the episode in his text, which he failed to do properly. I think that's where you're wrong in the first place.

It's evident to me that Peter G never meant to write a representative review of the episode, the likes that Jammer writes. He instead focused on very particular impressions that lead to certain conclusions about the series as a whole, which he elaborated on. That was very picky, and some people here mistook it as a "negative review for this one episode", which it wasn't.
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Steven
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 1:24am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Skeech, that explanation is about as convincing as the reason why Warp 10 was never used again on Voygager: Simply because it mutates human DNA. It wasn't a convincing explanation back then, and it's no more convincing now. There's a reason why "Threshold" is considered one of the worst Trek episodes of all time.

During wartime, everything is different anyway. They would've used the spore drive during the Dominion War endlessly, because even if it kills the pilot, there are always some people willing to sacrifice themselves like that if it brings their side a good tactical advantage. (For example, if it allows the ship to escape; better to just kill one person, than allow the whole ship to be destroyed.)

Besides, Janeway would've used it right after the Voyager pilot episode, to sacrifice herself, but bring the Crew home.
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Steven
Tue, Oct 31, 2017, 10:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

"We just had a 3 episode arc about a new life form that was explored in detail, it feels disingenuous to act like the show doesn't explore new life just because it didn't in this episode."

I must have been watching the show in a mirror universe, because to me the tardigrade is the best example of how this show doesn't (!) take alien lifeforms seriously. I roughly remember it like this:

"We've hooked it up to a neural scanner! Here's the brain patterns!"
[10 minutes later]
"We need results fast. Let's put it to sleep, then I lower the forcefield and cut off its fingernail, as a sample to weaponize."
"Okay."
[Female officer does as she says, gets attacked and dies]

Here's what a real scientific thinker would have inserted:

"Wait a moment; it killed a lot of Klingons and you just want to approach it? Shouldn't we try to anticipate its behavior (most likely violent)? I'm sure that in 10 minutes, in a streak of brilliance, I will recognize that it is only "defending itself", but by that time you will be already dead. Also, why did we hook it up to a brain scanner if we don't even take a look at the monitor to see whether it has been sedated? [Yes, they actually didn't even look at the brain scan monitor.] Oh, and you want to bring a phaser, which has been PROVEN to ineffective. That is surely a good measure to defend yourself."

You call the original version "explored in detail"?

Some time later, while the tardigrade is looking like it's suffering, Michael suddenly comes to the conclusion: "It's self-aware!" What her conclusion is based on, we are never told. Normally, at this point, in any Trek episode, people would try to communicate with the lifeform to prove the theory that it's self-aware through whatever he's saying. But no, we never got any communication established.

And that is pretty much all that we ever learned about the tardigrade. Jumps in captivity are for some reason stressful, while jumps in freedom are not, so the creature is released.

Your "3-episode-exploration" is much less than any single episode of any other other Trek show, if it puts the exploration of a new life form in its center, tells us about that lifeform.

"I also have trouble buying the anti-intellectual, anti-science mindset when the majority of the characters are scientists and the show dotes over them."

You're right in that regard. But the writers show their disrespect for science by putting really bad science in the show.
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Steven
Tue, Oct 31, 2017, 4:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Good points, Peter G.

"And this, I think, reflects the moral compass of the production team. I honestly feel that they understand Trek about as well as JJ Abrams does Star Wars. They know the gadgets, they know the references, but the heart of it entirely eludes them. Worse - they appear to hold values that are utterly antagonistic to Trek. And let's not mince words about showing Mudd torturing people: these scenes were supposed to be fun to watch. Is it proper to make a comedic spectacle over the Captain being spaced?"

When someone is shown to us as a sadist, that used to have a narrative justification. But on DIS, pretty much every "bad guy" is exaggerated like this. The Klingons are torturers, assumedly in a pathological way, because keeping Mudd and Ash in the prison for months seems tactically pointless, when they could just be executed. Obviously, the Klingons like to gloat and humiliate their enemies. Captain Lorca also likes his collection of pain-inflicting weapons, just don't ask me WHY. What's the narrative point? It's almost like these character cards were written by 11-year olds, who try to make them "as badass as possible", with no regard for the moral implications.

New Mudd is the kind of character that you usually meet in video games these days. In pretty much every ego shooter, there are these sadistic characters whose cruelty we watch as a form of entertainment. The writers of the show use this common device simply because it's an established and cheap form of entertainment.

But yeah, the show is missing a soul. There's nothing behind it.

"... although I was still sad not to hear any more about what a 4-D life form is or how the Federation knows of their existence. But who am I kidding, I'm not going to get that kind of thing on this show."

I think that's just another example of how anti-intellectual this show is. I doubt that they have any concept behind what a 4-D lifeform is supposed to be. No intelligent person would include "four-dimensional beings" into an episode script, because that is actually what WE are: We move through three dimmensions, plus time, so by definition we all are four-dimensional beings.
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Steven
Mon, Oct 30, 2017, 10:54am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

"Why did Michael eat the death ball, instead of throwing it at Mudd?"

That's the point that I already tried to make: Even if we assume that phasers got remotely deactivated, there are other ways to stop an intruder - physical assault, throwing one of Lorca's death weapons, etc.

"If this is not a reboot, why is this Mudd so much more sociopathic than old Mudd?"

I was definitely wondering that, too. But it's probably the same as with the Klingons: Make him look brutal, because that's considered "edgy" on television today.
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Steven
Mon, Oct 30, 2017, 10:38am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Basically a time-loop episode like this one should be the easiest to get right, it is so conveniently self-contained (pun intended). That the writers still manage to make so many mistakes is kind of impressive. Not in a good way!
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