Star Trek: Discovery

"Brother"

3 stars

Air date: 1/17/2019
Written by Ted Sullivan & Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts
Directed by Alex Kurtzman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Brother" is a not-riveting but very solid episode of Discovery that feels the most like pre-Discovery Star Trek since "The Vulcan Hello" (minus the Klingons and all their subtitles). Untethered from Secret Evil Mirror Captain Lorca and the less-than-coherent war with the Klingons, the series is free to turn out an episode that has the story beats of previous Trek series, except with better production values.

About those production values: Above all else, that's what sets Discovery apart from previous Trek series. I have no idea what TNG or DS9 would've looked like if it were made with today's technology and digital artists, but Discovery looks amazing. The level of detail in the visual effects and production design are of movie caliber. I know I've said that before, but it bears repeating. Meanwhile, the cinematography (particularly in Burnham's dreamlike flashback sequences) is so artistically polished that it borders on excessive.

Notable here from a story standpoint is the script's largely back-to-basics approach that serves as something of a philosophical reset. It picks up right where last season left off, with the rendezvous with the Enterprise bringing aboard Captain Pike (Anson Mount) but, notably, not young Mr. Spock, who has taken a leave of absence and is elsewhere (Pike doesn't even know where). The prospect of being reunited with Spock looms large for Burnham; they have not spoken in years and her conversations with Sarek are weighed down by lots of mysterious emotional baggage. Their lengthy dialogue scene in her quarters feels more Trek-like than most of last season, but it also feels like kind of a drag.

Everything about Spock seems to be discussed in hushed tones, and Sonequa Martin-Green plays Burnham as especially pained and emotional in these scenes. There's a danger here in taking yet another run at Spock as a character and rehashing the whole Sarek/Spock dynamic. And the writers already seem to betray their intimidation by the concept. Keeping Spock off-screen in this episode simultaneously plays like overplayed reverence for an iconic character and also a stalling technique used to build up the mystery that surrounds him. Plus we have to add in the retcon nature of inserting Burnham into Spock's family and childhood. This is a potential minefield that could blow up in everyone's faces. There was talk last season that we might never see Spock on this series despite the time period. The writers backtracked on that big time, probably wisely, but now they are going to have to deliver the goods while trying to satisfy everyone — always a tough nut to crack with prequel revisits.

Fortunately, we have an involving crisis/rescue/adventure which works mostly because of its straightforwardness, and, yes, those awesome production values. We have an asteroid field, a downed ship, and marooned survivors that have been stuck for months with injured crew members. The frenetic, slam-bang asteroid field sequence is a sight to behold. The subsequent search of the downed ship is absorbing and also visually masterful. The survivors are being held together by Jet Reno, an engineer played by comedian Tig Notaro in a salt-of-the-earth performance that hints at a promising character.

Aside from the rescue attempt, which is successful but absolutely not without significant incident (including Burnham running from fireballs and collapsing structures, being impaled, and seeing something that looks like an angel emerging from red light), the sci-fi mission du jour involves some mysterious "red bursts" (red like the "angel's" light!) spread out through the galaxy and that need to be investigated. These anomalies tie back into the past, as we see (through Burnham's flashbacks) Spock as a child somehow knew about them all those years ago. This revelation is handled through visual storytelling that is as economical as it is evocative.

In the meantime, we break in a new captain. Anson Mount does a good job portraying a balanced leader who wants to get the job done but also seems to want to build some relationships. He tells Burnham, "I'm not Lorca." He announces his intention to redo the captain's ready room to make it more collegial and less authoritarian, and he tells Burnham he hopes to have some fun during the course of this mission. It all adds up to the writers saying "we're changing the course" in a pretty on-the-nose fashion.

On the whole, I liked this. "Brother" is a solid start that tells a self-contained rescue/action story while laying some groundwork for whatever sci-fi strangeness is to come. It does this while pretty clearly cleaning the slate after a messy first season. I'm a little wary of the Spock/Burnham stuff, mostly because it seems like it has the potential to be underwhelming. But we shall see.

Some other thoughts:

  • The Enterprise's interim science officer, Lt. Connelly (Sean Connolly Affleck), gets established with just enough dialogue (and gets sneezed on in the turbolift — a moment that did not make me laugh; let's not learn the wrong lessons from The Orville, folks), gets overconfident during the asteroid run, then gets blowed up real good. He wears a blue shirt, but this is about as vintage a red-shirt death as you could possibly get.
  • Stamets is planning to leave the ship in the aftermath of Culber's death, because everything reminds him of Culber and he needs a change. (Wilson Cruz appears in this episode in a video recording.) But do you think the intrigue of the asteroid fragment and its weird properties — which also seem to be waking up the spore drive — might possibly be enough to convince him to stay? (That's a sarcastically rhetorical question, people.)
  • Pike: "Are you okay?" Burnham, with my alternate dialogue: "Aside from the glowing-hot molten metal spike going through my thigh, doing great!"
  • Pike's transfer from captain of the Enterprise to (temporary, I guess?) captain of Discovery was clumsily handled, and they totally gloss over what's happening with the disabled but fully crewed Enterprise. I guess it's just sitting there waiting to be towed back to a starbase while its captain takes over another ship? This is the sort of bizarre narrative gap that typified last season, although this was less severe.
  • The bridge scene where everyone says their name to introduce themselves to the new captain is all well and good, but I'd like to see these bridge officers (Detmer, Owosekun, Airiam) actually used as people rather than props this season. One of the biggest problems with the first season was its microscopic character scope. Please fix this.
  • Keeping being you, Tilly. You too, Saru.
  • Alex Kurtzman took over as showrunner during production of this season, and directed this premiere. So far, so good. This episode modulates the tone by decreasing the crazy of season one in favor of something more conventional that also sets up what one imagines will be a big serial sci-fi mystery. As with all serials, hopefully it builds and comes together, rather than falling apart like last season's ending.
  • The CBS app for Android (streamed to a TV via Google Chromecast), continues to annoy and disappoint. When it's working the way it's supposed to, the video and audio quality are great. But the dropped frames are still frequent (the video pauses for one to two seconds while audio continues uninterrupted; this happens sometimes several times a minute) and detracts significantly from the experience. Am I the only one with this setup who is experiencing this? I don't know how this has not been fixed. If I were not watching and reviewing this show, I would not pay for this service. If I could buy this show on a better streaming platform like Netflix, I would.

Previous episode: Will You Take My Hand?
Next episode: New Eden

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197 comments on this review

NrCoNe
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
Finally the wait to hate is over after 10 months. Season 2 premiere has aired...

Oh wait. It was actually good.

Grey
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
Anson Mount's Pike was fantastic and the visuals for this were stunning. I am very much excited for the rest of this season if this is the kind of quality we're gonna get! Also am very glad that blue tint is gone, things seemed so much more... alive? I suppose!
FELCommentary
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
Amazing performance by Anson Mount mixed with some good camera work, side character interaction, episode structure and ACTUAL HUMAN EMOTION. It's starting to feel like Star Trek.

My only grip is i absolutely hate the direction they're going with the edgelord Spock being the key to the Angel.

Overall good episode, 3 stars for me. Keep it up Discovery.
Rahul
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 8:55pm (UTC -6)
Different flavor to start Season 2 -- some humorous moments were notable (mostly Tilly's schtick) as a change from Season 1 -- but there were the usual great visuals and action sequences albeit short on depth and meaning as it seems we're on a potentially lengthy arc with just some exposition for now. Overall I thought "Brother" was watchable but not enthralling with the resolution of Burnham and Spock's relationship to be one of the focuses. Also felt like DSC was borrowing from The Orville at times (alien sneezes on Connolly) with the humor and some of the character interactions.

Pike comes across as a very laid-back captain. An extreme situation gives him command of Discovery -- felt a bit bad for Saru, who I thought was showing himself to be an able captain (can certainly give a decent motivational speech). But he seems to be one to get his hands dirty -- could never see Picard flying through an asteroid belt on TNG. He eventually returns the favor and rescues Burnham after she has a vision of this red angel - looked a bit like Sauron from "The Hobbit".

Interesting that the episode ran for an hour and 20 minutes (including commercials) -- plenty of filler material (as far as I'm concerned, although some might consider it exciting - like flying through the asteroid field). For me, this really seemed like pushing it just for the sake of thrills. The Enterprise science officer (Connolly) who came across as very cocky, jawing at Burnham, gets killed -- and yet the episode just moves on as if nothing had happened. So it seems loss of life isn't a big deal.

But there were some slower paced moments revolving around Burnham and childhood visions, the discussion with Sarek -- so what went down between her and Spock? Their introduction as kids didn't go so well. Sarek admits he hasn't spoken to Spock in some time but even after all this is over they should still be on difficult terms leading up to "Journey to Babel". I didn't find this whole bit that interesting as Star Trek tries to shoe-horn Burnham into Spock's earlier life.

The part with engineer Reno was weird -- how she and those bodies survived for months on that asteroid sounds farfetched. Wasn't impressed with the character or the actor or how her lines were written. But she's part of the mystery.

Some other weird odds & ends: the asteroid that they take into the cargo bay -- some strange properties that has Tilly curious; that the Enterprise was ordered to stay away from the Klingon war; Spock is onto something with these 7 red signals and it's messing with him.

2.5 stars for "Brother" -- mainly style over substance, not too much of a plot other than mechanical operations (dealing with the asteroid, change in ship's command) and setting up the arc. The Burnham/Spock thing starts out dubiously and it seems the resolution of their relationship is going to be goal of the arc. Not much learned about the threat of the red signals for now. Certainly watchable but not what I'd call great stuff -- the basics are somewhat accomplished but the outlook isn't intriguing enough for me.
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 9:15pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, I'm rating that a 3 out of 4. It was good, bordering on great. So many of the complaints I had with Season 1 were absent. Anson Mount was great as Pike. I felt like the initial introduction to Tig Notaro's character felt a bit off, but she worked better as time went on. VFX were light years better than last season. The script didn't include any clunkers really, with even Burnham's monologues being better than last season. And despite some critical comments from early reviews, I didn't think the episode had "too much Burnham" as was the case in a lot of Season 1, or that there was any effusive praise which drew me out of the story. The shift away from TEH PLOT! to character was also very much appreciated.

That asteroid field was absolutely ridiculous - asteroids don't look like that - but at least they had the excuse that it was just beginning to break up.

There were, at first blush, three things which made me not give it a perfect 10/10 score.

1. Tilly just seems wrong this season. She was a breath of fresh air last season, when everything was dark and dour. But with the lighter mood she stands out more in a bad way - as if she's a character who mistakenly wandered in from another show. I found this strange, because I feel like Stamets and Saru were picture-perfect and treated as well rounded characters. But Tilly just seems like...a joke character.

2. I don't think the flashbacks to Micheal's youth with Spock worked entirely. They were beautifully visualized and well directed, but they really didn't make me feel much of anything. They seem to be relying upon our fannish interest in Spock to keep us engaged, which is a big mistake. The show should engage us on its own merits.

3. The show was a nice action-adventure, but action-adventure Trek isn't my favorite flavor. I only rate as perfect character drama type Treks like Duet, The Visitor, The Inner Light, etc. So as long as Discovery hews to this format I don't think I'll rate any single episode as perfect.
Shannon
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
Good start to Season 2, as it feels like the series is getting back to Star Trek's "exploring the unknown" roots. Anson Mount did a great job portraying Pike, the visuals were stunning (as usual), and the show was more character driven. I like the flashback's to Michael's first moments in the Sarek household. I hope this is a good sign... I'd give it a solid 3 out of 4 stars.
Troy G
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 9:56pm (UTC -6)
Visually, this episode was better than anything previously released with the Star Trek name.
MidshipmanNorris
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
Well, well, well. Star Trek: Discovery, you sassy bassy.

I went through the first 20-40 minutes of this episode irritated. I was sitting there saying to myself "Wow, Captain Pike. Oh, man, he's taking command and I'm supposed to be wondering if he's really evil or something. Thanks for hitting me over the head with it, DISCO. Yee haa, a Star Wars-esque dangerous flight situation, in STAR TREK. Eh. More of the same predictable crap from Season 1. Oh, the obnoxious guy who I didn't like got killed. Oh boyee, such DRAMA!!! Uh oh, is Captain Pike gonna die, I bet he isn't!"

Then, the weird robot drones. The E.T.-esque bio-containment tunnel. The stranded crew on the asteroid being kept alive by an engineer doing scientific technobabble jury-rigging....that lady, whoever it was (I don't remember her name) is the turning point where I became interested. I recognize her from somewhere. Has she been in Star Trek before?

Suddenly, Star Trek is starting to feel like Star Trek again. Pointed dialogue. Emotional reactions that convince me I'm watching a sentient being. An exciting escape sequence for Burnham that seems to reference Alien-vis-a-vis-Samus Aran. Then, Tilly, Burnham and Stamets getting all excited about discovering dark matter that they can actually use and interact with. Huh.

Collecting a sample of said dark matter. Huh. This feels like...

This feels like Star Trek.

Did Alex Kurtzman just apologize to us?

I won't spoil the ending, but suddenly, it seems there is something dire going on concerning the nightmares a certain half-human Vulcan is having recur from childhood...Now, I know lots of you folks on here devour every detail of what may be coming on the latest Trek show, but I prefer to wait and not spoil _anything_ for myself, every time.

I'm giving this episode a solid 3 MidshipmanNorris stars. This feels more like Trek to me. Bravo.
NowThisIsMoreLikeIt
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 11:09pm (UTC -6)
"Now this is more like it." Those were the opening words of Janet Maslin's review of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. She, like many others, found Star Trek: The Motion Picture to be an unsatisfying movie.

And Discovery last year (in its first year, which, if one tries to be objective about it, was still much better than TNG season 1) certainly had unsatisfying components: a plot that yanked the viewer around like a rag doll (the viewer is the rag doll here, not the plot), little mini-arc storylines for indiividual members of the crew that did not connect to the bigger picture (what bigger picutre? is a good question), or even to what their own pictures appeared to first look like; and bucketsfull of moments in each episode when the music, the special effects, the editing, the urgency of the actors' voices, were pitched at a tone that oozed the vibe of "Either it's the end of the universe of this moment or it's not." When every moment comes down Broadway sold as if the fate of nations depended on it, no moment is actually really urgent.

Most significant in the dissatisfaction column, for this viewer anyway, is not that Discovery did not "feel like Star Trek" (I still don't know what that means) - but that the show did not feel like it was chronicling the adventures of a group of people working as a team or as a group of souls working toward a common end (Season 1 sure used the word "souls" and "team" a lot, perhaps a product of the writers' crutch, "If you can't show, just tell." Stories were populated by individuals (and a very small group of them, as well), who weren't discovering. They were speechifying, killing, then contradicting themselves by saying killing is wrong - they were being moved as pieces on the writers' chessboard - a board which, if rumor is to believed, was smashed and then hastily glued back together more than once, with the departure of producers and writers (and can anyone tell me what happened to Nicholas Meyer?)

No one is going to mistake Alex Kurtzman the producer for Irving Thalberg; Kurtzman the director for Orson Welles; or Kurtzman the writer for Ben Hecht (and all of the people who think he is the worst kind of hack who then claimed to be SHOCKED that he turned out what these people call "garbage," please get a grip) - just as no one did at the relevant time mistake Gene Roddenberry the producer for Thalberg or Rick Berman for Francis Ford Coppola. These men were mortals too - perhaps sometimes highly competent hacks, but hacks. (Having real sf writers write for TOS was a great thing, but real sf authors - as in authors of published literature - have not graced the writers of a Star Trek room since.... I don't know when).

So, viewed through the lens of sane expectations and a history that actually took place, how did the first episode of Season 2 hold up? Pretty well. The amorphous, can't be proven right, can't be proven wrong refrain of, "This doesn't feel like Star Trek," when drilled down to its basic components, I think, comes to 3 components: Are we watching 1) a group of people all with their specific flaws and strengths 2) working together in pursuit of a shared goal 3) as they are traveling through space?

"Brother" was a winner because the answer is yes to all three.

This episode was the first in which I felt I was watching a group of people whom one would expect to behave and communciate with each other as if they'd actually been in each other's presence for any length of time. Characters talked to each other non-expositorily, finally. When Stamets told Tilly to recite, "I will speak less," and told her about his job offer, and how he missed Hugh, what I saw was not any of these points being fed to us for the sake of estabishing a character, finally (that was the problem with the 2012 Les Miserables movie; each character would essentially get on screen and have his or his own song, consisting of "This is who I am and this is what I do," and would essentlally sing that one note for the rest of the movie). I saw less "dialogue" and quite simply, more interaction, that did not keep announcing itself as such. I saw building upon prior events and characters reflecting on those prior events, without (the screenwriters) having to tell us yet again exactly what those events were and why they were so important. Even the new characters were given things to say that one would expect to be actually said in a workplace undergoing a particuar point in its development (Pike having each member of the crew announce his or her last name. if this was a writers' mea culpa, I'll take it). The new characters, including a certain comic, also seemed to have a sense of humor. The lines reflecting the humor did not feel forced. These lines were said at the tail end of other lines, or in the middle of them, not as their own punchlines because the writers couldn't show humor and humanity as one, at the same time. Nice.

2) There was a sense of actual working to pursue a shared goal. And unlike last year, the goal was articulated clearly to the audience, and did not vanish in favor of a different A-story or wilt on the vine to die (like the planet Pahvo, with respect to which Episode 8 promised a certain centraility in episode 9 - only to have it and its inhabitants ignored in favor of the latest zap arbitray crisis of the moment forced us to make us forget about how contrived the last one was). When the word "Starfleet" was uttered, what we were shown was a recognizably Starfleet crew, with "Starfleet" actually meaning something as opposed to being a writers' pawn that one day stood for peace and another for genocide. There was no narrative fixed Star in season 1 through which events and actions could be evaluated by the viewer; "Brother," in contrast, had a definable, coherent beginning, middle, and end, and if it were a train ride, it felt at the end as if it had reached a destination that was on the same branch as the initial stop (as opposed to making you wonder if the station had at some point been obliterated and replaced by a town without a train).

3) Finally, we saw actual travel through space, from point A, to B, to C, where the viewer could spatially/logistically follow the travel. Discovery felt like it was... discovering, and the show did not play as if the characters were ahead of the plot, behind it, or just plain dumbfounded. The plot played at the same "speed" as the characters' actions. Last season (take episode 8, for example, where L'Rell pretends to kill the Admiral then pledges allegiance to Kol and then is identified as a traitor - a sequence of events which must have actually required a thought process but felt as if it played out in confusingly real time) suffered from a lack of rhythm, lack of pitch, proper dynamics, you name it. Someone attempted to make "Brother" not only to be watched, but to be understood. Thank goodness
Nicholas Sergi
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 12:35am (UTC -6)
So, uh.. they warp to this place they've NEVER been before they plan on having Sarek disembark.??? Where is he gonna go?
William D Wehrs
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 1:25am (UTC -6)
Let's start with the positive shall we? The visuals are excellent and the music is quite nice. Especially the working in of the two musical themes.

Ok, now that that's over with, let's look at the missteps. What was the point of the character, Connelley who was incredibly obnoxious. Was he just there to die? That's just mean spirited writing. There is also an abundance of jokes, most of which for me at least don't land at all. There is also the ludicrous roll-call scene which the writers clearly thought helped serve to "flesh out" the bridge crew. It doesn't though. We still don't know anything about these people. Also, Discovery had better provide a good reason why Spock is such a petulant brat from the very beginning towards Burnham. Overall, I can see this show is trying to rectify its prior mistakes, but it still has a long way to go.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 2:31am (UTC -6)
I haven't seen the episode itself (I'm not ready to give CBS my money yet) but I'll say this much:

It is obvious that Kurtzman is trying to rectify many of the mistakes that were done in season 1. Finally "Discovery" is actually... well... discovering, instead of lense-flaring and advocating war crimes. They also got rid of those ridiculous monsters they called "klingons" in season 1. And while I normally don't like gratuitous fan service, I think that having Pike as our new "resident Captain" is an excellent idea.

Still weary because... well, Kurtzman. But at least they now have the basics right.

By the way,

I'm really *really* interested to see what those Trek veterans who disliked season 1 (like Dom and Peter and Grumpy Otter) have to say about this episode.

Tim C
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 4:25am (UTC -6)
Three stars!

As with the high points of season 1, "Brother" does action adventure better than its television predecessors were ever able to pull off, thanks to a combo of high budget, two decades of CGI improvments, and a longer production time. Less positively, and also like season 1, though, is a lack of thoughtful character moments to elevate the action into something we're truly invested in, instead of just thrilled by.

Tig Notaro was great. Anson Mount is shaping up to be a fantastic Captain (and geez, they are digging themselves a hole by dint of canon - Pike can't be on this show for too long before he has to go back to the Enterprise, and we'll have to adapt to another new leader). Making sure there was a Starfleet science nerd angle to the asteroid chase is also a good sign.

Hopefully, the long-term arc of the season is going to allow for the show to give us more one-off adventures in the classic Star Trek mold and give the characters a bit more time to breathe between spectacular action scenes, moreso than the Klingon/Mirror stuff did last year.
wolfstar
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 6:43am (UTC -6)
I'm settling on 2.5 – it's flashy as hell, all sound and fury, but nothing that happens makes any sense. Saru is solid as usual, and actually Sonequa is fine – I feel like she's settled into the role better and is more confident and assured. Low points were the action sequence with the pods, which was total nonsense, and Tig Notaro's incredibly wooden performance. I complained in S1 about Tilly being too broad and it was even more the case in this episode. None of her scenes worked or were funny (or at least sympathetic), they were all just really awkward, as was the elevator scene. Stamets still isn't working at all as a character, and the Spock material isn't working for me either (the scenes of him as a child were laughable and cringeworthy). Pike was OK, but I'm concerned that they're gonna do a Lorca on him – I have a bad feeling that being the captain of Discovery is like being the defence against the dark arts teacher at Hogwarts...

Still 2.5 despite all the above issues because this is incredibly professionally produced, well paced and acted, and very much a first chapter.
Booming
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 7:04am (UTC -6)
Ok if nobody will say it I will: Go Go Power Rangers!
"Guys we have to gown down to that asteroid. Here are your new shiny space suits."
Does the Discovery have it's own uniform style or does the Enterprise? That confused me a little. Blue or like in TOS.
And because everbody gives it a star rating.
I'm giving it 7 out of 11 stars. Or maybe 9 out of 15.
I think that was an ok beginning.
Oh and is every room a holodeck now??
I am very worried how this whole angel thingy will turn out.
@midshipman: I saw the actress once in a community episode as a bartender.

MadManMUC
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 7:38am (UTC -6)
Right.

As many on this board know, I loathe S01 with every fibre of my being. Just about everything about it. The only indifference I've shown so far — as it relates to STD — is the shorts.

S01E02 of STD, for me, is a mixed bag at best. So let's get the thing I hate about it out of the way first.

• SMG. She still can't act her way out of wet paper bag. She manages *every* time to ensure I couldn't give the slightest shit about her character, and leaves me wishing her character would get killed off;

• For the love of all of our mothers, please, please, *please* stop it with the superficial fan service to try and convince us that STD is Genuine Trek™. For the eagle-eyed and -eared among us, the alert notification graphic on the top right of the main viewer is lifted straight out of TMP/TWOK, and most of the bridge sound effects come out of a TNG/DS9/VOY sound pack. Just. Stop. It.

• Tony Stark designed Starfleet's space suits. I'd like to remind all of you that every space suit from TOS straight to VOY (with the all the films in between) didn't have magically-appearing helmets. People actually had to put them on the old-fashioned way. This Iron Man stuff was just bull shit.

• The 23rd century version of Geordi LaForge's VISOR made an appearance in Discovery's transporter room. Ugh. Come on ...

• STD still wants to be an action series;

• I'm not sold on this Reno character. How many more sarcastic, curmudgeonly characters does this show actually need?

• Michael Fucking Burnham. I want her gone.

• Ensign Tilly, I'm afraid. She's just a female Wesley Crusher, and no less irritating for it;

• Sarek. He leaves me completely bored;

• Enterprise's redesign. There was absolutely no valid reason under the sun for this;

• The overall look and feel of the show. Still.

For all of that though, there were a couple of things I liked ... for once:

• Stamets. It took me a while, but he's really the only character in this show I give even the remotest shit about, until now;

• Anson Mount as Pike. If there's one thing I'm 100% sold on with this show, it's this. Casting him as Pike was a stroke of genius, and it's clear he's totally into the role. He may actually single-handed make this show semi-watchable;

• I don't know if it was fixed in post, but the bit at the end with Peck's voice as Spock was notable. I definitely heard notes of Nimoy's voice in there, and I'll say it caught me by surprise. I still don't agree with Spock being in this show to begin with, but — so far — I'm not disagreeing with Peck's execution of the character, even though it was voice-only this time around.

• The overall plot might have potential, but it's too early to tell. Still, I'm not happy with the 'fate of the whole galaxy is at stake' thing. Again.

I'll be generous, and give this thing 1.5 stars. Out of 5.
Dave in MN
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 8:12am (UTC -6)
This episode was not very good at all, but I guess anything can look like a rose if it's surrounded by shit.
Nicholas Sergi
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 10:14am (UTC -6)
it was a huge mess.
1.) I thought the Michael inner monologue that begane (I think) with her saying space the final frontier .. was not in a good place in the show.. i thought it was a new opening credit sequence. All the flashbacks to her childhood were weak.
2) treating Connelly like just some dude to be killed WTF
3) so is number one a character or not. She was.. there.. yet the camera and the characters ignored her
4) the editing sucked
5.) so the whole asteroid / crashed ship set made no sense.. one second it looks like a three story-tall set the next you are in a plastic tube a'la ET
6) Pike says.. in the middle of a scene on a bridge.. that his mission is suddenly over and gives it to Saru WTF I mean WTF
7) the very next scene he says he is staying aboard and has a Discovery uniform WTF I'm not sure if that was number one or not ebcause the camera avoided her.. as did the other charcters. The epsiode was so busy yet I have almost no more idea of what the story was about than wha tI got out of the trailers for the episode. Pulsars, stars, signal.. learned nothing at all
Chrome
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 10:16am (UTC -6)
Right then, I thought the episode was okay. Like many others, I enjoyed Anson Mount's Pike who ably went from both decisive and authoritative to deep and insightful. Of course there's the mandatory *crisis* that this series thrives on - like we can't go a single episode without there being something ripping at everyone both personally as well as with the entire quadrant. I've resigned myself to the fact that this is action Trek, so I won't complain too much about it. In fact, I enjoyed that there was a little more time spent on science and exploration with the coordinated asteroid rescue effort.

The Sarek/Spock material didn't do much for me. Star Trek 2009 was able to quickly show us a few scenes from Spock's childhood which concisely accented his character bible while framing the spirit of the movie. In this episode, the flashbacks have us lumber through ploddingly what should be extremely exciting material on an important Trek character. It's slow and it feels like a huge tease, and of course that's exactly what they're going for, but I'm on the fence whether Spock in this series will lead to a good payoff.

On the plus side, I liked the flavor of episode. It feels like the show is going in a different direction with a more enlightened sense of purpose for our crew. The thoughtful people who enjoy the cooperation of space exploration like Burnham, Saru, Pike, and Tilly are rewarded for their efforts. Controversially the brazen mavericks like Lt. Connolly get punished severely for their arrogance. In a way Connolly's death reminds much of Landry's in season one, but also of it reminds me how Burnham's brazen attitude got her in big trouble in the premiere. So it's good we get that a contrast of Starfleet personalities, and the feeling the crew's attitude has shifted from season one.

Like Norris, I enjoyed the visual effects, and I too felt a little bit of Metroid in the atmosphere. It seems like the effects blended a lot better than before, as if they've learned to temper the CGI so it doesn't dominate conventional staging.

So all-around a decent episode with a more promising setup.
Burn 'em' up!
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 10:20am (UTC -6)
Just face it! Star Trek: TOS is NOT coming back! That exhilarating feeling which some of us experienced, watching the original 'Star Wars' as wide-eyed teenagers...is over! I really feel for the writers, because it's very difficult to please a saturated audience who are searching for originality, ready to pounce when their craving is not sated. And all the criticism, I'm sure, has contributed to the reduction of the number of episodes ...leaving us to enjoy a paltry ten...with longer pauses between series. (The days of Star Trek: DS9 are over, too.) Of course, I'm disappointed at times, but all-in-all, the writers have done their best in keeping us entertained…(and remember)...this is only Entertainment.

That being said...what about this Episode? First, I enjoyed Season 1, immensely!!! And Season 2 looks promising. I really liked the Captain Pike character and the new engineer. And I'm looking Forward to the Twists and turns, which is a mainstay in viewing nowadays. The main thing that I don't like about the series...and many like it...is the obvious push on social...or anti-social issues. Note: We get it.
Hank
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 11:37am (UTC -6)
Welcome to Discovery Season 2: The Orville Electric Boogaloo!

Lets start with things I like, so that thats out of the way:
-Bridge Crew gets more scenes, and actually talks, and is given names
-We see medical personal in sickbay, yay
-I liked Stamets scenes
-We are actually investigating stuff for once

Now to the facepalming moments:
-stupid "Tilly talks to loud" joke
-Saru forgot how to handshake
-Burnham makes a completely pointless analogy: "Wow, you so smart girl"
-Stupid "entering the elevator and everybody says "excuse me"" joke
-Stupid snot joke. Jarr Jarr binks would be proud, honestly
-Stupid pinky joke, which leads to the captains personal file being on screen somehow? whatever
-stupid "I'm drunk on power" joke. Who would ever promote Tilly to anything?
-Suicidal Opera Singers(tm)
-Pikes Officer says his name on the bridge - why?
-No zoom on camera, so Saru has to look
-Going down in a landing pod... that spins ...
-"Look, I got this! i got This! Oh, I'm dead..."
-Stupid "You got this girls, right?" joke...

Honestly, I complained that Discovery was too dark... I didn't want every character to make stupid jokes all the times though... And what was up with that wooden stranded engineer? And "Evolution is a [didn't catch that] bitch?" Really? Was that line really needed? Everybody just seems completely incompetent/unprofessional. Even "Saru - just .... ah ... Saru *awkward silence*" Everybody went from dark brooding aggressive stare to wisecracking goofball.

"THE POWAH OF MATH!" - not a single line of math was uttered the entire episode... What, you are suprised that your fictional anti-gravity thing does things to that asteroid thing? Which is apparently not made of normal matter so infinite energy, and dark matter, and lets throw in some more stuff that makes no sense...

Okay, so... this asteroid is going 5000km/h in the direction of a pulsar, and will arrive in 5 hours... which means discovery is 25000km from a pulsar... Space - that infinitely small place ...

Poor Spock. Turns out, his father never loved him, and understands Burnham far better, and likes her more, too, and now he had prophetic dreams his whole life, and went off to find them, and painted a map of the galaxy showing were the "Red Explosions" or whatever were... Come on... What a cringefest. Just leave old characters alone.

So, to summarize, we get a 180° tone shift, from grimdark to parody, and nothing has really changed otherwise. Burnham was lauded for being the best at least three times, before she did anything, the universe is in mortal danger, and how is Pike in command of Discovery when he is supposed to give command to Kirk in 2265, having command of the Enterprise for at least ten years beforehand? Discovery is copying Orville - and I didn't like the humor in that series either, so stop that, please. Right down to the "Strange Alien has funny bodily fluids" jokes... Why, oh why oh why can't we just have normal people.

And to Burn em' up! above me: Fewer episodes don't necessarily have anything to do with criticism. Game of Thrones went to fewer episodes per season with longer pauses and is one of the most loved shows of all times.
Burn 'em' up!
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 1:57pm (UTC -6)
@Hank But you have to ask yourself, 'Why'? Why has the number of episodes been reduced, in general. At least, 20 episodes per season used to be the norm. Besides criticism, production costs and competition have, in all probability, contributed to the reduction of episodes, also. Fact is, the writers are under more pressure than ever to produce a quality product...failure being the proverbial ax.

I miss the longer seasons, and I didn't mind the occasional 'lemons' or fillers, because I really respect the writers, and the difficult Job that they have...especially in the past...to come up with good ideas, to stay within budget over a long season, and to entertain an increasingly hard-to-please audience.
John Harmon
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
I feel like all that needs to be said about this episode is that Burnham had to remind Saru that his eyesight is better than everyone else's.

Burnham is so good at everything she's even better at remembering how other people's bodies work than they are.
philadlj
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
For reference, here are the names, ranks, and positions of the main crew of the Discovery as of this week:

Captain Christopher PIKE - Acting Commanding Officer
Commander SARU - Executive Officer
Commander Michael BURNHAM - Science Officer
Lt. Commander Paul STAMETS - Chief Engineer
Ensign Sylvia TILLY - Command Trainee
Lt. Commander AIRIAM - Spore Drive Operations Officer
Lt. Keyla DETMER - Helm/Conn Officer
Lt. Gen RHYS - Tactical Officer
Lt. J. G. Joann OWOSEKUN - Operations Officer
Lt. J. G. R. A. BRYCE - Communications Officer
Lt. J. G. Dr Tracy POLLARD - Ship's Physician

SC
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 3:28pm (UTC -6)
@NowThisIsMoreLikeIt Have to disagree. At least TNG season one had Picard. I struggle to care about any of the characters in Discovery.
R.
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 4:49pm (UTC -6)
Technical question: Is conventional warp drive much, much faster in 'Discovery' than in the older series? Those red flashes are spread across a thirty thousand light year radius which, even at warp 9.975 (the maximum cruising speed observed across the previous shows and movies), would require a travel time of around thirty years to travel between two flashes at opposite sides of the galaxy - and that's discounting travelling to multiple flashes along the way

I'm just confused as I thought they would definitely be using the spore drive to travel across such vast distances?
Tim C
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 5:27pm (UTC -6)
@Hank

"Okay, so... this asteroid is going 5000km/h in the direction of a pulsar, and will arrive in 5 hours... which means discovery is 25000km from a pulsar... Space - that infinitely small place ... "

Mate, if you're going to nit-pick, then you should at least try listening to the dialogue. The asteroid was travelling at 5000 km per *second*, which would put the pulsar at 90,000,000 klicks. (For reference, the distance between Earth and the Sun is 150,000,000 km.)
Trent
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 5:34pm (UTC -6)
I thought the two-parter pilot which opened "Discovery's" season 1 were its best episodes. That pilot promised a lot, teased you with possibilities, and was tantalizing in a lot of ways. IMO the season then quickly botched all those promises.

I thought the hour-long pilot which opened "Discovery's" season 2 was similarly decent, but I can't shake the feeling - especially from the trailer that followed it - that things are going to quickly get ridiculous. The signs already point that way: every character's dialogue and delivery rings false, everything is overacted, no conversation flows naturally, Michael's furrowed facial expressions for confusion/awe/worry are ridiculous, the comedy doesn't work, the characters overload on postmodern sarcasm/irony/snark, and again, despite a long running time, the episode ends with nothing much having happened.

The episode's attempts to hammer home "that we're a family", "we never leave fellow officers behind", "we're a good crew now", "we're doing science stuff" and "math" and OLD STAR TREK VALUES ARE BACK! also seems forced and unearned. This is a series which is constantly telling and explaining and straining for metaphor and theme and forcing itself upon you, nothing flowing naturally at all.

Beyond this you have the usual "Discovery" soap-opera (Michael's flashbacks, Spock's father, Spock's mood swings, Stamet's career decisions) which nobody cares about and just serves as padding.

The positives are mostly Captain Pike, who hearkens back to everything we like about Trek captains. And, aside from one hokey line, feels like he stepped right out of TOS, snazzy yellow shirt and all. Like Good Philippa Georgiou, he's a character you wish an episodic show were built around.

Also disappointing is how the episode almost completely ignores its cool concept: strange red alien lights are pulsing, but this mystery, which should be milked for its horrific and provocative possibilities, is pushed aside for lots of manic shenanigans instead. Indeed, everything that happened in this hour-long episode would have fit into the first act of Old Trek ("arrive, beam down to damaged Federation ship, rescue survivors, learn of mysterious red-lights/angel. 15 mins tops).
Clark
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 5:40pm (UTC -6)
2/4 for me. Show just doesn’t want to take a second to breathe. Feels more like the recent films and less like the tv shows. Was hoping after the set up last season it would fall into something more familiar but they seem intent on constant escalation. Not good when things are already escalated to where most trek was season 5-7.
Yanks
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
OK, I've seen it twice.

The review of last year was good aside from having to see Michael preach to everyone while they get awards.... god that was horrible. So I have a bad taste in my mouth from the start.

I liked the black and white visuals with Burnham telling us about how the Milky Way was created. Pretty cool. I thought it was going to be our new intro, but nope.

I'm glad because I enjoy STD's intro and visuals. I was glad to hear the music again.. made me feel good (like watching one of the other series).

I like our young Michael. I was a little surprised with young Spock's reaction to her, but his "drawing" wasn't a really nice loving image...more to follow I'm sure.

Michael states Enterprise has a crew complement of 203.... well done. Someone's doing their homework.

Captain Pike requests permission to come aboard.... this gets a reaction from Michael and Sarak. We all know that Sarak and Spock where at odds forever, but I guess we'll have to learn about the Michael/Spock relationship. I look forward to it. It seems on the interweb that Trekkies are all up in arms about Spock having a step sister.... well, we (and Kirk) didn't know about Sybok until STV came out so I'm open to additions to Spock history. At least Michael doesn't hug everyone and take their pain. ..... yet

We get a quick glimpse of a precursor to Geordi's visor and then we get a tie-in from Suru's Star Trek Short 'The Brightest Star' when he briefly discusses his relationship with his sister Siranna.

They beam him aboard. Haha.... nice trick with the ear shot 😀

"Do not covet thy neighbor's starship commander" HAHAHA!!!

Pike turns the conversation over to his science office "Connelly" ... that made a hair stand up on my neck.. not sure why.

He babbles, then Michael mentions something about a compass on the north pole... then "think of all the syllables that gave their lives" 😀😀😀

Enter the "elevator scene" .... is this the first time we've ever seen how a turbo lift moves around inside the skin of the ship?

I loved Pike's approach to informing the bridge crew. Obviously, a different approach than Lorca and he commands respect right out of the gate.

They set a course and go... warp 5 (which I thought was appropriate too)

We go to engineering and get what now seems to be a wound up Tilly .... I LOVE her, but I think they are going a little over the edge with her. A little too much "Tilly" if you know what I mean (not so much here, but later on). .... "I'm drunk on power" 😀 Stamet says he's going to teach at the VSA so Tilly can feel bad and then we find out he's not going until after the current mission. I'm not too fond of our "new" Stamets... I grew to like him and his toughness last year, now he's all "boo-hoo"... come on man, it's been quite a while. But his remark to Tilly calling her "incandescent" hit the mark.

Sarak and Michael speak about Spock in her room.... Spock was supposed to learn empathy from Michael .... the interweb is steaming over this... me not so much. More peeks into the Spock/Michael relationship.

Pike hold a "roll call"... this makes sense, he just got there and doesn't know everyone yet, but I think it's a response by the writers for all the wanking from the fans about not getting to know all the characters in season one.

We drop out of warp and, of course, it's a mess. Reminiscent of ST2009 when Enterprise dropped out of warp at Vulcan. "I was expecting a red thing, where my damn red thing" Some great teamwork navigating the unknown here, then Pike raises his voice and silences Burnham stating he understands the situation... the bridge goes silent...THEN I WANT TO SLAP BURNHAM UPSIDE HER DAMN SNOTTY HOLIER THAN THOU HEAD!!!.... damn... "that what I was getting too" ... blah blah .... just get to it!! I think Pike should have kept the upper hand here.... So the answer is pods... a new one for Discovery... think they would have come in handy at the Battle at the Binary Stars? .... I digress.... OK, how many of you thought the redshirt from Enterprise was going to bite the bullet? Me for sure, from the moment she beamed aboard! They only have 2 hours to get down there search and return, but Michael has time to have a heart-felt conversation with Tilly....Of course, the almighty Burnham was the test pilot for these the pods... 9 G's for 11 minutes and all ... they launch and Conner acts all stupid, gets shwacked, debris hits Pike's pod and he can't eject because of a malfunction. In good ole Discovery keeping, Michael has to preach to Pike, disobey him and save him. Grrrrrrr...... They, with the help of the Discovery bridge crew, get through this and land safely on what's left of the red rock thingy. That's ST2009, STiD, BATBS and now Brother... all have some sort of high-speed individual launching event. I think that's enough, thank you.

We meet Jet Reno. Turns out she stayed behind to keep her shipmates alive after a Klingon battle. She's an engineer that said the ever controversial "the body is just a machine, and I read"... eesh, the interweb is blistering this one... I had no issue with it. She did what she had to do to keep her shipmates alive. I'm assuming she will become Discovery's Chief Engineer. They beam everyone up but Michael (of course), and she gets hurt pretty bad running to a safe beam out place. (When she was running, they showed a side view and I couldn't help thinking about Theron running away from the falling ship at the end of Prometheus. Michael is faster I guess ) Captain Pike stays behind and they both beam up together. Michael tries to beam up with a piece of the asteroid, but it won't beam up. I like Jet and her dry sense of humor.

The next scene is Michael recovering in sickbay. Tilly shows up and she and Michael determine she can still get a piece of that rock on board. Tilly's off to the shuttle bay.

They capture a pretty big hunk of the asteroid, everyone's happy and all is well.

The next scene was a little bit of a bummer for me. Capt Pike is not in Discovery type uniform. Michael shows up, he explains to her that his assignment is to stay on Discovery and decipher these signals. I liked him in his command gold.

They converse about Spock. She goes to Enterprise (Spock isn't there) and embedded in his personal log is a clue. She displays it just like Spock did when she met him when she was a child. Nice touch adding classic Enterprise sounds when she went over. I think they did a nice job with 1701 here.

I really enjoyed this. I know, Burnham just chaps my ass at times, and the writers are resolved to making her be the be all end all, but I think they really make an effort here to make this FEEL more like Star Trek. I enjoyed season 1, but I think I'm going to enjoy this more.

Visuals are just out of this world. I mean this is movie quality stuff here. Just beautiful. They even brightened up inside of the ship. They could turn it up another notch; that would be fine with me.

The addition of Mount as Pike and Tig as Jet are going to be great.

Doug Jones is amazing, Tilly needs to calm down just a bit and Stamets needs to be more Stamets like.

I hope we get to know more about this crew. They really operated as a team in this episode.

The music was fantastic too.

I'm going to give this 3.5 out of 4 stars.

Well done.
Josh
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 8:55pm (UTC -6)
I mostly enjoyed this, but I have to agree with at least a few of the criticisms. I’ve been re-watching DS9 lately and just finished the “Improbable Cause/The Die Is Cast” two-parter from season two. Aside from being one of the best (major big picture plot movement, almost exclusive focus on Garak and Odo, well written dialogue throughout, and capped with the most spectacular Star Trek space battle yet #payoff #itsatrap), it’s also paced and edited really well. The show takes time to breath. Music is not wall to wall.

Disco is just too all over the place. I know that the sparer production style doesn’t jive with the current sci-fi action paradigm, but I want Star Trek to be about drama and ideas not prolonged CGI action sequences. It’s not that the whole asteroid sequence was bad, but it lacked grounded stakes and tension. The mystery of the missing ship (and the amusingly off kilter engineer lady) needed to be the plot focus but it got so little time.

Other character exploration and backstory scenes worked decently but I wish they’d cut out the music from time to time. We don’t need incidental music in every single dialogue scene and if we must have it could stand to be more supportive and in the background.

What I really think Disco needs is a bottle episode. No flashy action sequences. No elaborate Guardians of the Galaxy style CGI interfaces.

There’s a lot of good stuff here, but it still feels very unfocused and over full. Maybe I’d only be happy if Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould took over to give us something with detail and focus...
Booming
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 1:22am (UTC -6)
I understand some of the criticism. The fan service was a bit much at times.
Burnham has still problems. I am not sure that Martin-Green can give that role a deeper meaning/feeling. Making her a Vulcan was an odd choice because in the end Vulcans are boring because they suppress their emotions and emotions are what we connect with (empathy). Her acting doesn't bother me but it also doesn't move me that much apart from one or two scenes. When she saw the glowing thing sticking out of here leg and screamed I was right there with her. That would be my exact reaction.
Everybody loves Pike and yes he was good.
The bridge scene where everybody got their names (I know they had them before but who knew those people) was a little on the nose but I appreciated the sentiment: Look, these are actual people.
As mentioned Tilly was a little bit much.
The Stamets scenes worked for me. Losing your loved one in such a quick and somewhat pointless way would certainly be a live long trauma.
This whole episode screamed positive "Do over" which is what most people wanted. Me too.

Thavash
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 1:46am (UTC -6)
Firstly, the visuals in this episode were outstanding. The production quality of this tv show is movie level. On this note, they made Discovery so advanced looking that now they have to awkwardly figure out why Enterprise doesn’t look as good (hence the quote from the Ent crew member when she first beams aboard).

I really like Captain Pike. There’s a slight Kirk vibe to him and seeing him in the old uniform was satisfying.
He is already the highlight of season 2 for me.

I also like the new engineer - again feels like a Star Trek character , even a bit like Bones.

My biggest problem with this episode though, is that all the fancy visuals and action scenes covered up an episode where nothing really cerebral happens. The reveal of the mysterious blasts was promising , and I immediately wanted to know more about it. If you think about it, all that happened was that the crew travelled to the one location of the blasts, performed a rescue mission, and that’s it, we’re none the wiser as to what the phenomenon represents. This feels like half an episode of Trek in one episode. Even if these blasts are going to be part of a larger story arc throughout the season , we weren’t given more substance in this episode.

The reason for this is Burnam.

Too much time is spent on her storyline , and quite frankly, it’s not that great and neither is the character. I really feel that Burnam is holding this show back. Star Trek has never been about one character, all members of a cast have always had their moment in the spotlight, but never more important than the rest. Burnam does not even feel like a 24th century person, and quite frankly is really annoying.

Anyway , my feeling is that if DSC is going to become a great Trek show , we should have more balanced focus on characters , and the science, futurism, Federation and exploration should take center stage. If that happens this show will unlock its true potential.

If it continues to be “Tales of Burnam”, then it will continue to be frustrating to me.

And the elevator scene, why is there so much space inside a ship ? Does it make sense ?

1/4 stars
Paul M.
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 4:52am (UTC -6)
"We don’t need incidental music in every single dialogue scene and if we must have it could stand to be more supportive and in the background."

Josh to Berman, Josh to Berman, come in please.

...

Kidding, kidding, I couldn't pass that one up. :)
artymiss
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 7:03am (UTC -6)
Very enjoyable. My only gripe is the overuse of incidental music.

Loved the engineer/medic - she's like a cross between Bones and Dr Pulaski. Hope we see more of her.

Is the message in Lorca's old fortune cookie slip significant in terms of furture events? Probably.
Dom
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 7:17am (UTC -6)
Is Discovery Season 2 worth trying for those of us who thought Season 1 was a poorly written mess? I don't care about the fan service they're apparently trying, I just want to know if the people writing the show now can actually tell a story.
MadManMUC
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 7:31am (UTC -6)
@Dom:

Frankly too early to say.

But, I wasn't a fan of the writing in this episode at all — that said, I also kept my expectations low, so I'm not coming away feeling cheated. They frankly could have cut a good ten minutes of meaningless filler, and come out with a (marginally) tigher episode. That scene in the turbolift, for one. Anything to do with Burnham for another.

Like all things STD, YMMV.
Ubik
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 8:08am (UTC -6)
I'm torn on this.

It was entertaining, absolutely, in the same way that Star Wars is entertaining, and the Abrams 2009 Star Trek was entertaining. Basically, it's Star Wars set in the Federation universe. It feels like Star Wars. It has the aesthetic of Star Wars, the pace of Star Wars, the character interactions of Star Wars, the plot mechanics of Star Wars, and the storytelling philosophy of Star Wars. It's about a bunch of fun, easily characterized people racing against a clock in breathless, witty and adventurous style against a bunch of spontaneous external obstacles. The quips come fast. The dialogue is functional and funny. The action and the pace are the very point. In terms of characterization and even drama, everything is in broad strokes, like Star Wars. There's even the notion that Michael is going to have to go out into space to find Luke...ahem, I mean Spock. The whole damn thing has just taken on the feel and ideology of Star Wars. And, on that level, it worked quite well, better, even, than the Abrams movies, I think. I like Star Wars.

But hell. Have we just given up? Are the storytelling attitudes of TNG and DS9, that Star Trek is about intelligent people trying to come to terms, slowly, carefully, with a practical or ethical problem, gone? Why can't this show just slow the hell down? It's fun, yes, but it's not ABOUT anything. It's a roller coaster ride. It's about the experience itself, but it doesn't EXPLORE anything.

I dunno. I was totally engaged. The characters are fun, in the same way that Han and Luke were fun in the 1977 Star Wars. It looked great. The action was sparkling.

But I'm disappointed. I'm going to keep watching, of course, and hoping. But Star Trek used to be an intellectual show. That's why it was nerdy. It appealed to both the emotions and the smarts. Now it's all emotion. It's visceral. It's fast. It is desperate to entertain. And, frankly, to semi-steal a line from Citizen Kane, it is easy to entertain when all you want to do is entertain. But do they have any intention of trying to bring back the ethics, the intellect, and the patience to Star Trek? I don't know. We'll see.
artymiss
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 8:17am (UTC -6)
Oh and just in response to comments made above:

Saru hasn't 'forgotten' how to shake hands, I read it that he's just disconcerted when Pike offers his hand.

He also hasn't forgotten his bionic eyesight, but it needed another character to introduce it as it would've sounded odd if he'd suddenly mentioned it himself (I agree that was a bit clunky in the handling even so). But now his special eyesight has been established at least.

I don't mind Burnham but even I found the Wonders of Burnham a bit much to take in this episode. I'm amused that it seems as if Spock himself shares the hostility often expressed in the Jammer comments section!
artymiss
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 8:29am (UTC -6)
This bothers me - how come Burnham can just access Spock's quarters as she does? This is surely a breach of security and privacy?
Dom
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 11:05am (UTC -6)
Thanks everyone. I'd be more willing to give it a try if I didn't have to pay for CBS All Access. If this were on Netflix, I might give it a go, but I'm not paying for "mediocre" or "merely entertaining." I've already got a huge backlog of TV shows I want to watch on Netflix.
Pandapirate
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 12:37pm (UTC -6)
The death of annoying science guy was a wasted opportunity to show that season 2 will be a tonal shift from season 1. In a quieter moment, have either Saru or Pike make a point to recognize that every life is important. Believing that the guy was arrogant is not a reason to disregard the life and service of Lt. Evan Connolly. It would make the scene where Chief Engineer Denise Reno stay behind and learns surgery to save members of her crew more impactful. If there is a threat to all sentient life in the galaxy this season, then should the crew (and audience) be invested to save all those lives.
Q
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 1:01pm (UTC -6)
I don’t know, redshirts died all the time in TOS and quite often in TNG without the episode being a quiet reflection on that person’s death. It basically shows that even in the future, space is still crazy dangerous and not for the faint of heart. Besides which, they already crammed too much in this episode, including plenty of time on Butnham’s quiet reflection on her estranged brother,
Hank
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 1:30pm (UTC -6)
@Artymis: He holds out his left hand first, mirroring Pikes right hand. Just like somebody who didn't know what to do. And why couldn't he just said himself "Well, Sir, I can make something out" "Oh really?" "Yes, superiour eyesight, etc etc".

@Tim C: Indeed, I misheard. Still, being in such a close orbit around a pulsar without that thing affecting the ship is hardly accurate, given that pulsars are often surrounded by remnants of their previous athmospheres, let alone the danger that the pulses would pose to a starship, along with the extreme magnetic fields.
Trent
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 1:53pm (UTC -6)
What does everyone think of the new turbolift design? Previous turbolifts traveled down shafts, but now... (see footage below)...

https://www.reddit.com/r/StarTrekDiscovery/comments/ahoodl/hey_guys_this_scene_in_the_new_episode_confused/

... they travel like roller coasters along tracks in loops. Bizarrely, worker bee "shuttles" seem to be traveling alongside them.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 3:39pm (UTC -6)
@Trent

What's will all the bright blue and flashy animation in that video you linked to?

I thought another a poster said these were toned down for season 2...
Trent
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 4:03pm (UTC -6)
The series as a whole seems to be obeying the...

ttp://theabyssgazes.blogspot.com/2010/03/teal-and-orange-hollywood-please-stop.html
http://www.cracked.com/article_18664_5-annoying-trends-that-make-every-movie-look-same.html

...teal-and-orange playbook.
Brian
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 6:28pm (UTC -6)
I feel like Michael Burnham. I want to say, “This show sucks, the showrunners are lazy, the writers are amateur college dropouts and the project has tarnished the franchise forever.” But, logic dictates that in order to get people to read and understand my points, I need to temper my emotions...push them deep down, and put on a neutral face for the world, and, at risk of coming off like a bad actor, play it cool. Unfortunately, SMG isn’t as good at that as we all want her to be. There are lots of examples in Trek where a “half-and-half” character work--even 7of9, because Jeri Ryan is given material where there is room for her to explore the role, and she is up to the challenge. It would be nice if we could eventually find out whether SMG is up for the same challenge or not. Unfortunately, the writing team cannot get it together to produce a script that gives her that chance. Either that, or they know she doesn’t have the acting chops to pull it off.

Whichever it is, it has caused one of the major elements of the show--the backstory of Spock and the arrival of his unwanted step-sister, to wither on the vine. While the threads of this story might have become a more integral part of the show had there been scripts to support it and a very strong lead actor to bring them to life, instead they’ve been relegated to occasional vignettes that feel more like out-takes from a series of shorts, than something occuring in the prime universe. Unfortunately this also fits with the modus operandi of modern writing--tease the audience with snippets of depth here and there between loud action sequences. By relying on the viewer’s imagination to fill in the blanks, instead of good writing and performance, they escape from the challenge of bringing to life that kind of material (which isn’t easy to do). It saves time, and money. It’s easier.

We’ve seen flashbacks to help flesh out characters throughout Trek, but it was handled much differently, with the themes receiving a lot of attention and usually a complete episode focused on one character. These episodes occasionally reached brilliance, the one in particular I’m thinking of is Picard in “Tapestry.” You can poke fun at using Q as a plot device to initiate the flashback, but with two real, red blooded actors like Stewart and De Lancie, anything is possible and the details don’t matter--the script and performance transcend the plot devices used.

I found myself watching the clock during S02E01, noting with disappointment that, despite the season opener being a full hour long, there is just not that much time to tell stories in a season that is 14 episodes long, with 35-40 minute episodes. If you wanted to retain faith in the writing team, you might hypothesize that they are constantly being forced to pack each short episode with exciting elements that advance the plot, but to not spend much time on each one. If that was the case, what we see with ST:D may in fact be the result--which would be an extremely sad commentary on the state of the franchise, the business of entertainment, and society as a whole: that there simply isn’t time for another ‘Tapestry’ in the 21st century. Except that what Michael Burnham desperately needs right now, is her own ‘Tapestry’. My prediction is that she’ll never get it.

The distinct lack of any attempt to be genuine is hurting the show. TNG kicked off season 2 with a fairly good episode that ended with an alien child made of energy dying in Troi’s arms. I still remember that episode to this day. The next episode, while not in my top 10, has the Enterprise face to face with a strange alien entity. And of course the 3rd episode of TNG season 2 would spawn one of the series most beloved villains and go down in history as one of the most important in all of Trek--that being, ”Elementary, Dear Data”.

DS9 started season 2 with a very good episode about the character of Li Nalas, who gave a solid performance as a Bajoran from the past struggling to overcome expectations. The episode was also the first in a 3-part series intertwining the DS9 characters with bajoran politics, and was a great foundation for the rest of the season.

Back to Discovery--now the question is, where do we go from here. I’m very afraid for this show. The plot elements, as well as the writing and production style, seem to be fairly baked at this point. Season 2 is in the bag after some significant changes in the writers room, and we are well on our way to production of season 3. The season 2 opener suffers from exactly the same problems it had before. The pacing is still horribly off. The dialogue cringe-worthy. What we got was essentially 60 minutes of rocks hitting stuff with a few flashbacks thrown in. There have been a few half-hearted attempts to turn things around--lighten the tone, more jokes, less grimdark. Bring on a new captain. More fan service. Turn up the production values to 11. But I see no fundamental improvements in the writing, acting, or showrunning. No improvement in the ability to tell moving stories about the characters. I see another carrot dangling in front of audiences faces (the red flashes), which undoubtedly will contribute to a mini cliffhanger at the end of each episode to keep people tuning in--”What ARE those red flashes?” we will all wonder. But our wonder will be tempered with doubt. Does anyone really believe the payoff is going to be worth what we lost along the way?
Karl Zimmerman
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 9:46pm (UTC -6)
I think Ubik got it pretty right in his comment. The season opener was an effective hour of television. It was also heads and shoulders above Season 1 in basically every way in terms of execution. Better VFX, better characterization, better scripting, better tone, better balance between Micheal and everyone else, better use of visuals in storytelling, etc. It reminded me of the Kelvinverse, but honestly slightly better done than ST09 or STB (and way better than STID).

That said, I think that people who are hoping for a return to the high-minded Trek of yore are probably still going to be disappointed this season. We're going to get competently done action-adventure which is still focused on Micheal Burnham as the main character and hero. That is what Discovery is. We're almost certainly never going to get a The City on The Edge of Forever, The Inner Light, Duet, The Visitor, Far Beyond the Stars, In the Pale Moonlight, etc out of the show. Kurtzman just doesn't seem to be interested in quiet character pieces or thoughtful issue-based episodes. Maybe they'll show up on the Picard show or another Trek. But not here.

IMHO that's fine. I just really, really hope the season doesn't turn into Star Trek: Infinity War, which is what the trailers seem to want to make us believe.
Booming
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 10:29pm (UTC -6)
@Dom: To give you a direct answer: I watch Discovery because I have it on Netflix. Would I get CBS allaccess for it. No.
Jammer
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 10:45pm (UTC -6)
Review now posted.
Booming
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
I want to add that I think Jeri Ryan worked because she looks like a sex bomb. I guess the numbers of Voyager increased 60% because of this model turned actors stellar acting... it was so cynically obvious and her arc is like constructed for nerdy men.
I am a super strong sex bomb that needs to learn love. *shudders*
Sorry, Jeri Ryan is my trigger. Maybe I am possessed by Kate Mulgrews ghost.
But apart from that Brain good points even though I do not share your cultural cynicism but if you live in the colonies I can certainly understand it. ;)
@ Karl Zimmerman: I agree with you. It is Star Wars Trek. And if it isn't so dour and terrible anymore... I guess I can accept it.
Tautee7
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 10:56pm (UTC -6)
I'm not sure when the word "grimdark" became fashionable as an adjective to describe (I should really say, "mock") Discovery Season 1, but two posters above - both of whom pretty obviously can't stand the show - Season 1 or 2 - used that word in their descriptions.

At least one hallmark of a grimdark story is a story "Told in a dark world [with] morally ambiguous protagonists."

The two posters who bashed the show would be quick to state that the protagonists have no moral complexity whatsoever, because Discovery's writers are incapable of giving them that trait.

Which is it? Grimdark or vacuous? Whichever pejorative is demanded by the occasion, I guess.

Uxbridge
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 11:02pm (UTC -6)
I know some people already brought this up, but I really dislike the annoying background music playing when two characters are talking. It should be the job of the actors to convey emotion in a scene, not the job of the music. I forgot how much this irritated me last season.

Otherwise, I liked the episode.
dantz
Sat, Jan 19, 2019, 11:45pm (UTC -6)
Great review! I’ve experienced virtually no problems streaming Discovery on a 5 year old roku device. But is it worth it to buy a roku just for one show? Ehh maybe not
Joseph B
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 3:20am (UTC -6)
Jammer, thanks for the review!

Three stars is just about right for the second season premiere. Anson Mount as Captain Pike made this show feel like Star Trek for the first time since last season’s premier episode; and the production values — as you stated — were incredible!

As far as streaming issues: I’m using an inexpensive ($60) Roku box attached to my projector and everything looks and sounds great! Now, my ISP is Spectrum and they are delivering an almost constant 100 Mb/second so that may have something to do with it. I also recently upgraded to a modern dual band router. I know last year I did experience buffering issues during the first half of the season. I’ve had no issues since.
Live Long and Prosper! 🖖

Tim C
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 4:12am (UTC -6)
Jammer, if you're also a subscriber to Amazon, then you can watch Discovery on the All Access channel on that service (in the USA). Otherwise, you could always just download a torrent of the show. Pristine 1080p rips (naturally, from Amazon) clock in at a couple gig a pop, and if you're paying for All Access then it's morally fine (if not legal)...

You could also take a shot at subscribing to a cheap VPN service and try your luck with international Netflix.

From here in Australia, watching it in Dolby Vision on Netflix is a technically flawless treat. Would be nice if it was UHD too but I suppose the amount of VFX in this show makes that impractically expensive.
Jake
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 5:12am (UTC -6)
When Burnham started with the "Space, the final frontier" spiel near the start of the episode I thought (hoped) we were getting a new credits sequence. Anyone know what was up with that? It seemed very out of place and didn't serve any purpose other than nostalgia, although you could say the same for the rest of the episode.
Paul M.
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 5:25am (UTC -6)
Great review Jammer! So glad to have you back (on Trek reviews, that is). Maybe some of the DIS bashers could look up to people like you and Ubik to understand what is involved in writing a thoughtful yet far-from-glowing critique of this show. I am not a big fan of Discovery, but I've waded through enough minefields in my life to know it's not wise to a priori dismiss fictional TV properties on the grounds of not adhering to established or expected dogma and/or doctrine, emotional connection to which is more often than not established during one's childhood. Pursuit to recapture that foundational experience is rarely a worthwhile experience, at least where I am concerned.

I find DIS has a long way to go for me to start considering it a great -- or even consistently good -- series, but the premiere was a solid and exciting adventure romp with great production values, promising new characters, and an overarching plot that may prove to be an exciting addition to Trek canon, if told competently (fingers crossed). I don't know if it will pan out, but I am willing to give this series the benefit of the doubt. It is not nearly the travesty some may want to believe (these things rarely are). I am looking forward to Episode 2.
artymiss
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 7:34am (UTC -6)
@Uxbridge

Did we get as much background music when characters were talking in Season1? I don't remember noticing it. In this episode I immediately noticed it and found it quite intrusive and irritating. Another reason I hate it is I like the noise the ship itself makes (that low level hum thing and various bips and beeps) and want to hear it!
Dom
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 8:25am (UTC -6)
@Tautee7, I can't speak for others, but I've used "grimdark" to describe the show before, and here's why. Discovery is definitely much darker in style and tone than previous Treks. The sets are darker, Season 1 focused on a war story right from the start, and it was just a more violent show. It also seems to try to depict characters as morally ambiguous, especially Lorca, Sarek, and Admiral Cornwell in Season 1. It also depicts the Federation as a more morally ambiguous organization (it considered genocide in Season 1). Even DS9 tended to keep the bad apples in the Federation isolated to Section 31. Then you have Voq/Tyler, the Klingon who kills Culber but is also Burnham's boyfriend.

As DS9 showed, morally ambiguity can work, but it depends on the execution. A big part of the problem with Discovery is that it doesn't build up the conflict in the story enough to justify the grimdark. In DS9, we see the Dominion wrecking havoc on the Federation for years, see the suffering inflicted on characters we love like Nog, so we can understand - if not agree with - why Section 31 would feel desperate enough to use a bioweapon against the Founders. By contrast, the Klingon war in Discovery always feels like it's taking place in the background far away. The characters said the stakes were high, but we as the audience never felt it emotionally. I certainly didn't feel the situation was desperate enough that Sarek - SAREK - would advocate for genocide.

Also, there were a lot of moments in Season 1 that seemed to revel in darkness just to rub in the fact that this isn't the utopian Federation of old. The scene where a security guard lets Starfleet officers attack Burnham when she was a prisoner struck me as pretty twisted. Also, too many Starfleet officers seemed OK with torturing the tardigrade.

The inescapable conclusion for me is that the showrunners made the show grimdark because they saw Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galactica and wanted to emulate their success. And I just don't think it worked. The writers wanted the benefits of the complexity and depth of properly grimdark shows like BSG and GoT, without doing the work setting up the conflict and the stakes.
Dom
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 8:29am (UTC -6)
@Paul M., There are some people who dismiss Discovery because it's not exactly like TOS, and I agree some of the nitpicking is a bit ridiculous. But most of the complaints I've come across aren't that at all. The criticisms focus more on the writing, laying out the stakes, etc. Personally, if this were the first episode of the show, I'd be more inclined to give it a chance. But I gave Season 1 a chance and it was a mess. The story and characters didn't connect with me on an emotional or intellectual level. At some point, life is short and there are better shows to watch.
Yanks
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 8:40am (UTC -6)
@ Brian,

"Either that, or they know she doesn’t have the acting chops to pull it off."

I'm afraid I came to this conclusion about 3/4 of the way through season 1.

We're stuck, just like we were with DS9.
Dom
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 8:44am (UTC -6)
@Ubik & Karl, I mostly agree with your frustration, except to say I think it's a bit unfair to Star Wars. Star Wars at its best explores broader themes about morality and religion. I have some issues with The Last Jedi, but the movie was very clearly trying to say something.

Like you, I guess part of my frustration with Discovery and the reason I can't just walk away from Star Trek is because Trek used to fill a niche of smart sci-fi that explored morality dilemmas and high-concept ideas. I loved Trek because of its intellectualism and the professionalism of the crew. Aside from Black Mirror (and BSG and Farscape in the 2000s), there really isn't much on TV filling that niche (and BM is a very different animal). Most TV nowadays focuses on character drama, which is great, but not quite what I care about most.

Discovery has been so disappointing in part because it's just become more like everything else out there rather than taking advantage of Trek's unique identity. I love a good action movie as much as the next person, but I can always get that fix from Marvel or Star Wars. Anyways, Marvel and Star Wars are always going to do action and spectacle better than Trek.
SC
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 9:11am (UTC -6)
It was okay, better than last series. Pike was perfectly cast. But it did seem much ado about nothing, very drawn out for what little plot there was.
Henson
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 9:12am (UTC -6)
@Tautee7

"Which is it? Grimdark or vacuous? Whichever pejorative is demanded by the occasion, I guess."

Why do you think these two things are mutually exclusive? I can very much see the possibility of a show being both grimdark and vacuous: reveling in an atmosphere of moral ambiguity/relativism without making it any more substantive than window dressing.

I make no claims of whether Discovery has fit either of these molds, but it seems like a show can be both things at once.
Sean
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 10:41am (UTC -6)
So am I the only who hated the line: "Best to kerp your expectations low."?

As far as setup goes in Canada I can watch it on Space and on crave tv on my apple tv and so far no issues. Not the greatest sound but picture looks awesome.

Also not the biggest fan of Alex Kurtzman, hated The Mummy. But I loved Fringe. So I guess this is a love/hate thing.
wolfstar
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 10:56am (UTC -6)
"I have no idea what TNG or DS9 would've looked like if it were made with today's technology and digital artists" – they'd have looked amazing but wouldn't have been as good. Great art often requires constraints, and TNG succeeded in cerebral storytelling not least because it couldn't fall back on flashy special effects. Which is to say that if TNG had been made 10 years later, it'd have looked like Dark Frontier and probably been about as well written too (ie. terribly).

We also see this with the original Star Wars films vs. the extremely effects-heavy prequels (and now sequels). CGI has just ended up turning everything into a cartoon. Could say the same about the original Mary Poppins vs. the new Mary Poppins Returns – it's an impeccably produced technical masterpiece but completely hollow at its core.

DS9 was lucky to have been made during the period when CGI was becoming mainstream and beginning to replace model work, which enabled the fleet battles of S6/7. I'd argue the best battle scenes were those that combined a mix of the two, though I love the model work in The Die Is Cast.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 11:26am (UTC -6)
@Paul M.
"I am not a big fan of Discovery, but I've waded through enough minefields in my life to know it's not wise to a priori dismiss fictional TV properties on the grounds of not adhering to established or expected dogma and/or doctrine, emotional connection to which is more often than not established during one's childhood."

Requiring writers to keep their fictional universe at least sorta consistent, has nothing to do with "dogma". It's the most basic requirement of good story-telling. Especially when:

(1) they are claiming that it is a PREQUEL.
(2) they are insisting that Discovery happens in the prime universe.
(3) in its first 40 years, one of the biggest strengths of the Star Trek franchise was the complex and mostly consistent fictional universe it was set in.

Sorry, but the "dogma!" card does not serve as a blanket excuse for lazy writing or inadequate world-building.

@Dom
"There are some people who dismiss Discovery because it's not exactly like TOS, and I agree some of the nitpicking is a bit ridiculous."

Yeah. I agree that it is ridiculous to expect a series created in the late 2010's to be exactly like a series from the 1960's. There needs to be a balance here, between maintaining in-universe consistency and updating the fictional world to modern specs. And it is the show designers' and writers' job to find this balance.

BTW I'm still maintaining that - with relatively minor tweaks - the interior design of the original Enterprise could work for a modern Sci Fi show. You'll definitely need to change a few things, but far less than what most people believe.
John Harmon
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 11:33am (UTC -6)
I had to pause the show from laughing so hard when Pike said “It’s best to keep your expectations low. That way you’ll never be disappointed.” The Discovery writers totally just dissed their own show and slipped a suggestion to the viewing audience in the script as dialogue.

Jammer did you catch that?
Paul M.
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 11:43am (UTC -6)
The comment above is the exact thing I've been talking about. Some people are so determined to hate Discovery, they even think showrunners themselves are secretly signaling the audience that they are fully aware they're producing crap.

Tim C
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 1:17pm (UTC -6)
@Paul M,

Yes, some comments are just so very clever, aren’t they? People will always take potshots at this show. Some people still think it’s hysterical calling it STD because watching this show is like having intercourse with a diseased - oh wait the joke is forced and never made sense.

That said, there are also some really intelligent reviews here by both haters and fans. One nice thing I like about Trek, compared to other shows is, it attracts smart people and lends itself to intelligent discussions. I think if this season can deliver some thoughtful content, we can expect people to respond in kind.
Yair
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
Well, this episode is definitely an improvement over most of season 1. Most importantly, some of the interactions (for example, taking crew names), the lighter tone and highlighting some form of scientific exploration all hint that the showrunners have noted some of the criticism.

There are still many flaws highlighted in other comments here, but we see that It is *possible* for DIS to get better. We'll see next episode where this is going.
Brian
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 3:24pm (UTC -6)
@Tim C
" I think if this season can deliver some thoughtful content, we can expect people to respond in kind."

Well that really is the question isn't it. And unfortunately, all evidence says we are unlikely to see much "thoughtful content".

Karl Zimmerman above nailed it. He said we are going to get competently done action-adventure, no more no less and he's right.

There will not be an "Elementary, Dear Data" this season. And there likely will never be an 'Inner Light' or 'Tapestry'.

This is Avengers Trek now.

Tim C
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 4:59pm (UTC -6)
@Tim C

"Yes, some comments are just so very clever..."

I feel like either you or me need to change our handle. I've got the comment history so I reckon I've got dibs. :P /fiveyearold
Mertov
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 5:14pm (UTC -6)
"There will not be an "Elementary, Dear Data" this season. And there likely will never be an 'Inner Light' or 'Tapestry'."

Good! There is no need to imitate what has been done already (wonderfully well by the way, except I do find 'Inner Light' a bit overrated out of those) by previous shows. Character dramas basically, excellent ones albeit. There are hundreds of hours already in Trek if I am interested in that, I can always go back and watch them. As for new episodes, I want something other than an imitation of episodes from past shows that we can go as far as specifically naming them. If they were, I would not be watching this show.

"This is Avengers Trek now"

.... in your opinion. Ok.
Mertov
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 5:18pm (UTC -6)
Jammer, great review as usual, nailed it. Hardly anything to add really, except that I am not as enamored with Tilly, in this episode, as you seem to be :)

I enjoyed the action-character development balance of the episode. Anson Mount is a great addition and plays Pike very well. Young Spock's expressions looked straight from a horror movie featuring kids !
Trent
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 7:41pm (UTC -6)
Mertov said: "As for new episodes, I want something other than an imitation of episodes from past shows that we can go as far as specifically naming them."

I don't think he's saying he wants an imitation of past episodes. He wants a variety of new high-concept plots (be they political, philosophical, sciency or mind-bendy), rather than a single familiar plot stretched for a season.
Mertov
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
Trent, those episodes are largely character-drama episodes, centering on one character with barely any action. I would not want Discovery to put aside its best asset (great cinematic production) go into personal drama stories in a confined space. That is what past Trek series are for and there are hundreds of hours there to satisfy every need. Heck, I am on my umpteenth run of TNG re-watch as we speak, and finished second-season Enterprise re-watch in Christmas for the third time since the series aired. I love those kind of episodes too, if they are good of course, but I have seen plenty (although the high concept of Inner Light escapes me, with virtually every scene taking place in a town on a planet, all centered around Picard's new/second/alternate life's lifelong desire to return home and adaptation to his new family and neighbors, all in the name of. It's a solid sentimentally driven single-character story, that did not require the Trek-world to be told. Sci-fi show/movie, or even a non-scifi oriented scenario with a single time-jump/transportation could have told that same story with a skilled actor in the leading role. Producers themselves say that Stewart's performance is what makes that episode that the story was inspired from elsewhere. It's a great episode led by an incredible main-character performance in an isolated environment).

Discovery has high concepts too, the fact that their stories may not be delivered well in one's opinion, or not delivered in the format one desires does not mean they are not there. There is nothing with a single plot being stretched into a season (or into 10 episodes, or 6, or 4). Plenty of shows succeed in that format. I have no strict limitations on what format Star Trek should have (nor does the franchise, it already had all types of different formats prior to Discovery).
Mertov
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 8:45pm (UTC -6)
.... nothing *wrong* with a single........
Patrick D
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 9:42pm (UTC -6)
In light of the return of Discovery, I made a quiz for anyone who thinks they have what it takes to make a modern Trek show:

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE THE CREATOR OF A NEW STAR TREK SERIES? (by Patrick D)

1. Will your Trek series/movie take place in Trek's past?

A. No
B. Yes

2. Have you watched The Original Series?

A. Yes
B. Does watching old parodies of it, count?

3. What's the inspiration for your new Star Trek series?

A. Firefly
B. The New Battlestar Galactica
C. A and B

4. What's your favorite Star Trek Movie?

A. Wrath of Khan
B. Wrath of Khan
C. A New Hope
D. All of the above

5. Will your Trek series/movie try to adhere one iota to continuity?

A. Yes
B. What am I? A fucking nerd?

6. What will your Trek series/movie feature?

A. Green Animal Women!
B. Space Battles!
C. Klingons!
D. The Mirror Universe!
F. Khaaaaaan!
G. Tribbles!
H. Section 31!
I. Thoughtful, exploration of the human condition through a humanistic lens
J. All of the above, except "I".


IF YOU HAVE CIRCLED THE BOTTOM CHOICE FOR EACH QUESTION: CONGRATULATIONS YOU ARE HIRED!
Brian
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 11:11pm (UTC -6)
"I don't think he's saying he wants an imitation of past episodes. He wants a variety of new high-concept plots (be they political, philosophical, sciency or mind-bendy), rather than a single familiar plot stretched for a season."

Thank you, Trent.

And I'll clarify exactly what I mean. I actually DO want them to imitate the ways in which prior Trek series used episodes to build characters. Not imitate the individual episodes, but rather, use similar, known effective strategies for these NEW characters.

GIVE Michael Burnham her OWN 'Tapestry' that takes us right into her past and fully explores a formative experience in her life.

My fear, is that the producers of the show won't allow it because it would infringe on the cliff-hangers and action too much. And ultimately, that strategy will cheapen the show and alienate viewers until no one really actually cares what happens to any of the characters.

Startrekwatcher
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 12:32am (UTC -6)
Full disclosure I haven’t watched season two DIS and don’t plan too but I did want to chime in on what’s missing from DIS from my experience watching season one and reading season two spoilers

What I enjoyed about TNG was its ability to tell a variety of stories. We got action adventure sometimes other times a high concept sci fi mystery. Others a contemplative drama like Measure of a Man. The episodic format afforded flexibility. Plus it forced writers to pin down a payoff. You couldn’t stall and drag it out the way DIS did in season one.

The writers are too hung up on playing the audience by deliberately playing the mystery box/long con on them. Lots of twists lots of a ha moments. Lots of confusion and missing pieces. Lots of stuff happening offscreen that used to be dramatized onscreen

TNG, DS9 even VOY didn’t do that.

Another problem is it’s overreliance on TOS. I want something new and fresh as far as recurring character, aliens, geopolitical structures. Enough with the Easter eggs, shoehorning TOS characters and recycling stories

The show is also poorly plotted. Ideas instead of being mined are treated as plot points used as jumping off points then quickly brushed aside. And in pursuit of cramming as much in as possible in furthering their excessive storytelling style some good ideas never get fully explored


Also fundamentally the bigger problem was casting which isn’t as easily corrected. Some actors stink. Some characters are as bland as Harry Kim, Paris, Jadzia Dax

These writers need to go back and watch Piller Trek. Read the interviews and insights to understand what good consistent writing is

There is absolutely no excuse to churn out such garbage given how much production time they have now and with truncates seasons. TNG had 26 hours and only a few months of pre production on scripts and they managed to turn out consistency and entertaining episodes

Robert
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 12:39am (UTC -6)
They were never able to recreate “Tapestry” or “Elementary, my Dear Data” in DS9, VOY, or ENT, so it’s mad to expect that now. If you’re still watching this after a year expecting that specific type of show, that’s on you.
Charles J
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 2:15am (UTC -6)
It's funny. From what Trek writers have said over the years, both Discovery and The Orville are doing things they always wanted to do in TNG, DS9 and Voyager.

Even if CBS hadn't tapped Bryan Fuller, they could have recruited any number of writers from one of the original staffs, and we'd still get some version of Discovery. Darker and less episodic. Conversely, if some of those writers were given free reign to create a show inspired by Trek, and that leaned more into the workplace aspects, you'd still get some version of The Orville. More emphasis on the humor and casual relationships.

That being the case, there were ALWAYS going to be writers who would create versions that would be closer to JJ Trek, or Discovery, or The Orville. We all watched the shows for different reasons. We all experienced the shows differently.

Just as importantly, as much as everyone wants to lay blame at the feet of the producers and writers like Alex Kurtzman, CBS will always have way more influence than we are privy to. They are not going to drop $100 million plus on a production, and not have some say in what kind of Trek is being produced, and who they are targeting.

If you don't like this more action oriented Trek, you're asking CBS to ignore the international audience for this show. If you want more stories in the vein of TNG or TOS, you're asking CBS to discount how much of the show's potential audience has never seen an episode of Star Trek (nor cares to ever). And, you're asking CBS to ignore the wider trends (binging, delayed viewing, and social media). That last point is crucial. TNG didn't have any real competitors in the 1980s. There are now any number of genre shows competing for attention. And how we watch TV isn't the same.

In TNG's last year, there was really only X-files and Babylon 5 that could compete in either storytelling, production values or cultural impact.

By Enterprise's last year, there was Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Stargate SG-1, Lost, Futurama, Stargate: Atlantis, and the 4400.

In Discovery's first year, there was Black Mirror, Doctor Who, The Expanse, Westworld, The 100, Stranger Things, The Orville, The Man in the High Castle, and Travelers. If we expand it to genre shows in general, you can include Game of Thrones, The Flash, Supergirl, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Rick and Morty, The Walking Dead, Outlander, Agents of Shield and Arrow. All of these shows generate interest and online chatter.

This post from 1999 illustrates how this shifting landscape was definitely having an impact on Star Trek. https://www.trektoday.com/articles/ratings_history.shtml

When Star Trek II, III, and IV are numbers 6, 9 and 5 for their release years respectively--and the TOS reruns are incredibly successful in syndication--Paramount can justify producing TNG in 1987. The audience is clearly there. Compare that to the TNG movies themselves.

The first two films, Generations and First Contact, sit at 15 and 17. Then Insurrection slips to 28, and Nemesis slides all the way down to 54. Three years after Nemesis, Enterprise would end it's run ranking 144 out of 156 shows (102 out of 110 when it's just scripted TV).

Meanwhile 2009 Trek, Into Darkness, and Beyond sit at 7, 11 and 16.

I get the desire for a more episodic and straightforward humanistic take on Star Trek. However, times and audiences change. The producers and CBS are keenly aware of that. They actually have metrics they can look at (i.e. box office numbers, Nielsen ratings, and online impressions/interactions). Not just for Star Trek, but for how other genre shows and films are doing.

They aren't just making changes because they hate or don't understand "real" Star Trek. Nor because they don't have faith in "humanistic" Star Trek. And not because they want to piss off Star Trek fans (again...who would spend over $100 million, not including marketing and distribution worldwide, just to flip a middle finger to millions of people around the world...CBS wouldn't let anyone willingly do that).

To be clear. I'm not saying you have to like Discovery. You are free to say it's not real Star Trek. You can say the storytelling in season 1 just didn't work (because some of it really didn't..and for some, none of it works). You can even say there are stronger directions they could have gone in (which if you had infinite money to produce infinite versions, you could eventually find those direction). I'm only arguing that there was no real reason to expect the producers to replicate the same storytelling as TNG or even DS9, Voy and Enterprise.
Tim C
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 2:33am (UTC -6)
@Robert

"They were never able to recreate "Tapestry" or "Elementary, My Dear Data" in DS9, VOY, or ENT, so it's mad to expect that now."

I would just chime in here and say that although there's no *specific* analogues to those episodes in the Berman era spinoffs, each show did manage to produce their own classics (or at least, very good episodes that were unique to their shows).

The Visitor comes to mind immediately for DS9. Voyager's "Timeless" remains one of my absolute faves in the franchise, and "One Small Step" is a lovely ode to exploration. Enterprise had "Twilight" and I also really enjoyed "First Flight".

I'd note that none of these episodes came in their respective show's first seasons, either. But DSC has shown its own promise: even though Jammer didn't really rate "Lethe", I thought that was a great example of how a prequel can add to our understanding of existing mythos. "Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad" was just buckets of fun, and there is something deeply wrong with you if you aren't swept up in the excitement and camerarderie of "Into the Forest I Go".

At the end of the day, this is 2019. Berman-style Trek had a really great run - over twenty seasons of television between them! But it had its own share of horrendous duds (just look over Jammer's old reviews!) and i'm reallllly tired of the rose-coloured lenses that people are viewing it through.

There's actually a really great quote from Berman in the "Vision Of The Future" book about the development of Voyager, where he talks about how difficult it is to cast properly for Star Trek. He says that too many people have a "street" quality and don't feel like people from the future. That, right there, is why The Orville fails for me. All these schmucks feel like caricatures that've fallen out of a mildly amusing workplace sitcom rather than a genuine other time, and they constantly sabotage the suspension of disbelief in favour of lame gags.

Say what you will about Disco: to me, at least the writers are taking this seriously.
John Harmon
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 2:53am (UTC -6)
“If you don't like this more action oriented Trek, you're asking CBS to ignore the international audience for this show. If you want more stories in the vein of TNG or TOS, you're asking CBS to discount how much of the show's potential audience has never seen an episode of Star Trek (nor cares to ever). And, you're asking CBS to ignore the wider trends (binging, delayed viewing, and social media). ”

This makes no sens to me. Are you saying people outside of the US wouldn’t be able to grasp a tv show that wasn’t total action schlock? That sounds cynical at the very least. Not even the binging part makes sense because they don’t release all episodes at once.
Yair
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 3:10am (UTC -6)
@Charles J:

Well, some of the comments here are written _by_ people who count as members of the 'international audience'.

I don't think any of the showrunners "hates" Trek, but they seem to be following trends and fashions more than setting their own path. The result being that Trek is charging into a very crowded market. There may be 'hundreds of hours' of past TNG, but there are thousands of hours of other action-adventure shows and DIS's visual production values will be outdated within a few years.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 5:15am (UTC -6)
@Charles J
"If you don't like this more action oriented Trek, you're asking CBS to ignore the international audience for this show. If you want more stories in the vein of TNG or TOS, you're asking CBS to discount how much of the show's potential audience has never seen an episode of Star Trek (nor cares to ever). And, you're asking CBS to ignore the wider trends (binging, delayed viewing, and social media)."

You are aware that Classic Trek has millions of fans worldwide, right? And that regardless of Trek, there are plenty of non-Americans who prefer brains over brawn in their TV shows?

On a more personal note:

I'm not American. Many of my Trekkie online friends are not Americans either (and they come from different countries). And I can assure you: they aren't any more (or any less) receptive to this new "active Trek" direction than their American cousins.

"...Meanwhile 2009 Trek, Into Darkness, and Beyond sit at 7, 11 and 16..."

Looking at your numbers, it looks like the new Trek films aren't doing any better than their old counterparts. Granted, they did better than "Insurrection" and "Nemesis", but that's *not* because these films were somehow low an action.

On the contrary: These last two films did badly because THE FANS OF CLASSIC TREK didn't like them. The same is true for "Enterprise". I personally don't get the hate for either "Insurrection" or "Enterprise" (nor do I think "Nemesis" is quite a awful as most people think) but you can't deny that it was a factor.

So the moral here is not that "action is always good for business". The moral is that that for a show/movie to do well, it needs to:

(a) pick a target audience that's large enough
-and-
(b) make this audience happy.

You can do this with action, and you can do this with deeper sci fi. There are plenty of different people out there with different tastes. And I don't see any indication that the audience for stories like "Duet" or "The Inner Light" is shrinking. There will always be a market for quality story-telling, just as there will always be a market for action.

(I'll also like to point out that deep stories and action are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the best of Star Trek often had both)

Note:

I'm deliberately not discussing Discovery specifically here. Can't comment on it since I haven't seen it.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 5:30am (UTC -6)
There is one (positive) thing that I *can* say about Discovery Season 2, though:

The showrunners obviously listened to the complaints we had regarding Season 1 and made some pretty massive changes. Nice to know that our effect on the market isn't as negligible as some people believe. ;-)






Michael
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 6:25am (UTC -6)
What massive changes? It was pretty similar to what I'd come to expect from Season 1. The biggest change was that Kurtzman injected a hefty dose of the new Trek movies into the stylistic feel of it - which I think is what most of us expected.

All in all, I don't think there's any way the episode could have turned out that would have made me less surprised at what I watched.
Hank
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 7:07am (UTC -6)
The problem with catering to broad an audience (which Discovery is trying to do) is pretty simple:

Sci-Fi is by definition a pretty niche subject. Apart from Star Wars (which is more soap opera set in space) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (which only became a cult classic because everybody was stuffed to the brim with LSD when it released), there is not much else that ever broke into a larger market, Star Trek being the notable exception, but it is distinctly different from both Star Wars and 2001, in being neither hard Sci-Fi nor pure space opera (this list is of course not exhaustive).

So, it is pretty clear that Star Trek does not have a large potential consumer base outside of those that already like it. Which is in a strange way a good thing: You know that you can sell to those people, because you have a monopoly on such stories (well, not anymore, now that the Orville is around, but one other show is really not that much and Star Trek has a very much bigger pull and a much stronger brand). But if you now try to expand to new audience groups by incorporating things that are popular right now, you are moving from a position of monopoly to competing with other giants in their playground. If you direct a fun, action Star Trek movie, you have to compete against Guardians of the Galaxy, and by extension, the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars (which is currently utterly failing, not only in quality but also in sales), and even stuff like Transformers. The same goes for Discovery: Discovery, being a character driven drama series is competing with: Game of Thrones, Vikings, Battlestar Galactica, House of Cards, Outlander and a million other things, and it can not beat them at their own game because it also tries to be Star Trek (although it mostly fails). Ironically, you are NOT competing with the Orville, because that show is now catering to the fans you previously had while STD tries to acquire a new fanbase.

So you are basically trying to breach an oversaturated market, while the Orville shows that your original market is so hungry for what you had to offer 10 years ago that they are prepared to eat up a, in the end, pretty mediocre half-serious "parody", overlooking all the flaws, because there is literally nothing else in that niche that you have created in the first place over a timespan of fourty years. You only played violin your whole life, and your audience likes violins, but the other people beyond the fence like rock music, so you pick up a guitar, but you are trying to play it with your violin bow, and the people on the other side of the fence say "Well, that doesn't sound very good" and your original audience thinks you're going nuts.

The funniest thing is that Discovery is now trying to copy the Orville (because that show seems awefully popular). Which is copying old Trek. But since Discovery mainly copies the humor, you are now parodieing a parody of yourself ... without understanding that people only watch the Orville in the first place because they understand that it is a tongue-in-cheek parody/homage to a superior product, which is currently unavailable.
Mertov
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 7:23am (UTC -6)
Charles J, nice post. A lot of good info there.
Mertov
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 7:52am (UTC -6)
"You are aware that Classic Trek has millions of fans worldwide, right? And that regardless of Trek, there are plenty of non-Americans who prefer brains over brawn in their TV shows?"

And? Are you asking that question because you really believe he is not aware that Classic Trek (whatever that means, fans of the older Trek series I guess) has fans worldwide? It's pretty clear to me from his post that Charles J is aware of this fact. But to your point, is there some data showing that Classic Trek fans cannot describe the things that Charles J said in the part of his post that you quote? (again, I'll assume that by "Classic Trek" you refer to older Trek series, or some of them, unless there is an official definition of "Classic Trek" that I don't know of)


"On the contrary: These last two films did badly because THE FANS OF CLASSIC TREK didn't like them. The same is true for "Enterprise""

How do you know this? Is there Data published on this mysterious term "Classic Trek" that you keep using? In any case, you should not talk on behalf of "Fans" in general terms, unless you know all of them. For example, I am an over-four-decade-long fan of Star Trek, I love every series (though I have my "most and least favorite," so to speak, relatively speaking). I watched TOS in reruns in the 70s, and since then I watched every show when they originally aired and rewatched each more than once, some seasons multiple times - doing it now too with TNG. I am a Trekkie who loves the older series. And yet, I also like both Enterprise and the last two films.

So I am not sure where you come up with this generalization that fans of Classic Trek (again, whatever that means, I'm going to assume it simply means fans of the previous series) didn't like them. I am one and I did, and I know plenty of others that do too (although I would never use that knowledge and generalize "all xxx fans")

-------------

"I'm not American. Many of my Trekkie online friends are not Americans either (and they come from different countries). And I can assure you: they aren't any more (or any less) receptive to this new "active Trek" direction than their American cousins."

I have dual nationality, half of my life on one side of the Atlantic, half on the other (American side), and still going back and forth. And I also have online and real friends on both sides, a ton. And I can assure you: there is equal representation of both sides. I would venture to guess in fact that, from the groups that I participate in, more than half watch Discovery and enjoy it, while they are also fans of the old series. I also know new Trek fans who made their entry through Discovery or the last three movies, liked it/them, and went back to discover the older series on Netflix and now they have become lifetime Trekkies.

Not one person or group represents all Trek fans, nor should they be referred to as "Trek fans" to make general point about all Star Trek fans.

Mertov
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 7:55am (UTC -6)
Correction in the second paragraph:

--But to your point, is there some data showing that Classic Trek fans cannot like what Charles J describes in the part of his post that you quote?--
Ubik
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -6)
@Hank

Great post. I think you've hit on both a) CBS' motivation in making a Trek series like this, and b) the likely pitfalls of such an approach.

Look - Star Trek used to be something pretty special. Turn on TOS, TNG, or DS9, and you will be watching something that, really, was unlike just about anything else airing at the time. X-Files seasons 1-5 was also very special, and very unique. So was Lost. So was BSG. Just as turning on Game of Thrones or Black Mirror now will show you something unlike just about any other show out there.

And what of Discovery? It just isn't that different, yet. The first episode of Season 2, while absolutely solid, is just like Star Wars, and Guardians of the Galaxy, and a number of other things. Star Trek is following the trends now, thereby becoming mere product, rather than inventing the trends, thereby creating art. (And I don't mean that every episode of those previous shows achieved the status of great art. I am defining art here as an attempt to give an audience something they didn't know they needed until they got it, rather than trying to give an audience exactly what you perceive they want. That, to my mind, is the primary difference between art and product.)

There is a safety to this, sure, to creating product. But also the nagging feeling that something special, something essential, has been lost.
Dom
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -6)
@Hank & Ubik, couldn't agree more with your response to Charles J. Unfortunately, Charles J is right that if you want to capture a larger, international audience, you do need to dumb the story down. People in China might not get the references to Shakespeare in TNG or TOS.

However, a show can still succeed and be profitable even if it's not the top grossing show on TV by cornering a niche market. Plenty of shows like BSG were critically acclaimed and did well enough financially, even if they weren't cash juggernauts. It's hard to believe a smart Trek show on Netflix wouldn't do well.

And this is the core of the problem: the interests of fans diverge from the interest of studio executives. Fans are a vocal and important part of the market, but ultimately studio execs are going to go for what makes the most $$$.

All of which is to say I really don't get why some reviewers claim Season 1 was so ambitious. It wasn't, it was just chasing the grimdark trend set by BSG and Game of Thrones. BSG was ambitious and doing something new back in 2003. What would have been really ambitious would have been a Trek show that took Trek's liberal humanist principles seriously. Can we still believe in tolerance and progress in a world increasingly wracked by nationalism and xenophobia? Will audiences embrace a character who is optimistic? Can you still do social commentary on TV when politics is so polarized? Now a show like THAT would be ambitious in 2019.
Charles J
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 10:31am (UTC -6)
@John Harmon

"This makes no sens to me. Are you saying people outside of the US wouldn’t be able to grasp a tv show that wasn’t total action schlock? That sounds cynical at the very least. Not even the binging part makes sense because they don’t release all episodes at once."

Note: I used to run film festivals and screenplay competitions and worked with distributors and producers. The following isn't my personal opinion, it's what I've learned over the years.

1. There's only one genre that's easier to market internationally than action, and that's horror. It's not that people can't grasp more intellectual stories, it's that action and horror more easily translate across cultures. Those types of genres have a greater chance of mainstream success. The reverse is equally true. Only a small fraction of the dramas and comedies released worldwide are released outside of their home countries. And when they do, they rarely crossover into mainstream success.

As an example, The Intouchables made $10 million in the U.S and that took 34 weeks. It's U.S. remake The Upside has so far made $43 million in less than two. The Intouchables was successful in the U.S., it just wasn't a mainstream one. Meanwhile, you can say that The Upside is.

That's not being cynical, it's just reality.

2. Understanding how and why audiences binge content does not mean you have to release a show all at once. It only means that you have to factor that in. Prior to DVR and streaming, audiences en masse didn't save up episodes to binge watch in spurts, do a binge rewatch before the new season was released, binge watch to just to catch-up, or binge rewatch for fun. Now add the Star Trek factor to that. If there's a new show that has the potential to be binged in multiple ways, over many many months, it's one created for this franchise.

Audience rewatches, and audiences catching up, is even more critical when you're spending $100 million plus on a single season of television. Reading what has leaked out about Marvel shows on Netflix, this is the issue they seemed to have run into. Outside of Daredevil, it appears that shows like Luke Cage and Iron Fist were doing incredibly well at first. Then at some point, the watch/rewatch factor wasn't there. Meanwhile, it's been over a year since Stranger Things season 2 dropped, and it's still one of the most watched/rewatched shows.

@Yair

"Well, some of the comments here are written _by_ people who count as members of the 'international audience'."

Not sure how my points invalidate or refute your opinion. It's just a reality that companies like CBS have to factor in international for a property and budget like this. Anything around $100 million, in film or television, and international becomes a huge part of the plan.

"The result being that Trek is charging into a very crowded market."

Yes. And so far Discovery is doing well in that market: https://www.parrotanalytics.com/insights/the-most-wanted-television-series-the-u-s-in-demand-top-10-13-19-january-2019/

Just because some part of the fandom and audience is very vocal about their dislike/discomfort of the show, does not mean it's not doing well.

@Omicron

"You are aware that Classic Trek has millions of fans worldwide, right? And that regardless of Trek, there are plenty of non-Americans who prefer brains over brawn in their TV shows?"

No. I'm not aware of that. It's just a franchise that has endured for 50 plus years. [Sarcasm Filter Off]

You do also realize that:

One, there are millions who are only aware of Star Trek as a franchise. They've never seen an episode of the shows.

Two, there are millions who's only introduction to Star Trek was through the most recent films.

Three, there are plenty of Americans and non-Americans who aren't making any distinctions between brains and brawn. They just want good quality sci-fi.

Four, that there are millions of fans of Star Trek and we all came to the shows for different reasons. Some for the brains. Some for the brawn. Some for the characters. Some for the continuity porn. Some for the world-building. Some because it was simply sci-fi and it scratched an itch. All of us are some combination.

Five, that there will be new fans who will want their own Star Trek. That was one of the keys to TNGs success. People who grew up on TOS reruns (like me...that is until DS9 came along), or didn't, and embraced TNG as their Star Trek. Same with DS9, Voyager and Enterprise.

Why exactly would CBS and producers ONLY concern themselves with fans of Classic Trek? CBS could either tie themselves in knots not trying to alienate some aspects of fandom, or they could try to craft a show that scoops up different pockets of the above to build as large of an audience as possible.

"Looking at your numbers, it looks like the new Trek films aren't doing any better than their old counterparts. Granted, they did better than "Insurrection" and "Nemesis", but that's *not* because these films were somehow low an action."

Look at it this way. Adjusted for inflation, First Contact ranks number 7 out of the 13 Trek films released. ALL of the TNG Trek films are in bottom half of the list. Meanwhile, Kelvin Trek sits at no. 1, no. 4 and no. 8.

If you're trying to build a large mainstream audience, going back to replicate TNG doesn't seem the wisest choice. I love TNG. However, it was 24 years between the last episode of TNG and Discovery. Storytelling on TV has changed quite a bit. On top of that, it's not like the TNG Trek films supplanted the TOS Trek films. Wrath of Khan is still the gold standard. Not just for Trek, but for sci-fi in general.

"On the contrary: These last two films did badly because THE FANS OF CLASSIC TREK didn't like them. The same is true for "Enterprise"."

If fans didn't like them, what lessons are producers supposed to takeaway then? Just ignore how much the core TNG audience did NOT come out for the movies like the TOS audience did? Ignore how the TNG films didn't enjoy the share the same level of crossover success as the TOS films? Are they supposed to ignore the franchise fatigue that might have been at fault for Enterprise's failure?

Listen, as much as I love older Trek (I've seen all of series multiple times, including Enterprise), there's just no going backwards. There are no clear indicators that doing that would have been a path to success.

Either CBS would be taking a huge $100 million gamble, or they would have to radically cut that to something more reasonable. And, I just don't know if anyone would react strongly to $30 million season of Star Trek. While it would look as good as something like The Expanse, looking just as good as is not what Star Trek is known for. Fans would have really revolted then. Nor do I think anyone like Netflix would have been keen to buy into that.

By the by. While I like debating this stuff, and sticking to my points. I don't really expect to change anyone's mind. Nor do I really care to. I just like talking about this stuff and getting into the meat of it all. :-)
Peter G.
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 10:52am (UTC -6)
@ Charles J,

Putting aside the issue of how much a show is grossing and impacting on international sales (which as you say is a factual matter rather than an opinion debate) the broader question to me is that the future of the property will be. Even if sales are good *right now*, is the type of material being put out sufficient to keep interest up in the long-term? And as a parallel question to that, even if it builds long-term momentum, what type of legacy will it be building?

I have no problem noting that execs want to make money, and that their eyes these days seem to fixate on short-term goals. They can't see five years ahead, and want to know what the ratings are right now. This isn't new. But for a great show there seems to always be a tension between the needs of the showrunners (or creator) and of the execs. The creator needs to get across their message, and must compromise with the execs to get that content into the episodes, and to resist the siren song of putting in more action, less talk, and more romance. But it takes a showrunner of both integrity and with a story to tell for this tension to exist. Star Trek TOS and TNG both had this tension in spades, with Roddenberry deadset on certain principles being imbued into the show, while of course the occasional obligatory fight scene satisfied the execs. Even in a show like Seinfeld you can listen to interviews about how much Larry and Jerry basically stood their ground and demanded that their show be told their way. I think the very best shows will have strong storytellers like this, with a strong need to keep their material integral. The more the showrunner has the mindset of an executive (what will sell the best, what are people after these days, etc) the less the show will do any better than making a brief splash and then vanishing. Unless, of course, the show hits on the once-in-a-generation serendipity of being executed perfectly and being exactly what the world needed to see right then. The Lord of the Rings films fit into this category, and frankly I never would have guessed that they'd be such a phenomenon.

My suspicion is that the CBS execs, along with the showrunners, don't really think in terms of message or about legacy, but truly do function as a marketing think tank trying to create a saleable product. That's not wrong in itself, but I would argue that it's wrong for Star Trek. Trek was always something else, that *also* had to consider ratings, but wasn't just about ratings. So there's the reality that certain films sells better than others, as you say. But you know what? What also sells is a product that *didn't* have a market, but through its own genius *creates* one. That is what Trek did all along: it was built, and they came. A visionary message speaks for itself, but when the calculation is done based on dollars and cents, as Hanks says you're just jumping in the shark tank and trying to show teeth.
Booming
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 11:09am (UTC -6)
@ Charles J. I have one thing to add (or correct). You numbers for adjusted revenue of the films is a bit of an off comparison or are these just the numbers for the US.
But still. There are more people living in the US now than in the 80s. One would also have to take into account that ticket prices grew faster than inflation. https://www.boxofficemojo.com/about/adjuster.htm And if these are international numbers one shouldn't forget that people in China or India weren't watching that many movies.
What I'm saying is inflation is not the only thing you have to keep in mind when you talk about earnings of a movie franchise over almost 40 decades.
@Dom "Can you still do social commentary on TV when politics is so polarized? Now a show like THAT would be ambitious in 2019." Yeah because the world was a sea of tranquility and unity during the late 60s, 80s and early 90s. :D Come on, man. At what point was the US not deeply polarized?
Dom
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 11:19am (UTC -6)
@ Charles J, sadly, you're not wrong. When I post here, it's less to claim I would have made a different decision as a CBS executive, with my job and salary on the line, and more just to mourn the way things are.

Ultimately, in my heart I want to believe Peter G. I want to believe that audiences will reward quality. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's the case. Blade Runner 2049, Firefly, etc, so many great projects that just weren't financial hits. Even BSG did well enough, but never great. But I also feel 100% confident that those stories will have a long, long life. 25 years from now, people will still be going back to watch BSG. Blade Runner 2049 is probably going to end up on lists of films with the greatest cinematography. Like Peter, I worry that after this current glut of Star Trek TV shows ends, the world will shrug and wonder what was so great about this franchise in the first place.

The frustrating thing is that Star Trek, with a fairly strong brand name and high name recognition, probably could have taken more risks and tried to elevate its material above average. Expanse, BSG, and even Guardians of the Galaxy when it first came out were relatively unknown quantities. By contrast, the premier of a new Trek show was always going to be a big deal and get eyeballs. Sure, the premier probably had to be flashy and have lots of action to hook people, but once they're hooked why not challenge the audience for an episode or two?
Peter G.
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 11:34am (UTC -6)
@ Dom,

"Ultimately, in my heart I want to believe Peter G. I want to believe that audiences will reward quality. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's the case. Blade Runner 2049, Firefly, etc, so many great projects that just weren't financial hits."

I haven't seen Blade Runner 2049 so I can't comment on that (although I find the original film exessively dull), but regarding Firefly it wasn't the fan reaction that doomed the show, but the network. They basically screwed it over from the start in various ways and it never got a fair chance with the public while it was on the air. Among the many sabotage efforts was the fact that they didn't air the pilot first!! And in any case I feel like the show is a bit overrated, and that Whedon made some mistakes in overestimating how much leeway he had in getting the show going somewhere more quickly. Looking back over the years I don't really think I can recall any TV series that were truly exceptional and that failed utterly. Maybe you can name one or two, but I don't think Firefly counts. There's actually this little-known show called American Gothic which I think is fabulous, that only got one season, but I'm not entirely surprised it failed. Other than that I sort of do think that when a show makes a mark for itself people tune in.
Dom
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 11:39am (UTC -6)
@Booming, actually the late 80s/early 90s were a pretty optimistic (remember "the end of history"). The late 60s were chaotic and polarizing, but not quite as cynical as today (for various reasons). Perhaps more importantly, the grimdark trend hadn't taken over TV in the late 60s. Star Trek was selling an optimistic message in a troubled time, but it's not like other TV shows were reveling in anti-heroes.
Yair
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
@Charles J:

Your graph is for US demand, not international demand (you can see the US flag on side of the graph, below it writes "The most wanted original in the United States..."). This does not prove (or disprove) your argument about needing to simplify the series for an international audience. I, for one, suspect that non-Americans are not so different than Americans, and a different show would have done as well as most ST shows have. Unfortunately, that can't be proven either...

Now, I don't deny at all that action series can be popular, however, I am not sure this is even financially the best long-term approach. Action-adventure is a a crowded market, and there's always the new hot fad. Besides, in a few years time, the VFX will become dated. What's would be DIS's advantage in syndication compared to the other similar shows? Lastly, there's possible damage to the brand to be considered, both by overexposure and perceived lack of quality (SOLO, which was actually quite passable, seems to be an casualty of the first).

I suspect CBS is actually quite aware of all these issues. They decided they had to get into the streaming market now, and immediate cashflow or ST's future were secondary considerations.
Booming
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 12:39pm (UTC -6)
@ Dom: The 60s were pretty cynical for LGBT people, blacks or women and so were the 80s and 90s.
The Vietnam war, the Irak war. Southern racism. Later Space Emperor Trump calling for the death of innocent teenagers. Aids epidemic ignored by Reagan. Clinton Superpredaters. Don't ask, don' tell. And lets not forget how women were treated... in general.
So I guess if your were queer, black or a woman times were very cynical. :)
And the Republican trying to impeach the president for lying about sleeping with an intern.
Even though for white America during the early 90 there was certainly that feeling: WE WON!
Let's not get overwhelmed by nostalgia.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 1:13pm (UTC -6)
@Charles J

"Look at it this way. Adjusted for inflation, First Contact ranks number 7 out of the 13 Trek films released. ALL of the TNG Trek films are in bottom half of the list. Meanwhile, Kelvin Trek sits at no. 1, no. 4 and no. 8."

You've forgotten to factor in expenses. Once you do that, you'll get a very different picture indeed.

The truth is the "Star Trek: Beyond" barely broke even. There's a reason why Paramount isn't making "Star Trek 4".

@Hank
"So, it is pretty clear that Star Trek does not have a large potential consumer base outside of those that already like it."

Precisely.

I'm looking at the numbers of the last three Star Wars film. Each one of them grossed OVER A BILLION DOLLARS. That's marketing for the masses, my friends, and Star Trek - "mainstreamized" or not - simply cannot compete on these levels.
Dom
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 1:15pm (UTC -6)
@Yair, to give Charles J credit, I think there are references or ideas that might not translate as easily to other cultures. Above I mentioned that viewers in China might not understand or care about classic Trek's allusions to Shakespeare. It's not a matter of people being fundamentally different so much as different countries teaching their young about writers and stories important to their society. Also, for social commentary to be effective, it has to deal with issues that feel relevant to the viewers, but what viewers in America care about might not work in India. In America, many liberals/progressives care a lot about issues of sexual orientation and are starting to believe that gender is fluid, but that's certainly not the case in much of Asia. The vast majority of Asian viewers would probably be turned off by suggestions that gender is fluid.

So the challenge Charles J lays out is real. I just don't think Trek "had" to take the least common denominator approach. Alternatively, if CBS is going to run multiple shows, maybe have one that is geared more towards Asia, another more towards the US, etc. Heck, with China launching rockets towards the moon, it seems appropriate for Trek to address that audience. Discovery to its credit made some nods towards this with Michelle Yeoh as a captain and some of the ship names were Chinese (Shenzhou), but why not also address the social and political issues in Asia as well and make it more meaningful?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 1:27pm (UTC -6)
@Dom
"Can we still believe in tolerance and progress in a world increasingly wracked by nationalism and xenophobia? Will audiences embrace a character who is optimistic? Can you still do social commentary on TV when politics is so polarized?"

Given the fact that the Orville exists and has a stable loyal viewership of about 3 million viewers, I'll say that the answer is a resounding yes.

Not only there's an audience for this kind of sci fi, but this audience is starving for content. I wonder when some astute businessman (perhaps one with fondness of classic Trek) would realize that doing this kind of show is a gold mine.

(My prediction: this will happen within 5 years at most)

Peter G.
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
@ Omicron,

"@Dom
"Can we still believe in tolerance and progress in a world increasingly wracked by nationalism and xenophobia? Will audiences embrace a character who is optimistic? Can you still do social commentary on TV when politics is so polarized?"

Given the fact that the Orville exists and has a stable loyal viewership of about 3 million viewers, I'll say that the answer is a resounding yes. "

You may be right (I hope so), but I doubt that Orville can be said to represent that type of show. I know some have argued that it's optimistic in that it shows people in the future and that things aren't so bad, what it doesn't do is champion any particular position. So while there is a certain optimism to "we're not all doomed" I don't think it's the same as optimism that says "we can be great if we help each other."

If a Trek show wanted to cut through the smog of today's TV, and also of today's politics, it would probably need to be pointedly championing an *anti-partisan* message; that people who disagree strongly can still be your brothers. Orville would seem to be saying the opposite, if I'm correct in observing that the "villains" of the show are religious Muslim-type fanatics. Unless I'm missing something, and this observation is off-point? Maybe I'll stand corrected and I'm misconstruing things. But if I'm right, then what we have here certainly embraces the "pinpoint the enemy and villify them" mindset that dominates right now, which I would hardly call optimistic. In fact by painting a future in which that still gleefully happens and the people doing it are the "good guys" I would actually call that dystopian in a Huxley style (meaning: where everything is fun and comfortable but has a dirty secret beneath it).

Give me a show where rabid right-wing and left-wing people stand together against corruption and deceit, and paint the human race not as a battle but as a partnership, and I'll call that show Star Trek even if it's not set in the future.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
@Dom
"Above I mentioned that viewers in China might not understand or care about classic Trek's allusions to Shakespeare. It's not a matter of people being fundamentally different so much as different countries teaching their young about writers and stories important to their society."

There's a wonderful solution to this problem that is quite Trekkian:

Just stop making the show so American-centric. Look for ways to incorporate elements from different (human) cultures, and address common issues which are important to people all around the globe.

Star Trek could have used this opportunity to be a true global cultural phenomenon, and bring the message of a better future to all of humanity.

Instead, in the past 10 years, they've been catering for the lowest denominator.

What a waste...
Yair
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 1:55pm (UTC -6)
@Dom:

Trek allusions to Shakespeare are just that - allusions. It's never necessary to understand them. IMHO, Trek's themes are universal, even if its perspective is not shared by everyone (many times not even by myself). A "global" Trek should be possible.

However, the different perspectives do mean they would have had to work harder to communicate and to convince. They can't write a piece with 'good guys' and 'bad guys' and let the 'goodies' beat the 'baddies' by fiat. The hypothetical 'gender' episode would have to argue strongly (or at least show both sides' arguments). But that's better TV anyway.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 2:46pm (UTC -6)
@Peter

I don't want to turn this thread into a discussion of the Orville, but you're wrong about this show being pro-partisan in any way.

In fact, the Orville has a very strong message of compassion an understanding even against your enemies. Yes, even if those enemies happen to be religious fanatics (and there's nothing particularly "Muslim" about the Krill).

Quite a few episodes have dealt with this issue directly. Other episodes made a direct comment on current social issues, like the way "trial by media" destroys lives, or conforming children to what's considered "normal" in a society.

The show really is a direct successor of TOS in this respect. There are plenty of other bits of criticism you could rightly aim at the Orville, but a lack of Classic Trek's humanitarian philosophy is not one of them.

And yes, it is quite remarkable that we have such a thing on TV in this day and age.
Dom
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 3:25pm (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi & Peter G,

I think you both are reiterating the point I made about how CBS could well have taken the opportunity to make a more multicultural Trek that addressed 21st century issues. However, to echo CharlesJ, that's just inherently more difficult - and expensive - than appealing to the least common denominator with more explosions and sex and fan service (a la Discovery). That is the reality. You need to hire competent, culturally literate writers from diverse backgrounds, do research on other cultures, etc. I obviously wish CBS had gone that route and I do believe it ultimately would have paid off, but most studio execs can only think short-term.

@Yair, Sometimes. Sometimes the references help develop the themes or character arcs in important ways. For example, if O'Brien says he's worried an upcoming battle will be like the Alamo, that's important insight into his mindset (i.e., he's not expecting a glorious victory). Yes, a good writer can work around this, but it's not trivially easy and, I'd argue, some of the richness of the story is lost when you don't get the references. A studio has to decide to commit to telling complex stories that not all of its viewers might understand or fully appreciate, and well I don't think CBS is that studio.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 3:46pm (UTC -6)
"However, to echo CharlesJ, that's just inherently more difficult - and expensive - than appealing to the least common denominator with more explosions and sex and fan service (a la Discovery). That is the reality."

This reality is nothing new, though. Appealing to the least common denominator was always the easiest way to do these things. Yet, somehow, Star Trek always managed to (mostly) avoid it.

BTW while I agree that going beyond the common denominator is more *difficult*, I disagree that it would be more expensive. Quite on the contrary. There are a few things more expensive, money wise, then creating a "quality" VFX spectacle that will wow the masses. Take a look at the production costs of "Star Trek: Into Darkness" for example. God knows they didn't pour this money into quality story-telling or cultural experts...

Yair
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 4:04pm (UTC -6)
@Dom

We obviously agree far more than we disagree. References are obviously useful, but IMHO not so critical and this could be worked around.

I however doubt that requires that much of a massive efforts as you suggest. Trek has the advantage of writing most of its background, the viewer doesn't have to be taught the historical reality of (say) 20th century Europe to understand it. O'Brien's history with Cardassia is far more important to the character than Irish history.

I suspect CBS's choices has little to do with internationalisation difficulties. CBS wishes to enter the video streaming market, and Discovery was the main exclusive IIRC. It needed to be sure their investment will pay off. A large budget can't guarantee quality, but it can guarantee top notch VFX.

Given that CBS focuses on the American market, their choice probably reflect what they feel to be the surest winner there. If Jammer's struggles' are typical, The attempt to push CBS streaming has the result that much of the world can see DIS on Netflix, with better quality than the actual target audience of the show...
Dom
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 4:21pm (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi, I think the "new" part of this is that studios are now looking at a much more global audience. During the 60s, your average American studio was basically looking to make TV for Americans, sometimes Western Europeans, and maybe Japanese viewers. During the 90s, still similar audiences, with more viewers in larger cities in Asia and Latin America. Still mostly countries with democracies, Western European & Christian roots (aside from Japan), etc. Now, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, globalization, China's economic boom, etc, China's a huge market, Brazil and India are important markets, as are Russia, etc. Also, even within the countries like the US, the population is becoming more diverse.

Add to that the increased competition on TV in general and I do think Star Trek today faces a real challenge that previous iterations of the franchise haven't had to deal with. Again, all that said, I think the correct way to address this challenge would have better and more culturally sensitive (less American-centric) writing. Stand out from the crowd with smarter writing, not trying to compete toe-to-toe with Transformers on effects and actions.

The thing is though while special effects are expensive, it's less risky for a studio to bet on an action-packed film than to bet on smart sci-fi. If you make a big action adventure film with lots of effects in a franchise, you're almost guaranteed to make your money back. So spending the money on VFX isn't much of a risk. By contrast, if you put that money towards research and writers or actors, the overall budget might not be as expensive, but there's a real risk that your movie might not get enough butts in the seats to make a profit. Look at how poorly Blade Runner 2049 did (and that was not a cheap film).

All that said, I do wonder if the recent failures of Solo, Wrinkle in Time, and some of the DC movies, as well as the decreased box office for the last Fantastic Beasts, means maybe audiences are becoming more sophisticated and big special effects franchise films aren't such a surefire hit anymore. On the other hand, Venom, one of the worst movies I've ever seen, made almost a billion dollars.
Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Jan 21, 2019, 8:28pm (UTC -6)
There was an important quote from Kurtzman which shows how he sees Star Trek back in 2017. Something along the lines of how you could never get away with making The City on the Edge of Forever today, because audiences would expect you to spend an entire season focusing on Kirk's grief at the loss of Edith Keeler.

I think this is important to remember when you consider how many Trek projects are now going to be on the air in another few years.

1. Discovery
2. Picard Show
3. Star Trek: Lower Decks
4. Second animated show which is kid-focused
5. MU Georgiou/Section 31 show
6. Probably a Starfleet Academy show

Kurtzman also recently made a comment that although they were different shows, people had a hard time telling DS9 and Voyager apart, which he considers a big problem.

Basically, it seems like Kurtzman has come to realize that the diversity of stories that you could historically tell within Trek was a strength of the franchise (something almost all fans agree with). But he believes that due the modern requirement for serialization in dramas, along with the desire to avoid "franchise fatigue," all of these different kinds of stories need to be walled away in different Star Treks. So Discovery might be the action-adventure romp. Picard might be the thoughtful character-driven show. We won't get comedic episodes of either because we'll have a "comedy Trek" already. This is the future of the franchise.

I don't think this is a bad thing for us as fans honestly. I do think this is a very bad strategy for building a subscription base for CBS All Access however, given a large proportion of fandom has indicated total disinterest in several of these developing projects.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 12:32am (UTC -6)
"There was an important quote from Kurtzman which shows how he sees Star Trek back in 2017. Something along the lines of how you could never get away with making The City on the Edge of Forever today, because audiences would expect you to spend an entire season focusing on Kirk's grief at the loss of Edith Keeler."

You know something? It would have been nice if Kurtzman stopped just *assuming* what the audience would expect.

"I don't think this [having lots of different Star Trek projects going on at once] is a bad thing for us as fans honestly"

Depends on how you look at it.

On the one hand, with all these different styles and tones, there's a glimmer of hope that you'll find something that's at least watchable.

On the other hand, it throws the entire notion of a unified fictional universe down the drain. To a guy like me who expects some worldbuilding in his sci-fi, that's very bad news.

It also lessens the impact of the more thoughtful projects (if such projects are even made at all). If we had stories in the style of TNG in one Trek show, and stories in the style of Discovery Season 1 in another Trek show, it just comes out as hypocritical.

The really sad thing here is that Kurtzman seems to be completely unable to grasp the concept of a coherent sci fi world. His ridiculous statement about DS9 and VOY and how "people had difficulty telling them apart" is a perfect example of this.

@Dom
"The thing is though while special effects are expensive, it's less risky for a studio to bet on an action-packed film than to bet on smart sci-fi."

Usually, that's true.

But for a decades-old franchise like Star Trek that already has millions of very loyal fans as well as a stigma of being "uncool" in general circles, I'm not so sure.

The fact remains that the attempt to mainstreamize Star Trek in the recent films mostly failed. Yes, ST09 and STiD made a profit, but they failed to be the summer blockbusters they were intended to be. ST:B barely broke even. And that's even before we go into the long-term damage this dumbing-down has done to the franchise was incalculable.

There's one thing we both ignored so far in this discussion, though, and that's the difference between films and TV. When it comes to TV, I *am* sure that dumbing down the franchise and diluting a proven brand is the far greater risk. At least in the long run.

I also wonder why, with all the efforts CBS have done to make Discovery... ehm... "accessible"... to a mainstream audience, they've chosen to hide it behind a pay-wall. Seriously, where's the logic in that? If you make a niche product for a niche audience, a pay-wall might make sense. But if you're trying to compete in the oversaturated market of generic action sci fi, it nothing less than suicide.

And then there are the concessions they've seemed to make in season 2 to appease those who complained about season 1. While I certainly approve of these changes, I also wonder whether they'll end up losing both audiences in the process of trying to please everybody.
Startrekwatcher
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 12:40am (UTC -6)
The most popular tv show is a procedural called NCIS. It doesn’t break any new ground and isn’t serialized or overly dark. It tells mostly self contained episodes.

So I don’t buy the argument a new trek series should run away from the TNG format. Tng captured original Trek fans and the general public. Why couldn’t a series based on tng style tone and format do that again

People like comfort. Seeking new life and new civilizations was what attracted people two other times. It could again with stronger writing.
Booming
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 1:10am (UTC -6)
This is like listening to people talk about their favorite sports team. The coach is of course an idiot and they know what would be best for the team because they have tricked themselves into believing that they are experts.
Omicron for example writes: "You know something? It would have been nice if Kurtzman stopped just *assuming* what the audience would expect." While doing the same all the time.
So far the only person with a deeper insight into the business seems to be Charles J and his opinion is pretty clear.
Is he right? I don't know but I'm pretty sure that nobody here understands how the creation/reanimation and distribution of a global franchise works.

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 1:57am (UTC -6)
@StarTrekWatcher

"I don’t buy the argument a new trek series should run away from the TNG format. Tng captured original Trek fans and the general public. Why couldn’t a series based on tng style tone and format do that again"

To be fair, the 1990's were an unprecedent era of hope and optimism. TNG was a perfect fit for those days, which is why it had so wide an appeal.

I don't think you could do a TNG-style show today and capture "the general public". Then again, I don't think any sci fi show - these days - could capture the general public.

The good news is that this obsession with short-term ratings is ridiculous anyway. Showrunners should think long term. And in the long term, a unique show that caters a decently-sized niche of loyal followers is a far more valuable asset then yet-another-action-sci-fi-thing.


And yes, I think a serious TNG-style show (with content updated to deal with modern day issues) could succeed today. It won't be the big hit TNG was in the 1990's, but the audience would still be large enough to allow it to flourish.

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 3:15am (UTC -6)
@Booming
"I want to add that I think Jeri Ryan worked because she looks like a sex bomb. I guess the numbers of Voyager increased 60% because of this model turned actors stellar acting..."

Just seen this comment.

The truth is that bringing in Jeri Ryan had a negligible effect in Voyager's ratings. You can check the actual numbers here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Star_Trek:_Voyager_episodes

In retrospect, this isn't surprising at all. Can you imagine anybody bothering to watch Star Trek for the sole purpose of watching Seven's boobs? It's a patently ridiculous notion.
Booming
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 4:38am (UTC -6)
Well, Omicron it seems the New York Times and Rick Berman share this patently ridiculous notion. By the way, nice job not being passive aggressive anymore!
https://www.nytimes.com/1999/02/07/tv/signoff-intergalactic-generation-gap.html
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 5:06am (UTC -6)
Just seen this bit too, and I cannot let that pass:

@Booming

"This is like listening to people talk about their favorite sports team. The coach is of course an idiot and they know what would be best for the team because they have tricked themselves into believing that they are experts."

Great job insulting everybody who participated in this quality discussion. A discussion where everyone made a genuine effort to support their views with actual evidence. Which is, by the way, something that you failed to do with your own presumptuous comment.

Let me ask you something:

Are *you* an expert in show biz? On sci fi? On international marketing? On anything even remotely related to the issues at hand?

Didn't think so.

So why do you think you're qualified to decide which of us knows what they're talking about and which of us don't?

...and while I'm typing my response, we've gotten this gem:

"Well, Omicron it seems the New York Times and Rick Berman share this patently ridiculous notion."

I've given you an actual link to the numbers.

So who are you going to believe? The actual ratings which you analyze yourself, or an article written in a daily newspaper over a year after the fact?

What a perfectly fitting coda, to you accusing everybody else of "making assumptions" and having no idea what they're talking about.

Booming
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 7:13am (UTC -6)
@Omicron: "Are *you* an expert in show biz? On sci fi? On international marketing? On anything even remotely related to the issues at hand?

Didn't think so."
To answer the question you answered for me. I'm a social scientist at one of the best universities on the planet. So I may have one or two insights why people behave in a certain way.
I assume that you have no scientific background because if you had a scientific background you would know that what you write is mostly unsubstantiated opinion and not fact.
"So who are you going to believe? The actual ratings which you analyze yourself, or an article written in a daily newspaper over a year after the fact?" Yeah, the New York TImes is just quoting Rick Berman and what does he know about Voyager. He was just the executive produce and co-creator. Good job refuting my argument. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW68goC4_es
Booming
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 7:15am (UTC -6)
@ Omicron And I forgot I also have quite a bit of experience in media. Mostly sound production, though.
Dom
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 8:05am (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

"Can you imagine anybody bothering to watch Star Trek for the sole purpose of watching Seven's boobs? It's a patently ridiculous notion."

Um... I hate to say it, but yes I can imagine that. I was put off by the blatant sexism of how they marketed 7, but I do remember other Trek fans I knew who were more excited about Voyager because of it. I think you and I and many here love Trek because of its intellectualism, but there's always been the seamier side (remember all those scantily clad women in TOS?). I don't know if it had a significant effect on the ratings, but I could believe it.

And you're absolutely right about Kurtzman and other studio execs "assuming" what audiences want rather than trying to understand audiences. Oh I'm sure the studio does market research and focus groups, but one thing I've found is that audiences aren't always sure what they want, and even less able to articulate it. A lot of fans will say something like "it doesn't feel like Star Trek," but does that mean they just want TOS characters and uniforms or an episodic, high-concept TV series. I can't imagine if Ron Moore had polled sci-fi fans in 2002, they would have wanted a gritty BSG reboot, but that's what we got and people watched it because it was exceptional. Great business leaders don't try to give customers what they want, but rather what they didn't even know they wanted.
Karl Zimmerman
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 8:34am (UTC -6)
The problem I have with Kurtzman's seeming idea - that he's going to make a Trek for "everyone" and dramatically differ them in terms of tone and story focus - is while it might be good for the brand, it seems bad for CBS All Access.

Essentially, we know that tons of people canceled All Access as soon as Discovery ended. Clearly CBS decided that was an awful thing, and that it wanted to get that sweet sweet Trekkie cash 12 months out of the year. If you have say three Trek series running over the course of a year - plus a few standalone shorts, TV movies, and the like - you can ensure that some Trek content is coming out every month, and get then $120 trekkie $ per year from a lot of fans.

The problem is, the slate of shows Kurtzman is developing are pretty clearly going after different demographics. There is going to be one show marketed at kids, and likely a second show (the Starfleet Academy show - whenever it arrives) marketed as a teen drama. Lots of people who are even fans of Discovery have said they have no interest in Star Trek: Lower Decks or the MU Georgiou show. Thus each new show announced (other than the Picard show) seems to be alienating a portion of the established fan base.

If we were still in a broadcast paradigm, Kurtzman's strategy would make sense. Take a brand, and try and universalize it as much as possible, to get all sorts of different kinds of people interested in Star Trek. But streaming services work differently - they are more "narrowcasting" at hardcore fans. Which is why although I think we might get some good Trek out of this in the longer run, it's a poor strategy for CBS All Access.
Jason R.
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 9:02am (UTC -6)
"Um... I hate to say it, but yes I can imagine that. I was put off by the blatant sexism of how they marketed 7, but I do remember other Trek fans I knew who were more excited about Voyager because of it."

Most likely you knew other fans who *said* they were more excited to watch the show because of her. My experience has always been that guys (including me at times) talk about women in that way as a type of male bonding, which probably doesn't mean much as far as viewing habits.

As I see it, Seven's popularity was due to the character and the performance. I doubt her attractiveness mattered much at all. And yeah I thought she was attractive, but for that I just looked at photos of her in Maxim - no need to sit through a 45 minute Voyager episode.

Incidentally, I also had Jolene Blachloch's Maxim photos, which were better than Ryan's. I gave up on Enterprise after about three episodes. Didn't matter to me how attractive Blaloch was if she couldn't act.

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 9:55am (UTC -6)
@Dom

"Um... I hate to say it, but yes I can imagine that. I was put off by the blatant sexism of how they marketed 7, but I do remember other Trek fans I knew who were more excited about Voyager because of it."

I can certainly imagine some of the less mature fanboys WHO ARE ALREADY WATCHING THE SHOW, to get... ehm... "excited" about the 7-of-9 gimmick. But I find it very hard to believe that a person would actually sit through 45 minutes of a show he doesn't like every week JUST for that.

The ratings (which you can see for yourself in the link I've given) prove that my hunch is correct. Other than a local Spike near "Scorpion" itself (which is completely normal for a season-cliffhanger/season-premier double episode) the effects of the sexification gimmick on the ratings were exactly nil.
Chrome
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 10:10am (UTC -6)
Not even Jeri Ryan's catsuit was enough to prevent the failure that was Star Trek: Voyager.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 10:19am (UTC -6)
Although I will note, perhaps ironically, that when I go back to rewatch episodes from Voyager I do tend to locate her better episodes and watch those over and above stuff from, say, S2-3, or episodes that feature Paris or B'Elanna. So while I don't know if she improved my desire to watch the series when it was on the air (I stopped watching in S5 sometime), she does improve my desire to rewatch S4-6 episodes, basically because she's really good at her role.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 10:27am (UTC -6)
Well, I think we can all agree than Seven was a great character, Ryan did the role justice, and the writers gave her quite a few excellent scripts to work with.

(Why are we talking about Voyager on a Discovery thread? Not a complaint, mind you. Just a question)

Chrome
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 10:39am (UTC -6)
It's been brought up in Kurtzman interviews. Perhaps because Voyager too represented a time when the Trek franchise was at something of a crossroads?

@Peter G.

I agree. Perhaps Jeri Ryan (acting, beauty, everything) didn't prevent Voyager's failure, but it prevented an unmitigated failure like Enterprise.
Hank
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 10:41am (UTC -6)
Regarding Seven of Nine: Can't we just put this laughable argument to rest already? The ratings prove that Seven did next to nothing to improve ratings, and if you complain about "sexism" because she wears a bodysuit: Look at EVERY TV series that came out after game of thrones, where half the running time is nothing BUT naked women of all sizes and shapes... And Seven got so much attention character and storywise that it is a travesty to cry about sexism, when most other characters get nothing. This modern prudery is really getting on my nerves. And I don't care if a producer of a show THINKS that people watch because you can oogle Sevens boobs or not, unless he funds a study to test that, he is just guessing, like everybody else. I tried getting a few of my male friends interested in Star Trek, and I put Seven forward as eye-candy. Guess what. They were bored, and didn't watch beyond a few episodes which I forced them to watch. In this day and age, were porn is everywhere, nobody cares about naked women anymore.

@Karl: Yes, exactly, Netflix and Amazon are picking up niche shows to have something for everybody. Things like the Witcher Series or Expanse would have never been picked up by traditional TV, let alone all the other stuff that is exclusive to streaming. What Kurtzman is trying to do is to create the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for Star Trek. And the TV shows that the MCU spawned are not nearly as successful as the movies, so I can only imagine how successful a Discovery-niche-spinoff will be (DS9 was never as popular as TNG). He will only hasten the franchise-fatique that never really left Star Trek (hence the desperate attempts to "update" it). And he faces the problem that, if one show flops, the other shows will not have as many viewers to begin with, because word of mouth is a powerful thing. Instead of trying to fill Star Treks original niche, he tries to create a higher number of new niches.

Honestly, I don't know what they are thinking. Just look at the Star Wars debacle: Yes, the movies are extremely successfull compared to other movies, but if you look at the trend, less and less people are interested in more Star Wars. Star Wars toys were the most returned item this christmas. Solo was a financial flop. And the reason is quite simple: They wanted a "New" Star Wars, "kill the past", while writing subpar stories. As did Discovery. And they tried the same thing Kurtzman is now trying: Solo spinoff, Roque one, and a few other spinoffs (which are presumably all canceled), and Star Trek gets its own slew of spinoffs that nobody really wants in the first place. Star Trek faces the same problem that the music industry and games industry faces: It is not enough to get a good profit, everybody wants ALL the profit. So everything becomes homogenized, because nobody wants to risk anything. Everything is hugely overbudgeted, so everything MUST be a huge success. Solo grossed 450 million, yet it cost 250million to make plus 150million promotion budget. Imagine earing 450 million and still being a flop... Same goes for Discovery. 8 million per episode, how in the world do you expect to make money off of that? Game of Thrones costs 10 million a piece, yet its audience is ten times larger, at least, AND they are heavily investing in sets, CGI and locations, plus many more extras, and so forth. Game of Thrones also sells merchandise like there is no tomorrow, while Discovery merchandise, if it even exists, is only bought by the most hardcore fans.

The irony is of course that Discovery, while trying to have mass-market appeal, assumes that the mass market has the same political leanings as its creators. The whole promotion of the series came from the far left, alienating half the country, and many overseas markets, AND it was completely focused on US politics. So it scrificed the Trek uniqueness for generic character drama action shlock, while at the same time sacrificing its universal moral appeal to satisfy the anti-Trump crowd, being mass market and political niche at the same time. That cost the Trek brand a huge amount of audience engagement, and it will be very difficult to recover from that.
Chrome
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 10:49am (UTC -6)
"The ratings prove that Seven did next to nothing to improve ratings"

Not exactly, because we're missing a control group. We need a set of ratings from a hypothetical Star Trek: Voyager without Jeri Ryan to correctly determine her impact.
Karl Zimmerman
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 11:02am (UTC -6)
@Hank

The problem CBS All Access has is it doesn't have much content. Neflix's prices are going up, but at $13 per month it's still a much, much better deal for me than All Access's $10 per month. Particularly considering most of my family's netflix use is my kids watching kids stuff (and they don't really care what shows are on there, as long as there is content). I'm enough of a Trek fan I re-upped to watch Discovery, but I'm dropping as soon as the season is over again. In order to keep people like me, CBS needs to have 12 months a year of content my family and I are interested in, and none of us gives a shit about CSI or sitcoms.

I really don't understand your point about politics. Discovery is arguably the least political Star Trek ever. They might have attempted to market it as "woke" in promotional material, but what's on screen basically makes no political statements at all - and when it does, it unintentionally makes conservative arguments, like last season's finale arguing that the best way to solve the Klingon crisis isn't by talking through differences, it's by installing a friendly dictator who keeps the populace in line through threatening to blow up the planet.
Hank
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 11:16am (UTC -6)
@Karl: Yes, you are right, there isn't much politics on screen, but that doesn't matter when people decide to not watch the show because of the promotion, or if they do watch it, then only to prove an agenda. Precisely because there wasn't much in the way of politics on screen, people have to go by the promo material and press coverage to understand what the show tries to say. That Discovery sometimes unintentionally promotes the opposite of what it wants to do is just down to incompetence, in my opinion. So, the politics is all in the promotion, not in the show, in contrast to previous shows, where there was almost no political talk outside the show, and everything happened on screen. In that sense, it is the most politisized show.

Regarding Netflix: Yes, and my guess it that most people who watch Star Trek on Netflix already had a Netflix subscription. Sadly it is completely impossible to find any statistics regarding that, as it is impossible to find financial statistics regarding Discovery. Apparently Netflix paid for Season 1, and rumor has it for up to five seasons, more than covering production costs. So, I have to take it with a grain of salt when Moonves says that Discovery was a complete financial success.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 11:32am (UTC -6)
@Hank

"Game of Thrones costs 10 million a piece, yet its audience is ten times larger, at least, AND they are heavily investing in sets, CGI and locations, plus many more extras, and so forth."

Game of Thrones also knows exactly what it is. They are committed to a certain artistic vision. I personally don't like this kind of shows, but the showrunners of GoT shouldn't give a hoot what I think because they aren't selling their show to people like me. They are selling it to their target audience, and they know exactly who this target audience is.

Now imagine if someone suggested that the guys making GoT produce a new spinoff "GoT: Happy Parties with Ponies and Rainbows" that's all bright and happy. You know... just to make sure they have *something* for *everyone*.

Would anybody think that's a good idea?

I don't think so. So why does anybody think that doing the same thing with Star Trek is a smart move?

@Karl

The question is how many people will actually keep their subscriptions to watch a gzillion different Trek shows that have absolutely nothing to do with one another and do not form any coherent whole.

Have this strategy every worked for any showrunner before? I'm seriously asking, because to me - personally - it seems like a crazy approach to doing television.
Dom
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 12:30pm (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi & Jason, all I'll say on Seven of Nine is that I definitely knew some Star Trek fanboys who took more notice of the show because of Seven. Not claiming that they stayed for the rest of the show or watched it only for Seven, but it got their attention. Which in a competitive TV landscape matters.

Seems like what OmicronThetaDeltaPhi is talking about is that Trek really risks diluting its brand. A good franchise should have a clear sense of identity. What is Game of Thrones? A gritty fantasy. What is Mad Max? High-octane car chases. What is Marvel? Superhero action with wry humor. What is Lord of the Rings? High fantasy about good vs evil. What is The Expanse? A near-future sci-fi story about politics and intrigue. Even Star Wars is a pretty unique blend of sci-fi/fantasy space opera.

But what is Star Trek? Aside from name recognition, what does it bring to the table that the other franchises don't? Increasingly, I don't feel like I know, and I don't think the creators know.
Chrome
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 12:38pm (UTC -6)
@Dom

It's funny because your question reminds of Jammer talking about Star Trek was back in 2009:

"Just what is Star Trek? I mean the franchise, not this movie. What accounts for its enduring popularity? It's a question that has been asked countless times for years and years, encompassing such tales as when the original series was nearly canceled by NBC in 1968 after its second season, but renewed for a third season after that successful and unprecedented letter-writing campaign.

Despite all that I've written about Trek over the past 15 years, I've never been able to satisfactorily answer the question of why this franchise endures and has been able to exist in so many incarnations. Is it the generally positive outlook? The straightforward sense of adventure? The characters? The ever-expanding canvas that has become its own universe? "Gene's Vision"? (My, how I've tired of the unending analysis of Gene's Vision™. Methinks Gene's vision was to make a successful television show, and he just happened to have an optimistic picture of the future when he conceived it.)

Truthfully, perhaps Trek's ability to endure has less to do with an optimistic philosophy and more to do with cynical capitalism, effective marketing, shrewd business sense, and steadfast tenacity. Paramount will not let this proven franchise sit idly when there is cash-money to be made. The studio has found a way to keep Trek on the air or in theaters for decades. After Nemesis bombed in 2002 and Enterprise was canceled in 2005, I thought the party was over and Trek would lie dormant for many years. I didn't figure it would only be a few years."

Sounds like things haven't changed much.
Dom
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 1:12pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome, sure, where there's profit to be had from a franchise studios are almost certainly going to try a reboot. Nevertheless, studios have tried to reboot many, many other popular TV shows and movies with less success. We've gotten how many Alien, Terminator, Robocop, Planet of the Apes, and other reboots, and so many of those have failed to take off. Even the recent PotA movies, which I love and did well overall, haven't sparked a massive fandom and new TV shows. Star Trek, like Star Wars, seems to have a powerful brand for many people in a way that few other franchises have done successfully.

Unlike Jammer, I also think that, before 2009, the different iterations of Trek on TV had more in common than is frequently recognized. In my opinion, a few common features of the shows:

- were about science fiction, a generally optimistic - but not utopian - vision of the future;
- tended to be episodic, with some recurring characters, alien races, or threats;
- had corny humor, but also real character drama;
- took science seriously and had characters who were rational professionals and, within Starfleet at least, minimal interpersonal conflict;
- each episode (ideally) had a central idea, high-concept gimmick, or social commentary.

Yes, we can all name exceptions, and there's a lot of room for flexibility, but I think most of these things are true for the most part over 700+ episodes of Trek TV. For example, while Trek could do action, horror, or comedy, it seldom "just" does action, horror, or comedy without combining it with some high-concept sci-fi idea or social commentary. I also think that's distinct from say Guardians of the Galaxy, which has more self-referential humor, is much "cooler" (not corny), has minimal engagement with big ideas, and not trying to stay within the bounds of the laws of physics.

I'd feel perfectly comfortable explaining how TNG or DS9 differs from BSG or Farscape or The Expanse or even Babylon 5 (although that last one is similar to DS9). I'd struggle to explain how Discovery differs from those shows except by the details of the plot.
Booming
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 2:28pm (UTC -6)
@ Chrome Thanks. a reasonable voice. A few people here live in some kind of a safe space echo chamber. It is all very Kruger Dunning.
I mean who am I to assume that men in the early 90s could be manipulated with a blond goddess? No, she was such a great actress. Talk about the physical attractiveness stereotype. Quote: "Physical attractiveness can have a significant effect on how people are judged in terms of employment or social opportunities, friendship, sexual behavior, and marriage.""In many cases, humans attribute positive characteristics, such as intelligence and honesty, to attractive people without consciously realizing it." I did a study about something similar (height as the main independent variable). Most people have not even the faintest idea how easy they can manipulated (tall people earn more than small people). And the creators of Star Trek always knew that.
@Dom I would say that especially TNG was utopian (not in the Thomas More sense because that original Utopia was a nightmare). Free food, housing, education, cultural diversity, extensive human rights and so on.
And I would also argue that DS9 and BSG had quite a bit in common.
- religious overtones (which bugged me in both shows, more in BSG)
- an imminent threat
- war
- sacrificing principles
- broken/traumatized people
Isn't it interesting that both shows had their successful time in completely different times. I loved them both.

Yair
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 3:56pm (UTC -6)
@Booming,

* DS9 and BSG are not comparable at all religion-wise.

DS9 has religious overtones but these are just overtones. Quite a lot is entirely independent of it. For example, the entire Dominion war plot could have easily functioned without it. The show would just have had to shut the wormhole some other way. DS9 easily allows an 'atheistic' explanation if one wishes it (not in the sense of the Prophets not existing, but in the sense of them being super-advanced wormhole-aliens).

Religion is absolutely central to BSG, both new and old (finding Earth based on a myth, Eternal Recurrence in the new series, etc. etc.). God is a key part of the setting.

* The rest of your list are just a result of war being a part of the series (which DS9 didn't even get into in its first seasons). That part describes plenty of sci-fi shows, to the point of not being so useful.

* BSG is an interesting case to discuss, because BSG had a somewhat similar trajectory to TOS: A short original sci-fi series restored for awhile by an a letter-writing campaign, followed decades later by a (very successful) new series. What makes people 'loyal' to a particular show/setting, and not to others?
Yair
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 4:33pm (UTC -6)
"just" sounds a bit too dismissive. I mean that DS9 could have been written with religious overtones strongly deemphasised and still be DS9-like (we'd need to ditch the 7th season religious plot, but it wasn't so well received anyway).
Dom
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 5:49pm (UTC -6)
well Ronald D Moore brought much of his experience working on DS9 to BSG, so it's not surprising there are similarities. Still, each show is quite distinct. DS9 is a much lighter show, more episodic, still has corny humor, less a character drama and more adventure. BSG is a very serious show, heavy emphasis on verisimilitude, focused on interpersonal conflict, etc.

Now, it's perfectly possible Discovery will develop its own sense of identity over time, but right now it's this odd mix of a show about scientists that doesn't take science seriously; a grimdark show that has really goofy moments; a war story without much war, etc.
Jason R.
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 5:52pm (UTC -6)
Booming, physical attractiveness certainly has a major impact on how people see a person and relate to them, but it's quite a leap to suppose that *any* use of a good looking woman in any context magically leads to the desired outcome such as better ratings in a tv show.
Yanks
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 7:30pm (UTC -6)
Brian,

"GIVE Michael Burnham her OWN 'Tapestry' that takes us right into her past and fully explores a formative experience in her life."

The folks would complain that it doesn't relate to the story... blah, blah.

We did get some "Tapestry" for Michael, although it was part of a Vulcan mind link thingy. Sorry, I can't remember the episode name.
Gil
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 9:32pm (UTC -6)
CBS would make everybody happy (well, me at least) if it just simply changed the name of this fake Trek show of theirs to "Space Force: YAY!" and called it a day. At the very least I wouldn't have to suffer the mild nausea or the involuntary eye rolling it induces.

But seriously, with hacks like J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman at the helm (at one point or another since 2009) is it really any wonder a once venerable 50 year old brand with almost unparalleled pop culture impact now more resembles a downed cash cow circled by vultures? *

J.J. Trek waves hello (from beyond the grave).

And while Kurtzman is dumpster diving for content, why doesn't he slap together a Trekkie cosplay competition variety show a la Ru Paul's Drag Race too? I mean, what's an IP for in this ever dimming and shabby neo-Gilded Age other than to pillage for all its worth and for as little as it lasts. Amiright, Alex?

Universal's Monster Universe waves hello (from beyond the grave).

But the question remains: how long are the suits gonna be willing to underwrite this hot mess just to save their all access face?

UPN waves hello (from beyond the grave).

* Though, to be honest, those moribund, dime-store TNG films and that wholly misconceived and miscast Enterprise didn't help matters either. Oy vey, that theme song!.
Booming
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 1:24am (UTC -6)
@Yair, Dom: I guess you are right. BSG was really great because one understood how these people turned into these broken people on Battlestar PTSD. I read somewhere that the showrunners of BSG did a lot of stuff that they couldn't do in DS9.
And will Discovery find its own identity... maybe. I kind of see it as sci fi show which I get with netflix. And CBSall access costs 10$?? That's crazy!
Jason R.: No. Of course not. But Voyager was a show aimed at young men and teenage boys. It is pretty simple. And during the early 90s porn and all that stuff wasn't there. There was only seven... And to find a compromise about how good her acting was I declare here that Jeri Ryan is a better actor than Seth Macfarlane. :)
@Gil: We had to so called golden age of television but is over for quite some time now. Has anybody noticed that a lot of shows are only good for one season now? And to be perfectly honest I think so far I like Discovery more than Enterprise which had the most horrible intro of them all.
Nathan
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 2:26am (UTC -6)
"But Voyager was a show aimed at young men and teenage boys."

Was it? I don't know the background, but what I do know just from reading reviews and opinions is how much an effect having a strong female captain had on different audiences. Women appreciated it. A lot of men definitely didn't. My impression was that what women saw as a tough, smart, beleaguered captain who had to think on her feet in often impossible situations, men saw as a ruthless and controlling tyrant who had double standards and was too uptight. Whatever the intent was behind Janeway, it wasn't something that went down well in the minds of many young male viewers.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 3:29am (UTC -6)
Re: Voyager

Me and my wife are currently on Voyager Season 1 in our Trek viewing (rewatch for me) and we're both enjoying it immensely. I honestly don't get those who claim that Voyager was terrible, nor do I get those who claim it was a "show for teenage boys".

It wasn't a *great* show, I'll give you that. It also didn't really stick to its own premise, for which the show suffered. But it was (usually) good TV and it also had lots of the Star Trek spirit (it was actually refreshing to start VOY Season 1 after all the heavy stuff of DS9 Season 7).

And there were also quite a few truly great episodes.

(I also loved Enterprise. Now you know that I'm a complete wierdo ;-) )

Booming
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 4:50am (UTC -6)
To be perfectly honest I always assumed that Star Trek was more aimed at teenage boys and men in their twenties without actually checking if that was really the case. But I'm just in the middle of something and don't have the time to research it. I would be very happy if somebody can enlighten us with stats or something.
And I liked Janeway. In TNG women (as it is still the norm in western societies) did the care work. Ok, there was Tasha but you get my point.
That was something I appreciated in DS9. Kira was a former terrorist/freedom fighter, Dax was the science officer, Kassidy Yates was a freighter captain. Keiko a botanist(Let's just ignore Leeta). Voyager did that too but most characters on that show seemed kind of bland or two dimensional to me.
And thinking about it that is one of the points discovery has in common with DS9 and Voyager. Even the gay guys have non stereotypical jobs: doctor and engineer.
Booming
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 4:56am (UTC -6)
Oh god damn. Always looking for excuses not to work.
https://trekmovie.com/2006/09/24/the-myth-of-the-star-trek-fan/
Not super scientific but: "1516 Star Trek fans answered the question regarding whether they are male or female. For Star Trek, 78% were male, 22% were female."
Booming
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 4:57am (UTC -6)
Oh and what a shock. The most popular female character: seven of nine... :D
Jason R.
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 11:04am (UTC -6)
Booming I too always assumed most of Voyager's audience was male - as did the people who brought in Jeri Ryan for her sex appeal no doubt. They were probably banking on her to boost the ratings based on her looks.

What I am questioning is the knee jerk premise that this assumption was right. To me the notion that even in the 1990s boys and young men could be lured to a show because of a star's sex appeal isn't obvious. I know the conventional wisdom says that it's true - but those are exactly the kind of truths we need to question the most. Like thr old chestnut about the average man thinking about sex every 3 seconds or whatnot.

Honestly, even at 14 this just wasn't a factor for me. Sure I liked hot women, but to sit through a science fiction show because of that? Even in the 1990s we weren't that desperate to see beautiful women. If I wanted to see pictures of Jeri Ryan (or any 3,000 celebrities in that ilk) I had Maxim, I had the early internet, any a million other better options than watching Jeri Ryan argue with Kate Mulgrew on StarTrek.
Chrome
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 11:33am (UTC -6)
I would wager the initial lure of sex appeal was there, but the Voyager writers were at least clever enough to back her up that with good material. Seven is basically "what if Hugh from 'I, Borg' remained a crew member of the ship?" It's an intriguing character concept.

Interestingly enough, Discovery doesn't really have a character I would qualify as having sex appeal. It makes you wonder how big Gene's influence was in that area. As good as TNG is, it's no coincidence that Marina Sirtis got a special outfit and was able to sit on the bridge all the time for no really important reason.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
You know, I've been thinking and I've realized something:

I would actually be 100% fine with an "action Trek" prequel with Pike as Captain... as long as they made sure the show doesn't ruin established continuity and doesn't degrade to cartoon physics.


(and yes, I know that TOS often degraded to cartoon physics, but that was the '60. We shouldn't accept this kind of thing in 21st century Trek any more that we should accept cardboard sets for a starship's bridge)

Booming
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason: I don't think that I ever said that people would only watch voyager if Jeri Ryan was starring in it. Why do men like to look at beautiful women? Because it feels good. It therefor makes it more likely that young man keep or start watching. And at first it worked but as Chrome pointed out to really know if she had a lasting impact we would need to ask our friends in an alternate dimension were everything is the same but Seven of Nine.
@Chrome: Maybe. It could be just my memory betraying me but most stories I remember with her (A or B plot) she had to be taught how to be human and to accept her feelings which to me always seemed like pandering to male audiences, too. A blond Venus that is so vulnerable and has to learn to love.
And yeah. Discovery is less sexualised. Tilly is even a little overweight I believe. I think that is first female cast member that isn't in perfect shape.
I know that Troy was there for eye candy but I always thought she is on the bridge to read minds (apart from the dozen times when it didn't work).

Jason R.
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 2:33pm (UTC -6)
"Why do men like to look at beautiful women? Because it feels good. It therefor makes it more likely that young man keep or start watching."

Well that is my point; I am not sure I accept the inference that because men enjoy looking at beautiful women in *general*, that automatically means that men will watch a tv show they wouldn't otherwise have watched, because a beautiful woman is in it.

I accept the proposition that being beautiful makes a woman more likely to be cast in a tv show (all else being equal) and that those in charge of casting may be banking on this factor to influence ratings. This is obvious in mainstream tv as it is in hollywood.

But keep in mind there's a bias baked in there that may be cutting both ways. The beautiful woman gets the job because she is beautiful, at the behest of executives (all of who are male) who are biased in her favour because of that beauty. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Beautiful women get the jobs, which leads the decision makers to infer that they are getting the jobs because that is what the audience demands. But the (male) executives may be blinded by the very bias they presume motivates male viewership.

Are there studies that actually prove that physical attractiveness of stars in tv programs actually drive ratings? Or in movies for that matter?

I am genuinely curious and skeptical. Personally I am certain that neither Marina Sertis nor Jeri Ryan's looks influenced my decision to watch TNG or Voyager. Just as Terri Falwell isn't the reason I loved DS9.

I was just as much a red blooded teenaged male as anyone else. Jeri Ryan's Maxim photos are ones I remember even today, so I certainly liked what I saw. But I am certain they had nothing to do with my motivation to watch (or not watch) Voyager. My defining moments in those shows, the reason I watched, had nothing to do with that. NOTHING.

I think as certain societal movements gain steam (backlash against unrealistic beauty standards, overly restrictive body types etc...) we are going to see more and "average" actors and actresses appearing in tv and movies and my preduction? It will have zero impact on male viewership. None.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 2:56pm (UTC -6)
It's kinda funny that this debate is still going on, when the numbers clearly show that Seven had absolutely no effect on the Voyager's rating:

4.5 million viewers per week before Seven.
4.5 million viewers per week after Seven.

Case closed. Time to Move on.

As for Seven's stories: I don't recall a single episode which centered around "learning how to love" for Seven . Perhaps surprising, given the general thought process of the producers with Seven and Jeri Ryan, but they never went that route.

Yes, there were plenty of episodes in which Seven got a lesson in "what it means to be human", but the were nearly always done in good taste. They delt with themes like individuality and loyalty and team work and social etiquette.



Charles J
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
Star Trek was indeed aimed more at men than women. That's never been much of a secret. The perception has always been that Star Trek (and Star Wars) was a male driven franchise. Which is not true.

Star Trek's fandom in the 1970s was mostly driven by women. Some research has shown, that much like now, the majority of fan fiction was written by women. For most of the 1970s and early 1980s, the majority of Star Trek cons were started and run by women.

I forget where I saw this (CNN maybe?). But, somewhere around the release of The Phantom Menace, some University researcher estimated that nearly 60 percent of the most active fans (that means cons, fan club participation, dressing up, etc. etc.) within Star Wars and Star Trek are women. It's only when you focus on specifics, like who is attending large events like Comic-Con, or who the media chooses to interview outside of a movie theater, does it appear that franchises like Star Trek are male dominated.

IIRC, that came immediately after a report on TPM in which most of the attendees interviewed in line were...you guessed it...men.

Even when TNG first premiered, it was obvious, at least locally here in Atlanta, the advertisers realized women were watching . During the second season, it was noticeable how many more ads aimed at women aired.
Chrome
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 3:12pm (UTC -6)
"4.5 million viewers per week before Seven.
4.5 million viewers per week after Seven.

Case closed. Time to Move on."

That data doesn't mean anything. Voyager's ratings were already slipping before Jeri Ryan came and for all we know she prevented the numbers from being lower than they would've been without her.

@Booming

I know what you mean, and episodes like "Someone to Watch Over Me" were either creepy or nerd fantasies where the shy guy gets to teach the beautiful woman about love. That kind of thing was all very silly. On the other hand, there's good Seven episodes that really dig into the Borg angle like "Drone", "Infinite Regress", "Bliss", and "Relativity". So it's not like the writers were purely cashing in on sex appeal. Jason R. has a point that sex can only get a show like Star Trek so far.
Booming
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 4:07pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason R. There are certainly some. Just search for physical attractiveness stereotype. If you really want to find stuff search with google scholar. It is not really a part of field that interests me that much.
@Chrome: Agreed. About the rating and Seven of Nine. When she came in I was already somewhat tired of Voyager maybe that influenced me.
Yanks
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 6:17pm (UTC -6)
@ OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

"It's kinda funny that this debate is still going on, when the numbers clearly show that Seven had absolutely no effect on the Voyager's rating:

4.5 million viewers per week before Seven.
4.5 million viewers per week after Seven.

Case closed. Time to Move on."

She steadied the ship for a little bit, but Star Trek steadily lost viewers on a pretty steady curve beginning with TNG Season 6.

www.madmind.de/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/startreknielsenratingaverage2.jpg

While I would have picked Harry to depart, I can see why they chose Kes.

"As for Seven's stories: I don't recall a single episode which centered around "learning how to love" for Seven. Perhaps surprisingly, given the general thought process of the producers with Seven and Jeri Ryan, but they never went that route.

Yes, there were plenty of episodes in which Seven got a lesson in "what it means to be human", but they were nearly always done in good taste. They dealt with themes like individuality and loyalty and teamwork and social etiquette."

Agree. Wonderful character. I can't believe folks are still talking about how beautiful she is as if it's a problem. My goodness, when 'Star Trek' came out in the 60's many said it was soft porn... you know, all the alien hotties... short skirts, etc...

Not that I ever saw that as a problem. :-)



Booming
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 1:45am (UTC -6)
@Yanks. "Not that I ever saw that as a problem. :-)"
While I get your point I think it is a problem. Because acting ability is sacrificed for physical beauty. Terry Farrell, Jeri Ryan, Jolene Blalock all mediocre actors at best who started as models. And while it maybe pleasing to watch for (heterosexual) men they lowered the acting quality of the show. And I am not sure if we have the same problem with Sonequa Martin-Green. I think she is a better actor than any of the three but is she good enough for the lead role?
Think about some of the favorites: Spock (not good looking), the voyager doctor (worse than Spock), Sisko (ok looking), Data (not good looking)
Just think about how it would have impacted these shows if they had cast more attractive but less charismatic actors...
Boo.g
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 4:47am (UTC -6)
I hate haters and I know trek fans can be annoying with their dislike for everything that is new, but I'm with them on this one.

They are cannibalizing Spock's story to make their lead, Michael , even more a Mary sue than Kirk was and it's sad and lame. This shoe-horning Burnham in his family and his past is too forced. Spock was the only child of Sarek and Amanda, (Sybok doesn't count because he left) but now they put this human sister that everyone prefers to him and who is accepted as a vulcan more than Spock. It makes no sense. They already ruined the conflict between Spock and Sarek, they even tainted Spock's rejection of the Vulcan science academy and him joining starfleet because it now feels like he always did everything his sister did first and better. There is nothing special in him being accepted at the Vulcan science academy in spite of being half human since nonsense vulcans who discriminated him for that were ready to accept his sister who is 100% human.
Now they are ruining Spock and Amanda too. Amanda was the only paren't Spock had a relationship with and she is his connection to humanity, but now they are saying that even his mom had a better bond with Michael and it's Michael who had to teach Spock how to be human and made him the Spock we saw in tos 'preparing him for kirk' (cit Kurtzman). Never mind the fact he worked with humans for 10 years before he met Kirk and he did have a human mom.
Come on now, Michael's the lead and I loved her in the first season but you are getting over the top now. They took most of Spock's story and gave it to their original character, that's so fanfiction. If they reveal Spock was in love with her too this show will really jump the shark.

Spock's backstory in the reboot is more canon than this, and the reboot is another reality! But it was much more respectful and they handled his conflict and his relationship with Sarek and Amanda beautifully giving him everything Discovery is taking from original Spock now.
Even alternate Spock relationship with Uhura is more organic, canon and respectful of canon than this forcefully shoe-horning a mary sue sister in his past.
Nimoy approved the reboot but I wonder what he'd say about discovery. It seems tos Spock is becoming more alternate reality than alternate reality Spock.

I feel like discovery will get so over the top fanfiction that the writers will be forced to say it was another reality.
BRIAN
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 7:04am (UTC -6)
Watched this premier with an open mind even though I really thought that season one was a mess and a slog most of the time.


I mildly enjoyed it even though I was literally put to sleep but the overuse of pointless cgi action spectacle halfway through.


I really really enjoyed TIg Notaro's character. She's great! Felt like a very good, very new, very Star Trek kind of character.

There's an unfortunate amount of just Really Stupid that courses through the show still, though. The way Captain Pike acts is really.... not in line with how a captain could realistically keep command of a ship. When I watch modern TV shows and compare them to the discipline of older shows like TOS or Twilight Zone... I wonder if its because the writers of TOS were liikely WW II vets, or at least well acquainted with WW II vets. This crew of DISCO acts like they are in a white collar office environment... its really frustrating and I think betrays the limited, sheltered, upper middle class, raised-on-television life experiences of the DISCO writers. There is def not a Harlan Ellison among them.

Anyway.. I digress. The show pretends to be sci-fi without even going through the motions of techno-babble. @Hank above lists out the stupid above really well so I wont bother to repeat it.

I hope the show can find its bearing still, although I sort of doubt it. The characters and actors remain really good. Saru, Tilly, Tig's new character, Pike, and even Michael are pretty solid characters and actors. But they are constantly short changed by scripts that don't contain any actual ideas.... just action cgi filler.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 8:34am (UTC -6)
@Boo.g

"I feel like discovery will get so over the top fanfiction that the writers will be forced to say it was another reality."

Haven't they already passed that point-of-no-return in - like - the first 5 minutes of Season 1?



Jason R.
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 8:57am (UTC -6)
"I forget where I saw this (CNN maybe?). But, somewhere around the release of The Phantom Menace, some University researcher estimated that nearly 60 percent of the most active fans (that means cons, fan club participation, dressing up, etc. etc.) within Star Wars and Star Trek are women. It's only when you focus on specifics, like who is attending large events like Comic-Con, or who the media chooses to interview outside of a movie theater, does it appear that franchises like Star Trek are male dominated"

I have never been a big enough fan to attend conventions or write fan fiction, so I concede that my experience has been limited in some respects to "every day" experience, such as school and work. But let me say that I can count on one hand (with plenty of fingers to spare) the number of women and girls I know (in my real life, not online) who claim to be fans or even interested in Trek.

I will concede that it is entirely possible that females are afraid to identify themselves as fans due to stigma, so I concede my personal experienve may be misleading. But seriously, in my High School in the 1990s, in the heyday of the TNG era, I can think of 0 girls (ZERO!) who ever mentioned Star Trek in any context. That is in a school of 100s.

My two sisters wouldn't know a phaser from a warp drive. My wife has probably never watched a complete episode of Trek in her life.

So I am deeply skeptical of any claim that female fans are such a huge factor (historically that is, say up to the late 1990s- I concede things may be different now) to say nothing of any suggestion that they outnumber male fans in any context. This is totally unbelievable.
Yanks
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 9:32am (UTC -6)
I wasn't familiar with TIg Notaro's comedy. Just looked up a couple vids.

LOL ... funny gal, I'm sure she'll meld in great in Discovery.
Chrome
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 10:08am (UTC -6)
You folks made me do the research. Here's one about gender statistics based on a 2010 study of Trek fans:

http://www.startrek.com/article/star-trek-and-the-culture-of-fandom

"Now onto women in fandom! Yes indeed, 57% that took this survey reported being female! That means 43% were males. That was not expected, but it was close. This data does support the history of Trek fandom, the current trends in fandom, and the rumors that have buzzed about since the 2009 film came out about how it brought in not only new fans, but more female fans. Women have held a strong presence in science fiction both as professionals and as fans for decades. Fanfic has been dominated by the female fan, and over the past several years, participation by women in fandom has been increasing. The data also demonstrated a correlation between age and sex, further supporting the idea that more women are entering Trek fandom due to the recent 2009 film. Of those females responding, 13 % were between 21-30, overall that age group accounted for 21% of respondents, the second highest age group following the 41-50 year olds, of which accounted for 34% of those responding to the survey in general, 19% were female. From Bjo Trimble and the original letter writing campaign to save the original series to Shirley Majewski (known fondly as the godmother of fandom), women have been a real driving force in Trek fandom. Various reports from the 1960’s and 1970’s rated female involvement in ranges between 17 and 80% at times, most especially in examining fanfic and clubs which were both female dominated areas in fandom and continue to be today."
Booming
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 12:09pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome
That study looks pretty shaky. I looked at the actual study and maybe the methodology part was cut for some reason. But it is not good science when you only have around three sentences on how you conducted the survey. And it is an online survey which is the worst kind at least without save guards and it was running for month apparently.
Again maybe the raw data and the method is written down somewhere or hidden somewhere in the paper (I didn't read the whole thing) and everything is legit but the study I saw is not ok.
http://www.academia.edu/461218/Results_Star_Trek_Fandom_Survey
Jason R.
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 12:12pm (UTC -6)
Out of curiosity what are the percentage of female posters on this site? I got the impression it's mostly male but it would be interesting to find out in the context of this discussion.
Booming
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 12:13pm (UTC -6)
And I also couldn't really find that much about the author which is a little strange for a professor. He should have written at least a few papers.
Yanks
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 8:34am (UTC -6)
@Boo.g

"I feel like discovery will get so over the top fanfiction that the writers will be forced to say it was another reality."

"Haven't they already passed that point-of-no-return in - like - the first 5 minutes of Season 1? "

I don't think so at all? Care to be specific?
Chrome
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 1:32pm (UTC -6)
@Booming

It's not intended to be the last word on Star Trek fandom, but it's interesting how close numbers match the CNN figures mentioned above.

@Jason R

I don't think Jammer is willing to put a demographics poll on his site, but it would be interesting. From what comments I've read, I feel like there are more female fans of the shows then conventional wisdom suggests.
Charles J
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 1:37pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R

"I will concede that it is entirely possible that females are afraid to identify themselves as fans due to stigma, so I concede my personal experienve may be misleading. But seriously, in my High School in the 1990s, in the heyday of the TNG era, I can think of 0 girls (ZERO!) who ever mentioned Star Trek in any context. That is in a school of 100s. "

Stigma is only part of it. However, your own story reinforces the reasons the myth of the Male Star Trek fan persists. Unless you're exploring other areas of fandom, you only have your limited experience to draw on.

That researcher kept digging into the fandoms and explored as many aspects of it as he could. So there was the collecting, the toys (the children's market), the conventions, the fan clubs, the cosplay, the online forums, fan fiction, the zines, and the audiences for the shows and films.

Outside of online forums, people have been engaged in the other parts of fandom for over 50 years. That's collectively millions of fans of all ages.

So when you only think about your high school experience, you're not thinking about the 50-year-old women who watched TOS first run. Or, the 30-year-old woman who was watching TNG. Or, the 13-year-old girl watching TOS in reruns and didn't care at all for TNG.

Also. You have to factor in how everyone has played into the myth of the male fan. When you don't create products that target female fans, when the marketing is built around the male fans, some female fans opt out, or their fandom becomes much more casual.
Booming
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 2:01pm (UTC -6)
@ Chrome. True but the study I saw had completely different number (78 m to 22 w) and that study seemed more sound than this 2011 study. But it was only con goers so who knows. Could be that women are more casual in their fandom or that the public believe that it is only watched by basement dwellers lead to female trek fans not being that open about it. So yeah, could be.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
@Yanks

I meant the "other reality" bit. Not the "over the top fanfiction" bit.

There's simply no way... none... that Discovery fits the prime timeline.

Either it happens in another timeline/reality (despite the official word to the contrary), or Star Trek has turned into a franchise with a fluid continuity.

Either way, there's nothing Discovery can do right now that will "force the writers to admit it happens in another reality", given that they haven't admitted it until now.

Booming
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 2:05pm (UTC -6)
@ Charles J. That study would never get peer reviewed. If the study I saw is supposed to look like that and not some weirdly shortened press release version then it is unscientific. Could even be a paid study...
Booming
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 2:07pm (UTC -6)
ps: I meant the study Chrome provided and sorry Chrome that I'm so hard on that study but it looks like garbage.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
@Jason
"Out of curiosity what are the percentage of female posters on this site?"

I have no idea (and we'll probably never know)

But I know that in the Star Trek discussions at tor.com, there are many women among the regular posters.

@Booming
"True but the study I saw had completely different number (78 m to 22 w) and that study seemed more sound than this 2011 study. But it was only con goers so who knows."

I've never ever went to a sci fi convention, and I suspect that most sci fi fans don't either.

Don't mistake "not going to conventions" for being a casual fan. I, for example, own the DVD's all seasons of all Star Trek Series, the new two-volume Star Trek Encyclopedia, and half a dozen technical manuals for various series. I've also worked for over two years to create a full Chronology of the pre-Kelvin Trekverse, and devised a system of stardates that (mostly) makes sense.

In short: A casual fan, I'm not. Yet I haven't been in a single convention all my life. To be honest, I'm not even remotely interested in participating in such a thing.
Jason R.
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 2:39pm (UTC -6)
I never went to conventions either. Yet I used to watch the shows religiously, I read numerous novels for TNG and even Voyager (god help me) and knew plenty of Trek fans. One of my good friends met his wife at a Klingon picnic. I feel I was more than just a casual fan as well and certainly knew peopke who were more than casual.

Perhaps there is a distiction to be made between convention attendees and others? Anyway, my only point is that if female fans were that prolific, it's curious that I met almost none of them in my real life, or if I did, they must have been pretty darn good at hiding their habits. I never saw a girl with a Voyager novel that's for darned sure.

I remember in University our dorm had a TV and I used to watch TNG and TOS in syndication almost daily. Guess how many girls in my dorm ever stopped to watch? By my memory, 0 in two years. I used to watch shows like Buffy with the girls mind you, but Trek? This would have been early 2000s so these hordes of female Trek fans must still have been in hiding.
Booming
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
@Omicron. Sure you can be a very dedicated fan without ever going to or even having the wish to go to a convention. The study was just conducted there so it cannot be generalized. That is what I meant. As Jason pointed out there could be numerous reasons why more men attend conventions. To find out how the numbers are for the general population you would have to make a CATI survey or come up with a way for an airtight online survey. But that is not cheap.
I suppose the TV stations or Paramount and whatnot did real studies but I doubt they will share those. :)
Burn 'em' up!
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
@JasonR, Chrome
I'm female, and I've been a Star Trek fans for decades. I'm not skeptical of the statistics. Characters like Nyota Uhura and Ensign Rand were an Inspiration to me, and I watched Voyager because of Captain Janeway. I especially enjoyed Star Trek novels, The Final Reflection, being my favorite! (If you have not read this book, then please do so immediately!)

Truthfully, I got tired of William Shatner's mug, and I looked forward to episodes which included Spock, Uhura, Chekov..and then came TNG and Captain Picard...again...the minor characters appealed more to me...especially Yar, Guinan, and Worf. As to Voyager, the addition of Jeri Ryan was annoying, because I knew why she was there…(eye roll).


DS9 is my overall favorite. I didn't appreciate it when it first came out. Interesting characters, great story line.

Star Trek Discovery, Season 1, Episodes 1/2 was the best start to ANY Star Trek series. The DS9 introduction coming in close second, in my opinion. Love the Tilly and Burnham characters...also Lorca! And Pike is totally hot! (Yes, I do look!)

For the most part, I think you guys take Star Trek WAY too seriously. As one user put it, (paraphrasing the idea), some of us weren't and can never be nostalgic about the 60's, and can't see any optimism of the 90's...or even beyond.
...and many of your comments mirror the real problems that are occurring in society, at the moment.


So, in short, I'm female, I'm here, and I'm reading! LOL So, if you are interested in my point of view...
Jason R.
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 3:28pm (UTC -6)
Burn'em I never said female fans didn't exist. Obviously they do and I have met some.

But okay I'll bite. How old are you and when you went to school, how many of your female classmates were trek fans? How about at work?

Not trying to argue at all - really am totally curious if my experience was typical. Totally admit I might be wrong.
Booming
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 4:40pm (UTC -6)
@Burn em up: Pike also has nice voice ;)
Would be really interesting to know the actual numbers. If women are such a significant demo I would love to know why the societal perception is so different?
Jason R.: I grew up in Europe and Star Trek was never as big as in the shining city on a hill. I actually never talked with class mates about Star Trek. Curious.
JPaul
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 10:31pm (UTC -6)
Discovery is basically Next Generation if:
- Picard was killed after Encounter at Farpoint and Thomas Riker became captain.
- Data and Geordi were non speaking roles, with Troi completely absent.
- Worf was promoted to first office after Picard died and the fact that he was the only Klingon in Starfleet was a shoulder shrug.
- Beverly was killed off halfway through season 1.
- Wesley Crusher was an actual crew member and occasionally dropped f-bombs about how much he loves science.
- The alien from the S1 episode "Where No One Has Gone Before" was the ship's chief engineer.
- An emotionless Tasha Yar was the central character of the show and constantly saving the ship instead of Wesley Crusher.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Jan 25, 2019, 12:00am (UTC -6)
@Jason

In my experience, most fans - both male and female - don't tend to share their love of Trek or sci fi at school with just anyone.

You could argue that my experience is due to not growing up in the US, but I *did* do one year of Middle School in California and I've never heard anybody discussing sci fi there either.

I wasn't that social, though. You could count the number of people I regularly hanged with at school on one hand. So I wonder: Perhaps your own experience is simply due to most of your friends being male?



Foreskin of Evil
Fri, Jan 25, 2019, 2:24am (UTC -6)
Has Worf shown up yet?
Burn 'em' up!
Fri, Jan 25, 2019, 10:02am (UTC -6)
@Jason R, Booming My age? LOL All I will say is that I'm old enough to remember having only three television channels to choose from, and 'fighting' with our television antenna to get reception. :)
I liked Star Trek, but I also enjoyed Fantasy while growing up. I've also written fan fiction. I'm a loner, but a couple of ladies in my office asked me what I was reading. I gave one a Star Trek novel, and she enjoyed it, and the other a Donaldson novel, (Mirror series), and she really liked that!
I can only speak for myself, but I'm a sucker for romance, and, I suspect that women also enjoy the relationship side of Star Trek. I especially loved the relationships between Yar and Castillo, Kirk and Edith, Sisko and Jake, Michael and 'Voq'...to name a few.
The only time I get to talk about my love of Star Trek is on social media. I met a couple of 'gems' along the way. One introduced me to Conan, another to Eddings, Asimov, and Farmer. I attended a Star Trek convention, and I went alone.

@Booming, Omicron Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Jan 26, 2019, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
"Omicron Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"

Ich spreche nicht viel Deutsch. Ich bin ein Afanger. ;-)

(I probably botched the structure of the first sentence completely. I'm currently learning the language, so thanks for giving me this opportunity the practice!)




Trent
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
In season 1's first episode, Michael inexplicably uses a manual telescope to "see further" than her ship's visual sensors.

Interestingly, in season 2's first episode, the crew turn to Saru's eyes when the ship's visual sensors can "zoom in no further". Like the aforementioned case, this seems to make no sense. The eye can't extract data from a limited resolution, otherwise the ship would just further magnify the image itself.
HawgWyld
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 11:00am (UTC -6)
Although the CBS app is required in my home (we got rid of cable and Hulu doesn't have a selection of the CBS shows my wife loves), I am now happy to pay for that streaming service.

Why? Discovery sucked last season and is now much improved. Good deal!
Cody B
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 8:32pm (UTC -6)
This is the first four star episode of the series. I don’t know what the following episodes will be like but I think they really pulled out all the stops and tried hard in this one. After the disappointment of the last six episode arc of the last season, I think this was a serious course correction. Now that doesn’t mean I love everything. I still think Sarek and Spock are a little bit of a gimmick. This changes everything in the Trek cannon. I’m supposed to believe Spock NEVER mentioned his sister? No I can’t really get behind that. They could have made Sarek be just a normal different Vulcan. But now it’s too late and the show must remain married to Michael being in Spocks family. Another mistake is Lorca. He was great as their captain. Like I said that whole mirror universe six episode arc was just....not good. But so far Pike is the next best thing. Having Discovery find the enterprise with Pike would have been enough fan service without having sarek and Spock involved.
Yanks
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 8:40am (UTC -6)
@Booming
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 1:45am (UTC -6)
@Yanks. "Not that I ever saw that as a problem. :-)"

"While I get your point I think it is a problem. Because acting ability is sacrificed for physical beauty. Terry Farrell, Jeri Ryan, Jolene Blalock all mediocre actors at best who started as models. And while it maybe pleasing to watch for (heterosexual) men they lowered the acting quality of the show."

To each his own tastes for sure, but Jerry is a most capable actress. I agree concerning Terry and Jolene, average a best. Although I think Jolene was perfectly cast for T'Pol.

"And I am not sure if we have the same problem with Sonequa Martin-Green. I think she is a better actor than any of the three but is she good enough for the lead role?"

SMG is intellegent and beautiful but, until recently I have found her to be lacking in the emotional side of acting. I do think she has improved slightly during season 2. This could be just a case of being familiar with the character... I hope so.

"Think about some of the favorites: Spock (not good looking), the voyager doctor (worse than Spock), Sisko (ok looking), Data (not good looking)
Just think about how it would have impacted these shows if they had cast more attractive but less charismatic actors..."

It's the whole - what exactly is better looking. there are MILLIONS of women that find Spock better looking that Kirk! You have some TV parts that actually list how certain body parts need to be this or that. It's always been a "bigger deal" for the females. Is that right? ... I don't know... I think harsh might be a better term. Women are just as consious of their looks as men are appreciative of them. You aren't going to make a very popular show if everyone is "ugly".

I think Star Trek, especially the spin-offs, has suffered through some pretty bland acting talent throughout the years... and it certainly wasn't always a give and take with looks. I think it's like that everywhere, not just in Trek. Sometimes you hit gold, and sometimes you just hit mud.

Jerry, Jolene certainly were "displayed" in an effort to appeal to folks, but neither turned out bad and both played thier parts very well. Terry is a little different deal because they didn't stick her in a catsuit. Funny, Kira was more of a catsuit wearer in DS9.

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