“What should we do with the legacy left by our predecessors?” seems to have been the theme of this weeks media consumption. And not only media, i’m starting to ask what i will leave for my kid one day. Taking old ideas and update them for a contemporary audience is a good thing in principle. But it seems we are at a time where the Zeitgeist isn’t as clear as two generations ago.
Star Trek Discovery is an example for this uncertainty. The newest series in the franchise sits between Enterprise and the “Classic” series. And that is it's biggest strenght and weakness. Strenght because the current Zeitgeist could use a story that ends up in a better place than it started. There is war and suffering in the Star Trek universe; but not amongst humanity or the Federation Of Planets. And if there is beef amongst them in most cases it gets resolved without to much drama.
And i’m tired that after the reboot movies used the old conflicts to tell “new” stories we get the same thing again. Enterprise already did that and did not entierly succeed.
It isn’t fair to compare Discovery to any of it’s predecessors because so far we only got to see two episodes. And those acted as an overture to the rest of the show. But judging from those two entries i’m not convinced the series will work.
Lets start with the visuals. Of course it can’t look cheaper than the adventures of Kirk & company but it also should not look to good. Well, Discovery looks to good and advanced for its own good. And i’m not talking about the lensflare effect that seems to have become a must for Star Trek or the "cold designwork". The use of the computer as well as the holographic displays and touch controls are a thing unseen in the classic series. So one of the big questions from the get go is “how will this be retconned?”
The new design of the Klingons is a thing i'm ok with. The reasoning behind their actions are convenient for the plot. And while Star Trek is the perfect canvas to look at current times from a distance it's used rather blunt here.
Michael Burnham is our main protagonist in this series. She's a human that attended the vulcan science academy and at the start of the series the first officer of the starship Shenzhou. In a Gilmore Girls-like exchange between her and Captain Philippa Georgiou she gets offered a command and spends the rest of the two episodes making me ask how she earned this. As a character i find her interesting. Sarek (Spock’s dad) rescued her from a colony that was destroyed by the klingons and took her under his wing. And the reverse Spock story should give her motivation a spin. But in the end she comes off as brash und unreflected. Her time on vulcan should have made her able to control her emotions by utilizing logic, but the show seldom takes advantage of this. Saru also feels like a one trick pony. The alien portrayed by Doug Jones is a great effect but feels like the "always act against what he says" character. The backstory of his species is intriguing; his people being prey to another species. I get the impression that he was Michael Burnham at some point in the development of the show.
The Orville, a show inspired by Star Trek could have filled the space that Discovery doesn’t quite fit in yet. What stands in the way is the humor utilized in the show. In this homage to Gene Roddenberry’s work humanity is on the way to reach enlightment, and manages to adress some current issues wedged between dick and fart jokes. And this approach is more true than Discovery’s high horse approach. Discovery has the better acting and the franchise on it’s side while Orville feels more in line with it’s refeernce material. It says “Fuck it, let’s do our best to get there.” Every character in that show feels like it is working towards achieving what we saw in The Next Generation. And i miss that in Discovery.
I'm tired of seeing Klingons and the Federation fight. And why didn’t the Vulcan's tell their partners about the Klingon customs?