Arkle’s Discovery Season 1a Commentary

The Two Gay Geeks welcome Arkle as a Guest Author. Below you will find his analysis and commentary on Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 first half.
We appreciate this analysis and commentary on the “new” Star Trek offering.
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Okay, I have watched the first nine episodes of Star Trek Discovery, or Season 1a if you prefer, and I have some thoughts I want to put out before we get to Season1b in January.

1: The new look of the Klingons sucks and I hate it.

2: I didn’t like it at first, but the design of the title ship has grown on me.

3: Feminist critiques of this show about WOC not named Michael getting killed off left and right? Valid. Here’s hoping they cut that out in Season 2.

4: The pilot isn’t very good, but compared to other Trek pilots, it could’ve been worse. Overall, I’d place it about equal with “Caretaker,” but better than “Encounter At Farpoint” and “Broken Bow.” “The Emissary” and whichever one you count for TOS (”The Man Trap” for air date order, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” for production order) top the list. My biggest problem is that if the intent was to convey that Burnham’s bad choices in these two episodes (I count both as the pilot since they dropped the same day) was partly the result of her concussion and partly her years of suppressed human emotions bubbling up at the worst possible time, that should’ve been made clearer. I mean, if that was the intent. If so, I actually like the idea. Not the execution though.

Also, the title was wrong. I know some people have griped about the story Burnham tells where the title, “The Vulcan Hello,” comes from, but that itself actually does make sense. But to phrase it the way they did makes it sound, albeit unintentionally, that the Vulcans shoot first with everyone else, not just the Klingons.

5: I have mixed feelings about Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd. Part of that has to do with the actor being somewhat problematic, but I’m not going to get into that. The other part is, while his performance was certainly enjoyable to watch, as a lifelong Trekkie I’m a bit uncomfortable with the idea of Harry friggin’ Mudd being kinda scary. I mean, even scarier than Capt. Lorca, who I am pretty sure is on the verge of a total breakdown thanks to his untreated PTSD. That said, his (Mudd’s) second episode is, so far anyway, my favorite of the season. Definitely one of the better uses of the Moebius Loop I’ve seen (though not as good as Stargate SG-1′s “Window of Opportunity”, but what can ya do?)

6: I really wish the Fanboys would stop complaining about the spore drive. Yes, we know they don’t use it in TOS and beyond. But that doesn’t make it a plot hole; there’s still a whole half season to go, and I bet by the end of it we’ll get a reason why the drive was discontinued. I don’t know if it’ll be a good reason. I certainly hope it is. But it will be a reason. So calm the F down.

7: Speaking of Fs, I had no problem with the infamous F-bomb drop in the episode “Choose Your Pain.” I actually think it was nice that they didn’t go the obvious “ermahgerd so edgy” route and have it be used in a sexual or insulting context, but rather as an excited exclamation in response to an amazing discovery, no pun intended, about the universe.

8: For those people ready to write the show off completely based on these 9 episodes we’ve had so far, let’s just take a look at where the other 5 live-action Trek shows at this point in their first seasons. To simplify matters, points will only be knocked off for straight up bad episodes, not ones that are “just okay.”

TOS: This almost isn’t fair considering it was this show’s iconic status that allowed the others to exist in the first place, but allowing for both the production technologies and social norms of the time, we’ve got 7 good episodes, and 1 episode that can’t really be judged fairly because a lot of the series rules weren’t in place yet; hell, they hadn’t even locked down Kirk’s middle name. Sulu was in a blue shirt. We had no McCoy, Scotty, or Uhura. Obviously, I’m talking about “Where No Man Has Gone Before” here. So, we’ll call that a success rate of 8/9.

TNG: As a kid, I loved all of these, but with the benefit of hindsight, there are no good episodes here. The Ferengi were introduced, but it was Deep Space Nine that saved that Trek species from ending up just a regrettable footnote. “Where No One Has Gone Before” (not to be confused with the TOS pilot) has some pretty visuals going for it, but that’s not enough to say it. “The Battle” is just okay, at best. Some interesting ideas, like the device that tricks Picard into reliving a past battle, but the Ferengi are still goofy despite the writers wanting us to see them as threatening. Let’s be kind and say 1/9.

DS9: The only episode from DS9′s first 9 I would call bad is the Q episode, but even that is saved from garbage by virtue of Sisko punching Q in the face. The Pilot’s the only good one of the bunch though, with the rest just being okay. As for “The Passenger” that one is bad, but is still fun to watch for Alexander Siddig’s OTT performance as the possessed Bashir. It’s hard not to laugh at the way he says “Rao Vantika” (RAY-OH-VAN-TEE-KAAAH”) So, we’ll go with 8/9, but with an asterisk.

VOY: 2 mediocre episodes, plus 1 episode that introduced an interesting villain that the show sadly completely failed to utilize properly (the Vidiians). Neelix suffers a fair amount in that episode though so I’ll round up to Good. The rest were just plain bad though. 3/9.

ENT: One of the first episodes gave us Jeffrey Combs as Shran. Granted, the episode itself wasn’t that great, but later on they were able to do more with Shran, and eventually give us a greater glimpse at Andorian culture, so I’ll be generous and give that one a good score. And “Civilization” isn’t terrible, it’s just kinda meh, but I only knock off points for bad so… The rest of the episodes were just varying degrees of bad (with “Unexpected” crossing over into full-on offensive). 2/9. And that’s me being generous mind you.

So how does DSC stack up, at least in my opinion? Well, apart from “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle at the Binary Stars,” there hasn’t been an episode I’ve truly disliked, and even then I didn’t hate them. I was more disappointed than anything else. So, when you add up the episodes that were just okay with those that I liked, you get a First 9 Episodes score of 5/9.

So, sorting by rank you get (remember, this ONLY applies to the first 9 episodes of the first season, not the series overall);
TOS: 8/9
DS9: 8/9*
DSC: 5/9
VOY: 3/9
ENT: 2/9
TNG: 1/9

So at this point, Discovery is better than two of the least-liked shows in the franchise were at the same point, but also better than the only other Trek show to have a comparable level of pop culture penetration that TOS had was at this point.

In Conclusion: It’s not a great show. But it’s not the dumpster fire much of the Internet would have you believe it is. I think it can be a good show though and hopefully, CBS will take at least some of the feedback they’re getting from critics and fans into account.

All that said, CBS All Access is terrible and this show should be on NetFlix seeing as NetFlix subscribers already helped pay for the series to begin with and it is flat out gross that people who already paid for this show once (by way of their NetFlix subscriptions) can’t actually view it (in the U.S. anyway) without paying again.

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