Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

I thought DISCOVERY was good, but the show is still a work in progress because the first two episodes are more about establishing the lead character's conflicts rather than establishing what the show will be.

DISCOVERY really captured the two sides of STAR TREK: the militaristic situations of threat and danger and the exploratory sense of adventure. The image of the Starfleet logo written in sand through a series of footprints is beautiful. Michael Burnham's delight at flying through space in an EVA suit to see what's out there is magnificently presented and it's right alongside situations of threat and danger where Starfleet's ideals of peace and discourse come up against a culture that sees strength through dominance and destruction.

Visually, the show's costuming and ship designs find an interesting middle ground between ENTERPRISE and STAR TREK: the uniforms are reminiscent of the NX-01 flight suits but with some of the decorations found in STAR TREK's tunics.

From a technological standpoint, however, DISCOVERY's tech seems far more advanced than all the shows taking place after DISCOVERY. Holographic communications were presented as startlingly new in DS9, so to see it here is jarring. The transporter works faster on DISCOVERY than in the original series. The force field technology holding back the vacuum of space when the ship's structure is smashed open was absent in the other shows.

The rebootquels had an in-universe explanation for why the 23rd century looked different from the 1960s show: the attack on the Kelvin caused Starfleet to amp up its military research and development to be able to fight off any such future attacks. The only real explanation DISCOVERY can offer, given that the producers say it's set in the original timeline, is that STAR TREK is a fictional creation and each series is an interpretation of a conjectural mythology rather than a documentary of an actual reality.

That's the only reason I can find for the Klingons being redesigned, an aesthetic move that dismisses ENTERPRISE's Augment virus explanation for why the Original Series Klingons looked human.

For the technology, there are any number of in-universe explanations. Holographic tech may have proven to be insecure, the slower transporter may have included more safety measures, the force field tech became obsolete with advancements in artificial gravity. The average viewer who may not have seen the 60s show won't be troubled. I wondered if newcomers might be confused at how Michael putting her hand between her captain's neck and shoulder somehow knocked her unconscious, but I think it's fair to say that Spock's iconic status means the Vulcan nerve pinch is known by all.

It's interesting -- for the longest time, I couldn't really accept ENTERPRISE as a prequel to the original series. In terms of writing and design, it was really a prequel to TNG. DISCOVERY feels like a prequel to the 2009 rebootquel.

There is a novel, STAR TREK: DESPERATE HOURS which has the DISCOVERY characters meeting the characters of "The Cage" and the writer, David Mack, will have to find some way to reconcile two very disparate visions of the twenty-third century.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

How much of that is spoilery? Should I read it?

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Informant wrote:

How much of that is spoilery? Should I read it?

I watched it last night, and it's not really spoilery.  A couple minor plot points are spoiled, but that's it.  To be 100% safe, you shouldn't read it.  But it's more technical than plot-based.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Ireactions, my friend and I watched it last night, and we had a similar discussion.  And I'm wondering if there's necessarily a reason why this is set when it's set....if it's not, I think they should've set it in the 26th century.  There are things that they could've done to easily set this in a time period we're unfamiliar with and make it feel new and exciting.

New technology is the easiest to write off....there's no explanation needed.  Technology is better because time has passed....things are newer and sleeker.  New uniforms are new because Starfleet is always changing uniforms.  There's even stuff like Saru and the droid (?) on the bridge....these are species that joined the Federation since the TNG era (it's always weird when we get new species on prequel series because I sorta assume they died off or something).

The Klingon stuff is tricky because of the redesign.  But it could be another race of Klingons (like the Remans).  It'd be interesting if they said that the Klingons, after the Dominion War, became isolationist for 100 years.  And now they're back and ready to make their presence known again.

Outside of (character) showing up, there wasn't anything in the Pilot episode that showed that this needs to be a prequel.  The new movies are capitalizing on the reboot phenomenon, and Enterprise was showing a period of Starfleet's history that wasn't covered.  If there isn't a particular reason to show a time that we've semi-seen before, I'd like to see something new.

All in all, I enjoyed it and will be watching the rest of the season.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

I'll hold off reading this stuff for now smile

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

I'm about 2/3 through STAR TREK: DISCOVERY - "Desperate Hours." The story has the Shenzou and the Enterprise (captained by Christopher Pike) teaming up to fight an alien menace. At one point, Spock beams over to the Shenzou to meet Michael, his adoptive sister, and notes that because they weren't raised together at the same time, they barely know each other. He also observes that the Shenzou was built before the Enterprise. The explanation for why DISCOVERY doesn't look like "The Cage" and why the uniforms and ships and tech look different: the Enterprise was the first of a new generation of starships built primarily for diplomacy with all the uniforms and design elements meant to encourage peaceful discourse.

The Shenzou (and most of Starfleet's ships right now) have a more militaristic edge because they were built for battle as the Federation is still haunted by the Romulan War. The Enterprise is essentially a pilot project for a new vision of Starfleet dedicated to peacekeeping rather than military force, hence the different look and uniforms and technology. At this point in the timeline, no one's sure how that's going to turn out.

Personally, I always liked this video -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCPdmOuzYrM -- which suggests what the original STAR TREK might've looked like had they used modern design materials.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

That's why I like the idea of always going forward.  There doesn't need to be an explanation in that case.  The technology is better because that's how technology works.  The tech was bad in the 60s because....World War 3 put us back?  I think TNG did it right with the big jump.

The problem is that today we're all about seeing rebootquels.  We want to see characters we're familiar with.  If TNG would've been made today, it would've just been a reboot like Hawaii Five-O or MacGuyver.

That being said, I sorta like the idea that the Enterprise is an experiment that eventually wins out.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

I'll wait until the season's over to have an opinion on the time period. But for now, I do wonder why they went the prequel route too. Maybe there's a reason.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

I liked the second episode, and I'm intrigued.  This looks like it's going to be a very different vision of Trek from what we're used to.  I definitely see how this could've potentially been an anthology series, but I think the Michael character could absolutely carry a series.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

So I haven't seen the 3rd episode yet, but I was thinking more about the anthology aspect.  Was this a really cool idea that someone had for a first season of an anthology series (secret human daughter of Sarek raised as a Vulcan) that the series is just stuck with?  Because, again, nothing from this series necessarily requires a prequel setting.  Using Sarek is cool, but it could've been any human raised as a Vulcan.

If the plan was to create an anthology series, getting people in via a familiar setting with familiar characters is, potentially, the way to go.  Then you have a series set on a Maquis ship or a timeship or a season on the USS Titan (starring Jonathan Frakes) or a new adventure in the 26th century or a Vulcan ship or whatever.

Just speculating for fun.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Home sick today, so I saw the third episode earlier than expected. I can sort of see why they might have gone the prequel route: the Discovery is captained by Gabriel Lorca who seems more like a Section 31 agent than a Federation starship captain. Seth MacFarlane remarked once that NEXT GEN seemed staffed by the most professional people ever; rarely was anyone bad-tempered, irritable, holding a grudge -- to the point where Captain Picard was shocked when Barclay received a poor performance, he had a senior staff meeting as though it was a galactic crisis and ordered Geordi to become Barclay's "best friend."

Captain Lorca is out to destroy the enemy and he barely seems to have any concern for the people who are presumably on his side. An entire starship crew is killed due to an experiment he's leading; his response is to destroy the evidence and the corpses. He bullies his staff into taking Michael into their ranks, he houses homicidal monsters on his ship in secret -- even Captain Kirk at his most aggressive when fighting Klingons or the Gorn, made it clear that he was out to protect people whereas Lorca's goal is victory through destruction. When he describes a new means of interstellar travel, he conveys no joy or wonder -- only interest in how he might use the new tech to fight a war.

And while Michael might step for the moral high ground, as a convicted felon of no official rank and living out a life imprisonment sentence, she finds herself forced to stand next to him.

So, in that sense, I can see why they wanted a prequel to explore how the Federation faced a wartime situation that brought out the worst of them -- because by the time we get to the Original Series, few Starfleet officers are anything like that, to the point where the writers had to create a dark conspiracy to find Lorca's type in the STAR TREK universe. To do DISCOVERY as a sequel would be saying that humanity's best didn't persevere in the end.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Interesting.  I'm enjoying the series so whether it's a prequel or a sequel doesn't really matter to me.  It's just an interesting decision.  I can see them not wanting to ruin humanity's 24th century perfect record, but I think if they established that post-Dominion War, the Federation was in some sort of long-lasting crisis, it could throw humanity out of their good standing....and the series could be about humanity reclaiming what they'd lost.

But I also really like the idea of Starfleet moving from a military operation to an exploratory one.  If we're supposed to see TOS and beyond as a human utopia, then the road to that (especially now, when we're seeing the worst of humanity) is very interesting television fodder.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Now I'm going to argue against myself.

Within the individual shows, STAR TREK is not clear on whether humanity has really achieved utopia or if they merely present themselves as one. The classic series during the Gene L. Coon episodes (Season 1, first half of Season 2) routinely criticizes Starfleet and the Federation. "Errand of Mercy" presents Kirk and Starfleet as warmongers gunning for conflict with Klingons. "Arena" showed the Federation (accidentally) encroaching on another species' territory and thought of as invaders. "Amok Time" has Starfleet wanting the Enterprise to put on a show of force for a recently brokered truce between two warring worlds.

There's the especially troubling episode, "A Taste of Armageddon," in which Starfleet is established to have General Order 24 where a starship captain can order that the population of an entire planet be extinguished if given sufficient cause.

Throughout the show, Kirk is routinely shown to be more humane and moral than the organization that employs him and the Federation is shown to be humanitarian in posture and PR, but no less imperialist as than the Klingons.

However, after Coon left the series in the middle of Season 2, latter writers took a more simplistic route, presenting Starfleet as interplanetary do-gooders and anyone against the Federation is simply evil. TNG took this latter approach. DS9 took the view that while within the Federation, it's easy to be a saint, it's not so easy in the Gamma Quadrant or on Bajor or for the Maquis and then had Section 31 bring back the original skepticism of the old show.

"Errand of Mercy" is a standout in its skepticism: Kirk meets what he perceives to be an underdeveloped world and offers them the Federation's help in turning their world into a paradise, to show them how to feed millions where they once fed hundreds, to give them scientific and engineering knowledge that will allow them to remake their planet, to educate every child and give health and knowledge to every inhabitant. But the script underscores how the offer is made because the Federation wants this world as a key strategic point against the Klingons, and Kirk is shown to be, in many ways, just as flawed as his enemies in this episode.

And yet, ENTERPRISE took the view that the Federation is benign, particularly with the Andorian/Tellarite three-parter in which both races set aside their differences thanks to Captain Archer's diplomacy and respect for both cultures. It's one of those cases where latter writers adopted the original writers' words but may have missed the meaning behind them. There's also, of course, the fact that the individual writers within STAR TREK's 60s run weren't on the same page either.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Watched the third episode.  If this is where the show is going, it's definitely intriguing.  Although it got me thinking...it's very bizarre that there are two Treks going on at the same time: Discovery and Fox's The Orville.  What's even more bizarre is that the Orville, while seen through a Seth MacFarlane lens, is *light years* more Trek-like than Discovery is (in both structure and the fact that one is on conventional television and the other online-only).  It's not a knock on either show, but it's very strange. 

The Orville, while not taking place in the Trek universe, is a mostly-unserialized show set on a starship that is seeking out new life and new civilizations.  It's crude and is full of pop culture references that these people probably shouldn't be spouting, but it takes itself way more seriously than I assumed it was going to based on the promos I saw.  What I assumed was going to be Galaxy Quest ended up being a bit more like an updated TNG.  They've already gone for a couple of "moral high ground" episodes early, and there's a lot more awe in it than I was expecting.  I don't know if I love it, but I feel like it's in the same vein as a Trek series.

Discovery, however, *is* set in the Trek universe, but it's so much different than what we're used to expecting.  It's refreshing to have something new in the same universe, but it also feels very alien. 

I do wonder if some Trekkies are going to go the easy route and watch the (free) Trek-lite that MacFarlane is offering.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Long time Trekkie (prefer the term Trekker though) here and I will not be watching Discovery.  Not only because it is not free, but it is also just too dark for my taste.  It was hard for me to accept that the universe they showed me is the same one Kirk, Spock, Picard, etc... will live in.  Sorry, but listening to the Klingons talk was simply irritating.

The Orville, on the other hand, I am finding very intriguing.  There is much more substance to the stories than I was expecting and it did not take long to connect with some of the characters.  I thought they would simply lampoon ST and it would be come off really silly, but the humor does not overwhelm the show.  They get quite serious at times and have tackled some pretty interesting topics so far.

I really feel that Seth MacFarland is genuinely trying to make a long lasting quality ST tribute show with Trekkies in mind.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

hallge73 wrote:

I really feel that Seth MacFarland is genuinely trying to make a long lasting quality ST tribute show with Trekkies in mind.

I'm assuming MacFarlane was never able to pitch to CBS because of his association/longterm relationship with Fox, but I wonder if he ever thought about it.  He probably wouldn't have been able to do as much humor as he's doing, but he's made it seem like this was a passion project for as long as he can remember.  If that's the case, it probably would've been a dream to put on an actual Starfleet uniform.

And pairing Discovery with something like Star Trek: Orville might've been enough to bring more people to CBS All Access.  One of the problems (mentioned here too) is that, for Trekkies, they're really only paying for one show.  If CBS had made two Star Trek shows (one dark and new, one more traditional) and a handful of other genre shows, it could've been something a lot of people would pay for and stick with.

Now CBS doesn't really care about that.  And they're doubling down on their idea by splitting their season up in two pieces.  So instead of the people who buy HBO for 3 months a year for Game of Thrones and then cancel, you're going to have to either pay for a November/December without Discovery or cancel and then re-upp a couple months later.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Caught up on Discovery, and the more I watch, the more I think the series just seems a little confused on its identity.  There will be a hint of Star Trek; and then a hint of Battlestar Galactica; and then a hint of Farscape.  I don't know.  I am enjoying it, but it's just not Trek to me.

That said, if this is set 10 years before Kirk, I don't see how the unique technology of Discovery can co-exist with the rest of Trek.  I suppose they could try to claim it's a highly classified thing that survives as part of Section 13, but it would be easier to have Discovery lost taking its secrets with it.  I'm getting a Rogue One vibe which brings us to yet another possible facet of the identity crisis with this series.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Even if everyone on the ship is killed, are we supposed to believe that no one else in the galaxy had the idea ever again?  Even if it's immoral, we've seen desperate species or ships use immoral technology for their own advancement (the USS Equinox, for example).

This is a little like the "across the galaxy warp" thing that Star Trek (09) invented.  It's a technology that seems relatively safe, is an absolute game-changer, and something that no one ever uses again centuries later.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

***Spoilers for Sunday's episode***

TemporalFlux wrote:

That said, if this is set 10 years before Kirk, I don't see how the unique technology of Discovery can co-exist with the rest of Trek.  I suppose they could try to claim it's a highly classified thing that survives as part of Section 13, but it would be easier to have Discovery lost taking its secrets with it.

The most recent episode doesn't seem to imply this.  It sounds like the Discovery isn't really an off-the-books project - it's a key part of Starfleet's war effort.  And while it's beginning to become apparent why Starfleet might not use this technology in the future (it seems to do irreparable harm to the "navigator"), I'm still unsure of why this would scare away other, more immoral species.  The Borg, for example, wouldn't have any issue with using it.

I wonder if the endgame is that the spore network itself is somehow destroyed so that no one can use it in the future.  Even then, you'd think there'd be a permanent Starfleet research department trying to figure out how to reactivate it.  Just like I assume, if the network isn't destroyed, that Starfleet would work tirelessly to researching Stamets' "AI Ripper"

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

I think Slider_Quinn21's probably right about the end of the spore network.

**

The DISCOVERY novel "Desperate Hours" explains that the holographic communications seen on the Shenzhou were older technology that the newer Constitution-class ships, like the Enterprise, didn't incorporate because holograms were bandwidth hogs and had, over time, become insecure and easily hacked and hijacked.

That said -- the truth is that no STAR TREK series can ever be fully reconciled with its sibling productions. STAR TREK was filmed in the 60s; even the 80s-era MOTION PICTURE is near-impossible to reconcile on a technological level with the TV show from which it came. The perfect humans of TNG are not the flawed heroes of DS9; the goofy Zefram Cochrane of FIRST CONTACT is not the troubled relic of the 60s "Metamorphosis" and even within the individual shows, they're not consistent. That's just the nature of ongoing continuity and TV production.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

Yeah, but I like that people make so much effort to make the shows click.  I watched a video on YouTube recently that speculated why Starfleet switches uniforms so often.  The idea was that it's a directive from timeships in the future.

The thought behind it is that it's essential that timeships / time agents blend in spotlessly to whatever time period they're in.  And if an agent was accidentally displaced in an unfamiliar time period, the uniforms would be an immediate visual shortcut to a 5-10 year era that the agent had appeared in.  That way, they could more-easily blend in.

I don't know if I buy it, but it's a fun theory.  And maybe one day, like the Klingon Augment Virus, someone will like the theory enough that it'll become canon.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

To quote TREK novelist Christopher Bennett:

Fans have always had to squint and gloss over the differences of interpretation in order to pretend that these works of fiction created by different people with different ideas could represent a consistent reality. If you want to be that obsessively nitpicky, then you'll have to admit that 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' is set in an alternate universe where Kirk has a different middle name, 'Mudd's Women' is set an alternate universe where they use lithium instead of dilithium, most of TNG's first season is set in an alternate universe where Data used contractions and showed emotion, etc.

STAR TREK has never, ever, EVER been an actually consistent reality. We only choose to pretend it is by ignoring or rationalizing the hundreds and hundreds of contradictions it already contains. So either you're willing to suspend disbelief and play along with the pretense that there's a single universe, or you're not and you have to admit that there are countless mutually contradictory versions of Trek already.

To claim that previous TREK is completely reconcilable but the newest thing is completely irreconcilable is a self-contradiction.

Roddenberry's take: TOS was an imperfect dramatization of the crew's adventures and that later TREK productions were able to come closer to getting it right. It wasn't the TREK universe that was changing, just the way in which it was dramatically recreated for 20th-century television viewers.

Some of my favourite inconsistencies:

The original series took almost half a season to pin down the 23rd century era, with the time period referred to as the 21st or 28th century. Kirk at one point says he works for the United Earth Space Probe Agency before it became Starfleet and Earth became the Federation. Spock is emotional in the early episodes and made a rape joke. Kirk's initial in the first episode produced is "R." Spock refers to his parents in the past tense, but they guest-star later on. McCoy says that the "Vulcanians" were conquered by Earth.

From a production standpoint, the Starfleet arrowhead was meant to be for all starship crews, but for a number of TOS episodes, costumers misunderstood "Charlie X" in which the crew of the Antares had their own insignia (as merchant marines) and took that to mean each ship had its own individual badge when designing costumes. DISCOVERY uses the triangular symbol as intended rather than as it was onscreen.

With TNG's early seasons, Picard was a cruel leader prone to putting his people in difficult situations just to screw with them, Data was emotional, Troi experienced other people's emotions rather than being aware of them, Worf was animalistically feral, Starfleet regularly vacationed on pre-warp planets, holodeck matter existed outside the simulator, the Borg ignored organic life -- none of which was retained as Picard became gentle to the point of babying Barclay, Data became emotionless, Troi's powers dialed down, Worf became smart, the Prime Directive became much stricter and the Borg started assimilating people.

The mannered and bizarre Ferengi of TNG's Season 1 are not the capitalist caricatures of DS9, the makeup for Trills in TNG was ignored in DS9, Voyager travelled back to the 1990s where the Eugenics Wars, established in TOS, are not present or mentioned.

FIRST CONTACT and ENTERPRISE have warp drive in the 22nd century, but TOS' "Balance of Terror" established that the Earth-Romulan War unfolded at sublight speeds. TNG had Wesley depart Starfleet to ascend to higher planes of existence with the Traveler; DS9 had Worf become a Klingon ambassador by the finale "Nemesis" has him -- yet NEMESIS shows both back in Starfleet.

In "Operation: Annihilate!," Kirk's brother, Sam, is killed. Yet, in STAR TREK V, Kirk remarks, "I once lost a brother. I was lucky to get him back," referring to Spock and suggesting that Kirk has forgotten he had a sibling who died with his wife and left behind an orphaned nephew.

STAR TREK has never been a documentary. But if you must have an in-universe blanket explanation, the simplest route is that Data's trip to 19th century Earth in "Time's Arrow" and the time travel of FIRST CONTACT along with the Temporal Cold War of ENTERPRISE have caused some details of TOS to shift and some of the contradictions are due to the time travel ripples taking effect.

The novels and comic books, however, tend to offer rationalizations via new stories that weren't aired on TV or shown in theatres. The comic book adaptation for STAR TREK V amended Kirk's line about his brother to say that Kirk lost "two brothers" and was lucky to get "one back." My personal explanation for the error: Sam Kirk was probably, in an untelevised story, resurrected due to some VOYAGER-esque time travel rewind that retroactively erased his death.

And maybe there are many variants of Ferengi and Trills, we were seeing Picard during periods of indigestion during Season 1, Troi mastered her psi-powers, Data was experimenting with simulated emotion, the Earth-Romulan War unfolded in areas of space where warp drive couldn't be used, Worf got counselling, etc..

There's some stuff that's best ignored, however. It's grossly out of character for Spock as he took shape to joke that a woman who was sexually assaulted by an evil double of Captain Kirk enjoyed the experience. It is outrageous to claim, as TOS did, that no woman has ever captained a starship.

I prefer to simply think that these events didn't happen, much like Quinn shrugging off Wade being in a rape camp or spending a season finding coordinates to Kromagg Prime and a way to bypass the Slidecage only to blow both off in "Revelations."

And I don't think we need to restrict STAR TREK to technology that was feasible to render on TV in the 1960s; the show should reflect a future based on the world we have today. And on the level of TV production, there is really insufficient time to worry about it at all.

In a podcast, "Desperate Hours" author David Mack said that he read the TV scripts, passed along any contradictions he didn't think could be reconciled and some were amended and some weren't. He added that he offered the TV producers three paths for "Desperate Hours": he could describe the 60s Enterprise as being visually in line with 2017 DISCOVERY ships with holograms and jacketed uniforms and metallic surfaces. He could describe the 2017 DISCOVERY ships as being visually in line with the 60s STAR TREK with switches and dials and pastel colours.

Or he could describe both the 60s and 2017 ships exactly as they appeared onscreen -- and declare with a straight face that the 60s ships are in fact more advanced than the 2017 ships and have the characters consider the 60s style to be more futuristic than the DISCOVERY ships.

They asked him to take the third option. That said, a lot of this could be side-stepped if DISCOVERY were set in the 25th century and DISCOVERY has, for now, given no real reason why it's set in the 23rd aside from Michael Burnham being Sarek's adopted daughter.

Re: Star Trek in Film and TV

ireactions wrote:

That said, a lot of this could be side-stepped if DISCOVERY were set in the 25th century and DISCOVERY has, for now, given no real reason why it's set in the 23rd aside from Michael Burnham being Sarek's adopted daughter.

And now an appearance from Harry Mudd.