This past week I opted to enable a CBS All Access subscription so I could watch the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. It’s enough into the season now where I’ll probably only need to keep the subscription active for one month, but it’s cheap enough that if it spill over to two I’ll binge another show in the second month.
I wasn’t impressed with Discovery’s pilot episode, which is the only one to air on network television, and because of this I couldn’t see paying for a subscription service just to keep up on something Star Trek.
But it wasn’t Star Trek.
After watching nine episodes of the second season, and seeing a brilliant call back to Star Trek’s original pilot episode, I have to say the same thing. This isn’t Star Trek.
But I’m not sure that matters, because it’s amazing. It’s not perfect, and I must say the ensemble needs a bit of work 2, but given how uneven NextGen was for the first couple of seasons Discovery has some time to grow out the characters.
But it still isn’t Star Trek.
I keep having that feeling when I’m watching the show. I don’t know if it’s the way the show is filmed, the idea that the entire season is really just one long plot 3, or the scope of the production values 4 – when I watch the show I don’t get the impression I’m watching Trek.
But I can’t stop watching.
I was trying to explain the disconnect to a friend today. Discovery feels like someone took an excellent Science Fiction show, which leans heavily on action without discarding plot and character development, and then took a Star Trek skin and laid it over top. In a lot of ways my brain is saying, “This should not work” and, “This is not Trek.” But at the same time it’s going, “I don’t care, the thin Trek veneer works somehow and I really enjoy the show. When will the next episode be released?”
These thoughts should not be able to co-exist, but they do. My biggest gripe about Season Two, and which highlights just how much this is not Trek, is the portrayal of Spock. I don’t recognize him 5. And, I really find myself wishing there wasn’t a connection to him on the show. There’s enough new characters they need to develop, lets see them grow some more.
So is this Star Trek? Nope. But it might be Star Trek’s future, and it’s well worth watching.
- Being up at 3 AM every night gives one a lot of time to binge watch. ↩
- I had more of a connection to Chief O’Brien on Next Generation long before he was “The Chief” than I have with some of the so-called “major” characters on Discovery. ↩
- Even Deep Space Nine had some one shot story arcs that were all about character development rather than world building. Discovery doesn’t have that balance, the character arcs are how the world is built and there’s no time for side trips. This can be a good or bad thing, and it’s mostly good, but it is different. ↩
- And those aren’t Klingons. I don’t care what anyone says. ↩
- Now, I think I know where they are going with this take on the character, as this takes place ten years before The Original Series. The only other Trek episode we have which takes place in the time period depicted in Discovery is the first pilot episode, in which Spock was shown as having a full range of emotions. That’s fine, but there was a reason why Spock was changed for the second pilot – except for his pointy ears the first take wasn’t really compelling. ↩