Star Trek fans have either been mourning or celebrating the recent announcement that the Paramount + streaming series, Star Trek: Discovery, will end when its upcoming fifth season concludes.
Ever since Star Trek: Discovery was first announced back in 2016 and debuted on CBS All Access the series was mired in controversey and alienated many fans. Instead of there being a mutual celebration that Star Trek finally returned to TV, fandom was bitterly divided over the TV show.
Even though Star Trek has always been forward thinking, progressive and pushed social envelopes, Star Trek: Discovery is overtly and even aggressive with its progressiveness. It has a Black woman as the main character, it features a homosexual couple and even a non-binary character. This made many fans uncomfortable, especially those who are more socially conservative, and they were quick to deride the show.
However, while it may be easy for these fans to dismiss Star Trek: Discovery for its so-called “wokeness”, the show had many problems that did not have to do with the racial or sexual nature of its characters.
Basically, Star Trek: Discovery departed too far from what worked with Star Trek, which was presenting engaging characters, well-written and provocative storylines, and an interesting premise. It did have its moments, especially in its second season, and it ushered in a new era for Star Trek, but from its pilot episode “The Vulcan Hello” it was apparent it had its faults.
To start, by setting the show just a few short years before the original Star Trek it wrecked the complex Trek continuity that is cherished by fans. Being that it was a modern show with access to the best special effects technology available, the look of the show was vastly different from the primitive production design of the original Star Trek. Of course, we viewers were supposed to ignore that but it was a nagging stickler for continuity’s sake.
There was little attempt to at least try to copy the look of the orginal Star Trek, as with the distinctive gold, blue and red uniforms, the Klingons received an ugly redesign that no one asked for, and the starship Discovery had technology that was so advanced compared to what we saw in other Star Trek shows and films. For example, why didn’t the ships in the other Star Trek shows have this revolutionary spore drive that allowed the Discovery to travel anywhere in the galaxy? It seemed as if the showrunners had little regard for what worked before and for what fans wanted. A full-scale war with Klingons that no one talked about in the other shows? Klingons that eat humans? The showrunners even botched the Mirror Universe and let their actors chew the scenes to the point that it was comical but not in a good way. The show departed from previous Treks in that it was no longer episodic and followed a season-long arc (the Klingon War with a visit to the Mirror Universe). While this echoed what modern TV shows do, when Star Trek: Discovery tried it the execution was poor. Becoming an arc-oriented TV show somehow robbed it of a key premise of Star Trek, which was exploring new worlds and civilizations.
Seeing the negative reactions to Star Trek: Discovery, the showrunners hastily tried to course correct for the remainder of the show’s run with mixed results. In the second season, Captain Christopher Pike and Spock were added to the cast and they were the best things on the show thanks to the acting chops of Anson Mount and Ethan Peck. The stories revolving around them captivated viewers and were the highlights of the second season, but frankly this took time away from the regular characters. This was another issue with the show in that the recurring and guest characters were more interesting or had more screen time than the regular cast. Aside from Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), Saru (Doug Jones), Paul Stemets (Anthony Rapp), and Sylivia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), we barely knew anything about the bridge crew. We see them all the time saying “Aye sir” and spouting technobabble, but most viewers would be hard-pressed to even know their names. Instead, lots of bandwidth was spent on Pike, Spock, Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and most recently with the intergalactic courier Cleveland Booker (David Ajala). The show is supposed to be about the starship Discovery and its crew.Continue reading