Star Trek: Discovery is far from perfect – its bizarre pacing and verbosity mean each hour is almost utterly devoid of excitement, characters make some bizarre decsions and Jeff Russo’s theme tune and the opening titles feel nothing like the universe should (and are almost exact copies of Fringe; I blame Akiva Goldsman and Alex Kurtzman)
But Discovery is boldly going where no Star Trek series has gone before – even dropping two F-bombs in the latest episode Choose Your Pain.
The series’ major theme – the idea that the universe is connected by sub-atomic Mycelium spores and The Discovery’s use of Ripper the tartograde to enable TARDIS-like travel across space is perhaps the most genius scientific idea Star Trek has ever produced, and yet Trek “fans” continue to berate the series.
And to them, I say this.
Star Trek has always been a bit shit.
I’m not saying this through any lack of understanding the history of film and television nor the ability to suspend my disbelief by sending my expectations back in time. In fact, I probably understand how filmmaking techniques have improved over the decades more than your avearage Romulan. Unimaginable concepts 50 years ago are now possible and CBS’ millions of dollars per episode has a huge impact compared to the budget of Star Trek: The Original Series.
But really, Star Trek has always been a bit shit.
Our protagonist – one of the most iconic names in television, Captain James Tiberius Kirk was played by an actor that could barely act.
James Doohan’s Scottish accent was appaling. The scripts weren’t great. The fight scenes were laughable. Remember the Gorn? While Roddenberry’s vision should be applauded, it was only really great because nothing else like it existed.
There were exceptions to the rule – The City on the Edge of Forever is one of my favourite episodes of television ever. The theory that odd numbered Star Trek movies are good while even numbered ones simply holds no water.
In trying to make a beautiful epic, à la 2001: A Space Odyssey, Robert Wise’s 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture is so slow and boring that it’s unwatchable. All of the movies are bad, with one exception – The Wrath of Khan, which is almost perfect but for every interracial kiss, there’s a “Row, Row, Row your boat” barbershop quartet. With jetpack boots.
For every tragic Harlan Ellison sci-fi short story, there’s a punk on a bus or an aging Uhura distracting a man-behind-the-curtain God with a sand dune belly dance.
The Next Generation fared no better. For every imaginative piece of sci-fi philosophy there’s Data singing a fucking Gilbeckian operatta. For every “Resistance is Futile” there’s Jean-Luc Picard shooting Borg with a tommy gun wearing a trilby in a prohibition-era holodeck jazz speakeasy or Worf playing one of Robin Hood’s merry men. I’m not well-versed enough to talk about Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise but I can sum up my feelings for this trio in one word: Neelix.
My question is, when will people stop deluding themselves and realise that their cherished, idealised, romanticised versions that they hold so dear in their memories are exactly that – saccharine sweet nostaliga.
People’s brains have been short-circuited and they are confusing what is charming with high quality.
Groundbreaking – yes. Classic – yes. But always a bit shit.
I’m just the only one that says it out loud. All I’m asking is that you remember this and the fact that Star Trek: Discovery is trying something incredibly brave before you start dissing it.
No, it’s not perfect – but neither was any other series in the franchise.
Star Trek: Discovery continues on CBS All Access on Sundays.