Star Trek: Discovery Proves That TV Is the Best Final Frontier of All

From Wired:

BETWEEN 1967 AND 2005, 684 hour-long episodes of live-action Star Trek and 22 half-hour episodes of the animated series aired on TV. Allowing for commercial breaks, that gives us 521 hours of Star Trek, give or take. Add in the 13 movies, from 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Star Trek Beyond in 2016, and you wind up with more than 48 full days of Star Trek—not counting books and comics, which, if you want to argue about canonicity and amount of content, my DMs are open. (Not really.)

. . . .

And now the first real look at the long-delayed new show Star Trek: Discovery has finally frontiered. I’m gonna watch that show, too. All 15 hours of it, set to air on the subscription streaming service CBS All Access in the autumn. (When I showed my editor the new trailer, he said, “Sure, but who’s gonna get CBS All Access?” “Me,” I meeped. “For that.”) As a lifelong, devout Trekkie, I hear your concerns about the new show—why did they keep pushing the release? Why did showrunner Bryan Fuller bail for American Gods? What is up with that awful typeface on the intertitle cards?—but like Star Trek itself, I remain hopeful.

In fact, I am fuller of hope now than I have been about any of the movies since the whale one (which I liked). Because Trek’s serialized self, its television self? That’s Trek’s best self.

. . . .

The trailer’s visuals combine the shiny, lens-flaring, camera-tilting modes of the JJ Abrams and Justin Lin reboot movies. But that slickness is a sop to non-fans. Give me bulkheads that wobble and actors pretending to fall over when the camera shakes to simulate the loss of inertial dampers after a phaser takes the forward shields down to 30 percent. I mean, I get it: The structural rigidity of epic-sci-fi movies turns pretty much every Trek film (except the good ones) into a quest adventure with a third-act reveal and a finale of VFX and explosions. But audiences get enough of that these days from Star Wars and Marvel movies. A television show, with more time for story and presumably way less money in the budget, let Star Trek get back to its authentic guts.

Link to the rest at Wired


42 thoughts on “Star Trek: Discovery Proves That TV Is the Best Final Frontier of All”

  1. That trailer does not feel like Trek to me.

    I have to wonder what amount of CBS All Access subscribers added meets their criteria for success. I’m guessing the subscriber increase will be below their expectations.

  2. So, a rehash of a rehash of a rehash?

    Sometimes a rehash can be good, we’ll have to wait and see (but I’m not buying an All Access account just for that, I’ll wait for Netflix or if it never gets there the pirate’s bay. 😉 )

  3. I love Trek. Other than some outstanding fafic I haven’t seen any real Trek in years.

  4. I stopped looking forward to it when I saw more lens-flare foolishness. The best Trek is about STORY, substance over than style. The money wasted on technical wizardy instead of story can’t be gotten back, so why should I support show designers who included it?

  5. Well, they’ll get my subscription. That trailer made me from from ear to ear. I hardly watch any TV, but I love pretty much every Star Trek iteration (except Enterprise. Enterprise never grabbed me). It may disappoint, but I’m for certain giving it a chance.

    • The problem for me is that this felt like a bigger budget Enterprise, which is my own least favorite after DS9. I love TOS, the original movies, TNG, Voyager, and the reboot movies. Enterprise and DS9 just didn’t have characters or stories I loved and Enterprise’s ending in particular was just a horrible let down. I never even made it through the entire DS9 series.

      As for Discovery, prequels have to be done really well to be any fun. I’m not holding out much hope and I won’t be subscribing to CBS All Access for it. I will watch at least a few episodes if it becomes available for purchase on Amazon, but if it stays exclusive to CBS All Access, I’ll pass. That trailer didn’t do anything to make me excited for it, that’s for sure.

      • Actually, the budget is probably lower.
        Mostly it’s that computer graphics are much cheaper today. And getting steadily cheaper. Things that were unthinkable for TV are now within reach.

        • Yes. Special effects are ridiculously easy and cheap these days relative to the past. What I really noticed was that the ship was dark, like in Enterprise, whereas in the new movies and in most of the series I liked the ships were very bright and open. That’s one reason it feels like Enterprise to me in this trailer.

  6. Not to be nit picky, but the author’s math really bothers me. 521 hours of TV and 13 movies make up 48 full days?

    • He’s probably counting several hospital stays as a result from not taking a break from 23 straight days of Star Trek with no breaks and no sleep.

  7. Two trailers aired last week for new space-based series.
    Frankly, I’m more intrigued by THE ORVILLE.

    I have little confidence in the team doing this new series. Nice special effects and all.
    Bryan Fuller quitting is a big red flag. The fact that they remain unwilling to move up the timeline past VOYAGER tells me they have no vision for the future of that universe.

    So they take the easy way out of prequels and reinterpretation.

    • >>So they take the easy way out of prequels and reinterpretation.

      That’s my take as well. Where’s the imagination? Where’s the hope for mankind? Hidden behind a lens flare? Heck, I can do those on Photoshop. Big deal.

      I’m not paying extra to see a show that should have been on regular television every week. Especially since anything I seem to like will invariably be cut short. OR written so horribly it won’t be worth watching (I’m looking at you, Syffy).

    • It’s the fundamental problem you run into with any long-running setting/universe. So many things are defined and written in that any time you do something you have to think and research long and hard as to whether you’re going to be able to get away with it without contradicting something else. They’ve effectively painted themselves into a corner, and it’s easier to go back and do a prequel than to pile yet another layer on top of everything that’s already been said and done.

      I don’t know if we’ll ever see a real post-Voyager series. The story arcs from Star Trek Online may be as close as you’re going to get.

      • I dunno.
        I would think it would be easier to move forward and create a new status quo that renders what came before water under the bridge. That’s what Roddenberry, Moore, et al did for STNG. Move to a new century with a new tone, new challenges, and new roles. Klingons as allies, Ferengi as rivals but not enemies, new SF concepts, new issues for the morality plays.
        They did it again with DS9, focusing on a space station in the armpit of the universe, and even Voyager, running a “castaways” scenario.
        They even had a perfectly viable concept in the NEW FRONTIERS books.

        They have been gifted with a deep canon they can build on: move a full hundred years. The Borg and the Dominion have been at war for fifty years and both have collapsed. Half the galaxy is in chaos, with rogue fleets of pirates, local warlord kingdoms, and something new, unknown moving into the chaos. The UFP has evolved into the newish GALACTIC FEDERATION including humans, Klingons, the reunited Vulcan/Romulan state, Ferengi, etc. A ship is sent (NEW FRONTIERS-style) to map the new status quo of Gamma/Delta, seek out new allies, investigate the rumors.

        No constraints, little if any reliance on the old continuity.
        All it takes is enough imagination to design new tech toys, new approaches, new characters. And the courage to create something new without the crutch of Kirk and Spock.

        The imagination may or not be there but the courage is clearly lacking.

        • Felix,

          Your advice of moving to something new is spot on and is the Rx I’d subscribe to a number of movie/TV properties.

      • Do you know what they could have done to throw over the traces?

        Let the Dominion win the war.

        they could have set the next show 5 centuries in the future when the Federation was only remembered in banned history books, or some other extreme situation.

        • How do you know they didn’t?

          Maybe that’s why they won’t go beyond voyager. Once Janeway arrived she discovered changelings had covertly replaced all the UFP and Romulan leaders.

        • That would be pretty cool, although I’d only want it as an AU (like the reboot movies are an AU). I’d be unhappy to think that happened in the ‘real’ ST universe.

    • Btw, I was digging into The Orville and the thing is loaded with Trek vets both behind and in front of the camera. And they swear it won’t be all comedy and that the SF aspect won’t be just a setting.

      I’ll believe it when I see it but those folks aren’t amateurs.
      Too bad they’re stuck on FOX and will be cancelled just as they hit their stride.

      Would be amusing if they do deliver a better trek than Trek.

      • That show looks fantastic. The trailer reminds me of Galaxy Quest, always a favorite of mine. I’ll definitely be watching this one.

      • Okay, now I’m curious. I went and watched the trailer. I spotted Benjamin Sisko’s girlfriend (Captain Penny Yates), and Dr. Bashir’s father.

        I would have higher hopes if this weren’t on Fox — I’m sure they’ll air episodes out of order, move the schedule around, and cancel it without warning — but I will add it to my network TV rotation. This looks like it has what I call the “Andorian” factor, which is to say it has fun-looking aliens and fun plots to match.

        • They seem to be aiming for a tone comparable to lighter trek episodes like the Quark or Luaxana Troi sootlights on DS9 or the tribble episodes. But with amped snark. Lots of snark.

          Jonathan Frakes, Brannon Braga, and Robert Duncan MacNeil are involved and directing at least some episodes.

          The effects are via ex-trek staff and they even mix in physical models with the CGI. I saw a picture of the ORVILLE model itself and it is enormous. At least some of the writing will be done by trek veterans, too.

          In fact, there might be more trek veterans on ORVILLE than on trek.

          • I hadn’t heard about Orville until this thread, and I had to go look up the trailer. I agree, it looks way better (and yeah, even more Star Treky) than the new Trek. Although I have serious reservations about Fox and Seth McFarlane. But if it can A) not get cancelled immediately, and B) not get too raunchy/offensive with the humor, this may be a real winner.

            • My first thought was whether they could find enough material to keep the gag running for even one season but since then I’ve seen a couple of articles describing it as both decently Science Fictiony as not solely humourous but more of a dramedy. Riskier. But with Braga on board there is a chance. He did keep Voyager going longer than one would’ve expected.

              The biggest danger is FOX.
              If it were on CW or SyFy I’d feel more comfortable.

    • That was exactly my reaction as well. I thought The Orville trailer was the better trailer. It displayed the look of the show — slick and colorful, set the tone — really, really stupid jokes — and gave us a precis of the main characters, the dynamic between characters, and the story. The Discovery trailer was… ooh, look how great we look. Character? Story? Tone? No clue. Therefore, no interest.

      When you have trailers for competing shows, and the Seth MacFarlane show comes across as the less full of itself, you have problems.

      I like The Orville tagline: “The universe has a crew loose.”

  8. The trailer makes me want to see it. But I”m not paying for a streaming service. I already pay for Netflix. If it gets on there, I’ll watch it.

  9. I’m a huge fan of Michelle Yeoh and Jason Isaacs, so I’ll at least watch the pilot. But I’m not going to subscribe to yet another paid service for the sake of one show. I really hate the balkanization of streaming video as everyone wants their own service to move their own shows into.

    Netflix is going to be showing the series in the rest of the world. Maybe I’ll look into one of those proxy services that’s supposed to trick Netflix into thinking you’re in one of those countries.

    Or perhaps the whole season will show up on Netflix after it’s done airing on All Access.

    The video service thing, plus the whole Axanar thing, and the turnover of production staff associated with the show, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It feels a whole lot like they’re trying to treat a putative captive audience as a cash cow.

    • It’s BPH thinking: “the same, but different”.

      So far the only thing different is the casting. And prettier CGI.

      So yes, they are milking the franchise and they’ll keep milking it instead of developing it until they run it into the ground.

    • I love Michelle Yeoh. That one Vulcan looks like James Frain, who always plays bad guys, so I’m wondering if he’s going to be one in this show. A villainous Vulcan could be interesting. But otherwise, what you said.

      • Frain is playing Spock’s father.
        They’d better check the scenery for bite marks.

        • 😀

          *finally stops laughing*

          Okay, so not a villain then 🙂 But I agree they could have set this in a post-Voyager timeline. I didn’t watch Voyager to the end, but I saw all of DS9, and the ending left so many rich veins to tap into that it’s puzzling that the writers are going to leave them unexplored.

    • Thank Jason Isaacs for agreeing to play the token white human. Until he signed on they had no male humans in the regular cast.

  10. There are only 14,679 minutes of Perry Mason. I feel cheated, but I have a backlog of 113 recorded episodes to watch, which makes me feel better.

  11. As a life-long Trekkie, I have as little interest in this new series as I do in the latest reboot movie. It just doesn’t seem like Trek at all to me. Though I think the thing that bugs me the most about this trailer is that it says it’s set 10 years before TOS and yet the costumes/sets/ships look absolutely nothing like what we see in TOS. Sure, I wasn’t expecting (or wanting) miniskirts, but could they at least try to look like they even sort of existed in the same universe? At least the reboot movies are clearly inspired, design-wise, by TOS. With this trailer, it looks like they really just tossed everything about the previous Trek series out the window. Not the best way to appeal to Trekkies.

  12. I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek and I’ve watched every incarnation of it on TV (including the reruns of the original series).

    And much as I enjoy Sonequa Martin-Green, I will not be paying for yet another subscription service to watch this. Put it on CBS (take off any one of those million NCIS shows) or Netflix, otherwise they can count me out as a viewer. The smarter move would have been to put the first one or two seasons on CBS, get viewers hooked and THEN move it over to their AllAccess.

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