CBS is coming out with a new Star Trek series called Discovery. I’m sure most people have heard about it, and probably know nothing about it. Which is fair, because apparently no one is allowed to know much about it except for some leaks from staff working on it. Supposedly it’s going to be on something called “CBS All Access” which is a thing I’ve never heard of, but suspect it is a CBS only streaming service not unlike Netflix, and probably part of the reason those of us still puttering along with Netflix can’t have nice things.
Don’t think I haven’t noticed how Netflix went from having everything available for streaming to nothing. I happen to like Noir films and when it started there was probably over a hundred for streaming. Now there’s…three? Maybe? It’s not exactly easy to find anything there anymore. But enough tangent.
Anyways, what little I’ve managed to put together about Discovery doesn’t exactly sound exciting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably a casual Star Trek fan and I think the original series is fucking great. Probably my favorite out of all of them (DS9 does have it’s moments though). So when I hear that ST:Discovery is set somewhere around 10 years before the Original Series, Hype. When I see the set and costume design…I wonder what the fuck actually happened.
See, ST:TOS looks like this:
Discovery looks like this:
Which means that, somehow, the technology is going to “downgrade” from an aesthetics standpoint through the entirety of Starfleet, and somehow in 10 Years time they’re going to go from uni-sex mono-chromatic jumpsuits to “gendered” and colored uniforms. This would be bad enough, but here’s the thing. We already know what 10 years before the TOS looked like because…we’ve seen it when a guy named Pike was captain of the Enterprise. And…it looked exactly the same. Meaning the show makers…fucked up.
And before you say “Well, this is in the movie universe,” no, it apparently is not. But that’s not the worst of it. At least according to this article which seems to be working to make any hate towards “Discovery” about complaints of “diversity.”
Executive producer Alex Kurtzman trumpeted the fact that Tribbles would appear in Discovery because they’re one of Trek’s most universally beloved elements, and are certain to draw in casual viewers (even if their inclusion makes no sense, timeline-wise). But then there’s the appearance of Harry Mudd, a con man and criminal from The Original Series whose inclusion here is purely fan service. Protagonist Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) was raised by Spock’s parents, which links the new show to one of the franchise’s most well-known characters. But this is deeply confusing for those fans who have already dealt with a surprise sibling in Spock’s past.
Digging reveals that Michael Burnham is a few things. She starts off as the Discovery’s First Officer (and then Captain, I think). Despite being the “first officer” she’s apparently the “lead” of the show…instead of part of an ensemble cast like most Star Treks have been. She’s Spock’s “adopted” human sister. If this is starting to sound like a mary sue fiction from FanFiction.Net, congrats, you may have cracked the case.
There’s also breaking away from dictates about Star Trek shows from the creator himself:
This was apparent again when headline after headline was made out of the idea that Discovery would “ditch” Gene Roddenberry’s infamous “rule” that members of Starfleet shouldn’t be in conflict with one another—a rule he created in advance of Next Generation, and one that its writers tried to get around immediately, since conflict makes for good stories. The later shows may have adhered to the letter of the rule—Deep Space Nine featured many non-Starfleet characters, Voyager merged a Starfleet and Maquis crew, and Enterprise’s main conflicting crew members were the non-Starfleet T’Pol versus, well, everyone—but not the spirit of it.
But the actual quote showrunner Aaron Harberts gave clarifying the “ditch” indicates Discovery may be getting it right: “We do have our characters in conflict, we do have them struggling with each other, but it’s about how they find a solution and work through their problems.” It’s adhering to the spirit of the rule, rather than the letter, and the show will likely be better for it.
Here’s the thing, the whole “shipmates don’t fight with each other” thing is actually one of the things that makes Star Trek unique and sets it apart from similar shows. The idea behind Star Trek is that it is something of a “post scarcity” society and while the galaxy is a horrific place, the Federation itself is almost Utopian for its citizens. And while Gene and others insist its a rather “communist utopia” (frankly, after reading up on Fascism and actually watching the show, I think it’s probably closer to a a fascist utopia, but that’s a different post), part of that is that internally, members of the Federation (especially in Starfleet) get the fuck along. Why? Because 95% of the reasons they’d be in conflict have been “settled” or “Removed,” and after watching the show, 5% because those who refuse to get along are themselves “removed.” At least that’s my theory.
So with Discovery ditching that rule to have their military members in “conflict” with each other (no doubt in similar ways of “diversity” conflict that we have now), suddenly the “utopia” isn’t. Which creates massive problems for the feel of the whole Star Trek universe. And as annoying as things like “muh slavery” are in the 21st century almost two hundred years after slavery ended, I can only imagine it would be even more annoying in the 23rd century, four hundred years after slavery ended.
But it doesn’t stop there:
The Klingons are going to help us really look at certain sides of ourselves and our country. Isolationism is a big theme. Racial purity is a big theme. The Klingons are not the enemy, but they do have a different view on things. It raises big questions: Should we let people in? Do we want to change? There’s also the question of just because you reach your hand out to someone, do they have to take it? Sometimes, they don’t want to take it. It’s been interesting to see how the times have become more of a mirror than we even thought they were going to be.
The Klingons versus the Federation are going to be an allegory? They’re going to help us sort through things? HOW CAN ANYONE SURVIVE? Oh, wait, right, they were invented so that the original Star Trek could reflect the then-current events of the Cold War, with the Federation and the Klingons on either side. This idea is literally 50 years old—it is not groundbreaking. And yet, this turned into various headlines about Trump, the 2016 election, and Klingons as Trump supporters. It has forced CBS to deny something that Harberts never said.
Yep, despite CBS denying it, many are going to take the whole “Federation vs Klingons” thing as an allegory of “normies” vs “Trump supporters.” Honestly, probably will just make the Klingons even more popular. Hel, maybe we’ll get people flying Klingon Flags at free speech rallies, and liberals and anti-fa will start declaring that those speaking Klingon are fascists. Frankly, I would find that absolutely entertaining. Honestly, the idea of portraying the Right/Alt-Right as a bunch of honorable warriors fighting to defend their nation against the insidious forces of “diversity” who can’t stop fighting each other would only improve things.
Maybe some good will come out of this show after all.
Unfortunately, the final nail in the coffin of the show’s multitude of bad press was delivered this morning, when it was revealed that CBS has blocked reviews of Discovery from running before it airs. So many wounds—some of them self-inflicted, some of them mere chance of circumstance—have caused the show to wither from the spotlight.
Then again, it might just be like watching a sun implode into a black hole. CBS has burned a lot of Star Trek fan loyalty with mishandling the franchise, many weren’t happy with iTrek (I liked it, but I’m pretty sure that Federation is fascist), and of course killing a famous fan made movie that was set to come out to great applause (and possibly losing themselves the right to the Klingon Language thanks to being idiots with the lawsuit).
Frankly, I think that Diversity is probably dead on arrival, made by people who interested in “muh diversity” to actually research the show and do anything right. And while many will complain that it was “racist fans” who tanked the show that weren’t happy with “diversity in Trek” (completely ignoring Star Trek and its fanbase’s actual nature), the simple fact is that in trying to do something “new” and “on the right side of history,” they’ve completely fucked themselves over.
A fucking which is not helped by locking the show behind a paywall no one’s going to bother paying for.
If memory serves, Roddenberry first pitched Star Trek at CBS; it was rejected and executives there then produced Lost in Space because it was more commercially appealing.
Discovery might be what happens when we don’t learn from history.