Star Trek returns to episodic storytelling, and repairs a nagging issue with the franchise…

*****STARSHIP-SIZED SPOILERS*****

“As it was in the time of the beginning, so it is now…”

My personal favorite of TOS Star Trek; “Journey to Babel” (1967), where we met Spock’s parents; his human mother Amanda (Jane Wyatt) and her husband Sarek (Mark Lenard), the Vulcan ambassador.

“Star Trek” began in 1966 as an episodic TV series, and it would eventually change the pop culture landscape forever… though not at first. The show struggled with less-than-stellar ratings, and was later cancelled (despite massive letter-writing campaigns) after three seasons, in 1969–only a few months before humans landed on the moon. Star Trek conventions began several years later in 1972, and in the fall of 1973, the series returned in an animated format for 22 new episodes, before it too, was cancelled in 1974.

The USS Enterprise relaunches in 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”; a movie that made money, but was not critically well-received, and initially had many fans of TOS scratching their heads. Today, it’s viewed in a much more favorable light.

Five years later, and after several false starts (including the aborted “Phase II” TV series), Star Trek found its way to the big screen in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. A series of theatrical sequels followed before the show returned to syndicated television, beginning with “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TNG). Star Trek then remained on the air in various versions (“Deep Space Nine” [DS9], “Voyager” [VGR] and “Enterprise” {ENT]) for 18 years until “Enterprise” was cancelled after four seasons from the now-defunct UPN network

Note: UPN was Paramount’s not-quite ready for primetime version of today’s Paramount+.

Discovery: Serialized Star Trek

In 2009, indefatigable Star Trek returned for a new trilogy of movies (2009-2016) set in an alternate timeline. Some of those involved with these new “Kelvinverse” movies (producer Alex Kurtzman, designer Neville Page, and others) returned to help birth a new series set in the prime timeline called “Star Trek: Discovery” (DSC). TV shows like “Babylon 5”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The Sopranos” ushered in the heavily-serialized format in the 1990s, with newer shows like the “Battlestar Galactica” remake, “Dexter,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead” following suit in the 2000s.

Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin Green) was the first non-captain to headline a full-on serialized Star Trek series. “Star Trek: Discovery” had many firsts, and, while not always successful, at least it dared to try something new.

While previous Star Treks had experimented in serialization (most notably DS9 and ENT), DSC would fully embrace this readily bingeable format which had became the new standard for TV drama in the early 21st century. I don’t blame the producers of DSC for pursuing serialization for Star Trek’s latest incarnation; to quote Sarek of Vulcan, “At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do.”

While Star Trek: Discovery’s 4th season (“Coming Home”) successfully concluded the Species 10-C arc, I couldn’t help but think how much tighter the overall story might have been without its meandering middle act.

Serialization, at first glance, has some advantages. In theory, it allows greater freedom to develop ongoing character arcs, with ample time to explore the full ramifications of a given story, with no more annoying ‘reset buttons’ (where everything is magically & maddeningly returned to status quo by the hour’s end). The potential seemed obvious. However, as author/screenwriter/producer/director Marc Scott Zicree (DS9’s “Far Beyond The Stars”) once noted (and I’m paraphrasing), “If a central story arc isn’t very strong, then the show is stuck with it.” While there’ve been some solid scenes and characters within DSC, the central arcs themselves have been the show’s greatest weakness. The season-long arcs feel like they could’ve been much tighter and more engaging if told over two or three parts (as ENT did with the ‘mini-arcs’ of its final year).

Structure-wise, DSC’s seasons usually open with a strong, compelling season opener, only to meander a bit the middle-act episodes, and then hurriedly (confusingly) wrapping things up in dense, unwieldy finales that are loaded with action, but little resonance.

Star Trek: Discovery’s format allowed a better look into characters like Saru (Doug Jones) and former Cadet-turned-Lieutenant Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), who might’ve been little more than a background character in TOS Star Trek. Some might argue that depth may have come at the expense of story cohesion and pacing.

DSC’s time-jump into the 32nd century in its third season was strategic and wise. This time-jump steered the show clear of past Star Trek continuity. This time-jump opened up new avenues of exploration for Starfleet and the Federation–both of which in the process of regrouping, following a galactic calamity known as “the Burn.” This ‘Burn’ (which occurred some 120 years before Discovery’s arrival) left the Federation in disarray, disabling warp drives galaxy-wide. The light-years between Federation worlds suddenly isolated them in a century-long quarantine. While this somewhat dystopian vision of Star Trek’s future didn’t agree with some fans, I rather enjoyed it, since it reiterated those core values of Star Trek; the need to unite the various worlds and learn to work together again. It allowed us to witness a rebirth of the Federation.

Captain Burnham (Sonequa Martin Green) meets with the Federation President Rillak (Chelah Horsdal) and Starfleet Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr). These three represent the rebirth of both Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets.

Yes, DSC’s third and fourth seasons certainly had issues, but they showed a lot more confidence than the show’s first two years (a credit to new showrunner Michelle Paradise). Nevertheless, the fourth season arc later fell into some of the same issues that have plagued serialized Trek to date; a promising beginning, followed by a meandering middle, topped off by an overloaded ending.

This nagging pattern would repeat with the second live-action serialized Star Trek series…

Star Trek Picard: What Goes Up…

In January of 2020, the post-TNG sequel “Star Trek: Picard” (PIC) continued story of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), who’d resigned in protest from Starfleet and was living on his chateau in France when he’s pulled into a mystery involving two causes he’s long championed; the haunting legacy of his late android friend Data (Brent Spiner), and the forced relocation of alien refugees from the now-decimated Romulan Star Empire (see: “Star Trek” {2009]).

The first season finale of “Star Trek: Picard” (“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2″) sees longtime advocate for android rights, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), awakening inside a synthetic body, as he tests his new taste buds over breakfast with Dr. Agnes Jurati (Allison Pill).

While uneven at times, PIC’s first season still managed to tell a good story, wrapping up the dying Jean-Luc Picard’s story in an almost “Twilight Zone”-fashion; downloading the admiral’s consciousness into a newly-minted synthetic body (one that is cosmetically aged to match his newly deceased biological one, of course). Personally, I would’ve been happy if PIC had ended right there, as it elegantly wrapped things up for the character. The longtime advocate for android rights (TNG’s “Measure of a Man,” “The Offspring”) becomes an android himself… a final ‘gift’ from his friendship with Data.

Picard reunites with Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) in the exceptionally strong 2nd season opener, “The Star Gazer.”

A second season debuted earlier this year (following a year-long COVID-mandated delay), and its season opener, “The Star Gazer”, was very compelling. It had the energy and pacing of a Star Trek feature film, rather than a TV series. Rarely has a season of Star Trek began so well, only to sputter and crash so spectacularly afterward. “Star Gazer” clearly demonstrated that the current production team has the tools and skillsets to do great Star Trek. However, the chapters of the second season quickly fell apart, ending with a cacophony of storylines that didn’t mesh particularly well with each other.

Note: The third season of PIC was filmed right after season 2 wrapped–to be released in early 2023. The new season also promises the return of TNG cast members Gates McFadden (“Beverly Crusher”), LeVar Burton (“Geordi La Forge”), and Michael Dorn (“Worf”) as well as the return of Marina Sirtis (“Deanna Troi”) and Jonathan Frakes (“Will Riker”); both of whom were previously seen in season 1’s “Nepenthe”.

Young Jean-Luc Picard’s mother Yvette (Madeline Wise) who never lived long enough to become the elderly woman (Herta Ware) we “met” in TNG’s “Where No One Has Gone Before.”

Assuming readers have seen this latest season, there are so many lapses in logic that it becomes downright exhausting. Jean-Luc’s thirty-something mother Yvette is revealed to have killed herself when he was a young boy, leaving him traumatized and unable to commit to longterm relationships (too Freudian, if you ask me). This nearly ignored the fact that we saw a much older Yvette Picard in an early episode of TNG (“Where No One Has Gone Before”). Granted, the older Yvette seen in TNG was a hallucination, but her age discrepancy in Picard’s memory had to be explained away after the fact with a clumsily-inserted line of dialogue (“I often used to imagine her as an old woman”), making it feel as though the writers just remembered her appearance in TNG halfway through writing the scene. This retcon felt shoehorned and awkward.

Note: I appreciate this season of PIC attempted to address mental illness, but using Yvette’s suicide for shock value isn’t the same as offering constructive insight or sensitive commentary.

Left alone with the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching), Agnes warns the crew to watch out for “butterflies”; seemingly insignificant actions & artifacts that might have serious repercussions in the future. Everyone completely ignores that warning.

I won’t delve too deeply into this season’s sloppy time-travel mechanics, which contradict themselves at multiple points. However, after landing in 21st century Earth (blissfully undetected by satellites/radar), Dr. Agnes Jurati (Agnes Pill) warns the crew of the La Sirena to be careful about ‘butterflies’–a warning not to interact with, or otherwise alter fixed elements of Earth’s past by seemingly small actions.

Note: See Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” (the novella, not the horrible 2005 movie).

Captain Rios (Santiago Cabrera) is thrown in with a busload of brutalized ISIS detainees, who are then freed by Seven and Raffi, because to hell with butterflies, right?

Agnes’ dire warning is, of course, completely ignored at nearly every turn, as the La Sirena crew openly reveal themselves to a government agent, kill a group of Borg-ified mercenaries (did any of those people have futures?) and release a bus filled with ICE-detainees in order to rescue an imprisoned Captain Rios (Santiago Cabrera). While I’m certainly fine with liberating groups of desperate human beings from unjust captivity, one can’t help but wonder (in a Star Trek-context) just how this would affect the multiple timelines of those now-freed detainees–to say nothing of the dead Borg-ified mercenaries later on.

Q (John de Lancie) delivers Picard into a totalitarian version of the 25th century–all because he didn’t want Picard to be lonely??

The season began with the creation of an alternate fascistic 25th century timeline, one that Picard and his friends have to fix. Despite his own protestations to the contrary, this entire scenario was created so that a dying Q (John de Lancie) could help Picard cure his commitment-phobia (brought about by Yvette’s suicide). How many people were harmed, killed and/or traumatized just so Picard could heal his pain and romance his Romulan housekeeper, Laris (Orla Brady)? That’s like creating all of World War 2 so that a US soldier might meet his future bride somewhere in France…

A Borg-ified Queen Agnes (Allison Pill) finally takes off her mask—maybe if she did that first, the rest wouldn’t have happened.

In fact, this entire bizarre chain of events could’ve been undone if the masked Borg queen we saw at the climax of “Star Gazer” simply revealed herself to be a Borg-ified Agnes Jurati, instead of hiding her face and hacking into the Federation fleet sent to meet her. Queen/Jurati’s initial hostile act almost destroyed her own attempt to peacefully coexist with the Federation. If only she took off that stupid mask…

Tallin (Orla Brady)–who may or may not be related to Picard’s housekeeper Laris–is destined to give a fatal pep talk to reluctant astronaut Renee Picard (Penelope Mitchell); whose most likely would’ve washed out of the ESA training program, let alone fly to Jupiter’s moon of Europa.

Oh, and there’s another subplot about Picard trying to help his moping astronaut-ancestor Renee Picard (Penelope Mitchell) get over her fear of screwing the pooch before a 2024 mission to Jupiter’s moon, Europa (an awfully ambitious mission, considering 2024 is only two years from now). Renee Picard is destined to discover a microbe on Europa that will, of course, magically cure all of Earth’s climate issues in one fix–making both the oceans and the atmosphere clean somehow. It’s utterly ridiculous that one single form of alien microbial life could somehow eliminate pollution, global warming, oceanic plastics, etc. Oh dear…

Ah, yes, and Captain Cristobal Rios, one of the best characters of “Star Trek: Picard”, decides to stay behind in 21st century Earth (what butterflies, right?), because he falls in love with Dr. Teresa Ramirez (Sol Rodriguez), whose son will use Renee Picard’s extraterrestrial microbe to fix Earth’s climate issues–of course. One microbe will just fix everything.

Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek has long held the idea that humanity will somehow solve our current issues when we migrate to the stars. However, it has (until now) wisely avoided the mistake of explaining exactly how we do it. Yes, Star Trek tells us that humanity will make it, but the exact mechanics of how it will be done are left up to us.

For some odd (and unexplained) reason, we also see Q join forces with yet another evil Dr. Soong ancestor (once again, implausibly played by Brent Spiner) to actively sabotage Renee Picard’s Europa mission. This, of course, makes no logical sense, since her goals will actually align with Q’s stated desire to help Picard. Luckily, Picard gave Renee a pep talk, as does her sacrificed Romulan guardian angel ‘Supervisor’ Tallinn (Orla Brady). So, Renee is okay now…?

Jean-Luc Picard goes to cheer up his astronaut ancestor Renee Picard (Penelope Mitchell), who lacks ‘the right stuff.’

Note: To be clear; there’s no such thing as a “reluctant astronaut.” The few real-life astronauts I’ve met, including Dr. Buzz Aldrin (Gemini, Apollo) and Victor Glover (ISS), are competitive, ambitious and deeply self-motivated people. Anyone less than wholly committed and eager to fly into outer space would never make it past NASA’s, Roscosmos’ or the ESA’s grueling and challenging Astronaut Candidacy programs. Yes, some astronauts have suffered depression after returning from space (that’s well-documented, in fact), but until then, they are very driven and highly motivated. If Renee Picard had such crippling anxiety, she would never be on a shortlist for such a dangerous mission as a flight to Jupiter space. I also disliked that Renee Picard (not too unlike Yvette Picard) seems more defined by her depression than anything else; I never got to know her as a character.

Given the avalanche of awful in Star Trek: Picard’s 2nd season, I wouldn’t mind if season 3 opens with all of it being a dream…

PIC’s second season is, in my five decades as a fan, the single worst season of Star Trek I’ve ever seen, and yes, that includes the wildly uneven first season of TNG.

YouTuber Jessie Gender (whose opinions I admire very much) does a detailed (but loving) summary of everything that went wrong with Star Trek: Picard’s second season:

Jessie Gender’s insights into “What Went Wrong?” with Star Trek: Picard’s second season. Highly recommended.

Lower Decks and Prodigy: Re-Animated Trek

While DSC and PIC were knee-deep in serialization, two new animated iterations of Star Trek were returning to the standalone style of storytelling that arguably defined the franchise for most of its 55-year history. For context, Star Trek hadn’t had an animated series since the mid-1970s.

The crew from “The Lower Decks”: Ensigns Rutherford, Tendi, Mariner and an irked Boimler are the ship’s B-team. I realize that this show has its fans, and I can certainly respect that, but, sadly, I am not one of them…

The franchise’s “ongoing mission” of exploring new planets and aliens every week, is, by its very nature, perfectly designed for episodic storytelling. Every week, a new planet with new aliens. And if one story doesn’t work? No sweat. There’ll be another one next week. These two newer animated series, “Star Trek: Lower Decks” (LD) and “Star Trek: Prodigy” (PRO) have deftly blended episodic structure with character/plot threads, but the singular episodes stand on their own fairly well–with definitive beginnings, middles and endings. The risqué LD is designed with a more adultish audience in mind, while PRO is more family-friendly.

“Star Trek: Prodigy”: Zero, Rok-Tahk, Jankom Pog, Gwyndala, Dal and holographic Janeway (voiced by Kate Mulgrew). This is the kind of animated Star Trek series I prefer. Oh, what I would’ve give to see the 1973 Animated Series remastered in this near Pixar-level of quality…

In previous columns, I’ve been fairly vocal in my disappointment with LD; its manic, reference-heavy, often obnoxious sense of humor simply doesn’t jibe with mine. That said, LD has a vocal and passionate following, and I respect that, so I won’t rehash my many criticisms with the series.

Note: You can use the search engine and/or archives at the bottom of this site’s main page to read more of my thoughts on the first three Lower Decks episodes.

PRO is much more what I’d hoped for in a new animated series, with quality that is closer to Disney’s “Star Wars” offerings in animation quality, and its twofold appeal to both younger audience members and adults (the crew uses a holographic-Kathryn Janeway as instructor/mentor) Like LD, PRO also tells standalone stories with ongoing threads. By the end of the show’s first season, most of PRO’s lingering threads (including a villainous pursuit by Gwyndala’s father) have been resolved, leaving the show free for unmoored storytelling when it returns in season 2.

Strange New Worlds: “Hit it.”

Which brings us to the latest Star Trek series, the live-action prequel show, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (SNW) which chronicles that largely unexplored period of the USS Enterprise’s history before Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) turns over the keys to Captain James T. Kirk, sometime in the next decade or so. Perfect window of time for a series to flourish.

“Number One” (Rebecca Romijn) and Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) as they appeared in Star Trek: Discovery’s 2nd season–Pike was clearly the MVP of that season, and a spinoff series was just about demanded by Star Trek fans.

With Pike, his “Number One” Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), and science officer Spock (Ethan Peck) already reintroduced to us during the second season of DSC (not to mention TOS), the show had a built-in audience already lined up, so there wasn’t as much need for the ‘getting to know you’ phase of the show, at least not for its three lead characters.

Cadet Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) takes wise advice from Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck). The mix of both the fresh and familiar is one of the greatest appeals of this new show–not to mention its return to episodic live-action.

In the first few episodes, we’re already seeing nice development from secondary characters such as Cadet Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), Lt. Ortegas (Melissa Navia). Uhura, Chapel and M’Benga are, of course, legacy characters from TOS as well. This mix of classic & new characters working side-by-side is a nice way of welcoming new characters into the fold, while getting to some old favorites a little better–a Star Trek mixer.

Captain Pike’s inescapable future is revealed to him in Star Trek: Discovery’s “Through the Valley of Shadows.”

As the title ‘Strange New Worlds’ suggest, this series is firmly rooted in episodic storytelling, promising a ‘strange new world’ with ‘new life and new civilizations’ each week. The most prominent character thread in the show comes from Pike’s time aboard the Discovery, when he gained foreknowledge of his own future as the mute, immobile, radiation-scarred victim of a training exercise gone horribly wrong, in the engine room of an “old class-J starship” (TOS’ “The Menagerie,” DSC “Through the Valley of Shadows”). Pike knows this will happen, and in the first episode we see him struggle with it, but unlike Renee Picard’s lingering doubts with herself, Pike puts on a brave face for his crew, still managing to find joy in his work (“I like this job,” he stage-whispers to Number One).

Captain Pike and his helm officer Lt. Ortegas (Melissa Navia).

Given that SNW is a de facto continuation of Roddenberry’s original pilot “The Cage” (longest pilot to series pickup ever), it’s fitting that the show follows the structure of the series’ original concept.

Summing It Up.

Given the overwhelming positive audience and critical response from just the first few episodes, it’s safe to say that Star Trek has found its groove. That said, I don’t think the prior attempts at serialization were misguided either, as they came from a good place–the desire to do something fresh and new.

Conversations overhead in late 1992: “Deep Space Nine: Right, a Star Trek series set aboard a space station instead of a starship. Yeah, it’ll never catch on…”

If Star Trek never took bold chances during its history, we might not have Deep Space Nine, or even “The Motion Picture,” which was critically trashed at the time of its release, and is now heralded as an under-appreciated gem. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see serialized Star Trek just as fondly remembered by more fans someday.

Star Trek: Discovery should always be applauded for breaking new ground in representation, with characters like Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) and Adira (Blu del Barrio).

I certainly think serialized Star Trek created some wonderful new characters, and it deserves kudos for its championing of better diversity and representation (particularly with LGBTQ+ representation), something former longtime Star Trek producer Rick Berman should’ve done during his 18 years with the franchise.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds takes lessons from the franchise’s successful history with episodic storytelling, but it also embraces the greater representation of serialized Trek. Truly “the best of both worlds.”

At any rate, I’m grateful that SNW seems to have found “the best of both worlds”–more inclusive casting combined with easier-to-digest solo stories. SNW is a reminder that episodic storytelling is woven into Star Trek’s DNA.

Where To Watch.

“Star Trek” (all series) is streaming exclusively on Paramount+ in the United States. “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” can be streamed on Crave in Canada (it will also air on CTV’s Sci-Fi Channel). Paramount+ will also be unveiled in the UK on June 22nd, and in other European markets later on, so all of Paramount+’s Star Trek content, including “Strange New Worlds”, should soon be accessible to overseas fans as well. Hopefully all fans everywhere will soon enjoy this new incarnation of Star Trek. Live long and prosper!

All images: Paramount+, Trekcore.com, Screenrant.com

33 Comments Add yours

  1. I must respectfully disagree with both your appraisal of the second season of Picard and Lower Decks. I think this mostly down to taste, because me and my other half loved the humour of Lower Decks, which was at time outrageously funny.

    All the aspects of Picard you seemed to dislike were exactly the reasons we enjoyed the second season more than the first. Yes, Jurati as the Borg Queen was a thing, but I guessed that was going to be the case as the show progressed.

    As for the thing about Picard’s mother, a detail that didn’t bother us at all, it comes down to how important is cannon. For a show with time travel, and alternate universes this seems to be fastidious beyond reason.

    If you’re on Twitter you may have seen a thread about a DM running a ST RPG where the players were time bureau agents, who though not asked to, created a plausible story of how all the time travel events in the ST franchise could be ratified into a coherent whole.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lower Decks has a very passionate following, yes, but the humor just…isn’t on my frequency. Given its popularity, it’s perhaps more a ‘me’ problem than the show’s problem.

      As for PIC season 2?
      I applaud the season for tackling depression and serious mental illness, at the very least. My issues were more in the clumsy execution (Renee Picard was an insult to the astronauts I’ve met). Overall, the season felt random, and lacked the elegance of Michael Chabon’s more graceful turn as showrunner of the series. But, of course, opinions can and will vary, and I very much value & respect yours.

      Star Trek is almost like a Rorschach test; we see different things within it, and we respond to those elements of it that resonate more personally with us (for instance, I’m a huge fan of “Star Trek: Generations”–a movie that is almost universally reviled by many Trek fans I’ve talked with).

      Anyway, I’ve not seen that on Twitter, but then again, my Twitter feed gets overloaded with non-Trek stuff sometimes, so I might have to search for that.

      Thanks again for the thoughtful comment and fresh perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thanks! Appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gene says:

    It’s ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement),
    NOT ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
    Who edited that part?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An error. Soon to be fixed.

      Like

    2. Chris says:

      The author clearly hasn’t watched any of the TNG or TOS.
      Trek has always championed and challenged social change and norms. It’s utterly intrinsic to the spirit of the show.

      Sisko.
      Black commanding officer. Promoted to Captain. Then promoted to a literal God.

      Janeway
      Female Captain. Bad ass. Was respected without ever playing the “but I’m a girl” card.

      Seven
      Female cyborg… Most Popular new character ever. Became main focus of series.
      Her return is Picard is pivitol and eagerly received.

      Guinan
      Steals every scene, is essential to Picards journey and development throughout TNG.

      Transgender crew members and species dealt with love being blind decades before “LGTBTQ+” was even a movement.
      Had first prime time lesbian kiss on network television.

      Black and Asian actors in leading and pivotal roles, just like in TOS.

      Yeah, Rick Berman was a total bigot who should have done more.

      This entire article can be trumped with a single word that predates the era so eagerly criticised here:

      Uhura.

      Like

      1. Um, Chris?
        I’m not sure what you mean, but it sounds like you’ve completely misunderstood the article; assuming you read it in full.
        I never once criticized the show’s diversity or representation.
        If anything, I celebrate it.

        I’d like to direct you to something I wrote about two years ago:

        “Star Trek” has been, and always shall be about diversity and social justice…

        Like

      2. David says:

        I believe the “author” he is referring to is the person to posted the comment, not the author of the article. There was several comments that DISCO/ST:P had become too woke and the push back was that Star Trek, dating back to TOS, had always pushed the status quo.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks.
        I was scratching my head over that one…

        Like

  3. Paul Penta says:

    I am in total agreement with you on SNW. It’s a refreshing return to the classics, especially TOS with the irreverence of Capt Pike foretelling JT Kirk’s ethos.

    DSC’s main character is annoying and so predictable. Her “Savior” mentality just turns me off.

    PIC was a little too confusing and predictable. Nobody dies, not even that young warrior with the strange name. The romance involving Seven was too obvious a nod to current cultural innovations which, as welcome as they are, cry for the time when such romances are no longer the subject of, “Hey look at how progressive we are. One of your favorite characters is gay.”

    Still and all, I just cannot get too much of Star Trek, even bad Star Trek.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lulu says:

    Actually Avery Brooks was the first non captain character to be the main protagonist. Commander Benjamin Sisko. Deep space 9

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I realized that post de facto; what I meant to say was the first lead character of a Star Trek series who wasn’t in command.

      My bad.

      Like

  5. David says:

    The showrunner for SNW has stated that the characters stories will be arced so this makes it different from TOS where both the storyline and characters stories were episodic. So we can expect to see more development of Number Ones heritage, the Chief Medical Officers daughter and Spock’s fiancé, etc. Also, not to be picky but Babylon 5 typically had a “A” storyline that was episodic and a minor “B” storyline that was part of the overall five year story arc. This allowed casual viewers to watch an episode and feel they watched a complete story while fans would pick up on new threads of a larger story tapestry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand that, and yes, DS9 also had A & B plots (as did TNG).

      My greatest issue is with the central arcs of DSC and PIC, as the central stories themselves simply haven’t been strong enough to maintain or justify a 13 episode exploration.

      Just my opinion, of course.

      Like

      1. David says:

        Whether a show is episodic or serialized, it will succeed or fail based on story writing. Look at the last 3 seasons of Doctor Who under a new showrunner, the show has gone from hit to miss. My point, was that SNW it not going back to the TOS standard, nor was it going to be serialized like DISCO, the showrunners have indicated that character stories will be serialize over the episodic shows. So SNW is a blended approach. BTW, the showrunner for DISCO/Michelle Paradise, has announced that DISCO S5 is going to follow the same format as SNW with no ‘big baddie’ for the season. I’m not optimistic for DISCO whether it’s serialize or episodic because of Michelle Paradise’s vision for the Discovery, the characters and the 31st century.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I respectfully disagree.

        For my money, Michelle Paradise does wonderful things with DSC’s characters, even if the overall arcs of DSC haven’t been so great.

        During her tenure as DSC showrunner, many of the secondary DSC characters really came alive for the first time. I could finally start remembering their names!

        Personally, I’m very excited to see what she would do with an episodic format. She has my confidence.

        Like

      3. David says:

        Thank you for your comments, fascinating. I agree that we disagree on the subject.

        DISCO has not been plagued because it serialized but because it’s had bad writing, especially in S3 and S4 (if you look at the ratings). Switching to episodic will not resolve the issue unless the writing improves.

        Does episodic mean better writing, not necessarily. TNG, which was episodic, had an mix of quality to their episodes. Many were great and just as many were terrible. And the frequent use of some new configuration of the defector to save the day and the reset button at the end of 42 minutes. So no, episodic does not mean it will be better.

        While I would like to see Discovery turn it around, it has a long way to go. It needs to offload many of its primary and secondary characters, break to spore drive and go off exploring somewhere far away from Paradises vision of the Federation in the 31st century.

        Like

      4. But the beauty of the episodic approach is that if you write one bad story, it doesn’t ruin the entire season.

        It’s just one idea of many.

        Like

      5. David says:

        I respectfully disagree that episodic will solve the problems with DISCO, anyways, time to unsubscribe and move on.

        Like

  6. James Rothwell says:

    As someone who grew up both watching TOS and also reading classic sci-fi novels, I think the problem with Star Trek these days is the apparent lack of intelligence and maturity of the writers. There are just far too many instances of things happening that either defy common sense or go wildly against human nature. I imagine the writers’ room filled with twenty-somethings that don’t know enough about the real world to be creating their own future world, and/or older writers that simply aren’t as smart as the characters they’re writing for, and therefore have these “smart” people do some very dumb things.

    It’s really too bad that science fiction writers of the caliber of Asimov, Bradbury, Sturgeon, etc., aren’t the ST writers of today.

    Like

    1. While I don’t agree with that somewhat ageist analysis, I’m also compelled to point out that Bradbury and Asimov never actually wrote for Star Trek.

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      1. David says:

        True but Asimov did coin the term positronic (brain) for robots/androids that was used in ST:TNG and ST:P to describe the unique technology behind Data.

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    2. David says:

      Asimov wrote most of the Foundation short stories (which was later republished as the trilogy), when he was 21 to 23. His later works were written in the next 10 years before he was 30.

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      1. Yes, I’m familiar with Asimov, thanks. 😉

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      2. David says:

        My comment was for the poster.

        Like

  7. Corylea says:

    Thanks for your article, which I found spot-on for the most part. I also find LDS humor to be juvenile and not at all funny. Mariner is horribly selfish and is basically a terrible person, if you take what she does seriously. I don’t understand the LDS love, but then, I’m old, and thinking young people are weird is in my job description. 🙂

    I was terribly afraid that SNW was going to ruin Spock, but so far, they’ve been doing a fabulous job. (I’m still worried about the T’Pring situation, though. I guess we’ll see how that plays out.) Spock’s line in today’s episode, “I am arming us with knowledge” is quintessential Spock, and I’m thrilled that the new writers are doing so well by him.

    Anson Mount is just hitting it out of the park as Pike. I thought he was a little too lackadaisical to feel like a real captain in Season 2 of Discovery, but he’s been just fabulous in the first three episodes of SNW.

    I had been thinking that the writers of modern Trek just weren’t very good, but as it turns out, they’re quite good if you keep them to the SHORT form; it’s only writing epics that strain them. Not everyone can be Robert Jordan. 🙂

    Always glad to hear your thoughts, which are generally like Trek itself in being humane and treading in the light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Corylea.
      As always, your observations and kind words are always appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Andrew Dashiell says:

    You should mention that other Star Trek series. I think they call it “The Orville.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. bgthomasbooks says:

    I seriously had to disagree with you on Prodigy. I loathe it. I also hate the art. It is cutesy and 1960s Hanna-Barbera. I barely got through the first episode and just groaned and moaned over the entire concept of the show. Hate it.

    Disagree with you on the second season of Picard as well. I have watched Star Trek for 35 to 40 years. This is my opinion only.

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