When I first heard that Star Trek was coming back to the small screen, I was excited. But as more information came out I started to get worried, epically after that first teaser trailer was realised.
Here is my review for the first two episodes of Star Trek Discovery, I will keep the review spoiler free and I’ll let you know if that fear was justified, after words I write about the issue I have with the show and why they are here.
Within the first few minutes of Discovery starting you can see that Bad Robot (That right JJ Abarms Production Company) has pulled out all the stops and given this show a feel of a big production movie. But then I would expect little less when they are spending 8 million dollars per episode.
The story has a decent flow to it though it does get bogged down a little by explaining everything, but this to be expected from a pilot episode as they are setting up the characters and the world around them.
A first for Star Trek, this show lead is not the Captain but the First Officer Michael Burnham played by Sonequa Martin-Green. She is Human but was raised on Vulcan by Spock’s Parents. Which we learn about though flash backs. I expect that we will see more of this as the series goes on.
CBS has billed this show as being set in the Prime Universe and ten years before James Kirk historic first five year mission which was seen in The Original Series (TOS). This means that it would lead into TOS, and then the first six films, Star Trek The Next Generation etc. and not the latest films set in JJ Abrams Kelvin Universe.
Being set ten years before TOS it also means that the show taking place at the same time as the original pilot for Star Trek (The Cage) which was aired after the original run of TOS.
Discovery pilot set up the war with the Klingons which will become a cold war by TOS era.
There are some issue with the Klingon which I get to at the end of the review and look at as lifelong fan of Star Trek. It is stated that the Klingon Empire is in disarray due to the 24 great houses being at war with each other and only come together as the Great Council for matter that affect the whole Empire. T’Kuvma played by Chris Obi, is trying to bring the 12 houses together under the teaching of Khaless. (A great Klingon Warrior who brought the Klingon houses together with honour and the code of the warrior to form the Klingon Empire. He more of a religious icon.)
The USS Shenzhou, is sent to a binary star to investigate why Federation Communication relay has gone off line. While investigating the relay the Shenzhou comes across an object that turns out to T’Kuvma Mothership. T’Kuvma pays no attention the Starfleet ship and send a signal out for all the Great Houses of the Klingon Empire to come.
On Learning that the object the Shenzhou is investigating is a Klingon Ship, Captain Georgiou played by Michelle Yeoh calls for back up. The head of the Klingon Houses arrive and T’Kuvma is able to unify all but one House. Other Starfleet ships arrive and battle starts with both sides taking heavy lose, though Starfleet take a bit more of kicking that the Klingons.
While the two episodes that make up the pilot are entertaining it felt like a prelude to the start of an episode, we don’t even get to see the “Hero” ship the USS Discovery in either episodes except during the opening title for the show and this more like a blue print drawing.
The acting is decent but given the talent working on these two episodes it could have been better.
But then again this could have been down to the writing. The aliens look good but not great with the exception of the Klingons. Doug Jones who plays the science officer Lt. Saru is good, as he is known for working under heavy prosthetics. However when he talks you can’t see is mouth open to much due to the level of the prosthetics applied to his face.
When the Klingon talk it all in Klingon, which I have no issue with, however I found that the subtitle where either up to long or where quickly changed before you could read them and in some cases you could not even read them as they merged in with what was going on the screen.
Star Trek Discovery does have potential but it still comes across as running straight into action.
It also seemed to missing some of the philosophy that you got from classic Trek.
So was I right to be worried about this show yes and no, but it only the first two episodes and there is room for it to head in the right direction. I guess I will only really pass judgement until have seen the whole season. It not bad, but it still not quite Star Trek either.
Okay onto the Nic-Picking.
First I am going to start off with the way this show was aired. While I live in the UK I am getting Star Trek Discovery from Netflix. However over the pond in the US, they got the first episode show on CBS, if you wanted to watch the second and the following episodes you have to sign up to CBS All Access for $6 per month with adds or $10 for no adds. To me and no doubt many others in the States this makes no scene as people are going to be unwilling to pay $6 a month just for one show, when they are already paying for Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, plus cable. I would not be surprise if CBS have shot themselves in the foot with domestic viewing figure and it will be interesting to see what the number are for the second episode. I would also be not be surprised if this becomes one of the highest pirated TV show in the States.
For those of us outside the States and watching on Netflix we also got the pilot episode broken into two. The was no real need for this as the story picked up from the ending of the first, and could have been show like the pilots of The Next Gen, Deep Space 9 and Voyager. (Enterprise pilot was only 45 mins long.) This took me out of the story for a moment and had to wait for the previously on… Even though Netflix normally skips which it did but not all of it.
The next issue I have with the show is the time setting. “10 years before Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise” as promoted, yes it is 10 year before Kirk historic five year mission, but Spock and the Enterprise are running around the quadrant under the command of Captain Christopher Pike as I stated in my review. Gene Rodenberry was about looking to the future and not the past, so this should have been set after Star Trek Nemesis, but I can let that go.
This leads into the look of the show, the Starfleet ships and interior have not followed the look set in the Cage or TOS, but gone for something that has come straight out of one of JJ Kelvin Universe movies. Though the ship scale looked to be correct this time around.
Now before you start say you can’t have a TV show from today have the same cardboard wall look of the sixty, and I would agree with you. But there are fans out there are making Model of the TOS Enterprise and making them look current without losing the feel of Matt Jeffery original design. Madkofish design is a prime example.
This also goes for the uniforms used in the show, why are they so different from the ones see in the Cage? This is one area that JJ got right with his films; he brought back the classic uniform but at the same time made them look modern.
But they did manage to make the phaser and communicator look modern but at the same time keep the TOS style.
The next grip I have with the show is the Starfleet Delta, at this time that emblem is only used on the USS Enterprise. Starfleet only used it as their own after Kirk first or second five-year mission, this is 15 to 20 years after the event shown here. At this time, each ship had their own emblem warn on the uniform with the department logo with in it. Medical, science, command with etc.
Think of it this way. Into day navy a crew member on a ship will wear the ship name and sometime emblem on the day to day uniform. It only when they put on a hat or dress uniform would they have the navel emblem on it. Their uniform would still say which country they are from with a flag normal on the shoulder. However, they never did this in TOS which is fine. But when you have a group of people on staff that are supposed to make sure that continuity stay straight this is a big failing.
Now here is the biggest issue I have with the Show. THE KLINGONS.
Where to start with the Klingon’s? let start with the right of Star Trek.
Since Vicom Paramount spilt into two spate companies, The TV wing (CBS) and the Movie wing (Paramount Pictures) the right for Star Trek was split between the two. CBS got the TV rights and all the product right that goes with that, mean all the clothing to do with the TV shows mugs, models, calendars, DVD’s/Blu-rays, books, comic etc.
Paramount only got the right to the movies and their products. When the JJ first JJ Abrams Star Trek movie was being made and they decided to do an alternate timeline/ reboot, Paramount had to go to CBS to get the rights to use the Characters of Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rests, they also need to get the right for the look of the ships and all Aliens that have first been seen on the TV shows.
This is why the Enterprise looks so different and have the Apple Store bridge. This is why also why the Klingons had a different look in the deleted scene from Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness.
Paramount had to pay CBS to use these things. To keep the cost of the right down new Aliens where created that had never been seen on any of the TV show as Paramount did not have to pay for the rights. Then Paramount gave these right to Bad Robot as they produce the films.
Now CBS has decided to make a new star Trek TV show and have gone to Bad Robot to make this show. Because of the way the rights work between CBS and Paramount, if CBS gives the full rights to Bad Robot they can then use them in any next Star Trek film they make for Paramount, which means CBS lose on this income. So what Bad Robot has had to do is use what limited rights they have got from CBS and Paramount without stepping on the toes of either one so said party dose not lose out on the paid rights. I hope that make scene to you. This is where the new Klingon look comes in as it not the look used on the TV shows or Movies.
Okay so due to rights a new look for the Klingons was needs, I have no problem with this. Where my problem comes in is with continuity, in a Story Arc in Star Trek Enterprise Dr. Arik Soong realised a virus on the Klingon population which turned them into looking more human. It explained the why they looked different in TOS (In reality the TOS make-up was not that great.) it also touched on the classic DS9 episode Trail’s and Tribulations. With Worf mentioning that Klingon don’t like to talk about what happened to them. So, this show is set 10 years before TOS and about 100 years after what Soong did to the Klingons. The Klingons should be looking more Human than the Klingon seen later in the first six movies and after TNG etc.
What they should have done was come up with a look that was halfway between the Klingons had seen in TNG and human, they could have even had some people looking closer to the Klingon look we know and love and some closer to looking like the ones seen in TOS. This way it would have been a new look for the Klingons and keeping within the rights that Paramount and CBS have.
As for the main Klingon ship seen in the show, I have no problems with it as it is hinted that it is over hundreds of years old. Which means that it predates anything we have seen from the Klingons.
however the other Klingon ships follow the designs and it does not work. Again due the rights they can’t use what has been seen before but could up with a new ships designs that still would have fitted with the era.