Don'tscovery 2017-10-06 05:35:52
Rhetorica
Head Curator of Lilitic Antiquities

Don'tscovery

Failures, summarized:

Klingons—

- Needless Klingon redesign. They're not Drow. Stop making them wear Lolth gear. Somehow the Vulcans survived unscathed, showing that, no, it wasn't a 'let's have plausibly alien aliens' thing.
- Useless Bat'leth. The Discovery version can't be used to parry or disarm the opponent, and provides no protection for the fingers. No one thought this through.
- T'Kuvma continues to talk after his upper spine is severed.

Capt. Georgiou—

- Invokes fantasy racism against Saru ("He can't help it, he's Kelpien") in front of a first officer who is living proof that culturally-engrained attitudes toward emotions can be negated after seven years of service in Starfleet.
- Has an exhaustingly conservative Greek name but no other vestiges of Greek upbringing. Or accent.

Michael Burnham—

- Was described in press releases as having a first name which is no particularly strange thing in the distant Star Trek future, and is totally not just the creator violently shoehorning in his personal trademark. Except her new bunkmate has never heard of any other "female Michael" before (besides Burnham), and thinks it's so strange a name for a woman to have that she explicitly brings it up, completely invaliding the implied acceptance/evolution of attitudes toward gendered given names.
- Is put forward as being a beacon of diversity (mostly by media journalists who have never seen Sisko or Janeway, apparently), but reports to three men, two of whom are white, and the other of whom is Doug Jones—all unrelatable setpieces. You couldn't have made one of them Indian or Hispanic or something? Invoke Ramanujan as a stereotype about math geniuses?
- Really letting down Nichelle Nichols and MLK Jr. here. "Don't worry, young black women with top-tier education! You too can get off the hook for a major crime because you're too important, just like your white male peers!" (Can we at least replace her with LeVar Burton?)
- But she's an orphan, tooooooo...

The Discovery's Science Project—

- Although there are lots of planets in Star Trek with Earth-like ecology, by no means is it universal. Mycology, the study of fungi, concerns eukaryotes that evolved on Earth some 2.4 billion years ago. No real theory of panspermia supports the existence of fungi off Earth, nor any reason why they would be special compared to other forms of life. TNG's "The Chase" explains convergent humanoid evolution only, not convergent evolution of all biospheres. They should have gotten a science writer to fill in these blanks. It's painfully obvious the normal writers did this one themselves, and the results are as bad as Voyager's "Threshold."
- During Lorca's Iconian-esque, physics-shattering slide show, we're shown the surface of Romulus, which he identifies as Romulus. At this point in time, the Federation had no diplomatic relations with the Romulans and were unlikely to know of Romulus's location.
- Breath-based verification is idiotic on a revolutionary scale. What's wrong with a retinal scan?

The (Starfleet) Visual Design—

- No attempt was made to reference previous uniform designs. Even J J Abrams got this acceptably right. All it would have taken was division-coloured undershirts, like the 2380s (DS9) uniforms.
- The ship is loaded with technology that suggests a vehicle from the 2390s or early 2400s. Casual voice access to the computer, holographic displays, Jefferies tubes, force-fielded brig cells—these were either invented or perfected in Picard's lifetime. The show didn't have to be set in the 22nd century.
- The computer voice is not only very unlike Majel Barrett, but is intoned in a way that makes no attempt to capture Barrett's authoritative, curt attitude. This suggests the motivations for selecting the computer's voice were completely flawed.
- Enterprise already showed us how the actual, vintage aesthetic of Kirk's era could be presented in a modern setting, purely as a result of changes in fashion. It's not hard to invent an excuse for this consistency, either, using a catastrophic war between Archer's time and Kirk's time to push back the technological clock. Bombarding the viewer with techy-looking neo-Rococo detail simply distracts from the story. And if the world's so information-saturated, where's the video media that's been almost completely absent from all of Star Trek? Sacrificing consistency and ignoring the consequences.

Miscellaneous Writing—

- The decision to set the show on a top-secret research ship makes narratives about exploration, meeting new cultures, and character growth on the frontier very unlikely, or at best accidental. That's not to say there aren't Starfleet ships doing this, but it's problematic for a Star Trek series to focus on something else.
- Lorca's "universal law is for lackeys; context is for kings" is incomprehensibly at odds with Star Trek's humanism (this guy is really elevating himself above everyone else?) as well as a double-corruption of a Bill Gates quote, "content is king."
- The notion that Lorca engineered Burnham's arrival makes him culpable for the death of the shuttle pilot, if that wasn't also staged. (Why did a prisoner transport shuttle only have one pilot?)
- Burnham faces no consequences for her part in the brawl in the mess.
- Focusing on a single protagonist, instead of a normal ensemble cast, creates a 'love-it-or-leave-it' situation, where the audience either identifies with Burnham (which is, as mentioned, improbable) or has no one to root for. All the eggs in one basket, and friend, it's a lousy fucking basket.

Can this show redeem itself after three nails-on-chalkboard episodes? Unclear. But it's certainly not keeping Star Trek fans excited, and it doesn't really have much to offer anyone else.
Samantics comment   8455.14 tgc / 2017.762 ce