Star Trek: Vandalization

in startrek •  18 days ago
It is my opinion that Star Trek Discovery is a vandalization of Star Trek. I think they can fix it, but I don't think they will. In terms of business decisions, I think CBS is happy to lose money on the production. Know why? It's a loss leader for CBS All Access.

Canon/Timeline Argument

I think arguing canon/non-canon/timeline is completely wrong. It's perhaps better to argue consistent or inconsistent. All of the trek shows have problems being self-consistent, even within episodes. They're just TV shows. We can chose to ignore the inconsistencies and enjoy the story. Sometimes, the inconsistencies get in the way of enjoying the story, I get that.

But I believe it's possible to enjoy a completely inconsistent story, if the story itself is enjoyable. No need to reference canon or timelines. And I also happen to believe Star Trek Discovery fails to deliver an enjoyable story (see below). So while it is perhaps consistent between episodes and inconsistent within the timeline it's supposed to occupy, which is entirely forgivable, I cannot enjoy it due to the, in my opinion, poor writing.

Style Argument

Similar to the canon/timeline argument, I don't care about the style changes. This is purely a matter of preference. In fact, I would be all for the style changes with zero explanation. I don't think it matters if it's set 10 years before the original series or whatever it is.

There's something called a meta-narrative in writing. As it might pertain to this topic, the most prominent example of a meta-narrative is when characters in a musical break into song. Do the characters know they are singing? Sometimes the meta-narrative says they don't. It's a common device in writing: what do the characters know in-universe vs. what the audience knows?

If Star Trek characters are singing a song, it's expected that they know they're singing. But when Captain Kirk jammed a "microtape" into his console, did he know that's now outdated technology? Well, a meta-narrative explanation is that it doesn't matter. He "did a technology thing" in that moment that we later decided needed to become updated to some other technology thing. It didn't create any true inconsistency (because it's fiction).

Story Argument

The story is all that matters. I do not think Star Trek Discovery lives up to the heritage of Star Trek. And I don't have to point to canon, timelines, or style to have this opinion. I do think the "25% different" conspiracy is an interesting result of sub-licensing the property, if true. But the bottom line is, under US jurisprudence, Star Trek is owned by CBS and it's theirs to vandalize any way they want.

And vandalize, they have. At its core, Star Trek was all about optimism. Were there non-optimistic themes ever presented in Classic Star Trek? Sure. But the overarching theme was optimism.

I measure good Star Trek by the phrase, "Let's see what's out there." If that phrase fits, it's a good episode of Star Trek. If it doesn't fit, then maybe something equally optimistic fits. Good Star Trek centers on something exploring optimism.

The goal of Star Trek Discovery, in my opinion, is something apart from exploration of optimism. The phrase "Let's see what's out there" would never fit into Star Trek Discovery. It's completely incompatible.

And sure, there are plenty of times "Let's see what's out there" didn't always fit nicely into all aspects of Classic Star Trek. For example, in Voyager, they weren't likely to say it. But in that series, I bet you could still imagine an optimistic phrase.

But even during the Dominion War depicted in Deep Space Nine, "Let's see what's out there" could still fit. Maybe not on the front lines. But it still belonged in the universe.

What we get instead, with Star Trek Discovery, is just agenda. Mind you, Star Trek has always had agenda. On the nose agenda. But it served the story. Agenda without story is boring.

Maybe the creators of Discovery think their writing is optimistic for our universe, in spite of the lack of optimism in their own universe. It's just a theory of mine. They think by laying out their agenda, they've somehow informed us about something to look forward to even though the characters in the show don't really have that themselves.

I don't feel like the characters are looking forward to anything important.

Here's what I mean. So, the characters are all happy and diverse doing their own thing, modeling how we, the audience, should be. Check. But in their daily lives, they're not doing the exploration. They're not discovering anything. They're not excited to be out there seeking out new life and new civilizations.

Oh sure, they run across stuff. Stuff "hits the ship" so to speak. But that's not why they're out there. They're just out there being dramatic. If they're out there for a reason, I don't know what it is.

How To Fix It

I hate to complain about things without at least offering some ideas. Often, it's more difficult to provide solutions than to just complain.

So the above is why Star Trek Discovery is just straight up vandalization of Star Trek. The sad thing is, I think every episode could have worked if only we knew there was an optimistic thread somewhere in their universe. But for me, that really is the fix. Maybe one occasional "B-Story" where someone somewhere is trying to discover something.

This B-Story wouldn't even have to take place on the Discovery. It could just be someone somewhere doing Star Trek. And maybe their story overlaps with the main show somehow, once in a while.

And Tilly doesn't count. Know why? Because I could see the squirrels and they were married.

Steve Shives makes a lot of these points about canon/timeline/style (and Shives likes Discovery). I wish people would move on from canon. It's a bad show because it has bad writing, not because it "breaks canon" or whatever.

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"At its core, Star Trek was all about optimism. Were there non-optimistic themes ever presented in Classic Star Trek? Sure. But the overarching theme was optimism."

In part, violating this "rule" was what killed off enterprise, since the third season completely lacked this, in combination with the characters making quite unethical choices.

(Something else typically star trek: the main characters act ethically, and do a great deal of justifying any shady behaviour to themselves, this went out the window in the third season of enterprise, and is a lot less present in discovery as well.

The 4th season of enterprise returns to better quality, but at that time the damage had been done.


I agree. What made enterprise season 3 really sad was that they established there was only one ship doing the exploration and that one ship was now waging war against a completely new enemy we’ve never heard of while the entire earth cowers.


Ok, I often skip straight to season three when rewatching Enterprise. I thought it was a decent show overall, and I preferred the dark themes. Perhaps this is as simple as a perception difference? I can think of countless episodes in many Trek shows and movies where the optimism you speak of is simply, “we are optimistic we can blow these bastards out of space”. Indeed, in my estimation, the original series (and half the movies), Voyager, and Enterprise were all far superior to the candy sweet “can’t we all just get along” bullshit in STNG and DSN. Indeed, as far as I can tell STNG was the writing on the wall that pointed to the current state of affairs on Discovery. Sure, you are describing Discovery as lacking the optimism of STNG, but what they share is PC driven ethos that renders them useless. Bottom line, I will pass on Discovery, but I will also pass on overly optimistic sci-fi in general. Heck, what made the last two episodes of The Orville the best yet written? Betrayal, death, bodies, genocide, battle, etc. Yes, they won, but at a cost. The problem with optimism is that it flies in the face of reality...and ruins lots of sci-fi.


Just to be clear, I still rate Enterprise 10/10 overall. And I won't skip season three when I rewatch it. I just don't like how exploration took a back-seat.

In fact, just mentioning "it's not why we're out here" in season three is good enough.

I also know that Enterprise season three was an artifact of the emerging on-demand TV situation. Basically, the networks failed to measure popularity properly. I'd much rather have that season of Enterprise than cancellation.

I can't say I'm a big Trekkie to follow all of this, but I did make this picture a few months ago with a couple of our favorite Steemians in it which I'd have a feeling you'd enjoy. If you saw it already, oops. If not, then...

very use ful material.

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