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The Human Adventure Continues: Talking About Star Trek

I'm rewatching DISCO and cutting it with episodes of TNG to break up the pace and tone.

I value a lot of what Discovery did in its first season, and remember the fun I had watching it the first time. But it's a show that's so reliant on twists that it doesn't offer as much on rewatches. I think the character arcs in Season 1 were also pretty decent on paper, but having them play out and basically become complete in under 15 episodes was a big mistake. The arc that Burnham alone goes through in Season 1 is enough character development for a full seven seasons, but it's crammed into a single mini-series and thus feels rushed and not as well earned. On retrospection, I imagine that's also a big part of why Season 2 of Discovery has some issues, since its USS Discovery characters pretty much had their full character development arcs already, and they're just spinning their wheels in Season 2 or re-learning the same lessons which feels redundant. Burnham goes from being a person who doesn't know how to handle her emotions, to someone who fully embraces them by the end of Season 1 and I'm not really sure how they got from Point A to Point C there. I'd say each theme that gets teased out over the length of the season is also pretty good on paper, but I imagine each one would have been better served being the focal point of its own individual episode versus being kinda slowly trickled through the plot and not ever given a satisfying conclusion. Things like Lorca's obsession with destiny versus self-determination is kinda fascinating when you consider things like the Mirror Universe and how it manages to spawn identical individual people despite radically different events and circumstances. I also appreciate the attempt to make a non-Captain the focal point of the narrative, but Discovery never quite manages to make Burnham feel like the most interesting thing going on, which is a detriment to the show. Lower Decks on the other hand does a much better job of nailing the idea of bringing the narrative focus onto traditionally supporting cast. I mostly just wish Lorca was never a mirror baddie and could have just been the focus of his own show because Jason Isaacs is amazing and was the best actor on the show. Star Trek works a lot better when your best actors/actresses are given the staring role to carry the shows and it just feels weird when a supporting character steals the show like that. That's not to say Sonequa Martin-Green is a bad actress, but she's not as good as Isaacs and she's also given a lot of bad material to work with.

Meanwhile, I'm working my way through TNG at the same time. You can really see how early on it's just more TOS in spirit. Which I'm glad it grows up as a show and finds its own voice, but I find a lot of the things it tries to do in S1 kinda charming, even if it doesn't fully work. I just watched the drug addict episode. I remember hating this episode as a kid because it was boring, and because David Marcus was in it as a druggie. But there's a point where the crew explains what drug addiction is to a confused Wesley, and it's kinda... amazing! Within the context of the late 80s, where the War on Drugs was doing some really gross stuff with regards to children's education, it's some galaxy brain, way ahead of its time stuff where TNG explains drug addiction in ways that are both honest, compassionate, and non condescending. What an amazing show. Now I'm off to watch "Skin of Evil" so I can see Tasha Yar die via trash bag, with a fruit rollup stuck to her face.
 

conchobhar

What's Shenmue?
(he/him/his)
I think the character arcs in Season 1 were also pretty decent on paper, but having them play out and basically become complete in under 15 episodes was a big mistake. The arc that Burnham alone goes through in Season 1 is enough character development for a full seven seasons, but it's crammed into a single mini-series and thus feels rushed and not as well earned. On retrospection, I imagine that's also a big part of why Season 2 of Discovery has some issues, since its USS Discovery characters pretty much had their full character development arcs already, and they're just spinning their wheels in Season 2 or re-learning the same lessons which feels redundant.
You may already know this, but Discovery was initially pitched as an anthology series, with each season set in a different era with a different cast. CBS instead suggested a straightforward serial, but Fuller and Kurtzman never really gave up on the anthology idea; with that in mind, a lot of Discovery's writing and plot decisions make sense.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
It's always great when the money people and the creative people fundamentally disagree on what something should be
 
Oh I'm well aware.

Disco S3 begins tonight. I've got a lot of trepidation! CBS put the first few minutes of the first episode up online to generate hype about a week ago, and today put up the new title sequence. It's mostly the same song and video, but with a few new additions and changes. Notably the little worker droids are thrown in there, as is the DIS-era insignia being replaced with presumably 32nd Century versions. I really have ZERO interest in a post-collapse Federation, despite it actually sounding a lot like a previously scrapped web cartoon that sounded pretty interesting on paper.


In this aborted web cartoon, you've got a post-Federation future where the mass detonation of Omega Molecule rendered most of charted space inaccessible to conventional warp, and the Federation a hollow shadow of its former self, having fallen apart and contracted to a few core worlds. And the story was thus about a plucky band of young explorers trying to reclaim Starfleet/The Federation's old glory. Which, on the surface, sure sounds a lot like DISCO S3's scenario of a "Burn" that one day caused the Federation to collapse. And the USS Discovery showing up with a Spore Drive could be a game changer for a similar post-warp future if that is what's going on. Of course, all of this ignores the 24th Century being on the trajectory of having developed transwarp conduits and other business, so it'll be "interesting" to see what Discovery remembers and forgets about Trek canon. I have considerably less faith in the people running DISCO versus say, the people running Lower Decks.

The preview clip of S3 showed a lot of completely alien tech that looks like it belongs on Krypton than in Starfleet. Not really looking forward to that.
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
Meanwhile, I'm working my way through TNG at the same time. You can really see how early on it's just more TOS in spirit.
I mean, you probably knew this, but they originally packaged it with TOS and put it immediately into syndication, because they weren't sure if the show could make it on its own.

Which I'm glad it grows up as a show and finds its own voice, but I find a lot of the things it tries to do in S1 kinda charming, even if it doesn't fully work. I just watched the drug addict episode. I remember hating this episode as a kid because it was boring, and because David Marcus was in it as a druggie. But there's a point where the crew explains what drug addiction is to a confused Wesley, and it's kinda... amazing! Within the context of the late 80s, where the War on Drugs was doing some really gross stuff with regards to children's education, it's some galaxy brain, way ahead of its time stuff where TNG explains drug addiction in ways that are both honest, compassionate, and non condescending. What an amazing show. Now I'm off to watch "Skin of Evil" so I can see Tasha Yar die via trash bag, with a fruit rollup stuck to her face.
During my most recent rewatch of the series, I learned that "Symbiosis" was actually filmed after "Skin of Evil". At the very end of "Symbiosis", there's a shot where Picard and Crusher are walking out the cargo bay, and Denise Crosby waves goodbye right as the doors close. That was her last filmed scene as a regular on the show, so it makes for a touching moment.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I just watched the episode, where Archer dog gets sick, and he spends a big deal of the night in sick bay. Good episode, one of the few I still remembered from years ago.

Phlox implied that Archer was horny, and that this was the reason for friction with T'Pol. Uh, please tell me that I don't have to expect some relationship drama nonsense. I think T'Pol and Trip become a couple at some point? Any relationship drama between these two? Or even worse, a love triangle?

I can tolerate this stuff on the level of Kira and Odo, that wasn't too bad. So, do I have to expect something of that nature in Enterprise?
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
Trip and T'Pol are a constant romance drama, but Archer quickly falls out of that triangle as the show goes on.
 
I think the Trip and T'Pol romance is handled pretty well over the course of the show despite starting out kind of rough. DS9 is my favorite Star Trek series but I think Trip/T'Pol ends up being a better story than Kira/Odo, which relies on Nice Guy tropes for way too long too for my taste.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
I think the Trip and T'Pol romance is handled pretty well over the course of the show despite starting out kind of rough. DS9 is my favorite Star Trek series but I think Trip/T'Pol ends up being a better story than Kira/Odo, which relies on Nice Guy tropes for way too long too for my taste.
I agree with this.
 
I'm onto S2 of TNG, and it's starting to feel a lot more like TNG, but still is wearing its TOS on its sleeves pretty hard. As I get older, I find myself appreciating a lot of the S2 episodes I used to hate as a kid. Like, "The Child" is still weird AF and creepy, but I also just like the optimism and trust and care that these characters have for this spacebaby, despite them being more than justified in following Worf's advice to abort. I'm also not finding Pulaski's back and forth with Data to be remotely meanspirited so far. She has her negative preconceptions, yes. But she's also fairly aloof and treats Data as more of a curiosity than with contempt and wants to know more about him. Meanwhile, I just watched a whole episode where Guinan does what people claim Pulaski does by berating him over his incapacity to understand humor, but that's nbd. I think Pulaski actually has a really compelling back-and-forth with Picard, being just as headstrong, and being the only person on the ship who won't take his shit or will stand up to him. It's a lot better than Crusher's fuck-me-eyes. (BTW, I'm still disappointed that Picard and Crusher never hooked up properly.)

I love and adore how much of a product of its time TNG is. I just watched an episode where the entire dilemma was that the Enterprise's computer caught a virus. And the big epiphany was that they needed to format the HDD to make it go away. I bet that was pretty profound/out there in 1988.

Also, I never noticed this before, but there's this weird creepy robot in the background of one of the episodes ("The Schizoid Man") and wow



If this were Star Wars, that guy would have a name, a backstory, and like 5 books written about him.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I had a feeling that I hit a bit of a lull with S2 of Enterprise, after Carbon Creek. But looking over the episodes I have watched since, there are a lot of good ones. Minefield has the first encounter with Romulans, where they make quite a nice, first impression. A Night in Sickbay is another episode I remember from years ago, and which I enjoyed back then and now. Seeing the ship during the night (sort of, it certainly feels that way) was fun. It's really mainly Marauders and The Seventh, which didn't work for me.

But then I got to Singularity, and that was a very enjoyable episode, where everyone goes obsessed with dumb stuff, which was a lot of fun to watch. Phlox makes a really good mad doctor, but he is always a joy. But my favourite character there was Malcolm, and I really wished he would push even more for higher security than he already does. I really enjoy the part of his character that is obsessed with work.

Vanishing Point, the episode where Hoshi has to use the transporter, and then weird stuff happens. Another one of my favourites, nothing much happens, but it had such a great mood. It felt a lot like a Twilight Zone episode. Really good.

Next up is Precious Cargo, which seems potentially problematic, and also not very interesting, going from the description. But we will see, and single, weak episodes are fine. Because, and I know I repeat myself, this show has more than enough really strong ones.

Edit: The only thing that I have a bit of a problem with is the chemistry between the crew members, and maybe just the crew members in general. They still feel kind of weak, and not enough like real people. But then, my comparisons are TNG, which needed until its third season to make the crew really work, and DS9, which just has my favourite crew from all of Trek, where at least that part worked very well from the get-go.
So, I hope that gets better, at least with S3. But for now, the show works anyway.
 
Trip and Malcom begin to form a really good friendship after a while. It's not quite Geordi & Data/O'Brien & Bashir, or even Paris & Kim. But it's good. Phlox is great with everyone because he's a fantastic character/actor. T'Pol, Archer, and Trip as a triumvirate really click well imo, and recapture that Spock/Kirk/McCoy dynamic with a twist. The twist is overt sexual tension instead of being coded. Hoshi and Mayweather are the odd men out. Hoshi gets a few good episodes and some decent interaction, but poor Mayweather was the diversity hire that nobody could figure out how to make him interesting or give him fun things to do, it's really regrettable. The overall chemistry isn't as great as some of the other shows, but it does get better with time, and ENT had less time to figure itself out versus all the other older Treks. Only show I'd say with less chemistry among its cast is DIS.

"Precious Cargo" is kind of a whatever episode. Padma Lakshmi is a fun personality, and the episode exists mostly just as your boiler plate male fantasy. Which is like, w/e, we can have a few of those every once in a while as long as it's not super grody, which this one mostly manages to escape.
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
That's interesting because I've found a lot of the DS9 descriptions keep things limited to the cold open, which sometimes results in it being amusingly misrepresentative.
That happened with "A Matter Of Time"! It outlines how the crew's attempting to save a colony from ecological collapse, with no mention of wacky time traveling guest star Matt Frewer.
 
TNG S3E07 “The Enemy” - I HATED this episode as a kid. It was a visceral, irrational, instinctual hatred. I really didn’t understand it. Just that when it would show up on TV, it would ruin my entire day. As an adult, I recognize that it’s got some great moral parables to extol, some good acting, the first appearance of the delightful Commander Tamalak, among other virtues going for it. But upon rewatching it, I still hate it. A lot. And I think it’s because the entire episode is about making Geordi wet, muddy, and miserable. And my guy Geordi deserves better than that bullshit. It also makes Worf into a bigoted jackass, and it’s the beginning of the Adversaries Stuck On A Planet Together and Must Cooperate to Survive episode archetype that I hate in Star Trek.
 
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