When Discovery was first announced, I was asked by friends, who knew that I liked Star Trek, if I was excited that a new show would soon grace our screens. I said no, I am not excited. They were confused. “It will be full of symbols that will link it to the past,” I said, “but most likely shirk away from the type of ideas Star Trek was based around.” Again, confusion.
I am not disappointed in Discovery, because it is exactly the show I predicted it would be. It’s a pretty generic, “gritty” tale of redemption and shady machinations that has the title “Star Trek” slapped on it to sell to the base. There is a tribble on the desk of the captain, there’s Harry Mudd, there’s talk of the Prime Directive, warp drives, and Klingons. There’s Sarek. It supposedly takes place in the Prime timeline. Symbols.
What made Star Trek special was the utopian vision of the future. It was a world were people came together to explore for explorations sake. No Star Trek was perfect: Sexism was a given until Gene Roddenberry, uh, died (Yes, that includes you, TNG!) and flared up again every once in a while after that. The messages were sometimes flawed, confused, or ham-fisted. But through it all, a vision of the future was presented in which we overcame our earthly problems to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go…
Discovery goes where hundreds of shows have gone before. It’s trite, slow, and, quite frankly, not very interesting. I don’t like or care for any of its characters. I don’t find the super warp drive interesting. I don’t want to see a rehash of the Klingon War. And I especially don’t care about the “operatives in the shadows that enable noble explorers like Kirk, Picard, et al”. It might be about Section 31, it might not be (I’ve seen the fan speculation). It sure feels like someone went “Optimism isn’t grown up enough. This is grown up!”
Granted, I’ve only seen the first three episodes, so it has room to improve. But I don’t think it will, because a) I don’t think the show runners or the people watching feel that anything is wrong with it and b) the type of show I enjoy is rarely in vogue (just look at the numbers for Twin Peaks: The Return). If you enjoy it, fine. More power to you! There’s an endless stream of this type of storytelling right now, so enjoy it while it lasts. I don’t, so I won’t be tuning in again.