So, Sunday night we got new Star Trek! That's a good thing right? In the past that's mostly been true I would say. This time? Well ...
Short version: I liked it more than I expected but not enough to sign up for their service.
There's a lot of mixed good and bad in this show, even in the first episode so I'll try to break it down like that:
- The look of the thing:
- It does seem like a post-Enterprise show, an evolution of that as far as the bridge and the uniforms and the ships. That's cool.
- Good lord has the JJ Abrams approach been smeared over that in huge buckets. There was so much lens flare that Apprentice Blaster and I were laughing out loud in the first few minutes once they were on the ship! It's either an over-the-top joke or someone really took offense to the criticism of it from the movies.
- The cast and crew:
- Michelle Yeoh as the captain is the single best thing about the show. With her billed as "special guest star" I'm pretty sure she's making her exit rather quickly but in this first episode ... I'd be a lot more interested in watching more if I knew she was the captain for the duration.
- The first officer - she neck pinches her captain and tries to fire on the Klingons? And everyone is OK with it? This is after she kills the first Klingon anyone has met in a century?How did she get to be a first officer? I know she had what she thought was good information but if she was also supposed to have been raised on Vulcan ... I'm just not sure that the character makes sense.
- The story:
- I think there's a lot of potential there. A reawakening Klingon Empire led by a sort of fundamentalist charismatic leader should make for an interesting antagonist. I also didn't hate the new look of the Klingons as much as I had expected too based on the previews.
- Once again, "formerly well-known hostile race hasn't been heard from in 100 years so who knows what they might do" - yeah we've seen that before. Can't do first contact with the Klngons because they did that in Enterprise. This is where doing a post-Voyager show would open up a lot of story options compared to another prequel series.
So I don't think it's a disaster. It does make an interesting contrast with TNG as a relaunch of a once-popular show years after the last run. Especially since I've been watching that series again with Blaster on Blu-Ray. There is a lot more of the high-minded Federation in that pilot and early shows but here they do at least acknowledge that the Federation doesn't fire first.
Despite this cautiously positive first impression I'm not going to be seeing the rest of it, at least not for quite a while. Yes - now we get to the unavoidable "method of delivery" debate. I understand what they're doing - if you want to really launch a new service then you need a high profile flagship show to do it with and they've chosen Star Trek for that role. It's perfectly logical and understandable.
That doesn't mean I have to go along with it.
It's not even really a financial call. It's what, $7 a month? I spend more than that on lunch on a weekday.
Star Trek has always been on free over the air TV. The original airings and the re-runs have always been pretty freely available. If they were moving it to another delivery channel because they wanted more creative freedom - say HBO - then I could understand that and even get on board with it.
But I've seen nothing about that.
All I have seen are comments about using it to promote CBS All-Access. That's great for the people who own Trek, potentially, but does it make the show better in any way?
I can't see how.
I'm not angry about it. I've seen the flamewars on social media where super-invested fans take it as a personal affront. That's not me at this point. I'm looking at it as "that's fine, you go do your thing over there and I'm going to go do my thing over here and maybe every once in a while I'll check in and see what you're doing.
Also, I'll be watching The Orville. Because while Blaster and I were dying during the pilot even my wife was laughing, and she is not a Trek fan at all! So I have 5 more seasons of TNG to watch with my kid, then we'll probably go back and watch DS9 as well, plus we have a Trek parody show that's current, and then maybe I'll check in again on Discovery.