“Star Trek: Discovery” initial release was originally set to release last January before getting pushed back. (Courtesy of CBS)
Based on the first two episodes of “Star Trek: Discovery,” it looks like the show runners have gone the route of making it as much like the rebooted “Star Trek” film series as possible.
Called out into the remote reaches of Federation space due to a destroyed satellite, the crew of the U.S.S Shenzhou comes across a rogue Klingon ship who is hoping to use the Federation in order to reunite the now divided Klingon Empire.
It is important to note that the first two episodes that comprised of the pilot for the series, “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle at the Binary Stars,” are essentially a prequel to the series that is to be “Star Trek: Discovery,” so it is hard to get a grasp of whether the story has any merit or the characters are any good.
From what was shown, the story shows potential and the two characters who are introduced, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Greene) and Saru (Doug Jones) do get enough establishment to understand who their characters are, so at the very least the show should have two characters that are worth watching.
While there is potential with the story and characters, the issue that kept coming into play was the show’s style. As stated above, the show seems to be going for the same feeling as the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise, which consists of “Star Trek,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and “Star Trek Beyond.” All of these movies have the same problem: they are fun but they are not exactly “Star Trek.” If anything, they are generic science fiction action movies with “Star Trek” in the title.
That is the same impression that the first two episodes give off, and while that style works for two-hour escapist entertainment, it probably will not bode well for a weekly series.
It feels like the show runners watched a couple of episodes of other “Star Trek” shows, copied down details from them and transplanted those details into their own show. Some of those details were references to appeal to Trekkies while having no actual purpose for including them other than fan service, and other details seem like attempts at copying aspects from earlier shows in the most superficial way possible.
For example, Spock’s father Sarek (James Frain) has a role in the series, but his reason for being there is not because his character is needed. Sarek only exists in “Star Trek: Discovery” because Trekkies will know who his character is. On top of this, several times in the episodes characters monologue to the audience, clearly emulating Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) doing the same in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” But while Picard’s were designed around the moral of the episode, these monologues exist for characters to either explain their backstories or to give insight into their feelings and thus give a reason why they think something.
The writing of the episodes in general is particularly weak, and it is not just due to the characters making exposition dumps to explain who they are. The pace of the episode feels rushed, especially when it comes to the scene where the main villain gets supporters for his cause. The characters seem to find a solution to their predicament fairly easily. It feels like things happen not because they feel like an organic process to the story, but because it is what the story requires to have happen.
“Star Trek: Discovery” really feels like it is a “Star Trek” for mainstream audiences, not the fans. Its generic nature and look removes a lot of the personality that all of the other “Star Trek” incarnations possessed, and the first two episodes just leave the impression that the whole series will be a generic, science fiction action adventure serial with the name “Star Trek” slapped on the title.
Final Grade: C