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Old September 25th, 2017, 07:38 AM
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Star Date 2017: The Orville and ST Discovery

INTRO: THE STATE OF TREK ON STAR DATE 2017

The Orville has now shown three episodes on FOX, and ST Discovery just had its premiere on CBS broadcast TV last night, after which it will go on their streaming service (which I won't watch). Here is my take on both at this moment. Controversy continues to rage, but one thing is certain for us Trekkers--after too long a break, Star Trek is back! Well, sort of...

I never liked the J.J. Abrams movies myself (now called The Kelvin Continuity, I don't know why; maybe because, unlike all other Star Trek product, I haven't seen the third one yet) since they violated the main Trek continuity immediately by blowing up the planet Vulcan in the first film--sacrilege! But they were the only game in town, except for a very interesting fan series, which actually had the participation of some of The Original Series (TOS) cast members!

My negative comments on the general TV site thread about the first Abrams movie however, could have started my only online flame war ever when a younger fan who loved the first movie went a bit nuts on me. I just didn't respond, having said what I had to say! At any rate, a Star Trek which at least is very much be in the spirit of the main continuity or claims to be in it are now being aired. And a third TV show by Nicholas Meyer (the director of the best ever ST film "Wrath of Khan") is supposedly waiting in the wings at CBS, possibly should they decide to give us something on regular broadcast TV. So there are still many controversies and questions at the time of this new and different Star Trek launch. But hey, at least there is now something to talk about!

THE ORVILLE

I am (was) not a Seth McFarlane fan--he of the animated show Family Guy. The Orville recently surprised everyone by not being a biting Star Trek parody at all, but a Star Trek Next Generation (TNG) style homage by a long time fan, who wanted to put a positive version of the future a la Roddenberry out there. The first three episodes got better each time, say from a B to a B+ to even an A-. The humor was mostly controlled, the characters interesting as they were developed, and the plot lines fun.

A number of familiar faces from Sci Fi media showed up (Agents of SHIELD, DCs Legends of Tomorrow, etc.) included a minor one from Star Trek Deep Space 9 (DS9)--the doctor is played by the woman who was Captain Sisco's long lost wife. Jonathan Frakes directed an episode, along with other old ST production staff, and rumor has it that old cast members are now standing in line for cameos.

I'll be watching for sure. AFter all, Planetary Union HQ is in Brooklyn, as I expect in the real future it will be--maybe in the old Navy Yard, which is now being revived as an industrial park. The Orville has a feeling of what Star Trek would be like if real people, or at least not the highest achievers, made up the crew of this ship. In fact its described as "a mid size ship, not a heavy cruiser."

But technically its not 'real' Trek, so let's look at...

STAR TREK DISCOVERY

Several controversies swirled around Discovery (we can't call it STD, can we?) even before its premiere:

1. "What do you mean 'Streaming Only' after the pilot?"
You're holding us for ransom? Many feel this way and say they won't engage with the new show just due to this. Personally, I'm a guy who won't even pay for anything besides basic cable! I can only hope that it does well and they recover their sanity and put it back on broadcast, maybe with a time delay. So while I'll be discussing future Trek here, I won't be able to report on further episodes.

2. "It claims to be canon continuity, but..."
Taking place ten years before TOS, the show is different in style, being set up in a story arc, rather than the traditional Trek stand alone episodes--albeit using the occasional continuing non-regular characters, subplots, and even a few connected installments on earlier shows.

3. "If it walks like an Abrams show..."
Physically it looks for like the Abramsverse, apparantly due to licensing restrictions, believe it or not, between CBS and Paramount (they can't use the old uniforms, for example). It seems that CBS owns Star Trek, but Paramount the Abramsverse--go figure.

4. "Its too liberal..."
More importantly, and in their version of the TOS tradition, the show will be making social and political commentary about the current scene, with the Klingons standing in for...Trump supporters? I once saw a Trek museum exhibit mounted years ago by The Smithsonian Institute, reminding me how many of TOS episodes had sharp commentary on issues of the 1960's--usually from a liberal point of view--such as overpopulation, the Vietnam War, racism, cultural diversity, and many, many others. Using its "strange" background to comment on the current human condition has always been a major part of main stream science fiction. This has already triggered much negativity by posters online. This was not apparent at all in the pilot, but such are the rumors.

5. "Its too dark..."
As Seth McFarland said, in a two minute extra posted On Demand about why he's doing The Orville as he is, most Sci Fi available today is dark and dystopic. But if Trek is supposed to provide a positive view of the future, this one seems to portray an era which will become survival mode for the human race. Its story arcs are boldly and so far successfully novelistic, where change will come and characters may die, and the flawed heroes will be severely tested right out of the gate.

Well, this kind of controversy should prove interesting. Its creators have their own thing in mind. Do we want it to be art, or just rehash? I'd cautiously vote for art.

***

So after all of this, how was the pilot?

In my opinion, it was excellent! Discovery was well mounted, tense, connected to the continuity (the main character is the human step daughter of Spock's father, etc.), and serious to the point of only very occasional and mature humor. It does seem to be presenting a dark period in human future history, when only the most flinty and mature of leaders can guide us through to safety. And its physically very dark, whether in stormy scenes on a planet or on the bridge of the ship preparing for serious and ominous danger.

"I sense the approach of death" says one character. But hopefully not the death of the series. I'd like to see...but in my case, apparently only hear about second hand, which is a shame.

NICK MEYER TREK?

Supposedly this third show is waiting in the wings. The word is that it is intentionally much closer to Trek Canon than Discovery. Although Meyer does have a part in Discovery--a show which credits twice as many producers than I've ever seen before--he was brought in as the 'safety man' on Trek. A fact which surprised him greatly, as he only did two movies; he also helmed Undiscovered Country, perhaps the second best ST film. NM has also directed other successful non-Trek films. Perhaps if Discovery is successful on streaming, this one will be broadcast on the network, and then we'll have even more choices in our Trek viewing.

To be mature and flinty for a moment, it seems that, although the first generation of TOS fans had to mount a campaign to Save Star Trek, these days large corporations will not allow their major franchises to fail. Which could either be a good thing, or, if failures of creativity or delivery mechanisms are not accepted on their own terms...

"Mr. Kyle, your agoniser."
"No Mr. Spock, no!"

Last edited by chas; September 25th, 2017 at 11:34 PM.
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Old September 25th, 2017, 03:30 PM
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Justin The Critic Justin The Critic is offline
 
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Re: Star Date 2017: The Orville and ST Discovery

As a young man in my twenties I've been a fan of Trek for years I am not a superfan like I am for Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Firefly, or Marvel, I haven't seen every movie and I haven't seen every episode but what I have seen I have enjoyed. My Father introduced my Mother through Deep Space Nine and Voyager and my first introduction was through Enterprise and I instantly fell in love with the franchise and egerly anticipated new weekly episodes. I watch the various star trek shows when they come on television and own TOS Complete Seires +TOS movies, ENT Compleate Seires, and all the Kelvinverse films. I was excited when they announced Star Trek: Discovery before being disappointed to find out it was being released on a streaming service instead of network tv. I absolutely despise the NEW look of the Klingons as they aren't at all like either TOS which had more similarities with humans or TNG look that got carried into the subsegant shows. I think the look should have carried over the Kelvinverse Klingons that blend both looks. In the past they have explained briefly why the look changed but if they would have kept the TNG look and explained why they looked different in TOS I think that would have been great. I was disappointed in the pilot of Discovery but even if it was great I don't think any single show is worthy of being worth the price of a streaming service. I think that a show around Kahn and the Eugenics War of the 1990's would be fantastic and hope that would be the direction they would go if they make a another Star Trek Show. The Orville was a show I wasn't excited about because I would much rather see a Galaxy Quest show if we needed a spoof show. The first episode of The Orville I thought was ok but episodes 2 and 3 I thought were fantastic and the show I was hesitant about is the one I will keep watching for sure. I will not get CBS all access to watch Star Trek Discovery and the most probable course of action is to wait for the inevitable Blu-ray release and purchase it then.

If you can accept losing, you can't win -
Vince Lombardi
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Old October 6th, 2017, 09:20 AM
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Re: Star Date 2017: The Orville and ST Discovery

Orville Update

Two more Orville episodes have been shown, and I rate them in order B+ and A-. Both have very big celebrities in them, the fourth has a cameo and the fifth a major guest role (no spoilers here). The fourth episode is a direct redo of an old TOS episode, but well done. The fifth has some surprise twists on a typical Star Trek Theme.

The jokes continue to meld further into the integral story or subplot. The robotic Isaac gets much more play in both, with the actor inside him somewhere using a very close impersonation of Data's voice from TNG. And the fifth episode is directed by one Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker, TNG), who has also done many other episodes of a number of Trek and other shows--he did a great parody on an episode of Castle, where they investigate a murder at a SciFi Con.

Go Seth McFarlane!
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Old October 6th, 2017, 09:22 AM
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Re: Star Date 2017: The Orville and ST Discovery

Star Trek Discovery

Can't see it any longer, but I get the impression that the first two episodes, only one of which I've seen, are just a prologue to the main story. So a lot of the initial plot confusion seems to be being explained as they go along. Settle back for the long haul and enjoy!

Since its doing better with viewers, as far as I can tell, here's hoping that Nick Meyer Trek will appear on regular CBS broadcasts.
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