Back in 2015, CBS announced the premiere of a brand new Star Trek show, Star Trek: Discovery, the first since Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled in 2005. Set roughly ten years before the events of The Original Series, Discovery follows the journey of the impulsive young officer Commander Michael Burnham (who, confusingly, is a woman) as she comes to terms with her parents’ death in a Klingon attack on a scientific outpost and struggles to honor her logical Vulcan upbringing while still embracing her human heritage. Yes, after her parents died, Michael was somehow adopted by Ambassador Sarek…the same Sarek who is Spock’s father. This makes her Spock’s foster sister, and if you’re wondering how Spock can suddenly have a human foster sister after 51 years (let alone why Sarek would agree to adopt a human child), you’re not alone. Then again, I only watched the free premiere, so maybe it was explained in part 2.
This was only one example of the parts I found troublesome. Time and again the cast and crew insisted Discovery was set in the Prime timeline, yet everything about it looked and felt as though it belonged in J. J. Abrams’ Kelvin timeline. The tech and uniforms were way too modern to be just two years after the events of “The Cage” (TOS’s first pilot episode, later reused in the two-part episode “The Menagerie”). They apparently kept some of the sound effects from TOS, but coming from such highly advanced technology, it sounded jarring and out-of-place. Just because it makes the same boops and beeps as the Prime ships doesn’t automatically mean it’s set in the Prime timeline. Try harder.
I didn’t much care for the Klingon redesign, either. Their look is already so iconic, why mess with it? It’s like suddenly making Vulcan ears round and giving them funny noses instead.
And maybe I’ll catch some flak for saying this, but it’s my blog, so I’m going to–I found it vaguely annoying that they had a woman in command of the Shenzou. It’s nothing against Captain Georgiou–heck, I think the show should have been about her instead of Commander Burnham–but at this point in the Prime timeline, ten years before TOS, women were not allowed to command a starship (don’t believe me? Go watch “Turnabout Intruder”.). Obviously that rule changed, or else we wouldn’t have Janeway and Voyager, but at this point in the Prime history, a woman in command of a starship simply wouldn’t have been a thing. I could easily have overlooked this thanks to Georgiou being awesome, but it was just one more instance of non-canon-compliance they were asking the audience to overlook.
The episode itself actually wasn’t too bad–the show has a lot of potential. I would probably continue to watch it, maybe even overcoming my objections to the canon alterations, if it were broadcast on TV the way every other Star Trek series has been. But it isn’t. CBS has seen fit to make Discovery a paid-access show; the only way to watch the season will be to subscribe to their All Access streaming service. Although Discovery was good, it wasn’t great–certainly not great enough to make me subscribe to their streaming service. And it’s sad because it really feels that CBS doomed Discovery before it even premiered by making this decision. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other people out there who feel the same way I do, that the show was good enough that I would watch it on TV but not good enough to make me pay a monthly fee to watch it. If/when it has low viewing figures, Discovery will be pulled, and the powers-that-be will claim that audiences just aren’t interested in Star Trek anymore. No, what we’re really not interested in is your corporate greed.