“Space — the final frontier.”
While these famous words still ring true in the new “Star Trek: Discovery,” CBS’s show struggles to find a balance between its sleek visuals and convoluted storyline.
Set 10 years before William Shatner’s original voyage as Captain Kirk, “Discovery” is a “Trek” for the 21st century
— its protagonist sports a gender-ambiguous name, and men and women of all races, backgrounds and creeds work together as equals.
Viewers need not be concerned with the variety of aliens the captain will sleep with each episode, as the misogynistic undertones present in previous incarnations of the series are largely absent
In fact, the first officer of the main ship and namesake of the series, the Discovery, is
an African-American woman.
Portrayed by “The Walking Dead” standout Sonequa Martin-Green, first officer Michael Burnham is presented
as the strongest female lead since Captain Janeway on “Star Trek: Voyager.”
That, unfortunately, is where many of the good parts of “Discovery” end.
The show takes two episodes of its limited 15-episode run to even get on the Discovery.
Much of the pilot is wasted on drifting Dutch angles, possibly meant to make the viewer feel like he’s in space,
or perhaps to make the viewer nauseous.
I couldn’t tell, and neither could anyone else at the viewing party I attended.
Another issue with “Discovery” is the visual design.
Despite being a prequel to the original series, each bridge station has a touch screen, and the captain’s chair features a holoscreen.
Despite “Discovery” taking place in the original timeline, each ship’s interior looks and feels like something
from the separate timeline the new movies take place in.
The ship’s exteriors are problematic as well.
Hoping to draw viewers with impressive visual effects, gratuitous shots show the full length of each
Unfortunately, these ships have curves.
I like a curvy ship as much as the next guy, but this simply does not fit into the timeline.
Both the original Enterprise and the “Next Generation” Enterprise are almost blocky, with defined areas of the ship.
All the ships on “Discovery” flow from deck to deck and curl from nose to engine.
Despite the design and visual drawbacks, “Discovery” does make for good TV. That is,
it would make for good TV if it were on TV.
CBS broadcasted the pilot on national TV, but all episodes past episode one are
locked behind a subscription to CBS’s streaming service, CBS All-Access.
For a $5.99 monthly fee — which doesn’t totally eliminate commercials
— this seems to have doomed “Discovery” to being unwatched and probably eventually cancelled.
Ultimately, “Star Trek: Discovery” breathes fresh life into a franchise that hasn’t seen a new TV show in nearly 15 years.
With a stellar cast and inventive stories, “Discovery” could have had real staying power for a
However, with the bulk of the content behind a paywall, I worry that “Discovery” will never mature
and get the respect it truly deserves.
“Star Trek: Discovery” is available for streaming on CBS All-Access and is rated TV-MA.