Star Trek: Discovery is CBS’s attempt to return the beloved science fiction franchise via their All Access online streaming service. Now, I know this review is a season behind, but that is only because I have a few spoilers ahead.
The first season takes place immediately before, during, and the tail end of Starfleet’s war with the Klingon race. It follows science officer, later specialist, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), who commits mutiny to prevent a war with the Klingons, only for her captain to be murdered and she is thrown in jail. She is picked up by the Discovery and recruited by Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) to assist with developing a new engine that uses a network of space bacteria to travel faster than warp speed.
On its face, the series has a lot of issues. Burnham’s character is an enigma. Apparently, she was raised on Vulcan by Sarek, the father of Spock, after her own parents were killed by Klingons. This character is never referenced and the only sibling Spock has ever had is a fellow Vulcan. While her character is compelling and her story interesting, I found this bizarre. It felt forced and pushed on the viewer to make you like her. It was unnecessary. Martin-Green portrayed the character well enough where the casual viewer or the fan could have made that connection with her, but knowing the history makes it difficult for me as a longtime Trekker.
Another curious thing about the show is it tried too hard to “modernize” the aesthetics despite being a prequel to The Original Series. While the Discovery is incredibly well-designed, the Starfleet uniforms, the make-up design for the Klingons, and the designs for the Mirror Verse look like they belong in a series that takes place after Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ironically, looking too futuristic for the time period of the show is supposed to take place in.
The show was also politically correct. Math, science, and naturalism reign supreme on this show. While I do not think it was more PC than DS9, it did have some moments where you wanted to roll your eyes at the pandering they do for the woke crowd. Star Trek was always smart, so to see this pandering was annoying and, yes, the show leaned Left in politics, the scripts were well-written. This was not. Officers
The finale is underwhelming. While the Klingons have almost won the war, Starfleet considers destroying their homeworld, Kronos, to deal a decisive blow, ultimately changing their minds to holding the planet hostage in order to get an armistice. I felt let down by this ending. Even DS9 had a better ending to the Dominion War.
The worst aspect is the show is its dark nature. They are using that streaming to its fullest with disturbing images of torture, strong foul language, and overt sexual themes that cross the line on network TV. It seemed the smart writing I mentioned earlier was replaced by this shock value and that is very disappointing.
That being said, the series had minor positives aspects. The entire cast is descent. It featured Isaacs, Martin-Green, also stars Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, James Frain, Mary Wiseman, Michelle Yeoh, and Wilson Cruz. At times, the banter and cohesion as a crew on an experimental ship was well written. Also, the special effects were spot on for the series. The way warp speed, the experimental engine, the battle scenes, the sounds, and even space is incredibly well designed. It gave us an excellent look for the show and gave it a “realistic” look to the science fiction series.
One of the interesting aspects was Captain Lorca. In a reverse to Voyager, where Captain Janeway was a scientist commanding a mixed crew of Starfleet and rebels, Lorca’s crew consists of mostly scientists while he is a soldier. This change in dynamic brought on some tense moments that were very well acted by Isaacs and the other actors. It is sad, though, as his character is more interesting than the main character. In my opinion, the Captain will always be the most interesting person.
Over all, the political correctness, the pandering, shock value, and changes to the canon make the show more cringe. I tried to highlight the positive aspects, but it is difficult. If this is the direction of Star Trek, it is not a promising one.
Here is the trailer for season one:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my review of The Mule and my music review of Lady Antebellum’s What If I Never Get Over You. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.