Thursday, August 25, 2016

Metamorphosis: Discovery to break the Trek mold

Bryan Fuller
Looks like we now have more information on Discovery, though we're still waiting for casting news. I think we have enough on the new Trek series to begin a discussion. Much of it will remain in the area of speculation, but let's put the basic facts front and center:

- The setting is between Enterprise and TOS. Ten years before TOS, to be exact, according to showrunner Bryan Fuller, focusing on an important but rarely discussed event (not Axanar). Can't say I'm very thrilled about this being another pre-Kirk series, not when there's so much territory between TOS and TNG to explore, but whatever. Maybe the look will match TOS: the colorful interiors, the funky-shaped doorways, the beehives and mini-skirts! As for the event, if it's not Axanar, I don't know what it could be. My knowledge of the 23rd century timeline is spotty. It could be anything.

The Comic-Con "teaser" image of the USS Discovery
- Female lead. Fine, especially if it's gonna be a minority. We figured they were going in this direction when they courted Angela Bassett earlier this year. Sadly, she declined. (Maybe she swore off sci-fi after Supernova!) Hey, how about a Latina? Trek doesn't exactly have many Hispanic characters. (B'elanna Torres counts, I guess, but she's thought of more as a Klingon than a human, much less a Latina.) The character will start as a lieutenant commander, though? Hmm. Maybe she'll be the head of a department on the Discovery - chief engineer, or head of security?

- Gay character. Absolutely. Long overdue. No complaints here.

- Lots of aliens. The quote from Fuller: "We wanted to paint a picture of Starfleet that's indicative of encountering people who are much more different than we are." Non-humanoids, maybe? Perhaps a cast member in a performance-capture suit? Also, the lead's raison d'etre will involve "get[ting] along with others in the galaxy." Fine, as long as it's not too PC. Trek has rarely been one to preach; I would hate to see that change. And robots! Oh boy! Hey, maybe we can get Twiki from Buck Rogers out of retirement!

- The look of the Discovery. Nothing final yet, but we know they're looking to a discarded Enterprise re-design from what would have been the first Trek movie, "Planet of the Titans." It's somewhat different from what we're used to: a slightly smaller saucer section and a wider rear that flares out from the secondary hull in a triangular shape. Not that crazy about this look, but maybe it has to do with the function of the Discovery.

- Self-contained stories that tie into a larger arc. This is a compromise I can live with. The Dominion War was told this way, and I prefer this to one long, ongoing serial, like chapters in a book. "Done-in-one" stories have great power and they shouldn't be abandoned completely.

- "...slightly more graphic content." That's a direct quote from Fuller. I don't expect this to be Game of Thrones, but Star Trek has been successful despite the limitations of what can and can't be shown on network TV, not because of them. I see no reason for that to change just because the creators want to curse and show nudity. I'm sure it won't be as simple as that, but you get my point.

- There will still be commercials. Huh? CBS has ballyhooed this All Access subscription-based service as the Next Big Thing, but they're still gonna show commercials? I don't care if it is 25% less than network TV, this endears me to All Access even less.

At this point, I'm resigning myself to not watching the new show after the premiere, no matter who they cast or what it'll be about. That might change between now and next year, but the odds don't look good. Still, like I've stated here before, we don't have to rely on Trek's corporate overlords. We can make our own Trek, in many varieties across multiple media. That, I think, will have to be my consolation for now.

Axanar and fan fiction
William Shatner's 'Leonard'
Two Nimoy docs
Lin brokers Axanar settlement
action Trek vs. mental Trek 
the new fan film rules

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