Orville VS Discovery

Top 5 reasons that I watch Orville over Discovery

1) That paywall.

Like many other households we still have cable. We have not transitioned to a subscription service. We do have Netflix, but not Hulu, Amazon, or any other. While it’s clear that the trend in media is toward portable subscription services, there are still millions of households that have cable and would love to be able to simply push the power button on their remote to watch some good ol’ Trek. CBS, in an effort to compete with companies like those listed above, has lost probably a third to a half of its potential audience for Discovery. And no, no one should “bend over backwards” to pay for “good” science-fiction. It might be worth it for some, but for others, it’s just another crappy subscription for a show that has barely shown that it respects its creator’s vision, or the hundreds of hours of established canon that preceded it.

2) Another Prequel *sigh*

We’ve already had a dismal prequel, and the best thing that came of it was more Jeffery Combs. Quite seriously, the amount of retconning and explication needed for Enterprise to fit the already hearty Star Trek universe was too much for many fans to put up with, or accept. Yes, the Klingons have changed more than once, but the science, along with the fact that the lead character is supposed to have been an adopted half-sister to the most enduring and beloved character in all of Trek, yet we’re just now hearing about her, and the fact that so much of the story completely destroys long established timelines. All of this means that another prequel was likely the worst direction they could have gone in. They should have done something close to 30 or 40 years after Voyager returned home. This is based on nothing more than dozens of opinions I have read online. Prequels, when done correctly can enhance any franchise, and not only garner new fans, but reinvigorate the existing fan base, however, when done poorly, they leave such a sour taste behind that it’s nearly impossible to erase. Just ask Jar Jar Binks.

3) Days of Our Lives “in space”

The acting was fairly on par in Enterprise, but from what I’ve seen of Discovery it is overly dramatic and hammish, while the Orville cast is shaping up to have depth and true chemistry. With the current political and social climate what I (and many others, I suspect) want is to have hope, laughter, and simply a moment or two of escapism. When every scene is a perilous sequence of events that might lead to disaster, none of those wishes are granted. Orville, in my humble opinion, has, thus far, achieved equilibrium of drama and humor. Yes, much of that humor comes directly from the mind of Seth MacFarlane, and has a healthy dose of immaturity, but it is none-the-less humor that can be enjoyed on network television, instead of vulgarity laced dribbling, that I’m almost certain Gene Roddenberry would have loathed.

4) Faux Diversity

Yes, Discovery has a diverse cast, but they’ve not broken any new ground. Touting their cast as noteworthy based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other identity is a transparent pander to the youngest generation of potential viewers. Sisko was a black Captain who had a female first officer; Janeway was a female Captain with an Indigenous American male first officer. George Takei, an Asian-American, from the original series is gay, and there have been numerous storylines about gender issues throughout the Trek canon. So, no, Discovery isn’t breaking any new ground, or shifting any paradigms, it’s merely continuing the tradition that began more than 50 years ago. No extra points for mixing and matching what has already been done. Sorry.

5) Relatable Characters

Ed Mercer may be a heterosexual white male, but he’s flawed, perhaps severely so. He lacks the unencumbered bravery of Kirk, the diplomacy of Picard, the grit of Janeway, the tactical mind of Sisko, and the authenticity of Archer, but he’s human, he’s relatable. The tension on The Orville thus far is more interpersonal than introspective, but it makes for better humor, and it makes for better TV. Also, as Trek has had the Klingons, Borg, Dominion, and Romulans, The Orville has the Krill, but not to a fault. MacFarlane seems to realize that focusing exclusively on the alien species leaves little time to develop the main characters, whereas Discovery seems hell-bent on shoving every nuance of the Klingon nouveau down the throats of anyone watching. Ed fumbles, omits details from reports, says inappropriate things in various situations, has fears, basically he’s flawed enough to be far more believable than a human taught by Vulcans whose arrogance and vitriol are easily the antithesis of everything she is meant to embody.

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So, we’ve discovered the newest iteration of Star Trek on TV.

First, I find Michael Burnham to be a laudable character, at least, as far as her bio suggests she should be. Supposedly educated by none other than Spock’s father, Sarek, it is hinted that she might be the only human to ever have attended Vulcan schools. However, through her actions during the first episode it might be understandable to assume she is an average emotionally volatile human. Only a day or so after Capt. Georgiou discusses a command of her own, Burnham commits blatant mutiny in order to initiate what can only be considered war with the Klingons, a hereto misunderstood and feared enigma to the Federation and Strafleet; hardly a logical course of action.

Secondly, the rest of the crew seems an afterthought, barely worthy of their names appearing in the end credits. The interaction of Burnham, Georgiou, and Saru are splattered across every scene with almost no interaction from the rest of the crew. This might seem acceptable for a pilot episode, but with Trek, the ensemble cast has always been introduced with an easy simplicity in the premiere episodes. This is yet another thing that seems difficult for DSC to learn from its predecessors.

Thirdly, the Klingons seem to be taking center stage. And despite the obvious outward redesign, they also do not behave exactly like other Klingons throughout the Trek universe. This might be explained during the rest of the first season, but even then it seems as though a more fitting title for the show would be “Star Trek: Exposition of Klingons”. There also seemed to be a thick layer of a Game of Thrones paint slathered all over the interactions among the Klingons. While this may be the norm for modern TV, it is an anathema to the Trek universe. Star Trek has always had an air of big “D” drama, as it should given the varying degrees of danger the crews find themselves in, but the majority of that drama has been more than a few paces away from Soap Opera style drivel.

Lastly, the effects…this show so obviously and painfully is drawing from the JJ Abrams style of cinematography that I wonder if they might be paying him royalties. The style of Trek on TV has always been more-or-less in-line with the rest of non-sci-fi TV. That is, no flares, no tilted camera angles, dramatic close-ups only when deemed necessary. I can imagine a few people were actually mildly dizzy watching the cyclonic movements and frenzied lighting that made-up the majority of the first two episodes. This is without-a-doubt, not the Trek of old, and it may very well have changed too much.

I know quite a many people fell in love with this show as soon as it aired. Those are the people that would have also bought a pet rock, chattering teeth, or plopped down a bundle for a sliver of land on the moon. This show may, after a while, prove itself to be the incarnation of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future, but it failed in the first 90 minutes to convince me that it isn’t much more than a marketing ploy by CBS to entice people into paying for a streaming service that will still force viewers to watch commercials and probably have buffering issues with horrifying regularity. I, for one, am not sold.

Trek Rant, sort of

So, lately I’ve been writing a few opinion pieces for a Star Trek blog. While I have been a long-time fan, and I enjoy writing, I’ve noticed that there are a multitude of serious fans that do not take kindly to having their precious sci-fi put to scrutiny. This is not a serious issue for me, as I am inclined to write and let my writing stand without much regret. However, it isn’t a goal of mine to ridicule or take away pleasure in a franchise that has endured for half a century.

My general view of the news series, starting on September 24th of this year, is that there have been multiple delays; key personnel have left the show, only to be replaced by others with less stellar resumes, and the overall look of the show has veered toward a Abrams-style that many fans found off-putting in the latest trilogy of films.

The tricky thing here is accepting a realistic assessment of a sci-fi television show…I say that because certainly a portion of the fan base wants to simply watch and be entertained, and not have the fantasy of it all be criticized or revealed as such. That’s completely understandable, but what would be too far? How much change is acceptable before a fan looses interest? Or, is it the fan, through aging, that no longer can accept the fantastical nature of a show like Discovery. These questions are perhaps too philosophical and overly analytical for a TV show, but they seem relevant none-the-less.

One possibility, that with a newer generation running things at CBS and Paramount, as well as a younger audience to entice, things need to change, things need to be fresh in order to be successful. My guess is that no one will ever reach a definitive answer for all of the consternation felt by so many for all of the various reasons they might voice could very well simply be veiled crotchetiness.

As for me, I’m well passed it all. I’ve lost interest in the whole debate; the Klingons, the style of the show, the uniforms, the characters…etc. I have seen every episode of Trek that has ever been shown on TV, but this newest series might be the one I skip, based on nothing more than wanting to have plausible deniability to avoid discussion and debate about its various controversial aspects.

Star Trek Discovery vs The Orville

This is the new Star Trek Discovery trailer. And as exciting as it is, I’m uneasy about much of the aesthetic choices, most especially the Klingons. Yes, I know the Klingons have changed a few times, but never this drastically, or for seemingly just the heck of it. Some will point out that when he had the money, Roddenberry changed the look of several aliens…well, yes, he did, but he did it to what we know from the ’80s and ’90s, not this new version. I’m not trying to make the case that new aliens and a modern aesthetic are contrary to good storytelling, that judgment will need to wait until the show actually airs. However, what many fans have come to expect from Trek is a certain level of consistency, and this seems to disregard consistency for what I can only assume is renewed interest.

Keeping in mind that this show will air only its pilot on network television, and then reside behind a paywall, CBS is banking on serious interest that this trailer only barely stirs, at least in someone that has watched Star Trek most of his life. I hope that the show will have success, but given the issues they’ve had with the roll-out, delays, budget and personnel, I fear this show may be shorter lived than Enterprise was.

Meanwhile, this is the trailer for a new show on Fox, starring Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, American Dad, and so much more. This show looks to be a lighter look at the future and space exploration, almost refreshing given the numerous dystopian themes running through much of network and cable television. This seems like a bit of a coup for Fox as “The Orville” looks more like Trek than the new Trek. It also, by using humor, might have an edge over a show that seems like it might be focusing a bit to much on the drama of space travel…and doing so in horrible stylistic contrast to its predecessors.

I will admit that I am looking forward to both of these shows, but there is reason to bet on the latter having more success than the former if nothing else but because people might want a healthy dose of funny and interesting rather than space battles galore plus drama. The current political climate might just be the thing that sets the shows against each other.

Savor life…

“Once More unto the Breach” (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

Savor the fruit of life, my young friends. The taste is sweet at first, but it turns bitter after a time. ~ Kor

ya pakonim kya ke punka asayo sika | ke matsua kue niha naye mula ehe tla nikalatli
VOC young-nice-PL IMP O fruit life-GEN savor | O taste like sweet during begin but 4sg be.bitter-become-FUT

Hangul for Klingon

ghitlhchen
ghItlhchen – “Constructed Writing”

My appreciation for Hangul and my wholly amateurish interest in Klingon have converged…I felt compelled to create a version of Hangul for Klingon.

So, here it is;

ghitlh bas
These are the basic consonants.

The “la” and “ra” are ambiguous. This can cause confusion between such words as “ghel”- ask (a question) and “gher”- formulate, compile, pull together; however most of these instances would be discernible through syntax and context.

ghitlh fin
The final consonants “tlha”, “va”, and the glottal stop (taken from obsolete Hangul Jamo) – in all positions – must be edited in an image and can not be properly typed on a computer.

ghitlh vows
The endings “-w’” and “-y’” must be discerned through context. The “-w” diphthongs must be edited as an image.

ghitlh w y
The “yI” and “Iy” are identical but can be identified by surrounding characters. The “w” and “y” initials can be written as the “ng” initial because no Klingon word begins with either “ngw” or “ngy”. The same is true for the endearment suffix “-oy” as there is no Klingon word “ngoy”.

ghitlh targh
For comparison…


ghitlh samp 1

A Fuller Trekverse.

Last month I explained my joy at the 50th anniversary. This month I am almost as excited about the announcement that Bryan Fuller has been picked to run the new TV series. I do not have extremely high expectations for the show, but his early career was on DS9 and Voyager, so, it stands to reason that he is ensconced in all things Trek.

I’ve heard rumors of who might be starring on the show, but I won’t spread those here. What I will say is that if the show is anything like Enterprise, it won’t last long and many people will surrender their combadges.