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.

Gandalf Quote

아사텀바 거 그바 지더 마 그바터미 거 아사지더 |다어타 여다바 가 | 야 냐 여다 그바 마 끼하 브허간거
asatlempa ke kupa tsite ma kupatlemi ke asa tsite | ta’etla yetapa ka | ya nya yeta ke kupa ma’a nkiha puhekanke
live-REL-many O death deserve and die-REL-few O life deserve | 2s-P.4s give-ABIL Q | VOC for give O death and judgment eager-AUG-NEG
“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.”

Wisdom from Leonard Nimoy

asa kue niuahi amahilo uampe pala ehe tomepak pa’e motohue
life like garden-DIM time-DIM-PL perfect but preserve-ABIL-NEG except.for memory-LOC

“Arrival” (spoilers)

Various coffee stain rings that the audience is meant to accept as actually imparting meaning and nuance.

Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that “Arrival” is about linguistics. Not at all…other than a few mentions of pseudo-linguistic perspectives about how language (and time for that matter) works. I watched with what is commonly referred to as an “open-mind” in the hopes that I would appreciate the lengths the filmmakers went to incorporating linguistics into the story line. I was disappointed. While there is mention of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and some weird attempt at explaining “nonlinear orthography” (not really a thing, by the way), as well as a few examples of Dr. Banks speaking Chinese and understanding Russian, that’s all there is.

Much of the rest of the story is sadly an emotionally driven plot about her deciding to give birth to a daughter that she knows – by way of being able to perceive time like the aliens, in a “nonlinear” way (eye roll) – will eventually die of an incurable form of cancer.

This is silly. And, yes, I mean that in a completely dismissive way. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is debated as much as any other contentious theory and has been studied at length without much evidence to suggest its validity. But, again, this movie only uses linguistic theory as a plot device, relying on it in very much a Sci-Fi trope-ish way, including a healthy dose of “if you could time travel and change stuff, would you?”

Lastly, as someone that has studied virtually every writing system known to have existed, I just want to point out that partial circles that closely resemble coffee stains do not a written language make. If you’re looking for an entertaining movie that has a healthy helping of linguistics, this movie isn’t for you. If, however, you want to have your heart tugged at with the backdrop of science fiction, then, by all means go get some popcorn and enjoy.


To anyone that follows this blog, I sincerely apologize for my lack of writing over the last three weeks. I attended a family reunion and started a new job. Those are not meant as excuses, but reasons. My internet access has been minimal and spotty. I assure you, in the weeks and months to come there will be plenty more Kala, poetry, and political ramblings for you to enjoy/ignore/disagree with.


PS: In the meantime, enjoy this:

Perception is a Choice.

I always hope for the best. Experience, unfortunately, has taught me to expect the worst.

~ Garak

Chiefs, Ensigns, and Commanders…oh my

It may seem like a somewhat nerdy and pedantic issue, but with the new Star Trek series set to premiere at the beginning of 2017, I would like to take a moment to comment on the rank structure of Starfleet.

This is not an issue of design, or aesthetics, but rather an issue of accuracy and detail. This page describes continuity issues across the ST universe, including the nonsensical issues with Miles O’Brien. And the chaotic mistakes made during the first season of Voyager.

My (very passive) concern is that the new series will be so intensely focused on being fresh and entertaining, they will gloss over an issue that has been debated and picked apart for decades. As a US military veteran, I am very familiar with Naval ranks and how they apply to basic units and ships. That being said, I would very much like to see the writers and producers take the time to get it right from the beginning of the series. Firstly, there need to be enlisted. The sloppy way TNG handled having enlisted personnel, and the awkward way ENT tried to wedge in a few crewman in weirdly meaningless plot-lines…it’s all a bit off-putting.

I do not believe there need to be any retconning or ex post facto explanations. Simply put, establish early in the series that there are officers and enlisted and have ready the appropriate uniform rank insignia that allow for the addition or removal of any possible crew (actors). If we are to assume this series exists between TOS and TNG then we should assume that the crew will have either the ranks of either STVI or something similar to TNG. In either case, continuity will be a welcome change from the somewhat haphazard way this aspect has been dealt with.