9 Ways That Modern Star Trek Is Revitalising A Tired Franchise

With the release of new Star Trek properties, such as ‘Discovery’, ‘Picard’ and ‘Short Treks’, fans of the franchise have had mixed reactions. Some see the new products as a refreshing injection of modern media into an aging brand, whilst others do not believe that these new offerings measure up to older installments.

Arguments on social media repeatedly occur, often with the same points being made: either that these new shows are glitzy and glossy but ultimately shallow compared to old stories; or that Star Trek has always been awful trash, so modern iterations are simply staying on-brand by continuing that trend.

The truth is, Star Trek has been terrible since the beginning. It’s self-evident, and it’s actually a good thing that people like Alex Kurtzman and Michael Chabon and their new creative teams are refreshing the franchise to appeal to a broader audience in a more accessible way.

Here’s a list of all the ways that new Trek has been vastly improved over the last eleven years:


1 – The Special Effects

Cheesey, cheap special effects are a hallmark of classic Star Trek.

For example, do you remember how we would always see the same classes of ship over and over, because the studios were too hurried and poor to make more ship models?

For instance, in the top two images above, you can see all of the boring copy-paste fleets from Deep Space Nine’s ‘Call To Arms’, whilst the bottom two images show the benefit of a much more generous budget and the visual diversity to match it in Picard’s ‘Et In Arcadia Ego Pt. 2’.

(Which reminds me, have you noticed how much cooler the episode titles are in these new shows?)

The special effects in general are hugely improved. Take these two shots, from the 1996 movie ‘Star Trek: First Contact’ and the 2013 ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ nearly twenty years later. It’s clear just how far Star Trek has come visually in all of that time:

It’s pretty clear what kind of difference there is between a shitty cheap film with a budget of $75 million (adjusted) and a snazzy, glossy, expensive film with a budget of $190 million.


2 – The Cinematography

It’s not just the special effects that have benefitted from a modern, new, visionary creative team. Genius cinematographers, directors, grips and lighting designers have seen the show visually evolve beyond the drab, evenly-lit, flat-angled visual snooze fest in exciting and dynamic ways.

Just take a look at these shots from the older series:

I mean, just look at these dull, static shots, with the camera completely level. No tilting, no lens flair, no sweeping overhead shots. Just boring, careful positioning of the actors to show power dynamics and moral standings, so that the camera becomes part of the storytelling process.

Now look at what these newer shows have to offer, such as this shot from Discovery’s ‘Point Of Light’, which is UPSIDE DOWN as the cadets jog towards the camera, before it is followed with completely flat shots when Tilly starts having disturbing hallucinations:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Or later in the same episode, when Burnham and Amanda walk down a corridor at a normal pace exchanging small talk, but the camera begins pointing at the ceiling and then revolves and twists around as though it were following an aerobatics display:

DISCO TILTED SIDEWAYS
This image isn’t cropped, by the way. Jump to time code 9:59 to see it for yourself. Or check out this scene from the first pilot episode, in which the camera sits at an angle for Every. Single. Shot.

‘Picard’ took things to a whole other level, by having this iconic scene from Picard’s ‘The Impossible Box’ in which a screenshot of Picard as Locutus is super-imposed over the face of an older Picard:

Picard Locutus Face

This kind of beautiful cinematography doesn’t come easily. In one beautiful image, we are shown that Picard was once Locutus, to remind people who watched ‘The Next Generation’ of what happened in that show. Without this incredible, visionary shot, you might easily forget that Picard was once Locutus, and that would require an entire extra line of dialogue later on to explain that fact.

Compare that to this terrible shot from ‘The Best Of Both Worlds’:

Picard BOBW 1

I mean, sure, the negative space around Picard might indicate his loneliness and isolation as a leader heading into a hopeless battle, and the fact that he has his back to the camera might be a subtle means of conveying a sense of departure, of stepping into the unknown, and the lighting might be set up to create deep shadows, adding to the sombre, foreboding tone of the scene. But you can’t even see Picard’s face! And there are no holographic computer terminals in sight. This is just cheap and boring.

Or how about this shot, from later in the same episode, where we first see the transformed Locutus up close:

Locutus BOBW

And I know you might be thinking, “Wow, the low angle implies dominance and power, whilst the identical drones close in beside him emphasise the collective consciousness of the Borg, and the sickly yellow lighting highlights their truly unnatural and disturbing nature.”

But the camera is completely level! The shot is just one static angle, no dollying or panning or zooming or spinning. Just one boring shot with cheap lighting that focuses more on visual storytelling than it does on showing off a big budget.

The only things that this kind of dull, old cinematography required was time and physical effort by dozens of people to carefully set up a scene and deliver a visual message. Such an amateur approach simply can’t compete with the glamour of countless hours of labour by underpaid CGI artists that show us one face superimposed over another face.


3 – Shorter Seasons

The fact is, the first season of every Star Trek series is always the worst, with the exception of the Original Series (because ‘Spock’s Brain’ exists).

But with the two new shows, ‘Discovery’ and ‘Picard’, the creators were able to condense the seasons down to more manageable levels, drastically increasing the quality of the series as a whole.

Take, for example, ‘The Next Generation’, which had a fairly terrible opening season all things considered. Of its 26 episodes, at least 18 of them were completely terrible, from the racially uncomfortable ‘Code Of Honour’ to the abominable ‘Encounter At Farpoint’.

TNG Season 1

That’s 18 terrible episodes out of 26. ‘Discovery’, on the other hand, had just 15 episodes in its first season, and only 12 of those were nauseatingly bad. This means that, sure, you’re getting fewer episodes overall, but you’re also getting fewer bad episodes, and that’s a marked improvement.

‘Picard’ doubles down on this tactic, with just 10 episodes in its first season, and only 9 of those were embarrassing to watch. That’s fully half the number of terrible first-season TNG episodes, which is an incredible achievement.

PIC Season 1


4 – Serialisation

The new shows have done away with that old-fashioned episodic storytelling in favour of serialised narratives, as pioneered in ‘Deep Space Nine’.

Whilst it’s still possible to dip in and out of older shows at random, not worrying too much about chronology, such casual enjoyment is no longer on the table for the new era of Star Trek.

Now, season-long arcs involving time travel, prophecies and deadly conspiracies mandate that audiences watch the full season in detail from start to finish.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

‘Deep Space Nine’ failed to commit to serialised storytelling, instead including one-off self-contained episodes scattered throughout its run. You might think that this was a sensible approach, granting the audience a change of pace and allowing lighthearted episodes to coexist alongside heavier, more serious storytelling without either one undermining the tone of the other.

But, as we can see in Picard’s ‘Stardust City Rag’, it’s far more efficient and jarring to simply lump everything together, forcing audiences to watch gruesome body horror before flipping over to comedic French accents and silly disguises within a matter of scenes.

This style of gripping, fearless storytelling is truly bringing Star Trek into the modern era.


5 – Better Stories

Throughout its run, Star Trek has mostly been concerned with the human condition. The most iconic Trek stories focusing on some aspect of our frail human lives, and rarely feature much of a “plot” at all. ‘Darmok’ is a spotlight on how easily we take communication for granted. ‘In The Pale Moonlight’ is an examination of how evil deeds can be done merely by a series of tiny, incremental ethical compromises. ‘The City On The Edge Of Forever’ is a tale of fate and causality, of how our lives are unpredictable but never insignificant.

In the Pale Moonlight

But all of this “thematic” storytelling is really rather juvenile. To quote the two greatest television storytellers of our time:

themes

Ultimately, the kind of slow, plodding storytelling that used to work for old series of Star Trek just doesn’t cut it anymore. Take something like ‘It’s Only A Paper Moon’ from the last season of Deep Space Nine. Nothing happens! There is no mystery to be uncovered, no conspiracy, there aren’t even any fight scenes or spaceship battles. It’s just this stupid, boring character study of a young man dealing with the pain and trauma of a brutal war, which has left him grievously injured both physically and psychologically.

The writers of Discovery were smart enough to know that a story like that is wasted airtime, and so they take the same scenario, only it turns out that the traumatised soldier, Lorca, isn’t actually traumatised at all, but is actually a sociopathic racist from another dimension who is secretly trying to return to his home universe so that he can stage a coup and become a racist emperor. The physical wound that we believe he has is actually just a feature of his alternate-universe physiology.

swordlorca
Swords are more interesting than trauma.

This saves the audience from having to think about the story afterwards, or from empathising with any of the characters, or from changing how they think about an issue. Instead, we can just enjoy all of the awesome cliffhanger-reveals at the end of each episode, and then forget about all of it for the rest of our lives as soon as it’s over.


6 – Modern And Relatable Dialogue

With better stories comes a higher quality of writing overall. The writing teams behind the latest Star Trek stories have really brought Trek into a modern era, and the dialogue between characters is no exception.

Gone is the musty, stale superiority of old Old Trek Self-Righteousness full of pointless technobabble. Now we have relatable, believable dialogue between relatable, believable characters. Here are just a few examples:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the real world, most people do actually talk like idiotic teenagers, so I think it’s about time that the language of Star Trek was updated to be more relatable and in tune with audiences.

It’s easy to think that just because characters are aspirational, they’re somehow entertaining or fun, but really none of us characters we can look up to. We want gritty, emotional characters, who talk and act exactly as we do, worse even, because we want to relate to them.

We can see this direct improvement in the character of Seven Of Nine, who appears in both ‘Voyager’ and in ‘Picard’. In ‘Voyager’, she is recently rehabilitated from a collective consciousness, and has to learn what it means to be an independent human. She frequently brushes up against the seemingly arbitrary rules set by the other humans around her, and she struggles to cope with living in an environment of chaos and social nuance whilst at the same time trying to figure out who she is as a person.

Seven Dialogue 1
You might not be able to tell, because of the text, but this is yet another terrible bit of cinematography.

And there’s just nothing there to relate to, y’know? Like, how are we, as the audience, supposed to engage with a character like that?

What’s far more engaging is her revised and updated character in ‘Picard’, in which she has become a vigilante justice-seeker in the criminal underworld outside of civilisation who brutally murders multiple other women out of vengeance. And there is just so much more there for the audience, especially young members of the audience, to relate to.

Seven Dialoge 2
By copying and pasting a line that occurred earlier in the episode, dialogue automatically becomes thematic, even if the line wasn’t actually a point of conflict for the character and they were just saying it sarcastically.

Y’know, Seven was this eloquent, intelligent woman who chose her words carefully and deliberately when she expressed her frustrations at coping in a world in which she never grew up, and her continuing struggle to discover herself in the face of adversity was truly aspriational and touching. So it’s really refreshing for the writers of ‘Picard’ to dump that musty old nonsense and instead make her this badass gunslinging thug who expresses herself with violence and shouting instead. It’s way more relatable.

Really Rather Pretty


7 – Progressive Representation

Star Trek has always had a terrible track record with progressive representation. Women have always made up a minority of casts, and when present have often been sexualised and objectified far more than the men.

And that’s to say nothing for LGBTQ+ representation, which has largely been absent altogether.

Fortunately, the latest Star Trek media products have brought the franchise forwards by leaps and bounds. ‘Discovery’ was a show full of women, even if they hardly ever spoke to one another, and it even had two openly gay characters, Stamets and Culber. After just five episodes, it is revealed that these two are a couple, and we get to see them as a couple a good five or six times before Culber is killed off a few episodes later.

Culber Death
The second ever openly gay character in Star Trek – introduced in Episode 4, dead by Episode 10.

Fortunately, Culber is brought back part-way through Season Two of ‘Discovery’, and at the very end he decides that he wants to stick around with Stamets, so we’re absolutely probably going to see a gay relationship return to ‘Discovery’ in some form or another most likely at some point eventually.

‘Picard’ goes even further, with a full-on lesbian relationship between Seven and Raffi Musiker. You can see the relationship in full below:

Seven And Raffi
Really this should be tagged ‘NSFW’.

This is a resounding triumph for representation. To have two grown women clasp hands like this during a montage at the very end of the show demonstrates just how far Star Trek has come after so many decades. What’s even more incredible is that these two characters hardly interacted at any point before this, leaving their entire relationship a mystery to the audience, that we can gleefully imagine for ourselves just how beautifully this relationship would have been handled if it were actually in the show.

And it’s nearly as intimate a moment as the one between the same-sex couple two seconds earlier:

Hetero Kiss

Y’know, ‘Picard’ is a product that was released in 2020, and I think that really shows in the way that it nearly featured an on-screen same-sex relationship.

It also shows in the way that characters in ‘Picard’ repeatedly assume that powerful and competent individuals must be men so that the audience can be shocked when powerful and competent individuals turn out to be women.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


8 – A New Vision

One of the greatest strengths of Star Trek, and a key ingredient in the franchise becoming as iconic and meaningful to so many people as it has been, is the vision of the future that Star Trek presents.

Lets See

And that vision sucked. It was really weird and strange, and full of things like the eradication of poverty, egalitarianism, a human society dedicated to exploration and diplomacy. All the criminals we saw were somehow righteous and fighting for a moral cause, or WERE victims of some illness or trauma which caused them to behave violently. Money was a thing of the past, and the human condition had improved to the point that drink and drugs were social pastimes rather than damaging addictions.

And there would be problems in this vision. Senior officers would consistently be making uncomfortable, even unethical decisions, as part of the bigger picture of maintaining the Federation. Captains might go rogue when they weighed up a situation and reached the wrong conclusion. ‘Deep Space Nine’ spent entire seasons examining the costs associated with maintaining Utopia – of how, even in an enlightened future, difficult decisions still had to be made to preserve humanity’s achievements.

But there was always this curiosity to the franchise. A constant “What if…?” approach to the characters we saw. What if society really was better than it is in the modern day? What if human civilisation really had developed to the point that people pursued ambitious careers for ambitions’ sake? What if poverty and ignorance and prejudice no longer held humanity back, and instead allowed a multicultural community to flourish, full of artists and scientists and historians and explorers?

Science Fiction

Take Jean-Luc Picard. Probably his second-greatest pursuit, after his Starfleet career, was archaeology. He was passionate about the history of ancient cultures, and took every opportunity he could to learn more about the past. He collected relics and he treasured the artefacts he found. Out of the uniform, Picard was a curious, inquisitive scholar who was fascinated by the world around him.

Kurlan Naiskos

But, y’know, that’s just so boring. And so difficult for audiences to engage with. But thankfully, modern Star Trek is revitalising this vision and making it more modern and futuristic, by bringing it much closer to the vision of our current society.

Now, we have a vision of the future that’s full of drug addiction and alcoholism. People drink Budweiser and use Nokia phones, riding around in taxis (admittedly, space taxis) and talking about how much money they owe one another. Picard has given up on his pursuit of archaeology to instead lounge around on his massive estate like the rich person he is, whilst underpaid dock workers of the future behave exactly like underpaid dock workers of the present.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Starfleet ships don’t explore anymore, they now do cool stuff like fight in wars and solve big mystery plots. Crews don’t spend their time playing instruments or cooking or composing poetry or any of that boring stuff, because now they go to bars and have bangin’ dance parties just like we all did in high school.

Wyclef Jean
That is genuinely the Netflix subtitle, I didn’t add that.

Essentially, people in the future aren’t different anymore. They’re just like us, and that’s so much better in so many ways. Nobody wants to watch a show about humanity’s potential to grow and develop – we just want to see mirrors of ourselves firing rayguns and flying spaceships. Society is essentially the same as it has always been, only with more teleporters and laser beams. And that’s so much more fun and interesting and… relatable.


9 – A Touch Of Class

Star Trek has always been a cheap, tacky entertainment franchise, so the last and most significant improvement that’s been brought about over the last decade has been a little je ne sais quoi, a little X-Factor, which has really elevated the franchise into a classy, refined artform.

twoholes2

There are so many subtle little ways that the new group of creators and producers have turned Star Trek into a respectable, classy affair.

Such as this adorable marketing campaign! Look at that little tyke, painting with Isa Briones, one of the actors from ‘Picard’! I’ll bet that little kid just loves Star Trek.

I wonder which was his favourite scene from the new show? Maybe it was this one, where a character played by Isa gets burned by acid?

Acid Burns

Or maybe this bit, where Icheb’s eye gets ripped out?

Eye Scream

Or maybe these scenes of suicide and self-multilation?

One the wall behind Isa and the kid is a picture of Captain Georgiou. I wonder if the kid also watched ‘Discovery’? I wonder if he enjoyed the bit where Mirror Georgiou describes her sexual experiences?

DEFCON

Or maybe this Klingon sex scene?

Klingon Sex Scene

Or maybe this bit, where that same Klingon gets her face half-burnt off whilst she screams in agony:

Feel The Burn

Or this bit, because there ain’t no cream like eye scream, kids!

Eye Scream 3

I’m so glad that they’re using children to promote these shows. I heard that the kid’s next gig is a live stream of him going fishing with Hafþór Björnsson to promote a new Gregor Clegane spin-off from ‘Game Of Thrones’.

And who could forget the amazing way that ‘Star Trek (2009)’ and ‘Into Darkness’ really made female roles more prominent and relevant to the story, so that they could include these two shots in the respective trailers?

I think the increased interaction between the fans and the cast and crew of the new shows is also to be lauded. Never before have the creative minds behind Star Trek been so accessible to the audience, and that’s brilliant. It’s actually better if major points of the story are answered in an FAQ like a fucking Warhammer 40,000 Codex update, really. Stories are better told in the form of patch notes, and I look forward to this new style of storytelling becoming the norm.

FAQ

The show itself is no place for actual storytelling.

HEADCANON
The show’s own creator has a “headcanon”. Jeez Mikey, it’s a shame you didn’t put it in the show itself, because then it might have been actual canon. Oh well.

Conclusion

Overall, I think we can all agree that Star Trek is finally headed in the right direction, and there’s never been a better time to be excited about the future of the franchise. It’s so thrilling to try and guess at what violent, gritty, teenager-levels-of-edgy mystery plots we’ll get to enjoy in the future!

BREAKING: New STAR TREK Series Announced – SIMON PEGG To Helm The RETURN Of The ENTERPRISE C

A surprise announcement was made at yesterday’s Course Heading: Star Trek convention held in Nuneaton, UK, where Star Trek actor and writer Simon Pegg made a surprise appearance alongside current franchise runner Alex Kurtzman to announce the next Star Trek television project: ‘Ambassador’.

Hijacking the main stage immediately after the afternoon panel discussion, Pegg excitedly described the new show at this early conceptual stage:

PEGG: “It’s so brilliant to be here in front of all of you, really, and to have this amazing opportunity to talk about the new show, ‘Ambassador’. I think you’re all going to love it, I know some of you will be dubious at first, but as it comes together I think you’ll be really, really pleasantly surprised.

pegg
Pegg on-stage at Course Heading: Star Trek, at the Nuneaton Exhibition Centre.

Pegg went into further details about the show’s setting and its main character:

PEGG: “It’s called ‘Ambassador’, and we’ll be going back in time a little, to the Enterprise C, that’s where we’re taking the name from, for the Ambassador-class ship. I honestly love ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’, it’s one of my favourite episodes, and for me it’s the perfect jumping-off point for a new show.

“The reality of creating new material for a historical franchise like Star Trek is that, commercially, we really have to deliver something recognisable and familiar to the fans, you just can’t escape that if you want to compete against so many other brilliant, original shows. What’s perfect about this setting is that it allows us to lift something familiar but that’s not really been explored before, and run with it, do our own thing with it without breaking canon.”

Alex Kurtzman was alongside Pegg for the announcement, but passed very few comments. Asked on his involvement with the project, he responded:

KURTZMAN [laughing]: “No, no, I’m not in on this one, this is all Simon’s baby, I’m just writing the cheques.”

PEGG [to Kurtzman]: “Keep them coming! [laughs] Honestly, though, this is actually going to be a scaled-back production. It’s easy to over-spend with these sorts of shows, and focus on big actiony set pieces, but we actually want to scale it back, keep it more narrative-driven.

“From a business perspective, the studio wants a more modest, more affordable show, but for me, that just means we focus more on dialogue and story and character development. We really want to get to know the characters, see them at work and at play, y’know, see them tackling issues and problem-solving with each other, proper back-and-forth between them.

“It keeps the pressure of Alex’s chequebook, and gives the fans more of what they want, more of that classic Trek problem-solving, especially around negotiation and diplomacy – ‘Ambassador’ means more than just the ship, y’know?”

enterprise c
The Enterprise NCC-1701-C, as we saw it in TNG’s ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’.

On the subject of characters, Pegg described some of the show, but specified that many details are yet to be confirmed, and may roles have been outlined but not yet filled. He did, however, identify the show’s star:

PEGG: “I’ve literally, just yesterday had confirmed from her agent that Jessica Chastain’s agreed to come on board as Captain Garrett. This is amazing, Jessica’s a proper A-List talent, she’s amazing, and she’d done so many amazing roles already. Honestly I couldn’t believe it when I was told we might be getting her, and when I heard I was floored.

“Rachel Garrett’s only on screen for a bit but she’s this amazing character, with this cool, steady authority but, like, real grit, real tenacity and courage, Jessica’s perfect for that.

“She was amazing in ‘The Martian’, where Matt Damon’s stranded on an alien world, and incredible in ‘Interstellar’, where Matt Damon’s stranded on an alien world. [laughs] I don’t think we’re getting Matt Damon in though, are we, Alex?”

KURTZMAN [laughing]: “No, I don’t think so! You kidding? We just blew our budget on Jessica!”

PEGG: “Maybe we’ll get him in for an episode… maybe he’ll guest as another captain, this time he’ll rescue her from a planet for a change. [laughs] Maybe that’ll convince him, a chance to turn the tables.”

chastainoneill
Jessica Chastain, left, who will be playing Captain Rachel Garret, previously played by Tricia O’Neill, right.

Pegg went further to discuss this new version of Garrett in the show:

PEGG: “We’re setting it a few years before Narendra, before the Romulan attack, which means we know where their story ends up, but that’s actually kind of liberating, in a way. It means we don’t have to work in “will they live, will they die?” action scenes all the time, because we know what happens to them, so instead, we’re going to go back to episodic stories. Each episode will be its own story, and we get to focus the tension on the current problem.

“So, y’know, one of our early stories, we’re setting it on this war-torn planet where a Federation ship has crashed, and it’s up to Garrett and the Enterprise to force a ceasefire so they can rescue the survivors. It’s not, like, end-of-the-universe stuff, it’s a bit more simple, but it means we can set the stakes at a more basic level: do they rescue the survivors? Do they help create peace? How do they negotiate between these two factions, what sort of compromises are they willing to make? Is one side more righteous than the other?

“Part of that is developing Garrett’s backstory. This’ll be a reboot of sorts, because we’ll be really fleshing her out as a character, because we know so little about her. So she’ll have a background as a lawyer, in fact, still Starfleet, but she trained as a lawyer for the JAG office. But early in her career she gets forced into duty aboard a starship, and starts rising through the ranks from there.

“So she’s bringing this very measured, very analytical approach to command, to how she does things, very controlled and reasoned. I think it’s going to be really interesting, because she’s not, like, a romantic hero like Kirk, or a statesman like Picard, she’s more of an advocate, very driven, very quick to point out holes in other peoples’ arguments and spot gaps in reasoning – y’know, precise but witty, and sharp. She still sees herself as a lawyer as much as an officer, so she’s always looking at the evidence, she builds a case, builds an airtight argument so she always knows that what she’s doing is justified.”

Other casting decisions were announced, including Garrett’s first officer, along with a few other crew members and a high-ranking Starfleet admiral:

KURTZMAN: “We’re so excited to have Jessica on board to play Geralt -”

PEGG: “Garrett. Rachel Garrett.”

KURTZMAN: “Sure, yeah, Garret, right. So, we’ve got Jessica Chastain with us, which is amazing, but we’ve also got a few other big names. You want to tell them, Simon?”

PEGG: “Don’t mind if I do, thank you Alex. So, we’ve cast Grace Park as a new character, Commander Valerii. Grace was absolutely amazing as Boomer in ‘Battlestar’, so it’s great to get her back into sci-fi for ‘Ambassador’. She’s Garrett’s first officer, and she’s going to be much more old-school Starfleet, really headstrong, very motivated and heroic. We think it’ll be great, she’ll be this ambitious young officer butting heads with her captain. Garrett will be looking at the measured approach, building the case, whilst Valerii will be pushing to just charge in, do the right thing but leap before looking. It’ll make for a lot of friction, a lot of debate.”

gracepark
Grace Park, who will be taking on the role of Commander Valerii, the Enterprise C’s heretofore unseen first officer.

PEGG: “And then we’ve got Archie Panjabi in as the tactical officer Lieutenant Sharma. Archie’s got this fierce energy to her, this intensity that’s really compelling, and we really want to make the most of that. And we’ve got Nesta Cooper, she’s fresh out of ‘Travelers’, we’ve got her as the science officer, she’s wonderful, really is. And then to round off the main crew we’ve got Malcolm Barrett as the ship’s doctor, the chief medical officer. Malcolm’s another wonderful actor, he’s got a great range on him, but we really want to tap into that, that slightly insecure, fairly nerdy sort of performance that he did so well in ‘Better Off Ted’ and ‘Timeless’.”

othercast
From left to right: Archie Panjabi, Nesta Cooper and Malcolm Barrett, who will be playing bridge officers in the new series.

PEGG: “Finally, we have, and this is amazing, but we’re finalising talks with Viola Davis to guest-star in a few episodes as an Admiral, as Garrett’s commanding officer. We all love Viola’s sheer, raw talent, and she’ll be an absolutely fantastic element of the show, as the contact point with Starfleet and the Federation. We’re just in the final stages of negotiation, so I don’t want to jinx it too much, but yeah, that’s the real joy for me, is getting to work with incredible skilled performers like her.”

violadavis
Viola Davis, currently finalising her involvement in the series as a Starfleet Admiral.

Pegg rounded off the announcement with a few mundane details – the show is scheduled for release on CBS All Access in two years’ time, giving the new Picard show and the ‘Lower Decks’ animated show time to bed in and develop their own audiences.

Crowd reactions were positive, with plenty of cheering and applause. No time was given for questions and answers, but Pegg did offer an impromptu “FAQ” section at the very end:

PEGG: “Okay, I know this is a lot to take in, and I’ve been – ooh – I’ve been going on for a bit now, but just to get some stuff out the way:

“Yes, we’re going to be keeping those classic red woollen tunics. They’re gorgeous we all love them, and – look, I know it’s not era-appropriate, but we’re going to bring back the woollen turtleneck. It’s so iconic, and honestly, I always thought it just looked weird without it.

“And yeah, I hate to say it, but we’re updating the sets and the computers. It’s such a hard decision to make, but we need the show to appeal to new audiences as well as old, and part of that is making it look like a modern show. We’re going to try and keep the technology the same, and the ship’s going to be identical, we’re working really hard to really authentically reproduce the original design with CGI. But yeah, the computers, the consoles, the screens, they’re all going to be a little snazzier than they were. Just the realities of commercial TV, it has to look good in the trailers.

“And finally, no, there won’t be any cameos, I’m afraid. I won’t even be in it – no Scotty in this one! We really want this to be its own show, we’re using the Enterprise C and ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’ as a jumping-off point, but we don’t want to be tying ourselves down with links to existing characters. I dunno, maybe we’ll see a young Nechayev as an ensign or something, or Admiral Satie in her heyday, that could be good fun for an episode, but in general, no, we want this to stand on the strength of its stories.”

With that, the announcement drew to a close, with just a few passing remarks from Pegg and Kurtzman before departing:

PEGG: “Thanks all, it’s been wonderful to speak to you all today, and to share our news with you! It means so much that you’re all here. Y’know, we live in such an amazing time, both for Star Trek, and for the world, really, and we want to reflect that positivity and celebrate it with this new show.”

KURTZMAN: “We do, we really do. Which is why I’m so happy to hand the franchise over to these other amazing creative people like Simon, to take it forward into a bright future. This is a job that he was made for, and I’m glad to have him with us.”

PEGG: “Absolutely, and thank you, Alex. I mean, can you imagine if I wasn’t here? If you had to run this all by yourself?”

KURTZMAN: “I know! [laughs] Who knows what that would be like? Knowing me, there’d be a lot of fight scenes!”

PEGG: “Yeah, lots of fight scenes! You love them! You’d probably be bringing Spock back, but with, like, long hair and a beard, and have him running around and smiling at everyone.”

KURTZMAN [laughing]: “I might, I might! I mean, I’d probably never have come up with anything like ‘Ambassador’, I’d probably be doing, I dunno, a dark nasty spy show, like Section 31 or something.”

PEGG: “Yeah! Something awful like that, about a bunch of black ops spies led by, I dunno, some kind of fascist as the hero or something. Can you imagine?”

KURTZMAN: “Nah, I’d never… well, maybe. But that sort of thing just wouldn’t fly these days. Not since Hillary won by a landslide, and after Trump’s imprisonment for treason, people don’t want that nasty stuff anymore, they want optimistic, thoughtful stories that reflect the real world.”

PEGG: “Yeah, exactly. Y’know, I’m British, and I was so glad when the Brexit referendum failed 82-18. Waking up that morning and seeing that Remain had won by such a margin, and I thought ‘Wow, can you imagine if you lived in a world where your own country was sabotaging its entire future due to a bunch of privileged politicians and businessmen, and the only thing you had to look forward to was some kind of pessimistic, miserable take on Star Trek about war and religion and evil robots?”

KURTZMAN: “It’d be so grim, Simon, so grim. Every day I’m grateful, grateful to have amazing Star Wars spin-offs like that Boba Fett movie directed by the guy who did ‘Dredd’, and not some pointless and un-asked-for Han Solo origin story. Grateful to see anti-monopoly laws being so effective at preventing Disney from absorbing every single popular creative copyright in existence.”

PEGG: “Right! And, y’know, and speaking of that, we’ve seen all those sensible copyright laws come into effect, protecting content creators all across the internet and taking power away from these monolithic corporations. I think it’s really all down to the sweeping electoral reform we’ve seen across the globe, replacing first-past-the-post systems with true proportional representation that allows every vote to count and restores public faith in democracy.”

KURTZMAN: “That’s one of my favourite things about this reality! That, and also the time we took all the anti-vaxxers and put them in a big rocket and fired that rocket into the sun, before vaccinating everyone in the world who can be safely vaccinated and eradicating preventable diseases once and for all.”

PEGG: “That was such a good day. Such a good day. I mean, can you imagine a world without all of these incredible developments? Where we didn’t even have a progressive take on Star Trek? Where minority representation was just used as a marketing tool by corporations to push their product rather than being seriously utilised as a means of democratising the entertainment industry and stripping away prejudice and inequality? Where you ended up with completely abstinent, loveless gay couples, or non-white female lead actors who needed close ties to existing white male characters out of fear of alienating the core audience base?”

KURTZMAN: “Yeah, I mean, it’s so great being able to see you write strong, charismatic black female protagonists who stand on their own merits, and don’t need tying into the existing lore or given fate-of-the-universe backstories to justify their inclusion in the franchise. And it’s great that, although the realities of commercial TV come with certain attachments, they don’t serve as handcuffs on your creativity, and that you’re still able to exercise creative freedom to write compelling narratives that don’t have to pander to the drooling masses who need a six-minute punch-up in every episode to be entertained.”

PEGG: “Yeah, that sure would suck.”

EXCLUSIVE: Leaked Script from the Pilot Episode of ‘Star Trek: Picard’

Last night, the below script was accidentally uploaded by a CBS staffer to the Internet Movie Script Database. It was removed just a few minutes later once the mistake was realised, but fortunately, we here at CrudeReviews.net were able to download it in the short time it was live, and we decided to share it with you here.

Are you all super excited for the Alex Kurtzman-led return of Captain Jean Luc Picard, starring the legendary Patrick Stewart? We certainly all are! #PicardisBack #StarTrekRocks #WeLoveStarTrek #ProgressiveSciFi


STAR TREK: PICARD

SEASON 1, EPISODE 1
PROVISIONAL TITLE: “As the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
ALTERNATIVE TITLE: “Let Them Bleed”

WRITTEN BY ALEX KURTZMAN, AGE 44 AND 2/3rds

INT. PICARD’S READY ROOM
The camera pans across a table of Picard’s treasured memories. First we see his tin whistle, from that one where he lived the entire life of someone in a dying civilisation. Do you remember that one? It was really famous, everyone remembers that episode. The camera keeps panning, over to the ancient stone artefact, the Curly Rascal. Then a Polaroid photograph of Picard and Q, hanging out at the beach. Finally, four lights in a line. Do you remember that one? The one where he shouted “THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!”? Do you remember that? You remember that, don’t you?

The camera zooms out to show the whole ready room at a dutch angle. All the lights are blue, and everything’s dark. Behind his desk, PICARD sits in silence, grizzled, a rough scar down one side of his face, lifting a dumbbell in one arm. He stares at a screen in front of him, with the words “WAR REPORT” in large font at the top. There are red icons and lines on one half of the screen, and blue icons and lines on the other half of the screen.

The door chimes. Picard doesn’t look up.

PICARD
Enter.

In walks NUMBER ONE. She’s tall, of West Asian descent, and identified in all the show’s press releases as “Star Trek’s first Indian Muslim Lesbian!” She’s also half-Andorian, or something, with all of the personal drama that presumably entails.

NUMBER ONE
We’re almost ready to begin negotiations, Captain-Ambassador. As Starfleet’s top diplomat, it will be your job to bring peace to this sector. Before the entire Federation falls.

PICARD
Well, Number One, this war with [distant sound of dice rolling] THE ROMULANS and [sound of a dart thumping into a dartboard] THE JEM’HADAR, led by [sound of coin flip] THE BORG is taking its toll. The entire Alpha Quadrant could be wiped out soon if we don’t find a way to stop this dreadful war.

NUMBER ONE
Yes, wars are terrible. And thank you for so succinctly expositing the peril we currently face. It sounds like this awful, awful war could take nine, maybe even ten episodes to resolve.

PICARD
Agreed. Let’s get moving.

They walk out of the ready room together.

INT. THE SHUTTLE BAY
Picard, Number One and a Tactical Diplomacy Team enter the shuttle bay. They are all dressed in armoured space suits, carrying flashy new phaser rifles. They march past the shuttles straight to the rear door.

NUMBER ONE
Captain, aren’t we taking the shuttles?

PICARD
Not today, Number One. Today we need to be a little more direct. Ready?

The rear door opens, revealing a planet below them. The camera flies out of the door and pans back to an exterior shot of the ship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-XXX. A heavy metal remix of the ‘Next Generation’ theme plays. The Enterprise is a sleek, futuristic ship with nacelles and everything. She’s Starfleet’s newest consular ship, armed with fifty billion photon torpedoes and the newly-designed “Peacebringer” anti-planet array.

Inside the shuttle bay, an automated voice addresses the team.

COMPUTER
Ship in position. Diplomacy team ready to deploy.

PICARD
I love this part.
(he cocks his pump-action laser gun)
Let’s begin negotiations. Engage!

Picard, Number One and team run and leap out of the shuttle bay whilst Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ plays non-diegetically.

EXT. THE PLANET’S SURFACE, DAY
WEYOUN (Do you remember him???) and SOME ROMULAN stare in horror at a holographic tactical display.

SOME ROMULAN
Weyoun, it’s the Enterprise, she’s in orbit!

WEYOUN
The Enterprise? She’s an Ethics-class consular gunship! And she can only be captained by one person…

SOME ROMULAN
(gasping)
Picard! Quickly, we must hide the children!

WEYOUN
(to a Jem’Hadar soldier)
Get the troops ready and prepare our defenses for an orbital diplomatic assault!

EXT. THE SKY, DAY
Picard, Number One and the Tactical Diplomacy Team plummet through the air, the front of their spacesuits glowing red hot because that’s what happens when you enter a planet’s atmosphere, so this is still technically science-fiction.

Suddenly, powerful LASER BLASTS fire up at them from the surface! Arcs of deadly green energy bolts fill the air. Two of Picard’s diplomatic staff are vaporised as soon as they are hit.

NUMBER ONE
Captain, we can’t withstand this amount of firepower! We have to ab-

She screams, an energy bolt striking her and covering her in green, coruscating energy ribbons. Why she doesn’t get vaporised like the other two is unknown. She howls in agony as her body gets twisted and contorted by the energy, breaking her bones and searing her skin. This goes on for at least six minutes. Eventually, her eyes explode and then her entire body explodes inside her spacesuit, filling it with a goopy, bloody mess.

PICARD
Number One! Well, she died doing what she loved – convincing people on the internet that this was still a progressive show with new ideas. It’s just up to us men now, boys!

The assault team cheers, unfazed by their losses or the unyielding anti-air fire that still fills the sky. They continue their descent to the enemy position. One of them speaks up.

TEAM MEMBER
Say, captain, did we ever find out why the enemy wanted to go to war with us? It seems like the Romulans would be hesitant to ally with such a destructive force as the Jem’Hadar, and in any case, wouldn’t the cost of a war with the Federation and occupation of planets outweigh any strategic benefit in the long term?

He immediately gets hit with a laser blast and incinerated.

PICARD
Any other questions?

There are none.

EXT. MILITARY BARRACKS, DAY
A ROMULAN OFFICER leads twenty soldiers in combat training.

ROMULAN OFFICER
Remember, as you fight, be brutal, and only communicate in grunts and growls. We’re the baddies in this war, so we can’t do anything that will in any way humanise us or allow the audience to develop any sympathy for us.

ROMULAN SOLDIER
But I’m fighting for the security of my empire and for the freedom of my loved ones!

ROMULAN OFFICER
No you are not, maggot! You are a nameless grunt! You will throw yourself in the way of phaser blasts and if you are lucky, you may hit a Federation soldier, thereby increasing the level of peril!

ROMULAN SOLDIER
Sir yes sir!

Just then, Picard smashes into the soldier from above, his armoured space suit crushing the green-blooded Romulan into a cloud of red mist and gore. AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ blares over the soundtrack.

Picard taps a button on the side of his helmet, and the whole helmet folds back and into nothing, revealing Picard’s face and bald head.

PICARD
We’re here to negotiate terms.

He shoots the Romulan officer in the face. The rest of the squad land behind him, and begin shooting and/or stabbing the rest of the Romulans. Picard kneels over the fallen body of the Romulan officer.

PICARD
Alas, the cost of war. It is so terrible a thing that we ruin and slaughter when peace might otherwise prevail. Oh! How I long for the days of peaceful exploration, where we can uphold Starfleet’s true ideals of mercy and discov-

His voice is drowned out by the screams of the Romulans around him.

INT. A COMMAND CENTRE
Weyoun and Some Romulan are now in a dingy, poorly-lit command centre, filled with Jem’Hadar and Romulan soldiers.

WEYOUN
He’s made planet fall! We should send three brigades of our best troops to slow him down!

SOME ROMULAN
Don’t be insane! He’s the Federation’s top diplomat! We don’t stand a chance in a fight against him. Do you think he would let us live if we surrender?

WEYOUN
It doesn’t look like we have much choice.

Picard kicks down the door and strides in, rifle in hand. He shoots all of the other Romulans and Jem’Hadar before they have chance to react. Weyoun yelps, and drops to his knees, his hands clasped together.

WEYOUN
Captain-Ambassador Picard, please! We surrender! Unconditionally! Spare our lives, and we will work with you to bring this war to an end! We see now that we were at fault, and we want to learn from Starfleet’s ways of peace and equality, so that we can be better ourselves!

PICARD
Up yours, dickhead.

Picard punches Weyoun in the head, so hard that his head spins around completely, and we hear the sound of his neck snapping. Picard points his rifle at Some Romulan.

PICARD
There are now sixty Starfleet Abdul Hamid-class gunships in orbit of this planet. Surrender this sector, or we will be forced to wipe out every living organism and turn this world into a barren tomb.

Some Romulan nods nervously, then carefully shuffles to a console at one side of the room. He presses a button, and on the display a large, red icon appears: “SURRENDER SECTOR”. He pushes it. On the other side of the room, a display labelled “WAR MAP” turns from red to blue. Little Starfleet badge symbols replace all of the Romulan symbols.

Picard nods. He taps his commbadge.

PICARD
This is Picard. Diplomacy accomplished. One to beam up.

He is consumed by the sparkly transporter effect and disappears.

INT. THE BRIDGE OF THE ENTERPRISE
Picard strides onto the bridge in full dress uniform. He addresses the crew.

PICARD
Today, a great victory was won for peace. Through careful negotiation, we were able to end the war in this sector. Although we still have the rest of the Alpha Quadrant to pacify, today proves that we can restore order to the Galaxy by embodying Starfleet’s ideals of ethics, co-operation, discovery and science. This is what it means to be Starfleet, and we have shown that diplomacy, not violence, is always the way to resolve our differences.

The crew applaud, some with tears in their eyes. An Admiral gets up from their weapons station and hangs six medals around Picard’s neck. Inspiring music plays. The audience screams in joy about how Star Trek has returned to its moralistic roots.

Then, an alarm sounds. The OPS OFFICER gasps.

OPS OFFICER
Captain! There’s another ship on an intercept course! I’m not sure who it is, but I’m getting some data coming through now.

On his screen, in large font, are the words “COMMANDING OFFICER:” and below that, four empty spaces. Slowly, one by one, the empty spaces are filled with a letter each. “D”. Then “A”. Then “T”.

OPS OFFICER
Sir! It’s the Cheney!

PICARD
That’s… Commander Data’s ship!

That’s right, Commander Data! Do you remember him? The robot guy? He’s in this too! COMMANDER DATA! HE’S IN THIS SHOW AND YOU RECOGNISE HIM! TUNE IN NEXT WEEK AND YOU MIGHT SEE HIM! COMMANDER DATA! WATCH THE NEXT EPISODE, ASSHOLES!


Well, that looks exciting! We really like the bit where Picard shot all those people, that looks really good. And what about Number One? Could she be the new progressive face of Star Trek? Is this show leading the way for representation of minorities in sci-fi? Probably! The only thing that was really missing from this script was some kind of mystery plot or hidden identity, but who knows what crazy twists and turns they have in store for us in the other episodes? We can’t wait!

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Is Now Being Run By an ‘Into Darkness’ Writer and We Should All Be Afraid

Right off the bat, I need to express some sympathy for the writers of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ who, it turns out, were not only hostage to the whims of their capitalist overlords but were also working in a pretty fucking hostile work environment, according to this Hollywood Reporter piece.

I would also like to personally apologise for this piece of trash that I wrote a while back, for which I now feel quite guilty.

But here’s the thing with ‘Star Trek: Discovery’: it was a deeply flawed finished product that grew from a seed of warmth and greatness. If it had stayed true to its conceptual heart, it could’ve been magnificent, but it was a victim of either its writers’ ambitions or, more likely, the meddling of arrogant executives.

Take Captain Lorca, the Mirror Universe interloper. That is a fantastic and fun storyline that could very easily be a classic episode of Star Trek. It’s a great subversion; normally, we follow our heroes trying to blend into the brutal Mirror Universe, and seeing the twisted mirror of a Prime Universe captain trying to do the same would have been wonderful – for one episode, or a two-parter at best.

swordlorca

But any writer worth their salt should have known that it lacked the substance for a series-long subplot. If you have to do it that way, at least show the aftermath. Show Admiral Cornwell dealing with the betrayal, or Saru questioning all of his loyalties and the lessons he had learned. Don’t just ditch it and move onto the next GRIPPING PLOT TWIST.

Or have a look at the series as a whole, and the casting of a black woman as the main character, and a Malaysian woman as her mentor. That would have been fantastic, if they had not then literally cannibalised Michelle Yeoh and given Sonequa Martin-Green an unsympathetic character with no personal goals or motivations. And then made conversations between women a rare treat for the audience.

The show even gave us Trek’s first on-screen gay couple – and then kept them celibate for nine episodes before treating a kiss between them as a mid-season emotional climax. Almost as though two men in love kissing each other should be a strategic missile deployed for maximum twitter hashtags rather than a normal, everyday occurrence.

stametsculber

My point is that I genuinely believe that ‘Discovery’ was germinated with a soul of progressive love. I can only assume that it is that soul that the show’s die-hard fans cling onto, despite the fact that only mere glimmers of it appear in the finished product.

Which brings me around, rather circuitously, to my main point:

Alex Kurtzman, one of the writers of ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’, has just taken over ‘Discovery’ as its show-runner, and I have never been more worried about the franchise.

If ‘Discovery’ was a failure born with a spark of good intentions, ‘Into Darkness’ was a nightmare destined to malice from its very conception. ‘Into Darkness’ possessed no virtuous intent nor hidden beauty, neither from its beginning nor through to its very end.

If you haven’t read my previous treatise on ‘Into Darkness‘, or if you have and would like a reminder, this was the film that:

  • Constructed a two-minute scene to end with Alice Eve undressing, so that a shot of her in lingerie could be included in the trailer.
  • Cured death by having Dr. McCoy inject a tribble with human blood (and then, obviously, never revisited that concept or its repercussions).
  • Had a Sikh character with an Indian name, originally portrayed by a Mexican, played by a British white man (the cultural distaste of which can be understood by typing “British Empire” into Google).
  • Featured Spock, a character famous for remaining in control of his emotions, ragefully beating a man with a lump of metal.
  • Established James Kirk as someone who sexually harassed a member of his own crew into relocating to a distant part of the galaxy.
  • Followed the most mind-numbingly stupid plot that has ever been written, featuring six dozen torpedoes which either are or are not deadly weapons depending on which scene you’re watching.
  • Turns both Uhura and Spock into a bickering teenage couple willing to jeapordise a mission for the sake of having an argument.
  • Refers to the iconic, expository speech “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise,” as an “oath”. Like when a U.S. President gets sworn in with the oath that goes “America: the big country. These are the times of the United States.”
  • Is generally just so painfully stupid that thinking about it again has me burning with a hot anger that I usually only feel when I stub my toe or when I watch scenes featuring Captain Holt from the first half of the second season of ‘Brooklyn 99’. HE WAS A THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTER, DAMN IT, AND THEY TRIED TO FLANDERISE HIM, THE BASTARDS.

(As a side note, I once had someone tell me that ‘Into Darkness’ is a great film, but you need to read the accompanying comicbook to appreciate it. Which was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard, until the same person said in the next sentence that the comic book was amazing because it also featured a crossover storyline with DC’s Green Lantern.)

trekgreenlantern
No, really.

One thing to bear in mind is that Alex Kurtzman has written for some well-loved projects, including many JJ Abrams collaborations such as the first Trek Reboot film, ‘Fringe’, ‘Alias’, and even ‘Xena’.

He has also written for such classics as ‘The Amazing Spiderman 2’ (the second Andrew Garfield one), ‘Transformers’, ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’, ‘The Island’ (“You’re a v-v-v-v–virgin?”) and the Star Trek video game.

It’s also important to remember that he’s been involved with ‘Discovery’ since the very beginning with both “Creator” and “Executive Producer” credits, but crucially not involved in the day-to-day creative elements except for the pilot, and now as a director of the first episode of the second season.

Now, however, he’s apparently heading up both the show itself as well as the writing team. And I genuinely, and with the greatest of sympathy, hope he creates a much more positive atmosphere for the people of ‘Discovery’. But it’s still a scary development for a fan, such as myself, who wants to see Trek shift away from ten-minute long fight sequences and back towards a marginally more intellectual pursuit.

Because the Star Trek that Kurtzman seems to insist on creating is a creature with no soul. The 2009 reboot film just about managed to get away with it by keeping its ambitions grounded – it was created to be a lightweight action adventure film, and it broadly succeeded. It didn’t need to be meaningful or deep, it just needed to be inoffensive.

sherlockspock

Then ‘Into Darkness’ comes along, and decides against finding any kind of meaning in the rebooted franchise, but instead goes for the “Shocking Plot Twist Every Minute” trope that would be picked up by ‘Discovery’ (but curiously not by ‘Beyond’, its cinematic successor). John Harrison is secretly Khan; Dr Wallace is secretly Dr Marcus; Admiral Marcus is secretly evil; the torpedoes are secretly people; McCoy is very obviously an evil Nazi scientist.

And it was this kind of storytelling that really torpedoed ‘Discovery’s first season. We could never have an episode without a shocking cliffhanger or a surprising reveal. We could never sit back and enjoy the universe, watch the characters really grow and develop, without shaking everything up every five minutes with a shocking and ultimately predictable “surprise”.

And that was a real shame, because the cast of ‘Discovery’ is fucking on-point. None of the performances are lacking and the characters are all solid foundations for development. And, despite my clear reservations about what we know of Season 2 so far, I was genuinely, and very deep down, hopeful that the show would somehow move on from its crass and ill-made beginnings and find something positive to do with itself.

tillygorgeous

But Kurtzman’s track record destroys that hope. He is not a master of nuanced storytelling, and has demonstrated that repeatedly in the projects he has worked on. And that’s alright, that can work for a two-hour movie or the odd episode. But an entire season of high-octane emotional shouting and fistfights is absolutely the last thing ‘Discovery’ needs to become.

A character like Saru, for instance, is never going to grow past being “the guy who is scared all the time until he isn’t” until we get a more sedate, thoughtful story that can show us a more rounded character in less intense situations.

A character like Tilly is never going to be able to grow fully into a capable and responsible officer if she only has experience at dealing with betrayal and explosions.

And Burnham is never going to turn into the compelling protagonist we need her to be if all she can do is get outraged at and then solve every new devastating problem the crew faces before getting thrown into the next exciting action climax.

We didn’t fall in love with Spock because he once fought Kirk with big fancy blades. We fell in love with Spock because he finally cracked into a broad smile when he realised his best friend was still alive before immediately regaining his composure.

spocksmiles

We didn’t fall in love with Data because he was a metal badass who broke Borg necks. We fell in love with Data because we watched his friends debate in a quiet courtroom his autonomy. And also because he tells his cat that he is pretty and good.

We didn’t fall in love with Sisko because he could punch Jem’Hedar. We fell in love with Sisko because he loved baseball nearly as much as he loved his son, and because when we first meet him he resents his posting to a backwater like Bajor, and by the time he leaves us he’s planning the house he’s going to build there.

We didn’t fall in love with Harry Kim. And that’s okay, because as soon as he opened his mouth we could just tune him out and think about The Doctor instead.

And this is it. Right now, I don’t really care about any of the crew of the Discovery. But I think I could, if they were to get a few decent stories under their belt with plenty of time to wander around and simply be. It was great to see Burnham and Tilly chatting shit whilst on a run through the corridors – it was a simple scene that didn’t need to go anywhere or be plot relevant. But it was nearly unique in that regard, because you can’t leave room for scenes like that when you’ve got so many “secret identity” plotlines and brutal killings to squeeze into a limited number of episodes.

It would be great if we could get an episode in Season 2 where, I dunno, where they’ve got to transport some sound-sensitive alien ambassador to a summit or something. And everyone has to go around the ship unable to shout or scream, they just have to have normal conversations with one another and emote at a reasonable volume. And nothing much really happens, but Saru meets the ambassador and they talk about their shared sensitivity, and Stamets tries to teach Tilly how to calibrate the engine but Tilly starts teaching him because she clearly knows more about it than he does, and Burnham and Detmer sit down to finally reminisce over a bottle of whisky about their time on the Shenzhou whilst getting steadily more drunk, toasting fallen shipmates and singing ‘Jerusalem’, and then they get carried away and end up getting shouted at for being too loud.

But with Kurtzman now firmly at the creative helm, I doubt we’d even get a quiet scene in a turbolift. I doubt a character could even pour themselves a hot earl grey without something bursting into flames or a war being declared or the earl grey revealing that it was evil mirror-universe fruit tea ALL ALONG.