Recommend three episodes for a NuTrek skeptic

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Lower Decks' started by cal888, Apr 25, 2022.

  1. Saumyajit

    Saumyajit Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I would suggest you give it a shot for the entire first season. Just picking out three episodes would be sub optimal experience as you wouldn't really know the characters to appreciate their personalities and why they are doing or behaving certain way.

    The show is a little different needs a bit of time to get into. It left it once after viewing 3 episodes as I didn't find it engaging. I went back to it after hearing multiple positive feedback from people I usually resonate with, sat through half a season and finally understood what the show was realky about. And I liked it thereafter.
     
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  2. cal888

    cal888 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Checking back in after having seen the rest of the first season. Definitely a flawed, but watchable mixed bag. Several outright cringe moments / entire plots, but at least it doesn't hit the lows of say TNG season 1... and it's far from the dumpster fire of messing up almost everything it possibly can that is STD. I did however like the season sufficiently enough to buy it on Blu-ray and check out all the bonus features.

    Some overall good points:
    • The pacing does not lag... if anything you want to reach for the pause / rewind button thanks to just how dense the episodes are. That bodes well for re-watchability.
    • The A / B / C story structure means that even if the episode A story is bad, you'll likely have something to enjoy in each episode.
    • The writers seemed to realize early on that making Mariner and Boimler Rick and Morty cutouts wasn't going to work, and course corrected relatively quickly away from Mariner being a dickish Mary Sue and Boimler a sad sack punching bag.
    • Most of the rest of the characters are quirky but surprisingly likable and pass the "you'd like to spend time with these people" test.
    • They really do get the visual and audio continuity right, from phasers being directed energy weapons and not Star Wars pew pew blasters, to the TAS call back references, to getting all the ships and shuttles right, to blending the TNG, TNG film, and VGR transporter sound effects, and oh yeah not going there with the Klingons.
    • Most of the cast and crew featured in the Blu-ray interviews seem very enthusiastic about the project, with their hearts in the right places and possessing previous knowledge of Star Trek.

    that said...
    • The postmodernist deconstructionist YouTube take is kinda there. Instead of having the characters practically break the fourth wall by lampshading Star Trek tropes, maybe show why they're there or how taking a different route works in certain situations on a case by case basis. Verisimilitude, and period piece instead of Current Thing contemporary dialog please!
    • It does make sense that Starfleet would have relatively mediocre ships and officers that are sufficiently good at their jobs to not be sent "up or out" but kept away from anything really important, but assigning them to second contacts seems like a real headscratcher. You'd think that not only would there would be people that specialize in this for their careers, but that it would be a prestigious assignment that would involve months spent at each planet and on the ambassador or admiral career track.
    • They really need to dial back the parody and Rick and Morty weird shit elements by 20%, and replace it with bits that are actually funny pertaining to the plot situations.
    • Mike McMahan really needs someone that understands Star Trek giving him notes and able to tell him when the show is going too far. It would be so much better with just some rough edges sanded down. They manage to do a lot right, but also make bizarre misfires that should have been really easy to see coming.
    Onto the episodes...

    "Second Contact", "Envoys", and "Cupid's Errant Arrow" all suffer from the misfiring on Mariner and Boimler's characterization, but otherwise wise have good or decent plots. I liked the Epcot world-ish vibe of Tulgana IV, Mariner's conspiracy theory wall, and the portrayal of the USS Vancouver. All are below average, but nothing dire. Just some minor tweaks could have elevated each one. Early Rick and Morty did a love potion ish with dire effects episode, and you'd Mike McMahan would have recognized in particular the need to provide a new take on it in "Cupid's Errant Arrow" -- which is the episode that saw a few YouTubers give up on covering the series.

    "Temporal Edict" mostly pulls of the buffer time gag, while Mariner and Boimler have decent characterization for the first time. I'd give it an above average.

    "Moist Vessel" has some rough bits, but all the plots work well together and overall I enjoyed the episode. The Tendi and the officer wanting to ascend bit works far better than you'd think on paper. More than above average, but not great.

    "Terminal Provocations" is just... bad. All the plots fail in unison. The whole let's make fun of clippy from Windows bit is a funny idea, but just crashes in the execution. Pretty much a write off.

    "Much Ado About Boimler" has one of the best Mariner plots of the season, and I really liked the Academy friend as guest captain element, but the Boimler / Division 14 plot is undercooked. Why go for the potential horror / suspense elements when it's just an easy misunderstanding? It's a decent idea that just flails with the execution and burns out a great idea. And The Dog is just kinda.. there I guess?

    "Crisis Point" is awesome. Loved the movie call backs (and the subtle shitting on Star Trek 2009). Great exploration of why Mariner is the way she is, while using the holodeck to break out of the Star Trek universe guard rails. I really wish the show would shift more of it's mad cap weird shit to the holodeck so it breaks the universe less LOL.

    So, episodes 1 and 2, then 5 through 7 have the worst bits. So I guess that makes it a 50/50 season? Now onto season 2!

    I also watched all of the available Prodigy episodes. With the exceptions of episode 6 (wow, just uniquely awesome) and 7 (too close to kids TV), talk about a great each episode is better than the last upward trend. They really do bury the lead! And the main character is a little annoying after a while, but nothing like a Wesley Crusher or Michael Burnham level...
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2022
  3. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Um, what? The man wrote a speculation on TNG season 8. If anything I think he's too close.
     
  4. cal888

    cal888 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That's why he could benefit from notes from people that also really know Star Trek, but have different perspectives on it. Heck, imagine if someone at the studio had given even Gene Roddenberry the right notes during TNG season 1... rewriting DC Fontana on "The Naked Now" or "Hide and Q" is resulting in a worse product... don't hire Russ Mayberry, let alone let him cast "Code of Honor"... lay off on Wesley during "Datalore"... "Angel One" really isn't working as an apartheid allegory... say no to say no to drugs during "Symbiosis"...

    Like, to give a more down to earth example. Brazil is an incredibly complicated market. Most multinationals that try to treat it as just like any other country run aground there after burning millions of dollars out of ignorance. I have friends that own a local market research firm there, and they had tons of examples of this happening. Even if a firm hired a Brazilian, they might not listen to them, let alone hire people from all over the country that have experience with each region's particularities. So even if they get one region right, say the southeast with Sao Paulo and Rio, they still might mess up the northeast, the Amazon, or the south.

    Star Trek is the closest thing to a "Brazil of tv / film franchises". Several successful people in the Star Trek franchise have talked about just how complicated it is to hire people that get the franchise. Brannon Braga tried to bring in new people during seasons 1 and 2 of ENT, only to have many of them flame out. Jeri Taylor tried to bring in former colleagues to TNG like Lee Sheldon and Frank Abatemarco with strong past writing experience, only to have them leave midseason and their scripts need rewriting by the rest of the writing staff.

    Having multiple people able to offer strong suggestions when things were going off the deep end could have improved Lower Decks season 1. At least they closed their first season with three strong episodes in a row.
     
  5. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    "Really know Star Trek..."

    :rolleyes:

    Maybe he can call up Nick Meyer.
     
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  6. Ray Hardgrit

    Ray Hardgrit Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Mike McMahan is an epic level Star Trek fan who brought a mix of fans and non-fans into his writing staff to try to make sure that they were true to Trek without excluding new viewers. However, he apparently made sure not to hire anyone who was so much of a fan that they couldn't accept the jokes and changes he wanted to make. So it's very deliberate that there's no one to stop him going too far... but I'm sure he talks things through with the others first.
     
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  7. cal888

    cal888 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Good point. They got lucky there with TWOK, especially since he understood the Horatio Hornblower-esq and classical literary / period piece underpinnings that were also used by Roddenberry during the conception of TOS. But he was also overruled on the potential Spock resurrection bit, which arguably made for a less impactful film but more positive for the franchise at large.

    And ironically enough, when 2017 came around, Nick Meyer was one of the people that knew Star Trek and was let go. Shame his Discovery episode 2 script wasn't used, and even worse couldn't make his three part Khan on Ceti Alpha V miniseries.

    Lower Decks had some good ideas that likely wouldn't have made it passed say a Rick Berman, but they also have "Terminal Provocations" and low points in say "Cupid's Errant Arrow" that could have been red flagged by the right notes. Hence my overall "mixed bag" impression of the season.
     
  8. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, they've relisted the a copyright on that name. So who knows.

    I do not believe someone "more familiar" with Trek would have done any better.
     
  9. cal888

    cal888 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I ended up binging the nine remaining episodes of season 2 today. IMHO, it's by far the strongest post 2005 Star Trek we've gotten (well if you don't count that one show Brannon Braga is involved with). On a re-watch it might even prove to be stronger than ENT season 2. Surprisingly watchable, to the point I was able to immerse myself in most of the episodes without being knocked out of the narrative. Most episode to episode criticism revolves around more well if they did X, it would have been GREAT and not merely good or decently above average. They did a good job pivoting away from Rick and Morty style weird shit cringe to more situational comedy, and I even found myself laughing a few times. The Trek lore deep references shifted from sheer quantity to more quality or in the background subtlety.

    I was absolutely dreading the episode that the as-seen-on-YouTube ship orgy came from, but luckily it was just a short holodeck sequence in an otherwise strong episode. That was my only for the love of god you shouldn't have done this moment of the season. I actually found the Borg and mirror universe sequences of "I, Excretus" amazing, the poop joke aside.

    "Where Pleasant Fountains Lie" was an episode that on paper should have been a dumpster fire, but they actually managed to pull it off in both a funny and not universe breaking way.

    "Strange Energies" came in a little underbaked, and was the "weakest" episode of the season, while also being better than half of season 1.

    I'm actually looking forward to season 3. Hopefully it's released while I'm traveling in Europe so I can watch it on Amazon Prime.

    In case this thread is uncovered in a year or two by someone who is NuTrek skeptical but willing to watch something that has Kurtzman's name on it, I'd suggest watching the first two seasons in order, but skipping 1x01, 1x02, 1x05, and 1x06.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2022
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  10. Saumyajit

    Saumyajit Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Glad that you sat through the first few episodes and came out with an overall positive feeling. If we are honest, classic trek also had absolute garbage episodes, but in totality we like them because of the chemistry between the characters, how they are developed with their uniqueness but ultimately they all are people who we can relate to, and of course because the shows tried to engage the audience into delving issues rather than telling us what is good and what is bad. Themes that shine through in Lower Decks once we are patient with it instead of trying to judge it episode by episode.

    Another thing I feel helps going through Lower Decks is not to take everything seriously in terms of canon and continuity, almost watch it like it is a well made fan fiction. Somewhat similar to the episodes in TOS on those crazy planets which mimicked Chicago gangster culture, or where some captain set up a Nazi empire, or where there is a war between the "yanks" and the "commies". I think when we think about the star trek universe we don't try to fit those episodes into canon but just compartmentalize them as goofy stuff that needs to be enjoyed and then forgotten. The Lower Decks as a whole for me falls in the same league.
     
  11. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Piece of the Action and Omega Glory are very much among my favorite episodes and not forgotten.
     
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  12. Saumyajit

    Saumyajit Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Yes, same here, they are fun episodes. I remember them too. But I wouldn't expect any other show to reference them. Those planets are just self contained within that single episode. I don't expect the gangster planet to be referenced in any other trek show. Similarly I would expect 2nd contact missions, or the Pakled storyline, or the Mugato sanctuary, or the Tamarians being part of Starfleet to extend beyond LD. To me they are quirky plotlines that belong to LD but not part of any other show. Like for me the depiction of Harry Mudd or Guardian of Forever in Discovery did a disservice to those characters/concepts.
     
  13. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I completely disagree. The Guardian's continual references in various books and comics I have enjoyed are very fun, as well as Bela Omyx's appearance in comics.

    I loved Discovery's use of the Guardian and Harry Mudd. I think anything that is in the shows is fair game for reference.
     
  14. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    That's probably why they put it in there.
     
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  15. cal888

    cal888 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    By the STLD producers? Or the YouTubers?

    I'd argue that ultimately that scene shouldn't have included in the episode, especially as NuTrek is continuing to have a massive crisis of credibility in who knows what percentage of the larger fanbase. That bit alone added to my putting off checking out the series last year when I both had Amazon Prime and was in countries where they carried STLD. Hopefully season 3 comes out this summer. I now have a travel Firestick and would be able to watch the new episodes upon release :)
     
  16. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Why should that matter? Part of those struggling with the current shows are going to argue against it regardless. There isn't a single shred of positivity to be found because being positive doesn't generate clicks or ad revenue.

    Saying that a scene shouldn't be in a Trek show because it might offend is the exact reason why it should be in there. The idea is not to keep making comfort food to explore different ideas, including ones that make us uncomfortable.
     
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  17. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    The show.

    I don't see what the problem is. The scene's meant to be funny because it's uncomfortable. If that's not your thing, fine. Several jokes in LD don't land with me. No biggie.
     
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  18. donners22

    donners22 Commodore Commodore

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    I cringed a bit at the scene when I first saw it, and didn't consider it amusing. However, I have since found it quite amusing in a meta sense, since it prompted such over-the-top hand-wringing from the usual suspects.

    If it wasn't this scene, there'd be something else taken out of context and used as a bad-faith criticism of "NuTrek" (ugh) to play to those who haven't seen it. In Disco S2 there were YouTubers going on about how they'd made Spock into a murderer, and their pliable audience was lapping it up.
     
  19. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I should have gotten on that YouTube train. They make real money off their idiots, and I bet they don't even really hate modern Trek either:lol: