Spoilers SFDebris' "What's Past Is Prologue"-review

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by Rahul, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. Rahul

    Rahul Commodore Commodore

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    Sadly, the true answer is something else:

    Jason Isaac is on record in interviews saying his character was supposed to have a "dark secret" from the beginning - but neither him nor the writers knew what exactly it was (Fuller apparently never told them). They came up with the idea he is from the Mirror Universe pretty much on the spot when they were writing the Mirror Universe episodes. In Fuller's original idea - that would have been something completely different, and the early episodes still indicate that.
     
  2. Vger23

    Vger23 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't believe that's true at all. I've read several interviews that indicate that he knew all along so he could drop those hints and subtleties into his performance.

    Two of them are here:

    https://www.inverse.com/article/40623-jason-isaacs-star-trek-discovery-interview

    https://comicbook.com/startrek/2018/11/07/star-trek-discovery-lorca-mirror-universe-jason-isaacs/

    This seems contradictory to what you've read. Where did you see him say that he didn't know any that it was made up on the spot?
     
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  3. Rahul

    Rahul Commodore Commodore

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    You're right: The "Lorca is from the MU" was a twist the writers came up with late (when the season was already planned out), but apparently at a point before filming, so that Isaacs was able to confront the writers about their lack of plan:

    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/adambvary/star-trek-discovery-trumpism-lorca#.sqPRzR2G9v

    Quote:
    "Harberts explained that the writers knew from the start, when creator Bryan Fuller was first planning out the show's serialized storyline, that the inaugural season of Discovery would end up in the Mirror Universe. (Fuller eventually left the show due to creative differences with CBS, elevating Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg to showrunner status.) But at first, the writers planned for Lorca to be a hawkish captain given a chance to shine thanks to the Federation's war with the Klingon Empire. It was only after the writers began discussing why Lorca would be so skilled with warfare that they hit upon the idea that he'd secretly be from the militaristic world of the Mirror Universe."

    And:
    "At first, they weren't quite sure how he was going to get back [to the Mirror Universe]," said Isaacs. So, the actor said he insisted they all come up with a clear blueprint for the character. "That's the only way I can usefully play the thing," he said. "I can't just play a notional secret, I have to play an actual secret and a plan. So we bashed out a plan together, and the scripts ended up sticking to it. So yeah, I had the whole season in my head before we started."


    That's the first one I found just now, I remembered an interview where Isaacs was (in a very friendly way) kind of complaining that the writers didn't exactly told him what he was supposed to do at first, or what his character wanted, other than "having a dark secret". But the MU part had apparently already been part of the backstory at that point - just not the specifics (him wanting to overthrow Georgiou).
     
  4. Vger23

    Vger23 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This indicates that they banged the plan out prior to script finalization though...not that they made it up as they were going along. It indicates that they weren't clear early on in the planning of the arc.

    So......im not sure I see the problem. Happens all the time, especially considering Fuller's departure.
     
  5. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    According to them, Fuller originally had the MU showing up a lot earlier in the season as well.
    The new show runners pushed it back to the second half so the audience would have more time with the Prime Universe counter-parts.
     
  6. Vger23

    Vger23 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't know the guy...never seen a picture....never watched a show he's been the show runner for...so it's not personal or even really biased other than what I've come to learn regarding Star Trek...but I have a feeling this guy had his head stuffed firmly up his rectal orifice when he was developing the concept and arc for DSC.

    It's a miracle that it was as enjoyable as it ended up. Seems like a hot frigging mess...
     
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  7. Jadeb

    Jadeb Captain Captain

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    Yet more reason to love Jason Isaacs. What a rockstar.
     
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  8. Keeper

    Keeper Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah. I chalk all Discovery S1 problems up to him. I believe had he continued unabated with his 'vision' for Trek, fandom would now be in its biggest implosion ever.

    That his successors were able to pull off an as enjoyable first season is a frigging miracle and their course corrections appear on track for an even better S2. :cool:
     
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  9. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018
  10. Rahul

    Rahul Commodore Commodore

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    You know, when he was annunced, he was one of the main reasons for fan enthusiasm in the circles that at the time still cared about Trek. An award-winning writer, who actually started out writing for Trek, then created very visionary hit shows, like 'Pushing Daisies' and 'Hannibal' - someone constantly rising up until he took the reigns of 'American Gods' and then 'Star Trek'.

    I think he was just in way over his head. He wanted the show to be a perfect recreation of his vision - and that simply wasn't possible on a television budget and timescale, especially with him deviding duties between wo shows.

    It's most noticeable in the first two episodes, that probably come closest to his vision - with location shoots in Jordan, suuuper intricate designs for the Klingon spacesuit, the desert-planet aliens - all thing that never played a bigger role in the grander scheme of things, but ate up into the budget so much, that in the latter half of the series they had to sell some empty garage set and an unfinished CGI-ship as the main palace and center of power of the mirror universe...

    In this regard, Kurtzman is definitely an improvement: The guy knows how to finish a product on time, with it still looking polished and finished, while also executing the notes from above nonetheless.
     
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  11. Spaceship Jo

    Spaceship Jo Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I chalk all of DSC S1 problems to his successors, sort of. Yes, Fuller makes weird choices, and for sure it would have pissed off tons of long-time Trek fans who have no room for new takes on Trek*. He is a legitimate televisual artist**, and that makes him pretty much the only one that would have been able to pull off those weird choices. You can't just hand off Picasso's notes to Bob Ross and expect Bob to make much more than a strange Bob Ross painting. Bob is quite capable, but not of doing the work of a crazy guy - he could mimic a Van Gogh, but only in quoting the elements, not the foundational vision. I would love (and probably hate a bit) to see what Fuller would have done with his bizarro Klingons, or how Burnham's arc would have been realized. It wouldn't have been Prime, but it sure would have been more three dimensional than what we got. Kurtzman's vision is like Berman's vision, that of a perfectly fine manager.

    *DSC ended up kinda sorta a new take on Trek, somewhat.
    **And as such, as much of his work that is great, a lot is also hot garbage, but even the garbage has vision, which is something Trek could stand to have more of these days, maybe.
     
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  12. Rahul

    Rahul Commodore Commodore

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    The biggest problem of Fuller was that he went over budget and over time. WAY over. Had he not done that, we would be seeing Fuller's vision on screen. Instead, the second half of the season looked like a cheap scifi-channel original B-movie, because all the ressources were already blown away by that point.

    I think you need such a "perfectly fine manager" somewhere on top closely overseeing the production, especially on television. Otherwise stuff simply doesn't get finished. Kurtzman is such a guy. Hopefully he allows the people under his supervision go crazy creative, and only nudges them in the scope, not in the vision. I actually do think he will allow for more variety than Berman ever did.

    But being both crazy creative and finishing a product properly is a rare gift only few people have. What makes important movie-makers like Kubrick and Kurosawa special is not only their unique vision - but that they also finished their work in such condition they were profitable and got a funding for the next project! Fuller sadly fell short. I hope the guy somehow recovers from that. But he was simply not a good fit for Star Trek.
     
  13. Spaceship Jo

    Spaceship Jo Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Agree completely. Kurtzman is an asset to Trek these days. The S1 showrunners were not: they had neither the skill or temperament for "perfectly fine management" nor the vision (or talent) of Fuller. I think if Kurtzman had been co-showrunning or head producing with Fuller in the proper showrunner/head writer seat, they could have made magic happen (on budget).
    My point is more that we didn't really see any of Fuller's ideas. Sure, we saw the remnants of them, but realized by other people. So when I hear people lay the blame for S1 on Fuller, I can't agree.
    S1 was like the Wright Brothers had the blueprint for an airplane, but they took too much time building it, so their cousin Steven came in and followed the plan mostly, but only knew how to build it with bricks - it's the same shape as the Wrights' idea, but it's not going to work the same way, so when it doesn't fly, that isn't really the fault of the blueprint. That's a terrible metaphor, as in the metaphor we shouldn't know if the Wrights' original plans would have worked or not, but hopefully illustrative enough. :shrug:
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
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  14. Xerxus

    Xerxus Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    You should check out some of his shows then. Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Hannibal, and American Gods.

    The guy can be legit talented. There's a reason why he has a fanbase.
     
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  15. Jadeb

    Jadeb Captain Captain

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    So the showrunners were the Talosians, basically. :lol:
     
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  16. eschaton

    eschaton Commodore Commodore

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    No. But bad science that is "one and done" in Trek is generally forgotten. The spore drive was heavily involved with an entire season arc. Worse yet, they basically kept doubling down on the implausibility of it every chance they got. It makes it a lot harder for the brain bleach to be effective.

    I also think it would be great if Lorca still was an antagonist that needed to be defeated, but was portrayed with some lighter shades of gray as well. It would have added more of a tragic aspect to his character. Remember that classically in Trek the "bad guys" are typically not portrayed as EVIL!!! They are portrayed as having goals which come into conflict with the main characters, making them an obstacle to be defeated. We don't need to hate Lorca for the arc to work, which this episode tried very hard to make us do.

    Given how rushed the final two episodes were, I think it was a mistake to not go to the MU early honestly.

    He was involved in many of the best Voyager episodes too. Mortal Coil, Living Witness, Barge of the Dead, etc. Though he had some stinkers as well. Really though, just because you're a decent scriptwriter doesn't mean you should be promoted to showrunner.

    I know nothing about him - not even rumors - but given the number of failed projects he's left in his wake the last few years (compared to reasonable success prior) I have to wonder if he's succumbed to addiction or something.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  17. Spaceship Jo

    Spaceship Jo Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I couldn't agree more with this. The main benefit of serialization is the ability to add nuance. Telling a "longer story" is a nonsense reason for serialization, as any story can be squeezed into a paragraph or stretched into a multivolume tome, it's all in the telling (or showing, as it were). And yet many of the major elements of S1 were boiled down to single episode level simplicity and just spread out over more episodes because... :shrug:

    Hey, warp drive with crystals is silly (probably?), and over the years we've learned lots more about how it works, but only kind of enough to give an impression that we have any idea how it works. If there's an example of someone stopping to explain such a foundational element in the same way they talk about spores, I don't recall it. That's more how they tend to talk about Tech of the Week.

    Over the years, Trek has had some great "Bad Guys". A season-long arc about Pressman and the Pegasus tech might have been interesting, but less so if the tech was powered by unicorn farts and Pressman turned out to be his own evil twin. That would have been blah for a single episode, let alone a whole season. Great writers can spin gold out of anything, but... yikes.
     
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  18. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I will always struggle with this idea. Bad science is bad science. It being "one and done" doesn't make it any less bad or tolerable.
     
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  19. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    Yup.

    And it's not like there isn't a laundry list of persistent "bad sciences" throughout all of Trek, anyway.
     
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  20. Jadeb

    Jadeb Captain Captain

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    That's exactly it. Both are bad, and we really shouldn't be expected to tolerate bad. But there's less to tolerate when it's confined to a single episode than when it infects a whole season.

    I don't buy the notion that Trek has always been bad and therefore the new stuff should get a pass to continue being bad. TV has changed, and Trek (as we're so often reminded here) needs to change with it. Less stupidity is better than more.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 1:07 AM