Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by David Hanley, Feb 21, 2021.
Not sure about unrelatable but mileage will vary.
I just think it’s an awfully complicated backstory for a personal journey. But then I thought the “Dick Whitman” conceit was the weakest part of Mad Men. The characters ultimately didn’t need soap opera theatrics — they were interesting on their own.
I guess that's me then. Everyone I interact with has a backstory that I find similar to Michael's in some way.
I guess I’m lucky I haven’t felt I needed to mutiny against my beloved mentor after getting questionable advice from my Vulcan stepfather and years of emotional suppression in my foster home on an alien planet after my human parents were killed by Klingons in front of me.
It happens more than you think...
IMHO what makes characters interesting isn't their backstory...it's seeing who they are through their actions within the story, and how they change over time.
I mean, Garak is one of the most beloved Trek characters of all time, and his background started out a total mystery which was only filled in over time - and still had lots of empty bits by the end of the show. Would he really have been more compelling if all of that was shown via a two-part prologue, and extensive flashbacks?
I never found Garak all that compelling so I am probably the wrong person to ask.
Regarding your first point: there's good serialized shows - there's bad serialized shows. Ditto for the episodic format. They can both be engaging modes of storytelling.
If you observe the most popular series of the past couple of decades, it's a tough sell suggesting one of the key issues for most is serialization.
Don't go blaming the tools.
This is sure why I don't like it. What I loved about Trek was that each show was more of a jumping off point for individual stories. The characters and even locations weren't important in themselves as much as they were useful for telling a diverse range of stories.
One week you could have more of a character study, then next week you'd have anything from a very classic sci-fi 'what-if' scenario to a comedy episode or something that tried to deal with more serious issues. Even DS9's ongoing Dominion War storyline usually worked best when it served as a way to tell more isolated stories, and they never let it crowd out stand-alone episodes. Quality could vary drastically from week to week, but there was this wonderful sense of creativity and spontaneity that excused the duds. I was never too keen on the mirror universe episodes in DS9, but I'm glad they were there and that the writers had the scope to do them.
Not that serials can't be great, but ultimately the current generation of Trek shows just doesn't have what I enjoyed about Trek. And if I do want something with a closer focus on plot and character, I can honestly find better elsewhere. As much as I hear people talking about how Trek needs to change for modern audiences, Disco and Picard feel more like generic 2000s sci-fi shows than anything else.
And that's a good point. What do people want from Trek. I want more character focus than planet or alien of the week. Discovery gives me that in spades, while Picard made me more interested in Picard as a character rather than just a ridiculous captain i didn't like.
In terms of what I would like from a modern show, it's basically the following:
Characters make choices which are informed by their characterization
Choices have consequences which last beyond the episode
Main characters are allowed to fail at some things - not just a temporary setback, but a permenant failure
Plot developments do not overly rely upon coincidence/chance, or characters being idiots
Episodes (and seasons) have identifiable themes/messages
I feel I have most of that in Discovery. Or enough that I want to watch it. But, I'm also investing in and connected to the characters in a way few shows do.
Thinking about it, I think Grey’s Anatomy is more or less what I’d like from a modern Trek show. It has:
Small core of mains and lots of supporting characters. The main characters are great for your major storylines, but there’s always room for experimentation thanks to the supportings. Also a nice way to keep too many things happening to just one person. Sometimes even the main character won’t be too present for a good few episodes.
Smaller individual arcs in place of one ongoing story. There’s a perfect inbuilt storyline that comes with starting as surgical interns who have to work their way up, but it mostly works on individual storylines and the occasional big incident.
Ability to take risks. While many episodes are just ‘patient of the week’, about once or twice a season they’ll do something weirder. Singing episode, ‘what if’ episode, dream episode, and so on. One nice thing about that show is that it always keeps you on your toes.
Light tone that can get dark: There’s obviously a lot of DRAMA going on, but the overall tone of the show is light and engaging. Keeps things from feeling too oppressive and makes the genuinely terrible moments resonate more.
Feel like that sort of format and tone would work perfectly for a modern Trek show. Go for multiple arcs without trying one big storyline. Keep the tone mostly light. Most of all, keep the focus on what’s happening within the ship with your characters instead of outside the ship with the rest of the universe. I wish the ship’s mission could be more the background than the plot.
Fans always hate the new Star Trek. After a few years it becomes beloved and they pretend they never hated it. It happened with the TNG era shows and Enterprise. It will happen to Discovery by the time we're a decade into the streaming era of Trek.
Because now everyone who disliked Voyager and Enterprise thinks they’re great.
Oh wait, no.
They at least don't have to fight to be considered Star Trek or part of the canon or continuity as much any more. The rhetoric against ENT is far more kind than it ever was before. Certainly I see a lot more support for ENT than I ever did around Trek fandom.
I didn't watch DS9 much when it premiered. I thought the pilot was excellent, and then the next 5-6 episodes bored me to tears. I was in college and quickly gave up on it, only returning for really big episodes (season finale / premiers, "Way of the Warrior," "Trials and Tribbleations," "Far Beyond the Stars," etc). It got even harder to come back because of the serialized / arc nature of the show.
I watched it 1-n about 9 years ago when I got the full series on DVD and loved it. Just completed a second full viewing this winter....loved it even more
ENT is almost the same story for me. I think I lasted about 4-5 episodes before I gave up, but then I virtually ignored it after that. I may have watched the Soong arc in S4, but that was about it. I fully watched it 2 years ago and thought it was a lot of fun and really enjoyed it. I actually feel compelled to do so again soon, because it's a relatively quick watch
So....yeah...it certainly does happen.
I think that when these series are watched further out of context, and further away from our ridiculous fan expectations, we have a way to enjoy them more for what they are, and we don't get caught up in all the crapola that clouds our ability to simply enjoy shit rather than pick the living hell out of it and/or get frustrated with it for really petty reasons.
Honestly, I rewatched S1 of Picard right after DS9, and there were many instances where I thought to myself "this is every bit as good, if not better than DS9." And, I liked PIC when it premiered, but didn't have really strong thoughts about it. Just on a second rewatch, less than a year after the premier, I was already thinking much higher of it.
I’m not saying people don’t change, just that others overestimate how much that happens. The comment I responded to cast this blanket statement, and yet lots of people still don’t like those shows.
It’s just a lazy way to disregard any criticism. ‘There’s nothing wrong with the show - it’s the fans’. It’s cropped up time and again on this thread alone.
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