"Star Trek: Discovery” premiered last weekend, yet another entry in the space and science fiction saga that began more than a half-century ago, and the first “Trek” TV series in more than a decade. After watching the first two episodes, I feel pretty confident saying that the “Trek” powers-that-be are trying to bring something new to the franchise while being consistent with its broader purpose, and that while it is not perfect, there is a lot of reason to feel good about the future.
“Discovery” takes place about a decade before the original “Star Trek” series, and it makes a bold choice from the beginning - its central character is a First Officer, an Earth woman named Michael Burnham who was raised on the planet Vulcan by Sarek - who fans of the series know as Spock’s father. (It has occurred to some that the fact that Burnham is portrayed by Sonequa Martin-Green, making her the first African-American woman to play the lead in a “Trek” series, also is a bold choice … but to me, it is about time.)
While Burnham has been raised with Vulcan discipline and dedication to logic, she also feels her passions strongly … and because she is young, it gets her into trouble. Which is where the first season of “Discovery” begins…as she and the United Federation of Planets find themselves in a heightening conflict with the Klingons, who seem energized by a kind of nationalistic fervor; nobody actually says it, but I keep waiting for some Klingon to say it is important to make Qo’noS great again. (I don’t want to say any more about the plot…I’m a big believer in avoiding spoilers.)
The special effects on “Discovery” are amazing, and unlike previous series, this one is laying out a season long narrative, with no stand-alone stories. While some of the plot developments seem like a bit of a reach, I think it is fair to say that all of the “Trek” series have deepened and improved as they’ve aged. “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine” got much better once they got into their third seasons and beyond, and “Enterprise” only hit its stride in its fourth and final season. So I’m hopeful that “Discovery” will only get better...and it is pretty good to start with.
As I say this, I have to concede that I am a Trek fan. Have been since the first time I saw Kirk and Spock in the original series. I believe in the guiding philosophy behind “Star Trek” - that we get stronger, not weaker, when we embrace infinite diversity in infinite combinations. At its core, that’s the message that I think “Star Trek: Discovery” reflects … and it is a message of hope and inclusiveness to which I am happy to dedicate an hour of my week.
(Also…the show has a great title sequence, which you can see above. It gave me chills.)
By the way, it is worth noting here that in the US, except for the first episode that ran on CBS, “Star Trek: Discovery” only is available on the CBVS All Access paid streaming network … you can pay about $60 a year to have access to tons of programming (most of it old shows) with some advertising, or $99 for no commercials. It remains to be seen whether this will be a viable model, but we do know that last weekend, “downloads of the CBS mobile app shot up 64% compared with the two previous Sundays,” and that it “set a (CBS) record for subscriber signups in a single day,” according to Variety.
Not too long ago, Mrs. Content Guy checked something off our bucket list … we saw Paul McCartney in concert. He was doing a couple of shows at Madison Square Garden, so we went to one of them … and he was amazing. The guy is 75 years old, and he did a three-hour concert without an intermission … and best I could tell, he never even took a sip of water. The songs were wonderful, as one would expect, but the stories were highly entertaining and even a little wistful. McCartney is in fine form, and wears his celebrity very lightly, not taking himself too seriously. If you get a chance to see him in concert, I highly recommend it.
I was actually on a bit of a tear that week … just a couple of days before McCartney, my daughter took me to MSG to see a Kelly Clarkson concert. Now, I must admit that I was not really familiar with the Clarkson oeuvre … there were a couple of songs that I recognized, but couldn’t sing along with … but she was delightful, sassy, and very entertaining. And I got the chance to hang out with my daughter.
In fact, it would’ve been a total win except for the opening act - some guy named James Arthur, who, it seemed, every woman in the audience know about, but who I’d never heard of. (No surprise there.) I don’t get the appeal - he may be able to sing, but he’s awfully impressed with himself (far more than McCartney seemed to be), to the point of being unctuous. I know I’m not his target demographic, so maybe it didn’t matter … but I’ll not be seeing him again anytime soon.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.
- KC's View: