Top 5 Reasons Why I Hate Star Trek: Discovery

More importantly, of course, is why in the world should you care? After all, you may or not be a Trekkie, and you can form your own opinions of the series if you’re willing to pay (cringe) to watch it. It’s the big picture, though, the thoughts behind the reasons that merit your attention. An example from the show—apparently, someone neglected to show ranks appropriately on the casts’ uniforms. The problem was discovered (sorry) and repaired with CGI. That’s a little thing, not the big picture. Sure, some people would care, but it’s not what I hope to do here.

5. Prequels are by definition sketchy. Two words: Star Wars. I liked Rogue One, and strictly speaking, it is a prequel, but our heroes don’t get off that planet alive. The new Star Trek movies with Chris Pine are great, but they succeed as movies. No one is looking to make them into a series. Kingdom- or empire-building requires something much different than a 15-episode story arc.

4. The characters on Discovery ask too much of my suspension of disbelief while giving too little. We had a dramatic opening to the series in which the lead, Michael Burnham, disobeys her commander and fires on Klingons, starting in essence a major war. She is sentenced to life in prison, but modern writing being what it is, she gets out within six months and continues to serve under a cloud. Instead of offering a monumentally important compendium here, I’ll concentrate instead on two names: Michael Burnham and Tilly. Why must this woman have a man’s name? Apparently, it’s the signature move of Bryan Fuller, the producer. I don’t like it. Yes, I remember Michael Learned who played the mother in The Waltons, and I’m sure it’s a perfectly valid first name, as valid as Georgette or Georgine, perhaps. I think it goes against the grain of female empowerment, which is probably not the right phrase. (Burnham goes into a different category: icky images.) Contrast this with the character Tilly, which rhymes with both “frilly” and “silly.” Although she is smart, she talks too much, especially about her plans and dreams, with not much substance. She cries a lot. Not officer material, but the other characters always try to improve her self-image. Boring.

3. The writing is bad. Too much talking about too much feeling, to put it in a nutshell. The dialogue is often stilted or wooden or whatever other negative adjective is needed. Sometimes it’s unintentionally funny. One of the characters, Ash, is really a Klingon (Voq) who was surgically altered to look human. Michael has a fling with him before that comes out, and he doesn’t know about his real origin anyway for quite a while. When he reunites with his people, he and his real love, L’Rell (not Lor-el or P’rell, notice) are speaking in English when he asks “Why aren’t we speaking Klingon?” It’s a good question, since the Klingons are completely inconsistent in spite of the use of translated blurbs. Regardless, the plots are too complicated to allow for better writing. Ash finds a baby that L’Rell had but pretends to sacrifice along with him to save the alliance. It’s just too much. Both are safe at the end of episode 4, with the baby going to a monastery. Which of course they have in that day and age. Luckily.

2. The science is bad. No, I’m not a physicist. Not that I didn’t aspire to be one decades ago. It still interests me. And when challenged once about not understanding even a basic combustion engine, I was able to reply that, in fact, I do have some understanding of it. Since there’s not really an engine that uses dilithium crystals, the leap to engines that use mycelium (or fungus) is not that great. But it is weird. Here’s one of those wondrous coincidences that the writers came upon: Guess who is the best known expert on mycelium (or mushrooms)? Paul Stamets. In Discovery, that’s the name of the lieutenant commander who injects himself with the spores that allow the craft to jump anywhere in the universe instantly. Our earthly mycologist Stamets has a TED talk “6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World.” And other worlds too, one assumes.

  1. Manipulation. Say what you will about the original series, Roddenberry didn’t care much what I thought. He really was out to explore new worlds. (For an interesting diversion, look into Blue Latitudes, the story of James Cook who explored and mapped much of the world. He said this: “I intend to go farther than any man has been before me, but as far as I think it is possible for a man to go.” Familiar?) There were political episodes, historical allusions, comedic ones, uncomfortable scenes, and power struggles. There were codes of behavior that exceeded family values, which turn saccharine in Discovery. There was empathy and suffering, loss and triumph. What was not there? Pandering. I don’t need to be comforted in my memories. Of course, since 1969, there have been an additional 600+ episodes associated in some ways with the series. Other than The Next Generation, I wasn’t particularly a fan of most of them so won’t generalize wildly about their content. This time, I’m paying. I think I deserve more than I’m getting. Respect the heritage, people. Don’t just be clever.

The Last of Numbering

Third and probably for the last time, back to numbers. We ended with the five love languages. Perhaps you’ve taken the quiz and know you’d rather get a nice dinner than have someone hold your hand. Or have someone put away the laundry than compliment you on your nice eyes. There are no wrong answers.

The current list, however, is not as light-hearted as the last. Perhaps more instructive, even a bit painful. I have seen myself on some of the lists and decided to change. At least if I can. Perhaps you will not see yourself, but I can bet you will know someone here.

The Four M’s: manage, manipulate, mother, martyr. Consider them all verbs. These are used in Al-Anon and represent the basic issues of codependency. One way of expressing the sentiment is “Stay on your side of the street.” I’ve never been to Al-Anon meetings nor have I been diagnosed as codependent. I have been known to try and manage more than I ought and to mother people I shouldn’t. Usually I know when I’m doing the latter, and I’m learning to keep my mouth shut more, thus aiding the former. Hopefully, I don’t ever manipulate people or take the role of a martyr. If I do, please stop me. I think it’s a good list, and now you have it. This blogger gives as good a summary as any. If you want something more literary, read Voltaire’s Candide; or, Optimism. This is its famous last line: “All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.” However, even better commentary comes not a bit earlier: “Let us work,” said Martin, “without disputing; it is the only way to render life tolerable.” Probably impossible, but worth trying occasionally.

The Three C’s: control, cure, cause. For the full effect but “I can’t” or “I didn’t” in front of these words. This site summarizes as good as any how these words work. Although the original focus is again addiction, there is no reason why these C’s should remain there. Most of us are too hard on ourselves. Most of us are not addicted to anything, but if we can move past blame, we will be better off.

The two elements of sibling relationships: fairness and competition. If you have perfect relationships with your brothers and/or sisters, hurray! I don’t know of anyone who does, but perhaps some manage to navigate childhood and adulthood without any issues at all. Money, of course, is a great leveler. Remember poverty as one of the six fears? As my own brother wisely said, “It’s astonishing how even the introduction of the smallest amount of money will change behavior.” In a word, inheritance. As for competition, parental affection may seem unequal. Hopefully, no one ever tells one child she’s the favorite. I think children know, however, if one is more liked than another. Not me, not you, but maybe? Perhaps competition and fairness take place on entirely different levels than these, but for now, these seem adequate.

The one most important thing: Communication. I’m particularly bad at it. My conversation is often stream-of-consciousness. Irritating at best, annoying at worst. When someone said once, “I’m starting to sound like you!” I didn’t take it as a compliment. In the original Star Trek an episode called “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” Spock melds with an ambassador named Kollos and utters these lines:  This thing you call language though… most remarkable… and you depend on it for so very much, but are any one of you really its master… But most of all… the aloneness… you are so alone… you live out your lives in this shell of flesh, self-contained… separate… how lonely you are… how terribly lonely… I always took that loneliness to come from the fact that our language is imperfect. Knowing this truth is perhaps enough for now, though I’m always still surprised when I make an epic fail at communication. Ever upward.