I have been watching Star Trek: Discovery since it started airing, so I've also been having my opinions on the show since that moment. My initial opinion was that the show was nice, but it wasn't all that Trek. However, with half a season (well, more like three fifth, but that's where we're getting the mid-season break) behind us, my views have changed somewhat and I feel it's time to speak up about it.
The show has been getting flak for a number of things since before the first episode aired. The show's main problem has always been its continuity. When photos leaked of actors in Klingon make-up, people weren't even sure whether these were Klingon because they looked rather different from what we'd come to expect from Klingons. The show's look was also criticized for being closer the Kelvin timeline than to what would make sense for the place in continuity this show said it was situated in.
However, when considering all the problems with continuity, you've also got to keep in mind that the franchise already made big changes before. The distinct look of The Original Series wasn't at all preserved for the movies and The Next Generation. Of course, this show takes place much closer to the original, so that's why people want to hold it up to higher standards when it comes to that.
Well, I'm feeling that we should actually just cut them some slack. Take the uniforms, they don't quite fit in with the established timeline. However, it should be noted that the uniform changed a lot in the past as well. Does it really matter, though? At the end of the day, it's more important that today's viewers like these uniforms than that you can imagine them being used at this point in time. In fact, that's always been a main factor in uniform designs. You can't really say that Deep Space 9's change was done for the viewer; it was clearly done to keep up to date with the era of filming the show.
Star Trek: Enterprise tried much harder to fit in its time. It was designed with the idea that this ship predated NCC-1701 (TOS's Enterprise). It featured uniforms that could have been a predecessor to what we'd seen so far, and as more limited with its technology and featured a number of prototypes of what became staples of the franchise later on.
That, I believe, is part of the reason it never really resonated with the public it wanted to have. Or rather, the different kinds of public it wanted to have. It both wanted to cater to new viewers by giving the whole thing a fresh look and a new feel, but at the same time it also worked really hard on making it fit in the timeline. This was most visible when story lines focused on things from other series, but were very restricted in which ways they could do this.
That's why I'm not too bothered by the change in technology. We get joysticks and HUDs, which isn't really in line with the view of the future that The Original Series painted. However, that future was in line with a vision of the future from the sixties. This show is simply more consistent with a current view of the future. It would be in line with the established timeline to show data disks, but people would laugh at it, since we've got more wireless technology today than they even imagined for the future when designing the original Star Trek.
There's still a couple of things that feel out of place. They tried holographic communications in a previous series set over a hundred years after this one, but they couldn't make it work then, so they abandoned it. It's strange that we see it here then. Ultimately, it's not too consequential really. However, the same can't be said for the holodeck that they have introduced without naming it. That would seem a direct violation of chronology. The fact that we now seem to be routinely using warp-capable shuttles also seems somewhat out of place.
The Klingons are something else that seems to have changed more than would seem to be reasonable. To be honest, though, the change is about is as big as the change in them was from The Original Series to the movies and The Next Generation. This also nicely sidesteps the fact that rubber forehead aliens got to be heavily criticized about halfway through The Next Generation-generation of Star Trek shows.
Then, the real problem of the way Klingons look comes in the form of something that Enterprise did. For a very long time, the change was simply chalked up to the fact that the times and budget has changed. The old look of the Klingons was also something that wouldn't have held up in that era of film making. However, Deep Space 9 subtly introduced that the difference actually existed in the show itself, and Enterprise went out of its way to cement the story of how the change happened into the canon of the show.
However, it definitely looks to me that they are going to address this. The virus that caused the change in looks seems to be something that is going to come into focus soon, if you consider one of the fan theories, which since the latest episode seems rather hard to deny. I wouldn't be surprised if they are going to go with the idea that the Klingons looked different before the virus. That would retcon some things, but not nearly as much as the blatant change seems to suggest at first look. Besides, this way we do get Klingons in line with today's production values. I think we owe it Discovery to let them show us how this plays out before judging them too harshly.
That also goes for the cloaking technology that the Klingons possess. Everybody knows they didn't have that technology at this point in time and it's a widely held believe that they acquired the technology from the Romulans. However, in the latest episode, the Klingon cloak seems to get beaten by the federation already, so that might be the reason they abandon it soon after. This might even get them a reason to pursue the technology with the Romulans. We ought to see how this plays out.
In a way, the Spore Drive falls in the same category. However, people complain a lot less about it. That's because it's a universe changing technology and nobody expects the writers to miss that. So, it's more or less a given that they will give a reason for the branch of technology being abandoned sooner or later and nobody believes the writers won't explain to us why that's going to happen.
In general, I rather liked what I've seen. While it's not always perfect Trek, it's solid science fiction nonetheless. On top of that, it has been trying a lot to bring back the Trek even if that took them a couple of episodes to get to. It's a rocky start, but I would say it's in a way more Trek than The Next Generation was during its first season. I mean, it had a very rocky first season as well and it did redefine for a large part what Star Trek was, for which it simply needed time.
That last part is also part of the problem here, I think. I've noticed a number of instances where the new show was made to feel more like The Original Series than anything from The Next Generation era. And well, the latter is far more season and more recent. A lot of people will miss that fact when the series goes further back in Star Trek history.
There are still things I don't like. Mudd's second appearance definitely fits that bill. I mean, I don't really see any mortal - especially one in Federation Space - having such a powerful device. However, omnipotent beings were plot devices in Trek since the sixties, so they're definitely trying. And I liked what I've seen so far, and I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the future. And I definitely needed something to fill the Dark Matter-sized hole left in my life.
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