Why all the hate for Star Trek: Discovery?

As one of the people who really isn’t a fan of Star Trek: Discovery I thought I might articulate why I dislike the show so much. It has come up in a number of different forums so it seems like it is worth saying.

So lets start with something positive. I think Discovery looks gorgeous, the effects are top notch, the costuming and the makeup is likewise very well done. Everything just looks beautiful. I get why people may not like the Klingons and the changes that were made, but in terms of makeup and costuming for them, it really is well done. I cannot fault them for going the distance on making it look gorgeous.

The problem is that they took this and then wasted it on bad writing and poor direction. I would really like to know which person thought long stilted sections of subtitled Klingon was a good idea. Every scene in the show with long sections of subtitled Klingon just drives me up the wall. Why they didn’t just subtitle first couple of lines and then do the usual “Klingon English” they have always done (Normal English with “Qapla!” and the like thrown in every so often) is a mystery to me. The Klingon scenes would be much more enjoyable if they had done this and they wouldn’t drag like they do.

The other major complaint I have is with the writing. The show is slow, and I like old school B&W Twilight zone and Outer Limits, so my tolerance for slow is fairly high, but this show is paced like treacle. On top of that, the characters are inconsistent and badly so. There are two examples from the two part pilot that illustrate the problem.
In the pilot Captain Georgiou, and First Officer Burnham come to blows over how to deal with the Klingons and this sets off a series of events that hilight just how awful the writing is. At first Burnham has credible evidence that attacking the Klingons is the right course of action, a punch in the nose to demonstrate Starfleet is not a push over. Georgiou reacts with horror at the suggestion of shooting first, going so far as to say that Starfleet would never do that. Even though there is good evidence to suggest that the Klingons will treat this as an act of weakness and start hostilities as a result. She puts her principles and commitment to nonaggression above the safety of her crew. This is a principle she thinks it is worth sacrificing her life to uphold. Whether you agree with the choice or not, the Captain has been setup as a character who values her honour and integrity above even her own life.

Next we have First Officer Burnham who tries to stage a mutiny in an effort to stop the Captain making a tragic mistake. She is literally trying to prevent a war and is willing to risk everything, her career, her life and her friendship with the Captain to do it. She likewise has been setup as a character who is willing to sacrifice everything she holds dear in an effort to prevent a preventable war.

I can respect both characters commitment to doing what they believe is right even to the point of sacrificing everything they hold dear. Then the writers have these two characters engage in wildly out of character behaviour. The Capitan, the women who would risk her like and the lives of her crew to uphold a principle of non-aggression engages in something that when done on earth is regarded as a particularly dishonourable and heinous war crime. She booby-traps a dead Klingon to gain a tactical advantage. First Officer Burnham likewise says it is absolutely imperative they not kill the Klingon leader but capture him, or else they will turn him into a martyr and make the war worse. Then Burnham, after stressing the need not to harm him, goes and deliberately switches her phaser to kill and shoots him.

I can believe a character would not fire first on principle and I can believe a character would bobby trap the dead as an action of desperation when their back is to the wall in an effort to survive. I can believe a character would throw away everything dear to her in an effort to prevent a war and save lives, and I can believe a character would kill an enemy who murdered her friend even knowing it would start a war. But in both cases, I cannot believe the same character would do such wildly different things in each case though. If Captain Georgiou was willing to risk everybody’s lives in an effort to do the honourable thing and not fire first, she wouldn’t do one of the most dishonourable things, desecrating war dead. If First Officer Burnham would throw away everything to prevent a war, she would not then throw that away in a moment of anger.

At this point in the conversation I’m usually told, “Well just don’t watch it then” but it isn’t that simple. I grew up on Star Trek The Next Generation, I’ve watched all 28 Seasons of live action Star Trek plus all 13 movies and enjoyed it all (Mostly, nothing is perfect but overall the experience was positive). I’ve also watched a lot of the fan made continuing material and have found that to often be excellent. So I really wanted Star Trek Discovery to be good. I keep watching it hoping they will turn it around and in the end I will look back and go “Wow … this is the best series of Star Trek ever!” even just, “Hey that was fun, I would watch it again.” I keep wanting the writing to justify the effects budget.

But more than that, I don’t want it to descend into a morass of heavy-handed social justice nonsense like Marvel comics have. Marvel has degenerated into pushing the fashionable nonsense of the week and this is done at the expense of story telling. Star Trek has often been preachy in the past, and rarely in a direction I liked, but I still enjoyed the show because good storytelling can over come that. I dont want it to become tainted with such nonsense because it will ruin all of it. All of it will become infected as a result and that will be tragic. The legacy of Star Trek will be damaged and it will all become less enjoyable because you know where it ended and how it was ruined.

So I keep watching hoping I will be proved wrong, that my fears will not be realised, because the day I turn it off and say “i’m done with this, its garbage” will be the day Star Trek as a whole will be dimished for me and all of it will be made less enjoyable knowing how it ended. I really wanted it to be amazing and hope it will turn around and that disappointment is what drives the hate for what has been produced, because it should have been amazing.

  • Jeff Acheson

    “but in terms of makeup and costuming for them, it really is well done.”

    I have to disagree somewhat. While the Klingons look pretty, it’s pretty obvious the actors have a lot of trouble both moving and talking the new-look Klingon costumes and makeup. If your actors can’t move or act, then it’s hard to call that costuming good or well done.

    • jwrennie

      Fair enough. It is pretty though.

  • Albert

    If you want new Trek, there’s the Orville. If you want a Grimderp Trek zombie, watch STD.

  • Gary Denton

    You seemed reasonable until you started going all phoney-baloney Marvel Social Justice Warrior nonsense. So you have a problem of respecting people and yet claim you are a Star Trek fan?

    “If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.”
    ― Gene Roddenberry

    Infinite diversity in infinite combinations…
    symbolizing the elements that create truth and beauty.
    -Commander Spock, Star Trek

    • cargosquid

      Respecting people? Marvel does not respect people. They are lecturing people. They are showing disrespect to their customers. When the comic changed entire characters merely for SJW reasons, and fans objected, the writers and editors called their customers “bigots.”

    • Julie Pascal

      Gary, the problem isn’t diversity. It’s uniformity with different make-up. Taking delight in the differences between men and between cultures requires *allowing* differences between men and between cultures. We currently live in a world where people are made to *apologize* for suggesting that diversity of ideas, history, or opinion matter.

    • Stephen J.

      Truthfully, the thing that turned me off ST:D wasn’t anything in the show, it was a story from Entertainment Weekly about a blooper caught on set, which sounds ridiculous until you contemplate what it represents.

      The blooper in question was Jason Isaacs, during a combat scene, ad-libbing a line like, “Phasers, torpedoes, fire something for God’s sake!” And he was, according to the EW article, then corrected by one of the show’s writing staff who said, “They don’t say that any more,” and Isaacs asked, “What, ‘God’? I thought you could say ‘god’ or ‘damn’, but not together,” and the writer said, “You can’t say ‘for God’s sake’,” and explained that Roddenberry’s vision of mankind’s future was one where religion no longer exists. Isaacs shot back, “How about ‘for f–k’s sake’? Can I say that?” and the writer dryly replied, “You can say that before you can say ‘God’.”

      And what that said to me was that they were going back to the mindset that all the ST shows except, to a partial extent, DS9 have upheld since: the notion that religion of any kind amounts to a superstition that cultures must outgrow to be truly advanced (TNG was among the worst of this with the episodes “Who Watches the Watchers” and “Devil’s Due”). And any culture which believes that is nowhere near as respectful of “diversity” as it thinks it is.

      • Gary Denton

        Roddenberry and I have a fundamental disagreement with you. You have also confirmed my unease with this Social Justice Warrior crap. Here’s to Star Trek and other fighters for justice.

        • Nate Winchester

          So “diversity” with limits then, huh? That doesn’t sound quite infinite.

        • Julie Pascal

          Yes, that does seem to be the thing. Diversity is absolutely amazing until I personally don’t like it, in which case others must conform to my narrow vision… but with different forehead prosthesis.

  • Antonio Lhx

    Sorry, it Is garbage, and not watching it does not mean that all of Star Trek diminishes, it will always shine. Also there are only 10 movies, the other 3 are part of this shipwreck…

  • Jason Chapman

    give it a chance guys.

    • xavier

      It’s too late. The writing won’t improve. In fact given the indignation, the writers will double down out of spite.
      And to think that Paramount killed off Atxares for this crap. Given the scandal currently engulfing I’m wondering everyone’s intellect has been darkened by sin.
      xavier

      • Mark M.

        Atxares? You mean Axanar? I agree.

        • xavier

          Yup sorry Axanar. My bad

          xavier

      • TIE

        The writing and, frankly, the stories themselves, sucked for the first season and a half of TNG. Like Jason said – give it time.

        • xavier

          Yeah but I was so put off by the many squandered opportunities to write compelling stories during the next generation Instead we got the EU directive story of the day after engineering problem was resolved.
          Further compared to the original series the next generation has aged badly and I noted the proto social justice themes thay i missed when i watched them back in the 90s

          xavier

        • Nate Winchester

          The problem is what SFDebris pointed out once.

          Ok, TNG had a bad first season. True. AND THEY LEARNED FROM THOSE MISTAKES. DS9’s and Voyager’s 1st season, while not great, were at least better.

  • STRTRKN

    I watched the pilot to give it a chance. It really disappointed me. I can’t begin to list everything that irked me in just the first few minutes. Thank goodness for DVDs and streaming in a pinch. That way I can get my Trek-fix from TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY/ENT… I never would have imagined the downward spiral which the franchise has found itself, and I know TPTB thought they could cash in by making this CBS subscription only. I don’t know how long it will last on that basis, but I can’t justify $7 month for this barrel of disappointment and Perry Mason reruns. I’m afraid Trek, as we know and love, is dying, Jim…. =/=

  • Chris Lopes

    The “give it time” idea is ok if you are talking about regular broadcast TV. Since it is free, all you are wasting is your own time. In this case though, CBS has made sure you are spending money as well as time to watch this thing. So waiting for it to get better might (depending on how long that takes) turn out to be expensive over the course of the life of the series.

  • Nate Winchester

    But in both cases, I cannot believe the same character would do such wildly different things in each case though.

    This reminds me of the problem with Voyager (as pointed out by SFDebris and me too). The writers wanted Janeway to choose to stay in the Delta Quadrant because they don’t want their new captain to lack agency. The problem was that they contrived the writing so that Janeway only “chooses” to stay because she’s too stupid to see obvious solutions to her problem. Meaning that in order to try and avoid one political misstep they stumbled into another one.

    I’ll be watching the episode soon but from what you describe it sounds like the writers had the same problem of they wanted to do X but set their scenes and characters to up to organically result in Y.

    As I also pointed out elsewhere, previous Trek shows definitely had an “ensemble” feel to them. From images and promotional material everything here seems to focus on the single main star. It certainly doesn’t help the Trek feel.

    Oh and I have screenshots for those interested.