25 October 2017 | rocnathan
THIS is Star Trek - not that other show
After having seen six episodes of both Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville, I am truly baffled and very positively surprised. Baffled at how, with a budget of millions, the people who made Discovery could not come up with a single interesting character or plot, but instead basically just made The Expanse with Klingons, taking every single thing that is unique, positive, and enjoyable about Star Trek and tossing it out the window. And positively surprised, because, out of the corner I would least have expected it - the filthy, cobwebbed one with the rancid yogurt, in which Seth MacFarlane used to reside for me - comes this gem of a show that takes everything fun, positive, and enjoyable from Trek and runs with it.
It is - as nearly everyone here has pointed out - the spiritual successor of TNG, although I would actually put it somewhere between TOS and TNG. It has a bit of the "cowboy" feeling people seem to like so much about TOS while including at least some of the elements that made TNG so brilliant - people actually trying to overcome petty human concerns by looking at the bigger picture and solving problems through compassion and dialogue rather than by inventing the next, bigger gun (yes, I know Trek did that too, but big guns are fine occasionally).
Now this is still by and large a comedy, so in order for that to function, you can't have straight TNG-like characters. But apart from occasionally overshooting the target a bit, the balance of comedy and seriousness is handled excellently - something I would not have thought possible for a Trek-like sci-fi show, let alone from MacFarlane.
You will recognize the plot elements, you'll recognize character traits. After hundreds of stories of drama and intrigue among the stars, what story hasn't Trek told? Again, the idea, as far as I can see, was not to create something entirely new (which, ironically, it is, though), but to take those elements that made Trek great and combine them with enough comedy to provide a breath of fresh air. And provide it does. In fact, the comedy allows the writers to approach topics in a way that would actually not have been possible for Trek playing it straight. Without spoiling, I will here point to the Episode "About a girl", which actually touches on subjects that weren't very prominent at the time TNG ran and is therefore quite unique in itself.
I'm not really going to touch on the scientific aspects of the show except to say that, even with scientific advisors, Trek has obviously always taken huge liberties with established science at times, while at others making the science and (at them time) new discoveries a central point of the story. Naturally, scientific accuracy is going to suffer a bit in a comedy. But let me just point to "Discovery" and say (farcially): subspace mushroom network.
I don't know how long they can make the concept work, but if they keep coming up with episodes like #3, #4 and #6, they deserve to have the kind of money thrown at them that "Discovery" now squanders on a tired old war story, forgettable characters, and making everything dark and shaky. But even with its limited budget, the visuals are more than adequate (maybe barring the Ikea furniture), proving once more that you only need so much resources to tell great stories.
Finally, one more thing. THE MUSIC. This show has hands down the best music of any official or unofficial Star Trek show (including the new movies, but of course always excepting Jerry Goldsmith). But considering you have Bruce Broughton doing the theme, and John Debney and Joel McNeely scoring episodes, that shouldn't be a big surprise.
Simply put, this show saves Star Trek for me and blows any contemporary Trek movie or show out of the water - with ease.