(Apologies in advance, this one is a lengthy epic rant.)
One of the sometimes unfortunate downsides of heavy social media interaction is that you occasionally find yourself in the strangest of arguments. And when you are a sometimes grumpy old geezer like me that is not always a good place to be.
In this case I was caught up in a discussion with a person who thinks Star Trek: Discovery is the greatest thing created since sliced bread and cannot understand why anyone would dislike it. This person’s explanation for the existence of the “No On ST:D” crowd is not only intellectually dishonest, it is downright insulting:
“You’re homophobic, racist, misogynistic if you don’t like the show.”
And that is the default response from that side of Star Trek fandom, even from Day 1 when the show was first announced, even when the only complaints were solely based on the information being released by the show’s producers and cast and solely on the actual announced content of the show. Nor did it help when those same people came right out and said that fans of the original shows and movies weren’t going to like their show and that those same fans could, to put it mildly, go pound sand.
When I first heard of the show, I was happy to hear that a new Star Trek chapter was going to be added to the fifty-one-year-old franchise’s rich history. As the casting became known I was even happier. Jason Isaacs and Michelle Yeoh topped a mighty impressive cast and some of the characters already sounded intriguing.
Then came the problems. Putting Star Trek on subscription only was, in my opinion, a bad move. Then there was the Klingons, who don’t look anything at all like the Klingons in either the TOS or TNG/movies eras. Then there’s the actions of Starfleet and its officers. Even though ST:D is set close to the TOS era they are not acting like the Federation or Starfleet we watched for the first 43 years of the franchise.
A Starfleet officer who has mutinied against her Captain is gone from the fleet unless there are highly extenuating circumstances involved. A Starfleet officer that uses the body of a dead soldier as a weapon of mass destruction has committed a war crime and is not only out of the fleet, but in prison for life.
In TOS, Kirk says “We’re human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands! But we can stop it. We can admit that we’re killers . . . but we’re not going to kill today. That’s all it takes! Knowing that we’re not going to kill — today!”
In ST:D, Burnham says: “Until formal relations were established, whenever the Vulcans crossed paths with the Klingons, the Vulcans fired first. They said ‘Hello’ in a language the Klingons understood. Violence brought respect. Respect brought peace. Captain, we have to give the Klingons a Vulcan Hello.”
James Kirk, in the original realm of Star Trek, was a man of peace who only fought when no other option existed. Starting a war was the last thing on his mind. Star Trek was also about the greatness of humanity, the value of even a single being’s life – no matter what that being looked like – and exploring the spaces in the universe we had yet to visit.
Since 2009? Not so much. And here we have the latest so-called Trek show that is fine with throwing the first punch as well as enslaving a sentient being to use as a source of propulsion.
And here we’ve hit the crux of the issue, and the core of the reason why the older Trek fans dislike what they’ve seen out of the people in control of the franchise since 2009: Respecting the franchise’s Canon, especially if you are going to claim ownership of the franchise.
J.J. Abrams certainly did not do so when he rebooted the film franchise in 2009. His Kelvin timeline is an abomination and an affront to Star Trek. Would Spock (screw this Spock Prime BS) simply sit back and allow Vulcan to be destroyed and decades of history to be erased and rewritten by the rogue Romulan commander hell-bent on revenge? We’re supposed to believe, with a clearly changed timeline, a mission would not be sent to undo this wrong?
Clearly, something would have been done and Spock would know just how to do it having done so numerous times before. J.J. would have known this because the Original Series established the Enterprise could go back in time to prevent this from happening. Watch the episodes “Tomorrow is Yesterday” and “Assignment Earth”. Watch Star Trek IV for crying out loud. And if you want what would have been a better movie, read the Star Trek novels “Killing Time” by Della Van Hise (1990) and “Ishmael” by Barbara Hambly (1985).
You know, consult established Canon.
ST:D continues in the Abrams tradition of extending its middle finger to established Canon with the claim that the Vulcans shot first and promoted war. Seems the folks at ST:D never heard of Surak. They might have if they had bothered to watch TOS’ “The Savage Curtain” or read any one of many of the 1980s – 1990s novels that touched on Surak. “Vulcan” would have been a good one to get in.
But over the past eight years it seems the people at the controls want to rewrite the franchise in their own image instead. Which brings me to the whole point of this post:
You want to make your own Star Trek? Fine, go for it. Just don’t call it Star Trek and try to force the rest of us to swallow your bilge water. Make a Star Tre-type show and call it something else. If you are wondering how to do it I point you in the direction of Seth McFarlane’s “The Orville”.
It’s a Star Trek-type show – and actually more Star Trek than ST:D – that doesn’t claim to be something it is not. And it is quite enjoyable. ST:D might have been the same, had they not lied about what they were doing right from the beginning.
But it isn’t just Star Trek where we are seeing a new generation try to take an established show and prove to the world that they could do it better. (Newsflash: In most cases kids, you aren’t)
Oh, there have been a few successes. The Adams Family movies with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston were very well-done movie versions of the original TV show. Sci-Fi’s Battlestar Galactica was a very well-done remake of the 1970s TV series. The 1993 film, The Fugitive, with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones was a well-done adaptation of the original TV series.
Because they respected the original material, the Canon. They didn’t monkey with the foundations of the show – although BSG pushed the limits a little by incorporating a humanoid Cylon race as opposed to the purely mechanized race of beings in the original series.
Let’s look at some unmitigated disasters.
Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake, anyone? There was so much wrong in that film I’d break the Internet writing about it here.
Chips? The 1970s show had some light moments, but it was a cop show at heart. The recent movie? Don’t get me started aside from whoever started this trend of taking serious TV shows from the 1970s and making them comedies should be damned to the deepest circle of hell. “Dragnet” (1987) or the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp affront to horror fans “Dark Shadows”. The less said about the Depp/Arlee Hammer disaster “The Lone Ranger” the better.
Even those movies that did not try to go the comedy route and tried to make a serious film fell short.
Let’s look at the 2014 “The Equalizer” starring Denzel Washington. I like Denzel’s work as an actor, always have. The movie would have worked under a different title and with a different name for the main character. He could have been a former CIA agent, trying to live a quiet life, drawn to helping people in trouble. Would have been just fine without a peep from me as I liked the plot of the movie.
But the problem is it was based on the 1985 TV series starring Edward Woodward. His motivations and his solutions were much different, much more elegant and a touch more cerebral that the 2014 shoot-em up or beat the crap out of them offered. They used the Canon from the original to cash in on and draw the audience from the original to their version.
It’s a lie, a cheat and it is disrespectful not only to the originator of the franchise, but to that franchise’s long-time fan base.
If you see a movie, a TV show or read a book and think, “I could have done it better”. Then do so. But make it an original concept, with original characters, original world building and don’t try to ride the coattails of the source material.
Go make your own, leave mine alone and get off my durn lawn ya kids!
For an example of how to create your own franchise/universe in sci-fi check out my award-winning book, Escaping Infinity, right here:
OTHER PLATFORMS: https://www.books2read.com/u/mVZe1M