I’ve been a Star Trek fan ever since The Next Generation came out in 1987. I was 8. At that age I believed that the future shown on Star Trek was not only possible, but inevitable. In a few short centuries, humans will have done away with war and greed and suffering and would be exploring the galaxy in big luxurious ships equipped with food replicators and holodecks. I’ve seen every episode of every trek incarnation several times over. The show is at times thoughtful, at times hokey, at times groundbreaking, and at times ridiculous. It is always positive. It shows a version of the future where I would want to live. The humanist philosophies of creator Gene Roddenberry shaped the way I see the world. It influenced me to write science fiction. Every time I sit down to watch Star Trek, it feels like I’m cuddling up with an old friend.
Discovery, Star Trek’s newest incarnation, has given me mixed feelings since it was announced. I was first disappointed that it was going to be a prequel, set ten years before Kirk, which means no call backs to the TNG episodes and aliens that I love. No Ferengi, or Borg, or even Romulans. Sometimes I feel that the franchise is becoming a love letter to Captain Kirk, while forgetting that Picard, Janeway, and Sisko ever existed.
And then it came out that the star of the show was going to be a human that was raised by Sarek (Spock’s Dad). We learned in Star Trek V that Spock has a half-brother, apparently he has a human foster sister as well. I love Spock as much as the next girl, but I didn’t need to learn any more about that family. Then pictures of the Klingons came out and they looked really cool and scary and ugly, and not really much like Klingons.
On the subject of Klingons. In case you don’t know, the Klingons in the original series looked like humans with goatees. In the movies and in the Next Generation they gained forehead ridges. In Star Trek: Enterprise (an even earlier prequel) they retconned a silly explanation for the change (they used human embryos from the eugenics war to try to cure the flu). I guess the Klingons on steroids from Discovery didn’t get their flu shots.
This is what Star Trek fans do, by the way. We pick apart the show that we love. We know the canon better than the creators do and we delight in that knowledge. The Discovery Klingons look awesome actually. They look more alien than the Klingons have ever looked. Discovery has better make-up than 60s Trek, and even 90s Trek. It has a larger costume budget. In all its seven seasons, The Next Generation never explained why the Klingons had forehead ridges, and we just went with it. I’m ready to just go with these new Klingons as well.
Now that I’ve finally seen the two-part premier of Discover (after begrudgingly subscribing to Crave tv). I find myself missing something more than the old Klingon face make-up. I miss Star Trek’s positive version of the future. Discovery is dark and gritty. It’s trying to be a high budget sci fi flick and trying to be Game of Thrones. It’s good tv, but watching it I didn’t get that warm fuzzy feeling that I always get from watching Star Trek. I think that warm fuzzy feeling is something the Discovery creators are trying to scrub clean. It’s like in high school when your friend starts hanging out with the bad kids and changes her personality so she can be cool. Will Discovery come sit at the nerd table again? It’s impossible to tell from two episodes. Star Trek has taught me to be hopeful about the future, and so I remain optimistic for my old friend.