I happened to be clicking through some CBS All Access STD extras when up came this intro file card for "Milton Richter" - the apple of Valerie's eye! Though I think he's way better looking in his fleeting seconds of footage on the show. Nevertheless, here he is :D
(I really disliked "Lethe" so I am trying to find things about STD which I still do like, lol)
@Valerie - Let me first say that I love that you guys refer to the show as "Disco" hahaha! We all want one of those black DISCO T-shirts we saw in the last ep, huh? Though I'd be nervous about wearing it in public and getting beat up by angsty punk rockers who don't get the reference.
My Trek friends and I have forever noticed a similarity between TNG and West Wing (cast set up, plot set up, optimistic spirit) so your bit about spotting Disco actors on WW is interesting. I thought this was the first time I'd seen the amazing Jason Isaacs - I'm that rare nerd who's never watched or read Harry Potter - but I must've seen him back in the day when WW first aired. And while I don't remember Wilson Cruz's appearance on WW either, I have seen him in a bunch of other stuff (plus he goes to my gym here in L.A., he's the sweetest guy!).
And yeah, I think the Trek franchise truly will evolve when we can get a new series set in the 25th or 26th century. I don't quite understand the CBS/Paramount legalities which seem to have stalled that. But I really hope they find a way around it. All of us fans want to boldly go where no Trek has gone before!
You’re not alone in the struggle. When Glenn and I discuss Disco off-air, we talk through some of our concerns (like those that you are voicing here), and then put consideration into where they are coming from. We want to remain balanced on air, and have conversations that help us and help listeners find ways to fall in love with Disco (should it continue to merit it). That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t sometimes go on private rants about my beloved Spock and my concern for the sanctity of his well-being.
One such recent conversation involved my lamenting a bit about not having that “Star Trek itch” scratched, and how I too had found some solace in that regard by watching “The Orville”. As you pointed out, it’s quite on the nose. I don’t really care for the humor or for the tone being a bit lower (though sometimes it is used to good effect), but despite those shortcomings, it seems to have captured the spirit of TNG in a way that we’ve all been craving. Has MacFarlane been plotting this ever since his cameo on Enterprise? The world may never know…
I’ve also been comforted by seeing some familiar Disco faces on West Wing, which I’m currently re-watching. Dr. Culber is a young press core employee, and Lorca plays a handsome international journalist – both in season 5. I wonder if West Wing is a non-canon alternate universe?
Glenn addressed your bigger points quite well, and perhaps I’ll just add that Enterprise uses T’Pol to explore the whole Vulcan martial arts (Suus Mahna) thing. I’m pretty certain they cite it there as a purely defensive tool. Considering that many people have problems with how Enterprise messed with Vulcans, though, I’m not sure this makes you feel any better.
Fingers crossed for *another* new ST show set in the 24-or-2500s?
Great points, Glenn. You have done your job of making me feel slightly better about STD (and by "your job," I mean your job as an innocent podcaster who hosts a message board on which I happen to smear my scary and overwritten opinions lol). I'll try to keep a more open mind about this series. Like I said, there's still much about STD which I do enjoy. PLUS, I am getting my itch for more traditional Trek scratched quite well by Fox's "The Orville" - which has become an unexpected treat for me. I presumed that show was going to be heavier on goofy comedy. But no. "The Orville" has turned out to be only 10% comedy, and 90% straight ST:TNG drama (almost litigiously so). It's now very clear that Seth MacFarlane has always wanted to write for Star Trek... and surprisingly, he's pretty damn good at it. Have you, Valerie, or anybody else here watched it?
Milton? His name is Milton!?
BionicDave, you have some excellent criticisms of the show. I've been trying to think about them from the perspective of the writers, and from that perspective I think they are doing (close to?) the best they can.
My assumption that Spock was already grown and out of the house before Sarek and Amanda adopted Burnham was based entirely on the given (?) that the writers would never rewrite Spock's childhood ... right? But I wonder how much it really alters our understanding of Spock to know that besides having a human mother he also had a human sister. If we understand Spock's assessment of his childhood feeling of isolation as referring to how his friends and classmates treated him, then, if anything, having an adopted human sister would be more fuel for childhood cruelty rather than less. And I do like Valerie's reading of how Sarek's choice in Lethe reverberated in his relationship with Spock in TOS.
I'm not sure I have much of a defense for Sarek's appearance in the show to begin with. This is one of the few things I knew about the show going in, and I was concerned that it signaled a show based entirely around hollow fan-service. When it turned out that he was only in the premiere, I felt better. But now he's on the ship? That needs to get resolved very quickly. More Milton, less Sarek, I say.
But given that the writers and producers were obligated to make close connections between this show and TOS, I feel like it could have been much worse. I'm certain that at some point someone suggested that Commander Kirk be a Discovery bridge officer, for example, and we've avoided that (for now).
It also bothers me to think about the Federation as having divisive identity politics. But I think that's because I'm reading the TNG Federation backwards into the canon despite what we actually see in the text of TOS. For all its displays of a progressive human society, TOS doesn't really promote equality among humanoids or even disparage bigotry against other humanoid species. The Federation itself isn't anything akin to a nation in TOS, and Starfleet vessels are usually crewed by members of only one species. Spock is only allowed to be on the Enterprise because he is half human, and there is some suggestion that Spock is the only Vulcan in the entire fleet. It's perfectly fine for McCoy and others to make fun of Spock's Vulcan attributes and to hate Klingons for being Klingons. "Journey to Babel" shows us a Federation that is plagued by an internal politics driven by competition among the member species. All of this is very different from what we see in the TOS films and especially in the TNG era; and I think we were all a little shocked when Enterprise decided to tug on this thread rather than ignore it. But it did, and so the Discovery writers are left with some tough choices about how to depict the Federation and especially the Vulcans. As a historian, it would bother me to see a Vulcan society c.2250 that had completely rejected the elements of bigotry and violence present in Vulcan society c.2150 when (given Vulcan lifespans) it's still comprised of at least some of the same people.
I think the writers have made a good compromise by acknowledging the slow pace of change in culture with longer lifespans than humans while also marginalizing the people with those views. But, while I like that in the background, that's definitely NOT what I want Discovery to be about, and (I repeat) I'm more than a little concerned that Sarek is still on the ship. Let's get him back on Vulcan and let Discovery get on with figuring out what's wrong with Stamets's mirror.
All of that said, I was so worried that another prequel show was going to be nothing but fan service -- nothing but stories about "wouldn't it be cool if ____?" -- and it's been much more than that, so despite it's short-comings I'm both relieved and happy.
But I'm with you (and Valerie) in thinking that we could all use a return to the optimism of 1990.
Most of my problems with "Lethe" stem from what I am now seeing will be a serious problem I have with STD itself: its ongoing, prominent use of Sarek - specifically, how this new Sarek/Burnham relationship really steps all over Spock's backstory - and waters it down, in my opinion.
At least, the idea that Spock felt so isolated, alone, and different in his "halfbreed" youth... well, we have to retcon that, somewhat. It's up in the air now. Turns out, he was luckier than we ever knew! Because the only human on the entire planet of Vulcan - besides the other only human on the entire planet of Vulcan (Amanda) - we are now finding out, happened to live in Spock's very house. Amanda even read 'Alice in Wonderland'** to young Burnham and Spock; what a cozy little family! Oh wait; maybe Sybok showed up for holidays? I won't even go there - you get what I'm driving at.
Spock is hallowed ground for Star Trek.
If he's not THE most important character to the whole franchise, he's one of the two most important. I'm not saying he can never be touched by current and future writers - I am just urging them to use much greater care when treading upon his established continuity. Messing with it like this, when it so easily could have been avoided - by making Burnham's Vulcan foster parent ANY other Vulcan besides Sarek - it just pisses me off. It has from the get-go, but bothers me more now that I see how much STD will be leaning on it. It feels too much like a bad network note: a ploy to get us to love Burnham because she's connected to Spock. I'd have preferred and respected a more original protagonist, one who didn't constantly paw at the bones of my loved ones like this.
"Lethe" made me pull on my adult grumpypants for other reasons, too. LOL
- I am sick of hearing about yet another new molecular internet spanning the universe which just happens to be convenient for our plot at hand.
- The action scenes of the holodeck-before-we-had-Trek-holodecks (oy!) and yes, the Matrix-y martial arts fighting scenes on Vulcan... both of these felt like they were added to the show after the writers outlined it and realized it was too talky/cerebral and needed action. By the way - Vulcan martial arts? I thought the very reason Star Trek came up with the Vulcan neck pinch in TOS was because the writers realized that logical Vulcans had given up violence, and needed a quicker, less dramatic way to incapacitate opponents.
- I watched "Enterprise" so I am familiar with how shifty Vulcans were early in the Trek franchise, but I really wanted to think that this later timeline would yield a more stable Vulcan society. Nope. "Logic extremists?!" Lol Holy crap. So now STD is giving us yet another Trek (mono)culture plagued by galaxialization vs. isolationism. I knew from the pilot episode's Klingons that our real world present-day struggle with globalization vs. isolationism was going to be the umbrella allegory for this series. But seeing how STD is going about it... showing us that all our fun and familiar aliens, just like us humans, will be struggling with this for centuries into our future... ugh, it's so damned bleak. Paging Gene Roddenberry to the writers room, stat!
On a happy note, there's enough about STD which I still like a lot. I think Ash Tyler is sexy af (and the actor is great) even if he may cause problems for us down the line. I still love our dark and half-crazy Captain Lorca. Can't wait to see L'Rell again, her character's complexity and her role in Klingon history is already intriguing. And there's always Impossibly Handsome Bridge Crewman Milton Richter! (well, except for this episode.) I just hope we don't get much more of Sarek for a while :)
(** and don't get me started on STD's use of 'Alice in Wonderland,' and how Burnham no doubt will be quoting this book throughout the series - even though HBO's "Westworld" just gave us a heroine who quotes "Alice in Wonderland" - AND even dresses like Alice! Lol STD's writers must've been aware of this. I just wish they'd chosen another public domain chuldren's tale to use for Burnham's understanding of her scary universe.)
BionicDave, this is hilarious! Good to know we have listeners doing some sleuthing work for me. Just human, though? How disappointing.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on Lethe. I had my own hesitations as well, which Glenn and I discussed a little bit off air, though I’ll say that after recording I feel a bit better.
What did you dislike?