What I'm Watching: Star Trek SNW S1E2

Second episode greatly improved on the first. I guess I'm subscribed and watching this. Nobody is more surprised that Mark liked a modern Star Trek than Mark.

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Mostly liked.

The Captain's dinner was bad. A) I really really dislike their "casual" being mostly 20th C stuff, obvs Pike's old-fashioned, but it's too retro. TOS set a clear standard that the fashion & music & entertainments of the future are NOT just rehashed pre-apocalypse stuff. B) Ortega's gutter trash look is completely inappropriate for Starfleet, even casual. James T. Kirk wouldn't put up with that kind of disrespect to the service. C) The grilling/hazing of Uhura is poor team-building, but also everyone goes on at length with bad writing nobody would ever say. Very cringey first act.

The comet/alien artifact is fantastic, though. Great design for it. Alien thing that is actually alien and inscrutable. A seemingly simple problem, in TOS it would probably be a Prime Directive violation, but they just set up the PD last episode, so here they can just fix it. Except it's not that fixable.

Uhura gets to use linguistics (kind of a useless skill when you have a Universal Translator) and singing, tho she mostly hums. But she can carry a tune. Sam Kirk gets to be "the guy we zap or knock around because he can't die until TOS" for this series. Spock and Singh just stand around and be useless, but Spock & Uhura (and a bit with Nurse Bleach-Blonde Chapel) actually are funny, there's good writing here. Did they borrow writers from Lower Decks?

The alien menace is kind of ridiculous, bad face on the screen, weird shapeship that doesn't make a lot of engineering sense. For "advanced" aliens they have incredibly bad aim and weak, standard-issue plasma torpedo weapons. In Star Fleet Battles terms, they're like one of the minor races, no new tech but a bigger ship, any good pilot can beat them with a stock Heavy Cruiser.

The natives on the planet are barely seen, little fake camp pounding grit, hard to believe there's millions of them. If they're the reason you're doing this, at least show something sympathetic.

I really hope this doesn't turn into "every alien thing has TIME POWERS", because I'm annoyed by that already.

★★★½☆ but keep in mind I'd rate all of TNG, DS9, VGR, ENT, PIC, & STD ★☆☆☆☆ to ★★☆☆☆ with only rare ep exceptions, so this is some high praise from me.

What I'm Watching: Star Trek Strange New Worlds

So I haven't watched much of Star Trek: Discovery (STD, how unfortunate), the incompetent captain should've been fired… out a photon torpedo tube. There's apparently backstory to this series in it? But I'm gonna go ahead anyway. Better dead than Disco. And really I disdain all official Star Trek past TOS, TAS, movies I-VI (weird they never made V), and Star Trek: Lower Decks. So a new series is pushing a big stone uphill to even get me to watch it.

Theme song is far too mellow, but at least it's not ENT. The scenes with tightly packed walls of "asteroids" make me annoyed, but you know, dumbass visual designers gonna dumbass, may have nothing to do with the show.

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"Pike" is ominously brooding, call to adventure rejected, manly man gonna ride his horse in the snow, gotta go save the girl, yada yada. In reality, Anson Mount is a Confederate sympathizer inbred hillbilly "men's rights" garbage person, who I honestly don't expect to survive a season without some horrible racist/sexist/homophobic scandal. There's just no way. But let's pretend this jackass can keep his shit together for a while.

Security is a girl named La'an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong). That's literally like naming your kid Adele Hitler. Khan was a mass-murdering genocidal tyrant just 100-ish years before this, nobody's going to have his name. And in previous (later) Star Trek continuity, genetically engineered people like Bashir are hated freaks because of the Eugenics Wars. In the continuing saga of never casting Indians as an Indian tyrant and his cloned descendants, they found a Chinese-English actress. At least it's not honkie Benzedrine Crumpledpants this time.

Doctor M'Benga at least knows what Singh is, and the young and horribly bleached-blonde Nurse Chapel. M'Benga might actually not be bad; the character was in a couple TOS episodes.

Spock & T'Pring are horny young people, formal but not flipping between emotionless/raging hormonal maniacs as they ought to be, but nothing past TOS has ever done Vulcans well. Meh. Spock is played passably but uncertainly by Gregory Peck's grandson, but the kid really doesn't seem to know what he's doing.

Young Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) is… this is petty, but I don't like her look, buzzed-off hair, doesn't fit with Nichelle Nichols in any way. The actress does sing (but IC hasn't had a chance yet), but AFAICT from Youstubes only covers of alt/pop songs ("Isn't it Ironic?") We'll see. Actually a lot of the crew have really shitty Zoomer hairstyles, mullets and fake cornrows and such. Also very modern jumpsuit outfits on most, instead of the mini-skirts & overly tight slacks of the era. This is visually going to age very very badly.

Transporters are used for some tricky stuff that shouldn't be possible for at least a century or two later, they are super unreliable death machines at this time. Maaagic transporter medicine delivery, no.

Nobody has ever actually read their mission briefing, they just showed up in a rush and are waiting for the boss man to tell them what to do. This is not reasonable para-military procedure. I compare it very unfavorably with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, where the unfinished refit of the Enterprise and new crew are handled perfectly.

The actual mission, all 15-20 minutes of it, is pretty good TOS-style shenanigans. First contact with asshole planet, ridiculous genetic hacking disguises that wear off when it's inconvenient, sneaking/fighting thru an alien building which is just some brutalist design community college or business center. A preachy speech fixes everything (but blaming America for WW3 instead of, say, Russia? Silly but consistent with the worst eps of TNG).

The aliens have no personalities, no motivations. The leader woman with no name has a brief self-justification, stiffly read. Back in the day, aliens got names, personalities, and plots of their own. I understand actually giving a shit about your job is hard now.

The scout ship that starts this thing is weird. It's a Hermes-class scout ship, which is just an undergunned Saladin-class destroyer; anyone who's played Star Fleet Battles will have destroyed entire fleets of these things, they're cheap but very low on warp power. There should be a crew of dozens to run that, but there's 3 people, and only one of them can even talk when they're rescued? Who ships a main character and two line-less redshirt extras on first contact?

Later, preposterously grimdark backstory for Noonien-Singh, partly told earlier in the most awkward and inappropriate way possible, possibly because the script didn't get edited at all, so much as thrown at a wall. Why not cannibalism and beating her father to death with his own shoes, too? The Gorn don't lay eggs and especially not in "breeding sack" animals, they give live birth, and also hadn't been contacted in this time, Kirk's fight in "Arena" was first contact. Oops all around. Maybe she just had a bad weekend in Manchester and thought they were Gorn.

Pike has his own grimdark backstory and foreknowledge of the wheelchair but not The Cage, his dialogue is often pretentious and slow, but every captain's got their own style. Maybe he'll loosen up.

Not as terrible as Star Trek Discopants or Picknose, I didn't hate anything just disappointed with a lot of the casting, set & costume design, inattention to continuity. In 7 days, I can watch E2, and will decide if I'll keep Paramount+++ for another month or shut it off immediately.