‘Short Treks’ Is The First Fully Successful Presentation From The ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Universe

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS/CBS All Access

CBS All Access’ Star Trek series Discovery has proven over the course of its current two-season run.  The series, and its cast and crew are hoping to “right the ship” when the series’ third season debuts next month – Oct. 15 to be exact – on CBS All Access.  Until Season Three makes its debut, audiences have another way to pass the time in the form of Star Trek: Short Treks.  Released June 2 on DVD and Blu-ray, this latest addition to the Discovery universe is a rare ray of light for the otherwise maligned over-the-top series.  That is due in part to the shorts featured in the single-disc collection.  They will be addressed (along with the one short that did not make the final cut).  The bonus content featured along with the stories adds to its appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The collection’s average price point proves relatively worth the money, considering the featured content and its value.  It will also be addressed later.  Keeping all of this in mind, the collection proves to be the first truly successful offering so far in the Discovery universe.  It gives hope that maybe, just maybe, the series’ third season will be just as enjoyable.  Even if not, at least audiences will have this rare bright spot in the series.

Star Trek: Short Treks is the first great presentation that fans of Star Trek Discovery have received since the series made its debut in September 2017.  It is a presentation that gives hope for the series’ third season upon its debut Oct. 15.  That is due in part to the shorts that are featured in the single-disc collection.  The shorts in question have loose ties to the series, but are still their own unique stories in themselves.  One of the most notable of the nine total featured shorts comes in the form of “Ask Not.”  Directed by Anson Mount, who also plays Captain Pike in the series, this story focuses on Pike testing a young cadet named Thira Sidhu (Amrit Kaur – The D Cut, Kim’s Convenience)  to see if she is ready to serve on the Enterprise.  There is really little to no real connection to Discovery in this story.  Though considering that a spinoff series involving Pike’s time on the Enterprise is allegedly in the works, that short might in fact come into play somewhere down the line.  Getting back to the subject at hand, there is something compelling about this story.  Maybe it is the acting between Mount and Kaur.  Maybe it is the writing.  Maybe it is the production (which Mount mentions in his commentary – this will be discussed a little later).  Maybe it is all of the above.  Regardless, the approach that was taken in front of and behind the camera, made this story something unique that shows in its own way what make this collection worth watching.

“The Girl Who Made The Stars” is another key addition to the collection.  This story, which goes back to Michael’s childhood, finds her father having to come check on her after she has a bad dream.  Her father, by the way, is played here by Kenric Green (The Walking Dead, The Originals, Hawaii Five-O).  Green is the same man who played her father in the series.  In the case of this animated story, Mike (played by Green) tells a then young Michael Jr. the story of how the stars came to be.  The very act of a parent sharing a bedtime story with a child is something that will appeal to any viewer.  It is just a portion of what makes the short so appealing.  The other portion of the short’s appeal comes in the fact that Mike Sr. used the story to help Michael learn a valuable lesson while also connecting her to the rich history of her African ancestors.  In reality, there is no story of a girl who created the stars, though there is a myth from the Khoisan people of the Kalahari about a girl who threw embers from a fire into the sky and created the Milky Way galaxy, which included the stars.  So to that end, maybe Mike’s story was rooted to some extent from that real life African myth.

“The Trouble With Edward” is another key addition to Star Trek: Short Treks.  Like many of the other shorts, this one boasts no connection to Discovery.  In this case in fact, its connection is to the infamous Star Trek: TOS episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.”  The short and simple of the short’s story is that it tells how the Tribbles came to be so reproductive and hints at how they likely ended up on the Enterprise.  According to the story Federation scientist Edward Larkin (H. Jon Benjamin — Home Movies, Bob’s Burgers, Archer) was responsible for all of the problems.  Larkin tells his cohorts during a meeting that they actually reproduced slowly and that he was able to speed up their reproduction.  Larkin revealed the whole intent was to be able to do just that so as to use them as a food source for a non-human race of beings.  This just seems odd.  It’s right up there with the revelation in the second season of Discovery (***SPOILER ALERT) that the Federation black ops group Section 31 essentially created what would go on to become The Borg in what was then called “Control.”  It’s hard to imagine that an organization that was meant to bring the universe together would be responsible for two such destructive species (if one even wants to call the Borg a species).  While the story just seems so suspect Benjamin’s performance here is so entertaining to say the very least.  His demeanor as he talks about being able to use the tribbles as a food source is so unsettling, but all a person can do is laugh because he is so unsettling in his persona.  The same applies as he reveals whose DNA was combined with the tribble DNA to make them reproduce so quickly.  Even as he is being overtaken by the tribbles (not to giv away too much), he holds character.  That makes that moment just as hilarious even though it is supposed to be a tense moment.  It leads to the final scene being such a powerfully entertaining exclamation mark to the story.  It is hardly the last of the collection’s most notable stories.  “Calypso,” with its tie to the Greek myth of Odysseus, and its minimalist approach is another powerful work in its own right.  There is allegedly even a chance that it might end up having a tie to the third season of Discovery after all.  “The Escape Artist,” with its standalone story about the infamous Harry Mudd (who also appeared in an episode of Star Trek: TOS) makes for its own entertainment.  It allows for Rainn Wilson (who played Mudd in Discovery) to expand and really show his chops even more.

Now for all of the value that the noted shorts (and those not noted) offer audiences, it should be noted that there is at least one short not featured in this set.  That short is “Children of Mars.”  Why it was omitted from the collection is anyone’s guess.  Maybe it was a copyright issue.  Maybe it was an intentional saving for a second volume of shorts.  With those potentialities in mind, one cannot be but so displeased with that issue.  Hopefully it will end up on a second volume of shorts in the not too distant future.  Keeping all of this in mind, the shorts featured in this collection give audiences more than enough to appreciate in themselves.  For all of the value that the shorts themselves offer audiences, they are just a portion of what makes the collection stand out.  The set’s bonus content adds its own share of appeal for audiences.

The bonus content that accompanies the set’s shorts adds its own appeal because of the background that it offers audiences.  Case in point is the audio commentary in the episode “Ask Not.”  As previously noted, Anson Mount (who stars as Captain Pike in Discovery) directed the short “Ask Not.”  Mount talks in the short’s audio commentary about directing the short as well as its production values and tone.  He notes the use of the camera work as he and co-star Thira Sidhu circle one another in the simulation and his intention in using such an approach to help heighten the tension of the moment.  It was an approach that worked, too, as audiences are led to believe fully at first that what was happening was anything but a simulation.  He also addresses the sound balance, considering everything that was going on in the tight space, while also offering praise to Sidhu for her own portrayal.  Mount is so reserved as he talks about everything, and it serves to really draw audiences in that much more and appreciate everything he has to talk about.

Staying on the same track, Rainn Wilson directed his feature short “The Escape Artist.”  He talks in the bonus content “Covered in Mudd” about directing the short and everything that went into directing.  His humility in his discussion is refreshing.  It will please any longtime Star Trek devotee.  What’s more, Wilson talks about how the final scene was created.  It gives a new appreciation for the painstaking efforts that those responsible for special effects make to entertain audiences.  As if that is not enough, Wilson also addresses getting the chance to allow Harry Mudd to expand as a character through the short.  This goes back to Wilson’s humility as he discusses taking on the short in front of and behind the lens.  It really is a discussion that audiences will appreciate just as much as any other. It certainly is not the last of the most notable bonus features.  The bonus feature “Score!,” which is featured as a companion to the short “Ephraim & Dot” is yet another standout bonus feature.  When that feature, which explains the short’s connection to Discovery — ***Spoiler alert, Ephraim is the Tardigrade from Discovery) – is considered along with the other bonus content addressed here and the rest of the disc’s bonus content, the whole of said content adds even more reason for audiences to check out this presentation.  That whole, together with the disc’s primary content makes the collection’s average price point a positive in its own right.

Star Trek: Short Treks was released this past June on DVD and Blu-ray.  The average price point for the collection’s DVD presentation is $15.38.  Its average price point on Blu-ray is $22.44.  Those prices were reached by averaging listings through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million.  Amazon and Walmart offer the least expensive DVD listing at $12.96 while Amazon offers the least expensive Blu-ray listing at $19.74.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million are the only major retailers listed whose prices — $28.96 and $25.99 respectively – exceed the average for the Blu-ray.  They are also the only retailers of those noted whose prices exceed the average for the DVD, at $18.39 and $17.99 respectively.  Keeping that in mind, they are the only retailers that audiences should avoid when ordering the collection on either platform.  All of the other retailers stay within the bounds of the averages on each platform.

The price itself is its own positive for audience.  Audiences should also take into account with the noted average prices that they are going to get the same presentation on each platform.  The primary and secondary content is the same on DVD and Blu-ray in other words.  Keeping that in mind and the fact that a DVD can play in a Blu-ray player, audiences really will do themselves more of a service purchasing this on DVD than Blu-ray.  That is especially considering that the DVD’s average price listing and its separate listings are all below the $20 mark.  As the sticker on the box notes, audiences get more than three hours of content (including the bonus content) for less than $20 on DVD.  That is a positive that cannot be ignored.  It puts the final touch on a presentation that in reality is the best Discovery presentation so far.

CBS All Access’ latest Star Trek: Discovery presentation Short Treks is the best presentation that the company has released to date.  That is important to note considering all the problems presented in the series’ first two seasons.  This standalone collection shines in part because of its featured shorts.  They exemplify acting and writing done right, in comparison to everything presented in Discovery.  It is known widely that a new creative force was brought in behind the lens during the second season of Discovery.  Maybe these shorts are a reflection of the stylistic change brought on by the new crew addition.  The bonus content featured with the shorts adds to the set’s appeal.  It offers background that enhances the experience even more.  The collection’s average price point (especially on DVD) adds even more appeal to the collection’s presentation.  Each noted item is important in its own way.  Collectively, they make Star Trek: Short Treks a welcome watch for any true Star Trek fan.  The collection is available now.

More information on Star Trek: Short Treks and Star Trek: Discovery is available online now at:

 

 

 

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Paramount, CBS Announce Release Date For ‘Star Trek Picard: Season 1’

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS/CBS All Access/CBS DVD

Paramount and CBS are bringing CBS All Access’ latest Star Trek series to DVD and Blu-ray.

The series’ first season is scheduled for release Oct. 6 on each platform.  The 10-season debut season follows now retired Starfleet Admiral Jean-Luc Picard as he comes out of retirement an embarks on a whole new journey.  It begins 20 years after the events of the last of the Star TrekTNG movies, Nemesis (2002).  Data’s death and the destruction of the planet Romulus have had a deep emotional impact on him.

When a mysterious young woman named Dahj (Isa Briones — TakersLonely BoyBrown Soup Thing) approaches Picard for help, he realizes she might have a connection to his own past.

Season One also stars Harry Treadaway (The Lone RangerHoneymoonCity of Ember), Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs. The WorldMilkDan in Real Life), Evan Evagora (Fantasy Island), Michelle Hurd (BlindspotAsh vs. Evil DeadLethal Weapon TV series), and Santiago Cabrera (Big Little LiesTransformersThe Last KnightHeroes).

More information on Star Trek Picard and other CBS and CBS All Access series is available at:

 

Website: http://cbs.com/shows/star-trek-picard

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CBS All Access’ ‘Twilight Zone’ Reboot Fails To Live Up To The Legacy Of Rod Serling’s Original Series

Courtesy: Paramount Home Entertainment

When Rod Serlings’s The Twilight Zone made its television debut in 1959 on CBS, it was a groundbreaking and landmark moment in modern television history.  There was nothing like it on television at the time.  The series’ only competition, The Outer Limits didn’t come along until 1963, right as The Twilight Zone was nearing the end of its five-season run.  In the decades since The Twilight Zone ended its run, it remained one of television’s most influential programs.  Its stories have been spoofed by countless other series.  From the likes of The Simpsons to Tiny Toon Adventures and so much more, audiences of all ages have been entertained by this timeless series in one way or another.  It has even been rebooted on television now three times, the most recent reboot coming last year with a new 10-episode debut season, hosted and executive produced by Jordan Peele.  The full season run is available now on DVD and Blu-ray through CBS Distribution and CBS All Access, complete with some bonus materials.  The content is the core positive of this season’s home release and will be discussed shortly.  For all that the bonus content does, the stories featured at the center of this season’s episodes, which are supposed to be the show’s core, detract quite a bit from its presentation.  This will be addressed a little later.  While the stories that make up the body of Season One detract quite noticeably from the season’s presentation, Peele’s work as the show’s narrator makes up at least slightly for the problems posed by the stories.  Each  item noted is key in its own way to the whole of this Season One set from the latest reboot of The Twilight Zone.  All things considered, they make this collection worth at least one watch, but sadly falls short of the legacy maintained today by Rod Serling’s original series.

CBS All Access’ new reboot of The Twilight Zone is a presentation that is worth at least one watch in its debut season, but not much more.  Keeping that in mind, it is not a total loss.  That is due in part to the bonus content that is featured with the season’s home release.  The most notable of the set’s bonus content is the tribute to Rod Serling and the legacy that he left with his landmark series.  The 36-minute feature that is “Remembering Rod Serling” is a fitting tribute to Serling.  It tells the story of Serling’s life, career and impact on television (and media) history through the words of his family and friends as well as clips of Serling discussing his work.  One of the most powerful statements that Serling makes through the culled footage comes late in the feature.  He notes to a group of college students that they need not worry so much about a misplaced comma or a run-on sentence, but rather making sure the idea that they want to express is done so clearly in their works.  That is something that so many people need to take to heart today.  There are editors out there who are so nitpicky about those tiny items, that they lose total sight of the bigger picture.  The figures who were interviewed for the feature add their own comments, noting Serling’s desire to speak on social issues throughout his life. They stress that Serling used the series as a way to address those concerns while also entertaining audiences at the same time. What’s more, it is pointed out that he understood in doing what he did, that he also understood the role of advertisers and studios at the time, which played into his ability to so solidly balance the show’s more serious and lighthearted elements.  One of Serling’s daughters is among the interviewees featured in this semi-documentary. She talks about Serling as a family man away from work, and how committed he was to his family.  It is a truly uplifting, smile-inducing anecdote that is shared, and adds even more enjoyment to the presentation.  Between all of the items noted here and the rest of the discussions that make up “Remembering Rod Serling,” the whole of the bonus feature is in itself well worth the watch.  It is just some of the bonus content worth watching.  The introductions to each of the episodes, called “Opening The Door To…” are important in their own way to the set’s presentation.

The “Opening The Door To…” segments are brief, but they give viewers a concise explanation as to the commentary presented within each episode.  The topics are presented by the cast members who star in each episode, too, adding to the engagement and entertainment.  Audiences will learn through the introductions, that the topics tackled are at least in most part, just as timeless as the topics that Serling addressed in his stories.  ‘Replay’ for instance presents a commentary about the ongoing issue of the relationship between minorities and law enforcement officers.  The introduction to ‘Point of Origin’ explains that as complex as the episode is, it is essentially an allegory about how we as a people handle the issue of illegal immigration and how racist views play into that discussion.  The introduction to ‘The Wunderkind’ notes the story is a warning about letting identity politics control a nation rather than the important issues facing a nation.  Simply put, the explanation of each episode’s story might not seem like a lot on the surface, but in the bigger picture of things, it plays directly into the engagement and entertainment of the stories themselves.  The introductions are…well…introductions.  They set the scene so to speak for each episode, and allow audiences to better decide if they want to watch one episode or another.

Staying on that note of audiences’ ability to decide which episode(s) to watch, the set’s packaging plays into that decision, too, making for another positive worth noting.  The season’s episode listing is provided for audiences inside the collection’s box.  Each episode’s title is featured along with a brief episode summary, adding to the ability to decide which episode(s) to watch.  That initial decision can save time for audiences as they try to decide which episode(s) to watch.  The compliment of the episode introductions with each episode adds even more pleasure for viewers as they make the noted decisions.  Keeping all of this in mind along with the value of the bonus tribute to Rod Serling, it becomes clear why the bonus content is so important to the overall presentation of the first season of CBS All Access’ reboot of The Twilight Zone.

The bonus material featured in the home release of The Twilight Zone’s first season reboot is clearly critical to its presentation, and does a lot to make this set worth at least one watch.  While it does a lot to make the set at least partially appealing, the stories collectively detract just as much from the presentation.  From start to finish, it is easy to see that all the show’s writers did was re-imagine Serling’s stories, rather than make something original.  Case in point is the episode “Six Degrees of Freedom.”  It is clear that this episode coupled elements of the original episodes “I Shot An Arrow Into The Sky” and “Where Is Everybody?” and made them into a re-imagined take on the two.  That realization does detract greatly from the enjoyment.  The same thing applies for instance in the new episode “A Traveler.”  “A Traveler” is essentially a mash-up of “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up” and “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” what with the matter of the alien invasion and the matter of the friends fighting amongst one another as a result of the intervention by the alien.  Those familiar with Serling’s original series will remember that in “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” those neighbors who knew one another so well suddenly started fighting amongst themselves because of the intervention of the unseen aliens.  In this case, the alien was in plain sight, yet still unseen.  So again, it is in essence just an updated take on that story as well as the other noted tale.  “Not All Men” with its overly preachy product of the MeToo movement about toxic masculinity also lifts from “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” after asteroids land in a town and “infect” all the men in the town, and they all start going crazy and become violent.  Yet again, here is something from space causing the masses to go crazy.  On top of that, do we really need that preachy message about toxic masculinity?  The answer is a resounding no.  This episode was completely unnecessary, and just a knee jerk reaction to the times. For another example of the detriment of the stories, one need look no further than “The Wunderkind.”  This story is little more than a re-imagining of ‘It’s A Good Life,” which starred famed actor Billy Mumy as the “evil” child.  In the case of “The Wunderkind,” the evil controlling child becomes the tyrannical leader of the United States.  There is very little difference between the two stories in this case, other than this story clearly goes after Donald Trump, comparing him to a manchild of sorts.  Given, there’s nothing untrue or wrong with that.  After all, that is exactly what Donald Trump is.  He is the worst thing to ever happen to America in this critic’s own view.  But other than that, there is just no true originality in this case, either.  It’s just one more lifting of Rod Serling’s work instead of being an original story.  If all of this is not enough example of the detriment of the stories, the re-imagining of “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet” is yet another example that proves how much of a disservice these stories are in Season One.  Rather than just being a fan piece about a man who sent crazy on an airliner (or did he?), this tale is loosely based on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.  In this case, the outcome is quite different from what likely happened in reality.  To that end, it just takes so much from the enjoyment in this case.

On a slightly happier note, while the season finale, “Blurryman” is essentially just a re-imagining of “The Hitch-Hiker,” it is really the only story in this season that works.  It mixes elements of that story with the equally timeless episode “Time Enough at Last” to truly pay tribute to Serling and his legacy.  It is the only episode that can truly be forgiven for not being wholly original, just because of the way in which it was executed.  Other than that one story though, the other noted episodes and the others not directly addressed here prove themselves to be anything but original, much like the episodes in the previous reboots of The Twilight Zone.  Yes, they are at least worth watching once thanks to the acting and the cinematography, but in terms of the general writing, they are anything but positive.

Making things even more troubling for the stories is the overt inclusion of so much unnecessary foul language.  Between the adult cast and even the younger actors, there are lots of f-bombs, s-bombs and other related four-letter words tossed around so openly.  Serling’s series and even this series’ predecessor showed they did not need all that language in order to keep audiences engaged.  To that end, one can’t help but wonder why the show’s creative forces thought it was necessary to work blue.  The argument that this reboot is simply a product of its time does not hold water.  If previous series could go  without such language, then this reboot should be able to do the same.  It is just disappointing that it is there this time out.

Getting back to the matter of Mr. Peele, who has made quite the name for himself in recent years in Hollywood, he is deserving of his own share of applause in his time as the show’s narrator.  Peele only shows up in the episodes’ early and late moments, but there is something in his presence and his delivery each time that is so entertaining in their simplicity.  It is a presentation in itself that will make the most devoted fans of Serling and his timeless series happy.  He is just as stoic in his narrations as Serling was, his delivery so matter of fact, yet presenting just enough emotion to let audiences easily grasp the irony in each tale both at the start and finish.

On another note, Peele’s acting as he becomes one of the stars in the season finale is just as notable because he knows he is still more supporting cast than star.  He lets his cast mates take the lead while still offering his own lighthearted act along the way.  Between that impressive on camera role and his work as the show’s narrator, Peele proves to be his own key part of the season’s presentation.  Between his work on camera and the importance of the season’s bonus content, the two elements go a long way toward making the debut season of CBS All Access’ latest reboot of The Twilight Zone at least somewhat engaging and entertaining.  The stories, while clearly not exactly original, do have at least some positive to note, slight as it is.  All things considered, the home release of CBS All Access’ 2019 reboot of The Twilight Zone hardly lives up to the legacy of Serling’s original series and is worth maybe one watch, but sadly not much more than that.

CBS All Access’ latest reboot of The Twilight Zone is a presentation that is anything but the memorable work that Rod Serling’s original series has proven to be more than sixty years after it debuted.  Sure, the bonus content featured in Season One’s home release is engaging and entertaining along with star Jordan Peele (through his performance), but the stories prove anything but original.  They are largely little more than mash-ups and re-imaginings of Serling’s original stories.  The unnecessary foul language and overt violence and darkness in each episode makes this season even more targeted in terms of audience base than its predecessors.  Sure, Serling’s original series might not necessarily be kid friendly, but at least it is known that audiences as young as 13 years-old can appreciate that series.  This series, by comparison is more appropriate only for audiences 18 and older because of the noted content.  Keeping all of this in mind, this latest take on The Twilight Zone is largely a failure that hardly lives up to the legacy of the original series and of Rod Serling himself.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other content from CBS All Access is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.cbs.com/all-acess

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‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Shows Some Growth In Its Second Season

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS/CBS All Access

Early next year, CBS All Access will debut the latest entry in the long-running Star Trek franchise in the form of Star Trek: Picard.  The series’ debut is set for April 2020.  According to information from multiple media outlets, the third season of the streaming service’s other Star Trek series, Discovery will premiere.  While audiences wait for the premiere of Discovery’s third season, they have the series’ to take in on DVD and Blu-ray.  Officially released Nov. 12, the series’ second season is a slight improvement from its debut season.  That is proven in part through the season’s writing, which will be addressed shortly.  At the same time that the writing has provided a certain improvement from the series’ first season, it also has proven to be a negative to the season.  This will also be addressed.  The season’s acting rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed here.  Between the writing and acting, audiences get in the second season of Discovery, an example of a show that is improving, but still has a very long way to go before it can be considered among the best of Star Trek’s series.Star Trek: Picard

The second season of Star Trek: Discovery is a small step up from the series’ debut season.  It shows that the series has some potential.  That is due in part to the series’ writing.  The writing offers audiences far more lighthearted moments this time out than in Season One.  There are more jokes and casual moments featured throughout the season’s 14 episodes this time around.  That could be perhaps because the crew of the Discovery has more breathing room, what with the war with the Klingons ended after Season One.  It is nice to see those more lighthearted moments, as it shows that the show’s writers apparently don’t constantly take themselves with a lot of seriousness and can offer some entertainment.

The writing offers entertainment not just through lots of lighthearted moments this season, but also in the more action packed moments.  Those moments are many throughout the season, too.  From the crew’s dealings with “Control,” which are essentially the ancestors of the Borg, to the fights with Capt. Leland to the final epic battle in the season’s two-part finale, there is just as much enjoyable action throughout the season as there is joking and lightheartedness.  The combination of those elements shows that clearly a lot of time and thought was put into improving the writing for this season.  The time and thought paid off, clearly.

For all of the payoff that the noted time and thought had in the writing, it also proved just as much a negative as a positive.  That is proven as there is an overabundance of unnecessary, over-the-top drama throughout the season, too.  From the season premiere to its exciting two-part finale, the show’s writing team gave star Sonequa Martin-Green more than her share of screen time and just as many opportunities to shed a river of tears and then some.  Between her personal moment with Saru when it appears he is going to die (not to give away too much here, but Saru doesn’t die), her nonstop emotional confrontations with Spock and her adopted parents, to her full-on emotional breakdown after another of her ship mates forced her to send her out of an airlock, killing her, Martin-Green gets plenty of crying time on screen.  As if all of that is not enough, Anson Mount’s extraordinarily (and unnecessarily) long speeches as the season nears its end make it quite easy for audiences to hit the fast forward button on their remotes.  The ongoing drama between Hugh and Stamets, and the seemingly never-ending drama between Michael and Ash adds to that overabundance of drama, too.  That overabundance of drama sadly detract quite a bit from the season’s overall general effect and make it difficult for audiences to take seriously.  Rather, they give the season more of a feel of one big supernova of an interstellar soap opera than an action, science fiction series.  Simply put, the overabundance of drama tied into Season two’s presentation does just as much to hurt this show even more as the more lighthearted moments do in order to make the show more enjoyable.  To that end, one can only hope that the show’s writers will continue to infuse more light dialogue next season than drama.  If they don’t go that route, odds are, it will just continue to alienate fans (no pun intended) and find itself ending sooner rather than later.

While the writing incorporated into Discovery’s second season is both a pro and a con, the one element that can be said to be a full positive is the work of the show’s cast.  Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels) is a wonderful addition to the cast.  His portrayal of Capt. Pike makes him one of the best additions to the cast.  He really conjures thoughts of Capt. Kirk as he directly contrasts the much harder-edged presence of Capt. Lorca.  Getting off topic for a moment, the writes mention Lorca in the opening episodes of the season, but still do nothing to explain away what happened to the prime universe Lorca, since it was revealed that Discovery’s Lorca was from the alternate universe.  Getting back on topic, Mount effortlessly makes Pike a character that every viewer loves just as much as the Discovery’s crew.  He cracks jokes with the bridge crew, shoots sarcastic remarks at Ash and Emporor Georgiou, and takes control when the heat is on, just as a good leader would.  He just shows so much charisma throughout.  It makes it too bad that he allegedly will not return for the series’ third season.

Another notable acting job from Season Two comes from newcomer Tig Notaro.  Notaro, who takes on the role of Federation Engineer Jett Reno plays expertly off of Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets).  The verbal barbs that Reno so willingly shoots at Stamets are among the best of the season’s lighthearted moments.  Her timing and general presence makes for some of the season’s best laughs.  In the same breath, she shows her own unique brand of care as she talks to Hugh about his relationship with Paul (yes, Hugh does return this season, albeit in a rather comic book-esque fashion, which is another issue with the writing that detracts from the season’s general effect).  She maintain’s Reno’s edge, but still manages to show Reno has a heart in the process.  It makes her quite the sympathetic character and talented actor.  Between her acting, that of fellow newcomer Anson Mount and Ethan Peck (who plays Spock – Peck’s take on the timeless, beloved figure is noteworthy in its own right), audiences have just as much reason to watch this season for its acting as for the growth exhibited in the show’s writing.  One can only hope that between the growth exhibited in the writing and the positive acting jobs of the cast, the improvements made in this season will continue in Season Three and continue to help this show prove its potential.

Paramount Pictures and CBS’ latest entry into the Star Trek universe, Discovery has show n significant growth in its second season from its debut season.  That is evident in part in the season’s writing, which attempts to offer more lighthearted moments to balance out its overabundance of unnecessary over the top drama.  Speaking of the drama, there is a lot of that, which seriously detracts from the season, along with the oftentimes dizzying cinematography.  Thankfully, as much as those items detract from the season’s presentation, they are not enough to make the season completely unwatchable.  The on-camera work of some of the show’s new cast members adds its own share of engagement and entertainment.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered, they show this season has the potential for growth, if only its creative heads won’t let it become the full-on interstellar soap opera that it largely become this season.  Here’s to hoping Season Three will avoid all that drama and instead opt for more action than overdrawn, overabundant and unnecessary tear-filled jaunts.  If they do that, it can make Season Three a major turning point for Discovery; if and only if they go that route.  Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  More information on the series is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery

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CBS All Access’ New ‘Star Trek’ Series Fails In Its First Season

Courtesy: CBS Television Studios/Paramount

In a little more than a month, CBS All Access’ latest entry into the Star Trek universe – Star Trek: Discovery — returns for its second season.  While audiences count the days until the fledgling series returns, they have its debut season to take in on DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of CBS Television Studios and Paramount Home Entertainment.  Released in stores Nov. 13 on separate DVD and Blu-ray sets, Season One’s home release offers both pros and cons to note, beginning with the series’ very writing.  It will be discussed shortly.  The set’s bonus content is its own positive, and will be discussed a little later.  The set’s average price point is also important to discuss, and will be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered, the debut season of Star Trek: Discovery proves to be a new start for the Star Trek universe that is worth at least one watch, but sadly not much more.

The debut season of CBS All Access’ new Star Trek offering, Star Trek: Discovery is a rough new start for the Star Trek universe’s latest offering.  It is not the franchise’s worst entry, but definitely is not the franchise’s best entry, either.  That is due in part to the writing, which like Paramount’s 2009 big screen Star Trek reboot, is little more than just another revisiting of the Star Trek universe’s past.  It takes audiences into the past, attempting to show what led to the never-ending tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  The result is a presentation that conjures thoughts more of SyFy Channel’s most recent Battlestar Galactica reboot than any Star Trek entry, either on the big or small screen.  This is just the beginning of the problems with the writing, because the set-off is actually somewhat ambiguous.  Were the Klingons already planning to rise up before the incident with Michael Bernham and the Klingon warrior, or did it only happen after that incident?  Audiences know that said incident played at least in part to the conflict, but because of the dialogue featured throughout the early episodes of Season One, audiences will be left scratching their heads to a point as to that setup.

As season one progresses, it resurrects some ST story elements that are all too familiar to longtime ST fans.  One of those elements is a time loop arc. Another is the alternate universe story arc.  The time loop has been done already in Star Trek: The Next Generation while the alternate universe arc was used in Star Trek: TOS.  This series’ writers try to freshen up the time loop arc by setting it off through a character that fans of TOS will recognize, and while it does work to a point, the story starts to plod along after a while, getting lost in itself along the way.  The alternate universe arc proves even more problematic not only because it’s already been done, but also because it creates its own share of plot holes.  Not to give away too much for the sake of those who haven’t yet seen Season One, but if the alternate universe has the evil twins of the Discovery “prime” universe – the term “prime” is actually used by Berham in this arc – then where is the “good” twin of Capt. Lorca and the “evil” twin of Bernham?  Bernham’s doppelganger is mentioned by the “evil” Phillipa, but the writers never address where she is in a bigger sense.  Nor is it mentioned where the “good” Capt. Lorca is or if there even is a “good Capt. Lorca.  The writers try to explain it away in an early scene in the arc between Discovery’s Bernham and Lorca, but it is still ultimately left up in the air.  Even Paul Stamets’ double is introduced as he sits in a coma.  This is its own problem as one can’t help but make comparison to so many soap operas, as every major soap opera has done the coma “dream sequence” way too many times.  Getting back on track, even as Discovery gets back to its own universe, the whereabouts of the “evil” Discovery ship is not addressed, either.  Where is it?  Did it go back to its universe when Discovery jumped back to its universe?  Again, here audiences have a plot hole that is left wide open even as the writers struggle to address the situation in the story arc’s finale.

Another plot hole that is left wide open involves Bernham’s adoptive father, (who also proves to be the father of another even more well-known Star Trek character) Sarek.  Again, not to give away too much, but Sarek is rescued after his ship is sabotaged (in a moment that makes one think of something from Iron Man 3), but after his rescue, his character is ignored until the season’s final two episodes.  Audiences don’t hear from him after Bernham leaves him laying in sick bay, recovering from his wounds.  Next time he’s seen, he’s in full health.  This is problematic as it doesn’t take long after that instance for the problems to start again for Discovery.  Was Sarek still on the ship at that point?  When did he leave the ship?  Again, this is a plot hole that simply cannot be ignored.  It proves the writing that much more problematic.  This still is not the last of the issues raised through an examination of the writing.  The introduction of Lt. Tyler creates its own issue.

The introduction of Lt. Tyler is a direct comparison to Battlestar Galactica.  This critic will attempt to not give away too much information here, but the revelation about who and what Tyler is makes that comparison far too easy.  The recent reboot of Battlestar Galactica saw the Cylons infiltrate the humans’ ranks by making them look like the humans.  This in itself was a lifting from Terminator 2 (if not other previous movies and TV shows).  What the writers did here with Tyler is very similar, but instead of making him a robot, they made him something else.  Audiences who have yet to see this season will be left to make that discovery themselves, but it goes without saying that it has been done before.  In this case, it is the same thing, just altered slightly and in more gory fashion.

As if the general story elements, the plot holes and that they create, and the rehashing of another element are not enough, the smaller items of the writing prove just as problematic for this presentation.  There is lots of overt bloodshed, gore, sexual content and foul language.  Given, maybe her and there, there has been some mildly suggestive material in previous Star Trek incarnations, but never was it to the point that it is here.  There are flashes of a sex scene between one of the lead Klingon characters and another character late in the season’s run.  There is also enough bloodshed and overt violence to appease the most bloodthirsty person.  It’s a disappointment because none of the Star Trek universe’s other series’ needed any of that in order to be even mildly entertaining.  So, why did the writers think it was needed here?  Have audiences really become that dependent on violence and sexuality?  If so, then that is in itself is a troubling statement.

While the writing exhibited in the debut season of Star Trek: Discovery does a lot to detract from its presentation, the set is not a total loss.  That is thanks to the bonus content featured throughout the set.  Throughout the set, audiences are treated to featurettes, which focus on the series’ sets, costumes, makeup and even the philosophical aspects of the storylines as well as other items.  The discussions on the stories’ deeper ruminations are interesting, and do create at least a little bit of appreciation for the work that the writers put in.  After all, this is not the only Star Trek entry that has striverd to use its stories to create dialogues on certain deep topics.  However, it sadly is not enough to make up for the bigger problems posed through the writing.  The discussions on the sets and costumes make for fun glances behind the cameras,  Audiences will be interested to see how the costume and makeup departments used modern 3D printing technology alongside more traditional methodology to create the look of the Klingons.  In the same vein, the thought and effort put into the sets is just as interesting.  This feature will appeal just as much to theater production specialists as it will to general audiences.

As the season comes to an end, audiences are treated to another, different type of feature in the season retrospective, “The Journey of Season 1.”  This roughly 20-minute featurette features discussions from the show’s cast and creative heads about their favorite episodes and the importance of those episodes to the season’s overall presentation.  This brings everything full circle in regards to the bonuses.  It brings back those discussions on the season’s philosophical elements while also letting more people offer their own perspective on those themes.  Of course it is just one more of the bonus features worth watching.  The bonuses, including deleted scenes (at least one of which gives a hint about Season 2), are spread throughout the season’s discs.  This is important in that it shows Paramount and CBS Television Studios did not try to just cram a bunch of random featuerettes onto the last disc, unlike what so many other studios do.  It shows the companies wanted to give audiences the biggest bang for their buck.  They succeeded at that, too.

Speaking of bang for the buck, the set’s average price point is respectable.  The average price point for the season’s Blu-ray presentation – using prices listed at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million – comes to $39.86.  In other words it comes in at just under $40.  The DVD set’s average price – using those same outlets – comes to $32.14.  Both sets feature the same bonus content and the same episodes.  There is no real difference between the two platforms in terms of content.  Considering this, the pricing here is on part with other DVD and Blu-ray sets for other TV series, so there is that to appreciate.  Considering the entertainment that the bonus material (and to a slightly lesser degree, the primary content) offers, that makes both platforms’ average pricing respectable.  When this is considered alongside the noted bonus and primary content, the whole of Discovery: Season One proves worth at least one watch, but sadly, no more.

CBS All Access’ latest journey into the Star Trek universe, Star Trek: DiscoverySeason 1 is a presentation that is nothing like its predecessors.  More akin to Syfy’s most recent Battlestar Galactica reboot and Disney’s most recent Star Wars movies, this latest revisiting of the Star Trek universe history’s past (it has already been done in 2009 with Paramount’s big screen Star Trek reboot) suffers severely from writing problems, such as lagging story arcs that are often times overflowing with plot holes and general lack of creativity.  Additionally, the overall cinematic nature of the season, and the knowledge that the series is a serial (unlike its predecessors) makes this season feel more like one big movie than a general TV series.  Some people will like it, but others – like this critic – will very much dislike these aspects.  The bonus content spread across the set’s discs does at least a little bit to make up for the problems posed by the writing.  The average price point for the set’s separate DVD and Blu-ray platforms lets audiences know that their money spent was not entirely wasted.  Despite that affordable price point and the positives in the bonus material, the problems posed by the writing are just too much to overcome.  In general, the positives of the pricing and secondary content makes this set worth at least one watch, but sadly no more than that.  Star Trek: DiscoverySeason 1 is available now in stores and online.  More information on Star Trek: Discovery is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/cbs

 

 

 

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