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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Salem Watches Television: An Unexpected Discovery

Wooo that was a misleading title, wasn't it?

I love Star Trek. Not to the extent of my big three, which are Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, and Mystery Science Theater 3000, but in the eternal debate of Star Wars vs Star Trek, I'll always pick Trek. I remember seeing some of the movies when I was visiting my dad's family in Boston as a wee one, catching reruns in the afternoon, and staying up late to watch The Next Generation and Deep Space 9.

I still haven't (and most likely never will) finish watching Voyager. I keep meaning to watch the last two seasons of Enterprise, but can never find the time for it. I suppose this is for the best; those series will never reach the brilliance of story-telling that DS9 did, so I'll let them go.

I even enjoy the relaunch movies to an extent. Into Darkness was still visually pleasing despite being inferior to its inspiration, and it's a shame that nobody saw Beyond, because it was a lot of fun

What am I getting at with this nostalgic reminiscence? Well, Star Trek: Discovery will be coming out soon... I think. I say "I think" because I actually have no intention of watching it -  not from some misguided boycott or sense of betrayal or anything like that, but just out of a lack of interest. I've kept up with behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt on the series, and given the re-writing, re-casting, and overall mess that's been going on around it, I just don't see a reason to get invested.

I've seen public statements that have been comparing the Klingons in ST:D (and who thought that abbreviation was a good idea?) to both Muslims and "Trump's America", and which celebrated the gender and racial diversity of the main cast, but there has been absolutely no confidence shown whatsoever in the actual writing of the show.



ST:D (I'm not going to stop calling it that) just does not look interesting at all. Something which has caught my eye - though in a very surprising way - is The Orville.
That's... a nice ride.
I hate Family Guy. I viscerally hate it. I don't think I've ever enjoyed something that's had the creative hand of Seth MacFarlane on it; there's just something about his humour that doesn't click with me. So when I heard he was making something of a comedic tribute to Star Trek, I decided I was going to just stick to ST:D and be done with it.

Except for two things:
  1. ST:D is going to be on CBS All-Access, and I can't really think of anything else on CBS I want to watch, so I don't really want to pay for a subscription service for one show. I have a feeling this is going to be a fairly common sentiment as well, so a large portion of ST:D's audience is going to be torrenters, downloaders, and pirates. 
  2. The Orville is... actually pretty good. 
That last one was a shocker to me. I wasn't going to watch The Orville, but given how many people on my timeline were singing its praises, I gave it a shot. The effects aren't bad (a plus, given how it will save on budget with its minimalist style and slightly cheap CGI); the writing isn't over-the-top inexplicable Family Guy humour; the acting is serviceable; and most importantly, it's got heart.

While I feel that ST:D is going to be a lot of super-serious people pulling super-serious faces while bashing us over the head with a Trump-hammer painted in a vaguely Klingon-esque manner, The Orville promises a light-hearted space adventure somewhere between TNG and Galaxy Quest. And really, I think that's what I want right now. I think that's what a lot of people want right now, if the ratings are any indication. 
"Are they right? Am I out of touch? No... it's the viewers."
Here's to you, Seth. While Trek may be lost to heavy-handed message fiction, you've earned a chance. Don't waste it. 

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