Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Little has been revealed about the upcoming CBS Star Trek show that will debut in January. At long last we've finally been given something concrete. Revealed at Comic-Con 2016 by Executive Producer Bryan Fuller, below is a glimpse of the show's featured ship. Take a look and we'll talk.

Here's my take.

First off, the title is in keeping with the last three Trek shows which were named after their ships (or station). "Discovery" is also in keeping with Star Trek's Mission Statement: "explore strange new worlds..." and all that. So it works on many levels.

The ship we see features a design that was created way back in the late 70's by designer Ralph McQuarrie of Star Wars fame. McQuarrie was hired in 1977 to design a new Enterprise for a Trek film that never got off the ground called "Planet of the Titans". Small cardboard study models were made of two of his designs and these models made very brief and very minor appearances in later Star Trek productions, but no detailed models for featured use were ever made so this makes the first-ever use of this design in any significant way.

Concept models of McQuarrie's designs

Renderings of McQuarrie's take on a new Enterprise
Keep in mind that at the time of their creation, no other Enterprise had been designed. These were a decade before Next Gen and 2 years before The Motion Picture.

McQuarrie's spacedock design is clearly seen in the new footage

Even if you don't know McQuarrie or his work on Star Wars, you can definitely see the influence of such things as the huge Star Destroyers – designed by McQuarrie for George Lucas – at work here. And while I've always found these to be interesting approaches, I have always thought the proportions were not very elegant. The huge triangular secondary hull dwarfs the saucer. The engines seem too insignificant.

In short, this design is butt ugly, in this fan's opinion. So I think it's unfortunate that they went to this particular well for a ship design to be featured heavily in a new production. It's my opinion that no featured ship should be blatantly unsophisticated. This seems to be just that.

Here's stills that show how they interpreted McQuarrie's design into a finished form:

There are some significant differences. The basic proportions of the saucer to the secondary hull are changed to create a larger overall saucer size which I think is a good thing. The engine size has been upped as well.

But the overall take-away for me is that this seems to be an intentionally crude ship design. The cages over the engine domes are almost steam-punkish. The engines lack any real sense of grace, at least from the limited angles we are given. And when combined with the music, this ship has an almost Klingon feel to it, mostly because of the triangular hull's forward-thrusting engines.

I'm not crazy about it but CBS has stated that this is a concept piece so hopefully it will be finessed (improved) a bit. A lot. A whole lot.

As for what the trailer actually tells us about the show, we actually get a few hints with some detective work.

First off, there's the aforementioned crudeness to the design. Is it meant to evoke an early era of Starfleet design, ie: before The Original Series? Perhaps.

Then there's the ship's number, 1031. That puts it well ahead of the Enterprise's 1701 registry number, again pointing to a pre-TOS setting. The ship's name features the "USS" designation which was not used in Star Trek: Enterprise, a show that was set a century before TOS. So, if we put it all together, the clues point to this being set between Enterprise and TOS. Exactly when is anybody's guess at this point. So I'll do just that and guess that it is squarely between the two eras so as not to crowd one or the other in its story-telling.

Fuller reiterated that the show (which will be abbreviating DSC) would not be episodic in nature, but would be structured “like a novel,” telling stories “chapter by chapter” across episodes. He also stated that it would take place in the Prime Universe, ie: NOT in the JJ Abrams film universe. Hallelujah!

As for the quality of the show, that is totally unknowable at this point. We'll have to hope that with people like the great Nick Meyer and Bryan Fuller on board that it will be a voyage worth taking.

Let's hope!



Monday, July 25, 2016


H&I (Heroes and Icons, a network I never heard of until recently) now has the rights to all five Trek shows and began showing them last night in what they have dubbed "All Star Trek". They showed every first episode of every Trek show back to back (and will continue showing all five shows daily). And while everything past TOS will require two nights to complete the first episode showing due to their two-part nature, it was nonetheless an amazing experience that I just happened onto. I was channel surfing when I came across the opening of "Man Trap" in all its 60's over-saturated-color-goodness. I started watching and didn't stop for five hours!

There were so many things that struck me as I went from one era of Trek to the next (yes, I even watched Voyager and Enterprise!). An almost overwhelming sense of nostalgia hit me with every new show until I hit Enterprise. I think it's just too recent to evoke those types of feelings. The older the show, the stronger the emotions were. A sense of time and place swept over me with each version. With TOS I was suddenly a young teen discovering Trek in syndication like millions of others. TNG came along a year before my son was born and Farpoint evoked strong feelings of that point in my life. I remembered waiting for it in high anticipation. DS9 came along the year I went into business. Voyager (which I've never been connected to) was simply a twenty-year-old show and so still evoked feelings of that era. It was a shock to me when I made the realization that it actually started in 1995. I had never thought about it being that old. Enterprise was simply Enterprise.

The main take-away I got from the experience was something I always knew but never understood with such razor-sharp certainty: TOS was the best-realized of all the shows from the get-go. All the others chose to do the "origin" thing where we see the crew meeting each other for the first time and getting to know each other in a gradual way as we the viewers did. But TOS started out – amazingly! – with fully-realized characters. They were in the midst of their five year mission and everyone already knew everyone and were comfortable with each other's abilities. There was an instant familiarity from the very first scene and it informed the show from then on. BTW, I realize "Man Trap" wasn't the first show shot (it was the third if you include the pilot). But even so, with just those two other stories under their belt, Star Trek was fully-realized almost instantly.

It's long been my opinion that the first two seasons of every show thereafter were the weakest of the their respective runs. I gave up on Voyager and Enterprise after their first two season because, for me at least, they were just too mediocre. What struck me about seeing both Farpoint and Emissary was the power of the leads. Without Patrick Stewart and Avery Brooks, I can't help but wonder if those two shows would have survived, let alone flourish. Stewart especially had the power to take ho-hum stuff and make it interesting. Without that strong hand at the helm (pun intended) I think the shows would have floundered given the mediocrity of their writing in the early going. To this day I still can't watch "Code of Honor" or "Justice" (or ten others I could name!) even with Patrick Stewart!

It's a fascinating experience to move through forty years worth of Star Trek in one sitting. I highly recommend it! Check out the details at H&I's website:

All Star Trek



Friday, July 22, 2016


For me to see it, Star Trek Beyond will need a key scene right at the beginning that I'm pretty sure doesn't exist. It would go something like this:

Please drop me a line if I'm mistaken and this scene is ACTUALLY THERE!!