An Open Letter to the Writers of Star Trek: Discovery

Some thoughts from a life-long Trek fan.

This post was originally written prior to the premiere of Season Four. Many of the comments still apply…

I also have a short letter to my fellow fans below

Dear Writers of Star Trek: Discovery:

First of all, I want to thank you. Your hard work over the past several years have breathed new life into a television franchise that I had thought was left for dead back in 2005. By embracing modern TV story-telling, you have managed to update a now 55-year-old franchise, brought on board new fans, and brought along older fans as well.

[Yes, there are also that vocal minority out there who either can’t handle the fact that a black woman is the head of Discovery and that there aren’t 95% white people, that there are (gasp) gay characters or (oh no) explicit progressive storylines even though Trek has always been that way, or any number of other bogus complaints. But then you were never going to win them over anyway]

Hopefully you can tell from my opening that I’m a fan. I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I was 5-6, and I am a fan of your show too. It’s because I’m a fan that I’m writing this to you, because while I have enjoyed the first three seasons, I have concerns that I would like to share with you. While I realize that the upcoming season is already written and partly filmed, I still would like to address them to you here.

Trauma ≠ Drama

Wow have our characters been through a lot. War, loss, betrayal. They’ve sacrificed seeing their entire families for the good of the universe! I cannot recall a time when our characters truly seemed to be having a good time, except maybe for the party in “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” and even that was more of a cathartic release than anything else1I will add updates relating to Season Four via these footnotes.

Once again, the emotional thrust of Season 4 was trauma. Book loses his planet, which informs his decisions for the rest of the season (including some VERY dubious choices that aren’t all that consistent with his character). Dr. Tarka lost Oros, which leads him to become the antagonist of the season. And on it goes…

I want to see our characters relax. Or have fun. Or laugh, not out of relief but out of joy. There are many ways to tell a dramatic story, and they don’t all involve traumatic events on a weekly basis that would individually drive any normal person into therapy.

Own your choices

One of the things that has frustrated me throughout the era of New Star Trek is the frequency in which you’ve picked up interesting plot threads only to quickly discarded them later. The May subplot from Discovery season two was an interesting idea linking the use of the spore drive to possible damage to the mycelial network. Alas, it was only a plot contrivance to bring back Dr. Culber (don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Culber is back, but once it happens, May and her effects on Tilly are abandoned all together)2Ho boy. Here’s another place where I’m going to get some negative reaction, but Book should have stayed dead. Not only does Star Trek do that thing where they hand wave away Bad Actions by Our Heroes, but Book’s death should have been the final piece of the puzzle to Michael learning the lessons of command that go back to the first scene with Rillak in the first epsiode of this season.

Also, Where’s Gray? While I get that COVID restrictions affected Ian Alexander’s availability, simply shipping him off to Trill and then never checking in on him was certainly a choice.

“I’m sorry, but it turns out I’m just an overly elaborate plot device”

More egregious is how you dealt with Detmer’s PTSD in season three. After being put through the wringer and then abandoning (willingly) their families and all they know to go into the future, it’s completely understandable that at least one character would have a mental health crisis as a result. To your credit, you let this unfold over a few episodes, and Emily Coutts does a great job showing someone on the verge of a breakdown. It’s also nice to have the focus shifted to someone who doesn’t get a lot of attention (more on this later).

But then (in a great scene performed well by both Coutts and Wilson Cruz) Detmer admits to Dr. Culber that she’s not doing okay, Saru holds a movie night, and apparently the healing power of Buster Keaton fixes all? Come on. You’re telling a serial story, and one of the advantages of that is that things linger. People don’t just wake up the next day and say “I’m all better now,” like they do in episodic television.

Not only is this insulting to anyone who has had a mental health crisis, but it ultimately seems to serve as a) really another chance to develop Saru’s character and b) a rather clunky way to remind the audience that the sphere data is still around, since we never see or hear from Zhora again. Too often, you’ve treated the emotional state of peripheral characters as a means to advance Michael’s (and to a lesser extent Saru’s and Tilly’s) story. And I think that’s unfortunate.

You have a crew. Use them.

Speaking of Michael. You have created a wonderful character in Michael Burnham. She’s someone we really hadn’t seen in Star Trek prior to Discovery, and it had been long over due for someone who looks like her to be center stage.

But you seem to have made a conscious effort to make everything revolve around her to the point where the rest of the wonderful cast you have put together has minimal impact on the actual story. Consider that in three seasons, Michael has done the following3In Season Four, Michael Burnham is in the captain’s chair from the get-go, so she by definition is the center of attention. This is fine, to a point. There are times though, like in “The Examples,” where I wish someone had said “You know, beaming down into a dangerous sitation might have been ok back in the 23rd century, but we’ve long since learned captains don’t lead away missions anymore.” The fact that Rhys (through some rather awkward dialogue) makes a case to be included in the mission only to be sidelined almost completely makes this even worse.:

  • Started the Federation-Klingon War
  • Rescued the Terran Emperor from an attempted coup
  • Negotiated the resolution to the Klingon War
  • Literally saved all sentient life in the galaxy
  • Successfully convinced the Trill to abandon generations of tradition by asking them multiple times
  • Reversed in months hundreds of years of discord that led to the near collapse of the Federation
  • Defeated the Emerald Chain by fighting their leader one-on-one because I guess the Emerald Chain has no power structure

I know this is likely to earn me some flack, so let me reiterate: I think Michael is a great character. But you seem to be going out of your way to make every single plot point place her at the center of it all. And that too often gives short shrift to all of the great actors you have on the show. I’m hoping that now that she is captain, you’ll give her the chance to delegate to others a bit more.

Can we have just a little bit of peril?

Finally, this is more for a possible season 5 based on what I’ve seen in the most recent trailer, but can we dial the stakes back just a little? Season one dealt with one of the most pivotal events in Star Trek canon, the Federation-Klingon war, yet now the stakes there seem tame! Season two was all about protecting “all sentient life in the galaxy.” Season three dealt with merely why all dilithium exploded and the collapse of the Federation. It seems like once again this year, the story is the epitome of Big Stakes4Yup. Big Stakes again..

Maybe this goes back to my first point, but I miss the days when the issue was confined to a single planet. Or a group of people. Or even just one person. Star Trek for me has always been more about big ideas and not big explosions and big consequences. I’d love it if we could have more stories like “New Eden” that culminated, not with big explosions and fighting, but with two people talking and ultimately working together.

More of this, please.

This penchant for turning to flashy action-oriented solutions has undermined (in my opinion and to varying extents) plot points in all three seasons so far5The ending of Season Four was indeed flashy, but damn do I love the design of Species 10-C and the embracing of entirely non-humanoid lifeforms.. How I wish Captain Lorca had been a character damaged by war and not a mustache-twirling villain from the Mirror Universe (oh, and can we please have a moratorium on both the MU and Section 31?). The end of season 2 works best, but it still trades logic for excitement (why exactly did they wait until the very last moment to start building the time suit?). And yes, you did have one excellent scene in “There Is a Tide…” where Admiral Vance and Osyraa attempt to negotiate a treaty but that ultimately goes nowhere by the final episode (and I’ve already hinted at what I thought about the resolution of that story above).

In short: please resist the urge to resolve big, complex story ideas with simplistic action.

I know I sound like I’m complaining a lot. But I really do enjoy this show. I just feel like I could enjoy it even more. Once again, I congratulate you on successfully updating the Star Trek franchise for a modern audience. My suggestions are more suggested tweaks than anything else. Regardless of whether any of these things are addressed, I look forward to what’s in store for season four.


An Open Letter to Star Trek Fans

Dear Fellow Star Trek Fans:

I will keep this brief. We can be better. There is a small but loud minority out there using their own bigotry, misogyny, and other prejudices to blindly rail against Discovery and the other new Trek shows, and they deserve to be shunted aside. That doesn’t mean these shows are above criticism though. I worry that some of you have become so determined to drive those motivated by the wrong things out of the discourse, that you’ve gone too far the other way and decided that any critique must come from bad intent. No incarnation of Star Trek has been perfect, and that’s ok. I offer these thoughts not to senselessly dump on the show, but to stimulate discussion about how it can be even better. I hope you read this with that in mind.


[If you choose to use the comments section as a dumping ground for the usual “STD SUX” nonsense, those comments will be deleted]

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52 responses to “An Open Letter to the Writers of Star Trek: Discovery”

  1. Amanda Bowman Avatar
    Amanda Bowman

    What a brilliant cogent essay! Thank you. I agree with you 100%. I love Burnham, but I am tired of her crying. I love all the crew and wish I could see more of them. I am really worried that Saru will be in the background even more. I am tired of the ST fan bullies out there. They are so awful and hateful. Why can’t they just watch Star Wars shows and leave ST alone, lol? Thanks again and Live Long and Propser. Amanda in Austin

    1. Carl Wonders Avatar

      Hi Amanda! Thank you so much for the kind note! I really appreciate it. LLAP

    2. John Avatar

      To be fair, Discovery feels more like Star Wars than it does TNG or TOS.

      1. Aaron Avatar

        That may be due to the fact it’s neither one of those shows.

      2. Cenzo Avatar

        What? How is Discovery anything like Trek? There are no space wizard knights. No evil Empire of Space Nazis led by a scarred, evil space wizard exist.

        Star Trek reinvents itself constantly. Discovery is a novel centered on Michael Burnham. It’s different from other Trek shows just as other Trek shows have tried to be unique in their own ways.

    3. Brian Lambert Avatar
      Brian Lambert

      Speaking as a gay man, I never cared whether the Captain was a black woman or an asexual Bolian. I don’t care if there a thousand gay couples as long as you’re telling a good solid story. Honestly, I don’t announce my sexuality nor do I deny it if asked. It doesn’t define me or dictate my life. I’ve always imagined in Trek-future it’s more of a non subject. The writing was lazy and forced. They’ve thrown whatever fan reference they could think of to try to draw in the older fans and make the newbies titter like school girls with a crush. They couldn’t decide on a direction, jumping from the Klingon War to the Mirror Universe to the 32nd century (probably time frame they should have just based the show on). They’ve gone through at least 4 different Captains and 2 ships, and they’re going into the 4th season. Hell, even the uniforms have flipped all over the place. There’s nothing to this shipwreck that has made me WANT to watch it. I wasn’t thrilled with the f bombs in Picard but at least I was inspired to watch.

      I know others sing STDs praises, but not here. Its just no for me

      1. Cenzo Avatar

        You realize that most of the complaints you’ve laid out are similar to the complaints against other shows? TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise were pilloried for bad writing or not being Trek or not fitting with canon or having a woman captain or a Black Vulcan (pretty weird issue for humans to have considering all of the different phenotypes humans have). Mirror Universe storylines have also been used in TOS, DS9, and Enterprise.

        Yes, Discovery had had multiple captains, why should that matter? The show isn’t about those captains who sat in the chair before Michael. It’s Michael’s story. Because other Trek shows did something doesn’t mean that all other Trek shows must follow along. DS9 was different from the Trek shows that preceded it.

        As for how you view your sexual orientation, that’s great for you. But what does that have to do with Discovery including queer characters, BIPOC folks, or women prominently? You also do realize that the default for humanity is not straight white maleness? Let’s not pretend that straight white maleness isn’t an identity that has been at the center of the depiction of science fiction historically. What’s wrong with a show centering itself around someone else?

        I do agree with you that Discovery has had some terrible writing at times but what Trek show hasn’t? TNG’s first season was execrable and now TNG is beloved.

      2. John Avatar

        Brian I totally agree with you! One of the issues I see with Discovery is that instead of including gay characters, it’s trying to show you just how woke they are, almost to the point of tokenism. “Look at me, I have a gay friend…” It comes across as phoney.

        Another issue I have is with how Sonequa Martin-Green portrays Burnham. She’s maudlin or saccharine and just over the top. Dr. Culber please get her on some meds to even her out. How is she THE captain? Based on how Burnham acts she should is a lieutenant at best. The whole show comes off as hokey and hackneyed.

        The only positive I have is that visually, it is quite stunning.

  2. Richard Inks Avatar
    Richard Inks

    “I love Syar Trek Discovery! Now I’ll proceed to hate everything about it while trying to convince you that I love Star Trek Doscovery!”

    1. Allen T. Avatar
      Allen T.

      I know, right? Make it make sense.

    2. Dom Mazza Avatar
      Dom Mazza

      Yeah! We all know that it’s impossible to like something and to criticise it at the same time. Don’t buy into the ‘constructive criticism’ myth!

  3. Ian Samuels Avatar
    Ian Samuels

    There’s a lot of this that I disagree with, but can see where it’s coming from. I quite liked season one’s updated take on the Mirror Universe and Captain Lorca hailing from it, for instance, but I get it if that’s not someone’s cuppa.

    The relentless pace and accelerating stakes: I see where you’re coming from there, too. However, I do keep in mind that older Trek shows had a much different format. TNG had more episodes in its first two seasons than DSC had in three. The original series had 54 episodes in its first two season.

    The format makes a big difference. It was a lot easier for Nineties Trek to tell ensemble stories and show a wider range of experiences for the crew, instead of always having them in adventure mode. The original Star Trek, which didn’t really have an ensemble approach and was much more about Kirk (in this way quite similar to DSC), had room in its format for a wide range of stories from galaxy-spanning threats to more intimate outings.

    DSC doesn’t really have the space for too much in the way of TNG’s charmingly mundane “B plots” or for too many excursions outside the main conflict of each season (although they’re rewarding when they do happen). So I would expect it not to change. Personally, I find the benefits outweigh the losses, but there are certainly trade-offs.

    Now, to tackle something a bit more sensitive:

    “But you seem to have made a conscious effort to make everything revolve around her to the point where the rest of the wonderful cast you have put together has minimal impact on the actual story”

    Since you seem intent on *not* coming across as one of the people who simply can’t handle Burnham’s presence as the lead, I feel like I should let you know: the indicators that those fans who’ve fought the misogynoir swirling around the character have begun to notice are not about any one critique, or about the mere act of critique. They’re about persistent weird patterns that crop up in “critiques.”

    For example, it’s often a pretty biggest red flag when “critiques” complain that the show keeps making its stories about its main character. This isn’t conclusive in itself, though for my money it’s pretty annoying. It becomes a much bigger red flag, though, when this comes along with:

    a) Complaints about how Michael’s main character-ness is preventing anyone else from “contributing meaningfully” to the story. DSC is, to be sure, not an ensemble show in the way that TNG or DS9 were, but really… what?

    b) Snark-heavy summaries of all the cool stuff Michael has gotten to do, which seem to be mainly about conveying that one character shouldn’t get to do this much cool stuff.

    c) A curious fixation on how much crying and whispering Michael supposedly does. (On this, you at least get points for only mentioning one and for not calling the actor’s *performance* “annoying.” I’ll give you that.)

    Now, have I “decided that any critique must come from bad intent”? No. However, these very particular odd patterns are, indeed, familiar as having sometimes been covers for the bad intent. They’re a step removed from just outright calling Burnham a Mary Sue or nebulously complaining that her character is “badly written,” mind you. But I would not be surprised if these things coming grouped together were to set someone’s radar off.

    I’m trying to be as kind as I can about pointing this out, as you seem genuinely in earnest… but it’s something worth being at least aware of if you’re going to go to these places.

    1. rainardfox Avatar

      “DSC is, to be sure, not an ensemble show in the way that TNG or DS9 were”
      I’d like humbly remind that many people were disappointed by TOS writers because they made the scenarios more and more Kirk-centered from the first season to the last. You can find a lot of annoyance about this fact in the memoirs of Nimoy or Takei.
      Star Trek has been supposed to be an ensemble show with the begin. Unfortunately, nobody warned that Discovery wouldn’t be one. I guess if we were ready, we wouldn’t be so confused.

    2. Carl Wonders Avatar

      Thank you for this response. To be honest that whole section of the post is one I really struggled with and thought about not including, mainly because of the sensitivities around that type of critique and how it’s often rooted in the wrong place. But in the end it’s one of the big things that has occasionally bothered me about the show.

      I may have inarticulately expressed this but my issues have always been more with the utilization of the character rather than the character herself. Every show has a lead (some Trek is more ensemble than others) but this iteration is way closer to TOS than the others in that it mirrors the “Kirk and side kicks” model. I wish the peripheral characters on that show had been given more to do as well (Shatner wouldn’t allow it). And I do with Discovery too (though I point the fingers at the writers and definitely not the actor this time out).

      Sonequa Martin-Green is a fantastic actor, and my comments about the emotions she is given to play is more me wanting her to have more things to do (the scene where she is “high” in “That Hope Is You” was such a breath of fresh air from what she’s normally asked to do).

      Again I really appreciate this because I know this kind of critique is a very fine needle to thread, and it sounds like I wasn’t entirely successful. I will certainly work to improve in the future.

  4. darthtimon Avatar

    A thoughtful, insightful essay, one the writers should read!

  5. Matthew Bent Avatar
    Matthew Bent

    I can see pieces of this, but I do not entirely agree with it. There is certainly considerable room for improvement, but the format of Discovery does dictate the form of the story, more than the prior Trek series. Picard is markedly similar. The seasons of Discovery are more like the “mini-series” format of old. Each season tells a specific, self-contained story, and is also more focused on certain characters, accordingly. The stakes are high, but the focus is tight, and leaves little room to expand on narratives outside the key storyline. Using the examples above, Detmer may still be processing that trauma. We just don’t SEE it. We see the high points, but that is all. The format doesn’t allow for much else.

  6. Mark Rodriguez Avatar
    Mark Rodriguez

    I think that was a thorough, fair and well-meaning critique &, I agree with most of your points. I feel that one point was not given enough attention. The style of story telling. For me, what makes Star Trek special is that in addition to being an optimistic, inclusive, progressive show, it took current social issues & presented them in a new way, through a scifi lense. “New Eden” was the best example of this. Instead, I feel that we keep getting the same story of “We are Star Fleet. This is who we are.” This is too generic & doesn’t really address any particular issue, in the way that “Let that be your last battlefield” did, or “Measure of a man,” or “Devil in the Dark,” or “Dear Doctor,” or even “Tuvix.”
    I started watching Star Trek TOS as a child & although I dislike all of the breaks of canon Discovery has made, that is just an irritation that good story telling overcomes.
    Btw, MUST there always be such over the top CGI action sequences? This is Star Trek, not Star Wars.
    Anyway, that is my opinion.

  7. Pierre Willan Avatar
    Pierre Willan

    I must be old fashion and out of touch with the modern world, but not liking Michael Burnham does not make a Star Trek fan a bigot. I don’t like that character. It’s a bad character on a bad show. She has taught me nothing to strive for. Watch Voyager and Deep Space Nine, see what great leaders and role models Janeway and Sisko were. (No need to mention those white gents Kirk or Picard.) Sure, it’s not the sixties or the nineties, but what a disappointing time we live in if Disco is the best they can do. I hope they’ll bring back the joy, the optimism and the idealism the franchise used to have. I long to believe again in the undiscovered country (i.e. the future, for non-TOS fans).

  8. rainardfox Avatar

    Carl Wonders, thanks for publishing your essay. You said almost everything I thought about Discovery, but didn’t know how to say it.

  9. Jack Beers Avatar

    Your open letter is mostly correct. There are a lot of problems with Discovery that I’ve been trying to discuss with people for years. Unfortunately, they used that time to label me and others like me a bigot and have acted extremely rude us. They take the idea of not tolerating “intolerance” and apply it to our opinions of a TV show.

    NuTrek fans as well as the media have allowed this to happen for years. They’ve even bullied other NuTrek fans from Twitter for such criticism (Treklad). Sometimes these fans that preach IDIC can be some of the most intolerant people in the fandom.

    1. Jack Beers Avatar

      To continue, the fact that this page can’t even criticize the show without saying something like “Michael Burnham is a great character” or throwing other fans under the bus… well… this page and other NuTrek fans helped facilitate that. This page even has me blocked on Twitter and I’ve never interacted with you.

      I think it’s time to start opening up communications again.

      1. darthtimon Avatar

        Out of interest, why would saying Michael Burnham is a great character be somehow misleading or awkward in context of the article?

      2. Carl Wonders Avatar

        It’s funny that you cannot reconcile the nuances of thinking Michael Burnham is a great character while also having critiques of the show. But then you hide behind pejorative terms like “NuTrek” and claim victimhood and say lines of communication are not open while posting a comment.

        If you have legit, specific criticisms of Discovery, I would love to hear them because I’m always up for a discussion.

  10. Jack Beers Avatar
    Jack Beers

    How is the phase “NuTrek” a pejorative?

    1. Jack Beers Avatar
      Jack Beers

      I used it to describe the shows Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks. If I was using it as a pejorative, I wouldn’t even call it Trek.

      Also, the fact that you had to reinforce the idea that you think Burnham is a great character tells me you were walking a thin line as to not upset fans of “new Trek” (as you’ve written in your article).

      However, as I said before, these are all the same criticisms that we’ve been trying to discuss since the show first premiered.

      We’ve talked about how Burnham seems to be the be all end all savior in Discovery. We’ve talked about how the stakes seem to always be so high that it gets old. We’ve talked about utilizing the crew more (I barely learned all of their names last season).

      We talked about all of this and y’all ignored it and insisted that there was a racist or sexist issue. Now you have the same problems we have, but you’re still acting like we’re the enemy.

      1. darthtimon Avatar

        Why do you distinguish between Trek fans and ‘NuTrek’ fans? Is that not divisive? Are we not all just fans?

        1. Carl Wonders Avatar

          I think you know the answer to that ☺️

      2. Carl Wonders Avatar

        I’m not the one making generalizations or using a pejorative term like “NuTrek” which was absolutely created in that context. By using it, I’m assuming you are using it in the same way because otherwise you wouldn’t.

      3. Carl Wonders Avatar

        Also, I haven’t ignored anything. In fact I agree with some of your criticisms. You complain about being lumped into one big monolithic group and then do the same to others. Which is it?

        1. Jack Beers Avatar
          Jack Beers

          Sorry to respond years later, but going back to this article from 2021, the fact that your biggest issue is that I used the term “NuTrek” is kinda funny. Nobody cares about terms like NuMetal and NuSkool, but NuTrek is a bad word.

          When I say NuTrek fans, I mean fans of the Trek shows 2017 on which I am not part of, and yes that group has been extremely divisive and dismissive of any criticism. Then you write this article as if it was a new revelation when critics of the show had been talking about it for years.

          I guess the idea was me saying “why are we fighting when we agree on the same things” and it was met with “Boo you said NuTrek, the division will continue”.

  11. AlanRC Avatar

    Carl, I agree with you that it gets tiresome when each episode seems to be for higher and higher stakes. You can’t keep saving the entire universe, past and future, with each episode. One thing I liked about Star Trek TNG was that some episodes were more about character development, such as Data’s attempts to be more human or Deanna’s relationship with her mother. On the other hand, there’s a lot of good about Star Trek Discovery and I’m looking forward to future seasons.

  12. Jack Beers Avatar
    Jack Beers

    “Why do you distinguish between Trek fans and ‘NuTrek’ fans? Is that not divisive? Are we not all just fans?”
    Umm, I never used the term “Trek fans” alone here. It was either “NuTrek” or “other Trek fans”. This is part of the problem. I’m trying to have a discussion that you’re trying to misinterpret as “divisive”.

    “You complain about being lumped into one big monolithic group and then do the same to others. Which is it?”
    No, I never said that. There are people who like Discovery and hate Picard. Those people I just call Discovery fans. Fans of all three of the new shows are NuTrek fans. Fans of the others are Classic Trek fans. A Classic Trek fan can also be a NuTrek fan.

    “I’m not the one making generalizations or using a pejorative term like “NuTrek” which was absolutely created in that context.”
    Seeing as I’m probably the one who came up with that term (at least I think I did), I think I have a right to explain the context of why: It was easier than writing “fans of Discovery and Picard and Lower Decks”, especially on Twitter. It’s also shorter than “New Trek”, so it saves characters. It was a practical decision. You’re just choosing to see it as a pejorative.

    Of course, you’ll probably find a way to ignore and misinterpret this too, since that’s what you’ve been doing here.

    This is why I said we needed to open communications. You’ve got the wrong idea about us.

    1. darthtimon Avatar

      There’s no distinction to draw here. A NuTrek fan is a Star Trek fan. However, I think I see what you are saying.

  13. ©$€H$ŽŁØ√@'KŽ€' Avatar

    Sure, there are problems with DIS’ style and narrative choices, but they definitely got better at working within that style. Picard was already different, and I’m sure both SNW and the S31 show will be, too.

  14. Wiley Dog Avatar
    Wiley Dog

    Mr. Wonders, thank you for an excellent critique of, and suggestions for, STD. Maybe I feel this way because I happen to agree with almost everything you say. Michael Burnham is a great character but she is way too involved in everything. Unfortunately, when writing in a serial format, you are forced to limit the character development to a small group.

    I hope in the coming seasons they move to a more episodic format like the original ST or TNG. The latter goes out of their way to develop and evolve the characters and, with few exceptions does an excellent job of it.

    One more thing. My team at Disney FA did some of the special effects on a movie called Reign of Fire. The writers struggled to justify how a band of apocalyptic survivors could end the “reign” of the dragons despite the fact that all the worlds super-powers could not.

    So, I recognize that writers sometimes paint themselves into a corner and cannot find an acceptable way to resolve the conflict, but the ending of Season 3 was beyond the pale. Very lame and disappointing.

  15. moggiecanada Avatar

    My issue with both STD and STP was it depicted the future as a reflection of today’s troubled times, rather than the happy shiny potential we could become, but only if we learned to get along better. I never had a problem with having visible minorities or members of the LGBTQ community represented. In fact, I liked Ensign Sato on Enterprise and Tuvok on Voyager because they were wonderfully writtened characters.

    1. Carl Wonders Avatar

      Neither Hoshi Sato nor Tuvok were LGBTQ…

      1. David Alan Gay Avatar

        No they are not. I used them as references to visible minorities, per my previous and quoted statement:

        “I never had a problem with having *visible minorities* or members of the LGBTQ community represented.”

        Until Discovery, the Star Trek did not have any members of the LGBTQ so I could not find one as a reference in the series I did follow.

          1. moggiecanada Avatar

            No harm done. Happy to clear things up. 🙂

  16. Sean Finnegan Avatar
    Sean Finnegan

    A long-time Trek Fan here. I watched Star Trek on NBC in the late 1960s and attended the very first conventions in New York City.

    I gave Discovery and Picard my time, money, and attention and I have been consistently disappointed. I have identified what I don’t like about both shows and it is primarily the writing. For mentioning my dislike and concerns I have been consistently vilified and accused of being a racist and worse. I resent having to defend myself from the unwarranted and incorrect accusations of racism, misogynism, and homophobia. I think the writing is poor, I don’t have a problem with women, different ethnicities, or gay people being represented. In fact, all of that makes sense for Star Trek. I just think that these writers do a lousy job regarding this representation. They could learn a lot from the skill demonstrated by the writing for “The Expanse”. Trek has consistently had representation and quality writing as a hallmark in the past. For Discovery and Picard, the writing has fallen short of the outstanding standard set by all of the previous series.

    It is amazing the amount of intolerance demonstrated by people who claim to be advocating tolerance. I understand that there is bad behavior by detractors as well as defenders of “NuTrek”, but I have personally experienced the wrath reserved for critics. It’s OK to have differing opinions, in fact, our pluralistic and diverse culture benefits from a debate. Unfortunately, our society is in a state where the teachings of Trek regarding acceptance, tolerance, and understanding are lost on many.

    I am at the point where I have canceled my CBS subscription after the last season and will seriously consider not watching the next season of either show.

    I have a small glimmer of optimism for Strange New Worlds, but I am cautious since it is the same writing staff.

  17. andrewsearles Avatar

    You absolutely nailed it. Every point. Nailed it. Well done. A lot of which were my critiques as well.

    Also they have a habit of throwing a lot of ideas at the wall, and selectively tying up loose ends to wrap the season, while other ideas make you go “So why did you introduce that? and lean into it a lot if you’re not going to explain it or tie it up?”

    But kudos for writing this. Absolutely 100% Yes.

  18. Talexei Avatar

    I have to say that my opinion on this article is that I agree with 80 to 90 percent of it. What I see as the overarching “theme” of Discovery wanted to be something like “this is how we as a team can save society, rebuild damage that our past efforts have caused, and be a reminder of the values that make cooperative living between sentient species possible”.
    Unfortunately, it became something very different from that. Between the focus being kept primarily on Burnham, with side- treks (pun intended) in Saru, Tilly, and Georgio, the times when there’s an attempt to cheer on “the crew of Discovery” falls flat.
    I’m afraid that as good of a premise as Discovery had, it has devolved into a series of shoot-em-ups that do not fit into the more cohesive storytelling shown by the historic spin-offs of TOS.

  19. James Kirk Avatar
    James Kirk

    It isto me that you think those of us who would have preferred adifferent character make up are the ‘minority’ and that only your own view of the show is the best. I do like Discovery, but there are people who feel differently than you and you just basically told them to piss off. Nice.

  20. Marlapaige Avatar

    I actually really enjoy Discovery. The Klingons still look crazy off (but are exquisite in their own right with the same full language I have come to expect from Kronos), but I think it is all really REALLY good. However, you’re right, I wish he could have stayed as a grey character and not suddenly a mustache twirler.

  21. Jessica Sommer Avatar
    Jessica Sommer

    I really don’t mind everything being centered around Michael.

    Also don’t mind her crying. Kirk showed strong emotions as well.

    My favorite show was always DS9 starting with season three as I actually dislike the disconnect episodes. Now my favorite is starting to be Discovery season three.

    My biggest critique is that each season ends in a pointless action scene after action scene… on in my opinion none of the depth that other episodes have.

  22. B.Joe Avatar

    “But you seem to have made a conscious effort to make everything revolve around her to the point where the rest of the wonderful cast you have put together has minimal impact on the actual story”

    This is the biggest problem with this series!!

  23. […] few months ago, I blew up my little corner of the internet by offering my thoughts on what could improve Star Trek: Discovery for season 4 and beyond. While I received some of the […]

  24. SK121 Avatar

    Star Trek as you point out has always been a symbol of diversity and with characters we get to know in those diverse roles throughout all of the prior series in the franchise. It is an organic part of the story telling. Discovery on the other hand likes to make diversity front and center in the story and in what feels like a very forced upon you manner which isn’t necessarily adding to the storytelling. I believe the artificially forced nature of diverse representation in discovery characters is also contributing to lacking story depth for tbe majority of the crew. Also peculiar casting where not even a single heterosexual caucasian male is a regular on the show in a non villainous role? That feels like the pendulum swinging too far the other way tbh

    Your points about using the crew and toning down the peril (down with the peril and up with the inspiration and adventure!). are spot on. The conformity to the story arc format for each season could also be dialed down for some balance with episodic story telling. Right now can’t even imagine Discovery ever pulling off an award winning episode like TNG Inner Light.

    The thing about Discovery that I find the most off putting and frustrating are the blatantly lazy sci-fi plot lines and plot devices. Some are frankly laughable not the least of which is a multi dimensional mushroom drive that spins the ship like a top to instantly pop up at any location? And more than a 1000 years from now we are still referring to dark matter as……dark matter?! It’s called dark matter because we don’t know what it’s made of today. Not very optimistic about progress in human scientific knowledge if it’s still dark matter that far in the future (but oh we’ll be able to control it?) It’s just really hard to suspend disbelief with the sci fi recipe that Discovery is deploying. Just feels lazy and with very questionable depth. This gets exacerbated by having to be part of a story arc across the whole season (7 signals. the burn, DMA). There is also some laziness happening in visual effects now- notice in discovery bridge battle and damage scenes…the flame thrower shooting at regular intervals and looking exactly like a flame thrower would and not a bridge suffering major unpredictable damage….too funny!

    Discovery had the seeds of making a great new series in the franchise. You could see hints of what this show could be if done right in episodes like Lights and Shadows from an episodic standpoint and to some extent Mirror World for the story arc end of things. But season 4 thus far has just been…… sigh

  25. Jean Avatar

    Having an understanding of Gene Roddenberry’s vision would be a key thing

  26. […] the stakes were minimal, and the vast majority of the story was about character. I had been pining for a low-stakes Star Trek for a while and this absolutely fit the bill. It’s also a lot of […]

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