Have you ever gone through TV channels or through your Netflix account, looking at the many names of shows and just skipping over them, perhaps with a momentary judgement towards them? Maybe their names seem over the top or the logo seems silly, or perhaps even the genre is not your usual thing.
But then, one day, you’re extremely bored or you read or heard about some of those shows or films and decide, “yeah, I’ll watch the first episode,” and suddenly “how bad could it be?” turns into a day or binge-watching an entire season, or looking forward to the next week’s entry.
Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened to me with increased frequency in the past few weeks, specifically with Netflix. I am usually open to whatever media has a good story and characters, but I must admit that when it comes to live action series, I often dismiss them too easily.
But the upside is that when I do pay attention to these shows, when I realise that my rash judgements are nothing short of ignorant and decide to correct my mistakes, I often find not only series I enjoy, perhaps more than I’m comfortable admitting, but true gems of entertainment and storytelling.
Here’s one of the latest series I’ve “discovered,” or maybe I should say it “enlightened” me to its good graces.
Star Trek Discovery: I know, it’s a big series and with my geekiness it shouldn’t be on this list, but the truth is that I’ve never been much of a Trekkie. I’ve often found Roddenberry’s future setting repellent. In Star Trek, the only thing you hear of Earth is The Federation, a world-spanning government and authority, nearly militaristic in fact, at least in hierarchy and structure. I despise that view of the future, where we are all under military rule. True, the Federation is benevolent, but its inherent military nature just gives me the creeps.
I’ve seen almost every Star Trek series or film before, but never fully, just one episode here and there or one film and then another, just as much as I could take, before the setting and its characters drove me away. As much as people love Picard or Kirk and as much as I enjoy watching Patrick Stewart act or Shatner “act,” I’ve never found them very appealing.
But Star Trek Discovery, similarly to the last Star Trek series to truly capture my attention, Star Trek Enterprise, has something that sets it apart from the rest of the Trek saga. Maybe it’s because no matter what its chronological setting is, it takes chances and does something new and different and dares to go weird with its science fiction. Enterprise did it by showing the first interactions with species and the human engineers working out the kinks with the first warp drives, often getting it to work just by banging on it.
Discovery does it with its fungal instant teleportation engine, with that fascinating view of astrophysics as biology, with every part of space connected through this intriguing fungal network. It also gives you a distinct look into Klingons that hadn’t been portrayed before, even if it means you’ll have a ton of actors forcing themselves to attempt to speak Klingon, resulting in some really slow and hard to believe dialogue (no native speaker of a language speaks as slow and carefully as those speaking fantasy languages in films).
I enjoy the characters as well, Jason Isaacs rocks as a Federation captain with a raging war hardon but in charge of what is seen primarily as a science vessel for the development of this scifi super teleporty engine. I love the concept of Michael Burnham, a human raised by Vulcans, constantly repressing her emotions but when she can’t she just goes off the deep end, because she doesn’t have a pressure valve, she doesn’t understand how to handle her emotions properly or how to interact with others.
And yes, the performances are phenomenal and it’s visually interesting.
But there’s another reason: it’s way more active and “martial” than any other Star Trek series I’ve seen before. People dodge, jump out of the way of shots, strike each other with swords, they have shootouts and it feels engaging, fast, furious and exciting, which is something I would never have used to describe a Star Trek “action” sequence before.
So now every Monday I’m hooked watching a new episode of Star Trek Discovery, realising every time just how damn weird it is to watch a weekly show on Netflix when I just want to binge on the series for its full season.
But that’s an experience I’m now having with another series on Netflix, but I’ll talk about that one next time!