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Topic: STAR TREK: DISCOVERY - New TV Series Post Reply | Post New Topic
Ted Downum
Byrne Robotics Member

Joined: 21 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1855
Posted: 20 November 2017 at 9:27am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Greg: "I'd also go so far as to say that the diversity angle is the only leg they have to stand on because it's the leg they deliberately chose to stand on."


That's a fair point. It's possible that the Discovery showrunners set out to produce New and Different Star Trek for the Prestige TV Era, with an antiheroic lead and serialized storytelling and New and Different Klingons, etc., and cast a diverse group of actors either as a box-checking afterthought, or as camouflage: something to point at, when old fans complained about how far they had taken the franchise off-model.

What really gnaws at me about Discovery is that so many aspects of its premise have so much merit, when you look at them in isolation. The concept of an antiheroic lead in Star Trek is not necessarily a bad idea; a redemption arc is powerful stuff, if done correctly. I think that the concept of a morally ambiguous, potentially unstable Starfleet captain who's a series regular is a fantastic idea--but, again, only if handled in a dramatically interesting way (if, for instance, he were an antagonistic force in the story, someone for the lead to work against). Meanwhile, the Trek universe has plenty of room to tell war stories, serialized stories, and dark stories. But they can't be Star Trek stories without optimism, thoughtfulness, logic (story logic, not the Vulcan kind), and humor, and those are all areas in which Discovery has come up woefully short, at least for me.

I can't shake the thought that other producers, with a better writers' room, might have taken the very same premise and given us a pretty damned good Star Trek show. Maybe Bryan Fuller would have done it, if he hadn't left the project. In the words of the old Tootsie Pop commercial: The world may never know.

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Bill Collins
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Joined: 26 May 2005
Location: England
Posts: 9056
Posted: 20 November 2017 at 11:41am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Here`s a thing that popped into my head,what if they
were in a/the mirror universe all along and now they are
actually in the `real` Trek universe now? No Spore
Drive,Sarek didn`t adopt Burnham etc.
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Luke Styer
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Joined: 20 April 2004
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Posted: 20 November 2017 at 2:14pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

 Greg Kirkman wrote:
Here's the thing, though: I can't help but question everything. I suppose that comes from world-weary cynicism mixed with healthy skepticism. I always find myself wondering what the motives behind these creative decisions are. I can't quite bring myself to think that it's all rainbows and puppies and love, behind the writers' room doors.

But do you question everything? When you run into a white, male "writer's pet" character, do you wonder what the writer's motivations were for making that character white and male?
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James Woodcock
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Joined: 21 September 2007
Location: United Kingdom
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Posted: 20 November 2017 at 5:40pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Bill, weve been speculating on just that point for a few pages. We think whats his name has been jumping between universes and we have been seeing different versions of him.
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Rob Ocelot
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Joined: 07 December 2008
Location: Canada
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Posted: 20 November 2017 at 7:51pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

But do you question everything? When you run into a white, male "writer's pet" character, do you wonder what the writer's motivations were for making that character white and male?
Yes, sometimes.

While the character isn't a "writer's pet" (actually sort of the opposite) they do seem to be going out of their way to make Gabriel Lorca (a white male) a nasty repugnant character who continually bends the rules and abuses his position.  Can you imagine Kirk or Picard with his 'trophy room'?  Not to mention the eyes/eyedrops thing, while interesting, his mannerisms when using the eyedrops at inopportune times makes it seem like he's taking a hit of some drug.  It actually resembles Gary Oldman's cop/narc character in LEON/THE PROFESSIONAL in some ways, though not quite as over the top.  

Maybe that's the intentional arc for this character (or as some have postulated he's a Mirror doppelganger).  However, Starfleet captains who (mis)behave in the ways that Lorca has overtly been acting have been shown in previous series to have pretty short careers -- or they slime their way upward into the Admiralty.  It is a pretty common STAR TREK trope to show Admirals -- particularly those white and male -- to be either corrupt or ineffectual bureaucrats (sometimes both).  If so, then showing how some of these higher-ups started out actually is a new and innovative thing for STAR TREK.  Usually they create an Admiral-of-the-week to be the foil for the episode and they don't dwell much on the hows and whys they got so high in the ranks.

I'm trying hard to keep Jason Issacs' off-screen social media behavior separate from the character he's playing but he and the show's PR people seem determined to mix these two.   It's not entirely unusual for actors to 'be' their characters both on and off camera to keep people's reactions to them more authentic -- but IMO, Jason Issacs is no Jim Carrey (MAN ON THE MOON) or Tom Noonan (MANHUNTER).

So yes, I do wonder about the motivations for creating such a character.  As a contrast to Michael to make her redemption arc more clear and justified?   As a statement about white males in power?  As STAR TREK's first 'badass' Captain?

Edited by Rob Ocelot on 20 November 2017 at 8:02pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Joined: 12 May 2006
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Posted: 20 November 2017 at 9:35pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

What Rob said (and far more eloquently than I could).

Setting aside the systemic racism and sexism of the TV industry of decades past (which still lingers), I would like to think that every casting choice has some thought put into it with respect to realism/demographics/locale, including the stereotypical White male leads.

When it comes to STAR TREK, I think that "colorblind casting" should come much more naturally, since Earth is supposed to be peaceful, united, and embracing of diversity.

As noted, I've not seen Lorca in action, but, like Rob, I can't help but wonder if his casting and characterization aren't some sort of coded, anti-White-Patriarchy message.

While the Starfleet Command of TOS was a Good 'ol Boys' Club, due to the era the show was produced in, you'd think that DISCOVERY would broaden the casting choices for the Command officers. But, in the pilot, we have a White male Admiral making negative comments about Burnham's race, and making major tactical mistakes that get him killed. And, there's the aforementioned Lorca, who sounds like a skeezy and negative character, and a contrast to writer's pet (and female and minority) Burnham.

Of course, race and gender shouldn't matter. Just the characters' actions and personalities. However, I can't help but wonder if STD's writers feel the same way.

I'm not trying to fling out accusations at the show and its creators. Just providing food for thought. I know this is all touchy and topical stuff, but I think it merits serious and genuine discussion, and I'd like to thank those who have participated for doing so in a calm and reasonable manner.
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Peter Martin
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Joined: 17 March 2008
Location: Canada
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Posted: 20 November 2017 at 9:53pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I have found the depiction of Lorca to be deliberately ambiguous. There is evidence there that appears to support both sides of an argument about how morally sound he is. He may be a master manipulator just out to keep himself in command, or he may genuinely be driven by something a bit more idealistic than that. I don't know at this point, with his portrayal seeming more positive in the most recent episode.

Yes, he has been shown to bend the rules. That doesn't seem out of keeping at all with what we've seen in Star Trek before. The eyedrops I take as face value; his eyes are damaged and if he wants to look at anything bright, he needs to treat them.

What I don't see is a character that is overtly and clearcut a 'baddie'. He has been shown to be brave and loyal at times, and in the most recent episode his bending of his orders was to save a planet of innocents. Furthermore, the way he dealt with Stamets in that episode was more carrot than stick, even though he was asking him to risk his health.

I'm not saying Lorca won't turn out to be bad egg, but I think you can't say for sure at this point and --perhaps just as importantly -- there are layers there.

Edited by Peter Martin on 20 November 2017 at 9:57pm
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Rob Ocelot
Byrne Robotics Member

Joined: 07 December 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 800
Posted: 20 November 2017 at 10:25pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

But, in the pilot, we have a White male Admiral making negative comments about Burnham's race.

Greg I'm going to rewatch the pilot again because either I misread or completely missed that scene.  My take on the Admiral's "Given your background..." line was referring to her being raised in Vulcan society -- and preconceptions of behavior based on her species would be what she had to endure on a daily basis. 

IMO, it's actually a pretty sly commentary on how supposedly socially advanced the STAR TREK future is -- yet it actually isn't.  One of the metrics used to determine if a society is worthy of first contact is the elimination of things like intraspecies racism and infighting, yet it's pretty clear that interspecies racism and even planetary jingoism exist within the Federation.

On the other hand, the viewers who fixate on Michael's race and gender and see her as an avatar for the social justice movement might read that as a veiled reference to slavery, and not a particularly flattering one.  Whether the Admiral died because of a stupid miscalculation or because he needed to be 'punished' to balance the narrative depends on the biases the viewer brings to the table.

Edited by Rob Ocelot on 20 November 2017 at 10:25pm
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