Post by jeffgeorge on Oct 3, 2017 11:22:36 GMT -9
The series is set 10 years before TOS, but the ships are more like Enterprise era ones, on outside, at least. They look too "industrial", for want of a better word. By the time we get to the TOS era, the ships are sleek and rounded, white hulls and so on. Here, they are metallic and edgy. So it's like a century of little development, then, schwiiing, less than ten years and the ships get a major make-over. And of course, the design for Discovery is /post/ TOS. But, like I said, I still think the series if pretty good so far.
One big PLUS for Netflix - when I went to watch episode 3 on the bus home from work, it had Finnish subtitles. When I went to the subtitle menu to remove them, I saw they offer subtitles in Klingon!
I agree that if you regard TOS as a literally accurate and definitive visual record of the Federation of that time period, both Discovery and Kelvin represent "alternate visual timelines," if that's a thing. However, I make allowances for the visual effects technology available in the mid-1960s (and to some degree, the fashion and design aesthetic of that era as well--e.g. miniskirts as military uniforms), and believe that the production and effects designers on 21st-century Trek productions ought to be able to take full advantage of the technology and design sense of the current era when producing shows for the current audience.
Putting it another way, TOS was that era of Federation history as told by 1960s storytellers and visualized by 1960s effects designers for a 1960s audience; Discovery and Kelvin present that same (general) period of history, as interpreted by storytellers and designers in the late 2010s. It is impossible to prevent the messenger for shaping the message, and that's ok. I'm pretty sure that if the producers of Discovery or Kelvin used the exact TOS ship designs, we'd see them not as faithful reproductions of or nostalgic homages to the original designs, but as tired, dated models that look blocky and simplistic next to the design of more modern SF like Galactica, Dark Matter and Killjoys. And don't get me wrong, I really enjoy Dark Matter and Killjoys, but a new Trek series on a paid streaming service needs to look a LOT better than related-to-nothing shows on a basic cable channel. (The Galactica reboot is in a separate category; in my opinion, the original Galactica was a Star Wars knock-off that accidentally acquired a campy/kitchy cult following. The Galactica reboot raised the franchise into the Star Trek neighborhood in the history of genuinely high-quality, timeless SF--in my opinion at least.)
Let me make a comparison to justify the seen-through-the-eyes-of-the-60s take on the designs from TOS. Most of us in Western cultures have a set of visual images in our minds that depict the life of Christ (I'm talking about art history here, not religion, so let's don't get sidetracked into a discussion of faith.). We know what Christ looked like at the last supper, what he looked like giving the Sermon on the Mount, what he looked like as a babe in the manger, surrounded by Mary, Joseph, the wise men and the shepherds. The problem is, those images are not historically accurate. Those scenes were painted by Renaissance artists, and depicted their characters wearing clothes worn during the Renaissance in western Europe (or maybe a generation or two earlier, to make them look "old fashioned."), not in the clothing worn in the Holy Land in biblical times. Thus, the messengers--the painters--were shaping the message to match their own expectations and sensibilities, as well as those of their intended audience. If you look at early Hollywood-era biblical epics, you see production designs that reflect the Renaissance paintings of the life of Christ, not historically accurate costumes and sets, because that's what the designers and audiences thought bible stories should look like. More recent films in the genre have presented somewhat more anthropologically-accurate depictions of the period, partly because there is more general familiarity with what the period actually looked like, partly because aesthetics have evolved over the past 50 years, and partly because the technology has improved. If you set out to remake The Ten Commandments today, you wouldn't dress your Moses (Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellan, you decide) just like Charlton Heston in the original--you'd hire a modern production designer, and have her or him design a production according to modern standards and expectations.
And that's what Discovery and Kelvin have done--presented the same source material as TOS through a contemporary lens. I think they were right to do that, both from a marketing standpoint, as well as a fan-service standpoint. Perhaps a few basement-dwelling TOS diehards would have been smugly pleased if Discovery or Kelvin had given us starships with paper-towel-tube nacelles and frisbee saucer disks, but the rest of us would have mocked them for getting stuck in 1965, and kept our money in our pockets.
An afterward regarding The Orville:
The rules for The Orville are different than they are for Discovery, and that difference involves the visual design of the show as well as the writing. Discovery is supposed to be new Trek material, perhaps even new prime timeline canon (that's their stated intent, at least; whether they are succeeding is debatable). Orville, on the other hand, is deliberate, intentional, and open homage to ST:TNG. You can argue about how well they are succeeding in that homage, but you can't debate that homage is their intent. (Watch the on-demand extras about The Orville, and see McFarlane and Jon Favreau talk about what they are doing and why, and you'll have a better understanding of The Orville, and probably will enjoy it more.)
The purpose of homage is best served if the visual design of the show faithfully recreates that of the source material; the only permissible "improvements" are technological, not aesthetic. For example, the opening credits of The Orville are a series of images of the ship passing interesting astronomical phenomena, just like the opening credits of TNG. The only difference is that visual effects technology has improved in the past 20 years, so the shots look better. But they don't look different--they look the way they would have looked on the original TNG series, had the designers of that show in that era had access to visual effects technology of 2017. In fact, that The Orville even has an opening credits montage is a great example of how that show is a nostalgic love letter to TNG; modern TV series don't even have opening credits. Instead, they dive right into the action with a cold opening, and put the credits in the corner of the screen a few minutes later. The era of rich, orchestral theme songs is, sadly, dead...
So, I think its safe to say that both Discovery and The Orville (and Kelvin, for that matter) are doing a pretty good job, at least on the visual design front. As for the writing, that's more open to discussion...