As a Right Wing Conservative most of your author’s spare time is spent sneering at young people, writing angry letters to the local newspaper, ignoring personal pronouns and thinking up new ways to be deliberately rude to non-white non-male inferiors. The time left over is then spent watching Sci Fi, a pastime that is currently proving to be very rewarding.
Sci Fi can provide the viewer with a large range of emotions. Currently high on the list is Schadenfreude with the case in point being the new CBS show, Star Trek: Discovery. STD, as some commentators have non-ironically taken to calling it, seems to have set out from the start to alienate as many different people as possible, and has managed to achieve levels of success in this task not normally found outside of a Hillary presidential campaign.
STD has been a project of the Left, and even through the development the show has been both open and proud of this fact. Diversity was probably the first word placed on the show runner’s white board and followed to such an extent that early release promotional material for the cast managed to raise questions about deliberate ‘White Genocide’. These concerns were in a minority compared to other fan queries about the direction the show seemed to be taking in regards to Star Trek canon, and being mature adults the show-runners gleefully called all critics immature racists and moved on.
Doubling down, CBS and Paramount then decided that alienation wasn’t just an average Sci Fi pun and kept digging. Paramount had previously put a massive legal foot down in crushing ‘Fan Films’ so the existing friendship between the owners and the existing fan-base was at best lukewarm. Completely messing with the established continuity for their new show did very little to rekindle this friendship, but when you are The Left, who needs the existing fans? Question exactly how Spock suddenly managed to have a half sister despite all existing continuity, and you must be a White Supremacist still living in your parent’s basement.
So having ticked off the existing Trek fans by not addressing their questions the show then played the SJW card, or perhaps more correctly, the entire SJW deck. A major selling point for the upcoming series was to be their black female lead and the fact that a major supporting character was going to be both openly gay and also – gasp! How Progressive – to be shown in an openly gay relationship. Now at the risk of being outed as a No Voter, there is actually something wrong with that. When you pitch characters for an ensemble cast you are forced to give them a brief hook so the future viewers know what to expect. It is like an elevator pitch only briefer. So when you pitch the ‘fresh from the academy’ character at them the future viewer will create an image of someone young, well meaning but who is going to make mistakes from inexperience. They are likely to be the character that gets off on the wrong foot with the 30 year veteran and the viewers can envision those two slowly becoming friends over the course of the season.
‘Fresh from the academy’ equals instant expectations and interest.
‘Openly gay Character’ equals… ummm… Social Justice stuff?
Still, having pissed off the fans before the show has even started, where is the harm in annoying the No Voters?
Now at this stage one would think the show might decide to stop baiting people and just start making some entertainment, but one would be completely wrong. The show runners then decided to go after Trump supporters. Openly. So openly that they felt the need to make it a selling point.
Klingons are now Trump Supporters.
This is not just the main cast bravely posting selfies showing them all kneeling in support of the NFL flag/anthem bollocks, this is the open statement that Klingons are Trump Supporters. Also they look nothing like previous versions of Klingons and the make up is so thick the actors struggle to articulate clearly, but the important thing is they are Trump Supporters. The show is proud of it.
So what is the count of alienated possible viewers now? Fans? Tick. The Anti-SJW movement? Tick. A significant percentage of the voting population of America? Tick.
Wait, there is more! STD is being shown on the new CBS pay-to-view service and while subscriber viewing is here to stay, CBS somehow managed to balls that part of the deal up as well. Unsuspecting viewers were offered the pilot of Discovery as a free trial only to suddenly discover that part two of the episode was behind a paywall. Not really making friends here at the moment.
And then, after all that, the show has been described as being basically awful.
Trawl through the online reviews and it is extremely difficult to find anyone willing to say they enjoyed it. The existing Trek Fans seem to hate it with an open vengeance while casual viewers – aka the ones who managed to get past the CBS paywall – at best offer a polite ‘it was okay’.
One of the core complaints has been that the main character, our Black Female main character who is also named Michael for reasons that are probably progressive, and also racist to question, is a horrible unlikable selfish idiot. This character manages to start a political incident, make stupid demands, mutiny against her captain, convert the incident into a full on war, somehow escalate the problem and finally get arrested by Star Fleet and be taken away in chains.
The viewers’ response to what is intended to be the main point of view character for the entire series? Did they look forward to this rebel of a character standing up against outdated conventions and returning to show Star Fleet the error of their cis-gendered ways?
Did they not! You mutinied against your own Captain. You act like a cow.
Rot in hell and don’t come back.
This was the main character. People hate her. Well done writers’ room.
This is a show that has utterly failed on every level to the extent that the more polite commentators have been describing it as ‘God Awful’.
(Also the show took Malaysian actress, Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng, and killed her solely because she was both Female and Non-White. Yeah, SJWs, we went there. Your show is Sexist and Racist and you can’t stand to see Asian Females in positions of power. Explain THAT one you misogynistic scum! Sarc.)
So yes, Star Trek: Discovery.
However nothing exists in a vacuum and we now move on to the slightly bemusing side effect to all this Social Justice mess, and that has been the unexpected rise of the Fox Sci Fi show, The Orville.
Now on paper The Orville shouldn’t work. On seeing the preview trailer for the first time The Orville still shouldn’t work. The show is created by and stars Seth MacFarlane and is sold as a comedy-drama about the crew of a space exploratory ship.
Seth MacFarlane. Family Guy? Ted? Dick jokes?
Yeah. A Star Trek parody with dick jokes. That’s completely going to work. Why don’t we also check around Uranus for Klingons while we are at it?
Well actually it’s really good.
Now while your author has never actually bothered to watch STD and preferred to simply gloat at their failure from the sidelines, the same is not true for The Orville. Upon viewing, the show initially came across as somewhat cheesy, with the strong impression they were attempting to copy the Captain Picard era TV series to the extent that even the theme music sounded like it was pushing some sort of plagiarism boundary. Your author is the correct age to have seen Star Trek: The Next Generation on the original broadcasting and was starting to experience an increasing sense of deja vu.
And then suddenly realised that was exactly the point.
The late 80s/early 90s Trek was a creature of bright colour, hope and boldly going. There was also a mild sense of self righteous smug that eventually got too much for your author’s natural cynicism but on the whole it was about a group of people exploring the galaxy, having adventures and generally attempting to make the universe a better place.
The Orville is exactly the same thing with the minor modification that the crew are also mildly dysfunctional jerks. The humour is also a lot more background than had been first expected. There are no wacky hi-jinks or surrealist moments, more the fact the characters are slightly flawed and, when placed on the spot by an alien, do things like quoting song lyrics as a stand in for profound passages of human philosophy.
The show then surprises the viewer by actually being willing to address some rather topical social issues. One of the bridge crew is an alien from a single sex race. The character and his mate are a species that reproduce via eggs and by the second episode we are treated to the b-plot of this character taking a leave of absence from his duties to sit on his egg for several weeks until it hatches. So far so amusing light comedy.
Until we discover just before closing credits that the newly hatched infant from this single sex race has been born female.
Resolving this issue becomes the core plot of the third episode. Now in this Progressive 21st century this could have easily become 40 minutes of SJW preaching followed by study packs for the children and an audit by the Human Rights Commission. Instead it’s not. The mono-sex aliens see this female as a mutation that must be corrected through surgery.
The binary-sex other crew members see this as WTF. The fact this ‘comedy’ show can then proceed to make the next half hour of viewing both non preachy and compelling in this current era of Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings is both welcome and surprising.
The Orville on paper should be a bit of an awkward failure never to be spoken about again, but instead has managed to cast itself as the must-see ‘New’ Star Trek for Star Trek fans. Ratings, your author believes, have been sound, but more importantly the word of mouth has been incredibly positive. What has been perhaps most interesting to consider is the effect of STD on this programme. Given they have both premiered at the same time and both are effectively ‘Star Trek’ it has been incredibly easy to mention both shows in the same sentence before making comparisons. Given that the social word on the electric street has been STD Bad, Orville Good it is easy to see how MacFarline’s show has been getting the better deal here.
If the comedy-drama would have been good enough to succeed had STD never existed, or, perish the thought, had STD not been a monstrous steaming pile of Left Wing SJW wank, is a question difficult to answer. Your author would suggest it would have lacked the free pass given by the anti-STD backlash and quietly failed. The Orville needed STD, which actually makes MacFarlane’s quote that ‘… the timing finally feels right’ be slightly more profound than first appears. The Orville lacks the usual checklist of SJW correctness. The critical reviews for Orville made by the cultural types who know these sorts of things have been rather bad, unlike the critical reviews of STD which in comparison were much better. The Orville was the show not to be taken seriously while STD was the one with the Black Female lead and the Openly Gay Character.
Star Trek Discovery SHOULD have been the CORRECT show for viewers to watch. A bit like how Brexit shouldn’t have happened and how Hillary was going to be president.
Did MacFarlane just get lucky? Or is he one of the rare people smart enough to realise that the media no longer speak for the general public?
Discovery screens via CBS. The Orville via Fox. This column is brought to you via Your XYZ and your author is currently resisting the urge to conspiracy rant about Star Wars.