Friday, 28 April 2017

Discovery Dorns?

While I may have wished for Discovery to etch its own personal niche in the Star Trek universe, each report seems to twist the story in a new direction.

When it comes to Star Trek projects it has been a bit of a downer this week but let's start with the new series. Delayed from January to May and now probably Autumn (Fall) a looming writers' strike might push it back once more which could mean that the January airdate becomes a reality - if only 12 months later than planned.

That January airdate now looks utterly ridiculous since three quarters of the castings were only finalised after the original deadline. The internet continues to pour derision onto the as yet unaired show and without good reason. I think I've read it all - it'll be cancelled after a year, CBS have abandoned the project to its own fate and have no faith in it; great to see the fanbase getting right behind the series and giving it a chance.

Then there's the Michael Dorn story. So according to the actor himself there were talks about him appearing in Discovery as an ancestor of his The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine character. Dorn is no stranger to this situation having played a predecessor to the Klingon in The Undiscovered Country but this time the pay deal was not what he expected and the prospect collapsed.

Now if I recall they offered something like 0.4% of what Dorn earned per episode on The Next Generation which either a) is ridiculously small or b) just goes to show how much this guy was taking home at the peak of Star Trek's golden age in the '90's. It suggests that if the money had been right Dorn would have taken the gig but again I have this niggling concern that Discovery isn't forging its own identity and really is relying on the back catalogue of episodes and characters (Harry Mudd, Sarek...) to bolster fan support and attract older fans to the series.

I have spoken before about the fact that Discovery needs its own identity and while I am in no way against the new show and simply cannot wait to see what it delivers in September/October/November/whenever it does seem to be clutching at straws. Sarek I understand but Mudd still gives me a shiver. 

Maybe Dorn's decision not to go - apparently based on the financial package - is actually a good thing. At this stage such a big name from the franchise's past could do the show more damage than good. However the first year turns out we can almost certainly guarantee that season two will be tweaked to counter any issues that might arise. I don't think Discovery needs Dorn in fact I would go as far as to say that his appearances in Star Trek have been exhaustive; more than any other character in the franchise and that's amazing considering how his addition to the Enterprise crew for Encounter at Farpoint was almost an afterthought. Discovery needs to be Discovery not The Next Generation II.

Just at the time that we might be stepping into a new second Golden Age of Star Trek we might not even get a spark of a chance. Seems that Zachary Quinto stuck the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons stating that there was no guarantee of a Star Trek 4

After the lukewarm box office response to the excellent Beyond (just over $336 million vs $467 million for Into Darkness) it's not the biggest shocker to be announced. Maybe the news that Chris Hemsworth was pretty much signed for number four and that it was a go before Beyond even turned a frame was a bit cocky. I'm optimistic this is just a blip but perhaps the studio are looking to see how CBS' new series is taken by fans. If it's a winner they may jump on the back of its success and seek to make up for the disappointment that Beyond seems to have been.  At the end of the day it's not their money being ploughed into a huge TV show that's going to be the cornerstone of CBS All Access. 

There's no point getting horribly worked up about the situation with either the fourth movie or the series. If it all goes to pot then it goes to pot and that was that. It might all be one of the biggest TV disasters ever if it does but I don't believe CBS would ever allow that to happen nor would they have brought Star Trek back if they didn't believe it would work or that there wasn't as audience for it. Let's let this show happen people, ditch the negativity. I know it keeps Discovery in the news but Star Trek has some of the grumpiest, negative fans I've encountered especially when it comes to the new series. Still shocks me.

Currently it seems that with the absence of any decent news these two points are getting madly recycled and if not, fan pages and sites are now being clogged with old images, the old basic questions of "When will it be out...?" and the like. For now you'll just have to settle back and enjoy Q Who for the umpteenth time or rewatch that teaser launch trailer again.

Anyway, at least Doug Jones is still excited about the show posting a single image on #AlienDay and giving absolutely nothing away about the show...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Filling Out the (Kelvin) Past: The Graphic Novel Collection Issues Six and Seven

The 2009 reboot movie has to be one of the elements of the Star Trek franchise that has been mined the most in recent years.

In the case of the newly released Graphic Novel Collection from Eaglemoss, three of the first seven issues have been in some way linked directly to the JJ Abrams film with Countdown and now Nero and The Official Movie Adaptation adding weight. 

But before you groan about the reboot taking focus or that it's not great, I'd recommend visiting - or maybe revisiting the expanded stories that came out of the reboot. Countdown itself is a brilliant story that links the Prime Universe with the Kelvin timeline, including Picard, Data and a host of other recognisables to gel the two visions of Star Trek together.

Nero (issue six) adds another element to the mixture. While Countdown deals with all the matters leading up to the disappearance of the Narada and Spock, this tale from Tim Jones and Mike Johnson gets into the detail of precisely what Nero and his Romulan associates were doing for the best part of a quarter of a century. I can tell you they weren't sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for Spock.

Another great piece of Star Trek comes from IDW with this one. The depth that the graphic novels adds to the Kelvin timeline is exceptional here and in all the other related volumes. The artwork too across the JJ-verse is also uniform giving it an important sense of continuity. A lot of Nero's scenes were meant to be included but ultimately were cut for time (even the prison scene had a clip used in the promo trailers) so we can take this as near as canon as possible. Indeed, those parts remain in the novelisation but more on that shortly.

Of the releases thus far and including the adaptation of the 2009 movie this slips into second place behind the exceptional Spock: Reflections which has already received a second read-through for being just so damn brilliant. 

Nero's character in his eponymous graphic novel is perhaps a little edgier than we got to see on the screen. The brutality he shows towards Captain Robeau of the Kelvin as well as the grief and pain he is suffering are more vividly realised within the pages of this story. It treats the Romulans with respect and might even help you get another angle on the reboot movie which doesn't expand Nero much beyond his revenge seeking. This expands the character and rounds the story much more satisfactorily and ticks off a lot of questions including that chunk missing from his ear.

It's a good read that's backed up by an entertaining romp through Gold Key's impression of Star Trek from the end of the 1960's in When Planets Collide. Now I actually read this edition and the one included with the motion picture adaptation through cover to cover and slowly as not to miss anything and I definitely didn't.

It's just as camp and retro as always with a ton of obvious oversights thrown in for... well...I'm not sure anymore. Spock works out a challenge with a set square at one point, Scotty has blonde hair and the Enterprise likes taking a dip into the atmosphere. You'd be forgiven for thinking that Abrams was taking this as his base reference material given some of the instances filmed for Into Darkness.

Stepping from issue six into issue seven we have the graphic interpretation of the 2009 movie reboot. Another damn fine piece of reading if ever there was. Admittedly it's a shaved down version of the movie so don't expect a full blow by blow account since there's only a certain amount of space. For instance the chase sequence between Kirk and the creatures on Delta Vega is severely chopped which manages to keep the suspense but not get dragged out over about 15 pages.  Here we do get a good look through at several deleted scenes and an alternative order to the film which, as said, also exists in the novelisation but was switched for dramatic effect onscreen.

Stylistically this is just as good as Countdown, Spock: Reflections and Nero but still manages to feel like a little bit of a cash in just being an adaptation of the movie. What I find that these 2009-linked novels does show is just how far IDW has come since The Space Between in the quality of the material they are capable of producing. This may very well just be down to the different style of the artists that I seem to be preferring. The recreations of the Narada, the destruction of the Kelvin and the first look at the new Enterprise are just beautifully presented in this volume. To be honest the recreation of all of the movie is pretty impressive with some very precise copies of scenes and moments taken directly off the screen and onto the page.

Even though I've seen this a ton of times, experiencing it in a different format really made me appreciate some of the finer points of the reboot and helped connect me more strongly to the movie thanks to the insertion of those deleted moments.

The Voodoo Planet, the included Gold Key extra this time is the most interesting of their Star Trek attempts to date with a weird concept of a paper mache Earth and some Vulcan mystic rituals. It all gets a bit over far-fetched here and at no point could I feasibly imagine the crew of the Enterprise being involved in what I can only describe as a "caper" of this type. I can barely imagine what we have left to come from the Gold Key archive and this is only issue seven.

If I'm looking for redeeming features here it has to be the fact that Gold Key managed to keep Star Trek alive in print for the best part of a decade with this one marking the last story to be released while the series was still being produced in the US. 

If I go back to the start of the collection just a few months ago I was pretty skeptical over this part of the collection but after giving the later two stories a good chance to impress I found them to be...ok. One hundred percent these are boys own adventure type stories that have little to none of the underlying moralising and deeper meaning that televised Star Trek attempted keeping it much more to superficial action adventure, danger and explosions. If you've skipped through them I'd go back and have a read at least once.

More exciting might be the subs gift that appeared this issue. Containing six mini movie posters in a tin, these little additions will have more added to each ten issues. With the tin this time we have the posters for The Motion Picture, The Undiscovered Country, Generations, Nemesis, the 209 reboot and an oddment in the Countdown to Darkness titled card rather than Into Darkness. The quality of the prints is decent on some and somewhat gravelly on others - the Countdown to Darkness one especially isn't the best. It's a nice touch and a decent set once complete. We are informed that subscribers will be receiving further prints every ten issues. For reference premium subscribers will be also receive one of four photo-novels every 20 issues. That's a lot of stuff with the metallic Gold Key covers due with delivery four and the Federation/Klingon bookends also coming with delivery six.

Next month's double brings us to Star Trek: Starfleet Academy again from IDW and our first non-IDW production with Marvel Comics Early Voyages Part 1. Good to see us stepping into other publishing realms at long last!

Looking forward to a particular story? Concerned that it's been IDW-heavy so far?

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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Cue Training Montage: The Official Starships Collection Issues 96 and 97

We are now just three issues away from 100 and the mythical Daedalus Class.
Hold fire though because first we have another remastered starship and a split-second guest-starring one man craft to help get us there.
My opinion of the remastered stuff to date is not great. So far I've found every one below par in some respect. Indeed a friend of mine noted, when i said this, that the Antares was decent....but only after a dirt wash. I rest my case.
I can't off the top of my head and there aren't many more remastered ships to go and while it's brilliant that we are getting these recent rare additions to the Star Trek universe included i don't think their design and by proxy their model representation has been all that wonderful.

In many instances it's been a case of turning an unrecognisable blob into something fresh. Mike Okuda's Orion Scout Ship is one such fine example which has even incorporated that spinny blob element into its form.

Originally appearing in Journey to Babel and reformatted into something more distinguishable over 40 years later, it's one to add to the blink-and-miss shelf of starships. First impression is that this is a very small model but the size of the rear circle structure actually determines the size of the rest of the craft based around, i would think, stand shape and boxing restrictions.
Starting from the front the Scout Ship has a small wedge shaped command unit which carries a very noticeable two shades of grey mottled together providing a very nice worn finish.
Arcing above and below the tight command section are two weapons pods. There's very little detail on either of these pieces either due to size or possibly that there was none on the CG model for the remastered episode since that's where the designs are, I believe, pulled from. Back a little from the module and the small connecting neck section branches out into an arc which then connects into the rear of the craft. Both the bridge module and this connecting arc are metal with the rest of the small, fast ship in plastic.

A direct homage to an original element of the first Matt Jefferies USS Enterprise, the circular enclosure has a well crafted, ridged design element to it that does emphasise the two tone grey colour scheme. I think if it wasn't for the shade difference this would be very low on my appreciation list but this does give the Scout Ship a bit of freestyle and personality. Well, to be fair its the eight translucent balls at the centre of the circle that really make the feature element of the model.

Held in place by eight spindly rods these are the beating heart of the craft and in "reality" would spin to line up with the similar spinning effect that was used when it was just a blob of light in 1967. The rods are basic in design and are more functional than there to admire as part of the design. In fact they are plain from one end to the other.

Now this area of the Scout Ship is high on detail and one of those unique and fiddly areas we model fans love to see. The finish and construction on this bit has come out really well. Certainly waiting 97 issues to hone those building skills has worked as this does look a bit battered and outdated. The bridge itself is poorly finished with a very smooth surface but the further back, the better the result.  

The inside of the engine ring is a smooth finish however which does ruin a bit of the starship illusion but the externals there are pretty good with a repeated pattern marked out around the full circumference.

The Scout Ship is made to look even smaller when you get it on the stand. The plastic grip slots nicely into the bottom curve of the engine circle but because she is quite compact, the Orion ship sits to the rear of the stand leaving a massive gap to the front. It just looks a bit odd.

The magazine once more shows off a lot more weathering, panel detail and finishing touches than the model does which is a little tragic since the images in this issue make it look much better. Maybe a dirt wash will bring out the finer points on this one however I'm not sure it will inspire me any more. The recount of Journey to Babel gives very little on the Scout Ship nor does the subsequent Designing section really push the boundaries on this issue. It was very necessary to make this craft visible for the episode however it is a fleeting glance (even less than the Trainer from the next issue). It's a cute little ship bit one that is for all intents and purposes pretty easily forgettable along with some of the other additions to the remastered The Original Series. Please bear in mind I'd love to see a Doomsday Machine at some point to make it all worthwhile.

Finishing out the issue we have DC Fontana's memories from her time on The Original Series appropriately focused around the seminal Journey to Babel which introduced Spock's parents as well as the memorable Andorian and Tellarite races. 

So to the 97th issue and a craft that was little seen on screen but played a huge part in the fabric of the episode - the Starfleet Academy Trainer from The Next Generation's The First Duty. A compact one/two man craft the trainer is only capable of impulse speed at best and one of the few ships we've seen that's limited in its range.

The oddest thing with the Trainer on first inspection is the yellowed paint scheme. Since it doesnt appear in the episode for that long i couldn't recall the precise shade but ill take this as exact since the research for the collection is meticulous. It does however give the impression that you might have left your model out in direct sunlight for six months. Aside from the not-Starfleet-grey paint-job the model is a great piece for display and I might even group all the "one-manners" together for a nice bit of visual comparison.  Running front to back, purists will straight away know that this model is not 100% screen accurate as licencing issues prevented the use of the GI Joe (Action Force as it was in the UK) Cobra emblem on the nose. 

Instead, in keeping with The First Duty, Eaglemoss have used the Nova Squadron roundel. Technically its much more befitting and on point so there can't really be a complaint that they thought logically what could replace the red serpent.

As with all of the single-seat craft the cockpit is blacked out before the neck of the ship plunges straight to the rear. I am amazed with the panel detail on this one, perhaps more than a lot of others because of the sheer amount of lines crossing the hull. The precision of the grey sections to the yellowed areas is incredibly sharp but the craftsmanship doesn't finish there. This is one of the most heavily decalled ships in the collection. 

Just take a look at the number of red edging strips placed across the wings, around the cockpit and along the neck of the Trainer. Slapped on the two stubby wings we also have the Starfleet emblem and the United Federation of Planets wording just to clarify whom the ship belongs to if you weren't sure.

My favourite thing about the Trainer though has to be the teeny tiny writing on three of the grey (access?) panels. Squint up close and you'll see that this isn't just a jumble of letters but properly scripted warnings designed for the Academy ship. Now that's a sign of dedication and awareness of your fan base. Trekkies love a good bit of precision and this goes that extra mile and a half and more than balances out for not getting the geeky pleasure of the Cobra logo on the nose.

Even on the underside of the Academy Trainer the paneling and edging detail continues once more including a whopping great Starfleet pennant that adorns the centre of the ship and is applied perfectly. In fact I couldn't spot a single red line that wasn't where it should be, was kinked or split. Top marks.

The surface detail on the Trainer really is exemplary. Everything is precise, aligned and adds real character to this ship. Certainly with such a shallow craft having the surface detail - including that bit of greebling towards the back - builds an appreciable depth to the ship.

So, killer question; Best small craft of the collection? Tragically I have to say yes and why tragically? Well, i really didn't want to nor did I expect to like this one. It never appealed to me as one that would be included in the series nor one that would actually turn out to be such a cracking little ship. Even as I've been writing the review I've found my affections for this little ship have increased and it ain't half a great replica.

One disappointment is the centre line where the upper metal and lower plastic sections come together. The join is absolutely fine and clean at all points around the craft however the paint work on the black detailing which is recessed at this point is a bit sloppy with some parts not quite finished to the line and bits of the main yellow hull can be seen. For a series which has had some great finishing paint flourishes this is a bit rough given how precise the lines are at every other point on the hull.

Even without warp nacelles, Eaglemoss have still managed to slip in a few translucent sections to represent the impulse engines (blue) and the thrusters (red) fitted into the rear of the structure. They aren't a stand out part but again they exemplify the accuracy and effort that Eaglemoss are still putting into the collection as we near the 100th edition with no real sign of it slowing down for at least another year.

The all-important stand fitting test is a success with the Trainer as it slots firmly into place at the rear with no effort at all and provides that cool illusion of the ship in flight - just not doing the Koolvort Starburst of course (you need another four to try that out and even then its not recommended).

Turning to the 16 page magazine the opening section offers up the high quality CG close ups that have become an expectation in the series. There's always a fraction of variance from the model and i find it interesting even now to see what could be done in metal and plastic and what was either too fiddly, too expensive or too time consuming to make a reality for collectors. Of course this section provides the chance to reflect on the fifth season The Next Generation episode and also leads nicely to the later piece with Wil Wheaton reflecting on his four year stint (and couple of one episode returns) as boy genius turned Ensign turned Traveller Wesley Crusher.

May is just around the corner and with it will be issues 98 and 99 showcasing the Nova Class modified USS Rhode Island from Voyager's finale Endgame and then the Assimilated Arctic Transport from Enterprise's Borg story Regeneration. Very excited by that second one!

Also we might see the next special, the USS Franklin, break cover and land on doorsteps. The latest shots of the eighth special make it look like it could be one of the best of the series full stop. There have also been sightings of the Franklin ship plaque set to be available around the same time and maybe a shot of the ninth special, the Swarm ship also from the most recent movie, Beyond. Add to that the latest sneak peeks at the first version of the USS Titan and there's a lot to get hot under the starships collar about.

In the coming weeks I'll also be dropping an anticipation post for the next chunk of issues now we definitely know that the Bajoran Transport and the Klingon D5 will be issues 101 and 102 respectively...

Keeping up with the Starships Collection? You can still subscribe by following the link in the left sidebar or maybe drop your thoughts on the latest issues in the comments below!

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Friday, 7 April 2017

Retreading the Shadow? Star Trek Continues Unveils Episode Eight

The USS Defiant returns courtesy of writer Judy Burns in the eighth episode from Star Trek Continues. Beware there WILL be SPOILERS.

A sequel of sorts to the classic third season Star Trek episode The Tholian Web which i discussed only a week or so ago, Still Treads the Shadow starts off with a big question and a potential contradiction against a certain Enterprise two-parter but resolves that dilemma fairly quickly although it will make you think of a few other similar instances.

Y'see the immediate challenge with the story is that it does parallel at least a couple of existing Star Trek episodes, namely The Next Generation's Second Chances and to a minor extent Time Squared from the show's evolutionary second season.  Not to dwell too much on the story and save the enjoyment for your viewing but Still Treads the Shadow brings the crew of the Enterprise into contact with a Kirk who believes that he was abandoned when the Defiant phased out into another dimension. Suffice to say that's not precisely what occurred and leaves the universe with a second Kirk. Time has passed somewhat more quickly for the new arrival who is aged around 80 and has spent a good proportion of time - a good proportion of 300 years - in stasis. What transpires is that the Defiant computer has become sentient, gained the name of Tiberius and sought out a way to get Kirk home.

This Defiant is one that has undergone a severe number of modifications over the time it's been gone from the Prime Universe including the ability to hit Warp 15 and is intrinsically linked to two black holes which provide an additional danger to the USS Enterprise as we come to experience.

There's more than a little hint of 2001: A Space Odyssey in here as well as we experience a Kirk two way between the computer that was his only friend and company for decades and then a three-way James T fest as things begin to unravel. The friendship with the Defiant computer is not too far from the crumbling connection between Bowman and HAL in the classic sci-fi movie even down to the nature of their final meetings and the monotone rumble of Tiberius' voice. I dare you not to think about Daisy when the computer speaks or wonder about pod bay doors.

Mignogna is absolutely front and centre here playing Kirk in triplicate as both the older and younger versions plus putting in duty as the voice of the Defiant computer aka Tiberius.  In fact it's such a strong Kirk episode that while everyone gets their moments to play and their catch of dialogue they are all very much playing second fiddle to the lead actor.  That in no way is meant to be derogatory to the rest of the cast but the very nature of the script relies on Mignogna's strength as an actor to carry it off and carry it through to the end. He drives every interaction and every scene because of Kirk's prominence in the story which is, ironically exactly the opposite of The Tholian Web where Kirk is absent for the majority of the episode. 

Spock is almost completely relegated to a science role and the rest of the cast - Chekov, Sulu and Uhura especially - are left with little to do except man their stations and relate events taking place off-screen. For recurring cast Kipleigh Brown and Cat Roberts they get minimal screen-time but again good to see them returning for another round of Continues

McCoy fairs decently once again although Chuck Huber does seem to be summoning up his deepest inner DeForest a little more than usual in this story and it might just slip into hammy territory. I can let it slide because Huber's southern doctor is such a great take on the original and here he does play a strong part of the story.     

Michelle Specht's McKennah actually does some counselling this time allowing her to play off the on-screen-all-the-time Mignogna who doesn't even seem to take a breath. Specht gets to be involved with arguably the best scene of the show as we see the older, wearier version of Kirk open up about his experience on the Defiant and its effects on him; the pain of taking four months to remove all the bodies of the dead crew for instance. 

Cleverly the end of this scene flips onto the younger Kirk and allows McKennah a moment to make him realise what needs to be done to help his older, lonely self before allowing the two Kirk's the chance to talk. Here Mignogna delivers a sterling speech (as the older Kirk) about how his view on his role as a captain has changed. For me this is absolutely the pinnacle of the story as he changes into a truly tragic character now lost in the place he knew so well. 

It's the older Kirk's relationship with the guest starring Rekha Sharma (best known for her time on Battlestar Galactica as one of the "Final Five") that acts as one of the focal points for Still Treads the Shadow but not as much as the Kirk/Kirk/Tiberius triumvirate.

Sharma isn't as prominent as other guest stars of recent episodes (Gigi Edgley or Clare Kramer for example), more gelling into the cast and acting within that circle rather than being a stand-out character around which the story is etched. I believe this is a better way of handling the episode in that the true stars remain the established cast themselves without too much being overblown about the guest. Rekha Sharma is more than capable in the role but I did feel that the relationships with the two Kirk's was not explored as much as they could have been. It almost felt as though they were skated over and not looked into deeply enough, indeed it's a good way through the episode before we really understand the connection between the captain and the scientist.

The parallels between the Kirk/Avi Samara and Kirk/Tiberius relationships are interesting to watch as we see a lost friend versing a jealous companion who has conditioned the older captain for many years. It's a distinct case of examining what has been forced upon Kirk versus a friendship that was lost over time. 

Still Treads the Shadow is, for all intents and purposes, a solid episode of Star Trek Continues from start to finish. The plot is sound, the acting is faultless and the CG is perfect but the problem is that for the most part it's horribly unoriginal.

Not only do the repetition of plotlines from other Star Trek episodes nag at me but I even felt there was even a blatant link across to 90's sci-fi flick Event Horizon with note of multiple realities and the whole black hole as a power source spin. I half-expected that the Defiant had been to Hell and back with all the black hole action that was going on at one point and that might even have improved the episode.

I can't fault Continues for effort - not one bit - but I was expecting more than this considering the quality of their run to date and the fact that this comes from the pen of a classic Star Trek writer in Judy Burns. I really really want to love this story because of it's links to The Tholian Web but the niggles get the better of me every time. Round that off with the knowledge that older Kirk won't survive the episode - something which you can pretty much guess from the word "go" and you can see where I was left needing. Of course you could say that it's the journey to the sacrificial point which is what the episode is really about and I wouldn't argue with you but having him sacrifice himself and save the life of Avi was all just too cliched at the end. Likewise the reviewing of the captain's logs from the aging Kirk on the lost Defiant. I'd have thought a lot of those inner conflicts would have been dealt with in the first year or so not over such a long period of time but hey, dramatic effect an' all...

Still Treads the Shadow may well be my least favourite of the Continues episodes to date purely because of the "seen it before" factor. I love this show because it's kept The Original Series alive (god knows how under the new guidelines) but yet I just couldn't get excited here. I really was disappointed that such great promise gave out so little twist and vibrancy that I've come to love from the diverse range of stories that the show has explored thus far. With only a few episodes guaranteed (nine through eleven) I hope that the remaining few are more original and thought-provoking than this.

What did you think to Still Treads the Shadow? Good episode or an average offering?

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Worst Kept Secret Or It Rainns But Never Pours

Less than 24 hours after the season finale of The Walking Dead and Sonequa Martin-Green has, at last, been confirmed as a member of the Discovery cast.

As if the recent cast photo for James "Sarek" Frain's birthday wasn't enough to cement her inclusion in the show we had to wait until they killed her off in The Walking Dead before it could actually be said outside of hushed whispers and halls of rumour.

It's no surprise but at least we now officially have a series lead in the form of Lieutenant Commander Rainford with all her caveats as we commented a fair while ago. Erm. But hang on. It actually seems that her character will be named Michael Burnham, first officer of the USS Discovery. Honesty I hope they keep away from the 'Number One' suggestion since that would be a big misstep. Keep this character 100% original and interesting for this new adventure please.

Martin-Green has already been talking about her role in the show, stating that there was only a very short break between the end of her role on The Walking Dead and taking up her position on the starship Discovery. Plus she's described the new series as "rawer and gritier" which is to be expected given the time we are now in, comparable shows that are available and the upping of the ante visually as well as in the scripts since Enterprise departed in 2005.

Which leads nicely into the other major news that we're going to be seeing Harcourt Fenton Mudd one more time. 

I am not in any way at all, ever, a fan of Harry Mudd. The two episodes that featured the Roger C Carmel character - Mudd's Women and I, Mudd were loose attempts at Star Trek comedy in some ways and just come off as a bit dated today. Mudd reappeared in an episode of The Animated Series and was namechecked in Into Darkness. I thought we had seen the last but now we are told that the galaxy's only mustachioed rogue trader and conman is back for a prequel of sorts. 

In Discovery it will be The Office's Rainn Wilson taking over the role and I can only pray that this will be a) one episode or at the worst sporadic appearances just in season one. I just don't like the character but this recasting might well turn my opinion. Both this and the casting of Wendy Crewson (24, The Santa Clause, Airforce One...) as a Starfleet Admiral seem to fall into the prospect of episodic casting rather than main crew as we know that filming of the series itself has moved from the pilot into the rest of the stories. However, here's my issue - is Discovery mining The Original Series far too early in it's run? OK so we knew there would be some crossovers given the time frame but now we have two recognisable faces that will be seen in the first half of a 13 episode season. Deep Space Nine did manage it with the Duras sisters in A Man Alone right after Picard appeared in Emissary, The Next Generation stumbled with The Naked Now after a touching cameo from DeForest Kelley in Encounter at Farpoint but this does feel like desperation to some degree. I'm not convinced it's a good move. A bold move absolutely but perhaps not a positive one. What's next? Sevrin from The Way to Eden?!

With this news we have to now assume that the full crew has been assembled and the names we already know must be the main cast for at least the first season. Whatever comes out of the CBS stable now must be guest stars for the first set of episodes with Martin-Green's official inclusion  delayed so as not to give away anything about the season finale of The Walking Dead but that didn't happen in the slightest.

One other bit of slightly cool news was that something that might have been in the new show was spotted in transport in the US recently. Could this be some form of civilian transport? The font certainly fits with the Star Trek frame as does the design but it could well be from any sci-fi series or film currently in production. Worth a speculate!

Aaaaand finally, there's that "King of the Klingons" remark which led a ton of fans into speculating whether Chris Obi (man is that guy awesome on Twitter) is indeed some kind of warrior royalty. Aside from producing a ridiculous amount of clickbait articles across the internet I believe that this was more of a turn of phrase regarding Obi's performance in the series rather than stating he is head of the Klingons. It would make more sense anyway otherwise there's a lot of background that won't fit. From his energetic videos on Twitter I expect a similarly animated performance during Discovery

Are we happy to see Harry Mudd back in Star Trek? What do you read into this character addition?

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