Star Trek: Discovery Warp Speeds Its Way from Streaming into Network Primetime
- Cosmos: Possible Worlds. Fox. Tuesday, September 22, 8 p.m.
- Star Trek: Discovery. CBS. Thursday, September 24, 10 p.m.
The good news, as TV’s retread fall broadcast season continues its rollout this week, is that the beloved Vulcan Death Grip makes its reappearance in prime time for the first time in decades. The bad news is that no one applies it on the revenant of Neil deGrasse Tyson, who has risen from the television grave to reclaim his perennial hold on the Emmy for TV personality most in need of a hard slapping.
The death grip plays a key role in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Discovery, the seventh TV series in the Trekkie franchise, which CBS has pulled off its streaming service and pushed into prime time to bolster a lineup decimated by the coronavirus.
Discovery‘s popcorny science fiction has a science-fact (or maybe a better phrase would be “science-annoying”) counterpart over on Fox with Cosmos: Possible Worlds, the third incarnation of the 1980 PBS series, unfortunately not hosted by a hologram of Carl Sagan but the look-at-me-I’m-a-genius Tyson. This is one case where fiction is definitely preferable to fact.
I’m not necessarily the best guy to evaluate Discovery. My experience with Star Trek is mostly listening to Leonard and Sheldon speaking Klingon while a bored Penny stares into space, fantasizing about mauve nail polish.
Fortunately, you don’t really need a degree in Trekkie studies to enjoy Discovery. It’s a throwback to the early days of Star Trek and the Cold War sci-fi that spawned it, with the humans and their allies as the United States and the warrior-species Klingons as the Soviets. Phasers are never set to stun.
In a lot of recent Star Trek spinoffs, the Klingons have tended toward the cuddly, even allying with humans against Romulans and other deep-space riff-raff.
But Discovery takes place in the Star Trek long-ago-and-far-away, about a decade before the original TV series, and these Klingons are collectivist religious fanatics, not to be judgmental about it, and prove their loyalty to the group collective by roasting their own hands over torches, sort of extraterrestrial versions of Gordon Liddy, except armed with death rays. Alerted to the presence of humans in their corner of the universe, the Klingon chief snarls sarcastically in English to his colleagues: “We come in peace.”
Over on the U.S.S. Shenzhou, which is on a do-gooder mission helping out what Donald Trump might call the Shithole Planets, there’s debate about the intentions of the Klingo
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