The CBS All Access series betrays the franchise’s family-friendly roots.
Star Trek is a global phenomenon of science-fiction. The classic 1960s TV series became an American icon though constant reruns, and sparked not only more than a dozen theatrical movies, but also multiple sequel TV series, from Star Trek: The Next Generation through Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. In fact, from 1987 through 2005, there was at least one Star Trek series airing original episodes on American TV.
Now, after a decade-plus absence, Star Trek is back on the small screen…but it’s a far cry from the family-friendly program of years past. While produced by CBS, the new series Star Trek: Discovery is not airing on the CBS broadcast network. Rather, the network is using the series to push its own new streaming service, CBS All Access…a new first for the time-honored franchise.
But using extortion for faithful Trekkies to get their fix is not Discovery’s only innovation. In addition to introducing yet another alternate timeline (after that of the previous TV series’, and the one introduced in the recent theatrical movie “reboot”), one including yet another new look for the Klingons and different uniforms and technology for Starfleet, Discovery is also journeying where no Star Trek has gone before – the use of the f-word.
On the new series’ fifth episode, “Choose Your Pain,” a nervous new cadet on her first mission blurts, “This is so f**ing cool!” Her superior officer replies, “It IS f**king cool.”
Even worse than the utterly gratuitous, inappropriate, and meaningless use of harsh profanity were the sanctimonious comments made by Discovery’s co-showrunner Aaron Harberts afterward. After his program made a mockery of Star Trek’s fifty-year record of family-friendly TV, Harberts claimed that “What’s important to the creative team is the legacy of the show, which is passed down from mother to daughter, from father to son, from brother to brother. We want to make sure we’re not creating a show that fans can’t share with their families. You have to honor what the franchise is.”
On classic Star Trek, when Captain Kirk demanded more power from the Enterprise’s engines, Scotty didn’t snarl, “I’m givin’ ye all I f***in’ can!” Nor, when confronted with an alien phenomenon, did Mr. Spock arch his eyebrow and softly exclaim, “F***king fascinating!”
But apparently, Aaron Harberts and his allegedly “creative” team believe they should have…because to them, showing Star Trek characters spewing the f-word is “honoring what the franchise is” and demonstrating “the legacy of the show, passed down from mother to daughter.”
It is beyond tragic that the Star Trek franchise – which over the years has given so many children their first exposure to science-fiction, and which literally three generations of families have been able to share together – has now declared itself off-limits to kids, earning its TV-MA rating by choosing to revel in explicit profanity and darker-than-dark storylines (all while having the temerity to charge people to watch it).
A much better bet for sci-fi-loving families is Seth MacFarlane’s Trek-inspired series on Fox, The Orville — which, while not 100% ideal for kids, is much closer to the tone, sensibility, and storytelling of classic Trek than Discovery’s pathetic attempts at being “edgy” and “adult.”
Yes, you read that right: a series by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is cleaner and safer for children than an episode of the new Star Trek.
How the mighty have fallen.