Let’s get this out out of the way first: Star Trek belongs on television. There have been some great stories told in the Trek universe on the big screen, sure, but the ultimate impact of Trek is reserved for a far more intimate affair. Television allows us the time to build a rapport with a starship crew, and really lets episodes like The Inner Light on the Next Generation stand out. Also, Trek’s unbridled optimism is something sorely missing from television right now.
When the announcement was made several years ago that Bryan Fuller was spearheading a new Star Trek series, I felt a lump in my throat. Fuller is amazingly adept at bringing heartfelt, thrilling, and gorgeous television to the masses. For him to take on Trek was almost a personal victory for me. He gets it. His show, whatever it was going to be, was going to be excellent.
We were four quadrant outside Bajor when the acid kicked in...
Sadly, that never happened. Fuller departed the show to focus on American Gods, and his very capable team stepped in to make Trek happen. The original air date came and went, then the next. CBS announced plans to air the show on it’s All Access streaming service, then announced that viewers would get to pay for the privilege. With commercials, no less. Then the next air date came and went again. My optimism was not feeling too great.
Now, let’s flash forward to this past weekend. Salt Lake Comic Con had just wrapped up, and Discovery was airing Sunday night on CBS. I’m a proud cord cutter, so I knew I would have to wait until the next day to purchase it on Amazon or VUDU. No such luck. CBS, it seems, is really insistent on people picking up the All Access app to watch the new Trek series.
So, I took the plunge. CBS was offering a free trial week for the app, and I figured I could watch the show, judge its merits, and determine whether I liked it enough to keep the subscription to CBS All Access. I gathered the family around the TV, just like in the hallowed days of old, and we settled in to watch the first televised Star Trek series in 15 years.
Oh. My. Goodness. That opening. Those visuals. The opening credits. So Trek. So sleek. So very woosh. Then the freaking screen froze. The show returned for a moment, then stuttered on and off for about 5 minutes. Then it turned green, pixelated, and purple, all in rapid succession. The sound was off track. It was, to punt it bluntly, a miserable viewing experience.
Saru and Burnham... I think?
I checked all my connections, checked my download speed, then waited 15 minutes with the show paused to see if it would buffer. Nothing worked. I was faced with the greatest dilemma of my Trek loving life; suffer through more, or just turn off the damned tv and wonder about what could have been. We chose the latter, especially since the only thing that seemed to stream correctly on CBS All Access was the commercials.
I know plenty of people who managed to catch the show, and either loved or hated it. I know plenty more who have had the same problem that I did, and that brings me around to my biggest question, namely, what the hell is CBS smoking? Why put a show that you know is going to tax your streaming service and not have it stress tested to handle the bandwidth? Why jeopardize the success of a Very Expensive Show by not giving people a legal way to watch the program without your buggy as hell crap service? (by the way, most of the people I know who have seen Discovery pirated it. Take that, stupid pay service!)
We tried again tonight. I figured it had been a few days, perhaps CBS had shoved a technician down into the Jefferies Tubes of the streaming service and found a work around. Maybe the rest of the world had watched the show and would allow me a few hours to soak it in. Maybe…
OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!
Well, maybe CBS is being run by a pack of syphilitic monkeys with a mean PCP habit. I really want to love this show, you stupid monkeys. Please help me love your show. Please, please, please stop making it so hard to watch Star Trek: Discovery.