Without spoilers, I can say that the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery is a great start to the show. Diverse cast, an enemy that is just a touch too real and current considering the current political climate, and undeniably and absolutely everything that I have come to expect from the Star Trek I have been watching and loved all of my life.
It really is a pity that’s the only episode I’ll get to watch.
CBS is using this show as the flagship to push people to subscribe to their CBS All Access digital subscription. The problem is, so many of us are already subscribing to several digital subscription services and one more – especially for the purposes of watching only one show – is just too much. Especially for a network that is otherwise available for free as long as you have a digital antenna and don’t mind watching ads.
I cord-cut specifically to save money. All of these various subscription services add up, and I won’t be dropping Netflix’s massive catalogue for the duration of a tv season just to watch one show, nor would I willingly give up Amazon Prime’s free fast shipping (a real necessity in the boonies where I live, where Amazon is the only way I can get things like my preferred brand of cat litter).
So I will have to do without Star Trek: Discovery. I am a lifelong fan. Star Trek: The Next Generation was, along with Tom Baker’s era of Doctor Who, the gateway that led me into a lifelong love of science fiction. Star Trek: The Original Series gave me one of the two men I seem to measure the character of all other men against: Bones McCoy. (The other being my maternal grandfather. I always thought he and Bones would get along famously, really.). I go back to certain episodes of Deep Space Nine for the lessons in writing that show taught me. Voyager? Well…it gave me my ringtone. “There’s coffee in that nebula.” (I understand and appreciate that level of addiction.) I even have a soft spot in my heart for Enterprise.
I’ve seen all of the movies, all of the shows, good and bad and…even those that are regrettably terrible. I have a Spock Barbie, a mode of the Enterprise sits on my desk at work. A photograph of myself and my partner with Leonard Nimoy and Bill Shatner holds a place of pride above my desk at home.
But CBS, I’m sorry, I can’t pay for another subscription to watch only one show, especially when that’s the only show I care about on your service. From what I’ve seen with other fans, this seems to be the consensus. I do hate that it will, inevitably, doom what looks like a good show that deserves a real chance. A chance that CBS just isn’t giving it.
I also worry that the diversity of the cast is what will be blamed for its failure, rather than CBS’s unfortunate decision to put it behind a paywall. There is always that certain segment of people who call themselves fans (but aren’t really) who forget that Star Trek was always progressive, that Star Trek always pushed for diversity and equality, that the future Star Trek envisions is a progressive, diverse, and socialist one.
After all, there is that cornerstone of Vulcan philosophy (even while Vulcans, themselves, sometimes forget it in favor of xenophobic behavior): IDIC. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.
I hope when CBS realizes that their paywall fails they will understand the reason — and give us the show on network TV as it should be to give it a proper chance — instead of blaming the “radical diversity” of its cast and characters.