“All the World Is Birthday Cake,” possibly more than any Orville episode so far, raises serious questions about what this series is trying to do and what the rules of this universe are. This is an episode that has an underlying concept that could really only have worked on TOS — where the rules of engagement did not yet exist for the audience. Meanwhile, it’s got the story beats and filming style of TNG — minus all the violence, anyway. And then it has all the problems we associate with Voyager and Enterprise — pointless action and hard-headed aliens holding ridiculously absolute beliefs. The end result is the most heavy-handed episode of this series to date.
The biggest problem at the core of "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes" is that I just can’t bring myself to care about Ed Mercer’s poor broken heart, and the episode really, really wants me to. The second-biggest problem is this episode recycles so many over-worn tropes that I grew restless and bored with stretches of it.
Then there’s the ending, which tries with all its might to be simultaneously offbeat and poignant (as a shuttle flies off to Billy Joel), but falls flat because such pretentions only work if there’s a workable emotional core beneath the surface. There isn’t here, so it feels like an audacious but empty artistic conceit. I’ll give Seth and his crew an A for effort, but a C for the end result.
"Brother" is a not-riveting but very solid episode of Discovery that feels the most like pre-Discovery Star Trek since "The Vulcan Hello" (minus the Klingons and all their subtitles). Untethered from Secret Evil Mirror Captain Lorca and the less-than-coherent war with the Klingons, the series is free to turn out an episode that has the story beats of previous Trek series, except with better production values.
About those production values: Above all else, that’s what sets Discovery apart from previous Trek series. I have no idea what TNG or DS9 would’ve looked like if it were made with today’s technology and digital artists, but Discovery looks amazing. The level of detail in the visual effects and production design are of movie caliber. I know I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating. Meanwhile, the cinematography (particularly in Burnham’s dreamlike flashback sequences) is so artistically polished that it borders on excessive.
The question has come up many times. It has come up for years — decades, really. I know for a fact it came up when the show was still airing in first run, which, as I write this, ended more than 20 years ago. The reason I am writing this post is because the question continues to come up, and I want to have a handy link to send people with my answer.
Jammer, why haven’t you reviewed Babylon 5? Didn’t you like it?
The answer to this question is simple. I never watched Babylon 5 when it was on, and to this day I still have not watched it. Believe me, I’ve heard from many, many, many people over the years that it is great. I do not doubt them. But I cannot speak to it myself because I haven’t watched even one full episode of the series. (Read more…)
"Home" is an effective goodbye episode that writes out Alara Kitan in a dignified and poignant way. It might’ve worked better if she — or anyone on this series, for that matter — had been on the show longer. I’m not sure why Halston Sage is leaving the series already (there seems to be no "official" line on the matter; various rumors are out there), but the writers have given her a way to exit that fits the character as we’ve come to know her in this short time.
She’s forced to return home when Dr. Finn discovers Alara’s physical strength is diminishing because prolonged exposure to lower gravity has induced an atrophy that, if she doesn’t return home, may become permanent, making it so she can never return home. How long she will need to remain home to recover is an open question. Varied case histories suggest it could be weeks, months, or forever.