5 comments on “Who Watches the Watchers

  1. Astrolabe? Sextant? All I remember is that you had to take sun sightings at noon back in Sid Meier’s Pirates! to find your latitude or longitude.

    Nice to have proto-Vulcans instead of another impossible planet of obvious humans; it still implies an “ancient astronauts” origin, though, which makes the existence of the “OverSeer” less preposterous.

    Funny how many precautions the duck blind, rescue team and sickbay quarantine need to skip for this ep to work. Catching random episodes on TV as a kid, I didn’t notice how stuff we take for granted later on – like Pulaski’s memory-erasing procedure – are things the crew accumulates as they go. Along similar lines, it makes that Maddox might be combining Ira Graves’ work with his own work on positronic brains; but I think scientific fascination and vague altruism are good motivations for him, and introducing a personal emergency may weaken the character.

    Smart use of Troi, filling in for the TOS soft-science expert of the week. Weird that she focuses on rescue instead of addressing contamination.

    I sort of disagree with you on the Orville point. In Star Trek – a universe with time travel and ancient astronauts and legit demi-gods – maybe the necessary number of culturally formative incidents can be traced to contamination; in the Orville, I think the point was that bullshit stories *do* get elevated, and how whoever’s story it happens to be has no control over it.

    Also, since I never got back to you about Discovery (here http://www.vanvelding.com/minecraft-news-for-adults-all-new-all-different-all-over-it or here http://www.vanvelding.com/peak-performance/#comment-4761): anything that isn’t part of the emotional story is basically ignored. So yeah, they’re worse with time and distance than TNG, logistics are nonsense, and they don’t handle secondary characters very well. I think the main thing that bugs me (and probably contributes to that lack of nuance) is that the character arcs are shorter than the plot arcs. I’m used to vice versa in a TV series. There are a few things the show does well, though, and overall it’s a net-positive experience for me.

    • True, there are enough ‘seed’ races that it’s possible The Overseer was real. Definitely worth bringing up. But the episode also talks about how confident interpretation of random phenomena as authoritative instructions from the gods is the real problem.

      I don’t know if that Orville point is a Hamilton reference. My real complaint is that in-universe, The Union has this policy, ostensibly as the result of broad, sociological study and experience. Then our idiot heroes idiot it up and follow their hearts and it turns out that policy and science are stupid and wrong because nothing matters. It’s a frustrating message.

      I’d also prefer to see Maddox as a good guy with his own perspective. He always couches his intent in terms which conveniently dovetail with Picard’s slavery counterpoint, so if he wanted to stop people from dying or make everyone perfect robot bodies, I don’t think it would have come up.

      • Agreed about the real message of the episode. Just, you were ragging on the other proto-vulcans so hard for tolerating the one guy’s lunacy.

        I know virtually nothing of Hamilton, so I can’t speak to that; but I think the Orville crew idioting it up like this is one of the things the show is consciously lifting from Star Trek, and I’m hopeful it’s a thread that’ll have more consequences next season. As to the lesson, I’m reluctant to take a nihilist view; like Star Trek, the Orville seems to be pushing the idea that civilization advances in a humanistic direction over long time scales, even if we need policies to cope with ups and downs over short time scales.

        I wouldn’t mind Maddox getting more depth in a later, less Data-centric episode. My objection is specifically that I don’t feel his urgency in “The Measure of a Man” needs a personal connection beyond what’s already in that episode. I’m not sure if a personal emergency would’ve been mentioned in the episode or not. On one hand, Maddox was doing everything he could to persuade Data; on the other, that would mean asking how altruistic Data is, which could distract from the question of his rights.

        • I’d never considered Star Trek’s humanism at odds with its appeals to civilization and science, but yeah, framing the Orville thing as “humanism v science-based policy” does show where those values can be leveraged against one another–in service to a good story to ask a pertinent question.

          I don’t see where The Orville knew it was leveraging those values though; it comes across as an unprincipled, “do something nice” plot where the message wasn’t thought out. I vaguely recall Voyager doing the same thing and being unsatisfied with it too. So far, The Orville hasn’t done anything to make me expect more of it, but I would be overjoyed if they did.

          I think you’re right; we do wanna know more about Maddox, but that more probably wouldn’t have had a place in the episode we got. Dang shame.

          • Oh no, you’re right, it’s frustrating how the Orville does that. I can’t tell if just blind mimicry or a purposeful choice. Funny you mention Voyager; Orville does overall seem closer to that than to TNG.

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