Star Trek: Discovery “First Impressions” Fan Survey Results


Well, almost here, read on for an explanation of how the survey was conducted and a few opening thoughts, or Click here to skip ahead to the results. I promise the detailed results of every question we asked are coming. Don’t worry, I am not going to do a full review of the show. I’m sure you’ve seen enough of those.

How the Survey was conducted: First off, we asked 23 different questions. All questions were kept in a positive tone. For example, “I liked (insert some aspect of the show here).”  We then allowed five possible responses ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.  We also left room for fans to comment on each question and give their thoughts in a bit more detail.  This survey was shared across Facebook Star Trek groups, as we were really looking for opinions from existing fans. While I would like to see new fans created by this show, I was interested to see what the existing fans think.  Overall, we received very positive responses to our quieries. I will note that there were a handful of responders that I cannot help but feel had strong preconceived opinions about the show.  I simply cannot believe that answering “strongly disagree” to every single question means someone went in with an open mind, but their answers are included in our results. Our results are based on the 729 fans who watched the show and responded to our queries. For this report, I kept the formatting simple and rounded the results, so the total may not sum to exactly 100%. Also, I may have made minor spelling or grammar corrections to some of the comments, but I assure you I did not change their meaning.  This survey was compiled before the show actually aired,  so the editors had no idea what viewers would be seeing. We compiled the questions on-the-fly, so questions on similar topics are not necessarily grouped together. We released the survey to fans just minutes after the first episode finished airing.

As for my opinions on the show, which I will expand on as the survey results unfold, I tried to go in with an open mind, and enjoy the show for what it is. I understand that many Star Trek fans are deeply attached to Canon, as am I, and we all saw many posts before the show even aired complaining about things that had been changed. I was born just a few months before the original series aired, and my brother says I saw every episode in the first run.  I just have to take his word for that. I do know that the show helped form who I am today. I feel lucky that as a child I had a show that made me believe in the incredible future that is possible for humanity. I didn’t just think the future would be great, I knew it. Star Trek helped ingrain in me my passion for tolerance, equality, and my optimism for a better tomorrow. I watched it throughout the 70s and then embraced the new incarnations that we got in the late 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. I have seen every episode of every series many times, as well as every single film in theaters plus multiple home viewings. You could say I am a born and raised Superfan.

As fans of the existing material, we all need to remember they are trying to make a show that is relevant in 2017. They are not producing the show to be popular in 1967 nor 1987; they need to appeal to today’s audiences and sensibilities. For instance, before the show, and after, I had seen people comment that the tech looks wrong for a show that takes place before the original series. In my humble opinion to worry about such details is non-sequitur. Much of the technology we have today is more advanced than the technology they envisioned 50 years ago. Would it really seem right if they built a spaceship that could travel to the stars many times faster than the speed of light, yet the technology looked outdated even by today’s standards?  No, of course it wouldn’t. Watching science fiction always requires a suspension of disbelief. For Star Trek fans that may mean forgetting what happened previously, and suspending your disbelief in what is happening now.  After all, the Klingons have changed before. Frankly, these Klingons look meaner than ever, so it works well to serve the story.

Yes, I would like them to adhere to every single rule set up by Gene Roddenberry and his successors. Realistically that would be difficult to impossible.  We are likely the most fastidious fans on the planet. While clearly some aspects of Canon were disregarded, much of it is indeed still there.  I cannot base my opinion of the show entirely on whether or not it adheres to everything that has gone before.  If I did that, it would be impossible to ever enjoy any new Star Trek ever again. Anyone my age probably remembers some of the firestorm surrounding Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Well, after a time everyone got over it, and TNG became possibly even more popular and beloved than the original series.  In the end, only time will tell us what ST: Discovery will become.

Okay everyone, enough of what I think, let’s get onto what YOU think!

Here are the Star Trek: Discovery “First Impressions” survey official results:

Q1 – I really like the show. 71.7% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 42.1% Agree: 29.6% Neutral: 14.7% Disagree: 7.0% Strongly disagree: 6.6%

Select fan comments: “I thought it was a strong start. I’m interested in learning more about the characters.” “It was movie quality sets and affects (sic) for a TV series.” “I don’t think strongly agree is strong enough. We loved it and still are recovering today.” “I am really looking forward to more!!” “Episode 1 was awkward. Episode 2 was awesome.” “I am concerned the ethics and morality will be dropped out of this trek.” “Too dark, not Roddenberry ‘s vision of the future.” “Garbage.”

My opinion: I did enjoy both episodes and look forward to more.

Q2 – I feel that this show is set in the Star Trek universe. 72.3% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 38.8% Agree: 33.5% Neutral: 11.2% Disagree: 9.9% Strongly disagree: 6.6%

Select fan comments: “I understand the artistic license taken, and it doesn’t bother me.” “Yes the look is different but the FEEL of the show IMHO is still and deeply Star Trek” “Like TOS being a view of the future in its time, Discovery is a view of the future in ours.” “Which ST universe exactly?” “The tech level of “Star Fleet” ships was all wrong, way too high for the period.” “You can’t have a prequel with better tech.” “No it’s not set in the Star Trek universe.”

My opinion: Tough question, but it did feel like I was in the Star Trek universe, once I gave it some leeway for being a new show made in modern times.

Q3 – I think it was a good idea to tell the story from the point of view of someone other than the captain. 73.4% responded positively, plus one of our highest neutral responses at over 20%


Strongly agree: 34.4% Agree: 39.0% Neutral: 20.6% Disagree: 3.8% Strongly disagree: 2.2%

Select fan comments: “I do like the idea of the captain, while remaining part of the ensemble, not being the center point of the story telling.” “Too soon to tell for sure. I like Michael, and am interested in her story.” “Too early to tell.” “I hadn’t even noticed. Don’t all characters in the other series tell their own stories?” “It kind of sucked.”

My opinion: Not really sure, cinema is always shown from a third person point of view. You’re really just an observer following the characters. This came up because there was some buzz from the producers before the launch that the show would be told from her point of view. I think the reality is that she is merely the focus and the top billed star. It seems likely that show will follow her wherever she goes.

Q4 – The show seems to be sticking to Prime timeline Canon. Just 46% responded positively, with another very strong neutral showing that ran even with the negatives.


Strongly agree: 12.5% Agree: 33.5% Neutral: 26.9% Disagree: 13.9% Strongly disagree: 13.6%

Select fan comments: “To early to tell” (by far the most common comment) “Again, license taken, but it has always been so with trek.” “Wrong Klingons, wrong uniforms, wrong design aesthetic…” (a long list followed)

My opinion: I was neutral. They had some obvious nods to Canon as well as some clear violations.  For this show, I don’t think we should cling to dearly to Canon except perhaps on the key points that make Star Trek Star Trek, such as the ethics and morality of the Federation.

Q5 – I really like the characters and their interactions. 70.9% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 32.5% Agree: 38.4% Neutral: 14.5% Disagree: 9.7% Strongly disagree: 4.8%

Select fan comments: “So far looks good.” “This cast seems to have a better chemistry from day one than all the other series’ pilot episodes.” “This I can agree with. I even liked the cowardly lion…err, science officer.” “Only 2 episodes so far. I am sure this will improve” “I like them…I do not like the interactions.” “They’re all dull and uninteresting. It’s awful. It didn’t meet expectations.”

My opinion:  It’s early, but I do like what I have seen of them so far. The characters seem a bit fresher and less derived from a formula. Insubordination and cowardice have never really been seen this early in Star Trek character development.  Let’s see what the future brings.

Q6 – After watching this show, I have a positive feeling about the program’s future. 66.5% responded positively. 15% neutral.


Strongly agree: 37.6% Agree: 28.9% Neutral: 15.0% Disagree: 9.5% Strongly disagree: 9.1%

Select fan comments: “Totally impressed…I hope it lasts for a very long time to come.” “I want more, now.” “I just hope making it exclusive to All Access this soon isn’t a mistake!” “Doomed.”

My opinion:  From what I understand they have already “unofficially” started mapping out season two. Additionally, CBS All Access significantly increased its subscriber base, and also broke a record for sign-ups to a streaming service in a single day. From what I have seen it’s a strong show, and will probably have a bright future. Of course, only time will tell; it seems victory is theirs to run with or fumble.

Q7 – I like the long story ARC format. 70.5% responded positively. Over 20% neutral.


Strongly agree: 39.6% Agree: 30.9% Neutral: 20.7% Disagree: 5.5% Strongly disagree: 3.3%

Select fan comments:

“I like long story arcs in general, we’ll see how that feels in Trek.” “It worked for DS9, and it’s the way modern TV is made.” “It is hard to say with just one episode.” “No idea what you mean. What is ARC format?”

My opinion:  I agree with the second common above. It did work for DS9 and it is the way modern television is made.  I think it’s a great idea. That being said, for many fans DS9 does not play as well in reruns (on traditional TV). Story arc shows make it harder to just drop in on an episode and know where you are in the story. The new Battlestar Galactica suffers greatly from this. However, the show was made for streaming. Relatively short seasons with a complete story arc in each would be an easy binge watch in the future. Of course, it is early and we have to see exactly where the arc lands.

Q8 – I like the costumes and uniforms. 73.1% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 33.7% Agree: 39.4% Neutral: 12.8% Disagree: 8.0% Strongly disagree: 6.2%

Select fan comments: “I LOVE their sleek style, although they’ll be a nightmare to replicate for cosplay.” “The blue basic uniform is a nod to Enterprise, but the badges are a nod to TOS and the later series.” “Only the humans, not the Klingons.” “They are OK. They might grow on me later.” “They could have done a bit better.” “The uniforms are totally wrong. They should look as they did in The Cage, the original pilot, since this is set in roughly the same time.”

My opinion: The vast majority of negative comments centered around the uniforms not fitting into the timeline at this at this point in Canon. Quite a few people said they should look like the uniforms in The Cage.  No disrespect intended, but that is simply ridiculous. It has been said that nothing gets dated so quickly as mankind’s vision of the future. The uniforms from The Cage simply would not have worked. Sorry people, nobody’s going to watch a show about the future if it looks like they’re dressed from the past. Steampunk be damned. My biggest quirk or complaint is the apparent change to the colors that represent different specialties. While I am trying to forgive conflicts in Canon, this was something simple that did not need to be changed at all. Other than that, the uniforms are pretty stylish. Of course, people lamented about the Klingons, again.

Q9 – I feel this show has headed Star Trek in the right direction. 58% responded positively, with a significant 21.3% responding neutral.


Strongly agree: 27.7% Agree: 30.3% Neutral: 21.3% Disagree: 9.2% Strongly disagree: 11.5%

Select fan comments: “So far what I’ve seen I agree.” “For the franchise to survive it must attract a new audience.  That requires change and reimagining. Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #45: expand or die.” “It’s a little hard to make that call this early on.” “Nope.”

My Opinion:  The Ferengis do win the day.  We see Star Trek as something near and dear,  but it is a business. The people making it are very savvy in this business. They want a show that is going to survive and attract an audience. They firmly believe this is the direction to go. So far I am enjoying it despite it’s differences from previous series. Is this the right direction? I guess that depends on whether or not you want the old Star Trek back at any cost. Even if that cost is the end of the franchise.

Q10 – I like the makeup. 68% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 33.2% Agree: 34.8% Neutral: 16.9% Disagree: 7.5% Strongly disagree: 7.5%

Select fan comments: “The special effects makeup is excellently done.” “Oh Yeah!!” “Outstanding.” “I’m just concerned they overdid it, especially with the Klingons. That can’t be easy on the budget and will be difficult to maintain, IMO. And again, a nightmare to cosplayers.” “Those are NOT Klingons” “No. I don’t care for it.”

My Opinion:  From a technical standpoint the make up is absolutely excellent. Aesthetically you may or may not like it for whatever your reasons. Lots of old Star Trek makeup (let’s take the Klingons) was relatively simple stage prosthetics. A skull piece and a wig and little blending.  Occasionally a guest species with more complex makeup, but the regular characters they kept relatively simple. I agree with the comment above, they have set a high bar that may be difficult to reach episode after episode. However, it is very cool stuff.

Q11 – I like the exterior design of the Discovery. 61.8% responded positively, within an unsurprisingly high 23% neutral.


Strongly agree: 23.5% Agree: 38.3% Neutral: 23.0% Disagree: 8.8% Strongly disagree: 6.4%

Select fan comments: “We have not had a good look at the Discovery yet.” “I’m just not into ship designs.” “Meh…”

My opinion:  The high positives likely come from previews and possibly the opening sequence and other leaked art. As of episode two we have yet to see the Discovery, rumor is that will appear in episode three.  From what I have seen I am not entirely crazy about the Discovery design, but that won’t be make or break the show for me. I really need to see it in action on the screen before I give a complete opinion. This question was asked before the show aired, and we were unaware that it would not be seen in the first two episodes.

Q12 – I like the exterior design of the Shenzhou. 78.3% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 33.9% Agree: 44.4% Neutral: 14.7% Disagree: 3.7% Strongly disagree: 3.2%

Select fan comments: “Appears to be well thought out and beautiful.” “Could have been closer to TOS.” “Nice link to Enterprise NX-01.” “It’s fine.” “No.”

My opinion: Well in the original question it was spelt wrong. Like I said, Trekkies are the most fastidious fans in all of fandom. By far the misspelling of the name got the most comments.  In our defense, we did research it and take the spelling from another site. As far as the ship design goes, I did think it was nice while it lasted; apparently many of you did as well. Hopefully we will see another ship from the same class.

Q13 – I like the direction the story is headed so far. 66.9% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 29.6% Agree: 37.3% Neutral: 20.6% Disagree: 5.5% Strongly disagree: 7.0%

Select fan comments: “I like the direction the story is headed so far.” “It’s not your daddy’s Trek.” “Could be entertaining…we’ll see.” “I want to see more exploration and less warfare.” “Is there a story?”

My opinion:  I think the episodes move along, but since it’s a long story arc it’s really hard to tell. So far so good, they have set solid foundation but we need to see if they build a fine house upon it. It could, of course, go either way.

Q14 – I like the bridge layouts. 72.7% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 31.0% Agree: 41.7% Neutral: 13.7% Disagree: 7.5% Strongly disagree: 6.0%

Select fan comments: “Bridge looks great! ” “Appears to be efficient and authentic for Star Trek, without being stale.” “New Star Trek engineering is always exciting.” “Too advanced. Too Big. Too Dark.” “A mess.”

My opinion:  I found it okay. It seemed to work. The tech was kind of cool.  Most of the negative comments were rooted in the bridge being too large and too advanced and not sticking to Canon. *sigh*

Q15 – I plan to watch each episode this fall. 75.9% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 56.0% Agree: 19.9% Neutral: 8.6% Disagree: 6.0% Strongly disagree: 9.5%

Select fan comments: “Heck Yeah!” “Absolutely!” “Still on the fence.” “Will not pay for CBS Access.”

My opinion:  Yes, I do indeed plan on watching every episode of the series until it is canceled. Unless something goes terribly wrong. I know, a bunch of haters just said it already has gone wrong.  As expected almost all of the negative comments centered around CBS All Access and the pay wall.  I understand some people actually cannot afford it. Others are just being stubborn. It comes to about $1.50 an episode, for a super high budget sci-fi extravaganza. It’s actually not a bad value. With over three quarters of our fans saying they plan to watch every episode, I don’t think the pay wall is going to affect its ratings very much among fans. However, it will have difficulty finding a new audience trapped behind the wall, unless of course Big Brother fans are also closet Trekkies.

Q16 – I like the new intelligent species introduced in the first episode. 75.9% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 35.9% Agree: 38.5% Neutral: 17.8% Disagree: 4.3% Strongly disagree: 3.4%

Select fan comments: “I like the addition of the different aliens to the crew.” “Saru is amazing, basically a gazelle but in evolved shape. Looking forward to see his character develop.” “Saru is a coward.” “There were so many intelligent species already introduced, why create more?” “Nothing really got me excited.” “The Daft Punk? No. It was extremely poorly set up.”

My opinion:  While we see some pretty interesting looking new aliens on the planet and aboard ship, Saru is the only one we actually get to meet.  I find him interesting for a Starfleet officer. They have started to lay out his backstory, and his look is pretty cool.  So far so good. Of course, despite the fact that this was a question about new aliens, most of the negative comments were Klingons Klingons Klingons.  They are really clinging on to that one.

Q17 – I hope to see more Star Trek series in the future, possibly set at different points on the timeline. A whopping 92% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 67.2% Agree: 24.8% Neutral: 6.3% Disagree: 0.4% Strongly disagree: 1.2%

Select fan comments: “Definitely, Here’s hoping Trek stays on TV forever.” “Very much so.” “Yes, but they need to keep better to the cannon material.” “Set After Voyager. Definitely.” “Just do movies.”

My opinion:  Of course I do! With 92% of you in agreement hopefully I will get my wish.  Finally, no really negative comments. Since this was a survey of Star Trek fans you would expect 100% affirmative, but I will take 92%. At least one person just went down the line and picked strongly disagree for everything.

Q18 – I think this series has a lot of potential. 79.1% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 49.9% Agree: 29.2% Neutral: 10.0% Disagree: 4.9% Strongly disagree: 5.9%

Select fan comments: “YES! ESPECIALLY with the serialized format!” “It does have a lot of potential, but this all depends on the writers and budget.” “They just need to pay more attention to what the fans want.” “We will see…the Klingon makeup may sink the series.” “It’s going to get cancelled.”

My opinion:  Yes, of course it has potential. We just need to see where the writers and producers take that potential. I am optimistic that we will have an enjoyable show for years to come.

Q19 – I thought the show was well written. 69.3% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 32.1% Agree: 37.2% Neutral: 13.0% Disagree: 9.9% Strongly disagree: 7.8%

Select fan comments: “Big kudos to the writers. It isn’t easy to carry the Roddenberry torch.” “It felt character driven and natural. not like it was a forced narrative driven story.” “It’s the best writing since The Next Generation.” “The writing is a bit sloppy in places.” “Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little. No, it was horribly written.”

My opinion:  It seemed relatively fine. It was much better than Encounter at Farpoint. For what was really the two part pilot, I would have to say they did pretty well. It’s hard to fit all the new characters and backstory and plot line and set up into a script, and they handled it while still keeping the show moving at a good pace and entertaining. It was not the best writing ever, but it was for from a complete disaster.

Q20 – I think the casting of the various characters was well done. 79.5% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 41.0% Agree: 38.5% Neutral: 12.6% Disagree: 4.4% Strongly disagree: 3.4%

Select fan comments: “Fabulous!” “Sonequa Martin Green is very talented and I am happy that she joined the show.” “Lead cast seemed fine, but bridge crew seemed largely non-entities beyond top three.” “A bit overdone. But I’m still fine with it.” “Ho hum.”

My opinion:  I like the casting, I thought it was fine. I especially liked the Asian captain, which probably explains why they killed her so quickly. There were some negative comments about how bad the writing was, or whatever. This was a question about the casting. Stay on topic haters.

Q21 – I like the production  style, the overall look and feel of the show. 70.6% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 38.4% Agree: 32.2% Neutral: 13.4% Disagree: 8.5% Strongly disagree: 7.4%

Select fan comments: “The cinematography is amazing…Loving it” “Excellent production values.” “Again, a look at Star Trek from our future’s perspective is refreshing.” “The look is a little too close to the [JJ] movies for my taste (given that its set in the prime timeline), but it’s by no means bad.” “I found it very dark and dreary compared to other Trek shows.” “Awful.”

My opinion:   The production values are absolutely excellent. The production style is a matter of taste. Overall I like that as well. The canted angles were bothering me for a bit, but I realize it’s to build tension, to create an off-balance feel.  It is a technically excellent production. It essentially looks like a big-budget theatrical release. There were some comments here about lens flare; I didn’t notice it too much, especially when compared to the first JJ films.

Q22 – I found the characters compelling or nuanced. 67.9% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 27.7% Agree: 40.2% Neutral: 16.0% Disagree: 9.3% Strongly disagree: 6.7%

Select fan comments: “They are far more nuanced and ‘human’ than past characters. I like the flawed hero approach as well.” “Michael Burnham for the win!” “Again, too early for me to tell.” “Totally unlikable characters.  The central character is an audience chaser.  An unhinged mutineer.  Just dumb.”

My opinion:  I too like the characters being less archetype and cookie-cutter than in the past.  Perfection is over rated.  It’s still very early, but I can see that the characters have potential to grow and become very interesting.

Q23 – I liked the acting. 67.9% responded positively.


Strongly agree: 35.0% Agree: 42.0% Neutral: 14.3% Disagree: 5.5% Strongly disagree: 3.3%

“Yes, very awesome actors!” “Best acting of any Trek pilot.” “They seemed to interact well.” “It was passable, but not inspired.” “The acting seemed stiff at times to me.” “Not really!”

My opinion: All of the actors are consummate professionals. I think they all did a fine job with the material they were given. These characters are only starting to unfold, and we will soon see how they develop. Again, some people chose this section to complain about other aspects of the show, instead of focusing on job the actors did.

Overall Average Scores

Since the survey was based on reading your reaction to a positive statement about the show, here is an average of how the queries we’re reacted to overall:


Strongly agree: 36.2% Agree: 34.9% Neutral: 15.6% Disagree: 7.1% Strongly disagree: 6.2%

Summary:

Across all questions there was a 71.1% positive response. There was only a 13.3% overall negative tilt. It seems the fans have spoken, and the show is destined to be a hit if it can stay on the path it has set for itself.  Across social media there seem to be a lot of negative things said about the show before it even aired. There were certainly some respondents here that I firmly believe went in expecting the worst, so they got exactly what they expected.  The negative people had a hard time staying on topic, and kept coming back to other issues no matter what question was being asked. Angry or upset people are also far more likely to make noise or leave a comment.  It was refreshing here to see such an overwhelming positive reaction. Let’s hope our congratulations are well placed, and they have produced a show we will all grow to love as much as the previous installments of Star Trek. Until next time, live long and prosper.

Ensign Rich K., Chief Communications Officer, USS Henry Hudson Star Trek Fan Blog Publisher: Lee S., Captain, USS Henry Hudson

#StarTrek

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