Does anyone else find war stories rather boring? It seems like every great revelation in a tv show or movie these days is omg war is happening or omg this could lead to war etc. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sources of conflict if they're written well and compelling, such as BSG, which I imagine a lot of HLPers would agree with (or the Expanse, which not all will agree with, but I much enjoy). Discovery's war story just doesn't strike me as all that compelling, at least from what we've seen so far.
When Burnham and Captain Georgio (sp?) had their first scene, then we see them on Shenzhou out near a weird-ass binary system with an unidentified alien ship....that **** was interesting. I thought we were in with a chance of seeing something new, something exotic and cool. Instead we got some bald Klingons. Fine. Maybe something interesting will happen next? T'Kuvma wants to unite the Klingon houses by warring on the Federation. Ok, that's better. They're fighting for something at least. What are Starfleet fighting for? Self-preservation? I understand that we'll probably see a lot more of the meat of this conflict as the series progresses. The first two episodes just didn't seem to spell out what Discovery is actually about or introduce any of the characters apart from Burnham and that science officer who ought to be XO.
For anyone who hasn't seen it, I highly recommend watching Prelude to Axanar
if they haven't. It's a short fan film intended as a prologue of sorts to a longer film that sadly we'll probably never see due to CBS/Paramount squashing it in legal proceedings. I know this isn't the first time Axanar's been mentioned in this thread, but I think it's a much more compelling portrayal of war between the Federation and Klingons and much more dedicated to maintaining visual continuity with Prime Trek while seamlessly adding in some modern design cues.
In regards to visual style - as The E has said, Star Trek does undergo visual style transformations between series, sometimes drastically. The problem with Discovery's particular visual style, as I see it, is that it's just not as aesthetically pleasing imho. The bridge, transporter room, brig....they are all far too large. Shenzhou feels like a ship that's much larger than Picard's Enterprise D for instance. It looks like Mass Effect and not in a good way. The exterior shots are much better done, but everything inside the ship feels very much like generic sci-fi. It doesn't offer anything that's visually distinctive, like the coloured uniforms of TOS, the LCARS displays of TNG/VOY or the weird Cardassian architecture of DS9, which I think looks a bit ugly cos of all the brown, but it's still unmistakably DS9. Shenzhou and by extension Discovery, just looks bland.
And that there is my primary criticism - the show just feels rather bland. It's just another half-cocked, uninspiring war story that's somewhat poorly executed imho. Star Trek has done war stories before, but it's often done them well. DS9 was a bit drab and plodding at times, but it never skimped on the drama and characterisation. Enterprise had the two-parter "In a Mirror Darkly", set in the mirror 'verse, which was an absolute joy to watch. It was fun, it was evil, it had humour, it had sex....it was just bloody good.
Discovery's first two episodes were not completely trash, but they weren't all that good either. They were middling. They were mediocre, which to me is a far greater crime because there's nothing about it that stands out.