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Diamond Dave
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: The Killing Game

Part 1:

Well, you can't say that this doesn't take a crazy idea and run hard with it. I wonder who first proposed 'Hirogen in Nazi uniforms'? Because if there's one thing you can never have enough of, it's Nazis, right?

This is about as meta as its possible to get - the resistance on the ship mirrored with the resistance on the holodeck, Janeway and Seven's conflict being played out, B'Elanna and Tom having a relationship - and actually there is some satisfaction in the different layers. Harry may have found his strongest role yet. And the whole thing looks gorgeous.

But it's Hirogen in Nazi uniform at the end of the day. The whole - probably fairly interesting - story about how they took the ship goes out the window to provide the set-up. The sub-plot about the Hirogen commander as a reformist seems important but only gets one scene - hopefully this will get expanded upon. But as US forces led by the unwitting crew look set to storm the real Voyager from the holodeck you can't help thinking that this is all a bit too crazy for its own good. 2.5 stars.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 10:16am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Retrospect

I think it's fairly clear that this is a parable on the potential dangers of recovered memories and incompetent psychotherapy more than anything else. That it leaves the conclusion ambiguous is to its credit - the leading argument is that an innocent man has been hounded to his death, but there is at least an underlying suspicion that there was something more.

Some good performances, but I never really felt too drawn in to the whole thing. Excellent FX shot at the start of the show though. 2.5 stars.
Luke
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 9:57am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: The Homecoming

Indeed. While I'm perfectly happy with what we ended up getting, I would have loved it if we had spent more time focusing on Bajoran politics.

As for Bajor's admittance to the Federation - it wasn't completely forgotten about. It is mentioned a couple of times in later episodes. And, Bajor almost joins the UFP in "Rapture", until Sisko stops them. I've heard that the topic is addressed in the Relaunch novels, but I haven't read any of them.
Luke
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 9:44am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: The Circle

"The Circle" is another stellar outing, but which has the same problem as "The Homecoming" - it tries to do too much.

In addition to all the sub-plots from the previous episode, we now add into the mix the religious angle (with Jaro attempting to form an alliance with Winn and influence the selection of the next Kai), Kira's time in the monastery, a possible romantic element between Kira and Bareil, prophecy/foreshadowing, the strain between the military and the Provisional Government (along with the introduction of General Krim - who will be a central character in Part III) and the reveal that the Cardassians are driving the attempted coup (which was only hinted at previously). So, again, while everything we get is really good, it still feels rushed.

What makes "The Circle" so good, however, is how it really helps flesh out the DS9 universe (and the overall Trek universe in general). We spend time with characters we've already met (Bareil and Winn) and they play important roles in the story. We hear of Sisko having had meetings with the Bajoran Executive Committee (whatever that is). The Cardassians are brought into the story to add to the tapestry. It makes the universe feel more real, more lived in, and as a result more explored.

So, while these episodes do have their problems, they are exactly what DS9 needed at this point. They allowed DS9 to be become comfortable in it's own setting, thereby not being a TNG knock-off anymore.

8/10
Chrome
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 9:39am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: The Homecoming

Now that you mention it, Luke, this is one of the great DS9 episodes in hindsight because it focuses on Bajoran politics and relations with the Federation in very grounded and Bajoran-centric terms.

It's unfortunate that much of that political intrigue goes away from Bajoran when the Dominion come (and Bajor's entry into the Federation was forgotten about). Actually, I wonder if it's because DS9's writers dislike happy endings that they let the viewer decide for themselves whether Bajor entered the Federation or not.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 9:16am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Prey

Excellent intro featuring the marvelous Tony Todd, who actually serves to give the Hirogen just a little more nuance than previously. Species 8472 is always a crowd pleaser of course, and the action is just different enough (eg the suits) to make it all interesting.

But it's the conflict between Seven and Janeway that is the real highlight. It's great to see two strong characters butting heads, and the fact that Janeway doesn't win the argument through the mere force of her moral convictions but is met with a flat rejection of the idealistic approach with a flatly pragmatic one makes for a wonderful concluding scene.

Yet another good episode (The 10th 2.5 or above rated episode in a row, equaling the record for any series in my re-watch so far). 3.5 stars.
Luke
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 9:11am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: The Homecoming

Now this is how I like my Star Trek (how I like my sci-fi in general) - political intrigue and world-building galore.

If "The Homecoming" has any single flaw it's that it attempts to do to much in just one episode. There's the Circle's introduction, the arrival of Li Nalas, the introduction of Minister Jaro, a rescue attempt, a possible war with Cardassia, and examinations of hero worship, legends and self-sacrifice. Not to mention another appearance by Dukat which provides hints that the Cardassians are up to something. And, oh yeah, they also found time for Quark to get himself branded at one point. As a result, some stuff feels a little rushed - like the Circle itself (for such a well-organized, planet-wide political revolution they sure hit the scene remarkably quickly).

Still, this is a remarkably well done episode; thanks in no small part to the fact that Li Nalas is such a likable character. As he's the linchpin of so many of the sub-plots, if the actor hadn't been up to the task, it would probably have crippled everything.

Good drama, good action, good characters and a wonderfully complex situation for our heroes. What's not to love?

9/10
JC
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 8:52am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: Second Skin

Good thing kidnapping an officer off a Bajoran space station has no consequences to the treaty.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 7:24am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Hunters

Another strong episode, packed with good character moments and finally tackling the issue of those back home in detail. While Harry's puppy dog enthusiasm gets a bit wearing this is all played out really well.

The Hirogen are a bit one note at the moment - and that note is a kind of uninteresting Predator - and I'd agree that the actioner sits slightly at odds with the more reflective rest of the episode. 3 stars then.
Barney Holmes
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 6:15am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Hard Time

Star Trek at its best. Unless you know the truth of what goes on in some prisons and psych wards the social commentary might be lost. But controversial subjects aside, this is simply a wonderful episode to watch for the acting and humanity. I love "indestructible" characters as much as anyone, but sometimes a little dose of reality is healthy. Trek does not get it right all the time. I'd say they get it right many more times than they fail. But here some very weighty subjects are handled impressivly deftly in areas that other shows would steer well clear of. Some of it is heavy (you have been warned, there are other lighter episodes) but in the end its very moving.
Damham
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 3:35am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Parallels

This was one very interesting episode that showed an interesting side of Worf. He is confused and in need of help from the other crew members without having his usual tough attitude. Troi has been getting closer to Worf as a friend since Alexander was introduced. Seeing that Troi and Worf have a romantic relationship in an alternative reality was entertaining.

Definitely one of my favorite episodes in season 7, and in my top 10 ST:TNG episodes.
Other Chris
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 10:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens

This comment section is refreshing, guys. It's nice to know that someone else out there bothered to think twice about this terrible movie. Thank you.
Paul M.
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 6:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: New Trek Series Coming in 2017

Kurtzman or no, Fuller will be the showrunner as I understand it, so he'll call the shots. Kurtzman will probably be more involved in the production side of things. At least I hope he will.
Patrick D
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 6:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: New Trek Series Coming in 2017

Fuller wrote VGR's "Living Witness"--my favorite episode of the Trekkian canon. Maybe this will be better than I thought. Kurtzman as a part of this still makes me hesitant.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 3:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Message in a Bottle

I seem to be saying this a lot recently, but this is another inventive, fresh and fun addition to the series. I'd agree that subject matter of this import might have expected a more serious take, but this rides in with such gusto that it's easy to be swept along. Some of the dialogue is sparkling and often downright funny.

And if the shtick starts to pale a little by the end then it only detracts a little from another strong episode. 3 stars.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 2:21pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Waking Moments

Definite signs of life in the series as a whole recently after a slow start. Yes, it's a hoary old premise, but much like the last episode this is given a really fresh and inventive spin and makes for a highly entertaining hour. The repeated misdirections are really well handled and the slightly off-kilter atmosphere helps to create the right mood. Gorgeous shot of the cavern too - and look, lens flare!

On the debit side the ending isn't the strongest, but I enjoyed this one a lot. 3.5 stars.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 7:49am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Mortal Coil

You can't help but think the writers were tipping a wink to the audience in killing off Neelix, and then giving them the finger by resurrecting him. But what they did do was come up with a genuinely excellent episode.

Here we have indeed something which is deep, reflective, extremely well acted, and nuanced. That it's the normally ebullient Neelix that suffers this crisis is doubly interesting. And, as others have noted, this is about as dark as it gets - we'll see whether Neelix is back to normal next episode, but here, at least, I have sympathy with those who think he is barely hanging on by the end. Strong stuff, and means I can't even use the "Having fun? No" line. 3.5 stars.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 6:23am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Concerning Flight

Not really much to say about this one, other than I thought it was serviceable enough and that it at least had a fairly fresh premise that took a decidedly different approach by having Leonardo be the lead. If you can get over that contrivance then everything else - including handily positioned flying machines - falls into place.

Ironically though, it was Seven who had the best scenes. 2.5 stars.
Luke
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 5:00am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: First Season Recap

Dammit, I forgot to include the counters yet again. :-(

Holodeck Toys - 2
WTF Hair - 4
Luke
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 4:56am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: First Season Recap

Post season number crunching! Always my favorite part of these reviews. :-)

"DEEP SPACE NINE" SEASON ONE
7 - Emissary
6 - Past Prologue
5 - A Man Alone
3 - Babel
5 - Captive Pursuit
1 - Q-Less
4 - Dax
4 - The Passenger
1 - Move Along Home
7 - The Nague
7 - Vortex
5 - Battle Lines
2 - The Storyteller
6 - Progress
2 - If Wishes Were Horses
5 - The Forsaken
6 - Dramatis Personae
10 - Duet
10 - In the Hands of the Prophets

Average Season Score: 5.053
TNG Average Score After One Season: 2.720
TOS Average Score After One Season: 5.276

Best Episode: In the Hands of the Prophets
Worst Episode: Move Along Home

And there we have it. Season One is an above average season, but just barely. In fact, it managed to pull itself up over 5/10 by, no joke, one point! If it hadn't been for the outstanding finish to the season (two 10s in a row, that's a first for Trek), Season One would have ended slightly below average. And just as I did with my final TNG review (where it lost to TOS by a mere three points) I again assure you that I did not plan it out that way. That's exactly how the chips fell. Given that this first season is possibly the worst of the series, I doubt DS9 will have trouble topping the final average scores for TOS and TNG.

As for Season One itself, while it's far, far, far, far above TNG's opening season in terms of quality, it was definitely hit and miss. It was at it's worst when trying to be like TNG or outright bringing on TNG characters. It was at it's best when focusing on the world-building aspects of the story. The top three episodes ("In the Hands of the Prophets", "Duet" and "The Nagus") all focused heavily on fleshing out the Trek universe and DS9's corner of it.

The characters, while often capable of bringing up some of the dreck episodes and saving them from a zero rating (most notably in "The Storyteller") need a lot of work. The best, most developed, characters thus far are Quark and Kira (as Jammer points out). Bashir, however, really needs some work. While he is annoying, I don't find him as off-putting as many do. Still, he needs some direction aside from green, wide-eyed skirt-chaser. Sisko also needs some work. Aside from starring in "Emissary", he hasn't been given much to do besides typical commanding officer stuff - I think Nog may have gotten more development this season. The one most desperately in need of development, however, is Dax. She practically has no character to speak of at this point aside from being the "smart person" of the cast. And what little characterization she has received hasn't helped - it's made her look rather unlikable, like she's a self-important, pompous egotist.

So, after a stable, if not firm, foundation, I'm looking forward to Season Two.
RJ
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 4:25am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Phantasms

It seems to me the matter of Data's violent behavior was startlingly unresolved. The episode never really states how these organisms were able to affect him in such a way, much less offer a solution to prevent something like this from happening again. They could have just used some technobabble answer to explain it (interphasic EMF caused an error in Data's logical subprocessor) or at the least resolve to disable his dream program for awhile. Yet they just go on like it's business as usual, and Counselor Troi seems perfectly comfortable in the last scene alone with him. It doesn't make all that much sense at times, but overall it was a fine episode.
Luke
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 4:13am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

"Methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God." ~~ The Catechism of the Catholic Church

"One does not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: ‘I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon.’ For he willed to make them Christians, not mathematicians." ~~ St. Augustine

"Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes." ~~ St. Pope John Paul II

“Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.” ~~ Sir Isaac Newton

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"In the Hands of the Prophets" is perhaps the best treatment of the supposed science vs. religion conflict that Trek (most of which is very much in the pro-science, anti-religion camp) could give us. And it does so absolutely wonderfully! While at times it felt like the Bajoran religious opposition was a little overdone (if Winn's order is extremely tiny, how was she able to arouse so much support in such a little time for such a small issue?), I give the writers one hell of a lot of credit for giving the reasonable faithful (in the personages of Kira and Bareil) an actual fair hearing - something Trek almost never does. This is exactly how I always wished TNG would treat religion - as a multi-faceted aspect of the human condition, not something to be easily brushed off as stupid or illegitimate. Here we are shown religion being used by people who only care about themselves (Winn) and their quest for power. We also have people who use religion for good but aren't above playing politics with it (Bareil). We have people who see religion as a positive aspect in their lives (Kira) who aren't afraid to call out those who misuse it. We have people who are willing to let religion mislead them (Neela). We, of course, have rather hard-line atheists (Keiko). Finally, we have people who aren't believers but respect the choices of others to believe (Sisko). This is beautiful!

The acting is also rather top notch from everyone, with the possible exception of Philip Anglim (he seems awful stiff and unemotional as Bareil) but I'm willing to give him a pass and chalk it up to the direction since I've seen him do better work elsewhere. And, of course, we get our first taste of Vedek (soon to be Kai) Winn. They couldn't have gotten a better actor to play this part than Louise Fletcher, who is the reigning champion of playing evil hidden under a nice mask. Even Robin Christopher as Neela did a wonderful job. I especially loved her moment of doubt on the Promenade when her and Winn exchange glances.

Do I even need to mention the massive dose of world-building this episode dishes up for us? Going into the three-part Season Two opener (which itself is heavy with world-building) this sets the stage wonderfully.

It was also really nice how the episode keeps you off balance. For instance, it starts out like it's going to be a standard Trek science vs. religion message show but then pulls the rug out from under you with the scene between Sisko and Jake. Jake comes in and offers the standard Trekian line on religion - "The same thing is happening now with all this stuff about the Celestial Temple in the wormhole. It's dumb." Then Sisko offers an argument that basically summarizes those quotes I started out with (which is why I included them). Not only does he say that both religion and science have a part to play in life, he even goes so far as to say that religion might even be a rational choice! I was almost stunned by that, especially since it's Sisko's (not Jake's) stance the episode clearly wants us to take! That's a jaw-dropping rupture from Trek tradition. Another example is the relationship between O'Brien and Neela. In an episode that makes such a huge issue of Starfleet/Federation and Bajoran relations becoming frayed, we have a personal relationship between a member of Starfleet and a Bajoran that is not only solid but founded on trust, understanding and friendship (though I could have done without the sexual tension between them - yeah, Christopher is extremely attractive but I doubt O'Brien would be that quick to go there). You're left thinking that this friendship will be the highlight that ultimately helps resolves the crisis. But then the rug is pulled out from under us again when Neela turns out to be the potential assassin. Bravo.

But, more about how "In the Hands of the Prophets" really shines - its complete subversion of Trek convention. Usually when science and religion conflict on Trek, the scientists are portrayed as heroic and beleaguered defenders of truth while the religious are portrayed either as superstitious idiots (TNG: "Who Watches the Watchers"), extremely susceptible to demagoguery (TNG: "Devil's Due") or just outright villains (VOY: "False Profits", ENT: "Chosen Realm"). There are still some elements of that (Winn's followers such seem susceptible to demagoguery) but DS9 managed to actually insert some nuance. I cannot stress enough how much this pleases me. This is what made TNG: "Rightful Heir" so good. It's what will later make VOY: "Mortal Coil" so good. They took religion and showed it for what it truly is - the good and the bad, warts and all. They didn't focus only on the warts. BRAVO!!!!

This might upset some people, but I personally think this is the best episode of Season One - just barely beating out "Duet".

10/10
brian
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 2:12am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Remember Me

Horrible episode imo. I found it boring and generally do not prefer b crusher heavy episodes
Peter G.
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 1:02am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones

@Adam @Jason R.,

For quite a while I felt that the summary execution of the Jedi in Order 66 didn't make sense in light even of their decision to commit treason. Surely they would be tried before a tribunal for their crimes? And how could the entire order be held responsible for the actions of three Masters?

But I've come to realize that it made complete sense to execute them on the spot. For one thing, the entire order follows the commands of the council, and the council itself was the party committing treason and that tried to assassinate the Chancellor. Furthermore, we know for a fact that Windu and Yoda conspired to take over the senate by force and establish themselves as the interim government authority. This means by any reasonable standard that the Jedi were attempting a military coup d'etat in order to establish martial law. It is also not only foreseeable but pretty much guaranteed that every Jedi in the order would follow the commands of the council in this matter, especially in light of it being to target a Sith Lord; this means it wasn't merely the threat of a few Masters but of the entire order that would undoubtedly follow them blindly. In light of this, it would have been reasonable to believe that the entire Order has turned traitor.

But this still leaves the matter of how to deal with them. The first thing to remember is that the Order had decided to use force to take over the Republic, which means they would have to be suppressed with force, which means death since you cannot reasonably subdue a Jedi in any other way. The second thing to remember is that the Chancellor had been granted emergency powers as a war-time measure and that this was still in effect at the time Order 66 was announced. We don't know the exact specifics of what the emergency powers were, but it probably involves a wide range of discretion involving military deployment and spending, as well as internal security and policing. I have no doubt that during a war for its very existence the Chancellor would have been authorized to summarily execute traitors and those involving in committing high treason against the Commander in Chief. Even in our current society it would most likely not be questioned to eradicate a terrorist organization actively trying to kill the President and overthrow the government.

Palpatine's genius is that he tricked the Jedi into becoming a terrorist organization despite what they thought were their best intentions. He knew better; he knew their intentions were more self-serving than they were aware of and he used this. Having considered this for quite a while I find the circumstances of Order 66 not only reasonable within the proper context but almost necessary. There would be no way to contain the Jedi threat unless they were dispatched right away. The idea that the Jedi were acting for anyone's good is something that would have to be taken on faith by someone who trusted them, like Bail Organa. To any other kind of observer they were traitors who thought themselves above the law.
Dave
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 12:20am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: The Arsenal of Freedom

This Logan character was a goof

Picard gives Geordi command so he comes in dick swinging as a higher ranked Lieutenant; trying to blatantly over rule Picard's decision and put the ship in jeopardy by trying to blow up the chain of command?

Did he not think what would happen to him when Picard returned and he found out Logan pushed LaForge out of the Captain's Chair after ordered there by Picard?

I know this Logan fellow is a one-off , but they should have had LaForge relieve him of duty or something. I hated how they wrote this guy.
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