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$G - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 11:10pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Prodigal Daughter

I like this one. This is yet another episode that focuses on a new character with lots of guest actors, and I'm surprisingly fine with it. Yes, the main cast hasn't had a whole lot to do this season but I'm surprisingly okay with that. It doesn't feel like episodes focus on them for the sake of it, which is what a lot of late-series shows end up doing. I also don't feel like the stars are getting short changed, either. S7 gives the expanded roster a lot of meat and I'm really liking it. (Granted, watching it on DVD makes the waits between episodes non-existent. I can see why texture episodes like this grated on people back during week-to-week-to-hiatus airing.

This one's good because, like Jammer says, there are no family histrionics. No shouting, no predictable murder scenes, no overt Orion Syndicate mafia cliches. Just a nice, pleasant little drama with a mystery that wraps it up (and a mystery I had no idea would be this neat).

Also, New Sydney is a cool location, just like that cyberpunk hell in "Honor Among Thieves".

The Memory Alpha post about this ep makes it sound like it was an absolute production mess. I like it, though. Understated, quiet, enjoyable. 3 stars. Recommended.
Kubel - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 10:49pm (USA Central)
Re: BSG S4: Deadlock

This was a fast forward episode. I probably would have rather skipped it. But it sucks that we only have a few more episodes left to tell the story, and they had to squander this 44 minutes on, what exactly?

Also, how does Adama still have a functioning liver after all these years?
ian - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 9:56pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S3: Future's End, Part II

Okay, if they could scan time in the future why didn't Braxton know what he was doing before?
Later they bring him back and destroy continuity and let him remember!
Time travel episodes are really pushing the absurdity to new levels and should best be forgotton and left in the "past."
Of course, that will never happen as long as Trek continues...
navamske - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 7:01pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S7: Nightingale

I thought it was odd that a member of a nonhuman species would use the word "humanitarian."

Oh, I get it. The Kraylor guy actually said, "[We're on a] Kraylorian [mission]” and the universal translator rendered it as "We're on a humanitarian mission." That must be it.
Latex Zebra - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 5:54pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S6: Blink of an Eye

It's funny. I always find myself returning to this episode when looking for good Voyager episodes to watch to kill time.

This is a strangely captivating story. As I've previously mentioned it requires a lot of suspension of belief and repeat viewings only challenge that.
The thing is, I don't want to challenge it. I genuinely love this episode and niggles like the bombardment stopping long enough to get Gotana-Retz back to the planet or Doc's suddenly announced son don't detract from a truly original story.
I wonder what tweaks could be made to round this off and make it all coherant.
Then I remember my earlier comment and think... Why worry.
Even without being a nailed on 4 star episode this rates as a Voyager classic in my opinion for being exactly what I want Star Trek to be. Fun, touching and entertaining.
In my top 10 Voyager without doubt.
William B - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 4:27pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Field of Fire

I dunno. I wouldn't describe Spock and Sarek as arrogant. However, TOS does portray them at times in negative lights as being stubborn and pigheaded. "Journey to Babel," after all, is Sarek's only appearance in TOS proper, and we learn that he essentially cut off contact with Spock for choosing Starfleet. There are quite a few elements of the Vulcans in TOS that were taken from a certain old-school Jewish culture, as Nimoy has attested at length, and this story has a lot in common with the "The Jazz Singer" (or, if you prefer, The Simpsons' "Like Father, Like Clown")-type story of a rabbi's son choosing a profession he deems unworthy of him and thus cutting off contact. This is not strictly logical, though Sarek frames it as such: his son has disappointed him, and therefore until his son redeems himself in his eyes it is proper parenting to shun him; or, rather, it is logical in that it follows from Sarek's core assumptions, but those assumptions override what should be bigger axioms: that his son doing good in the world is something to be applauded rather than shunned.

Spock does go out of his way to make fun of his human costars pretty often, in what I think goes beyond "yes I think that emotionalism is a poor way of making decisions" and into the occasional pettiness. I think in Spock's case, it's really because his proximity to humans makes it difficult for him to fully separate from them, and his difficulty reconciling his human side makes him want to point out his differences as often as possible. That said, I do think Spock is shown to be more frequently in the right than McCoy is, and less frequently led astray. I think Spock's biggest weaknesses are an occasional lack of imagination in comparison to Kirk and, especially, poor PR. Spock doesn't manage his image well when he's in command, which fails to induce confidence in his officers. This failing is only a problem when one is dealing with other emotional races, however.

I guess to continue: while Enterprise and the Abrams films (well, 2009 anyway, I haven't seen Into Darkness still) really do go to extremes in terms of portraying Vulcans as closed-minded and bigoted, there is a little more original series-era justification. Star Trek: The Animated Series is generally considered not to be canon, but "Yesteryear," Dorothy Fontana's Spock time travel story, is a pretty big influence I think, one which gets a canon name-drop in "Unification" IIRC. I know this because when I was younger I had the Star Trek Encyclopedia and it considered that episode canon and no others, because, you know, huge dork. But anyway, the episode does have the other Vulcan children ostracizing Spock pretty heavily, even though it's TOS era. Fontana is basically the expert on TOS Vulcans -- maybe the biggest creative voice besides Nimoy's in terms of fleshing out Spock from Roddenberry's very rough original conception.

None of that means that Solok or the "Field of Fire" guy are really particularly precedented, which they aren't. Spock was meant to be a hero and is ultimately both TOS' arguably biggest breakout character and is also someone whose qualities are much more frequently admirable than not.

The thing is, Vulcans being unethical do have TOS precedent, in T'Pring's chessmaster maneuvering in "Amok Time," which Spock compliments at the end as flawlessly logical. While she breaks no laws, T'Pring's use of Spock's emotional frenzy and Vulcan rituals to get the lover she wants is some coldblooded calculation playing with life and death. It also is something that would be unnecessary if it weren't for the extreme ritualistic nature of Vulcan marriage, bonding etc., which apparently does not permit escape, partly because of the intense, overwhelming mating urge which Vulcan ritual just barely holds in.

So, you know, I do think a Vulcan either acting as genius chessmaster, letting people die for personal gain, is precedented, as is Vulcans in emotional amok mode when their defenses shut down. I think in that sense the Vulcan killer in "Field of Fire" sort of almost works. He is coldly logical in his approach and attack and emotional in his motivations -- PTSD as Robert said.

However, I do think the episode places the blame on his Vulcanness. He wanted to kill people because he hates emotion!!!! Really? Rather than showing complexity in a race, this takes one trait associated with the race and magnifies it out of proportion, moving from disdain for personal emotion to killing happy people. Because logic demanded it, is his reasoning, because Vulcans like logic, right? It's not the main point of the episode so whatever, I guess.
Niall - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 4:26pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: Hero Worship

I agree with the other comments above praising this episode, for the same reasons.
Jack - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 3:44pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Gravity

As I've stated before, I give Voyage rquite a bit of leewya when comparing it to other series because it was the first one to be charged with carrying a network, rather than being syndicated. That left it far, far more at the mercy of absurd gimmicks, ridiculous promos, and various other meddling from network suits.
Jack - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 3:38pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Infinite Regress

TH said:

"The biggest hole I found in this episode was the conversation between Chakotay and the Captain where she says she's wondering if he was right that they could never bring Seven "into the fold". I have a hard time believing that Janeway would take this technological borg problem of the week and actually have it in her mind that this is an internal Seven problem, and not some external force acting upon her."

I get where you're coming from, but I saw Janeway's comments more as meaning that Seven's Borg nature may leave her vulnerable to a number of unique and unpredictable situations, of which this is but one, which may make reclaiming Seven chronically problematic.
Jack - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 3:19pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Infinite Regress

The midnight snacker ate an animal leg Neelix was saving for some ensign's birthday, but with Voyager's compliment, someone on Voyager is likely having a birthday every three or four days...is it really that special?
Christoph - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 9:00am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Take Me Out to the Holosuite

It is by far the worst DS9 episode. Another rehash of a boring American kind of sport in the future. I liked the pure US-American epis.. - eh excuse me - Ferengi episodes much better. They were always very funny.
Christoph - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 8:53am (USA Central)
Re: ENT S1: Acquisition

Maybe you are right, OR perhaps you are not. Because of you guys complaining about Enterprise all the time since it's first aired, we trekkies got J.J. A-hole's new Star Trek movies which are totally BS. Thanks for nothing but senseless complains. Now Hollywood is even dumber.
Robert - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 8:50am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Nothing Human

"I'd like to note, that real world model for this episode would be rather Japanese Unit 731 than Nazis."

If you look up Mengele's experiments in hypothermia you will see that we STILL use his knowledge on how to deal with hypothermia victims. So one could argue that, as most science fiction is, you can see more than one parallel to us in that mirror.
Robert - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 8:44am (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: Disaster

"People comparing kids to kryptonite for Picard are going too far."

We all have it in us to handle problems we are not comfortable with, I think that's more what it is. Picard is not BAD with kids (see his charming exchange with his nephew), he's uncomfortable around them. In fact some people are very GOOD at things they are uncomfortable with, but they have to try.

I think that's the moral of it all. Picard was good with the kids, Troi ends up being good with command (at least enough to not let Ro push her around), and Worf is able to deliver the baby.

The other 2 weren't really fish out of water stories, but I would have liked if they had tried to push them a little more to conform to the theme. Maybe instead of the silly plot with the cargo bay Beverly gets injured and has to talk a squeamish Geordi, who is more comfortable dealing with computers, into performing triage on her. Or something like that.
times05 - Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 2:35am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Nothing Human

There is really no dilemma about medical research in the episode. If it's already been done and recorded, doesn't really matter how it was acquired. When someone I care about is dying, and there is a known cure that doesn't cause any more suffering to anyone at present or future, I could care less where it came from. Just use it.

Could someone's feelings be hurt? Maybe. Feelings are very low on the totem pole of importance compared to someone else dying. They can suck it up and tell themselves that their suffering wasn't completely in vain.

Also... what about all the borg technology that's been used in other episodes. If it's borg technology, it obviously wasn't acquired in any nice way. Someone suffered for it. Yet in dozens of episodes that's a non-issue.

Mediocre episode at best. Highly unplausable, also an unrealistic dilemma.
Beleron - Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 11:20pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: Disaster

Well, if nothing else, we learned that Geordi can't sing.
Ian - Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 9:12pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S1: Eye of the Needle

One point not mentioned. Didn't the Romulan already tell his superiors about Voyager? Thus they already know the future!
I recall later episode mentioning the Romulans having an interest in Voyager. Wonder if that is a subtle nod to this issue
Beleron - Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 8:49pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: In the Flesh

I have to side with the nay-sayers here. One of my bigger gripes with the franchise is that the aliens
too consistently tend to be rather human; Species 8472 was, up to this episode, a welcome exception. They didn't necessarily need to remain as antagonists, but they should have remained inscrutable.
Robert - Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 4:12pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Field of Fire

Solok's fixation on humiliating Sisko is illogical though.
$G - Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 3:02pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Field of Fire

Elliott:

"Races/species in Star Trek are "hat races" on purpose because aliens were always meant to represent different facets of humanity, politically, ethically, historically. "Bad guys" (Klingons, Romulans, the Borg, Cardassians) possess, as a people, qualities which should be repudiated, whereas the "good guys" (Vulcans) possess, again as a people, qualities which should be emulated. The majority of Trek races are given this one note, usually bad, to stage the Morality Play. A few, like the Klingons and the Vulcans, are given enough development to explore the issues in more complex ways. There are indeed good and bad sides to Honour and Logic which are worth exploring."

This is a pretty succinct explanation of why alien races (and the stories based on them) in most of Trek are simplistic slush. DS9 is the strongest show overall because it recognizes and avoids these storytelling gaffes.
Robert - Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 12:50pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Field of Fire

@Elliott - The one in Field of Fire was a villain because he was Vulcan, but he was also suffering from some kind of extreme PTSD. VOY made it clear that Vulcans HAVE emotions, they just suppress them well. And Tuvok has made it very, very clear that if he ever lost control the result would be intense. I don't like Field of Fire, but given what I would imagine Tuvok with PTSD to look like it doesn't seem like a negative portrayal of Vulcans.

Likewise Sakonna, as I said, is a villain that just HAPPENS to be Vulcan. And she's only a villain because we're supposed to be for the Bajoran resistance but against the Maquis. I always felt that, prior to Eddington, the Maquis were grey villains, as opposed to black ones.

You have a point with Solok of course, but... I don't know. I guess I just don't see it as being as subversive as you think it is. Yes, Solok is arrogant. In my post above I said specifically that a Vulcan who thinks Vulcans are superior would not be particularly problematic in cannon. A Vulcan experience arrogance as an emotion? I could see that being problematic. The all Vulcan crew on a Starfleet ship strikes me as a poor idea too. The fact that I liked nearly everything else about the episode lets me largely overlook it, but I think this episode is problematic.

That said, a young Tuvok experiences emotions (love) and needs to go train with a master to "fix it". The problem with Solok is that without much of a backstory or getting to know the character he just seems to be a Vulcan that is too emotional. Which isn't great, but it's not as bad as the all Vulcan ship.
Elliott - Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 12:46pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Field of Fire

Races/species in Star Trek are "hat races" on purpose because aliens were always meant to represent different facets of humanity, politically, ethically, historically. "Bad guys" (Klingons, Romulans, the Borg, Cardassians) possess, as a people, qualities which should be repudiated, whereas the "good guys" (Vulcans) possess, again as a people, qualities which should be emulated. The majority of Trek races are given this one note, usually bad, to stage the Morality Play. A few, like the Klingons and the Vulcans, are given enough development to explore the issues in more complex ways. There are indeed good and bad sides to Honour and Logic which are worth exploring.
Elliott - Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 12:37pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Field of Fire

@zzybaloobah, et al.:

The S7 Vulcan baddies weren't portrayed as villains who happened to be Vulcan, but villains *because* they were Vulcan. The animosity in the writing stemmed directly from what the Vulcan people, as an analogy for a type of human (which you pointed out is true of basically all Trek aliens. More on that in a moment), represent.

Spock, Sarek, Tuvok and the reformist Vulcans from ENT S4 were never portrayed as arrogant the way Solok was. Arrogance, recall, is an emotion. Non-Vulcan characters have often mistaken Vulcan logic for arrogance (Bones, Neelix). Perrin remarks in "Sarek" that she is impressed that Picard does not make this mistake, a condonation of his attitude and perspective. In "Unification," Spock comments to Data that Picard is himself remarkably Vulcan-like. And recall that Robert also made the mistake of considering his brother to be arrogant in "Family."

In the transition from the TOS era to the TNG, the writers very carefully carved out a place for the Vulcan philosophy as a kind of benchmark of humanoid progress (TMP being the Apollo to TWoK's Dionysus). This benchmark sits right alongside the idealism of the non-religious, non-capitalist society humanity is supposed to have achieved by the 24th century. DS9 was in the habit of wiping its ass with this idealism, and that practice goes hand in hand with its treatment of Vulcans.

As for Paul M.'s "[T]he ideal towards which the humanity ought to strive is neither uber-logic (Spock) nor uber-emotion (McCoy) but rather a synthesis of both (Kirk)," I find this rather dubious. If by "synthesis," he means dialectical synthesis, Spock is himself a synthesis of two antithetical philosophies, is he not? And most of the time, Spock's perspective is clearly in the right; Bones has to be handled by Kirk as a kind of mediator, but it's rare that Spock's logic fails him where Bones' emotions do not. If by "synthesis," he means the more common "combination," one cannot combine two elements if they are "uber," that is, entirely. I think it's unfair to judge Spock or McCoy as being extremists in their positions as logical or emotional. All the Big Three showed nuance and temperament in their approaches.

TOS' overarching narrative relies heavily on exploiting Kirk's flaws, so how can he be the "ideal human"?

As for your proportioning out thumbs up or down based on series percentiles, I can't say much more than it's incredibly reductionist and inaccurate, if for no other reason than the shows ran for different lengths of time. AND the shows had vastly differing references to Vulcans or Vulcan characters.

DS9 had its own agenda, but given episodes like "In the Cards," "Rapture," "The Siege of AR3.14...," "Covenant," "In the Hands of the Prophets" and others, it's reasonable to extrapolate an over-arching anti-Trek philosophy which emerges. These Vulcan episodes fit right with that.
Robert - Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 10:56am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S7: Human Error

I saw this recently and will chime in with those disagreeing with Jammer. I usually do agree with his dislike of Voyager's reset button, but this didn't feel like reset back to status quo. It felt like someone who took 3 steps forward and then RAN 2 steps backwards because she scared herself. But I still think she and the viewers learned something and we DID end up going somewhere.

For me this episode is up there with "His Way" & "Crossfire" and it does for Seven what those did for Odo in a lot of ways. Even after all of his lessons from Vic Odo still doesn't feel comfortable with the thought of his friends seeing him have fun and when he realizes he's dancing with the real Kira he goes from Nerys to Major at warp speed. But it shows him (and the audience) that there is someone who could have fun under there. Sure it ends with less of a reset (at least "His Way" does) but after 5 years of slow burning that romance we had to get somewhere eventually!

In a lot of ways this is Seven's "His Way" with the ending for "Crossfire". She opens up when nobody is around but in the end when she thinks she's too distracted she shuts back in. I LIKED the contrived (it was contrived) cortical node shutdown and her refusal to fix it. There was something poetic in her hiding behind her limitations instead of trying to exceed them.

And she does change a bit. The scene with Torres and the baby booties were quite sweet. I think some people saw this and lamented that she didn't start acting around her friends like she did on the Holodeck. But Odo doesn't act with his friends the way he does with Vic either. And the same for Barclay. Closed off characters learning to take baby steps in socializing do NOT need to get there in one quick jump.

The reset button here felt organic to the plot, not a cop out. 3.5 stars.
dgalvan - Tue, Oct 21, 2014, 11:22pm (USA Central)
Re: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

This film gets a bad rap. I won't claim it's among the best of the Star Trek films. But I like it better than Nemesis and Insurrection. I think I like it better than Star Trek 1: The Motion Picture, too. I'm probably a bit biased since its the first Star Trek movie I saw in the theater.

Here are some reasons I like it:

1. It has humor.
The jokes don't land as well as they did in Star Trek IV, but they are not terrible. It's a more "human-relatable" movie than several other Trek films.

2. The "big three".
The camaraderie between Kirk, McCoy, and Spock is a welcome re-visit that helps close out Spock's character arc of re-adjusting after being reborn, which started really in Star Trek IV. It gave me a warm feeling and it made me think of how William Shatner was probably waxing nostalgic in having so many scenes with the three characters that really were the heart of Star Trek. "God I liked him better before he died!"

3. The whole God thing was really not a bad plot line.
In many ways it was reminiscent of numerous TOS (and a few early TNG) episodes that dealt with a near-omnipotent alien entity masquerading as something else. Actually this entity reminded me of the one they encountered in the first episode of the Animated Series (that one also tried to use the enterprise to escape a dead star/planet, episode title: Beyond the Farthest Star). I suppose for people not familiar with TOS, this may have seemed like a copout from dealing with issues of religion, but really this plot line makes a lot of sense in Star Trek context. It was never about religion, it was about the dangers of thinking too passionately instead of thinking critically.

4. It has a good underlying message:
While it could be argued that Vulcans rely too much on logic, Sybok is the embodiment of going too far in the other direction. He embraces passion and emotion too much, without drawing enough on the cool dampening of rationality. He's also a pseudo-hedonist, convincing people that the bad part of their pasts should be forcibly forgotten and banished from your psyche ("release your pain"). Kirk provides the useful counterpoint: "I need my pain! It makes me who I am!"). This film explores some of the consequences of passionately leaping before you look. (Sybok finally sees the error in his ways, having been taken with legends and seeing what he wanted to see instead of what actually was.)

5. It further develops Kirk's character.
In Star Trek II (yes, probably the best), Kirk went from bemoaning his old age to the greatest ending line of the ST movies: "How do you feel Jim?. . . Young. I feel young."
Now here Kirk goes from bemoaning the solitary nature of the life he chose as a Starship captain (climbing El Capitan alone, saying he knows he'll die alone, telling Bones and Spock that "Men like us don't have families."), to realizing the people close to him are indeed his family, and that he never really has been alone. ("I lost a brother once. . . lucky for me I got him back." "I thought you said men like us don't have families?. . . . I was wrong."

6. It introduced that snazzy Klingon theme music.
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