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Sonya - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 9:58pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S5: Trials and Tribble-ations

I know I'm in the minority, but I couldn't wait for this episode to be over. I wasn't really a fan of TOS, though. Dax was particularly annoying during this episode, but I suppose they had to dumb her down and sex her up to make her fit the TOS female standard.
chris - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 9:10pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: Power Play

I'm surprised nobody mentioned Troi beating Data in chess. I can't imagine the likelihood of that.
$G - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 9:05pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S1: Heart of Glory

Reasonable and competent. This is an all right episode that introduces us to a slice of 24th-century Klingon culture. It also (kind of) works as a real introduction to Worf, who has otherwise been a speaking extra up to this point. I think the three other Klingons in this episode did a solid job - more believable than the average meathead Klingons that show up in later TNG and DS9.

One point already raised by William B is that the other Klingons tend to have more lines than Worf. While the character now has something like 11 seasons of development under his belt, I can see how Worf would have felt a bit distant in 1988 even after the airing of this episode. A notable moment comes at the end when the bridge crew seem to not be able to figure Worf out. Interesting (or out-of-character?) considering Remmick described that Enterprise crew as family at the end of the previous episode.

I haven't seen this one in a long, LONG time. It's one of the episodes I used to re-watch a lot on VHS when I was a young'un. When the episode started, I thought I'd misremembered the episode title because the rescue on the freighter took such a large portion of the episode. It's neat how they managed to fit in some Geordi moments (with the visor camera) but ultimately I wish a few of those minutes could have gone towards the Klingon story.

Anyway, this is a pretty decent one. It has some of the standard S1 problems of being a bit stilted, but unlike most of the rest of the first 25 episodes it's paced and written reasonably well. I want to agree with the 3 star assessment, but I don't want to recommend on that big of a curve. It's one of the better S1 outings but I think it plays more like a 2-1/2 star show. I recommend it nonetheless.
trekstar - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 8:45pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

My favorite episodes of St:TNG are "Yesterday's Enterprise", and this one. Thanks to Netflix, i think I've watched them both a hundred times each. There's something I've pondered while watching this one. The probe literally "brainwashes" Picard. They don't let him keep his identity. There is no 'hi Picard, this is our world, live amongst us and no time will pass in your world', instead it is, 'you are NOT Picard, you never were picard, your name is Kamen and your other world is a hallucination brought on by a fever.' I'm just wondering why they decided to do it this way...possibly to make him really "feel" like he was a part of their world and not just an outsider. Yet at the end...he is forcibly brainwashed in reverse by ostracizing him. We made you become one of us but you aren't. This family..these kids..grandkids you thought were yours are not real so now we end this "dream" and your family and life go "poof"! Bwahahaha! Lol i guess I've watched this show way too many times.
navamske - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 8:32pm (USA Central)
Re: ENT S2: Regeneration

@Daniel Lebovic

"What (as the story itself tells us) is the pivotal event that the Borg seek to change, and is therefore, the event, if they are thwarted in their attempt to change it, that will allow the 'proper' timeline to resume? The making of first contact. They are thwarted in this effort (they are unable to destroy the Phoenix, or kill Zefram Cochrane)."

This is both true and not true. The Borg *did* prevent First Contact and assimilated Earth. This is canonically demonstrated onscreen when the Enterprise-E, caught in the temporal vortex but still in the twenty-fourth century, sees a Borgified North America and Data says the population of Earth is "approximately nine billion -- all Borg." What happened then is that the Enterprise arrived in 2063 *before* the Borg had completed their goal and was able to prevent them from doing so, effectively erasing -- or overwriting -- the timeline in which the Borg were successful.
NCC-1701-Z - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 5:56pm (USA Central)
Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

@Niall - That, and Michelle Erica Green's TMP review was copy and pasted word for word. I fail to see what anyone could possibly gain from that...?
Skeptical - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 4:39pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S2: Cold Fire

"Enjoy what you can; just make sure to satiate your appetite before the last course here at the Unfulfilled Potential Restaurant and Bar."

Heh, I know what you mean. That said, I think I'm becoming immune to Voyager's problems. Of course this episode is a lost opportunity. Of course the reset button was annoying. Of course the plotting wasn't as good as it could have been. But still, I generally liked it anyway. Part of the reason for that is that, by focusing on the Ocampa rather than the Caretaker, we got a better story. Yes, it's unfortunate that we couldn't spend more time with Susperia as well, but the Ocampa was better.

Let's face it, so far the Ocampa were basically sentient tribbles without the reproduction aspect. They are cute, cuddly, harmless, innocent little creatures that you just can't help but try to hold and protect them. All we saw of the Ocampa was the neutered version that the first Caretaker had, sterile people that were just sitting around slowly waiting for extinction. Then we have Kes, the childlike innocent one who is always eager to learn and help out and always perfectly kind and sweet to everyone. It's not a surprise that we anthropomorphize the Ocampa to be "good guys". We see them the way we want to see them, as the tribbles, a perfectly harmless bunch of elves.

And now, we find out that they can kill you with their brain. Not so harmless now, are they?

I mean, I thought the raptor scream was silly too at first, but I do think it does work. If it was a normal scream, Kes would be no different than any of hundreds of actresses in horror movies. We would see her as human. But in that scene, she should be alien instead. She's the one setting Tuvok on fire, after all, and she's the member of the species we are finding out is much more terrifying than initially thought. It should be a bizarre, unsettling scene. So maybe the raptor scream was a bit silly, but I can see the logic behind it. It's a bit unfortunate that so many people saw it as just a joke.

But the scene of Kes killing the plants was even better. Again, I don't know if the actual execution was that great, but the idea was smart. First of all, it was unexpected. It started out with Kes feeling the plants, something tender and kind. And then, she killed them all. And scariest of all, she didn't seem to mind. Her little garden was something she cared deeply about, and wanted to grow and nurture those plants. And yet she killed them all without a thought. And enjoyed killing them. And felt no remorse, no concern afterwards. Again, this is contrary to the standard expectation we had of the Ocampa and of Kes. It's frightening and disturbing. It's completely alien to us. And yet it remains all the same.

DPC was right, Tanis should have used this approach at the end. I mean, the "these puny humans are beneath you" thing has been seen dozens of times before. Tanis should have reminded her of the rapturous joy she felt in destroying those plants. He could remind her that she had never felt closer to the plants, had never felt them as deeply and emotionally as when she brought the fire. And in that instant, she felt more connected to those plants than she had ever been with anyone. Closer than with Neelix, closer than with Tuvok. If she truly cared about the crew of the Voyager, if she truly wanted to be close to them, there was only one way to do it.

Of course, Kes would protest. We would expect nothing less. Perhaps she can even turn it back on Tanis. If that is true, after all, why doesn't Tanis kill the people closest to him? Then Tanis could reveal that he DOES, that all of the Ocampa on this array do. When they reach the end of their lifespan, their closest friends and family gather around them and use their telekinetic powers to euthanize the elderly. Tanis did it to his father, and it was a beautiful, heartwarming moment for him. He looks forward to the day that his children will do it to him. But Kes will not outlive her friends on Voyager. She will never truly know Neelix. She will never feel the beautifully of becoming one with the people she kills. Unless she does it.

(I'm reminded of Stranger in a Strange Land here: the Martians in that novel eat their dead in order to fully "grok" them. Something like that is what I'm trying to get at; an act that is truly horrifying for us but is perfectly natural and loving to the alien.)

The rest of the episode would continue on as it did here. Except at the end, Kes' powers wouldn't leave. She'd simply refuse to use them anymore, out of fear of hurting anyone accidentally again. And just as scary to her, out of fear that she would enjoy it. She felt something inside her when she hurt Tuvok, and a part of her does wonder if Tanis is right, that she is missing out on something complete by not fully understanding her shipmates. Tuvok can tell her of his own emotions, and the Vulcan use of logic to control them. And it can end on much the same note, with Tuvok helping her to control these feelings and to move forward.

So yes, it's a wasted opportunity and that's unfortunate. But I like what this episode did for Kes. There's some depth in there, even if the episode failed to follow up on it. So yes, I like the episode despite its flaws. Like I said, I think I'm becoming immune to Voyager's problems. I guess we'll see how immune I get the next time they have some sort of massively ridiculous piece of "science" like a hole in the event horizon...
Nick - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 3:30pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: What You Leave Behind

Well, DS9 started out well...early episodes were imbued with classic Trek tropes. Then ratings plummet and we get the 'Dominian War" ===which ultimately devolves into melodrama and soap operaesqe plot lines. I get it, the show was suffering, the writers needed something big, which leads to the classic battle of good vs. evil. Notice however, of the remaining dozen episodes, where is the challenge of convention, the exploration of humanity, the discovery of the alien? Nowhere, ziltch. All tossed out for a plotline better suited to :::gulp:::: ....Star Wars.

Lastly,

Ric - Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - 4:34am (USA Central)

My thoughts exactly.
Niall - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 2:25pm (USA Central)
Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

How come 3 people have posted long reviews of this film within 3 hours of each other, after no comments since July?
Disinvited - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 2:24pm (USA Central)
Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

There are those that say that Kubrick’s 2001 with its minimal dialogue is such a movie and if that be the case, I have to give TMP in its 70mm presentations due consideration in that regard as it clearly was influenced by his prior work, right down to their own spin on an alternate creation for a “starchild”.

I recall exiting both films with a “WOW!” and a deep sense of wonder.

I recall pondering whether V’yger’s translation of Ilea was really much removed from how the transporter was said to work? And whether the created merging with its creator would be the ultimate destiny for any AI that mankind might develop?

I think it is safe to say that TMP was the deepest G-rated picture that I’ve ever seen.
Nick - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 2:24pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: Extreme Measures

Sloan was built up as the ultimate protagonist. An all seeing, all powerful menacing force secretly guiding foreign policy of the Federation. He was on the cusp of wiping out the founders! Imagine, in a matter of days in the DS9 world, the virus would have done its job and ended the war. The Founder's genocidal war upon the galaxy had caused, we are told, billions of deaths. Would not the wiping out of the Founders justified the methods? .... a question whose answer we are denied as the dynamic duo Bashir and Miles go forth once more into the breach, saving the day. What do we get? Sloan, brain dead...the federation's brightest and monomaniacal, factitious agent, reduced to a vegetable. A cop-out indeed.
Capitalist - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 1:19pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S7: Homestead

I've never been a Neelix hater, and always considered him an upright scrappy fellow, regardless of his occasional annoyances. His early jealousy thing was quite offputting, but the episode where he fights Seska's buddy and ends up killing him and saving the ship was probably when I started to give him more respect.

Anyway, no one has mentioned a brief moment in this episode that really seemed like a subtle nod to his bravery and loyalty. When the miners were dropping charges on the asteroid, and Neelix was chasing them and detonating the charges with his ship's weapons, something or other knocks out his weapons. There's another charge heading for the surface, and he turns his ship toward it. Dexa freaks out and asks what he's doing, but at that moment, Voyager shows up to blast the charge and save the day.

What he was doing was aiming his ship on a suicide collision course to detonate the charge before it hit the surface. The scene goes pretty fast, so I wonder how many people caught the intensity of that moment, and understood the decision he had made.
Andrew - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 12:56pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Captive Pursuit

It felt odd that both "Babel" and this episode were pretty O'Brien-heavy but only mentioned and didn't include Keiko.

It also seemed odd for Odo to agree to take his time, right before that it seemed that he felt Tosk should be returned and would be especially unsympathetic to O'Brien's view after having been tricked.
Black_Goat - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 11:06am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Captive Pursuit

Captive Pursuit: B
(Switching things up a bit, summation first and then pros and cons.)

Now, this one, I like. We see DS9 reverse the typical Trek motto of going where no man has gone before; now, Deep Space 9 is where no Tosk has gone before. This episode features extremely strong work from Colm Meaney, and though the plot is nothing new, almost everything worked. Very watchable.

The Good:
- Aha! Finally some information about the state of wormhole travelers.
- Nice to see Sisko playing diplomat at the beginning. In fact, I liked him throughout the episode – his anger at Tosk being hunted was righteous. Brooks is definitely improving, and I thought the character’s response to O’Brien’s transgression was very telling.
- Quark is not a barkeep.
- Really, the friendship between O’Brien and Tosk was well done. Miles is a fantastic everyman. We’ve all seen characters like Tosk before, but there’s something very affecting about the way he says “O-Brien.” And our chief becomes Tosk for a day!
- I think the negotiations about what to do with Tosk make sense. Hunting one of your fellows seems utterly barbaric – but that’s only by *our* standards, and the episode is very clear to not disparage the villainous hunters entirely. I’m glad Sisko doesn’t try to impose cultural hegemony on beings from the gamma quadrant. I’m also glad that we hear about people at Starfleet Command that are watching the station and any new life-forms it might encounter with interest.

The Bad:
- The hunters, unfortunately, were rather silly, and the phaser battle was even worse.

Trying to cut back on some of the fluff in these little reviews and just share my most salient thoughts.


Charles - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 7:03am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Move Along Home

Oh Elliott, I've laughed so much reading your review. This episode made no sense - it was like a silly TOS episode complete with cardboard sets, but without the excuse of being trapped on a distant planet by aliens and having to follow their rules. Here who can believe for a secodn that the kidnapping of 4 senior officers by aliens would not have meant the Starfleet Command being alerted immediately and the aliens on question being arrested??
Alex - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 12:15am (USA Central)
Re: TOS S1: The Corbomite Maneuver

What happens with Baily after the Enterprise leaves, I wonder? How long does he stay? Will he rise to power in the First Federation? Kill Balok and run the mothership to Earth? Better yet: Bailey is Borg-Alpha. Explains the cubes...
Trekker - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 12:11am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Timeless

If you read the novels, Slipstream actually does get developed into a working technology, but at an extreme cost in lives and interstellar stability (read "Destiny" and "Typhon Pact" series). I wished Voyager had one or two more seasons after they got back to the alpha quadrant and dealt with the rest of the trek universe and their new tech.

Still, this is Star Trek Voyagers' time travel story, just like TOS had City on the Edge of forever, TNG had Yesterday's Enterprise, DS9 the Visitor.... (E2 doesn't count), you have to give the writers credit where it is due.
zzybaloobah - Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 12:11am (USA Central)
Re: BSG S1: Colonial Day

@Nic
"We know by now that the humanoid Cylons have the same capacity for feeling pain as humans do."
No, we don't know that. We see that they react as if they feel pain, we don't have any access to their mental states. By that line of reasoning, Callum Keith Rennie (Leoben) must have actually been tortured, because he reacted as if in pain. Particularly a being that can't be killed.... what's the value of pain? Why would the Cylons be designed to feel pain? (I don't recall the answer to this: Does Data feel pain?)


"...Otherwise, it would mean that the humans are no better than the Cylons..."
Oh please, spare me.
Cylons: Kill billions -- genocide -- in an unprovoked attack.
Humans: Torture a Cylon.
Yep, clearly humans are no better than Cylons.

Michelle Erica Green - Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 7:41pm (USA Central)
Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

A note: I own the Director’s Edition, so that’s what you’re getting summarized here. And a word of warning: this review is even more personal than most of my reviews. If you want an objective analysis of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I can give it to you in a sentence: “Overlong, poorly edited, stiffly acted, with too much focus on the guest actors and special effects, too little of the elements that made most people appreciate Star Trek as a television series.” That’s the review pretty much everyone expects, because pretty much everyone with whom I’ve discussed it was disappointed by Star Trek: The Motion Picture. After years of fan anticipation, Paramount gave us barely-recognizable characters, boring sequences showing off the new Enterprise, minimal action, visual effects that couldn’t rival Star Wars, colorless new costumes and sets, and a silly ending that tossed out the scientific progress for which Star Trek had always stood. Plus, it was increasingly obvious that the entire cast was aging and Shatner wore a toupee. The soundtrack and sound mixing were generally praised, but the rest of the film was written off as a bad relaunch, overshadowed by the rest of the original series movies.

Those aren’t the things I usually remember about The Motion Picture, however. For me, this is the movie in which Spock tells Kirk that he loves him. Everyone who reads my reviews regularly knows that I have a sordid history with fan fiction, which was, at the time of this film’s release, being passed around under the name from which the slash genre adopted its label. But I was only 12 years old then, and though K/S already existed, I was unaware of it until Gene Roddenberry wrote in the novelization of this movie the most famous footnote in fannish history. First Roddenberry defined the Vulcan expression t’hy’la, which, as Roddenberry explained, can mean “friend,” “brother,” and “lover,” and which was the word Spock used to describe his relationship with Kirk. It’s worth quoting the rest of Roddenberry’s footnote in full, because it had such a profound impact not just on the way I watch Star Trek and all other forms of entertainment, but on how I thought about gay people, gay rights, even how I define my own sexual identity:

[Spock] did indeed consider Kirk to have become his brother. However, because “t’hy’la” can be used to mean “lover” and since Kirk’s and Spock’s friendship was unusually close, this has led to some speculation over whether or not they had actually indeed become lovers. At our request, Admiral Kirk supplied the following comments on this subject: “I was never aware of this ‘lovers’ rumor, although I have been told that Spock encountered it several times. Apparently, he had always dismissed it with his characteristic lifting of his right eyebrow, which usually connoted some combination of surprise, disbelief, and/or annoyance. As for myself… I have always found my best gratification in that creature called woman. Also, I would not like to be thought of as being so foolish that I would select a love partner who came into sexual heat only once every seven years.”

Over the course of several misogynistic rants about fan fiction, “Trouble With Tribbles” writer David Gerrold has announced that this footnote was Roddenberry’s attempt to stop the slash. I find this amusing, because for me, this footnote started slash as a matter for serious inquiry. Even now, it puts a huge smile on my face, for there’s no denial in here at all – quite the opposite. It confirms that there are good reasons people might have thought Kirk and Spock were in love, demonstrates the pervasiveness of that belief, and suggests that if Kirk can say where he finds his “best” gratification, he’s probably done some experimenting…quite a bit of experimenting, if his behavior during the original five year mission is any indication. What struck me as a twelve year old, both watching this film and reading this footnote, was that the creator of Star Trek thought love between two men – not necessarily sexual, but the primary source of intimacy in both their lives – was normal and acceptable. It’s hard to explain now how completely this perspective differed from anything I’d encountered elsewhere in my life. Of all the things I took away from Star Trek as a child – a reverence for science, a love of exploration, a hatred for prejudice, a belief in the inherent goodness of humanity – this may be the one that had the biggest impact on me at a personal, emotional level.

So it doesn’t bother me that, at the core, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a cheesy romance in which Persis Khambatta’s exotic beauty is exploited and humankind’s greatest vehicle of exploration only wants to prove that God exists by finding and merging with its creator-father. It all contributes to a view of the universe in which every form of love is a cause for celebration, even the ones that are technically taboo (which means, hilariously, that the heterosexual couple of Decker and Ilia aren’t supposed to consummate their feelings because her species is so hypersexed, not that Kirk and Spock aren’t supposed to hold hands and snuggle in sickbay).

Even the worst aspects of this film are all about nostalgia, the most sentimental form of love, like the endless sequence in which Scotty takes Kirk around the exterior of the new Enterprise to show off the ship to him and to the audience. We get glimpses of Christine Chapel and Janice Rand, the latter finally with a substantive job; we get McCoy making precisely the same jokes at Spock’s expense that he’d have made on the TV series (“Spock, you haven’t changed a bit, you’re just as warm and sociable as ever”). Sulu gets to count the ascending warp speeds; Chekov gets to scream. Uhura gets lots to do compared to, oh, the entire third season of the show, but of course there are hailing frequencies to open, too. Since I watched the extended edition, I got to see Spock crying on the bridge over V’Ger’s (and his own) loneliness, but even without that crazy un-Vulcan ’70s pop psych moment, the plot of ST:TMP, such as it is, is all about feelings over logic. And I can’t even dislike it for that.

Though the movie comes down on the side of insight being greater than science, it also suggests that great knowledge must be amassed before spiritual wisdom can be attained, something with which Kabbalists and Sufis would agree. Somewhere along my travels in Trekdom, I read an analysis of Spock’s journey through V’Ger, speculating that the concentric circles and lights and chambers represent everything from womb/childbirth/emergence to the levels of Paradise a la Dante, but I have no deep analysis of that sort. My pleasures are more personal, perhaps more superficial, but I think it takes an awful stretch to read that level of spiritual significance into a design that I suspect had far more to do with wanting an Academy Award for visual effects. I adore the scene in which Kirk figures out that V’Ger is Voyager 6 – something we made, something we therefore know how to touch/console/satisfy – and everything I dislike about poor Decker’s tantrum-y character is instantly erased when he decides to take the leap to merge with V’Ger, to transcend what his father did in ramming himself and a starship down the Doomsday Machine’s maw. Disappointment perhaps, but the happy ending left things set up for The Wrath of Khan – one of Star Trek’s finest hours (well, two hours) – and a Spock who would ever after call Kirk “Jim” in public. So what’s not for me to love?
Robert - Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 6:00pm (USA Central)
Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

A great cloud is heading for Earth. It has already destroyed three Klingon vessels that investigated it, and a Federation Space Station that happened to be in the way. The only ship in range is the Enterprise, nearing the completion of a refit but not quite ready…

I think it’s fair ro say that this film is either a love it or hate it kind of film. The people tht criticise it claim that it just doesn’t feel like Star Trek as we knew it, but I have to say that I disagree. Although made ten years after the series was cancelled in 1969, I get the impression that it is meant to be set 2 and a half years after the five year mission ended, so about four to five years after the show. The Enterprise has been gutted and rebuilt, and now hardly resembles the original, certainly internally, and the outside looks a lot more streamlined. In fact, our first look at the scrubbed up Enterprise is that magnificent sequence where Scotty takes Kirk over to it via shuttle, as the transporters are not working. You are teased with shots through the side of the space dock, but that first full head on shot is very emotional – no doubt partly due to Jerry Goldsmith’s amazing score. This sequence alone tells you it’s Trek, but not quite as you know it.

Captain Decker is the new boss, but most of the rest of the crew (apart from McCoy and Spock) are doing their old jobs. It was nice to see Janice Rand again, after she vanished half way through season one. And I loved the fact that Kirk used the crises as an excuse to get out of his stuffy Admirals office at StarFleet and take command of a ship again. You get the impression that he has been bored out of his mind these last two years or so.

The sets are okay – some of them are too recognisable as the sets that get reused for The Next Generation. In particular, the Engineering set is very similar indeed, as is the basic look of the corridors.

The new characters – Decker and Ilia – work well, but their relationship is rather similar to that of RIker and Troi on The Next Generationbut there’s a good reason for that: when this film was being put together, it was actually the pilot episode of the new TV series, and as Nimoy didn’t want to appear, Decker was the new first officer and Ilia a navigator (Checkov seeming to havce moved to security). There would have been a Vulcan science officer, Xon.

This is Star Trek done on a grand scale – for it to work it had to feel big, and it did. Never has planet Earth felt like it was going to be destroyed in the series – in fact, we never visited 23rd Century Earth on the show, though we did visit the past on numerous occasions. Some of the effects look excellent – for example the detail on Vulcan, and also the Golden Gate Bridge by StarFleet HQ. All good stuff, and the sequences inside the cloud – everything looked enormous. Some argue that this all went on for too long, that the sequences inside the cloud were boring. I can see that point of view, but I don’t agree – they helped build the tension very well.

This is a very adult Trek – I don’t mean language and violence, I just mean in the seriousness of it. There is very little humour in it – unlike the TV show and most of the other movies. Again, this put a lot of people off, but I really like it. Had all the films been this heavy, then it would have become boring, but this was pitched just right, for me anyway.

I also liked the ending, the revelation that is was an old Voyager probe that has been picked up by a race of computer beings, souped up, and helped on it’s way. Some fans suggest that the sequence at the end is the start of the Borg, and whilst I would love to think that it true, it cannot be – the Borg did not know about us until much later, and has they been formed from a StarFleet commander and a drone with the memories of a navigator, they would have got here a lot quicker!

A couple of minor nigges: why did Kirk draft a retired McCoy back into the service? He didn’t really need him as a Doctor (Chapel is now fully qualified) it just felt like he wanted to bring him along for tha sake of it! And how come Spock was able to fix the Enterprise engines just like that when StarFleets finest couldn’t?

So, all in all, a really confident start to the series with great effects and a real sense of scale. And, incidentally, the introduction of Jerry Goldsmith’s excellent theme that went on to be used in another three films and every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Crew Deaths: 4
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 56
Score: 8/10
Dave - Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 5:53pm (USA Central)
Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The One with the Giant Cloud

And so, 10 years after the last time anyone had seen a new episode of Star Trek, comes The Motion Picture. I'm sure if you're reading this, you know the basic back story, but in a nut shell, Trek had become popular again through syndication and a 2nd Trek series was mooted. However, with the success of Star Wars and 2001, it was decided to take Star Trek to the big screen and give it a budget worthy of it's name.

And...it wasn't brilliantly received, by critics or most fans. The tone floored most people and their expectations were not met for what a Star Trek Feature film should look like and more importantly, FEEL like. To be honest, that was my view of it until when I watched the Directors Cut for this blog. Maybe it's because I'm older, but I was really impressed by this film. Let's explain why:

In what was a brave (if possibly foolish move), the writers decided to not have the cast as they were a decade ago. Normal time has passed for them and us. Kirk is an Admiral in what is essentially a desk job, McCoy has retired and Spock is on Vulcan, about to undergo a ritual to purge human emotion. None of them are in a good place and the theme of belonging and going home again carries through the whole film.

Kirk essentially bullies his way back onto the Enterprise and ousts Decker (who I believe is meant to be the son of Commodore Decker from "Doomsday Machine"), a Captain who is not a bad guy or weak, just someone who happens to be in Kirks way. Kirk is lost on this newly refitted Enterprise (more on that later) and Decker has too continually guide him through the new systems, not maliciously, but he does seem to take a grim satisfaction in correcting Kirks flawed commands.

Kirk recalls McCoy (in a lovely scene in the transporter room with Rand as well, though her cameo kind of throws you as her relationship with Kirk is so different, but it's good to see her back), who isn't happy and isn't sure of Kirks command of the Enterprise.

Spock comes back next, his ritual abandoned by the voice he hears from V'ger, a being of extraordinary scale and power, heading for earth to destroy it. He is cold and logical, nothing like the Spock we knew and loved from the show. Kirk is not happy, neither are his friends, and the whole mission seems in jeopardy.

Then things start to click, as he uses his instincts to get past the first defence of the cloud and Spock starts to tune into V'ger. At this point, when they start to go deeper into the cloud, the film does drag and even in the slightly edited directs cut version, it is still too long. But having said that, the sheer size and scale of V'ger does come across and I think the potential patience breaking scene is worth it.

The rest of the crew don't really have large parts to play. Scotty has a lovely scene with Kirk at the start as they fly round the newly refitted Enterprise. This is also a very long scene, but my God, it still holds up. Out of all the films, this give's the ship character and treats it with the love it deserves. Especially as up to now, all anyone had seen of her was stock footage in TOS. Here we see her from every angle, larger than life. Kirk and Scotty have always shared a special bond to the ship. Scotty looks after her and patches her up whilst Kirk commands her, but she has touched both their hearts.

Chekov, Sulu and Uhura have their standard roles and even Chapel has a nice walk on part. it's disappointing there wasn't more for them to do though. Of course, we have 2 new characters, Will Decker and LLia, who are basically a template for Riker and Troi. I found their relationship arc rather boring and because you know they're never seen again, it's hard to invest.

This film has brought so much to the Star Trek universe; The Klingons are the one's we know and love today, with a different language and of course, the bumpy foreheads. The opening scene with the 3 Klingon cruisers is brilliant as well. The music is also superb and it's no surprise TNG nicked it for their theme tune.

Of course, it is a flawed fim. The first hour works fine for me, but once they enter the cloud it does drag slightly, especially with the LLia robot learning to love. The uniforms are also awful, though thankfully Kirk changes his half way through. The main problem I have is Spock, and to a certain degree the relationship with the Trio. They continue the antagonism between them for far too long, Spock especially as his sudden personality switch after melding with V'ger come's very near the end. Bones is also sidelined after an impressive debut.

I haven't really discussed the end, mainly because the twist is the whole part of the last hour. Once you know it, it's really just a lovely, slightly psychedelic journey you're on. V'ger is of course Voyager 6 , a probe sent years ago into deep space and came back as an all powerful being. This is very similar to "The Changeling", but at least I believe this ship could destroy solar systems. And there's no harm in dipping into your back history.

There has never been another Star Trek film that has has the epic scale, the vast special effects and the patience and indulgence to tell the story it wants to tell. It's probably the closest Star Trek has ever came to Art which is perhaps why it divides people into Love or Hate. Me, I loved it, for this is a flawed masterpiece.

4/5
Jackson - Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 2:00pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S1: Justice

I found it ridiculous that Picard wouldn't rescue Wesley right off the bat, citing the "Prime Directive", and then immediately proceeds to take one of the Edo up to the Enterprise to come identify what they believe is "God". What?
Black_Goat - Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 12:10pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Babel

To put a finer point on my first "bad": There are basically two issues. One is that the show began forcing a darker tone when the aphasia was still in its infancy and rather silly, which created some tonal issues. But a whole space station being affected by a disease which completely limits one's ability to communicate could actually be a pretty major issue, especially once people start collapsing from deadly fever. But "Babel", as others seem to have said, never makes the race-against-time very compelling, nor does it convey the true horror of having the station besieged by sickness. That's what I mean by the show not having the gravitas to do this story yet.
Andy's Friend - Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 12:01pm (USA Central)
Re: ENT S2: Cogenitor

Paul M., and Robert, and everyone,

Paul, I really would like to thank you for your truly excellent point about the Trills. I had never really given the Trills this much thought, but the more I think about, the more I think you’re right.

From Memory Alpha ― “Common belief in Trill society holds that only one in a thousand Trills make acceptable hosts. In fact, this figure is vastly understated, and nearly half of the Trill population is capable of being joined. The myth is perpetuated very carefully, though, in order to avoid the widespread chaos which would arise if the information were made public, since the symbionts would become, essentially, objects to be fought over, as people fought to gain the few prized symbionts. (DS9: "Equilibrium")”

Nevertheless, we are still told that “Because there are many more humanoid Trills than symbionts, prospective hosts are weeded out by a demanding selection procedure, overseen by the Symbiosis Commission. (DS9: "Equilibrium") The competition for the few symbionts is fierce and attracts the brightest and most highly motivated of Trill society.”

First, this corrects Robert’s assertion that “All Trills CAN be joined.” They cannot; but what Robert probably meant was that all Trills that CAN be joined MAY do so. This means that it is only partially true that “everyone has an equal chance at a symbiont”. But it is still partially true.

Second, it shows that the Trill state quite simply lies to its population. Not about top secret treaty negociation clauses with an alien species, which might be quite understandable, but about the very nature of the Trills themselves. This is powerfull stuff.

Third, it shows that Trills are, quite simply, divided in an A Team and a B Team. Half the Trills can never join. When you consider the enormous consequences of being joined, you must also consider the full implications of this fact. In time, it is virtually impossible to avoid, for instance, that the symbionts are joined to a host who is the descendant of a previous host, thus granting half the Trill population not only access to many former memories, but also to the memories of their own ancestors. This is immensely powerful stuff.

And the “common belief in Trill society” of who makes “acceptable hosts” is hugely important, because it is symptomatic.

I had mentioned the very top percentile previously, but now I see that it is actually even fewer who are commonly believed to make acceptable hosts. As you all know, I seldomly make literal readings; and I can’t really take the “one in a thousand” seriously, because it’s so clearly a convention of speech. So I’ll be very generous, and allow it to be ― maybe ― just my original top percentile.

This is still a mere 0.1-1% of Trills that is generally believed by the population to be able to join. What does this really mean? Who are those very few who are entitled to believe themselves, and are generally believed to be by society, the only ones capable of joining?

Are they in fact an oligarchy of sorts? An elite of ultra-gifted, of whom the vast majority must be presumed to be born to the upper echelons of Trill society?

If it is not an oligarchy of sorts, how on Trill could an ordinary citizen ever get the idea that he or she might be in that percentile and make an acceptable host, and compete for the selection procedure?

Let’s consider what Paul suggested, and I briefly commented on. We know that some joined Trills have children ― half the Daxes had, and more would have if it were not for a couple of premature deaths, including Jadzia’s. Imagine what it must be like growing up the child of a joined Trill. You would grow up with the history of not only your lineage, but also that of others, and would thus grow up intertwined with Trill history. And you would have a rather unique insight into what it means being a joined Trill ― as close as possible without actually being joined. All other things being equal, would that not make you much more qualified in the selection procedure?

On Earth, children quite often follow in the footsteps of their parents. We cannot know that Trills feel the same way; but in DS9’s “Prodigal Daughter”, Ezri’s mother had her sons working for the family mining business, and their family patterns seem somewhat to resemble human ones. It would perhaps not be unreasonable to presume that some children might seek to emulate their parents. Yes, Ezri’s family didn’t seem too enthusiastic about her being joined. Was that because they had lived off-Trill for too long, perhaps? Or could it be that they simply belonged to a lower tier of society ― following the same line of thought that makes many factory workers on Earth dislike the idea of one of their children going to university?

Would joined Trills perhaps be more suppportive of their children wanting to join? And would children of joined Trills not have a considerably higher probabily of being accepted than others?

This is all of course purely speculative. I can only compare directly with human equivalents. But based on human elites, I do believe that we are looking at a caste here, at least in an embryonic state. Certainly one very important aspect of true aristocracy is present: history, and memories. So is excellency. Given enough time, wouldn’t virtually only children of joined Trills, and a few true geniuses, be considered acceptable hosts?

The only way to avoid this would be, as I wrote, to pass legislation prohibiting children or grandchildren (in any number of generations) of joined Trills of becoming joined Trills themselves. Without such measures, I quite honestly can’t see how the descendants of this ultra-elite would not, in time, virtually monopolize the symbionts.

Please note that this does not conflict with the one known provision regarding hosts:

From Memory Alpha ― “Trill law forbids reassociation between subsequent hosts of joined persons, whose symbionts were romantically involved in their previous hosts, and the people who the previous hosts were romantically involved with. This is because the main purpose of the transfer of symbionts is to experience new things in life.”

If the Trills developed a true symbiont caste, this would inevitably mean that at one point in future, a symbiont would join a host who would be perhaps the great-great-grandchild of a previous host of the same symbiont. For the symbiont, this new generation would still lead to “experience new things in life”. But the host would thus gain access to the memories of their ancestor(s), and would become the most stunning example of an aristocracy I have ever had the pleasure to consider. This is truly powerful stuff.

I doubt the writers who created the Trill symbionts had considered the likely consequences of their creation. To them, it was probably just a neat idea; but the likely consequence of it is that unless specific law is passed to reduce the rights of individuals, the Trills will at one point in time be ruled by a virtually hereditary caste of superior joined Trills.

Much the same way, the writers who created the cyclical Vulcan pon farr, probably didn't consider the full consequences of their creation: you can only marry 14% of the opposite sex, because your pon farr cycles must be aligned. Correct that for the previous generations who are bethrothed to each other at a very young age, and your options become very, very limited indeed. By introducing the pon farr, the writers introduced an element of biological determinism, savagely reducing the options of choice, to a whole species.

Much the same way, the writers who created the Vissian cogenitors introduced an element of biological determinism to another whole species, which savagely reduces the options of choice of a small minority of that species is the species is to be able to survive. The cogenitors quite simply cannot be given free choice, as it would disrupt Vissian society beyond belief. They are an extreme case of biology and sociology for whom ignorance truly is bliss, for all parts involved.

As we are increasingly beginning to understand on our own planet right now, biology matters. But I doubt that most writers of Star Trek episodes fully consider the consequences of their writing. As such, certain of their creations are akin to Dr Frankenstein's.

The Trill society is possibly the most elitist, least egalitarian society of any major Star Trek society we've seen; and it is so by force of pure biology.

The Vulcan society is surely the most deterministic of any major society we've seen; and again, it is so by force of pure biology.

And the Vissian society is perhaps the most deterministic when it comes to a small minority of the population. But again, it is so by force of pure biology.

Biology also matters in another way: if the Vissians were sentient jellyfish, and the cogenitor a different type of sentient jellyfish, I believe very few people would have a problem with their situation. And I repeat: if the cogenitor in this episode were all Colgate smiles, telling Trip how delighted it was to be able to help one family after another, we wouldn't have this discussion at all. But the writers understandably wanted something more dramatic, more controversial. So they gave us this, just to provoke discussions such as these we're having. I call it outstanding writing. But I also call it manipulative writing, of the sort I don't take too literally.

Are the Trill, the Vulcans, and the Vissians neat ideas with unthought-of consequences? Are these three species cases of Frankenstein's creature? I don't know, but I know that two of them are members of the Federation. And I know that Frankenstein's creature, in spite of its flaws, is kind at heart. How we treat it says more about us that it says about it.
Black_Goat - Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 3:07am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Babel

Babel: C+
Good:
- “Strike limits flame the dark true salt!” Colm Meaney has fun with those nonsense sentences.
- Quark is pretty great in this episode. His scene in the sickbay is a highlight.
- Odo’s defensiveness – “before I came aboard.”
- I like the Kira/Dax scene. I’m waiting for the first Dax-heavy episode to make final judgments about Farrell, but she’s not bad in small scenes, and the character is conceptually interesting. Sexuality must be a complicated issue for the Trill, what with all the past lives bearing down on the current one. This was touched on a bit in “A Man Alone”, and I like how Dax can’t quite resist male attention in this one.
- I like Odo being recruited to the bridge crew in the absence of anyone else.
- Avery Brooks is still pretty bad, but I did like the moments between Ben and Jake.
- I choose to suspend disbelief and pretend that Kira was reprimanded offscreen for kidnapping a doctor, but that was pretty cool.

Bad:
- This episode worked really well when it dealt with the light-hearted aphasia stuff, but as the virus spiraled out of control and the tone became more urgent, “Babel” slackened. I’m not sure the show has earned the gravitas yet to tell a compelling medical thriller; the episode might have been on the whole more successful had they stuck with lighthearted filler. The show takes on a darker tone, but can’t fully commit to it. No deaths from the virus? I know it’s network television in the nineties, but come on.
- Characters were affected by the virus in exactly the right order for plot convenience.
- It seems to me that Kira was too quickly able to identify and locate the virus’s creator. Too easy.
- No fallout for Quark (unintentionally) endangering everyone on DS9.
- Not a single member of O’Brien’s staff can deal with the sorts of maintenance issues he was being called upon to fix early in the episode?
- Insta-solution.

I actually liked this episode quite a bit more than the last – it was good fun at a number of different points – but there wasn’t much depth here.


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