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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.

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+
- “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.

- 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.

Skeptical - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 10:57pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S2: Persistence of Vision

The question of the quality of this little Bronte-esque holodeck novel is irrelevant. It could be the greatest work of literature imaginable, and it still shouldn't be included in the episodes.

Imagine, if you will, that you bought a novel, say, The Adventures of Joe Schmoe. A couple chapters in, the character Joe Schmoe picks up another novel, say, The Tale of Bob Mcgoo, and starts to read it. So for 5-10 pages or so, you are forced to read the fictional Tale of Bob Mcgoo instead of the Adventures of Joe Schmoe like you wanted to. Then Joe Schmoe's phone rings and it goes back to him for a few chapters, but then he starts up Bob McGoo again.

Does this sound like a book you would enjoy? It doesn't matter what the plot of Joe Schmoe or Bob Mcgoo is; it's ridiculous to try to read a story within a story like that. Oh sure, there are ways that it works out: Joe Schmoe is just a framing device and Bob Mcgoo is the real story, the themes of Bob Mcgoo parallel the themes of the real Joe Schmoe story, the plot of Joe Schmoe reading Bob Mcgoo is highly relevent to the story, etc. But if it's just because the author of Joe Schmoe wanted to tell the Bob Mcgoo story at the same time, it won't work.

And that's what we have with Janeway's holonovel. Ask yourself, do you know what the plot of any of Dixon Hill's adventures were? No! TNG just tossed a bunch of film noir cliches together and called it a day. It was used to introduce us to the holodeck (Big Goodbye), comedy (Manhunt), and to provide the theme of the story (Clues). We weren't supposed to care about the plot itself, and Picard certainly didn't carry a mystery novel across multiple episodes just to fill time. For all of TNG's many uses of the holodeck (and DS9 as well), none of them were to tell an alternate story for THAT story's sake. At worst, it told an alternate story using Trek's characters (like Our Man Bashir or Fistful of Datas).

That was why Janeway's holonovel is dumb. If you need to just show her relaxing, fine, do that. But do it quickly with a few cliche scenes, don't try to build up the whole dumb plot. Because we don't care. Nor should we care. If Jeri Taylor wanted to write a story about a British governess and a maybe-ghost mom, then she should have done it on her own time, not shoe-horned it into Trek. And I would feel the same way about any other holodeck storyline that just focused on the crew member acting out a play for its own sake, not for the sake of a greater episode.

But whatever, time to move on.

I'm kinda the opposite of Jammer here. The first part seemed to drag to me, but the latter half was great. Part of the problem is, looking back, the first part doesn't make as much sense as it should have. What was really happening? Was the alien just trying to make Janeway go insane first in order to get her out of the way? Or was he calibrating his psychic abilities? I don't know, I guess either story makes sense. All I know is, the paranoia of Janeway having hallucinations like that feels like something that we've seen before. The latter half, the war of wills, was new.

I like that they showed quite a few of the hallucinations from different members of the crew. It was cool to see Tuvok be one of the first people to succumb; one would expect him to hold out more. But his role as security officer meant he was probably more concerned with what was going on the screen than most, and thus fell first. I liked that Chakotay disappeared off the bridge filled with purpose, but never made it out of the turbolift. I liked seeing how Janeway and Paris tried to avoid their hallucinations, and did well for quite a while. And then Torres... well, that one seemed to come out of nowhere, but everyone else's temptations were fine.

I liked that Janeway ultimately failed. She wasn't telepathic or whatever or any more powerful than anyone else on the ship. The "iron will" idea is hard to believe, and seeing her human works better.

I liked Kes and the Doctor's team up. Seeing two people not used to technobabble have to deal with it was a nice tough, and it was enjoyable watching them awkwardly fuddle their way through it. And while it might get annoying seeing the Doctor constantly save the day, well, that's the price you pay for a character like that. The same thing happened on TNG with Data. And anyways, the back and forth between Kes and the alien was fun. Sure, we could assume that all her visions were not real, but you could see how Kes might be tempted. And the sores... yow! That was well directed. It got me to jump.

I like that nothing got resolved. I like that the crew nearly lost and had nothing to show for it. They are supposed to be isolated, alone, and stuck in a dangerous environment. If they could nearly all turn into zombies by this one person, and can't even catch him at the end, how are they going to survive? I think it fits the tone of the episode, providing even more paranoia. Would he ever come back? Would they have to live in perpetual worry that they will suddenly become zombies again? Of course, it's just a reset button, but still. Ignoring that, the end worked.

That said, the reset button did annoy me a bit. Neelix's comments at the beginning suggest that this was a pretty large expanse of space, and that lots of ships had trouble. So... is this a whole race of troublemakers? Or just one sociopath? If so many people were worried about this area in space, wouldn't this guy try again to prove himself? A part of me wished that this guy would have eventually been revealed as an Ocampa, as that might explain why Kes could reflect it. And it might have made the revelation quite dramatic and shocking. I don't know, it's just an idea. Either way, something more interesting should have happened in a follow up.
Skeptical - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 10:55pm (USA Central)
Re: VOY S2: Tattoo

The smug sanctimoniousness of first season TNG meets the smug sanctimoniousness of Pocahantas. There's a combination I didn't need. Yeah, I'm with the "this is ridiculously racist" crowd. Combine that with lame flashbacks to a backstory that provided absolutely zero surprises and provided zero drama, and this is probably the worst episode of Voyager so far.

And besides how insulting the plot is, just how stupid is the Voyager crew? So everytime they try to beam down or take a shuttle down, a storm appears, and they never suspect hostile intentions? Any particular reason why Tuvok missed that little logical step? After all, it never happened before, so to claim the transporter is causing the storm is completely absurd. An alien presence watching them is just as logical. Why did it not enter their mind? I guess for the same reason a hawk randomly attacked Neelix. Durn the details, full speed ahead! Who cares if the plot makes sense?

I don't even want to talk about the main plot. I was surprised to see a few people cheer the Doctor subplot. I mean, yes, he's a joy to watch as usual. But didn't everyone see exactly what was going to happen with that plot as soon as it started? It was about as derivative as possible. Of course he would start arrogant about his ability to cope at the beginning. Of course it would get worse over time. Of course by the end he would learn his lesson and be a massive complainer at the end. And of course his friend would be the one to provide a little twist. I mean, as a subplot, it's ok, but I'm not sure why it's so praiseworthy.

On the plus side, I'm starting to get the feeling that Heroes and Demons last year was an aberration. I complained then that the Doctor seemed way too sentient and human in that episode, far more than he should have been. Since then, though, his character has been toned down and feels a lot more like just a program. This is as it should be. I like him feeling like he is fine the way he is, that he isn't human and doesn't feel the need to grow, and has to be pulled into it by Kes. I'm glad to see I was a bit wrong about my rant in H & D.
Impulse - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 5:37pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S4: Little Green Men

Watching all star trek and enjoying it immensely. I watched up to season 3 when it first aired, so glad to pick up not having to wait for the next episode.

I liked this episode overall especially the historical connections.

I did feel that the time travel method was unbelievable taking into account Roms skill and a ship they flew for the first time. I found it even more unlikely they could return to the exact day they desired with absolutely no side effects. Surely if time travel could be controlled so easily, they could simply decide to time travel again to the past and give advanced tech to the Ferengi (or even check gambling numbers like he suggested in a previous episode).

Quark could go back in time and leave himself a sports almanac lol.
Robert - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 1:00pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: A Man Alone

"So Bashir is a forensics expert as well? I guess in the future all doctors are omnidisciplinary."

It's funny that you pick up on that... looking into the future I really get why you think this is weird, but it fits him for multiple reasons. No spoilers though!

"Certainly the weakest episode so far, and a poor first outing for Odo. There were some nice beats, but mostly the story felt lazy. However, I suspect that there are worse DS9 episodes to come, just as I suspect that “Emissary” and “Past Prologue” are not the show at its best."

There are certainly worse this season, but the 2 final episodes this season are in my top 20, and there's a lot more good to come too :)
Robert - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 12:55pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

"And they're just so goofy. "

You probably don't want to watch Star Trek 7 then, the movie where they were one of the primary bad guys :)

In either case, welcome to DS9! If you make it through to episode 19 I guarantee you'll like it!
Black_Goat - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 12:32pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

@Robert - I kind of suspected as much. Understandable on DS9's part, but unlike the Picard appearance in 'Emissary", the sisters didn't add much for me. And they're just so goofy.
Black_Goat - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 12:30pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

Black_Goat - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 12:28pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: A Man Alone

A Man Alone: C-
The Good:
- Some nice continuity: We know from “Emissary” that DS9 seems to operate mostly under Bajoran law, which would explain why Odo can’t arrest Ibundan, since he’s already been freed on Bajor.
- The domestic stuff between the O’Briens is cool. Keiko isn’t played by the greatest actress in the galaxy, but it was a sweet subplot. Working Quark’s brother was amusing.
- Rene Auberjonois is probably the best actor on the show. Even with a relatively weak script like this one, he makes Odo’s most interesting qualities palpable. Here we see the character’s rigid notion of justice, his loneliness, his sense of purposelessness should he lose his position aboard DS9. Odo is not very nice, which helps to explain why he was an easy scapegoat. Also, he regenerates in a pail.
- Quark and Odo are a fun pairing, and I liked their later scene as well. But having Quark explicitly defend Odo to the Bajorans felt a little out of character from what little I know of Quark at this point.

The Mixed:
- Not a flaw of this episode in particular, but I’m beginning to wonder when we’ll hear more information about the Gamma Quadrant. Who lives there? Are there ships passing through the wormhole from that direction? Has trade commenced?
- I’m liking the Sisko-Dax friendship, but these two performances are still the stiffest of the lot. I do want to know more about the life cycle of the Trill, however.
- Jake and Nog’s shenanigans. I know enough about Trek to know how poorly Wesley Crusher was received on TNG, so I’m actually pretty interested in what this show will do with Jake. Since he doesn’t have the same poor reputation as Wesley, presumably they either get things right (in terms of writing for a kid) or he remains a minor character. In any case, I’m glad he has a friend, but the scene where Keiko proposes the school and Sisko confronts Jake ends awkwardly, with Sisko kind of…lurching?...out of the shot.

The Bad:
- Not a fan of the teaser or the subsequent scenes between those two characters. Love-struck Bashir isn’t too interesting yet, and Terry Farrell is still finding her way with Dax. The bubble game irritated me; did you get that it’s from the FUTURE?
- So Bashir is a forensics expert as well? I guess in the future all doctors are omnidisciplinary.
- I don’t like how anyone can access information via computer. For example, when Odo examines Ibundan’s room, he is immediately able to see the murdered man’s personal itinerary. Important, perhaps, to the investigation of his death, but there seems to be poor information control aboard these ships.
- Sisko tells the mob he won’t comply with their demands to remove Odo from office, and then immediately complies with their demands to remove Odo from office. It’s not so much that his reason for doing so doesn’t make sense, he was just inconsistent.
- The whole mob sequence fell pretty flat to me. It makes the civilians aboard DS9 appear medieval that in the span of a few days they are bloodthirsty enough to execute a man only suspected of murder, and the scene had little dramatic tension. People shouting ‘shifter’ and ‘freak’ is more humorous than threatening. I can understand some resentment toward Odo for enforcing Cardassian rule, and it’s certainly a point I want explored, but that was never really brought up during the mob scene. Odo’s isolation among the stations’ denizens is probably a fruitful topic, just not in this episode.
- Bashir figuring out the clone thing and Odo’s final confrontation with Ibundan were rushed and infused with a little too much technobabble for a Trek novice like me. Ibundan is reduced to a very thin antagonist, whose only motivation is revenge on Odo.

Certainly the weakest episode so far, and a poor first outing for Odo. There were some nice beats, but mostly the story felt lazy. However, I suspect that there are worse DS9 episodes to come, just as I suspect that “Emissary” and “Past Prologue” are not the show at its best.
Capitalist - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 11:11am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S7: Natural Law

Sean - "Also Borg don't trip."

Thank you!! That whole scene took me right out of the episode (not that there was much going on there anyway).

We see Seven tripping, hair all disheveled, falling on her face, dropping the tricorder, sitting on a rock looking all forlorn and shivering...

Really? REALLY???!!!!

Is she a teenage valley girl lost in the woods or a freakin' BORG?? They made the best badass on the series look like a damp dishrag. Talk about lack of character consistency.

K, I'm over it now.
Yanks - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 9:28am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

Welcome Black_Goat. Looking forward to your comments.
Filip - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 9:23am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S4: Hard Time

An interesting concept, however, flawed from the start because of the choice of its protagonist - a series regular.

That being said, it was obvious from the start that O'Brien would fully recover from the experience. I am not saying that the episode was bad, or that Mr. Meaney did a bad job - quite the opposite actually. But it is hard to believe that a person who had the same experience would ever be remotely the same again, the more probable scenario would be that he'd go mad and not be fit for duty or any life in a civilised society at all.

Had it had a guest star as its protagonist, someone who wasn't essential for the series, and made him never recover, it would've made much more sense. But then, who would watch an entire episode about someone who we see for the first and only time?
Robert - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 7:11am (USA Central)
Re: ENT S2: Cogenitor

"Think of what I wrote of selective breeding. Don’t you believe that the children of joined Trills, whose parents were already in the very top percentile of society, will have childhoods with possibilities of learning far above the average children? "

I do see your point to some extent. But do all the best and the brightest want a worm? I mean, Ezri's family seemed to slightly disdain the idea of joined Trills. Jadzia and Arjin were incredibly bright and both failed out.

Since having a symbiont put in changes you, I'd hope that some of the best of the best don't want them and still have kids. And regardless our leaders now who earn (instead of inherit) those leadership positions still get the advantage you speak of (like Chelsea Clinton for instance). Not even to mention that Wesley gets to serve on a Galaxy class starship because Captain Picard has the hots for his mommy.... how did THAT look on his resume :)

I just think it makes a difference to me that anybody CAN earn the symbiont, even if they are less likely to.

"What is more? “your name and your property”? Is this more? To a Vulcan, perhaps. But what if you believe in God? "

While I understand your point that losing property is not akin to being shunned in the eyes of your God, unless the planet is a theocracy (like maybe Bajor), one cannot really blame the world government for the actions of individual religions. We'll have to judge the world on the basis of it's laws I'd think.

But yes, to a Bajoran not being allowed to remarry in the eyes of God might be a great deal worse than losing some property.
Robert - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 7:02am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Timeless

I'm always one to question Janeway's command decisions but....

"KIM: The benamite crystals at the heart of this engine have already started to decay. It could take years to synthesise more. I don't know about the rest of you, but I didn't do all this work just to be stopped by a point four two phase variance. No offence, Captain."

"JANEWAY: It could be our only chance to use the Quantum Drive.
CHAKOTAY: True, but if you showed this data to any Starfleet engineer, they'd think we were out of our minds. We can find another way home. We've waited this long."

The episode seems to establish that the slipstream tech is a limited time opportunity. It's entirely possible they dismantled it and then spent years synthesizing more crystals and reviewing data for another attempt, but that Janeway didn't want to risk it again given what "happened/didn't happen" last time.

I suppose they could try to open up little jumps, but we're not even sure that they can. Maybe they little crystals can't open up 8 little 5 year slipstreams, and the 10 year jump almost got them killed.

I guess my point is that I'm just accepting that there's a good reason they can't make a bunch of little 3 year jumps that they don't have time to discuss on camera.
Robert - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 6:40am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

@Black_Goat - You said you were not a Star Trek fan, so I'm not sure how much Next Generation you've watched. In case you were not aware the Duras sisters were recurring antagonists on Next Generation and their inclusion was a marketing ploy to get TNG fans to watch DS9.

Likewise when you see Q and Vash in a few episodes, same deal :)
darkheath - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 3:47am (USA Central)
Re: TOS S1: Miri

Just watched this episode. I, too, was annoyed by the whole unnecessary "duplicate earth". And also pretty annoyed that the entire crew left their "cell phones" when they walked out of the room. Really?!?!

But other than those two things, I liked it overall. Though there were times they didn't ask questions that I thought they should. Also… seemed like the Doc would have been more involved with things, but perhaps I'm nitpicking now.

That said… I seem to remember running into a bunch of kids like this in Fallout 3 (or maybe New Vegas). Not sure if it was a direct homage to this episode, but I found it interesting.
Jack Bauer - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 1:54am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S5: Timeless

Just watched this ep over at streamup.com.

"The Slipstream lets them travel 10,000 in a matter of minutes and Janeway orders the damn thing taken apart! I could almost hear the log entry: "If the crew can't get us home in one big jump, then I'm not interested. Its the principle of the thing!"

This is exactly what I was thinking. Why couldnt they make little jumps at a time? 3 star ep from me.
Black_Goat - Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 1:33am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

Past Prologue: B+
The Good:
- Garak is excellent, and I already know that we’ll be seeing more of him. He’s a wonderfully quirky character, and as morally ambiguous as the rest of this episode. I do wonder why he approached Bashir of all people (other than the fact that Bashir is a regular). Perhaps he sees that Bashir is full of enough self-importance to be easily manipulated.
- I’m liking Bashir, though he’s almost too bumbling at points – unlike “Emissary”, this episode didn’t showcase his medical skills to balance out the naïve fluttering. But that first scene with Garak was funny, as was the follow-up where he tries to convince the bridge crew to wire him.
- Odo. His nostalgia for the simpler days under Cardassian occupation, his inability to fake pretense, his basically straightforward way of handling Kira’s indecision – this is a character I’m growing more and more interested in.
- And speaking of Kira, this was a great episode for her. The conversations with Sisko, Tahna, and Odo reveal a certain degree of guilt about working with the provincial government of Bajor and the Federation, but I like the argument she makes about still fighting for her people, just in a new way.
- The whole plot really fit together rather neatly. Tahna is manipulating Kira while working with the Klingons, who are planning on betraying him to the Cardassians. Garak, somewhat fascinatingly, plays both sides of the fence by roping in Bashir, which allows Sisko to apprehend Tahna instead of the Cardassians. Sisko and Odo test Kira, who decides to betray Tahna. I enjoyed guessing who would end up playing who.
- Thematically rich episode, dealing with the delineation between warfare and terrorism, past and present, duty (to one thing) and duty (to another). Going back to “Emissary”, I might argue that Kira’s decisions in this episode validate some of the stuff Sisko says about pursuing the unknown based on our culminated experiences; she knows that the actions of the Kohn-Ma are no longer viable so she chooses to go with the Federation.

The Mixed:
- Tahna is pretty good in the earlier parts of the episode, and I like the ways in which he tests Kira. Even his eventual goal of destroying the wormhole is understandable. But it was probably a mistake on the writers’ part to let him start slapping Kira around; that very quickly burned away my sympathy for him and eliminated some of the episode’s moral ambiguity.
- Avery Brooks was better in this episode, although he was given less to do. I’m enjoying Sisko’s relationships with Kira, Odo, and Bashir, but Brooks is just so stiff, physically, in certain scenes, and some of his deliveries are quite wooden.

The Bad:
- The Klingon sisters were pretty goofy and awful, though functional within the plot.
- The chase sequence at the end was weak, and poorly edited to boot. I was confused as to what was happening at the end in regards to the wormhole and the bomb.
- Little follow-up to certain aspects of the pilot, especially the religious ones.
- Jake and Quark were no-shows this week, while Dax and O’Brien were given little to do. This is certainly understandable given the show’s large cast, but it’s still disappointing.

Black_Goat - Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 11:09pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

Hey all. Not much of a Star Trek fan, but people have been telling me DS9 is up my alley for years, so I've decided to finally give it a go. I thought I'd post some thoughts and a grade for each episode as I go along, since this seems to be a good site for that. Remember, I haven't really seen much other Trek (watched a few TNG episodes and it didn't do much for me), though I have a layman's knowledge of the universe and its characters. Hopefully I'll still be able to enjoy DS9: I'm a sci-fi fan generally, and the serialization and character focus that I've heard this show possesses appeals to me.

These are just my opinions. I'll do bullet points, good, mixed, and bad, although I'm sure some will get lengthy. I won't hold the special effects against the show, as I understand that it's from the early nineties :)

Without further ado,

Emissary: B+
The Good:
- Strong introduction to most characters; the ensemble seems diverse and interesting enough to handle many different stories. Standouts include Kira, Odo, and Dax.
- The political situation vis-à-vis Bajor and the Cardassians is immediately compelling, especially as embodied by Dukat. More broadly, the premise of the show has lots of things going for it: Religion, wormhole gods, post-occupation governance, etc. As a Trek virgin, if the religious aspects of this show go against things established in other Treks, it probably won’t really bother me as long as it’s interesting, since I have no frame of reference.
- Much of what occurs between Sisko and the Prophets is interesting; particularly their childlike innocence as to the nature of linear human progression.
- “Domestic inquiry” – some cuteness between Sisko and his wife.
- Kira commanding DS9 against the Cardassians.
- O’Brien and the computer. They’ll have to have a talk.
- Sisko and Dax; nonromantic friendships between male and female (kinda?) characters are cool.
- Kira and Bashir, where the good doctor basically calls the Bajorans provincial – one of the great things about ensemble shows is to see how different characters work when paired together.
The Mixed:
- Ben Sisko. There are many times in the episode where Avery Brooks’s acting is less than ideal; he often seems overly mannered in a way that Patrick Stewart – who himself plays an intentionally mannered character very naturally – does not. The prologue was much less affecting than it could have been because of this. A few bizarre moments, especially his little yelp on the beach with Jennifer. Yet there are moments where he transcends, particularly during his talk with the Prophets. I enjoy that he is neither overly brooding nor particularly bitter; rather, he is a good man thrust into a situation he would rather not be in (commanding DS9), and then another (being the titular Emissary).
I was surprised that his arc of overcoming Jennifer’s death was seemingly resolved so quickly, but his final scenes in the wormhole were effective, where he comes to grips with his halted existence, were effective. Also good: His scenes with Picard and Quark, the latter of which shows the character’s pragmatism. Both scenes with Picard worked for me: Sisko’s imprudent anger, Picard’s disgust, and their accord at the end.
I do wish the episode had featured more of his response to being told by the Opaka that he is essentially destined to become the savior of the Bajorans – a people he is not at all acquainted with – via finding the orbs and their holy realm.
- Which leads me to my next point. Bajoran theology is interesting if not jaw-dropping, and I suspect there is more to these eight Orbs than is explained in this episode, but all the information that has been conveyed so far seems a bit rushed, especially because the discovery of the wormhole beings would presumably be an incredible theological milestone for the Bajorans. Also underdeveloped: the Cardassians’ reasons for wanting to make contact with the Bajoran Prophets. Hopefully these things are explored more fully in future installments; follow up is good!

The Bad:
- A lot of pretty boring technobabble, but I knew this was coming.
- That scene where Sisko and Dax experience different realities on the wormhole-god-planet is pretty painful; Avery Brooks is further brought down by bad dialogue and the attempt at humor is lame.
- The Cardassian commander (not Dukat, the other one) is extremely overacted.
- Jennifer is okay when she is a manifestation of the Prophets, but the actress is as stilted as Avery Brooks during his vision of the beach.
- Probably the Sisko-wormhole alien segment drags on longer than was necessary.

In short, some excellent world-building and character introductions, and the initiation of themes that I hope the show continues to explore (I especially like Sisko’s assertion that the crux of human existence is the unknown). Brought down a bit by under-explained aspects of the show’s universe and some mediocre acting on the part of guest stars and, unfortunately, the lead.
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