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Jammer
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Command Performance

Being moved to Thursday was the plan all along, and so it should not be seen as a bad sign. The 6.6 million number, while less than the premiere, is solid. The test will be what that number is on Thursday in its regular timeslot. If it holds in the 6 million range on Thursday, I'd imagine they are in pretty good shape.
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Trek fan
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

PS -- I disagree with people asserting that the main TOS cast is acting out of character too much in these early episodes before we get to know them. The space phenomena that make our protagonists act out of character is actually a great storytelling device: It helps us learn who these people are in the course of dramatic contrast and conflict, as thoughts like "Kirk isn't like that!" leads us to form conclusions about what Kirk IS like. And so on.

So early TOS ends up "showing rather than telling" by allowing the characters to develop through their interactions with the main plot -- much more like modern movies do (including the Trek reboots) than the long-winded exposition of later Trek spin-offs, i.e. the long-winded speeches Picard is always giving about his values in TNG, especially Season 1. Sometimes the character speeches in later Trek spin-offs are good, but the speechifying ("I am Worf and honor is important to me") gets dull and many key character development moments (i.e. Data on the holodeck) often get relegated to B-stories which sometimes exceed but rarely intersect with the main plot, leaving the shows feeling strangely bifurcated into two unrelated plots or two plots which are poorly balanced (i.e. either the A-story or B-story is incredibly forgettable) or so poorly related that it's hard to remember they share the same episode space.
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artymiss
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Hunters

Janeway! I meant Janeway!!!
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Trek fan
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Man Trap

PSS -- And kudos to the whole "my ex is a salt vampire" subtext to the episode. That's a fun head trip: McCoy's sweet ex-girlfriend has died and been replaced by a rampaging beast. It's a snarky little piece of irony that is very typical of classic Trek; we may sometimes miss these fun little plot winks when we take Trek too seriously.
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artymiss
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Hunters

@Mertov

Mark is Janeaway's fiance surely? Also she doesn't have any children. With that in mind what Chuckles asks isn't that dense.

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Josh
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Precious Cargo

I am surprised at how much my take on the episodes is at variance with Jammer's take and I still think 11:59 from Voyager is the worst of the franchise but man he hits it on the nose here. This is definitely worth the zero stars Jammer gives it.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Command Performance

It was a planned change, though.

We've known for weeks (at least) that the Orville will air on Thursdays starting with episode #3. Does this change your assessment of this being "a bad sign"?





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Trek fan
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Man Trap

PS -- On second thought, I might give "Man Trap" 3 stars, mostly because I still find myself thinking about its implications -- the relationship between Crater and the creature, the creature keeping Crater alive to supply salt (we might assume the creatures died out after exhausting the planet's salt supply from both natural and animal sources), the implications of wiping out the last of a species, etc. This is good stuff. In analyzing and responding to reader critiques in my comments above, I've argued myself into appreciating this one more than I previously did. And even though many comments on these Star Trek episodes use the phrase "it raises more questions than it answers" as a criticism, I tend to view it more as a badger of honor: I don't *want* Star Trek to wrap up every loose end in a neat bow with some exhaustive explanation, as many of the later spin-offs tended to do, but to leave things a little messy in a way that challenges me to think. I believe TOS does that especially well: There's a real pulpy sense of risk and adventure in these shows even if "Man Trap" unfolds a bit slowly. And when we look at "Man Trap" as a Trekkian take on the Sci-Fi monster movie, rather than comparing it to Trek overall, I think we can appreciate what it's trying to do: Ultimately the creature is killed, but only after a debate in which people try sincerely to find compassion for it. And although the creature finds a tragic end after the briefing it overhears causes it (I'm avoiding gender pronouns since the creature appears both male and female in the episode) to panic and eliminate Crater, Kirk exhibits regret over having to kill it. That feels pretty Star Trek to me.
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Skoovle
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Proving Ground

I was thinking the same thing as 'lt. holman' above, as to why the Xindi would test the weapon out on Earth. As he said, maybe they needed to see if it would survive the journey, get past the defenses, etc.

But also Earth would have no way of knowing who had sent the weapon, so the Xindi would have nothing to fear. The Xindi didn't know that a guy from the future would tell Archer who sent it and why and that they were building another one, and had no reason to think Earth could figure any of that out on their own.

The last 2 episodes were pretty average. This one is a good one.

3 stars from me
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Del_Duio
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 11:43am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Command Performance

Just saw a commercial for this last night saying The Orville was being moved to Thursdays. I'm guessing a move like this (after 2 episodes!) isn't a good sign. That Sunday slot was really good.
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Chrome
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 11:31am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Command Performance

@OTDP

Seems like good news so far as long as the fall isn't a trend. "The Orville" ranked top 10 (#8) in its premiere week among regular broadcast shows in its opening week. It then fell below top 10 in its second week. Among its top contenders are Football, of course, "60 Minutes" and "The Big Bang Theory". It's still doing well for a Sunday night slot.
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Filip
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 11:30am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

I'll just go out and say it - I never was much of a TOS fan. Next Gen was the first Trek I saw and the one I grew up with. Don't get me wrong though, I love the original series, and especially the movies that came out of it, but when someone says Star Trek, my mind immediately goes to TNG. That being said, I can maybe give a more "dispassionate" review of the episode, and it was a mixed bag.

The biggest problem with it (as is the case with so, so many TNG episodes) is that it had too much going on for the time limit of one show, so everything was rushed, leaving potentially brilliant scenes never realized. As for the crews reaction to Scotty, it is fairly obvious that it was scripted in this way for the entire metaphorical payoff with old vs. new at the end, so I won't give it much thought. I've seen some really nice takes on that here in the comment section though(@SkepticalMI , I'm looking at you. Even though I am three years late to your comment).

Also, like many of you have said, the sphere itself didn't get much attention, and someone even said that if the show had been made nowadays, half of the season would revolve around it. Which, alongside the time limit each episode has, brings me to another problem with TNG, which is one-plot-per-episode scripting. So finally, it boils down to having two huge elements that could barely be explored enough in one episode, let alone having them both at the same time. Because of that, the episode feels like it didn't deliever (to me, at least). The Sphere wasn't explored (on screen), Spock wasn't mentioned to Scotty (because each episode erases the memories of the crew of the previous events it would seem) and so on.

As for the errors, a lot of you have already mentioned beaming Scotty and LaForge through the shield, but did anyone else notice that every time they put the Sphere's star on the viewer you could see space and OTHER STARS in the background? The second one is a minor mistake we all are used to by now in Trek, but I just wanted to point that out because I found it pretty funny.

What I found to hilarious is Scotty's reaction to Worf, especially at the end of the episode where he says goodbye to everybody and the way he looks at Worf after that you know that he's thinking "I can't wrap my mind around a Klingon in that uniform."
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Robert
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 11:29am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Old Wounds

@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi - I haven't watched it yet, no. I like the idea of what they are trying to do... but Seth MacFarlane's humor meets TNG doesn't sound any more delicious to me personally than chocolate and olives. That said, I'm not totally opposed, just watching the ratings/reviews and thinking on it. I do get that there are things it's doing well though.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 11:22am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Command Performance

The final ratings for episode #2 are here:

Old Wounds: 8.6 million
Command Performance: 6.6 million

Anybody has an idea whether this is good or bad news?

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Chrome
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Old Wounds

@Jason R.

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I was thinking of writing something similar, but I don't think I could've done it as eloquently. I might eventually check this out because my wife loves MacFarlane's humor and won't watch any ST besides the movies. But, I'm more excited about Discovery, especially after reading the published episode summaries that OTDP posted the other day.
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William B
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 10:44am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Flashback

I also like how at the end of the episode, when asked by Janeway if Sulu succeeded in rescuing Kirk and McCoy, Tuvok says "Not directly. We were forced to retreat to Federation space." So by "Not directly," you mean "No," then. It really sounds as if Tuvok is implying that this rescue mission somehow *indirectly* led to Kirk & McCoy's escape, but I can't imagine any way that would happen.

I am just sort of floored that so much incredible effort was put into the production side of things to recreate the Excelsior and the Praxis explosion and the uniforms and everything, and then it's messed up by the central plot being a pointless and nonsensical digression from what Sulu actually did in ST6. We can I suppose view it as a microcosm of Voyager's problems as a series.
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Trek fan
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 10:37am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Good early Trek episode, perhaps not among the best but entertaining nonetheless, and not just for the oddly shaped Kirk rock and creative Andrea costume or even for Ted Cassidy's fun guest turn as Ruk. This is good philosophical Sci-Fi, a foray into what it means to exist and to be yourself. And the final reveal of Korby, with Chapel's tragic loss and the pathetic self-explanation of "Korby," comes across as surprisingly affecting and poignant. I give it 3 or 3 1/2 stars.

Ironic that TOS gives us androids that actually look MORE advanced than Data on TNG supposedly 70 years later in the Trek universe. At this very moment, in 2017, we have androids (see that freaky prototype in Japan) that look and act entirely human. So Data's yellow/green skin and fake eyes on TNT is actually the more primitive design than TOS, where Roddenberry was probably just trying to save money by having androids who looked human. Very intriguing. Incidentally, we'll give Ruk a pass on "looking human," since he was designed by "the old ones" on Korby's planet centuries ago and presumably resembles them rather than human beings.

So all in all, this is a good introduction to androids for the Trek universe, although I personally find "I Mudd" in Season 2 more entertaining if not as thought-provoking as this one. "What Are Little Girls Made Of" also helps develop the TOS characters further, firstly giving us more backstory for Chapel in the only episode where she plays the central role. Secondly, we continue to learn about Kirk's resourcefulness (the methodical way he scraps out of an impossible situation) and the observant qualities of Spock in his budding relationship with Kirk.

And this show has one of the best mic-dropping ends in the Trek universe -- gotta love Andrea's response to being refused a kiss (snap snap) and Kirk's "Dr. Korby was never here" line at the end. And Korby's final monologue, railing at his own limitations as he realizes his lack of compassion/emotion makes him less than the perfect copy he had hoped, is affecting. Some of the cat-and-mouse games in the cavern feel a bit like filler, but the red shirt deaths are iconic, and the closing exchange between Kirk and Spock on the "half-breed" gambit cements their growing bond. Good Star Trek here.

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William B
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 10:33am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Flashback

I think that both the memory virus idea and the idea of revisiting Star Trek VI through Tuvok are worthwhile, and the episode manages to be moderately interesting by juggling the two. However, I don't really feel like the episode manages to synthesize the two into a single story. The closest is maybe that we can take the "memory virus" as being a kind of representation of the way interpersonal trauma passes from person to person, and so Tuvok is scarred by Valtane's death in a way that Valtane was scarred by...uh...a different death. I like that idea, and I particularly like that it seems that the virus tends to pass between people at the moment of a person's death, at a time when a person was already going to develop a kind of traumatic experience of seeing someone they know die. However, even that doesn't particularly follow from what we see in the rest of the Excelsior material. We hear how Tuvok's difficulties on the ship led to his quitting Starfleet, we hear how he didn't understand Sulu's actions but later did, but do we actually see how Valtane's death affected Tuvok (other than giving him this virus), and how *that* plays in with the other elements of the Excelsior saga? Does it matter that Valtane died in a Klingon attack because Sulu went off to try to rescue Kirk and McCoy -- especially when the episode otherwise seems to support Sulu's decision? As others pointed out, the episode feels like the tech plot is mostly a contrivance to get to the Excelsior stuff, rather than having anything to do with the Excelsior stuff...and then it takes over the episode's climax, so that it's what we really are apparently meant to care about the most.

I enjoy Takei here (though I agree that he maybe hams it up a bit too much) and it's nice to see Whitney too. And Sulu's speech about going to rescue Kirk & McCoy out of loyalty, in isolation, is particularly touching, and a great moment for Sulu's character, who doesn't get many moments. And yet -- I'm sorry to say, but (Ensign) Tuvok *was* right. It's not just that it's "against regulations," but it's frankly absurd for Sulu to try to fly to Qo'noS to rescue Kirk and McCoy who have already been extradited for trial for assassination of a head of state. Sulu's plan is to go to the Klingon homeworld, at the heart of their empire, take back Kirk & McCoy, then leave said empire, without being destroyed or stopped. And then *even if that succeeds*, given that the President of the Federation already agreed to let them go stand trial to avoid a war, Sulu would then either have to turn them back over to the Federation, where they'd be sent straight back to Qo'noS to finish standing trial, or Sulu would have to go rogue from all of Starfleet permanently, warping away from the whole of the Federation in order to keep Kirk and McCoy away from the arm of Federation law. This is a nonsensical plan, with no hope of success, to say nothing of the fact that Kirk and McCoy, it seemed to me, "agreed" to the President's orders and to go stand trial. The only way this could make any sense is if one ignores what actually happened in ST6, which seems to be pretty much what is expected, and it's very possible Brannon Braga, who professes himself to have very little love for the original series, hadn't actually watched it (as commented above, this apparently takes place over three days instead of several months). Even within the episode, Tuvok says at the end that the Excelsior had to turn back, which is an obvious result. I don't think this is nitpicking; nearly all the scenes on the Excelsior hinge on this fanfic interpolation of Sulu making a nonsensical decision that goes straight against the plot of the movie this episode is supposedly honouring *and* also doesn't make sense on the episode's own narrow terms. The philosophical discussions about 23rd vs. 24th century Starfleet also depend on this act of loyalty from Sulu (and his erasing it from the logs) is taken by Janeway to be representative of The Way They Did Things Then, which additionally gives serious weight to this crazy choice. This is to say nothing of the weirdness of Janeway talking about TOS ethics in contrast to her own, when she doesn't bother mentioning that, as a ship on the frontier without contact from civilization, she is much closer to the things she identifies with TOS-era. It's an irony that goes unacknowledged, and I'm not convinced Braga was aware of it (and highlighting Janeway's ignorance): the plot of literally the last two Voyager stories was about the Voyager crew foolishly taking huge risks to rescue first Janeway & Chakotay and then a baby none of them had any responsibility for, and so it seems that the only reason to make Sulu also foolishly risk everything on a rescue mission would be to point out that actually the Voyager crew are more like the TOS people than not, etc., which they don't bother doing. Even if Sulu's actions made any sense, it would be weird to base the entire episode around actions from Sulu that had literally no impact on the ST6 plot and which are revealed to be pointless anyway at the episode's end. I do agree, though, that it's great to have Tuvok be revealed to be the one who gave Sulu the tea that broke during Praxis' explosion.

Now, look, checking the transcript for ST6, Sulu does say that he's standing by to assist the Enterprise, and he defies regulations to lie for them later on in order to protect them. It's true that Sulu puts loyalty over regulations in that movie! That's part of what's frustrating -- there *is* this opportunity for this moment, albeit in a less cinematic way, but they rewrite it so that Sulu's actions make no sense so that we can get a more action-y sequence. And yes I'm glad to see Kang again, of course.

I'm going to go as far as to declare: given that the timeline of this episode makes no sense (with the time from Praxis' explosion to Kirk & McCoy's trial being days rather than months), Sulu's logs (as Janeway suggests) don't reflect any of what Tuvok describes, that Valtane was alive later on in the movie apparently (I haven't confirmed this myself), that in fact Tuvok's memory was badly distorted as a result of this virus, and that in fact Tuvok is misremembering everything of those events. Maybe he wasn't even on the Excelsior (since, as others have pointed out, the Excelsior was out in space for a long time).

I do appreciate the backstory for Tuvok, having a hard time with human society and rebelling against his parents by embracing his Vulcan heritage more fully, and that only later on he came to realize that his parents did want something specific for him. It's still unclear what it is that his parents did want for him, and why exactly Tuvok came to see working in the more multi-species, less logic-centred Starfleet as preferable to Kohlinar. Still, it's a nice little moment between Tuvok and Janeway.

The production values are top notch and the nostalgia factor does help this episode out. I'm just pretty unimpressed with the package the more I think about it. 2.5 stars for nostalgia, production values, and guest cast.
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William B
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 9:45am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Basics, Part II

The worst problem with this episode, I think, is the sense that nothing on the planet matters at all. This is maybe unavoidable given the set-up. It would probably be much worse if the crew managed to rub two sticks together and create an interstellar ship that could lead to them retaking Voyager. But it just shows the problem with this set-up. The draw of the cliffhanger to the episode (it's in the title!) is the crew being stranded, having to deal with The Basics, but ultimately they are going to be rescued by the three characters who aren't on the planet, who are doing the important work on the ship. That's why the story on the planet ends up going into a "can we work with hominids...can we have peace?" warmed-over nth-iteration story. It's not as if, in one episode, they are going to make a credible story about how to build and structure a community while stranded on a deserted island, I mean, deserted planet. Even if they could do a survival story of sorts, I feel like the scope is wrong. There are lots of survival-y Trek episodes (and television episodes in general, of non-survival shows) that feature a single character or a small group struggling with their situation, and can be effective. Resolutions is controversial but it worked fairly well for me, for example. But the draw of Basics is specifically supposed to be that it's not just a handful of people but the *whole crew* stuck on this planet, and on that particular promise the episode fails miserably. How would you organize a hundred plus people? How would they react to having been stranded because of the decisions of the highers-up? Would command break down, or would it become more deeply authoritarian? Or we could do some hominid bonding stuff and some scenes where they run from a dinosaur or something. It's not that fighting monsters and dealing with locals might not be interesting to deal with in a survival story, but here they aren't really used to tell us much about the crew; the closest thing comes from the Chakotay/Tuvok conflict over whether they should treat the hominids as potential friends or enemies. The result just feels like a lot of wandering around -- epitomized maybe by the scene where Chakotay et al. are running from the hominids, go into the cave, try to pass the monster for a while, and then after the crew comes and throws rocks at the hominids, they turn back, only after the monster has killed one crew member.

The only concluding beat that seems to follow dramatically from what the crew are doing throughout the episode is that Chakotay's saving the hominids means that the hominids are able to save the Wildman baby. My wife pointed out that in effect this is the result of the crew benefiting from the fact that the hominids don't mind sharing their technology, which is really very funny. Hey, does the crew have any responsibility not to interfere in the hominids' development or something? The question is not asked, and maybe that's for the best. I mean, the thing is, these are people with language, and so as a result they maybe have enough sophistication to be affected by an alien species being brought down by a gigantic ship flying in and leaving and then coming back and picking them up. Pulaski memory erasure procedure, anyone? Oh well, whatever. I'm being a little facetious here; the realities of the situation are such that total isolation isn't an option. I'm trying to think of anything to say about it, really.

On the ship: Paris' entry and that weird phaser thing is totally unconvincing as a way to retake the ship, especially because the fact that, you know, Culluh managed to successfully get a huge lot of Kazon ships to band together to take Voyager has already been forgotten. The Kazon lose the ship as quickly as they got it, this time from a tiny force, and it makes them look dumb, and makes the Voyager crew look even dumber for having lost to the Kazon. The Kazon take until near the end of the episode, after looking for a saboteur for a while, to seal off Starfleet voice commands. The computer apparently can count the number of people of each species but neglects to include Seska and her baby. Seska's death from...uh...I guess she died from the phaser attack thing?...is a weird, ignominious death for an inconsistent but sometimes interesting character. The revelation that the baby isn't Chakotay's, so as to get Chakotay (and the crew in general) off the hook from actually having to get it back, is a cheat.

The Doctor as counterinsurgent is great, and Suder's material is strong up until he gets shot. Even there, the Doctor's casual insistence that Suder can and should kill the Kazon to take the ship back seems to me to be a bit misjudged. From literally any other character I could see it, but shouldn't the Doctor be at least struggling with the Hippocratic Oath, which surely is made absolutely central to his program? I get that he's still Starfleet and all, and as such would recognize that there are circumstances in which violence is necessary, and that it's not like *he* is the one killing the Kazon, but he still seems pretty blithe about not just supporting but actively encouraging killing. But yeah, Suder's moral dilemma is really strong and we get some sense of what he was like in the Maquis. If only he wasn't killed at the end, and could be allowed to continue....

I think it's largely a failure as a follow-up to part 1, and as an episode in and of itself, though on the plus side the Kazon stuff is finally over. 1.5 stars -- just barely under 2.
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Yanks
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 9:32am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Command Performance

I enjoyed this episode.

It seems that those having a hard time with this series are evaluating it like it is trek. It is not. We wouldn't do that for FarScape, or BAB5... I just don't think you can look at this through that same lens.

The biggest issue I had with this one was the reason Alara "caved". She was so worried about what everyone thought of her she even went to the mess hall to announce her change in heart.

I loved the reality TV bit and all the neat new aliens.

Loved the opening. I like that it's a long one. TV had gone away from that. The visuals made me think of Voyager, but I couldn't place what sounded familiar to me in the music. Then I figured it out.... it reminds of of 'Seaquest DSV'.

Fun ride, getting better as we go.

Nice to see Ron Canada again.

2.5 stars.
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William B
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 9:20am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Basics, Part I

On second thought, I might go down to 2. As others pointed out above, that Janeway et al. seem to continue interpreting the "starboard ventral" as a nonessential system when it ends the possibility of autodestruct is another indication of how dumb this crew is. In fact after the second (or *maybe* third) attack on the starboard ventral they should have turned around; the moment they recognize that the Kazon are working together and are doing something they don't understand, they should have realized that not only were they going into a trap, but that they didn't know what kind of trap it was and were already being outsmarted. More to the point, Janeway has repeatedly said she'd blow up the ship (i.e. kill every member of the crew) rather than give up their technology, and the idea that they are risking the capture of the ship for that baby also never comes up -- doesn't Janeway's responsibility to prevent tech falling into Kazon hands count to her as a higher moral obligation than the baby, even if her crew's lives doesn't?

Really, despite Janeway's remarks at the beginning, they should have just let Chakotay go off in a shuttle, possibly with a handful of volunteers. Even that is basically throwing their lives away, in practice, but I do understand the idea that the baby is an innocent, etc. It's just so clear that Voyager didn't have much of a chance, and the only way this ep makes sense is if everyone was willing to die on the chance of saving the baby, which is implausible to begin with but could have made sense if it'd played out that way. The crew's ideas seem so puny in comparison to the threat, and it's only Paris coming up with the idea of getting the Talaxians at literally the last moment that even makes any sense. Getting reinforcements surely should have been step one?

I guess I'll downgrade to 2 stars.
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Jason R.
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 9:13am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Old Wounds

I have been debating whether or not to see this show. The premise is interesting, but my main hesitation is MacFarlane. I don't hate the man or his work. I have liked Family Guy at times and was even a fan of his offbeat Oscar hosting performance.

But there's no question when I watch his stuff, even when I enjoy it (like with sone Family Guy or American Dad) I feel dirty like there's this ugly film over his material and I feel soiled for watching it.

MacFarlane's characters aren't just irreverent or silly or parodies (like with Simpsons or Futurama) they're contemptible, even ugly. I echo Peter's point that MacFarlane's ethos is really the anti Trek. He takes something banal and really nasty in the modern culture, amplifies it and then projects it onto everyone, everywhere. It's not souless - it has a soul and it's vile and depressing.

Much of his work seems an exercise in persuading the audience that we're all as vulgur, vapid and empty as he is (or wants us to think he is). I also think alot of his stuff is straight up misogynistic, and that's not an accusation I make lightly.
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William B
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 9:05am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Basics, Part I

I guess central to this episode is the question of whether Janeway, Chakotay et al. were right to go after Culluh et al. for Seska's baby. It's maybe the most interesting question, and so it's a bit of a shame that it gets reduced basically entirely to Chakotay's internal dilemma. The two sides really are:

1. The baby is an innocent, who is the offspring of Alpha Quadrant species and thus doesn't count as an internal matter (so no Prime Directive issues preventing Voyager from rescuing it), and it's of Chakotay's blood (if not his consent) as well as Seska's, who was a crew member;
2. Voyager will probably get captured and destroyed if they go after it unless they get serious reinforcements or have a really great plan.

(2) is the obvious rejoinder to any desire to go after the baby, so much so that it should have been shouted loudly at Janeway and Chakotay. Does that mean that they absolutely shouldn't have gone back for the baby? I'm not saying that. In Resolutions, the thing that turned Tuvok around was that the crew *wanted* to go back for Janeway and Chakotay. It's not so much that the crew is a democracy, but if every person on the ship is willing to risk their life to accomplish a certain mission, which is morally acceptable, then it makes sense for the leader to be willing to allow the crew to take that risk. If the whole or even the majority of the crew were willing to take the risk of going into a trap to save the innocent baby, well, good hunting. However this gets largely written off by Janeway's "I'm sure you know that everyone on this ship will support your decision!" deal, which is a big leap. Are we really saying that the whole ship are willing to risk death for this baby? If they aren't, does it matter that Janeway and Chakotay make the decision for the whole crew? The chain of command, I guess, means that they do get to make that call, but at the same time, the responsibility of command surely means responding, in some specific instances, to those under one. I get the sense that Janeway and Chakotay don't really reckon with how obviously doomed their attempt to rescue the baby is. It's treated a bit simplistically to have Janeway pin the whole decision down to whether or not Chakotay wants to save the baby and then have Chakotay only consider his own needs as a result. It's true that the crew does come up with various ways of countering the Kazon threat, but I feel like they should still have realized that they wouldn't be sufficient against what is probably a genuine trap. At the same time, I do get point (1) and I understand it. [Nu-BSG spoiler: I have a lot of problems with the very end of BSG, but in comparison I very much appreciate that the show made clear the risks of going to rescue Hera and that Adama deliberately made it optional because of that reality. Because of the realities of Voyager's situation, I don't think that they could have dropped half the crew off, but even some indication that Janeway's "I'm sure that everyone will support you" was a justified statement for the large, undifferentiated mass of non-main cast crew members, that the majority did support maybe risking everyone for a baby for whom they and the ship had no direct responsibility, or at least that their wishes were considered, would have helped assuage my concerns a lot.]

Anyway, I'd say that this episode is a step up from the other "arc episodes" this year -- that includes Maneuvers, Alliances, and Investigations. Michael Piller is not a perfect writer by any means, but he seems to have a very good handle on structure and there is something about his episodes (even when misguided, as in Tattoo) that feels more in control than most episodes. I like that this episode does pay off the season's storyline and finds a specific emotional throughline in Chakotay's relationship with his father (which pays off Tattoo), the crew's knowledge of Kazon culture (which pays off Initiations), and the history with Seska. I think had the episode done a better job of showing the crew's loyalty to Chakotay rather than just having Janeway tell us, it would pay off Resolutions, too.

It's good I guess that the starboard ventral attacks went somewhere -- Kim says that they're going to sustain damage to secondary command processes, and it's damage to the secondary command processes that halts Janeway's self-destruct order. But I can't help but feel frustrated at how poorly designed these ships are. The auto-destruct shouldn't be so easy to take offline.

The Suder subplot really is a highlight; I haven't yet talked about Meld, but suffice it to say I really liked it, and I really like the material with Tuvok and Suder here. I find the scene with Janeway particularly effective, even if I roll my eyes a little at Janeway meeting with Suder over his aeroponics plan after they've already started into Kazon territory (not the time, captain!); the way in which Suder's good intentions quickly run up against his impatience and explosive emotional reactions and lead to him making small but still clear transgressions is heartbreaking to watch. He is trying, but anything that suggests disrespect triggers something in him, which in turn thwarts even his genuine efforts to do something good for the ship. I especially appreciate the way Tuvok tries to keep Suder on task without betraying his greater loyalty to Janeway.

In some ways, a cliffhanger is only as good as the resolution -- and knowing where things are going in Part 2, I don't particularly feel that the shock ending, with the crew having to fend for themselves without technology, is really earned, as a result. In fact Culluh's statement that it's fitting that the crew go without technology because they didn't want to share it is in some ways fitting, and the idea of the crew having to make do completely without is an appealing way of re-examining the basic setup of the premise; more in Part 2. I also think that there's some implication that it was Seska who pushed for the crew to be left alive (since she made some noises to that effect in some of her scenes earlier in the season), so I don't find Culluh's not killing them all to be that implausible.

It's an okay but unexceptional end to the season, with some problems. 2.5 stars.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 8:54am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Old Wounds

@ SlackerInc,

I can't claim to read his mind, but from that quote it sounds to me that MacFarlane is referring to the *structure* of the show: new plots each week, no long arcs, quasi-resets with the characters (maybe), and being able to even watch episodes out of order and have it still be ok. But he doesn't seem to be speaking about the *tone* of the show. And episodic can be anything from a sitcom to a cop drama, so by stating he wants the TNG/TOS episode structure that still leaves open what kind of show it will play as. To me his style is definitively comedy, even though he tries to push serious material in with it. But even comedies tend to include serious material, so that doesn't break the definition. Having seen some of MacFarlane's work (not all) it seems to me that his pieces never stop being comedies. No matter how hard he tries to have the 'serious factor' cranked up at times, the context of the piece being basically silly seems to never go away. He basically can't not write comedy, and that's fine, he's a comedian. Nothing wrong with that, I only mentioned it because I really, really don't see the Old Wounds as a dramedy. I haven't seen the 2nd ep yet and am debating whether I should, but I'd be very surprised if MacFarlane weaned himself off of writing comedy scripts. To be honest, it would play to his weakness if he did, as serious material isn't what he's got in him to portray in my opinion. He's better off keeping it a comedy show.
Set Bookmark
N
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 7:39am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S1: Command Performance

The score's certainly impressive in its bombast, but in this ep I found it overemphatic and intrusive at points - almost telling you what to feel rather than effectively and appropriately underscoring what's happening on screen.
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