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Diamond Dave
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 7:49am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Mortal Coil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@Adam @Jason R.,

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

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

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

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

This Logan character was a goof

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

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

I know this Logan fellow is a one-off , but they should have had LaForge relieve him of duty or something. I hated how they wrote this guy.
NCC-1701-Z
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 11:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: New Trek Series Coming in 2017

He also worked on Pushing Daisies too!
JC
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 10:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: The House of Quark

I got a good laugh out of Gowron and the council holding data pads and being subjected to Quarks financial explanations.
Dave
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 10:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: When the Bough Breaks

Like I said before, I still can not fathom how TNG made it to a 2nd season. Season 1 has a few nice ones, but over all is just a comically over-sexed rip off of TOG.

Gene, we all love ya, but if you stayed in 100% control of TNG it would have died by the end of S3 and we would have had no DS9, Voyageur or movies beyond maybe a Star Trek 7 wishing Kirk and Co farewell.
Jacob Fox
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Cause and Effect

I actually enjoy this episode but there is one MAJOR flaw in the plot that bugs me every time I watch it.

When the senior officers have first been briefed on the existence of the causality loop, they think of how to avoid it. Worf suggests that the Enterprise reverse course. Riker counters that reversing course may have caused the collision and Worf's idea is quashed.

Here is the problem with that, the change in course was prompted only by the knowledge of the existence of the causality loop. It could not have been suggested before the very first explosion and therefore it is impossible for the loop to be caused by reversing course. Therefore the simple and most rational course of action would be to reverse course, but no one other than Worf realizes this.
Wiggz
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 8:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Coming of Age

The premise of an entrance exam like this is such a huge plot hole. As someone pointed out earlier the inefficiencies of such a system, I as well, can't get over it. Once a year they take one "winner" of a small group from a large demographic and not test them the merit of how these exceptional candidates score universally. I look at some of the members of the enterprise and wonder how they ever passed that thing.

When I was a kid I thought they were all vying for early entrance into the academy or some kind of special track. As an adult I can only watch it if I find somewhere to air my grievance, however I realize now the similarity of the two story lines, that both the ship's crew and wesley were subject to a series of official tests and assessments with hidden meanings. Eases the pain.
Brandon
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 6:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: New Trek Series Coming in 2017

I'm actually even more excited by the quality of Fuller's work on Heroes. His screenplays for that show were some of the series' best, and even television's best in the opinion of some.

Man, I'm more stoked for Trek's future than I have been in years.
JC
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 5:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S3: The Search, Part II

This episode basically leaves the Dominion as not really an immediate threat any more, making all investment in the past three episodes completely worthless.
Dave
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 5:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Too Short a Season

The wrist slit was a scar from a ritual 40 years prior in the old negotiations. He was showing it to prove he was the real guy.

I don't think this guy was suicidal. He took the drug and it was working slowly, and he had a dose for his wife if it worked.

The problem was, when he was called to this hostage situation, he felt he need to atone for his past and be Mr Action Hero.. so he took the rest of his drugs and also his wife's supply. It accelerated the process so he could accomplish his goal, but killed him along the way.

I have no sense he was suicidal. He simply took the risk of death in order to be able to "fix" his problems from the past.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 3:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Random Thoughts

Starts off in look and feel like an early season TNG, but actually turns into quite an effective little psychological thriller. It explores some interesting and fresh concepts, even if at one point it looks like descending into a typical legal/courtroom episode.

It must have been an interesting challenge to come up with some disturbing imagery for a family show - and yet this succeeds with some genuinely odd images that certainly meet the bill, and I couldn't even tell you why. 3 stars.
Robert
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Cause and Effect

Oh God, what if somebody from the future is trying to tell us something pertaining to 47!!!
Mustang
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 2:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Cause and Effect

Great episode, and if anything, it explains why people see the same number over and over again during the day. It's all Data's fault.
Robert
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Duet

@Luke - Much better!!! :)

I look forward to your review on the next one, which I think is an overlooked gem and possibly a higher 10 for me than Duet by a hair.
Robert
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 2:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Year of Hell, Part II

"And that's without saying anything about what the hell kind of time paradox led to Voyager going back to Day 1 and Annorax 200 years?"

That's not what happened. Annorax is long dead, the ending is just showing you what happened to him. Erasing the timeship from existence means that his life played out differently 200 years ago. They were showing you his ending, but he's long dead by Voyager's time.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 2:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Year of Hell, Part II

Yes, this definitely ended up as something of a missed opportunity. I found this to be a bit slow and with some very odd characterisations - Janeway's obsessional behaviour comes across as particularly unsympathetic, as does Chakotay's apparent conversion to Annorax's point of view. And that's without saying anything about what the hell kind of time paradox led to Voyager going back to Day 1 and Annorax 200 years?

Anyway, we got a good action finale with some very pretty FX. It wasn't bad so much as disappointing with what might have been. 2.5 stars.
Ben Masters
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 1:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: The Doomsday Machine

"If you can, view the remastered version of this episode. The updated graphics adds amazing visual punch."

I've taken that recommendation and then some. I have seen through the remastered "Doomsday Machine" quite a few times, first from the standalone second-season remastered release, and then from the 2015 remastered full-series release, and it never ceases to amaze.
Luke
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 1:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Duet

Okay, truth time....

I'll admit that I'm actually kind of hesitant on giving my thoughts on "Duet". It's always been much easier for me to write about things I dislike as opposed to things I like. If I dislike something, I can go on for pages about it. If I like something, I often can't think of much to say besides "it's good." And I honestly cannot think of anything I dislike about this episode.

We finally get some of that wonderful Trek world-building I'm so found of (not the least of which is our first real appearance of anyone from the actual Bajoran Provisional Government - the Minister of State). We have an episode that's ultimately about tolerance and yet it never once breaks out the TTTT (Trusty Trek Two-by-four of Tolerance - TM by Luke, patent pending) to beat us over the head. The acting is superb from all involved (Nana Visitor delivers her best performance on the show thus far and Harris Yulin's is so powerful that words don't exist to describe how good it is). The scene where he breaks down in tears and finally admits the truth to Kira is an emotional powerhouse. I usually don't get choked up or outright cry (cause, you know, I'm a man and all) but one thing that often gets to me is when people show strong emotions like that; and it worked this time wonderfully. There's the second appearance of Dukat (always a welcome addition - even in later seasons when most people think his character went downhill) who hasn't appeared since "Emissary".

I especially loved one aspect of the Kira/Marritza exchanges. At first, he makes some good points about Kira and it seems like he is the calm, rational one (even though he's clearly a racist). Kira is just as racist towards Cardassians. Then we get his long, insane rants about how Bajorans are scum, unworthy of any respect. It's horrific, because all the while he does make those good points. No matter what is done the dead can't be brought back; the things that Darheel has done can't be undone. Even if Kira and Bajor got justice (even against the real Darheel) it would be little more than a pyrrhic victory. It's raw; it's brutal; it's utterly captivating.

But what makes "Duet" so amazing, for me anyway, is how gutsy it is. I have to hand it to DS9's production staff - it took a lot of balls to take a character who was essentially a Nazi concentration camp guard and present him as in this light - a character for whom our sympathies are marshaled. That's something that could have back-fired tremendously. But, they had a stellar script, a stellar story and stellar actors to pull it off.

One final thing I'll point out is how finely crafted the story is. Not only is this a story about tolerance and understanding; there's also political intrigue, an examination of the nature of evil, and the ultimate tragedy of Marritza. That's a lot to cover in just forty-five minutes. And yet it pulls it off wonderfully. Every scene clicks and is worthwhile - even Quark's cameo appearance (as it's really the only comedic relief in this otherwise intensely emotional episode; it allows the audience a chance to catch our breath and absorb everything that's going on).

"Duet" richly deserves all the accolades it receives. Even now, after having seen it multiple times, it still managed to be engaging. It is, simply put, a masterpiece.

10/10
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