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Alex
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Encounter at Farpoint

THE GOOD
Seamlessly establishing a new cast and setting is never an easy thing to accomplish in ninety minutes of television but EAF largely manages to achieve it – all the characters are present and correct and their personalities are for the most part as they would remain for the rest of the series. There are a few rough edges here and there (perhaps most notably Picard who comes across as much more stern and abrasive than his character would become in later episodes). But the core group are there, and performances are mostly sound (but more on that later).

Particularly engaging are the exchanges between Q and Picard. There’s an instant chemistry between John De Lancie and Patrick Stewart, one which would be maintained throughout the series’ run. Personally I’ve never been a huge fan of Q as a character but it’s impossible to deny that the relationship he and Picard share is both interesting and entertaining, particularly given that John De Lancie nails the character right from the off and plays Q with such relish it’s hard not to like. It’s only a shame that his interactions with the other members of the crew are largely restricted to cheap jibes and mockery.

The mystery of Farpoint is kind of interesting, if a little lightweight. But this episode is more about introducing the new crew than providing a thrilling plot. For its part it ticks the necessary boxes and I liked the idea of a city that is actually a shape-shifting alien being that is being held against its will.

The Doctor McCoy cameo is nicely done and well played by DeForest Kelly. It would’ve been very easy to take this scene down the ‘this is all very different to my day’ route but placing Bones alongside Data and having him compare him to Spock is a nice way of bridging the two series.

The effects are pretty impressive (for the time) and there are some nice shots of the ship and Farpoint station, particularly in the blu-ray version.

THE BAD
Firstly, it’s quite evident that they struggled to fill the ninety minute run time with the material they had. There’s so much filler here – Picard ordering Riker to perform a manual recoupling of the ship (for no obvious reason), followed by a long scene where we see the saucer section slowly re-dock with its other half, being the most egregious example. There’s also plenty of pointless dialogue – at one point Picard pulls Q up on his promise that their trial would be fair and even has data read the court transcript back to him, only for Q to brand it “completely irrelevant”. If it’s irrelevant then why not say so in the first place? And more to the point why do we waste time dwelling on it?

The editing is also painfully clunky – shots hang for far longer than they should and pretty much every scene feels bloated and drawn out. You can’t help but feel that the original planned run time of sixty minutes would’ve been more appropriate for the material and allowed for better pacing.

Secondly, some of the performances on display leave a bit to be desired. Denise Crosby’s constant overacting (particularly in evidence when she gives her “you should get down on your knees!” speech) is jarring, whilst Marina Sirtis is just plain tedious as Troi delivering her empathetic cries of “Pain! Pain!” and “Terrible loneliness!”. This isn’t a slight against either actress as they’re both better actors than this, as they would go on to prove, but you get the impression that with tighter direction they could’ve given a better account of themselves. As it is their time on screen often grates and, in the case of Troi, made me constantly want to skip to the next scene.

I could also have done without Wesley in this episode. It seemed a little odd that Riker appeared to already know him but not Beverley – presumably if he’d have met Wes before then he’d have met his mother? His scenes don’t add anything and just add to the already overly-long run time. He could easily have been introduced in a later episode.

As for the plot itself, it’s perfectly fine, but given that it’s supposed to be the ultimate test by which humanity can prove it has moved on from its savage ways and become a sophisticated space-faring race, it all seems rather simple and inconsequential. I figured out what was going on after the first scene with Riker and Zorn, and it stretches credibility somewhat that it takes Picard and his crew so long to do the same - Q even alludes to the simplistic nature of the puzzle at the conclusion of the episode. Now it’d be churlish to expect an intricate thriller of Crichton-esque proportions as a first episode, but the whole thing comes across as perfunctory rather than particularly smart.

RATING: ★★
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Alex
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 1:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Let He Who Is Without Sin...

Terrible episode. Nonsensical idea poorly executed. That anyone could even entertain the idea that the existence of a holiday planet could bring down the Federation is laughable. As is pointed out in the review - going on a holiday is a simple indulgence that I'm sure most species in the Star Trek universe enjoy. That's before you even get to the garish visuals, terrible acting and awful script (Worf's soccer story being a particularly bad example).

Have to agree that this is worth zero stars.
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James Alexander
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 4:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Blink of an Eye

this was my favorite episode of the series when I was little. I thought it was so fascinating watching an entire civilisation develop.
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James Alexander
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 4:41am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: When the Bough Breaks

BORING!
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James Alexander
Thu, Nov 16, 2017, 3:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

@Ubik
I absolutely adore Doctor Who and will get nerdy about it, but the previous show-runner has a record of using the Time War as an excuse to screw around with the lore. which is probably necessary when you have a 54 year old show about a time-travelling alien.

earth was supposed to be wiped out in the 2900s as shown by The Ark in Space? no problem. you can show a rebuilt earth in the 200th century, and then destroy it again in the year 5 billion, you just blame the Time War for the obvious inconsistency.
I can see why the fan-base doesn't care that much about making sense of the lore, when anything and everything can happen which contradicts the established lore so long as the writers have a handy excuse.
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James Alexander
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 4:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

I know I commented earlier but its a 7/10 for me if I have to use a scale.
it was a very pretty episode, and I finally started to give a damn about more characters, as well as not being annoyed with Burnham in the slightest.
rather I was too caught up in the drama to have a chance to get annoyed with anyone really.

the thing is I can't get over all the stuff we've put up with up to this point, I kept rewinding because I somehow didn't understand the Cornwell situation (which was admittedly my fault), and I still don't like Saru in the slightest.
I'll give it a seven, even though I'm getting really fussy with my complaints, but if the writers can improve on this level of quality I will go to an 8 or even a 9. and for another thing, please can we kill Saru?

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Alexandrea
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 4:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

If each episode must be an action blockbuster, at least we get a good one! Jammer nailed it on most points here.

I've felt uncomfortable with the portrayal of Tyler as a male with PTSD from sexual assault for the simple reason that we the audience know that his story is false, because we know that L'Rell was not in the place he describes for most of the time in question and suspect he is in fact a Klingon sleeper agent. There may be ways of resolving this contradiction that do right by the themes raised, but treating this trauma primarily as an expedient plot point, or ultimately showing the scene between him and Burnham to be based on something unreal, does the issue a disservice. We'll have to wait and see.

I would also very much like to see the bridge crew given character depth. We have a very thin cast on this show, so there's no reason we can't devote more time to *all* of our characters in lieu of all the stuff blowing up.

But at least the stuff blowing up had stakes and felt entertaining. I'm cancelling my CBS All Access until the show comes back, and I don't like how much it costs, but Discovery has managed to keep me on board.
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James Alexander
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 10:08am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

I found myself cringing when Stamets took that last jump.
Discovery finally got an emotional reaction out of me other than laughter!

I'm not kidding, this episode is the most emotionally invested I've been all through and I think I've started to care about Stamets.
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James Alexander
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 9:41am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

okay yeah, that was crap.
for me it wasn't any one thing, and I can't write you an essay about why I didn't like it, but it was borderline unwatchable.
I got through about twenty minutes and started fast-forwarding, because I was bored and wanted it to end.

@Karatasiospa
the reason I like some darker shows is because they take their ideas seriously, and they put their characters through tough situations. it isn't just because of darkness, but because of the opportunity for character work and also because it allows the upbeat moments to mean more to me.
I don't have a problem with Trek doing this so long as its done as well, and it has been before.

the episode of Galactica where they built the blackbird is one of my favorites because its a lighter and brighter episode after weeks of suffering and misery, and it actually gives that crew something to celebrate.
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James Alexander
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 7:40am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Jarvis, I think the writers were trying to be clever.
this is supposedly a set up episode before next week's blow-out, hence "if you want peace prepare for war"

the reason it doesn't make sense is because we've been at war since the pilot episode, and the pilot was the only good time to have a title about preparing for war.
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James Alexander
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 3:23am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

@skupper
"none of them are the good time fun girl who likes to give advice to everyone"

I know I'm being pedantic but I know guys and girls with Autism who are like it.
thing about Autism/Asperger's it gets all of us in different ways. I love to give advice and I'm always getting involved with stuff, but you won't find me at a disco because I'll have a seizure and have to be led back out.
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James Alexander
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 3:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

@ Paul M.
not trying to wade into an ongoing row but Tilly was literally the first character I picked up on when we were introduced to the show.

without getting all social justice-y I thought it was pretty cool that they bought on an Autistic character who can actually do more than exhibit repetitive behaviors and act sheepish around other characters. she's an actual character, not a severely uncomfortable stereotype, and I like that we get to see her act like a human being.

I would want to see more of her, not just because she has the same condition as me, but because I find her character to be quite quirky and bubbly, and she's just a lot more fun than some of the others.

she may or may not have been a diversity pick but the actress and the writers have made her more than just a token, and the one criticism I do have is actually her character development. Tilly needs an arc just as much as Burnham or Stamets, and we need to be able to see change in her by the end of the season.
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James Alexander
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

@Gul Densho-Ar
damnit!

I suppose I could wait for the next episode, and watch them back to back.
tolerate this then move straight onto the next one before I realise what I just watched.

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James Alexander
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 6:50am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

so the episode fell on its face in other words.
am I okay to skip this one or will I have to watch it for next week's finale?
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Alexandrea
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 1:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Cupid's Dagger

So all those times of our playing Yaphit's sexual harassment of Finn for laughs was buildup so that we could play Finn having sex with him while drugged for laughs?

Frak this show. My line is crossed. I'm done now.

If the comments thread needs to be full of "is it really rape?" then your show is doing it wrong.
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Alexandrea
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

@Skupper

Why does representation matter in television, you're asking? Imagine if every movie released in theaters starred lesbian Muslims with autism. Maybe there's a straight White guy in a bit part, but the deep characterization, the heroics, and the narrative substance always go to a particular category of person, and one unlike you. Hey, you have nothing against lesbians, or Muslims, or people with disabilities. Some of these stories are great, others not so much. But people who look like you, or have your cultural background, or your life experience? Sidekicks at best, maybe a villain sometimes, and when they do appear Hollywood gets your culture embarrassingly wrong.

You have no role models in film and no portrayals of people like yourself, or what portrayals do exist make you out as untrustworthy or dangerous. What does this do to your self-esteem? Your estimation of your life chances? And how does this affect others' perception of you when they meet you?

In our real world, neurodivergent people have poor representation in film, and you did not even know who or what they are. Have you observed that people tend to respond with with less trust to the unknown or unfamiliar? Can you argue that it does not matter if people are treated with less respect because differential representation in mass media renders them unknown, or familiar only in particular roles?

Martin Luther King famously asked Nichelle Nichols to stay on the original series when she was thinking of leaving, because she should not underestimate the importance of millions of Black girls seeing a Black woman in a professional role on television for the first time. Representation matters, and it matters on Star Trek more than most places, because supposedly we are seeing a future in which persons of any creed, nation, or ethnicity have equal opportunity to serve and to achieve.
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Alexandrea
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 12:25am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

The conversation over diversity and representation is an interesting one. I'm thrilled to have Black, Pakistani, non-straight, and neurodivergent characters on a show with a pretty small main cast. I can't side with criticism that discounts the significance of this diversity, but I can agree that the human crew feels very culturally American, and portraying both humanity and other species as not culturally homogeneous could benefit the show.

@Hank
I think we're making different critiques, but both are legitimate. I'm pointing out that Discovery values rapid movement of plot points over exploring depth in the themes it raises, and you're raising that the plot points in question don't even make consistent internal sense.
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Alexandrea
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

It's a shame Discovery can't develop its stories as well as its space battles, since we have a logical sci-fi premise. The Discovery begins losing against Klingon cloaking technology, so an away team has been sent to a planet with naturally occurring subspace "sonar" that could reveal cloaked ships if amplified. The planet's ecosystem turns out to be an interlinked intelligent life form itself, which built the organic technology in order to contact other worlds. A crew member begins valuing the inherent peacefulness of this planet above his mission, and conflict ensues. Meanwhile, L'Rell attempts to defect by posing as the captured admiral's interrogator and escaping with her, but instead is caught, resulting in her capture and the admiral's death.

The trouble is that the episode races through each beat more as a narrative shorthand than as a developed story in its own right. Trek fans recognize the trope of a crew member on a paradise planet inhaling the flowers (I truly hoped that Saru would start craving some mint julep tea) and so the writers (or editors?) believe we can rush the implications as a foregone conclusion. We don't get to know these Pahvans, and the episode doesn't seem to care if we do. Similarly, the trope of coming to understand your enemy is one that the show supposes that Trek can take for granted, so that they don't really bother to show us L'Rell and the admiral doing it.

The episode was short and evidently had scenes cut that might have addressed these issues. Does CBS not understand that it is streaming this show? Not all added length is good length, but it's not by accident that most popular serialized television has slowly crept toward longer episodes, not shorter ones.

Still, it's not only a problem in this episode. The writers seem willing to raise Trek tropes as a kind of narrative shorthand in service to plot points rather than as meaningful explorations. The tardigrade served as the Trek story in fast forward of coming to know a seemingly hostile creature as peaceful. Internal Vulcan politics? One of the strong points of Enterprise appears in Discovery merely as a contrived way to put Sarek in jeopardy. "You already know this jazz," the writers seem to wink, "so we're playing this tune in double-time so we can get from A to B." It's like we're getting skins of Trek stories without their substance.
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James Alexander
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Karl I understand that analogy completely and can relate.
part of one of my conditions is that my empathy is atrocious and I have no idea what anyone else is feeling. its like being either blind or clueless sometimes and I sometimes don't know how to act with it.
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James Alexander
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 3:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

oh and Data would have needed to be killed anyway because of Spiner.
I'm sorry to be a bit blunt but look at the state of him. Data/Spiner is now wrinkly, losing his hair, and is seemingly getting too big for his uniform.

I love Brent Spiner and I know he can't help being older, but he's been playing an android for 15 years by this point, a character who by definition doesn't age like us, and Spiner can't do anything about his own aging.
I think there was a reason given that Data wanted to explore aging, but I think its more likely that Brent Spiner aged out of the role.
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James Alexander
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

I can't remember much of the film before the big battle set-piece, and I think I'm okay with that.
the battle was one hell of a show, CG everywhere, two whopping great ships smashing each other to bits, that was amazing.
I do agree that its really annoying to have announcements about the shields all the time, but that might be because of how its delivered. (I don't remember complaining when Tuvok used to do damage reports on Voyager)

Data's sacrifice though goes from emotional to infuriating right when you realise that B4 is there because the writers didn't really mean it.
its Data, giving his life to save his captain, this is the big emotional moment where he does the most human thing of all, and its ruined by having a get-out clause in the form of another android.
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Alex
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 3:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Second Chances

Too bad we didn't get a Season 7 Thomas Riker episode.
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James Alexander
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 7:23am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Future Imperfect

"sir I can explain."
"no you can't! don't even try!"

I think that Riker biting Data's head off is what I'll always remember from this episode.
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James Alexander
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 7:13am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

I thought it was hilarious when Lorca kept being killed, although that might be my warped sense of humor.
he's so serious all the time and it was a perfect idea making him the butt of the joke.

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Alex
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 11:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Frame of Mind

This was always a favorite of mine. For once we get to see Riker out of his comfort zone! Also Data was very creepy as the asylum doctor.
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