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Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 7:55am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Firestorm

Very enjoyable episode! The tension was palpable, the score chilling, and the resolution unexpected but fitting. I love Bortus' comic relief, like walking in the holodeck "Am I early?", and when he left the ready-room feeling vulnerable when everyone knew his fear. The shot of Alara going to sleep was a sweet TNG touch to end it, as well.
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Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 1:29am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go


Thanks for the Review!
I’ll join the consensus by stating that that was the best episode of Discovery to date!
I was totally riveted for the first two thirds of the epp!

In regards to the CBSAA service: After the pilot episode I went ahead and upgraded my subscription to the “commercial free” service. With the exception of two buffering hiccups during the second Mudd episode, I have had no streaming issues whatsoever. I’m using a ROKU 3 box connected directly to my LG short throw projector. The video quality is consistently outstanding. I *do* wish CBS would upgrade the audio to 5.1 though. My AV receivers’ PL3 circuitry does a good job of converting the stereo to split surrounds, but discrete 5.1 audio (or better) is now the norm on all other premier streaming services. I’m actually enjoying viewing other fine CBS shows, like “Blue Bloods”, in high quality video (better than my cable service) and commercial free, so I’ll be keeping the service during the hiatus.

Thanks again for all of your great reviews!
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Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 1:04am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S3: Worst Case Scenario

I certainly don't like this as much as everyone else seems to. The first part was interesting, but slow and fairly boring, and the last part was ridiculous.

So if you delete a holoprogram, it doesn't get deleted at all. The computer just pretends to delete it I guess. So there's that. I know that's how it basically works nowadays, but apparently they never overwrite anything in the future, even after 2 years or more.

And it makes no sense whatsoever for Seska to have altered this program. What if Tuvok had reactivated it while she was still on board? What if he never reactivated it? She was taking the chance that she would somehow be off the ship and that he would reactivate it after that. That doesn't make much sense.

And why would she be that mad at Tuvok anyway? For betraying and spying on the Maquis? Like someone else mentioned she wasn't a real Maquis in the first place, so what's the point?

How is it that a holodeck program can alter all of the other systems on the ship, shutting down transporters, and communications, rigging things to explode, etc.? That is idiotic.

Did the Doc inject Paris with holographic nitric acid? Or can the holodeck synthesize actual chemicals like a replicator? I had this problem with the Doc Family episode where they were eating in the holodeck. Is it holofood? If the holodeck acts as a replicator, just use it to make all the food they need instead of using replicator rations, or whatever else they need.

If Seska can do all of this, why make it so they can still rewrite parts of the program at all? Why have it so they can get a fire extinguisher or change Chakotay's behaviour or simulate an attack by the Rukani or all the other stuff?

How did Janeway know what changes to make? Because she was watching whatever is going on in the holodeck program on a little tv screen, that btw just happens to be the exact same shot we are looking at as we watch it? lol. Maybe that's been done before, but I don't remember it. That would have been very helpful in about 30 other Star Trek episodes. Who's directing Janeway's tv version, the computer? Silly.

If Seska could disable so many systems on the ship so easily and set the holodeck to explode and who knows what else, using a hidden holodeck program, why wouldn't she have set it up so all of that stuff happened at some other time? Like when she was trying to capture Voyager all those times? Maybe using a program she knew people would use, like parrises squares, or something more common than some strange program that may never be used ever again.

And why bother with all the running around? If she wanted them to die, just have a giant rock land on their head, or surround them with Borg or whatever as soon as Tuvok restarts the program.

Why would Seska program the simulation to end if her character dies? Since she wanted to kill Tuvok so badly, why not have that rock fall on his head if her character dies? There is no reason for it to end just because of that. Makes no sense.

I give the first part 2 1/2 stars and the end a 1/2 star.

So 1 1/2 stars overall.
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Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 10:45am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

Can the person who said all Trek needs now is "edgy sodomy" please define what that means? Can anyone?

On Earth circa now, sodomy has a number of meanings. It can mean oral sex or anal sex either between heterosexual couples or homosexual couples. Certain kinds of "deviant sex" are also considered "criminal sodomy." In Alabama, "deviant sex" consists of (among other things) sex with a minor, which may constitute the criminal offense of sodomy in the second degree.

There have been some outre criticisms of Star Trek, and of Discovery in general, on this board and in other places, but I believe the criticism that the show has either too little or too much "edgy sodomy" (and thus the "sodomy status quo" must be changed) is a new one. I hope it is, anyway.

I wonder what GR would have thought about showing "sodomy" scenes on Star Trek. From what I've read, the man was a sexual libertine. Maybe it would not have bothered him as much as it seems to bother the self-anointed morals police here.
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Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 1:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace

This might have been mentioned before, but I think there's some pretty good visual storytelling in that Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul fight.

When those lasers close in that hallway, and all three of them get trapped temporarily. Character reactions really show the difference between three of them: Qui-Gon Jinn sits down, calms himself and meditates, like a Jedi he is. Darth Maul keeps pacing like an angry lion in a cage, thirsty for blood, like a Sith. And then young Obi-Wan tiptoes anxiously and impatiently, waiting for the lasers to come down.

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Joseph B
Mon, Oct 9, 2017, 8:11am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

I gave this episode 3 1/2 Stars!
Had it not been for the presentation of the Klingon scenes, I’d give it 4 Stars!!

The plot was pure Trek, with the “monster” ultimately revealed to be the crux of the entire Spore Drive. And I *really loved* the execution of this scenario.

I have to admit that I was very skeptical that this series could even approach something that even felt like Trek. But I’m ALL IN now!!


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Joseph B
Sat, Sep 30, 2017, 1:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: If the Stars Should Appear

All I can say right now is that I’m having *fun* with this show.

Yes, this plot was terribly derivative of several Star Trek:TOS eps, but there was some originality with the execution. As mentioned by Jammer, the first part recaptured the “sense of wonder” we all crave from Star Trek. And the last part was enhanced by a surprise guest star along with the title revelation. In the middle we got a “mini” space fight.

I think the bottom line here is that a lot of us are starved for a new “Star Trek” type show back on TV. And “Discovery” is now stuck behind a pay wall. I’m going to pay for a month of CBS-AA to give the “official” show a real chance, but I’m not happy about it. And right now The Orville seems more familiar. And it’s certainly more accessible.
It *does* need to get a little better, but I’m willing to give it plenty of time to get there.

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This episode sux
Wed, Sep 13, 2017, 1:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: 11:59

Oh yeah! Let's build a 2x Burj Khalifa (and 8x large, good for rainy days), in the MIDDLE of a town that is surrounded by EMPTY plains. I would meet the architects and, btw, Janeway ancestors are really dumb, and this episode is a boring poop. Jammer, leave Star Trek alone! Your target is Walker TexASS Ranger...
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Sat, Sep 2, 2017, 2:37am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Journey's End

The episode had the classic star trek blunder, the number of people are laughably small and the glorification of badly researched people that regress several hundred of years to fit outdated beleifs.

I mean its like if you go to spain and then think all you see is heretic burning and revolutionaries fighting a fascist regime. No nuance at all.
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Tue, Aug 29, 2017, 8:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Tacking into the Wind

Rom, although this sounds like a cop-out, I don't think you can blame the Dominion for being such bad evil overlords as much as you can blame bad writing. As much as I think the decision to have Damar lead a rebellion was one of the better choices made in this grand finale, the way it happened was pretty transparent. You're right, the complete callousness of the Changeling and Weyoun to the Cardassians was over the top. And against everything we know about them.

I mean, compare the leadup to Damar's turn to the Dominion's treatment of the Bajorans. The Bajorans offer no resources, no strategic value, no value of any sort other than happening to be right by the wormhole. A truly callous evil empire would have no problem wiping the entire population and leaving the entire Bajoran system as nothing more than a JemHadar stronghold with no civilian population. And yet, they honored the nonagression pact. Weyoun bent over backwards to accommodate Kira on the station, even though he knew exactly where her loyalties lay. That is the Dominion that we had been privy to. The Vorta - and specifically Weyoun - aren't just managers, they are supposed to also be the PR guys, the pleasant face of the empire. Weyoun's sliminess is one of the reasons he was such a big hit with the fans!

Which is why it's strange that this sudden disregard for Cardassia at the end. It's why I said it was transparent. The writers clearly wanted to turn Damar, so they had to ratchet up the pressure on him. Now yes, there were other circumstances. Weyoun is obviously disgusted by Damar's alcoholism, and Peter does have a point that the Dominion was always planning to dispose of Cardassia eventually. But it was so clear that EVERY single decision was being made to anger Damar, and there's no way that Weyoun didn't recognize that. And while he ultimately takes orders from the Changeling, there's no way that a PR guy like him wouldn't try to alleviate the situation. This whole sequence is just too out of character for him. Like I said, I think it's bad writing rather than providing insights into the Dominion.

Peter, I agree that the Dominion always planned to dispose of Cardassia eventually, but I just don't see this sudden reversal to that plan while in the middle of a war. Yes, the entrance of the Breen may have shifted the tide, but the basic tenet of the Dominion is that they are extremely cautious. Even if the Prophets through them off their game, that would just make them even more cautious I would imagine. I have a hard time believing they would start killing off Cardassians early given that aspect of them.
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Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 9:40am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S3: Similitude

The reason I dislike this episode is that I don't believe any ethical person would create a clone they know will have to die, in order to save someone. It's just so morally repugnant and unbelievable that they would do that, and it casts the crew as monsters in my eyes. I'm all for moral gray areas (The episode Damage is a great exploration of this), but this is so over the top past the line that I wasn't able to buy in to the episode.

To me , this was an episode that jumped the shark.
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Joseph A Mitchell
Sun, Jun 25, 2017, 3:21am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: The Big Goodbye

Jammer...really? Not sure I will put much credence to subsequent reviews. I thought this to be a fascinating episode and exploration of a technology that IS sci first and at the time no one had seen to this extent. Your review is a beacon unto the unworthiness of retrospectives and the snobbery that goes with the territory.
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Sun, May 21, 2017, 6:56am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Homestead

"though I think the way the episode invokes the Prime Directive is erroneous: If a warp-capable group of people asks for help in defending themselves, I don't see how that's a Prime Directive issue saying Janeway can't be involved."

This is not the only time this happens in the show. Basically every time the writers want an excuse for Janeway to want to stay uninvolved, they trot out the Prime Directive, and everyone nods their head, even though a significant majority of the species they encounter are warp capable. What's worse, there's an episode where they were discussing this and Tuvok makes the point about the Directive not applying because the aliens of the week... are warp capable. It's just another example of sloppy storytelling that persistently made this show infuriating to watch.
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Wed, May 17, 2017, 2:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

"Khan’s son is the only one of the baddies group, other than Khan, who utters a word through the entire movie (besides “Aaugh!” when the Reliant is attacked—apparently genetic supermen make great redshirts);"

FWIW, Joachim is supposed (apocryphally) to be the son of Joaquin, who was one of his only henchmen in Space Seed to have lines as well.
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Wed, May 17, 2017, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

When people express their fury at Janeway's haphazard command decisions, this is one of the episodes that best vindicates their position. To endanger three senior bridge officers rather than reboot your hologram boyfriend is a completely indefensible solution.

You can't even chalk this up to a tribble (and/or Ferengi) episode, because everyone is so doggone earnest about it. It doesn't have any of the levity of Tinker Tenor or Virtuoso, and whatever attempts it may be making are overshadowed by Janeway's nigh-neurotic fixation on the Sullivan hologram. The more they treat these like real people, the more it diminishes the Doctor's singular nature and his accomplishments. Even he was endlessly tinkering with his hologram family and ready to dump the whole exercise when it challenged him emotionally (not like we ever saw them after that anyway).

The central conceit of Voyager is to explore truly strange new worlds, tens of thousands of light years from the Vulcans and Klingons and Bajorans and Cardassians that have over time permeated Alpha-quadrant storytelling. And even there you already have cavemen-and-laser-gun stories like Blink of an Eye or Muse to lean on. Having a holo town as the centerpiece for a culture episode grossly violates that core premise.
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Wed, May 17, 2017, 2:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Good Shepherd

I liked the episode well enough, and it's nice to see Jay Underwood pop up, but this is the kind of premise that should have happened way earlier in the series. If you've been adrift for five-plus years and only now getting around to these crewmen, then they're way more jaded than the crewmen we got in this episode. If it absolutely had to be Seven that pointed out these three were through the cracks, you still could have done that in Season 4. It might even have been a better fit there, where she's still looking at the ship like a Borg and trying to maximize efficiency. To do it this late in the game - both for Voyager and for Seven - makes me far more sympathetic to Harren's otherwise-jaw-dropping insolence toward the Captain.
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Mon, May 15, 2017, 9:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Fair Haven

The premise of destroying Fair Haven infuriates me. Way back in the beginning they said that they couldn't transfer holodeck energy to conserve power because the power systems were not compatible or some crap. Obviously it's wrong for two simple reasons, one canonical, one practical. Holodeck energy was compatible in Next Gen so that's out. Also, the ship in a general sense gets its entry from the warp core, matter/antimatter intermix, however you want to refer to it. They play kind of fast and loose with that since they lose warp power all the time and even ejected the core once or twice. But the point is, if there is a central point of generation for the ship's power, then you don't worry about compatible systems cause you can cut off the holodecks at the source.

I hate that reasoning, especially since they were looking at 75 years to come up with a solution, but I get it, they wanted an excuse to keep the holodecks online without raising questions about power conservation. But other times, like in Night, they make a reference to pulling power from the holodecks. They failed, but for an entirely different reason. And that brings us to this episode, where they DO draw power from the holodecks for the express purpose of provoking catastrophic loss of the Fair Haven program and manufacturing a sentimental moment for the closing scene.

The one thing I hate worse than making up stupid rules for story purposes, that make no sense in the real world, is when they turn around and break their own rules arbitrarily just to serve a different story point later. See also: Sword Art Online.
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Mon, May 15, 2017, 6:14am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Riddles

This episode felt more like Tuvix than Rise to me, at least from Tuvok's perspective. Critical event leads to a change in his personality, there is adaptation after growing pains, there is the scene where a cure is available but he likes who he is now and doesn't want to go back, and then the rest button gets hit. The only improvement is that they come up with an argument that allows Tuvok to accept the fix, instead of having a tortured debate about his rights under his new persona before Janeway "murders" him to get the original Tuvok back.

As for the final scene, I recall that Tuvok as an adolescent was someone with intense passions who needed a lot of discipline to overcome them. He won't surrender that easily. We're used to seeing Spock with his emotions a bit closer to the surface, but he's half human. For Tuvok, a moment like this is as big a departure for him as Spock finding Kirk alive at the end of Amok Time. The payoff doesn't feel as good for human viewers, true, but that may mean the flaw is in having a Vulcan main character in the first place, because those kind of restrictions are built into the character.

His character was certainly stronger than T'Pol, who was lying like a rug throughout Enterprise and whose overall character development was a mess.
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Fri, May 12, 2017, 6:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Course: Oblivion

This episode is like the anti Inner Light. While we watched Picard age and scale to his new environment, only to have the death if the civilization snatch it all away from us, their probe made Picard the caretaker of their memories. And the last scene with the Ressikan flute is powerful because it shows, centuries after their annihilation, their culture still had an impact, was still remembered.

This episode did everything The Inner Light didn't do: it asked us to invest in this crew and their plight, then killed them all off, and no one knows who they were or what they did. Just a random curious cloud of deuterium vapor. I'm stuck somewhere between being angry and just shaking my head in disbelief.
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Fri, May 12, 2017, 1:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S1: Parallax

Chrome, I think there's a separation in philosophy between TOS and the rest of Trek, hence why I was focusing on the TNG era. Besides Bread and Circuses, Balance of Terror made it clear that there was a chapel (er... besides the one in sickbay...) on the Enterprise as well.

Not to play armchair psychologist or anything, but I think Gene's ego grew a few sizes too big after TOS turned into a massive cult following. From what I understand, he was being invited onto college campuses and being considered a "visionary" of the future and all. It's hard to get all those accolades and not start to think all your personal ideas are brilliant. We know for a fact that a lot of the problems of early TNG were due to Gene's specific views of what the future was like, of what is and isn't Star Trek. He said humans must be better at everything than anyone else, hence why the 1701-D was more advanced than anything until the Borg showed up. He said there must not be any interpersonal conflicts of any kind, hence why everyone was so bland. And we know it seeped into the political. There's hardly any Season 1 episodes that DON'T have a random snide comment about how awful 20th century humanity (re: America) was.

So whatever Gene's personal view on God was, he obviously wasn't religious. And that definitely seeped into the TNG era, even if one can argue that Kirk and Bones were at least nominally Christian.

As an aside, this is the first time I've watched TOS all the way through. I like the characters in TNG better, the worldbuilding in TNG better, the plots about 1000 times better. And yet, the feel of TOS is still, in some ways, better. And it's not to do with this Christianity discussion per se, but rather because the world feels more believable. Space IS a frontier in TOS. These ARE recognizable humans. TNG can feel like an epilogue, like everything is already complete. Like running around a videogame that you've already finished. Humanity seems so stagnant and boring in the TNG era (and again, TNG is my favorite series, so I'm not trying to find ways of criticizing it). It's not surprising that every single other Trek franchise tried to go back to the feel of TOS, of being on a frontier and being a little bit rough around the edges. They didn't all succeed, but it seems that Gene pushing TNG to be his vision of utopia also lost something of what Trek should be... which is STRIVING for that utopia.

As for Joe Sisko... I didn't remember him as the pastor in FBTS, but I'll take that as part of my argument! Then again, if that was true, you'd think Worf would have been better in Take Me Out to the Holosuite... In any case, like I said, the main reason comes from the naming convention. I had noticed the interesting coincidence of Joseph, Benjamin, and Jacob all being Hebrew names. That's what got me idly thinking about it. But when looking at Memory Alpha to see if anyone else had caught this connection, I saw that one episode had named Ben's sister as Judith (again, Hebrew). Given how uncommon Judith is as a name, I'm seriously questioning if that can be a coincidence.

And the rest of his lifestyle seems to fit more closely with a traditional way of life rather than a Trek-way or even modern 21st century life. These aren't necessarily specific to Christianity, but they are part of the feel. The Siskos are easily the most positive depiction of family life* for a human or half human character in Trek (compare Ben's relationship with his parent to Picard, Riker, Troi...). It seems Ben has multiple half-siblings, compared to the typical one or two children of the Trek world (and, again, modern Western civilization). Memory Alpha puts Joseph as having 4 kids. The commitment to family life rather than casual dating seems to have rubbed off on Ben, as he married Jennifer at a relatively young age and was serious about marrying Kassidy. While not a luddite like Robert Picard, he likes working with his hands, likes traditional work, and likes being a part of a community. This all seems different than the typical view we see of Trek characters, where they are all so focused on Starfleet and advancing their careers and casual dating and so forth. Joseph just wants to raise his kids right, be there for his family, and use his talents in cooking in order to make others happy. There's no "improving oneself for the betterment of humanity" there, but he still has a strong, positive view of life.

Of course, given that the naming convention is what first set me off, it's possible he's Jewish. But I got the impression that the Siskos were long-time residents of America. And there just aren't enough black Jews (whether members of Beta Israel or otherwise) here in the 21st century to think that they would retain both of those traits throughout the centuries.

And DLPB... I defended your first post because I thought it had to do with Trek. Can't we please keep focusing on Trek only and not the Left vs Right battle?

*The LaForges might also qualify, but that was a one-off episode that was never mentioned again, so I'm not counting it.
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Thu, May 11, 2017, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S1: Parallax

Actually, Robert, I do know the reason I responded; because you're one of the best contributors to these comments and thus actually worth responding to... As I said, I thought it strange that DLPB almost had a perfect point with the double standard of religion if he had brought up Chakotay instead, so I was very surprised to see it cause such furor. In any case, I don't care to discuss the politics side either (regardless of what Linda might think of my statement, she can read through the list of my comments to see how rarely I bring it up). All I will say in that respect is this: dude, you SERIOUSLY think Chakotay might not have been a politically correct creation? He (and Journey's End) was such an obvious "look at us, we're so tolerant!" move!

On the general subject at hand, I have said before that Heinlein is the only person I've ever seen pull off a blatantly political story and still have it be good. So I'd rather writers avoid it as much as possible. The single largest problem with political stories (along with online political discussions...) is lack of respect for the subject matter. To again use a Trek example, look at any Klingon-centric episode on this site, and you'll find a few commenters simply responding in disgust that they hate all things Klingon. I certainly wouldn't want them to write a Klingon story, because they have no respect for them. This doesn't mean you have to agree with the Klingon culture, just understand where it comes from. This is actually one of the few parts of Trek that was consistent throughout the entire TNG era; a fundamental respect for Klingon culture (probably due to their popularity) while still demonstrating their flaws. Even though the episodes constantly highlighted corruption or flaws in their system, culminating in Ezri's famous speech, we never lose sight of why people like Worf and Jadzia and Martok are drawn to that culture. We can still understand it. As long as writing like that exists, I'm happy.

The "straw man" version of a lack of respect for the culture you are writing is easy to see and easy to criticize. TNG Ferengi is a clear example of that. But the other side, in which you lionize something you think you should respect while fundamentally misunderstanding it (ie, Chakotay) is also annoying.

Chrome, I don't necessarily want Christianity front and center in Trek, but I do think they do a disservice by the situation at hand. We know Roddenberry was hostile to religion in his TNG years. We know that many people care about upholding the "Roddenberry vision" of the future (even though that vision is TNG Season 1...). Episodes like Who Watches the Watchers strongly suggest all humans are atheists. If that's really what the authors want to do, then so be it. But saying that ONLY whites are now atheist, but that Indians are just fine, is a bit insulting. To both sides, actually. If the authors are saying that the advanced humans of the future are atheists, then doesn't that mean Chakotay and his kind aren't advanced and should be looked down upon?

So while "Christian" stories are probably pointless to most of Trek, if the point is to seek out new life and new civilizations, why not contrast with other civilizations as well? DS9 is well known for having a wide variety of opinions, and for having those opinions clash. So why should all the human opinions be the same? Wouldn't, for example, the idea of Sisko being the Emissary of the Bajoran religion make him (or perhaps other members of his family) a mite uncomfortable if he himself (or other members of his family) was religious? Couldn't that have been an interesting storyline?

Anyway, that's all I'll say on the religion side, other than to again mention to Robert that yes, it's not declarative that there aren't Christians in Trek, but given the Roddenberry ideal that's probably why the "default" belief for Joe Sisko is atheist. And yet... the thing that set me off was when I realized that Ben's sister's name was Judith. Now Joseph, Benjamin, and Jacob are all very traditional Hebrew names, but are also all relatively common enough that I figured that might be a coincidence. But Judith as well? It just strikes me that that had to be intentional... and yet Moore and Behr and everyone else did nothing with it. I'd be curious to know if it was a coincidence or not.

As for the gender issue, yes, it's certainly possible that B'Elanna sucker-punched Carey, and it's also certainly possible that her Klingon heritage makes her much stronger than normal. The whole "woman is equal in strength to man!" trope is just so ubiquitous in TV and movies that everyone practically takes it for granted. Heck, I am reminded of Chuck from SFDebris - who prides himself on having no sacred cows - complaining that Troi and Crusher were not swordfighting alongside Riker and Worf in QPid. We're so inundated with this stuff that the one time the difference in strength is acknowledged, it's seen as weird!

Although I will acknowledge that Trek is so over the top with humans beating up Klingon and Romulans and the like that perhaps there's no point in quibbling over anything of that nature on the show... it's already a lost cause...

As for this specific topic at hand... I'm going to go out on a limb and actually say the double standard, to some extent, is not a bad thing in this particular instant. It IS worse for a guy to punch a girl than vice versa. The problem with saying that out loud is that people then assume you mean girls punching guys is ok, when in reality you just mean its different shades of bad. It's the old Spider-Man moral; since men in general have more upper body strength than women, it is more important for them to restrain that strength around others. It's also why it's a worse thing for an NFL linebacker to punch me than me punching an NFL linebacker.

So I do disagree to SOME extent with DLPB that this is a horrible double standard. But regardless of that (and again, that double standard kinda goes away if B'Elanna's Klingon heritage really does make her equal in strength to human males), it is still absurdly unprofessional of her to punch out a coworker, and the fact that this is barely acknowledged by the end of the episode is disturbing. On THAT front, there should be no difference in punishment from Janeway, even thought there probably is here.

So what COULD they have done differently? Yes, it's obvious that this situation, with the crew trapped on the other side of the galaxy, merits different approaches than what would happen in the Alpha Quadrant. And it is true that the Maquis might get restless if they are seen as constantly being put aside for the Starfleet Crew. And it is true that B'Elanna is a better engineer than Carey (or at least that's what is implied here). However, none of that necessarily merits being made the senior officer. Why couldn't Janeway have acknowledged B'Elanna's strengths, but told her that there's more to being an officer than having smarts? Why couldn't, perhaps, she be left as just another engineer (the focus of episodes, of course, since she's the smart one) until a promotion in Season 2 or so?

Obviously because the writers quickly wanted to settle into an episodic format, which is too bad. The formula would actually be used with Seven a few years later - someone obviously extremely talented but not ready to be given any serious responsibility. It could have been a nice character arc for Torres in the early seasons, and could have made Carey be an interesting character (how would he feel knowing he was basically going to be a placeholder chief and be demoted once Janeway thinks Torres is ready?). Alas, another interesting opportunity wasted...
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Wed, May 10, 2017, 10:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S1: Parallax

Oy, I don't know why I'm doing this, but here goes...

Robert, DLPB may be acerbic, but he was absolutely (ok, 90%) right in his post. And while he may have insulted a group of people in his post, it was you who made it personal by insulting him.

Let's look at what he said. 1) This episode has a double standard, in that they would never show a man punching a woman in the face and getting away with it. 2) This is a product of the pervasive left-wing thought, 3) this pervasive attitude is even worse, as it creates a poorly thought-out idea of what a strong female presence is like rather than using reality, and 4) this double standard extends to other factors like race and religion.

Now, you seem like you may agree with him about 1 and 3, but think that adding items like 2 and especially 4 are utterly ridiculous and make him look like a lunatic. And yet... #4 is just standing there right in front of us; it's impossible to miss! DLPB simply made the mistake of using the wrong example. I mean, they may not have come out and said it, but it's very heavily implied in Trek that atheism reigns supreme among humans. The idea of a practicing Christian in the TNG era is all but absurd*. You would never see one, right? That seems perfectly natural to you, right?

So why does Chakotay exist? Christianity went extinct, but lame made-up pseudonatural bullcrap religions are fine?

See, double standard. Exactly what DLPB was talking about. It's just that in the 90s, American Indians were the cause du jour rather than Muslims. Hence, Chakotay (note that both Voyager and Pocahontas came out in the same year, for example). So, just like with B'Elanna hitting Carey, it's a double standard. The Trek writers would never think of adding a Christian to the show, but have no problem with a hokey Akusha-Moya claptrap. And I keep mocking Chakotay's religion for a good reason, because it ties in with #3. Just like "strong woman=beating up guys" nonsense that Hollywood pushes on us** even thought its completely against reality, this was a truly made up religion. In their yearning effort to be PC, they didn't even bother to actually research the culture they tried to portray, and thus what was shown was the incoherent ramblings of a scam artist (seriously, go look it up if you don't believe me). They ended up insulting the culture they tried to promote because, in actuality, their devotion to that culture was only a mm thick***.

So you see, DLPB was mostly right about #4, just picked the wrong example. And so, can you really argue that it doesn't come from leftwing thought? That these sorts of things are not due to the burning desire the writers had to want to be politically correct? You know as well as I do that the "diversity" in Trek is all there to appease the American left. There's no great desire to have an Indonesian or a Brazilian in the show, but we must have an African-American! And we must pat ourselves on the back for how tolerant we are, because we are looking to gain the approval of a white guy from Berkeley rather than a white guy from Peoria. You may be "proud" of it, but I still see it as just another form of pandering to white people. And that's fine! Star Trek's audience is white Westerners, after all! What's wrong with pandering to the people who pay your bills? It just doesn't make them moral for doing so...

But anyway, back to #2. I'm not the type of person to judge others, and I'm not going to accuse everyone who doesn't agree with me politically of being evil. But in terms of the thought leaders in the left nowadays... well, look up intersectionality if you want. If you look at what's going on in college campuses, the idea these days is that the world is divided into the powerful (straight white Christian and Jewish males) and everyone else (with varying degrees of powerlessness). And that in order to rectify this situation, it is not only ok but also DEMANDED that double standards be used. Overt discrimination of the powerful is encouraged (I should note that this is the same justification Hitler used against the Jews, but, well, what's a little fascism among friends?). Overt hatred of the powerful is encouraged. Again, this isn't my evil interpretation of it; they're pretty upfront about it.

And again, I'm not going to accuse everyone of believing this. I'm sure, when faced with that, it's only a small portion of the left that believes it. And I do think it's annoying how internet arguments usually devolve into the most baseless accusations on the part of the other person. But the problem is, the "intellectual class" of the left really do believe this! And the other problem is, most people don't think. That's not a criticism or implying people are stupid, it's just the truth. Our brains are wired to ignore anything we deem unimportant, and so we don't constantly question our assumptions. And the "educated" world - the internet, media, education, etc - is downstream of this intellectual hotbed of intersectionality. So as long as its framed in a positive way, people go along with it.

Again, let's be honest Robert. Regardless of their monetary background (IIRC DLPB is British; he may not realize that middle-class isn't necessarily a condition of the left-wing culture; the US has always been less class-based than Europe), you know as well as I do that the writers of Trek would feel more at home in San Francisco than in Texas. They're downstream of this thought process that demands double standards at every level. So even if they'd like to think of themselves as tolerant of everyone, they might live in a world where they never question their assumptions. Never question if it actually makes sense for a woman who weighs half as much as a man and has far less testosterone to build upper body strength can actually physically compete with a man. May not question that people can be capitalist and still be ethical or interested in science or anything else that is apparently anathema to the Ferengi. Never question that if you are actually serious about creating an atheist future, you have to insult other cultures besides Christianity as well. It doesn't mean they're bad people. It just means they may live in a bubble. And perhaps by criticizing them, we may get them to snap out of that bubble.

Who knows, maybe it might lead to better writing! Unless you think Chakotay is the epitome of a great character, or that Ferengi are a well thought out race...

I can't speak for DLPB, but I still believe in outdated, hate-filled, intolerant ideas like "all men are created equal" and "not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Given that, I can be rather sensitive to areas where the opposite belief - that one should explicitly be judged by their skin or their sex - end up sneaking its way into mainstream culture. Perhaps DLPB is as well. And while I can't be certain that intersectionality itself goes back 20 or so years to when Voyager was created, I know the roots of this concept do go back quite a long ways, so maybe it was there as well.

Oh, and Robert? Of course a Star Trek site is no place to rant about right-wing politics. Star Trek is so steeped in leftwing thought that it's completely off topic! =)

So while I generally do agree with you that we should leave politics out of these discussions (I try to as much as possible), there are plenty of people who do inject politics into it... on both sides of the aisle. Mostly, I tend to ignore them, because I don't like dealing with it. Frankly, I don't like it that DLPB tends to bring it up in places, just as I don't like all the older posters who brought up junk from a leftwing perspective. But was the fact that DLPB brought it up here so far beyond the pale that you had to insult him (and thus cause the topic to devolve even further)? Do you also call out the people on the left who inject it in? Perhaps, to prevent such flame wars from breaking out... if we are truly committed to having discussions on Trek only with only the bare minimum of politics as related to the episode only... perhaps we should all only call out the people "on our side". Less chance of things rolling out of hand that way, eh?

* As a complete and random aside, if there is a character in Trek that is a closet Christian (or possibly Jew), I'm going with Joseph Sisko. I have my reasons for believing that, but I'm sure it was never intentional on the writers part. Actually, some of it may be intentional...

** Also as a random aside, I think Kira IS a strong portrayal of a woman even without the utterly absurd idea that she can beat up Cardassians while 8 months pregnant. She has a deep sense of morality and a strong sense of self, and is confident, assertive, and utterly true to herself (other than dating Odo, but that's another pet peeve of mine...). It's why I find it silly that people call her a Ro clone. Ro was a WEAK woman (that's not a criticism, she was a very interesting character because of it), and very much the opposite of Kira. But because they could both be sarcastic, we should find them identical? Sounds kinda stupid to me.

*** As an even more random aside, a NYTimes reporter recently complained because the new film version of Murder on the Orient Express didn't include Asian cast members. So she didn't know either the historical train OR the famous novel! That's what I mean about being 1 mm thick in culture but deep into identity politics...
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Sat, May 6, 2017, 7:41am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Excellent episode, although perhaps if the writers had understood the response it would engender, they might have attempted a more nuanced approach. Then again, "Dear Doctor" probably draws near the limits of how much complexity a t.v. program can shoulder without alarming the entertainment overlords (who largley see viewers as slack-jawed money sacks with trigger-happy thumbs and 15 - second attention spans).

I for one groaned when I realized just how many responses I would have to read before writing this. It's similar to listening to a long-familiar argument by your partner about something you will never see eye-to-eye on, but for the sake of the relationship, you simply.must.listen.

But then, surprise, one day he says something that maybe moves you. Perhaps because you happen to have a bit more energy at that moment, or you just remembered why you love him SO much and so you are listening the tiniest bit more carefully, or even that he unexpectedly devises a new way to explain it. In any case, he nudges you a little and you can see, a bit, from the other side.

And reading this very, very long debate has moved me, at least a little bit.

So, thank you to everyone for the reminders: That it seems like very good advice to believe that there is always at least a one percent chance that I am just plain wrong about any position I have taken; that absolute certainty is directly contrary to biological reality; and that the more loudly something is shouted, the more likely the shouter has doubts he wishes to deafen.

So, this statement, representative of several positions, is noteworthy:

Set Bookmark
Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 8:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Day of the Dove

Sorry, I'm gonna gave to go against the grain here. I felt the episode was a wasted opportunity, and I think it comes down to one problem: the mind control. It's a tricky thing to work with, trying to work with characters when they aren't really themselves. Take Conundrum, for instance. Whatever you think of the plot, the mind control aspect was well done, leaving it at nothing but amnesia. Thus, there was real tension on whether their true character would break through in time. The Mind's Eye had a deeper mind control, but it was only one character so we could still see the rest of the characters work. And watching a mind controlled LaForge was a nice change of pace. But here? The power of the mind control was completely arbitrary. And thus, it wasn't a satisfying conclusion. Or even a satisfying journey.

I mean, look at Spock and Scotty and Kirk. They would flare up and get emotional, and then calm down. So, ok, fine, maybe it just amplifies the latent feelings you have, keep you off your game. Like Naked Time or something. Except, wait, they can also completely alter your memories. Chekov remembered an entire freaking brother that he doesn't actually have! Kirk remembered an entire colony that didn't exist. If this alien being can do that, surely it can do more to manipulate the emotions of the crews. It's implied that Mara gained false memories of Federation personnel torturing and killing others. Couldn't the alien have implanted more memories of atrocities in everyone's mind, make them both think that they are at a state of war with each other rather than a truce? Do something similar to what was done to Chakotay in Nemesis? The episode strongly implies that it has that power, creating Piotr out of nothing, but it doesn't seem to bother. Instead, it apparently had no hold on Kirk for nearly the entire episode.

Hmm, well, maybe it depends on the willpower of the person. Hey, it makes sense that maybe a hothead like Chekov would be more amenable to the mind control than a cool character like Kirk. I could buy that, except why is Bones so affected? Yes, he's emotional, but he also has shown no real animosity toward the Klingons before, and certainly isn't a warmonger. I'd think Scotty would be going off the bend before Bones, but the episode said otherwise. And even Spock got more into it than Kirk did. So maybe the aliens could impact anyone. Then why didn't it focus more on Kirk? Why was Kirk allowed to be cool-headed there at the end?

And more importantly, if the alien isn't influencing everyone that much, how much of what happened really comes from our characters and how much from mind control? Hopefully a fan favorite like Chekov isn't really a rapist, but, well, how can we be sure?

In the end, we aren't really watching our favorite characters. We're watching puppets. Sometimes. And our characters sometimes. And it's not clear which is which, and why they are only puppets sometimes. That's a sign of bad plotting.

Meanwhile, of course, the episode was trying as hard as possible to be a message show, but naturally it failed miserably. How can you be an anti-war episode when everyone is being brainwashed? It reminds me a lot of Nemesis (again, the Voyager episode, not the movie), where a complicated situation is ignored in favor of a silly message. I mean, did you listen to Kang? "Nobody tells ME when I get to kill humans!" Is that really a message of peace? Ah, whatever...

But like I said, this was a wasted opportunity. The idea of a game of wits and game of strength against Kirk and a worthy Klingon opponent is certainly exciting. We never had a true evenly matched episode with the Klingons, so it would have been interesting. And keep the alien influence, but no mind control. Have the alien setup the conflict by framing each side, much like the start of the episode, but for real this time. And keep trying to keep the conflict going. And Kirk and Spock could realize the problem halfway through, and try to get through to the Klingons that they have a common enemy. In the end, Kirk's bravado at trying to get a truce would be enough to convince Kang, as it is here. We could have a very similar story, but without the mind control. Instead of arbitrarily hoping that the alien emphasis would be forgotten for long enough to get the fighting to stop, we could wonder about the true character of both sides. Instead of being contrived, it would be real. Instead of stupid tricks from the alien to keep the battlefield even, the threats could be suspenseful. This episode should have been a classic, should have been better than Balance of Terror. What a shame.
Set Bookmark
Tue, Mar 14, 2017, 8:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Spectre of the Gun

WRITER 1: We need a new idea for a Star Trek episode. Anyone got any ideas?

WRITER 2: How about an all-powerful alien makes Kirk fight to the death to teach a lesson about pacifism?

WRITER 1: Bleh, we already did that. I want original ideas people. Original!

WRITER 3: OK, ummm... Kirk comes across a planet that looks exactly like some CBS backlot and so re-enacts a portion of Western history?

WRITER 1: I said original, dagnabbit! That was like half of the last 10 episodes!

WRITER 4: Hmmm... I'm just spitballing here, but what if... what if we had an all powerful alien make Kirk fight to the death to teach a lesson about pacifism... within a planet that looks exactly like some CBS backlot in order to re-enact a portion of Western history?

WRITER 1: Brilliant! That's the sort of original thinking I like to see here!

OK, snark aside, it really was that hard for me to get past the premise of the episode. I mean, the execution was pretty well done. Like others said, the mystery of what was going on built up well, and I think the reveal, that this was all in their heads, worked reasonably well given the clues we were given beforehand. Even the very first reveal of the aliens - when they spoke to everyone in their own languages - hinted that nothing they did was necessarily physical. And the clue of the knockout bomb not working was a big one. It was maybe a bit silly that Spock had to meld with everyone in order to save them (yet another example of Spock's magical Vulcan-ness saving the day), but the scene of the crew standing calmly while the Earps shot them was effective I thought.

It's just that the idea is so hokey... Maybe I was just in a snarky mood when I watched it or something, but some of the decisions just seemed weird. What was with Chekov being more obsessed with getting it on with the girl than the fact that he was scheduled to be executed in a few hours? How is Spock so absurdly well-versed in everything that he is fully aware of one single even that happened on Earth 400 years ago? Why is the Federation mission to establish contact "at all costs"; what if these people just want to be left alone? Why is it that the answer to everything in the Star Trek universe is a quick battle to the death rather than any sort of communication?

I guess it was just too much of a pill to swallow for me.
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