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Tue, Mar 13, 2018, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Outrageous Okona

So this one's meant to be a light-hearted humorous outing but it's never funny and is dragged down by so many awful parts. It's just an entirely forgettable episode and hard to believe it came just a few weeks before "The Measure of a Man" and right after "Elementary, Dear Data", which was pretty good.

The subplot about Data trying to understand humor as a way of being more human was just not done well -- the Jerry Lewis impersonation by the comic was terrible and even Guinan's first meeting with Data was terrible (she tells him to get a better computer or something). Her joke to Data (droid/a noid) was so bad. This episode really had it's share of forgettable scenes... I usually associate Guinan with some important episodes and making some very perceptive comments, but here she's misused. Data should have talked to, for example, Geordi about humor.

As for Okona -- as an alien we can accept that he has radically different sexual ideas than what Star Trek would want to advocate -- very liberal and certainly some female members of the Enterprise crew come across as quite loose. But there's no Picard/Riker moralizing to "set things straight". And what was up with Wesley's admiration of Okona?? The writers found another way for Wesley to be portrayed as annoying.

The scene with the pregnant daughter and son and their undercover relationship with Okona caught in between -- seriously, how poorly was this acted?? I did like that Picard was in some kind of bind and didn't want to take sides or interfere. He had to figure out how to get out of the quandary given he held custody of Okona.

1 star -- The episode took long enough to find something of a plot and it turned out to be quite disappointing. The "humanization of Data" arc was weak although one could appreciate the sentience of the android and his trying to grasp the humor concept -- purely to support the light-hearted intentions of this episode. "The Outrageous Okona" is very much an early TNG failure before the series ever knew how to do an outstanding episode.
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Tue, Mar 13, 2018, 8:24am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Broken Bow

@ Clark

Convenient for Braga to blame the theme song for ENT when he's to blame for lousy writing, weak characters -- that, more than anything else, doomed the series. Braga did write some great episodes prior to ENT, but he bit off more than he can chew by taking on a co-creator leading role for ENT.

As for the theme song, it may not have a futuristic feel but it does speak to the journey of the 1st warp 5 starship and the unknown it gets to explore. I guess it will forever be one of the many polarizing topics about Trek.
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Mon, Mar 12, 2018, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Broken Bow

@ Clark
@ Yanks

Yes I concur with Yanks -- at first I couldn't believe how different the ENT theme song was from the prior series. I didn't like it, but it has grown on me big time and now I really like it.

In fact, here's my ranking of the various Trek series theme songs:

1) TNG / Star Trek: The Motion Picture
2) ENT (S3 & S4)
3) ENT (S1 & S2)
4) TOS
5) VOY
6) DS9
7) DSC
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Mon, Mar 12, 2018, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Journey to Babel

Brilliant episode -- but just one thing bugged me ever so slightly: Why does Kirk allow the Orion spy disguised as an Andorian to basically have free reign on the bridge as the Enterprise engages in battle with the Orion ship? Yes, he's trying to find out what he can about the mysterious ship but the way this scene plays out had me scratching my head a tad. He's hoping to engage the spy who likely would not talk if held down by security guards -- a risky game.

The Orion spy already tried to kill Kirk and is on a suicide mission (as is their ship) -- he had taken a slow-acting poison but also could have turned into a suicide bomber. He basically stands beside Kirk's chair with the 2 security guards several feet away.

Anyhow, just a minor nitpick on one of TOS best episodes.
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Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Second Sight

This episode pissed me off -- there's a decent mystery building up but the payoff sucks and we're just left hanging due to the reset. Ultimately, it's meaningless. It does have a few good moments like between father & son and the initial encounter between Sisko and Fenna was a good start to a romance.

But I must say I liked Prof. Seyetik -- so pompous it's funny. He was the best part of the episode for me and he did have something very important to say: "Art should be an affirmation of life." So he basically shits on Van Gogh / Picasso for their dark/negative/pessimistic art. I couldn't agree more. Anyhow, he dies a glorious death -- his star terraforming works (which is ridiculous -- but whatever -- Genesis project all over again?). I like how he wrote his own obituary!

As for Fenna disappearing and being some projection of the prof's wife -- for what purpose? It's not like the prof's wife, who is miserable being with him, was living vicariously through Fenna since she didn't know of Fenna's experiences. And I guess Fenna kept disappearing because Nidell, the prof's wife, stopped the projection for whatever reason.

I've been quite critical of Brooks' acting and I think it deserves some criticism here -- why couldn't he be more like WTF is going on when he was with Fenna? Far too measured in his acting. The being in love part and being absent-minded was acted OK, but not great.

Barely 2 stars for "Second Sight" -- felt like an early TNG episode with some weird ideas, a poor story and murky conclusions ultimately. Sisko's personal life after his wife's death does need to be addressed, but I'm not sure what this episode proves other than being in love makes him act differently and others quickly notice. The episode was a contrived way to put Sisko through an emotional ringer without him really acting like he got put through one, which is disappointing.
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Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Melora

Boring, meaningless episode -- easily the worst of DS9 S2 so far. The "action" part is among the worst in Trek when the 2 subplots connect in the hostage escape scene. And the Melora character is a confusing mess. Bashir's a strange dude as well -- his attraction for Melora doesn't seem to come about logically and even if they somehow have a bit of chemistry, it has no payoff. Was this supposed to be a mainly romantic episode or something else? Not clear.

I thought this might be some examination of the problems a handicapped person faces -- resenting others for trying to be excessively helpful or something like that. Melora was annoying initially and then flicks a switch (Bashir's interest in her) and becomes tolerable.

Bashir comes up with some cure to allow her to walk normally (eventually) -- this happens too easily and quickly for me and then we go through Melora's wishy-washy bit about the tradeoffs of keeping with the treatment.

I will say that the bit about reduced gravity was nice to see and I'm surprised it isn't used that frequently on Trek. Here's one species (Melora's) that is all about reduced gravity. I think reduced gravity is used more in the movies (bigger budgets) where damage can cause the gravity plating to fail, but it doesn't happen enough in the TV series and that's a tad unrealistic, for me.

The B-plot with Quark and his former associate was lame. The guy says he's going to kill Quark -- and given that it's believable, isn't that worthy of some punishment or detention? Odo, whatever he thinks of Quark and his activities, doesn't do his job here.

The 2 plots -- completely independent -- then meet near the end in this lame hostage scene and Melora gets phasered but survives due to Bashir's treatment and uses reduced gravity to subdue Quark's "buddy". Very lame stuff that is hard to believe.

Barely 1.5 stars for "Melora" -- overwhelming feeling is that this was a waste of an hour. Slow, boring -- could have done much more with the handicap issue and trying to make a career in Star FLeet. Bashir, other than his dealings with Garak, is a weird/uninteresting character so far. Quark's situation just lacked tension. Overall, 2 weak subplots that got weaker when they intersected.
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Wed, Mar 7, 2018, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Prototype

Marginally better than mediocre Voyager here -- made me think of "I, Mudd", "Frankenstein" and "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" to varying extents. The idea of a robot "race" outliving or destroying its creators is an interesting one and I actually like the twist on it here as it brings about a PD examination. Torres realizes she'd be giving one race of robots an advantage over the other -- one that the creators of the robots deliberately did not give. So Janeway turns out to be right and Torres realizes the error of her ways. She should show no remorse in "killing" the prototype she was so happy to have created.

My issue is why was Torres so damn invested in the robot in the first place? The early part of the episode spends too much time on how she won't go to sleep until she figures out how to stabilize its power drain. A couple of smaller issues are how silly the robots look (a bit like C3P0 from "Star Wars") and how much technobabble gets spewed. A "flux capacitor" is even mentioned...ugh.

Torres is clearly an engineering geek -- she's more overjoyed at creating the prototype than it actually meaning she can go back to Voyager, which will be spared from destruction.

The idea of Voyager creating a diversion for the robot ship so Paris can navigate a shuttle through a weakness in the shielding seemed like a ridiculous idea to me -- it's a robot ship presumably scanning everywhere. Voyager shouldn't be able to create a distraction -- the situation should be all but hopeless to them, until the 2nd robot race's ship appears.

The robots sentience was interesting though -- clearly they are deceitful, cunning. When the robot kidnapped Torres, it really came out of nowhere -- "he" seemed like a nice guy (almost Data-like) and then he kidnaps Torres. Also, the part about not initially telling Torres how the Builders were killed but later saying the robots saw the Builders as enemies and killed them all is a pretty frightening thought. These robots are desperate to survive at all cost, have zero compassion, and are a major threat.

Barely 2.5 stars for "Prototype" -- at times the episode dragged and was mostly predictable although there were a few neat developments thanks to the implications of the deceitfulness of the robots. The 1 robot never mentioned the war they were in -- until Voyager found out for itself -- so that Torres could help them. But some of Torres' behavior is hard to explain/justify -- why did she feel such compassion for them? The robots themselves looked hokey -- VOY can surely do better. Turns out to be a heavy-handed PD examination at heart -- decent story but with a bit more than usual of the flaws in VOY episodes.
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Thu, Mar 1, 2018, 6:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Cardassians

Strong, probing episode that can only be in DS9 as opposed to any other Trek. So much can be built out of the years of Cardassian occupation and orphan children is a worthy topic. What's unfortunate is Rugel's wants are least important here -- which can be very similar to what happens real life -- and the episode doesn't do right by him in the end.

Tying the orphan child angle with the political aspect adds more spice to the episode and cements Dukat as devious actor. Coming after the 3-parter to start S2 (Cardassians supplying the Circle with weapons to get rid of the Federation on DS9 ultimately), it seemed odd to me that Dukat and Sisko weren't outwardly hostile to each other. Sisko initially shuts down Bashir for his doubts about Dukat.

Actually the most enjoyable parts in "Cardassians" was Garak/Bashir. Garak is a joy to watch and the opening teaser where Bashir is always suspicious of the Cardassian is a great intro. I just think Bashir should have been more forceful in trying to get what was going through Garak's mind before jumping in on Dukat/Sisko -- seemed he allowed himself to believe Garak too much before questioning himself. Still a bit green is Bashir.

Not sure what DS9 is saying with Rugel forced to go with his Cardassian dad despite him wanting to go back to Bajor. So Dukat won't shame Rugel's dad (the stalemate from the hearing) but won't the dad still lose his post when seen with a son all of a sudden? But I guess it's less likely that Dukat's deeds with the kid get uncovered so the Gul still has things in his favor.

The hearing was a bit awkward in its informality -- all of a sudden Bashir shows up and starts questioning. Reminded me of "A Few Good Men" with Dukat as the colonel (Jack Nicholson) -- "Is there a question?". The dynamic between Dukat and Garak is starting to build as well as the tailor's background (computers etc.)

A strong 3 stars for "Cardassians" -- classic DS9 formula in use here. Works very well to tell a social issue story and tie it in with Cardassian (or Bajoran) politics. All around convincing performances, except for Rugel who could have been more vocal -- but child actors rarely get it right on Trek. Some insights into Cardassians -- family is very important to them (as is their record-keeping!) -- were appreciated as were Dukat/Garak.
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Thu, Mar 1, 2018, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Invasive Procedures

This was a weird episode and I don't think the guest actors/characters showed enough depth or put in a solid enough performance to make it compelling. The idea of a man without confidence and who feels wronged and wants the symbiont as a means of turning into a somebody is a decent one for Trek, but this episode never takes off, for me. It's a bit contrived that the perfect storm takes place for them to come to DS9 and basically hijack Jadzia Dax.

But is the point Sisko pointing out to Mareel that Verad's no longer who he used to be? Why should we care about Verad and his woman anyway? They're just the "villains" of the week. Wasn't a fan of the two guest characters. Yes, the change in Verad is distinctive, as it should be -- but both could have been more emotional (especially Mareel) in reacting to each other after the surgery.

Obviously there has to be a fightback from the DS9 crew but it takes an awful long time to unfold (Bashir to overpower the Klingon in sickbay) and finally Mareel gives into Sisko. But Kira did get beaten up by Mareel -- a female! Might be the 1st and only time that happens on DS9. Also have to wonder why Verad didn't phaser Sisko in the end, only to get phasered himself near the airlock.

Tim Russ doesn't make a good Klingon. He's not angry, forceful enough. For an accomplished actor, thought he'd play a bigger role in this episode -- heck, the other Klingon had more of a role to play.

So Quark let the enemies into DS9 -- what was in it for him? This is a loose end in the episode. Didn't Kira want to kick his ass for creating the weakness in security? In the end Quark is key for helping Bashir overpower the Klingon in sickbay -- and there is his stupid attack on Tim Russ's character. Just more annoying Quark.

2 stars for "Invasive Procedures" -- Bashir had some good moments doing his doctor thing, caring for Jadzia, and Sisko's role here is an interesting one playing Verad/Mareel, but those good moments were too few and far between. The ending surgery seemed to be successful too easily considering all the crap they made up about doing this kind of host/symbiont operation in quick succession. The big thing is the character examination should have been more focused on Jadzia Dax instead of Verad/Mareel, who we'll never hear from again.
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Thu, Mar 1, 2018, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Siege

Definitely the weakest of the 3-parter although not weak in absolute terms. The slower pacing that was better suited to the 1st 2 parts wasn't so great in the first half of this episode, which had a lack of material stretched out. Not as much intrigue or world building, no layers of complexity. Instead that good stuff is substituted with some bland action scenes. And the ending felt far too rushed.

How does Dax destroy 1 Bajoran ship with 1 shot while Dax/Kira's ship gets hit so many times but doesn't get destroyed? Isn't it a ship/shuttle that's been in a cave for 10 years? Ultimately it does go down but I wasn't overly fond of this space ship fight scene. The one good thing about it is Kira emphasizing to Dax to do things by the "seat of your pants".

A couple of scenes fell flat: Li Nalas's speech was not all that rousing as he convinced a bunch of Bajorans to stay back from the runabout. Quark's scene with the runabout departure dragged on -- his nonsense was one drag on this 3-parter. What's funny is the scene with Jaro/Winn plotting together plays a lot like Bajoran Dukat/Winn in Season 7 -- just needed that evil laugh MUAHAHAHA! I'd expect more from these two later in the season/series.

Hey - we got to see a native Bajoran animal -- something like a tarantula the size of a small dog. And they used to be eaten! Not enough native fauna in Trek for me.

2.5 stars for "The Siege" -- after 2 episodes the denouement takes place quite quickly with the evidence of Cardassian weapons supporting the Circle. I don't get Jaro's muted reaction to this -- he's now going to have the Federation overseeing Bajor, but I guess that's better than taking help from the Cardassians. And what was Kira looking at after Jaro agreed to the investigation? More time should have been spent on the resolution of the coup after the Cardassian evidence than on Quark's nonsense. Li Nalas dies a hero -- his legacy is preserved; turns out he was a useful plot device. Nevertheless, quite a lot of has been accomplished to start DS9 S2 -- some nice plots have been set in motion.
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Thu, Mar 1, 2018, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Circle

Nice continuation here with more layers to the plot being added -- quite intriguing stuff.

Jaro makes a good bad guy so it's cool that he's running the Circle. He's bright, tactful, ambitious, and scheming. The idea of a Bajoran resistance movement against the Federation after having come through the Cardassian occupation is logical. They are a proud people etc. Good plot with the Cardassians supplying the Circle without the Jaro/Bajorans knowing -- the Cardassians have their motives, Jaro has his, Winn has hers -- it's all good stuff.

Sisko ordered to evacuate with the Bajoran forces arriving is exactly what the Cardassians want and it all makes sense from the Federation admiral. A good way to end this part and set up the next one.

What was unclear is the relation between the vedics and the provisional government on Bajor. But that gets sorted out a bit -- Winn stands for orthodox values -- Jaro wants to help with that and get the Prophets on his side. More intriguing stuff as Bajoran "leaders" can associate themselves with different parts of the religious angle.

One issue with this episode is that it had a weird vibe with seemingly everybody (Sisko, Jaro, Bareil, Winn, etc.) speaking in such measured tones. Bareil was particularly robotic in this episode -- not sure if this is just stiff acting or he's supposed to be trying to conceal something. He was being cagey but I think it's a bit of both. Could have used some more emotion from many characters.

Kira's spoken to by the Prophets - set up by Bareil. This was weird but might be meant to be some kind of passionate vision of the future between her and Bareil -- pretty clear Bareil thinks so.

The scene in Kira's quarters when the whole gang drops in individually to say good-bye was hilarious -- played out like some kind of sitcom. I liked that -- a light-hearted part at the start of a heavy episode.

3 stars for "The Circle" -- the middle part of a 3-parter that actually stands very well on its own. DS9 is taking its time to build a world in Bajor and it's paying off slowly but surely. Many good individual scenes here but all fitting together well -- not too much wrong here.
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Wed, Feb 28, 2018, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Maneuvers

Enthralling episode -- great plot ideas with some flaws of logic/execution. The real strength is the character performances -- mainly Chakotay and Seska -- but Janeway/Torres have some good moments too as it relates to Chakotay's insubordination. The Kazon are Voyager's primary enemies at this stage of the series and while, on their own, they are overmatched, Seska's treason is an equalizing factor though I still struggle to see how she could be so capable and Voyager not aggressive enough defending itself.

The flaws: Ballsy (and unrealistic to me) move to crash a shuttle into Voyager to steal the transporter module. How did Voyager fix such a hull breach and be able to go to warp so quickly? And towards the end Torres trying to transport Chakotay through shields and a Kazon dampening field is an oversight from the writers. And I guess this is possible in the 24th century: Seska can impregnate herself with Chakotay's DNA? Quite the way to end the episode -- making Seska come across as a manipulative psycho with one more serious stab at Chakotay. Some "Fatal Attraction" like vibe going on here...

Aside from those flaws (and others I didn't mention), the pacing, plot action, and character interactions are great. Seska/Culluh are fun to watch. Culluh comes across as particularly dumb, however. Seska is a master manipulator -- have to wonder what her ultimate motives are. She goes from doing anything to get home to (presumably) being satisfied stuck in the DQ with the Kazon. It's good for the series to have such a villain.

The torture scene was edgier than normal for VOY -- Beltran's performance is better than usual. I feel like it was a take on other torture scenes -- perhaps like Chain of Command, Part II with Picard gaining an advantage on his torturer.

Great also to get more color on the Kazon -- they're not just stock villains. They have their scenes and their characters (mainly Culluh, I guess) get developed. Wonder if we see the other Kazon leaders going forward...

I liked Janeway's gut vs. better judgment discussion with Torres -- she has to go after Chakotay for what effect not having him would have on the Voyager crew. Mulgrew's acting is on point here in these types of situations -- the dressing down of her subordinates is well acted/written -- like in "Prime Factors". The whole personalization of the feud with Seska is believable and as Chakotay was Maquis, I can see him willing to sacrifice himself after being massively humiliated -- so this is a good dynamic for the episode because of what it puts Janeway through.

A strong 3 stars for "Maneuvers" -- we have to look past the transporter/shields issue to enjoy this one as the ending resolution is contingent on that. Tuvok comes across as sloppy in his duties but aside from some of these holes, there's plenty to enjoy in this episode. Seska as a villain is terrific, the dynamic with Chakotay works well, and Janeway has to discipline her 2nd in command. No doubt one of VOY's best efforts so far.
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Tue, Feb 27, 2018, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Mirror, Mirror

I've seen this episode a million times but just caught it yesterday and I couldn't believe how much I appreciated it, couldn't stop watching -- just quality writing, acting, plot mechanics, and a late injection of Trekkian values. After seeing the mess DSC made of the MU, "Mirror, Mirror" was so refreshing (and it's not just the mess DSC made of the MU, DS9/ENT wasn't so great either).

One thing that strikes me here is McCoy's insistence on treating Mirror Spock after the fight in sickbay -- even being in this barbaric universe and with the urgency of the situation, McCoy holds onto his doctor obligations.

I think the dialog between Kirk and Mirror Marlena is so well written and acted. And the ending humorous scene when Marlena comes to the bridge is classic TOS -- that charming cap on the episode.

I have to upgrade my rating to 4 stars for "Mirror, Mirror" -- not nearly as shallow as I had initially thought. Mirror Sulu is terrific and Uhura shines in her playing of the situation. This is an masterclass in showing how to imply fear/tension as opposed to going for on-screen brutality (like in DSC).

"MIrror, Mirror" is a top 10 TOS episode but not top 5. What's curious for me is the 1st 10 episodes of TOS S2 -- 5 of them are 4* episodes, the other 5 are 2* or 1.5*. I do believe the period spanning late TOS S1 to early TOS S2 is the finest period for Star Trek (1967).
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Thu, Feb 22, 2018, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Homecoming

Interesting setup to kick off Season 2 with Bajor descending into anarchy and a reluctant hero supposed to rally it together. I like the dynamic with Kira and Sisko both hoping to use Li Nalas to serve their own ends. Jaro seems an interesting character -- portrayed by a reputable actor -- definitely multidimensional/multilayered -- drops a bombshell as the episode ends with Kira supposedly leaving DS9. Good cliffhanger here. Wouldn't mind seeing more of Jaro...

Kind of knew from the outset that there was something strange about Li Nalas and so the actor playing him does a good job in creating that sense of doubt. Hardly ever came across as a hero and then he tells Sisko his story. Sisko's line about truth/legend/symbol is a good one although I don't know how realistic it is that Li Nalas could become a legend to the Bajoran people in the 1st place after shooting a Gul while he was in his underwear. The idea that people who have known Li Nalas for a long time (and probably didn't think he could be such a hero) all of a sudden consider him an icon as his story gets distorted beyond belief is a stretch. Nevertheless, a legend is born and for a strongly faith-based people, it takes on incredible power. I guess I'm a bit surprised he warmed up to Sisko so quickly as well.

As the first part in a short arc, we get some fledgling stories/arcs starting (Jake's dating is the least important -- but there is this xenophobic Circle movement which sound interesting). And what of Dukat's proclamation that Cardassia is Bajor's friend? Fair bit here that is up in the air.

As for the rescue of Li Nalas, seemed overly easy -- fooling the Cardassian outpost, the phaser fight, not meeting any resistance from Cardassian ships etc. I found this part of the episode overly simplistic.

But what's great is the depth being put in to create the complexities of the Bajoran world and the complications for the Federation to fulfill its mission. Coming after the end of Season 1 with the 2 vedics Winn and Bareil -- it's a hot mess, but a fascinating one.

3 stars for "The Homecoming" -- some parts were a bit hard to believe (the rescue, how Li Nalas got his reputation) but we have the start of a solid story, good/complex characters and acting. The episode did play out like a long drama, making the use of not having to solve everything in an hour. Quite satisfying and intriguing.
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Tue, Feb 20, 2018, 6:47am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Who Mourns for Adonais?

@ Peter G.,

Excellent analysis -- enjoyed reading what you had to say.

I think what you wrote is quite insightful:
"What Apollo represents is the appeal to that old craving for creature comforts, which humanity by this point rejects as being of primary importance, and *that* is why they reject him. I see no atheistic message here."

Also I'd add that an initial show of force certainly would put off Kirk & Co. -- make them far less likely to accept Apollo's proposition.

One last tidbit I'd like to add about this episode -- it has a wonderful musical score that gives the sense of awe of the power of Apollo but also the uniqueness of the situation (in the presence of a Greek God/temple).
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Mon, Feb 19, 2018, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ Peter G.,

You said: "One of the weird things about the show is that the wormhole aliens are a stone-cold reality, and I'd say one of the weaknesses of the series is that Starfleet seemed to be totally uninterested in them, when I would have thought that they'd be the most totally cool First Contact in a long time - probably since meeting the Q."

I'm actually glad StarFleet (and its science) didn't try to get a better understanding of the Prophets. I think DS9 did the right thing in leaving them as mysterious/weird, which should help perpetuate the idea that they are some kind of metaphysical/divine beings.

Had StarFleet tried to pursue them, I believe they wouldn't find anything as it is up to the Prophets to reveal themselves. Even if StarFleet's purposes in pursuing the Prophets would be more benevolent/altruistic than, say, Winn's, I don't think they'd get anywhere. And what's great is that this doesn't diminish the value of StarFleet's science or the Prophets themselves.
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Mon, Feb 19, 2018, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Who Mourns for Adonais?

@ Trent
@ Peter G.

Apollo is quite the character and the performance makes the episode interesting however it is anything but a masterpiece. One does feel bad/pity/sorry for him in the end. This episode actually gets less tolerable the more I watch it.

But this is not humans rejecting a God -- it's humans rejecting what they see as a false God, a pretender. Kirk & Co. have an idea of how a God should be (perhaps compassionate etc.) So I don't think there's an atheistic message here -- it's yet another example of Kirk & Co. fighting for escape from a superior being (a common theme in TOS). I think it's as simple as that although the superior being has an interesting story and is taking on the form of what would be considered a God by the ancient Greek.

I mentioned in my earlier comment:
"I certainly don't think Trek is advocating atheism here - as Kirk mentions "one god"." I think that still rings true.

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Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Home Soil

There's a good story here but wooden guest acting, bad directing and writing undermine the final product. The 1st half made it clear there was a mystery -- what are the terraformers concealing? But it was needlessly slow to develop. The second part when the ship is dealing with a serious threat from a new life form is better.

Cool concept of this kind of inorganic life and I liked how the Enterprise crew methodically went about establishing this conclusion. And damn, that universal translator is good! I don't see the Horta as a suitable comparison to this life form (as it is organic) but I actually think the Companion ("Metamorphosis") is perhaps more similar. "Ugly bags of water" -- appropriate description for humankind in this case!

Thought the dialog between the microbrain and the Enterprise crew seemed reasonable (after getting past the formidable capabilities of the UT). The microbrain thinks humans are arrogant and it is defending itself -- can't ascribe human qualities to it -- though it tells them to get back in touch in a 200-300 years or something -- maybe a touch of arrogance there!

Some of the plot machinations are arbitrary -- as they have to be in this type of story -- like Riker short-circuiting the lights from a nearby panel. Shouldn't the microbrain be able to deal with this type of action if it can basically control the ship?

2.5 stars for "Home Soil" -- some points for creativity here but really hard to tolerate the weak acting of the terraformers. The old head scientist wasn't too bad, but his misdirection at the start of the episode seemed misplaced -- he didn't know what he had on his hands, but he could hardly think it was something of tremendous value that he'd keep it secret. What would he do with it? Fairly typical TNG S1 here -- a decent idea but poorly executed.
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Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ Trent,

I should clarify that atheism is more than just a communist notion as it arises in many ways but if you really understand communism you’ll know atheism is something they advocate and promote.

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Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ Peter G.,

Believe me, I understand what atheism is (it is a communist notion). Like I said "Science's purpose is not outwardly to be atheist" but by trying to provide a logical explanation for everything, people can tend to believe that almost everything can/should be explained by science and therefore, involuntarily in some cases, people become less willing to believe in the divine. So bottom line, whether science wants to or not, it provides an alternative framework to faith. This becomes clearer if the topic of discussion is the universe's creation and the appearance of life on Earth.

I'm not suggesting that Keiko is atheist and intends to ram her beliefs down the throats of the Bajoran kids -- we don't have a large enough sample size of her teaching (thank goodness).

And how the Prophets operate is hard to assess, being metaphysical and just doing things that are outside of the Trek paradigm (things that divine beings would presumably do). I've been critical of their role in the series as I see Trek as more of a science-based paradigm but it is commendable that faith is juxtaposed prominently in DS9. It just takes some getting used to.
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Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 10:17am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ Peter G.,

Science's purpose is not outwardly to be atheist but it tries to explain every phenomena with laws, formulas, theorems etc. What science can't explain is chalked up as something to perhaps be explained when future developments are made or just plain superstition. So science takes a very different path from faith / belief in the divine and that's why i think it is fundamentally atheist.

As for Winn, as a religious extremists, she feels Keiko's wormhole teachings are blasphemous -- and she's not wrong if it makes Bajoran kids not believe in the Prophets. Of course, she's a villain and has her political motivations but she is a firm believer in the Prophets perhaps first and foremost over her political motivations (at this stage of DS9).

What's wrong about Winn is what she does about her political motivations fuelled by her strong faith (criminal activities). I could see Bareil also opposing Keiko's wormhole teachings, but he'd express his disagreement differently.

Keiko's teachings aren't wrong either but the wormhole turns out to be one of those sensitive subjects to Bajorans. Think about why our school system doesn't teach about Jesus Christ when there could be Muslim kids in the class. Schools teach science while faith/spirituality is taught elsewhere.

I do agree with you that the series makes efforts to show people who believe in science primarily and those that believe in faith primarily can co-exist and that's definitely a Trekkian message -- which is great. To preach mutual respect etc. is what it's all about.
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Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

Great episode that shows how good DS9 can be by working in undercurrents of the main arc with an immediate plot -- it just gives much more depth to the situation instead of concocting something on the spot in some random episode. We get Vedek Winn as an important character going forward + Vedek Bareil who both put in good performances combined with a murder mystery that dovetails nicely into the main plot. Really well done for just 1 hour.

There were some pretty compelling interactions and Sisko's part was well written here (Brooks' acting didn't really irk me either). I liked Bareil's performance in meeting Sisko on Bajor -- he comes across as priest-like enough but with his political ambitions. Sisko's line to him about the prophets teaching politics was superb. And then there's Sisko discussing the situation with Jake -- it's the father/son thing at its best here explaining the faith/science situation.

The "battle" to be the next Kai is also initiated and Winn as a character is one that creates instant dislike for me -- but this is well-done by the writers and Fletcher plays the part well -- acting priestly but treacherous deep down inside. She convinces Neela to carry out her terrible order and has her believing the Prophets would want her to murder Bareil -- Neela is the suicide bomber in essence.

One gripe is the scene where Neela tries to kill Bareil -- would no other Bajorans try to stop her when/if they see the phaser? And it's a bit cliche for the slow motion "Noooooo!" from Ben Sisko to stop her. But this is a very minor gripe (it strikes me as implausible that the computer/O'Brien can decrypt the password to solve Neela's plan).

As for Keiko's school and Winn's issues with it -- this is very much symptomatic, I think, of the faith vs. science debate. Science is fundamentally atheist and Winn is justified in feeling it's blasphemy. Now, going about murder is obviously not justified but it happens in real life. Near the start of the show, getting Kira vs. Keiko representing both sides of the debate was also a very well-written interaction.

Good enough for 3.5 stars. The DS9 S1 finale gets us back to the main issues of the difficulty of getting Bajor into the Federation and sets up some political wranglings within Bajor for S2. Definitely thought-provoking, suspenseful and shows how good DS9 can be in an up and down S1. Ben Sisko is not comfortable being Emissary, but the character is even-handed in dealing with conflicting views and guiding Jake through the chaos -- good performances all around, good writing, well-conceived. Coming after the outstanding "Duet" -- this episode probably generated a ton of interest in DS9.
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Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: The Storyteller

2 inane subplots make up this waste of an hour. Talk about bland, contrived, somewhat cliche, and definitely not funny. Actually a pretty boring hour of DS9.

The one redeeming quality is Bahir/O'Brien's friendship getting started in earnest. But the premise for it getting started is dumb.

Some Bajor nonsense about the Dal'Rok -- no idea what the phenomenon is as it doesn't register on O'Brien's tricorder -- some Bajoran legend or whatever straining the bounds of believability as the Bajoran's thoughts against it are supposed to ward it off when conducted by the Sirah. And then there's this story about the understudy of the Sirah who rises to the occasion after screwing up his first chance (he nearly kills O'Brien -- no accusations of attempted murder though). This whole subplot is too lightweight, basic, and insulting to a true Trek fan.

And then there's Jake/Nog trying to impress a teenage Bajoran who has the weight of her people on her shoulders. It's just too simplistic -- basically the girl coming to see Jake's respect for Ben Sisko and then she can accept his advice. We don't even find out how her new tack goes over in the negotiations.

1.5 stars for "The Storyteller" -- not sure how Jammer gets to 3 stars for this one. I just kept hoping one of the storylines would come up with something insightful, suspenseful, exciting, interesting, etc. But it didn't happen. 2 completely unrelated and disappointing storylines here.
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Thu, Feb 15, 2018, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Where No One Has Gone Before

Plenty of strong things about this episode -- really giving the feel of some fresh and new sci-fi, but it's undermined by the impossibility of the situation and some "cheap tricks" which give the episode a hokey feel at times.

Here's something that felt like real sci-fi -- like 2001 when the ship is traveling well beyond the galaxy -- I really enjoyed the visuals. Just the fact that the Enterprise is over a billion light years away from home is unfathomable so I give props for pushing the envelope (however unrealistic within the Trek paradigm); not to mention being in some part of the universe where thoughts become reality (just wish they had come up with better examples).

The Traveler is also a wonderful concoction -- the idea of blending thought with the technology is an intriguing one (and one that Picard entertains). That the Traveler has a bond with Wesley is helpful for giving some "logic" to why the boy is a boy genius and that Picard needs to encourage him etc. etc.

As for Kosinski -- the writers went overboard with his arrogance. So he's had a couple of successes on older ships (thanks to the Traveler's help) and now he thinks he's the shit but he acts like a total dick while still being subject to Star Fleet protocols. Glad he ate his humble pie and fell back in line (a tad).

2.5 stars -- had the feel of some grand old sci-fi with bold imagination and a serious threat to the ship; however, the solution of benevolent thoughts for the Traveler and the wishy-washy nature of his condition is all arbitrary and convenient. I didn't find Wes annoying here and this episode will put into context his future actions. Easily the best of the 1st 5 TNG episodes (and perhaps the best of the dozen or so), although flawed in many respects.
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Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Projections

Definitely feels like a Braga episode -- and one of his better ones. All these illusions seem to have some bizarre way of "making sense" with radiation bursts / anomalies / holodecks etc. and it made for an entertaining but mostly inconsequential episode.

Picardo and Schultz make a fine team -- good writing in terms of their lines and the overall concept for the episode which is to make Doc question his existence. There was one final part that I didn't understand -- after Tuvok and Kim in sickbay explain what had happened, then Barclay and Kes (as Doc's wife) reappear. I take it this was one last glitch before Janeway sets things straight in the holodeck. But the episode is all about unexpected twists and it just does these things a bit too arbitrarily for me. It's like the perfect storm has to take place for specific subroutines in Doc's program to be affected by some BS radiation while he's in the holodeck.

Gotta give credit to this episode for messing with my mind -- was perfectly prepared to watch Doc phaser the warp core and then have the episode resolve itself, but then Chakotay pops up. Thought the commander could have been more forceful with Doc in telling him to forget Barclay's advice.

3 stars for "Projections" -- a lot to like here as the tables are turned on Doc with Barclay's explanation seeming so sound as an experiment Dr. Zimmerman was conducting. The episode did give the sense of almost helplessness for Doc in the early part. It's a good experiment in putting a character through the ringer and keeping the viewer guessing, but I don't think it's as good as "Cause and Effect" (as Braga efforts go). Might be, however, a landmark episode as far as Doc's character development and future efforts to experience humanness.
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