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Baron Samedi
Sun, Mar 5, 2017, 10:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: ANDR S2: Second Season Recap

Tagging @Samaritan and @Leah (who I figure are the same person) in case he/she is interested in reading my post.
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Baron Samedi
Sun, Mar 5, 2017, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: ANDR S2: Second Season Recap

I suppose that my quest to finish the entirety of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, a five-season show widely remembered, to the extent that it is remembered at all, as having disintegrated halfway through its second season into a nearly unwatchable, low-budget mess, should have ended with me gaining the wisdom to stop.

But, I have a strange fascination with the detritus of forgotten sci-fi shows and an investment in the “good” early seasons of Andromeda that kept me going. Even so, Season 5 was a tough ride for me. In the time that it took me to get through it, I watched the entirety of Sliders, another show that started promisingly and ultimately fell apart as behind-the-scenes pressure resulted in a shift away from thought-provoking concepts and towards action hour on a television budget. That said, Sliders never betrayed its premise the way that Andromeda did, and it’s maligned fifth season blew Andromeda’s fifth season out of the water. Some shows jump the shark; Andromeda jumped the Sharknado.

Season Five found the crew stranded on a planet called Seefra in a pocket universe. For anyone who doesn’t know already, the season barely got made and exists so that the show can hit 100 episodes and become syndicated, and stranding the crew on a planet functioned to reduce costs by encouraging the reuse of sets and discouraging expensive space battle CGI. It’s remarkable to think that the ending to “The Dissonant Interval” (the Season Four finale) was nearly the ending to the whole series, given that everyone but Dylan dies in it.

The Seefra setting resembles a low-budget Tatooine, full of dirt, sand, annoying characters, and goofy conflicts. Imagine the first half of A New Hope, but instead everyone is boring and bored - it reminded me of Bible videos I was forced to watch at Sunday School as a kid. Indeed, the show this season feels like it’s meant for ten-year-olds - it’s easy to forget the sexual undercurrent in several Tyr-centered episodes from Season One.

Lexa Doig (Rommie) was pregnant during Season Five’s filming and thus only plays a major role in the last few episodes. Her replacement is Doyle, a who serves as eye-candy and is never believable as an android home to Rommie’s artificial intelligence, especially when she performs kung fu in a bright pink costume that seems borrowed from a Power Rangers episode. In fairness, I think that Brandy Ledford gives a pretty earnest performance in the role, and she has a fair amount of charisma and chemistry with Harper and, towards the end, Rommie.

Season Five does have some good ideas, and it isn't terrible episode-by-episode. In fact, the average episode is better than the average episode of Season Four - it’s just that Season Four at least felt like a part of the Andromeda universe, whereas only the final two episodes of Season Five feel like they are even from the same continuity.

The MVP was definitely the Recurring Cave Set, which works its way into nearly every episode, followed by Gordon Michael Woolvett, who I genuinely enjoy as Harper. The Andromeda itself was so overpowered in the past that there was a lot of promise in the concept of it being in disrepair for the first half of this season, and it was satisfying to see our crew members slowly reunite and work towards repairing it and finding a way out of the Seefra system.

Dylan Hunt discovers that he is a god in this season (or at least a Paradine), solidifying all the “Hercules in space” jokes made about Andromeda. As much as I’ve picked on Kevin Sorbo before (and continue to here), I do think that he’s a good guy and I respect that he stands by his personal values (which I don’t share at all) in a way that a lot of celebrities in his position wouldn’t. He’s just gotten rather consumed by his bizarre persecution complex regarding Christianity and has a bit of an ego problem. His performances in Season Five are OK - he can seem bored at times, but at least he can deliver exposition with a sense of urgency often lacking elsewhere in the episodes. The rest of the performances by the main cast are fine and they have good chemistry together, although the guest actors are as much of a mixed bag as ever.

The two primary problems with Season 5, both certainly exacerbated by the low budget, are the setting and the execution.

The setting is what gets all the bad rep when people think of Season 5 Andromeda, and for good reason. Seefra is grimy and dull. At least in the earlier seasons, there was always a possibility that Dylan and our heroes could show up in an interesting location, but that’s gone here. Everyone’s stuck on a crappy planet we don’t care about and where it seems destined that nothing interesting will ever happen. Crucially, we never get to see how the events from Season Four in “The Dissonant Interval: Part Two” really connect to the events of Season Five. Sure, there’s some dialogue explaining how certain characters escaped certain death and got from one place to another, but we never see it, which is a crucial omission in a visual medium that robs the overarching storyline of much of its potential power.

I’m reminded a bit of the storyline from Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica involving a massacre of Sagittarons on New Caprica that was supposed to play a crucial role during Baltar’s trial, but ended up being cut out entirely because we would have never seen the events actually play out. Ronald D. Moore discussed in the commentary how not showing these events when they occurred in the narrative robbed them of their dramatic power. Similarly, the sheer amount of universe-explaining that occurs verbally, through exposition, in Season 5 of Andromeda just doesn’t “stick” or make an impact on the viewer because we never get to see it. I’m sure I could carefully examine the dialogue and understand all the nuances of the Andromeda mythology, but the lack of visual demonstration of crucial plot pieces really kills the whole setting. This is particularly true during an elaborate evacuation storyline in the second half of the season - we see a sun moving closer to and destroying planets, but we see hardly anything on the surface of the planets and only a handful of refugees. Meanwhile, our crew members often joke and screw around (at one point Beka gets a massage) while the fates of millions of people are at stake. It’s just bad storytelling.

All that certainly ties into the problems with execution that immensely reduce the enjoyment of almost every episode. This is has held Andromeda back from the beginning, but especially in Season 5, the pacing and plot development could use a lot of work. The episodes often lack a clear narrative or clear character motivations, resulting in disjointed stories where it’s difficult to understand what the writers are trying to get across on a basic level.

This tendency is best exemplified in “Opposites of Attraction”, where the plot (I’m not making this up) is that the living avatar of the black hole from the pilot episode suddenly appears onboard the Andromeda to romantically pursue Dylan Hunt. How does a black hole have a living avatar? Who knows. Why is the black hole’s avatar an attractive woman infatuated by Dylan Hunt? I dunno. How did she get from wherever the pilot episode took place to the Seefra system? Don’t ask me, or the writers. Moreover, the first thing she does is try to secretly murder Beka Valentine by creating a portal into space right behind her. How does the living embodiment of a black hole do that? I’m stumped. Anyway, the black hole’s motivation for trying to kill Beka is that Beka salvaged the Andromeda in the pilot episode, separating Dylan from her. So, why is the black hole pissed at Beka, but not at Harper, who also helped salvage the Andromeda? I have no idea.

Anyway, Beka narrowly avoids being sucked into space, but after that happens, she doesn’t even bring it up again and has no suspicions when the black hole avatar inexplicably appears on the ship. Think about that for a second: A) You are on a spaceship with only a few other people, all of whom you trust and know very well B) You narrowly avoid being murdered and don’t know who tried to kill you and C) a mysterious individual with suspicious motivations suddenly appears on the ship with no explanation. How hard is it to put 2 and 2 together here and conclude that the mysterious individual who just showed up is the one who tried to kill you? But the characters don’t, and a lot of these episodes are similarly riddled with holes that prevent any investment in the plot. And by the way, “Opposites of Attraction” ends with virtual fight between Dylan and the black hole avatar inside Andromeda’s computer system that looks like a scene from Tron shot on a $15 budget. Apparently, the best way to defeat a black hole’s romantically bitter living avatar is to swing a virtual lance at it and trap it inside of a computer program.

In my opinion, the only satisfying way to interpret the final season of Andromeda is as a David Lynch-like dreamscape of a comatose Dylan Hunt imagining 1) the new Commonwealth prevailing despite its near-destruction from Season Three and its corruption from Season Four and 2) his friends all surviving despite their clear deaths in “The Dissonant Interval” and following him as their leader once again.

This explanation was obviously not intended by the show-runners or screenwriters, but, in my opinion, a dramatic work can speak for itself based on its own content, regardless of what its creators intended.

So, to me, the final season is Andromeda coming full circle to confront the optimistic naivety that characterized Dylan’s vision of a new Commonwealth and his refusal to recognize the problems with the old one from Season One. The events of “The Dissonant Interval” and the deaths of all of Andromeda’s crew members make Dylan, in whatever form he continues to exist (perhaps floating in space a la “Be All My Sins Remembered”), a broken man who imagines his vision of a united New Commonwealth prevailing against the Abyss when, in reality, it crumbled before him. Indeed, you could even stretch this theory a bit further to apply it to Sorbo, as the executive producer, looking back on the wreckage of a once promising series. (Similarly, the final episode of Sliders, which went super-meta, invited, intentionally or not, parallels to behind-the-scenes creative and budgetary issues that gutted the show’s potential to ever live up to its early promise.)

Sorry if it sounds like I’m whining pointlessly. I’m motivated by the lack of even slightly detailed analysis of Season 5 available on the internet (as all the critics who took it seriously jumped ship around Season 3) and, also, by the fact that I do think that Andromeda has salvageable elements.

In fact, I think that the five seasons of Andromeda can be condensed into a very watchable and enjoyable season-and-a-half of content by watching only a particular set of episodes, which I may put together some day. This list would draw from continuity and quality, including a few bad episodes because they are important to the series’ mythology (in particular, “Ouroboros” and the Season Three and Season 4 premieres) and plenty of good ones that don’t.

But that’s for another day. Here is a brief word on each Season 5 episode, ranked from best to worst:



Classic Episodes:


Good Episodes:

1. Through a Glass, Darkly
In a genuine surprise, the Perseid scientist Hohne who fell into the slipstream core in “Oroboros” returns. It’s odd how “Oroboros”, a mess of an episode that marked the transition from pre to post-Wolfe Andromeda, is so central to the mythos of the show, as it serves as the basis for Season 3’s excellent “The Unconquerable Man”, the birth of the “new” Trance, and this episode. I found it a joy to see a Perseid again - despite their silly makeup and costumes, they have a design unique to the series and they hail back to the beginning of the show. It’s an unexpected piece of continuity, and the fact that Hohne is a signatory to the New Commonwealth Charter even gets mentioned. The episode is pretty good, too, featuring time travel and a theme about whether we are stuck in a particular destiny that leads Dylan to question his own perceived invincibility. (9/10)

2. When Goes Around...
The most unique episode of the season, about an Old Commonwealth scientist stuck in a time-loop. Thea Gill is very good in a guest performance as the scientist stuck in a Groundhog Day-like scenario, and the episode wisely tells the story from her perspective rather than from the perspective of the crew. Yes, it only takes about ten minutes for Dylan to bed her, but I actually bought it. It’s enjoyable to see the crew working together to solve a small-scale problem, and the story has a heart to it. (8/10)

3. Pride Before the Fall
Andromeda’s 100th episode, as Kevin Sorbo reminds us before the opening quotation, prompting me to reflect on what I’m doing with my life. We get a blooper reel at the end of the episode too. The episode features some Shakespearean dialogue: “Funny meeting you here” responded to by “It’s so funny, I forgot to laugh!”. Also, a bad guy says: “Give me your ship and everything you have” to which Dylan responds “You must be confusing me with someone who gives a ship!” The villain looks like Gary Busey and the episode actually explains the origin of the Nietzscheans while exploring temporal discrepancies between the Seefra system and the surrounding galaxies. Tyr gets named in the dialogue, too, which is the first time I remember him being mentioned since his last appearance in Season Four. (7/10)

4. The Eschatology of Our Present
Beka meets an old man who believes Beka to be her daughter, which sets off a story that works pretty well dramatically. We learn a lot of background (through exposition, as usual) of the Seefra system in this episode. The action (which includes another bar fight) and dialogue are a bit better than usual. (7/10)


Mediocre Episodes:

5. Quantum Tractate Delirium
In one of the most satisfying plot threads of the season, Rommie, who got destroyed in “The Dissonant Interval”, finally gets rebuilt seventeen episodes later. She emerges with gothic new look that conveniently exposes quite a bit of her figure. This all leads to an enjoyable plot twist and a pretty amusing android fight between Rommie and Doyle. (6/10)

6. The Weight: Part 2
Beka, Trance, and the Andromeda all show up again, but Rommie and Harper remain absent. Beka has some great character moments. We get as much of an explanation as we’ll ever get regarding how the crew got from Arkology to Seefra - Trance transported them somehow, for some reason. (6/10)

7. Decay of the Angel
Doyle learns more about herself, creating some interesting conflicts with Harper regarding the ethics of programming an Android to think that it/she is human. Otherwise it’s just your standard Andromeda episode with perfunctory spark-squib action. (6/10)

8. Attempting Screed
Flavin returns, causing two gangs to war over access to the goods in his ship. Rhade and Harper cleverly profit by playing off of both of the feuding factions. There’s some cool music, for a change. The episode is juvenile but fun enough. (6/10)

9. Saving Light from a Black Sun
Several of our crewmembers travel around a structure inside one of the Seefra system’s suns, which consists entirely of identical corridors that we somehow aren’t supposed to recognized as barely repurposed Andromeda Ascendant sets. The episode has some of the season’s best visual effects, including quite a few that were developed specifically for this episode. I think this episode is supposed to have a lot of significance for Season 5’s story arc, but I honestly just can’t be bothered to iron out all the details. (5/10)

10. One More Day's Light
Someone complains about a lack of resources to provide for refugees who Dylan is transporting to safety; Dylan response by having Rommie and Doyle beat the shit out of him. It’s kind of funny to think about, given Kevin Sorbo’s politics, that his character here is literally beating the shit out of someone for speaking out against bringing in more refugees. The plot concerns a faction that exists entirely in the Recurring Cave Set that refuses to evacuate a doomed planet. Rommie and Doyle make an amusing Star Wars reference (“We are not the droids you’re looking for!”) which, given the presence of Earth in the lore of the series, might actually make sense. As if anyone cares. (5/10)

11. Phear Phactor Phenom
Harper finally returns, Doyle makes her first appearance, and Dylan interacts with a digital version of Rommie. Nano-bots possess extras on Seefra, making them slightly more insufferable than usual. Some good character moments (particularly from Harper) amidst hammy action and murky long-term plot development. (5/10)

12. What Will Be Was Not
The crew stumbles upon Vedran portals that connect the Seefra planets, which the show forgers about later in the season in several moments when they would have been very helpful, looked after by Orlund, one of the more interesting guest characters. The Andromeda gets powered up, too. An okay episode. (5/10)

13. Chaos and the Stillness of It
Some dude gets mad because the Andromeda saved the population of several planets, though in fairness he turns out to have an ulterior agenda. The Abyss shows up for the first time in ages, although I’m not sure why or how, and he/it isn’t nearly as intimidating as in the early seasons. Lots of poorly-staged action and disjointed plot development, but the ensemble gets enough to do that it’s still a passable episode. (5/10)

14. Moonlight Becomes You
Trance has a bizarre pseudo-romance with someone who dresses up as a sun god but turns out to be a moon god…I’m sure there are detailed explanations for everything that happens, but I just don’t care enough to figure it all out. Dylan beats up the dude and oh-so hilariously stammers “Looks like it’s sun-DOWN.” Someone mentions magnetic forces, to which Dylan responds that they do “nothing but repel me!” The episode conveys four stories, only two of which take place in the Recurring Cave Set. (4/10)

15. Past Is Prolix
A forgettable action episode, with some enjoyable moments from Orlund, who returns from “What Will Be Was Not” to sing praises about Dylan. Rhade blows away some villains and actually says “Bye bye bad guys.” (4/10)

16. The Weight: Part 1
Dylan finds himself transported through the Route of Ages and on Seefra One, which has anti-technology laws, water shortages, and residents who promptly initiate a bar fight. Dylan meets Flavin, a fellow Paradine, and reunites with Rhade. A lot of plot threads get set up, none interesting; fortunately, many are forgotten later in the season. (4/10)

17. So Burn the Untamed Lands
Dylan fights Doran from BSG, who plays a remarkably incompetent villain, even by the standards of the show. It’s a run-of-the-mill, forgettable episode. (4/10)


Bad Episodes:

18. The Heart of the Journey: Part 2
I admire the gall that goes into (spoiler) blowing up Earth before the opening credits, which devastates Harper (though he’s in a great mood at the end of the episode, apparently having forgotten about the destruction of his home planet). The finale has a fair number of good character moments and a huge (though not particularly impressive) space battle - the first of any scale that we’ve seen in ages. They Abyss is defeated so unconvincingly that we need expository dialogue to explain what is happening to use. Worst of all, THE MAGOG WORLD SHIP NEVER APPEARS ONSCREEN - what the hell is the point of negating the most satisfying part of “The Dissonant Interval” and bringing back the show’s central threat only to never address it again? All the lapses in logic and continuity errors only reinforce my preferred interpretation (Dylan imagining a happier ending after the events of “The Dissonant Interval”) and the finale only serves as final proof that Season Five has no creative purpose and is better off being skipped entirely. It’s a genuine ending, at least, but it’s so anticlimactic that it’s only a nudge better than an unresolved cliffhanger. (3/10)

19. The Heart of the Journey: Part 1 - Flavin appears in hologram form to warn Dylan that all other Paradine’s have been killed. The crew finally leaves the Seefra system. Traveling through the Route of Ages somehow causes us to see an unnecessary flashback montage that feels like putting the Season 5 footage through a blender. Rhade has an oddly emotional reunion with his wife, given that she has never appeared before in the show. We learn that the Magog World Ship survived the events of “The Dissonant Interval”, unsatisfyingly negating a lot of that episode’s significance. (3/10)

20. Totaled Recall
Dylan falls unconscious after an injury and imagines stuff. None of the episode feels like it matters, because it consists so totally of scenes that are obviously dreams that exist totally at the will of the writers. There is a clever touch: “Opposites of Attraction”, two episodes earlier, gave us a brief glimpse of a picture in Dylan’s quarters of Dylan and his wife, which sets up a reveal during Dylan’s hallucinations in this episode where we see Doyle inserted into the picture instead. Otherwise, given how this episode was directed, I was surprised not to see Neil Breen listed in the credits. (2/10)


Terrible Episodes:

21. The Test
Some entity attempts to solve the murder of a character we don’t care about. We get lots of strangely-edited flashbacks that make the episode border on a clip show. It plays out like Farscape’s “The Ugly Truth”, but only with false drama as the characters are never convincingly in danger. This episode fits with the dream explanation for Season Five that I described above as its moral is that they crew can best put aside their personal differences by uniting in their worship of Dylan. (1/10)

22. The Opposites of Attraction
The black-hole-avatar-has-a-crush-on-Dylan episode that I described above. It’s laughably bizarre and the ultimate example of the Sorbo self-infatuation that so often appears in the scripts, as Dylan gets a sudden television-friendly sex scene (his last in the show) with another woman who swoons at the site of 90s swoop hair. Given the series’ insane obsession with the Dylan-Rhade fight from the pilot episode, I also got a good laugh when the Andromeda turned out to have archive footage in its memory banks of that fight seen that included all the same camera angles and sound effects. (1/10)


There you have it, my full write-up on Andromeda! I spent about three years with this show. In the future, I think that I will now stop doing things for the sake of doing them, but going through this whole series does give me a strange sense of accomplishment.
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Samantha Bradley
Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Meld

I just watched this episode for the first time and I thought the main part was awesome. About Suder, what I got was: You know Deanna Troi lost her empathic powers only temporarily. Now imagine the Betazoid who never had any empathic powers, who perpetually sees other beings (including, even, himself) as flat, with no dimension whatsoever. (This is what I get when asked if he had any feelings on the matter, Suder says, "Nothing.")

Being as such, I think that for Tuvok to have experienced the extra impact of the meld (struggling even more than usual for a Vulcan to suppress those violent thoughts), Ensign Suder had to have just enough telepathic ability to imprint (or trade) that violent tendency for more self-control. Also, thinking about Suder's punishment makes me think that executing him would have been too easy, so just keep him in isolation under armed guard would be more of a real punishment for him.
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SammyGold
Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Naked Now

Have to agree with all of the criticisms (and kudos) that have been stated so far.

Perhaps I'm re-watching the series through a different lens than most. I remember watching them for the first time when they came out in the late 80s. I was in college and my Geek friends and I would get together each week to eat, drink, and watch the new episode. I had grown up on reruns of TOS and was giddy with a new series all my own! In both the pilot and the first few episodes, all of us just gobbled up the throw backs to TOS like candy! They were just what we needed to get hooked! I can see if I were watching this for the first time today how bad the episode would seem, but at the time we loved it.

It's also interesting watching it today and realizing that the cast is still new to each other and settling into their roles.
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SamSimon
Tue, Feb 21, 2017, 4:34am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: The Sound of Her Voice

One other thing: she can hardly breath, but she never, NEVER stops talking. The Defiant crew has to take shifts to listen to her! I found that hilarious.
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SamSimon
Tue, Jan 31, 2017, 2:15am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Who Mourns for Morn?

I expected half a star for this episode... I usually don't enjoy the Ferengi episodes, and this is no exception. On the other hand, the previous one (the magnificent ferengi) was, so I cannot complain too much, I guess!
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Sammy
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 4:27am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Suspicions

I was 13 when I saw this episode. Loved seeing Beverly kick that alien dudes butt!

Worf definitely should have had more involvement in this episode.

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Sam
Wed, Jan 11, 2017, 6:10am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

I know it's been a few years but to answer Captain Tripps point about the similarities between Galaxy's Child and Tin Man; Tin Man was a living space ship - bred (engineered) to carry a crew. Galaxy's child was a space whale.
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SamL
Sun, Dec 4, 2016, 5:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Timeless

The only thing I liked about this episode was seeing Janeway's frozen corpse. Serves her right - getting killed on account of the same propulsion technology she acquired from an alien race that was assimilated/destroyed by the Borg because of her selfish desire to get her crew home.
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Samuel
Fri, Nov 11, 2016, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Imaginary Friend

This one is at first boring and dives in to unwatchable territory by the end of the first act. This episode is not hated enough by TNG fans in my opinion. It's not "so bad it's good" it doesn't suffer from plotholes or even relian idiotic deus ex machinas. It took me two hours to stream this on Netflix. I just had to pause every five minutes to take break from the toxic mix of boring, bad acting, and ironically unimaginative plot. This is easily my most hated episode.
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Baron Samedi
Thu, Nov 3, 2016, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: ANDR S2: Second Season Recap

@Samaritan I just saw this and appreciate that someone read my previous write-ups! I'm still working on Season 5, I think I got 5 episodes in before I got distracted. I promise I'll finish it eventually. Given that your last review was from a year ago, we're probably moving at similar paces.
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SamSimon
Mon, Sep 26, 2016, 10:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Empok Nor

I like this episode a lot! Just rewatched it yesterday and it still works for me. Yes, there are clichés, as Jammer wrote, but it's well directed and well acted.

Plus the terrible "Ferengi love songs" still burns my memory... so this is gold!!!
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Baron Samedi
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Game

@pennywit I agree completely, this was always one of my favorite episodes. Only it and "The First Duty" come to mind as episodes where every element of a Wesley story "clicked" into place nearly perfectly. Wheaton and Ashley Judd had surprisingly good chemistry and the end chase scene is very fun - it shows Wesley being clever enough to pull off a few nifty tricks but also being captured at the end, which I makes it all believable and exciting.
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SamSimon
Wed, Sep 14, 2016, 6:19am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Soldiers of the Empire

After Ferengi love songs, this episode felt like the perfect one!!! I liked it a lot, I guess I'm not yet bored by the Klingon episodes!
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Baron Samedi
Sun, Aug 28, 2016, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: I, Mudd

This was hilarious. Not "good" in a strict sense but so ridiculous that I'd recommend it. I feel like it went through a cycle where it was amusing when it came out, then became dated and "bad-bad", and now is "good-bad" due to the campiness and ludicrous dialogue. The acting throughout was hysterical by the whole cast - including the regulars and the guest actors. I love the earnestness of TOS, as well as each episode's attempt to tell a unique story. The fact that the episode is trying to be lighthearted and funny makes puts this in a separate class from something like "Spock's Brain", which I always felt like I was laughing at rather than with.
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Sam
Thu, Aug 25, 2016, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Darmok

Oh, apologies for the long post, but one last thing: we actually see the problem of teaching young children Tamarian directly in a scene from the episode, i.e., where the captain "tells the story" of Darmok and Jilhad to Picard. Of course, he doesn't actually "tell the story." He says about 10 phrases, and for each phrase, Picard intuits about five sentences just to explain what's going on. If you've ever talked to a child, you know how this process works -- except YOU need to do WHILE telling the story. You'll need to use some sort of denotative words or phrases with standard meanings to fill in the gaps for kids, just as Picard does for himself (because he's heard thousands of stories before and knows "how they usually work"). Kids don't know "how stories usually work" when they hear a story for the first time with a new situation or a new word or a new meaning. The only solution with kids is to explain the novel situation using "simpler" words or phrases that have clearer, denotative meaning. (Why can't the Tamarians do THIS when confronting other cultures?) Alternatively, you don't explain the new word directly and the kid learns its meaning from context -- in which case the kid now only understands "Darmok in X" to mean "I'm hungry" and nothing about Darmok himself. Learning words from context (how most of us pick up new vocabulary) will guarantee that the metaphorical meaning is completely lost. Thus, once those "stock phrases" begin to have a secondary meaning (rather than just a metaphorical one) for young kids, within a couple generations they'll start to lose the old metaphorical context.
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Sam
Thu, Aug 25, 2016, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Darmok

I know this is a very old thread, but I just have to say one thing in response to comments that try to show how this language can work practically by using metaphorical examples in English. I don't think anyone here is denying that metaphors can be used to construct meaning. The question is -- what's the next step? The Tamarians don't just use metaphors haphazardly, making them up as they go along (as in English we mostly do) -- they clearly have standard denotative meanings, allowing the same phrases to be reused in similar linguistic contexts to allow consistent communication.

We have a different linguistics term for what that is -- it's an idiom. And idioms frequently become "fossilized," in the sense that we continue using them for their denotative meaning, but we forget the meaning of the individual words. You "wend your way through," you "eke out a win," you use "sleight of hand," you "ride roughshod," you have "kith and kin," you "give short shrift," etc. I challenge anyone here to define the words wend, eke, sleight, roughshod, kith, and shrift, use them in other contexts correctly, and explain exactly how the function in these idioms (many of them metaphorically).

Of course, most people would have no clue, even if they know precisely what the idiomatic phrases mean. But that's only the beginning, since this process happens with words themselves. We forget etymologies, so if a word is used metaphorically at first, it often loses its original meaning. We successfully know what "gargantuan" is without having read Rabelais's novels, we know what "titanic" means even if we're rusty on Greek gods, and we know "colossal" denotative meaning without being aware of the statue at Rhodes. And those are just words all meaning "big" -- there are literally thousands of common English words derived from proper names for specific things that most people don't know the etymology of... yet understand the meaning.

And that's ultimately the problem with this episode. Even if you can figure out a way for the Tamarians to teach their kids this grand mythos without a proper denotative language to explain the meaning of the phrases in the stories, there's just no way that these metaphors survive for more than a few generations without becoming "fossilized" and people forgetting who "Darmok" was, while continuing to use his name in idioms with clear, recognized meaning. The vast majority of kids raised in this culture will just know to say "Darmok in X" when they mean "I'm hungry" and "Darmok on Y" when they mean "I'm sleepy," and eventually nobody cares who Darmok is, because that meaning is not only not necessary for communication, but it's impossible to describe completely to language learners without a denotative language to "fill in the gaps." Knowing who Darmok is would actually be an IMPEDIMENT to understanding, since you'd spend time thinking about this dude and why he's on the ocean rather than just instantly understanding the common phrase's meaning which was just uttered at you.

Oh, and by the way, if the universal translator fails at this language, then how exactly is it supposed to succeed at ANY language? How is it supposed to know what wend, eke, sleight, roughshod, kith, and shrift mean in those idioms? Does it really need to understand ancient Earth history to translate words like colossal and titanic? Obviously, no. Words like colossal now have denotative meanings that are now primary, not metaphorical. And words like wend and eke only make sense in modern English within phrases -- they have no atomic single-word meaning to modern English speakers. Most known Earth languages have plenty of similar situations, where etymology has become irrelevant to meaning -- in fact, you might say that's the DOMINANT case for most words in most languages. And once a word or phrase becomes isolated for specific uses, it's no longer a metaphor -- it now has a specific meaning. If the universal translator can't figure that clear denotative meaning out just because it's conveyed in a phrase rather than a single word, it should fail in every episode... because language isn't based on single words with atomic meaning. (If it did, we'd have had perfect machine translation between languages decades ago just by inputting a dictionary and a few simple grammar rules.) Meaning frequently resides in larger linguistic structures, but those structures aren't "metaphors" -- they're just stylized idiomatic phrases, where native speakers don't generally even know where they're from.
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Baron Samedi
Sun, Aug 7, 2016, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Space Seed

I've been rewatching a lot of TOS lately (instead of painful S5 Andromeda), I actually find this episode a lot better than I remembered. Khan is incredibly well-written to show how his effectiveness as a ruthless leader - I loved the quick cuts showing him picking up on Kirk's strategy of letting Spock ask him tough questions and looking for weakness during the dinner scene, as well as Khan's tactic of offering to spare Kirk (and then Spock) from suffocation for the loyalty of a bridge crew member. I get the complaints about Lt. McGivers, given the context of TOS often portraying female characters poorly, but in this particular story I actually found the seduction sequences very interesting. McGivers hadn't been exposed to the type of power exhibited by Khan in the tame, progressive Federation, and I don't think an individual case of a storyline like that needs to be inflated to a broad regressive statement about gender relations. Khan could tell that her claims of mere intellectual curiosity were a facade (a lie she was telling even herself) and dug under her skin, and she had no experience dealing with what Khan represented. Also, the final conversation where Spock discusses wanting to revisit the planet where they leave Khan and his crew is some bone-chilling foreshadowing unintended at the time. Spock's optimism that Khan's group wouldn't immediately die out (versus how we find out things actually went in TWOK and the bitterness against Kirk the planet's conditions fostered) is a great example of how the Federation has moved past the ideology of Khan to such an extent that they genuinely don't understand him or the danger he poses - which is why the Enterprise crew naively allowed Khan to access to the ship's database in the first place.

The fistfight at the end is still very silly - we see full images of the faces of the stunt doubles, causing me to laugh nearly as much as the lizard fight made me in "Arena" (another episode I liked more on repeat, for reasons that were less intended), but the episode is compelling enough that I honestly don't mind Kirk turning the tide with a flimsy piece of plastic.

This episode and The Wrath of Khan are good examples of how clunky execution (the fistfight in "Space Seed") and gaping plot holes (Khan recognizing Chekov in TWOK) really don't matter when the characters and story are compelling, whereas I find myself dwelling on those elements in "Into Darkness", which wasted a great cast on a horrible script and unimaginative directing.
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Samuel
Tue, Jun 14, 2016, 1:05am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

@Lore comments: Lore is dead. He is floating out in space and assumed by all to be dead.
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Samuel
Fri, Jun 10, 2016, 12:08am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Civil Defense

Actually, not entirely wiping the computer makes good sense. They establish on the show repeatedly that the computers are a hodge-podge of federation, bajoran, and cardassian tech. Again, it's like saying why don't I wipe my office Mac and put Windows 10 on it. Different systems behave differently. Why not just replace all the doors with starship doors while they are at it? The point is that they and we are always at risk because of the constraints of technology. Totally believable in hindsight!
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Samuel
Sun, Jun 5, 2016, 5:18am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens

Reviewers up talked even the prequels. Is there nothing so terrible that marketing and a little nostalgia won't retread as a Midas touch? The prequels were significantly better an this, more experimental and less hackneyed. Jammer, how could you prop up this mess and yet give PM 2 stars? Not to be trolling this page, but this is clearly an inferior feature, critics and popular press notwithstanding.
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SamSimon
Sun, Apr 10, 2016, 9:38am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

This episode is pure perfection. Tears and shivers.
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Baron Samedi
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Bar Association

Wow Luke. That was impressive.
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Samaritan
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: ANDR S2: Second Season Recap

Season 5 Episode 3 "Decay of the Angel"

2 out of 5 stars.

"Dylan, Dylan, Dylan. What is the point of this? Are we pretending we're a crew again?" ~ Beka
"Oh, believe me. I won't make that mistake five times." ~ Dylan


This episode appears to be a hidden continuation of "Waking the Tyrant's Device" from last season. At some point in the future, Kroton's android rebellion appears to be going on and for some reason, the androids want Andromeda. Its not make clear why. Fortunately, it appears that in the future, they don't make androids like they use too, as the present day models are far superior.

In this episode we learn, for the few who haven't guess it already, that Doyle is an android. But she's not just any android, she is in fact the Rommy avatar. Harper wasn't able to get her personality just right (she was apparently obsessed with "finding Dylan") and so created a new personality for her and programmed her to think of herself as human.

Its a nice continuity nod to find out that Rommy is obsessed with getting back to Dylan, in the 1st season Andromeda was in love with her captain, but this was forgotten in later seasons. Here we see that she still in love with him and being reunited with him is what she wants most.

Doyle saves a man named Argent who quickly finds out that Doyle is an android, even though Doyle herself is unaware of this. He quickly attaches himself to her, despite Harper's obvious dismay and eventually manipulates things to both reveal to her that she isn't human and to get her to an asteroid with a Tesseract Generator.

This same generator is responsible for teleporting the Andromeda, Dylan, Rhade and Beka to an empty area of space. Here they are attacked and captured by armed men. Argent reveals that he is working with these men and that they in fact are all androids from the future. They have some plan for the Andromeda, although it is not reveal what, only that the Andromeda will play an important roll in their android revolution.

Fortunately Harper hacks the generator and destroys are beam out into space all the androids. Doyle takes many of them down, but despite the fact that these androids are supposedly from the future, they easily go down with one hit while Doyle takes several with apparently ill effect.

This episode gets only 2 out of 5 stars as the story doesn't make much sense and does nothing to move the season arc along. Doyle is a breath of fresh air and its uncanny how Rommy-like the actress can be at times. Rhade is more like his original character in this one, but still angry. Beka is Beka and Dylan is about average. Harper and Argent have some pretty funny dialogue with each other and some amusing scenes.
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Samaritan
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: ANDR S2: Second Season Recap

Season 5 Episode 3 "Phear Phactor Phenom"

1/2 out of 5 stars.

"He didn't insult me, not once. That's not right." ~ Rhade


Unfortunately this episode isn't really better then the last. Here we learn that there is apparently a "ban" on technology over the whole system. Who exactly in forces this ban is unclear as if also exactly what level of technology is okay and what isn't and who makes that decision.

Harper is alive but has been in the Seefra System for 3 years. Apparently the parts from Rommy avatar came with him but he hasn't been able to repair her. This hasn't stopped him from building over androids however.

He has also teamed up with the resident mad scientist who is trying to recreate (and failing) the Vedrans. At least there is someone here who thinks the Vedrans should be in Tarn Vedran. Why is she doing this? Well because the new Vedran will naturally be able to save everyone . . . because, you know, Vedrans.

Dylan and crew aren't happy with him, but they don't make it clear exactly what they're aren't happy with. Harper has also been stealing, but its not clear what or why he is stealing. But it won't matter anymore, because they "neutralize" the mad scientist and Harper is now back with Dylan.

The episode suffers from too little Rhade and too much Beka. Dylan here is just classic Dylan, but it is nice to see Harper is still his usal entertaining hyperactive self. Doyle is a character with a lot of potential and its obvious to everyone but the main characters that she is another android built by Harper.

At this point, I'm getting a little tired of being shown how messed up the Seefra System is. Let's move on to the mystery of WHY is this way and WAY it should be fixed and HOW they are going to go about doing that. And where are the VENDRANS?
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