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Mon, Feb 19, 2018, 2:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: Who Mourns for Adonais?

I just watched this a third time. It seems to get better each time, and I think I now view it as a masterpiece. It plays like a great, simple theatrical play. And such a bold message.

I love how bombastic Apollo is (summoning fire and brimstone and hurling lightning bolts!), yet he can't faze Kirk, who remains cool and cocksure as he methodically tries to solve the problem.

The best thing is the episode's message. This is an episode about secular humanists literally rejecting God. It's about man refusing to submit, to bow down and be enslaved by false tyrants and beliefs. What to replace phony metaphysics and superstitious promises with? Kirk makes it clear: with real flesh and blood. With real connection, brotherhood, togetherness, man working together, on a messy, corporeal, materialist level, to solve his problems. It's a great message, and a testament to Gene Coon's (a Christian) writing abilities and intelligence and soulfulness. You wouldn't expect something so "atheistic" coming from him. (yes, I know the episode's "one God is enough" comment points toward a believe in "God", but this was done to appease censors and audiences).
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Mon, Feb 19, 2018, 9:03am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry

I've finished Orville's first season, and think it's pretty much beyond criticism.

Orville is what it is; a light comedy, light drama, with loving homages to Trek and classic scifi, which is unpretentious, simple, aims low, has a few bone-throwing jokes to frat boy audiences, a lot of bone-throwing jokes to Trekkies, and which never tries to be cutting edge (dramatically or science fictionally), hip or modern. At its best, it lets you hang out with cute, friendly people on a bright, fancy starship, and taps into the camraderie, optimism and cheeriness of Trek at its most utopian.

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Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

Rahul said: "Believe me, I understand what atheism is (it is a communist notion). "

Atheism is not a "communist notion". This sounds like something a 1950s era Mccarthyite would say.
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Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 8:40am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry

Here's a video where Shatner and Seth talk:

He's obviously a huge Trek fan.
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Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 1:40am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Insurrection

Yeah, Piller's original idea (Heart of Darkness in reverse) was great, but I think Patrick Stewart and Spiner stepped in and vetoed alot of stuff. Once the "thing needed on the planet" was changed to a Fountain of Youth, decisions were also made to make a more comedic film. Everyone was looking to repeat the success of Star Trek 4.

Nemesis' core philosophical message (nature vs nurture; how sympathetic should we be to those warped by environmental factors, and how much freedom do we have to rise above our station?) is good too, with its Picard and Mirror Picard conflict. There's something very utopian about it (to infinity and beyond! Be like Picard!) and also horrifically chilling (you are a product of sheer, fleshy causal chains: no amount of morality and attempts at righteousness will overcome a nature inscribed and programmed into you by the universe!). But like Insurrection, all the interesting stuff just gets suffocated by action-movie demands.
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Fri, Feb 16, 2018, 6:42pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Insurrection

This is the only TNG film I like.

Someone recently started a post berating Insurrection's "terrible moral message". The film is stupid, they claim, because "600 Baku hippies prevent the Federation from using a planet with healing properties to save all lives in the Universe."

People seem to forget the film carefully parcels information out to Picard. At various points, he doesn't know the planet has healing properties, he doesn't know what the Admiralty is up to, he doesn't know what the Son'a want (they want to essentially nuke the planet to steal its healing radiation), and he doesn't know the relationship between the Sona and the Baku. Repeatedly throughout the film, Picard makes decisions based on partial information, and his ultimate aim throughout the film is always to simply "slow things down" so that proper decisions can be made. Picard isn't looking to solve the ethical dilemma Insurrection proposes. He's simply hoping to stop others making that decision behind closed doors. He's hoping to stall things so that others can gather information and weigh in on this problem. He's stopping others from hastily playing God.

One can easily envision Picard's success at stalling the Sona leading to a Federation outpost permanently above the planet, working in collaboration with the Baku below, and further studying its properties. Picard in the episode is simply arguing for time, deliberation and reasoned action.

One must also remember that the healing planet is not a member of the Federation (and so the Feds have no legal right to relocate the Baku), that the Baku die if removed from the planet, that the Sona work with the Dominion (they make ketracel while), and that the Sona selfishly want to nuke the planet because of their own existential problems.

The film is also careful to point out that Sona are simply impatient. Only their older leaders are at risk of death, and even then, most may survive the roughly ten years of radiation exposure needed to reverse their condition. In short, a small group of impatient Sona simply want the fountain of youth NOW, everyone else be damned. Their manic urgency is contrasted with the Baku and Picard, who want to slow things right down. Indeed, the Baku culture implicitly hinges upon the slowing of time.

And of course the Sona's means of collecting the metaphasic radiation is revealed to be a one-time burst which would render that planet uninhabitable, and would kill the planet's ability to give future generations seemingly limitless lifespans. To paraphrase William B above, this suggests that the Sona procedure may not even be the best method to take advantage of the radiation even if the Baku weren't there. If the needs of the Federation outweighs the needs of the Baku, it also outweighs the needs of the Sona.
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Thu, Feb 15, 2018, 6:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: The Drumhead

A Klingon, possibly working with Romulans, is revealed to be a criminal. Starfleet prosecutes him. Picard is fine with this. A deranged Admiral with severe prejudices, however, won't stop with this one Romulan. In her eyes, everything is a conspiracy aimed at toppling her civiliation. She fixates on a young man with Romulan ancestry. Prejudiced and bigoted, and cloaking this all in a righteous cause, she essentializes the young man and sets about attempting to convict him. Afterall, all Romulans are guilty. Even half breeds.

In Trumpland, this episode just rings so true.
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Wed, Feb 14, 2018, 11:16am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

"The Moral Lesson of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’: We Should Use Super Weapons To Install Despots in Foreign Nations"

Anyone read this? :
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Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 7:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

Jammer said: "How much of this show grew from Bryan Fuller's original ideas, and how much of it was scrapped or retooled?"

The first 3 episodes scream Brian Fuller. Michael, as a character, also feels very much his creation, though he'd probably have liked her even more messed up.

From episode 3 onwards, you can sense the writers begrudingly forcing themselves to hit all of Fuller's major plot beats. They don't want to do any of this, but are boxed into doing it. You can sense them rushing through his ideas - ideas they have no attachment too.

Part of me thinks that, fully freed from Fuller, season 2 will be very different. But the revelation of the Enterprise at the end of this episode suggests that Discovery's writer's room already has another convoluted arc planned out. Such an approach might continue to be a very restrictive thing.
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Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 7:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

I just realized this episode was written by Akiva Goldsman, the guy behind Batman and Robin and Transformers.

Tim said: "I can and have made similar criticisms of other creative franchises, ranging from Die Hard to Star Wars."

The original Die Hard trilogy was from the R rated action movie's heyday. No CGI, no cell phones, serious cinematographers, lots of swearing, lots of physical stunts, lots of squibs, hyper-violence but in a realistic, low-key way, and high-concept scripts which unfolded in near real time in very confined locations. Like them or not, these movies were nevertheless the product of a very specific time period, and they were once very original.

Then comes the last 2 Die Hard movies, several decades later. They're basically straight to DVD crap and barely similar to their predecessors; lots of CGI, no swearing, digital blood, the violence and writing feel less realistic, the plots no longer unfold in tight locations (but sprawl everywhere), the cinematography is all lazily done in post with digital filters and they're just generally very bad and generic. Imagine defending these films for being "modern" and "updated" and "geared toward new audiences" (they'll introduce younger people to the originals!) and "embracing new trends". No, they're a nostalgic money grab by hacks.

Chrome: "To be fair, The Voyage Home probably caters to general audiences as much as if not more than any of the Abrams movies."

Yeah, Voyage Home is audience friendly, but it's not pandering. It doesn't give audiences what they think they want. And its interesting; I can't think of another film about stealing whales and dragging them from the past to the future in order to save humanity. And Meyer and Nimoy's ("I wanted no dying, no fighting, no shooting, no photon torpedoes, no phaser blasts, no stereotypical bad guys.") refusal to write any kind of conventional violence is not something audiences typically flock to.

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Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 6:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: A Matter of Time

This episode has a great premise: a historian from the future visits the Enterprise on the eve of a pivotal moment and on the eve of its captain making a pivotal decision which might result in million's dying. The historian knows the outcome of this decision, but refuses to help the captain. This is all excellent. Throw in a great philosophical rant by Picard, cool scenes in which Data listens to 4 classical songs simultaneously, and "Matter of Time" looks set to be a classic Trek episode.

Unfortunately the episode gets too clever for its own good, and totally collapses in its final act. Picard makes the right decision, technobabble is used to goofily save a planet's atmosphere, and the historian is revealed to be a conman and theif from the past.

This episode would have been saved by the historian being a genuine historian and Picard's decision perhaps being a monumental failure. Then Picard berates the historian for his complicity in these deaths. It's a frustrating episode, because you see glimpses of greatness here and there.
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Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 12:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

Adonis said: "Then the JJ Abrams movies came along--almost like a miracle--millions of dollars on the screen and first-rate cast--and the fans took them down, too. I think people here would prefer that Star Trek be preserved in amber and eventually vanish rather than be reinvented for a new generation of viewers. "

The JJ movies were dumb, poorly written, and generic. Everyone should tear them down. That more don't, is largely because people have been conditioned to become passive consumers, art reduced to mass-mediated, disposable decor.

It's obvious that Trek, especially since Enterprise, has been getting dumber, more conventional, and less in touch with contemporary science fiction literature. Since 9/11, it's ideas of "depth" and political and/or social commentary have also been largely stupid. It's also been unable to attract actual auteurs; writers with personal and idiocyncratic points of view, and who have a strong drive to make original art. It's not a coincidence that one of the best episodes on a poor series like Enterprise, is from a bilingual dude from France. Artists are a product of culture, and a monoculture raised on TV and with no exposure to the world or other arts, is only going to repeatedly echo itself (and rely upon escalations of dopamine inducing shocks to generate affect- something an actual science fiction auteur like David Cronenberg predicted would happen with films like Videodrome and Crash).

Mertov said: "Trek should evolve just like any other decades-long series have."

The TNG movies, Enterprise and JJ Trek don't represent the evolution of a franchise, but a devolution. It's a very cynical view of art: the idea that popular and so profitable things need to be continually "updated", made "relevant" and "appealing to all denominations" for maximum market penetration, whilst simulatneously being stagnant, backward looking and familiar enough to stoke both nostalgia and those fearful of rule breaking; art reduced to conveyer belts and corporate product roll outs, its writers anonymously hired to tick boxes and meet quotas rather than because they have something personal and original they wish to say.

I also find it hilarious that Disco is deemed "new" and "a franchise shake up". Everyone go and re-watch the last season of Enterprise. It's one serialized mini arc after the next, all about war and torture and cartoon villans and terrorists looking to ethnocleanse Earth, be they Vulcan terrorists, or Augments, or Terra Prime isolationists, or Syrrannite terrorrists, or Temporal terrorists or even Nazis. Then in the middle of all this junk you have one decent episode written by an actual novelist.
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Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 7:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

Ed said: "But improving or even maintaining what they have has to be a continual process and requires renewed commitment especially during challenges"

Yes, utopia is a unending praxis. In Trek lore, though, the commitment to be a utopia has a locked down timeframe. Here's a nice quote from one of my favourite SF books:

"Must redefine utopia. It isn't the perfect end-product of our wishes, define it so and it deserves the scorn of those who sneer when they hear the word. No. Utopia is the process of making a better world, the name for one path history can take, a dynamic, tumultuous, agonizing process, with no end. Struggle forever." - Kim Stanley Robinson (Pacifc Edge)
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Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 3:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

Ubik said: "when DID the Federation become a utopia? It's easy enough to depict a Federation where human nature has already changed, and Picard can give speeches about how humans no longer care about personal possessions or feel jealousy or whatever, but how did they BECOME this way?"

In Discovery's pilot and final episode, Phillipa and Michael make it clear that the Federation is ALREADY utopian. Michael, in this episode's monologue, accuses the Federation of drifting "from its values and ideals". The Federation in Discovery is not learning how to become an idealistic utopia, those are the values it already embodies. Those are its core tenets which the war challenges.

Ubike said: "I guess what I'm saying is, if the Discovery writers are trying to fictionally depict that transformation, to show us HOW a flawed human Empire became a utopic civilization"

But their own writing says otherwise. And Trek canon says otherwise*. Discovery is not the tale of the Federation learning to be a righteous utopia, it is the tale of a utopia (2 characters even say that crime and poverty have already been solved) being attacked by Klingons, and in a moment of desperation, ending a conflict by threatening to use a WMD (somehow this violent threat is then sold as being"enlightened").

*according to canon, Earth becomes a utopia after the social reforms of the 1990s plus the brutalities of WW3 20 years later, forced profound changes, changes amplified by meeting the Vulcans. The Federation then becomes a means of spreading "enlightened" Terran/Vulcan values to all who wish join. The Romulans and Klingons then refuse to assimilate.

Chris said: "Hey, question-- what do you think Nick Meyer's ultimate role was at the start of/during this season?"

I think he was just hired as a PR move; if you hire the guy regarded as Trek's best director, you instantly acquire street cred from fans.
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Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 12:12am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

Well, this episode did one thing nicely: Kronos is portrayed as a thriving, multicultural planet which resists essentialist and racist stereotyping. Klingon's are regular Joes, Michael learns, with only a slight case of imposed-from-the-top xenophobia.

Other than these brushstrokes, I found this a pretty bad episode. It's absurd, contrived and silly. The writing was also painfully on-the-nose, every emotion and meaning telegraphed bluntly. The episode's last minute attempts at "idealism" were also delivered poorly by a show whose droll realism cannot handle more abstract philosophizing.

The episode also confirms to me that this show, like most modern TV, is a giant soap opera. Like most soap operas, Discovery makes you feel obligated to watch, cons you with "guess what happens nexts!", such that the con becomes its raisen detre. It manipulates and steers conversation with its gimmicks, arbitrary plotting and casino hooks (you can't leave because you've already sunk investment). This is writing by committee, advertising executives, addiction-scientists and corporate PR experts. Totally cynical and soulless.

I've watched every Trek season 1 again recently, and would say Discovery has the worst first season of the bunch. It's like a cartoon on steroids.

TOS, in my opinion, has the strongest first season. You really feel like you're on a navy vessel exploring the wild frontier.

DS9 and TNG I'd put tied for second place. DS9 has about 5 great episodes in its first season, engages in some great worldbuilding and has some fascinating politics. TNG's first season is notoriously weak, but there are about 4 great and/or interesting episodes and it's always zany and interesting. It also did well to develop a visual language which took us away from TOS. I would also say VOY and ENT had 4 or 5 great episodes in their first season. Yes, Disco is never as dull or as bad as the worst episodes in TNG, TOS, VOY and ENT, but its peaks are stupid and its never interesting in interesting ways.

Anyway, given Discovery's themes (Michael learns to "find other options" beyond violence), here are three TNG episodes worth remembering...

From season 2, Emissary:

K'EHLEYR: No, not a chance! Talking will be a waste of time. Klingons of that era were raised to despise humans. We'll try diplomacy. But I promise you it won't work. And then you'll have to destroy them.


K'EHLEYR: Captain, Klingons are killers. You'll have no choice!

PICARD: We shall find another choice!


From Season 5, I Borg:

CRUSHER: I just think we should be plain about that. We're talking about annihilating an entire race.

PICARD: Which under most circumstances would be unconscionable. But as I see it, the Borg leave us with little choice.

RIKER: I agree. We're at war.

CRUSHER: There's been no formal declaration of war.

TROI: Not from us, but certainly from them. They've attacked us in every encounter.

PICARD: They've declared war on our way of life. We are to be assimilated.

CRUSHER: But even in war there are rules. You don't kill civilians indiscriminately.

RIKER: There are no civilians among the Borg!

PICARD: Think of them as a single, collective being. There's no one Borg who is more an individual than your arm or your leg.

CRUSHER: How convenient.

PICARD: Your point, Doctor?

CRUSHER: When I look at my patient, I don't see a collective consciousness. I don't see a hive. I see a living, breathing boy who's been hurt and who needs our help. And we're talking about sending him back to his people as an instrument of destruction.

PICARD: It comes down to this. We're faced with an enemy who are determined to destroy us, and we have no hope of negotiating a peace. Unless that changes, we are justified in doing anything we can to survive.

(Guinan Enters)

PICARD: If you're here to persuade me not to use the invasive programme.

GUINAN: I need you to persuade me.

PICARD: Two days ago, you were upset about the Borg even being on the ship. And now you're here questioning whether it should be treated as the enemy.

GUINAN: If you're going to use this person...

PICARD: It's not a person, damn it, it's a Borg!

GUINAN: If you are going to use this person to destroy his race, you should at least look him in the eye once before you do it.

PICARD: Because it's been given a name by a member of my crew doesn't mean it's not a Borg. Because it's young doesn't mean that it's innocent. It is what it is, and in spite of efforts to turn it into some kind of pet I will not alter my plans.

GUINAN: Fine. But if you don't talk to him at least once, you may find that decision a harder to live with than you realise.

(Picard does some soul searching)

PICARD: I think I deliberately avoided speaking with the Borg because I didn't want anything to get in the way of our plan. But now that I have, he seems to be a fully realized individual.

LAFORGE: So you've reconsidered the plan?

PICARD: Yes. To use him in this manner, we'd be no better than the enemy that we seek to destroy. So, I want other options.


More interesting is the TNG episode "The Neutral Zone", which plays like a condensed version of Disco's first season. In Disco, the Federation meet the Klingon's again for the first time in decades. In "The Neutral Zone", the Federation meet the Romulans for the first time in decades. Both meetings take place in a remote buffer zone. In Disco, this meeting is preceded by much chaos and even a mutiny on the bridge. In TNG, its preceded by some rational discussions on Romulan culture and tactics.

Running concurrently in Disco is a plot which contrasts the Feds with the Mirror Federation. Running concurrently in TNG is a plot in which 20th century humans are revived. These humans are deemed backwards (the mirror opposite of Picard and the gang) and constantly try to interrupt Picard's "first contact" with the Romulans.

This subplot has been deemed "pointless" by many, but in light of Disco now seems kind of profound. These 21st century humans - drunks, sentimentalists, and uber capitalists - and their principles will not infect newfound relations between the Federation and the Romulans; they are the past. Here the series is at its most utopian, this episode functioning as a giant message to the then contemporary Soviet Union and United States. "Our mission is to go forward," Picard says at the episode's close when prompted about his interest in the past, "and it's just begun. [...] There's still much to do. There's still so much to learn."

The episode then ends with a kind of loose alliance between the Feds and Romulans. Disco's season 1, of course, ends in the same way. The crew move forward and onwards and bridges are built between the Klingons and Feds. In this way, this one TNG episode is a kind of compact, more elegant version of everything Discovery's Klingon First Contact arc did. And for all its serialization and time advantages, I'd argue no Disco episode rose above these 3 similarly themed, mostly mediocre TNG episodes.
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Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:44am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

Now that I think about it, didn't Spock mind-meld with Nomad without its permission? He does the same to van Gelder in "Dagger of the Mind". The guy is a serial intruder.
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Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:41am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

Mertov said: "Spock, the most emblematic Vulcan of all Trek universe, mind-melded with Kirk, NOT ONLY without Kirk's consent, but while Kirk was sleeping!!!"

Spock also mind-melded with Gracie the whale. The guy is a total perv, if we're to accept (largely promoted by Enterprise) unsanctioned mind-melds as defacto "rape".

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Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:33am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

Gotta disagree with the criticisms of Jeri Ryan and Jolene Blalock and their portrayals of 7of9 and Tpol.

I've never been attracted to 7of9, and she always seemed too infantalized to be a sex object. And yet I quickly found her a sympathetic, well acted, endearing and interesting character. She was the puppy to Momma bear Janeway. Whatever acting limitations she had, she nevertheless fit this role.

The only problem I ever had with her is that her arc was arguably too similar to that of Data and the Doctor.

Tpol I've always found a total babe, but again, her character arc was one of the few good things in Enterprise. An outcast bullied by the Federation and the Vulcans, yet devoted and loyal to both, I found her a very touching character. Her Jane Austen-esque relationship with Trip, and how this violated Vulcan tradition, was also interesting. I agree that the scripts constantly let her character and character arcs down, but there are a good solid six or seven Tpol episodes which really point to the character's potential under a better run series.

Sonequa Green's Michael is a different problem altogether. Michael is an overly complicated character, nonsensically asked to be too many contradictory traits; part Mary Sue, part damaged goods, part action hero, part stoic, part genius, part idiot. This comes across as schizophrenic, and someone with this psychological makeup would not be a "lead" in any real life story; Michael's the kind of person to exist on the periphery, on the margins, somewhat passively, as did other past dual-culture/dual-personality Trek characters (Spock, Worf, Tpol etc). A believable Michael in a realistic role would not also be an action heroine.
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Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 7:54am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Emissary

An underrated episode.

I like William B's comments, but I'd argue that the episode doesn't simply say that Worf is a relic and that his concepts of honor and tradition are thoughtless, robotic, devoid of feeling and outmoded, but that it adopts a more nuanced message.

Worf's passions are sincere, his love is deep, he just expresses these feelings in very traditional ways. It is the modern Klingon woman, and Worf's human counterparts, who fail to read him (as the poker scene shows), who fail to recognize the complex, cunning and feeling being behind the "iceman" persona they falsely ascribe.

Yes, Worf does learn to relax (as Worf says during the poker scene, "Klingon's never bluff", yet at the end of the episode bluffing is precisely what he does), but his up-tightedness is also a kind of nakedness; a very brazen openness.

Anyway, this episode has some great lines of Trekkian dialogue:

TROI: And you believe you can convince these Klingons that the humans are now their allies?
K'EHLEYR: No, not a chance. If you ask me, talking will be a waste of time. Klingons of that era were raised to despise humans. We'll try diplomacy. But I promise you it won't work. And then you'll have to destroy them.
K'EHLEYR: No? Captain, these Klingons are killers. You'll have no choice.
PICARD: We shall find another choice.


WORF: Sir. I suggest Commander Riker or Data would better serve Special Emissary K'Ehleyr.
PICARD: Are there any personal reasons you don't want the assignment?
WORF: Yes.
PICARD: Any professional reasons?
WORF: No. I withdraw my request, Captain.

There are lots of other great little bits of dialogue in this episode.
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Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 7:40am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Samaritan Snare

It's a shame that the stuff surrounding the Picard subplot is so poorly written and/or acted. Patrick Stewart acts the hell out of that "eatting a sandwich" scene, and the episode's core idea - a captain's vanity and refusal to seem less than invincible - is great material.

Thanks to artemis above for telling us what Picard is reading in this episode (Memoirs of Frederick Perthes, or Literary, Religious and Political Life in Germany from 1789 to 1843 (volume 2) by Clement Theodore Perthes). So hilarious.
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Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 11:05am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

KT said: "How do you think it jumped the shark? The parwaiths?"

Yeah, like most people, I thought the orbs, Parwraiths, firecaves, and all the lightning battles involving evil Dukat and evil Bajoran priestesses were very silly. I didn't like Sisko being a prophet either. I think the wormhole aliens should have had a more hands-off approach throughout the series, perhaps not even interacting with Bajorans and Sisko directly at all. Certainly not as deus-ex machinas.

Orbs, Jesus-allegories, prophecies and such seemed common in 1990s science fiction ( briefly resurrected for the Battlestar Galactic remake). The writers being of a certain age, and having a certain cultural upbringing, probably caused that.

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Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 9:04am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

MidshipmanNorris said: "much of Trek is a bunch of people cruising along in their sweet Starfleet Careers [tm] and eating whatever they want from the handy replicators while they ponder their interesting and rewarding day."

But that's also the point.

The coolest thing about every Trek series was simply chilling with buddies on a ship or space station. Then, when you're not relaxing in your super sweet space suit, you get to flirt with sexy aliens, read philosophy, wax poetic, solve political conundrums, work on your abs, replicate exotic food or battle space pirates. That's the point of the fantasy. It's a giant ubermensh or philosopher king fantasy, the implicit question always being: what constitutes a good, well-lived and/or moral life?

Tim said: ""I always found the pseudo religious aspects of DS9 to be the least watchable part of the show."

In execution maybe, but the core ideas were great IMO. I liked how the Feds treated the "gods" as aliens but respected Bajoran culture, how the Cardassians ridiculed the whole thing, and how the Bajorans relied upon faith to cope with colonialism and even justify their terrorism. This kind of juxtaposition - the Feds are militantly atheist and view religion from a materialist perspective, whilst the Bajorans are basically space Jews - is rare on TV. All these themes eventually jumped the shark, but the core ideas and even explorations were great, especially in S1 and S2.
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Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 8:44am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

Kinematic said: "The media now seems to be all about subverting expectations, and what could be more subversive right now than a genuinely optimistic, aspirational story? "

Yes, and Discovery is not subversive. It embraces the overriding aesthetic, and political position of our times, as well as familiar war tropes. A subversive writer's take on the Klingon war would be much different: perhaps a minor Klingon house accepting the Federation's proposal to assist in the reordering and governance of one of its worlds - why maintain a feudalistic, warrior society when post-scarcity utopia is possible? - and the response this generates in the rest of the Empire. But in Disco, the Federation can't be allowed to allegorically stand in for anything other than how contemporary America mistakenly sees itself (good, liberal, violent only when push comes to shove from backwater primitives). Alternative methods of social ordering - what really makes the Federation a critique of our world - cannot be discussed.
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Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 6:32am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Contagion

A couple good lines here ("Fate protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise!" and the Doc's lecture on leg splints), and a reasonably tense Romulan encounter.

Whilst the episode's "computer virus" and "reboot" tropes are now familiar, they would have been novel back in the 1980s. I can't think of any other filmed story released prior to this that recommends a reboot to fix a tech problem; Trek may have invented the cliche.

The Iconians feel like something out of TOS; Kirk was always stumbling across powerful, long-dead races. It's a nice vibe. The unintentional comedy of LaForge tossed around in a turbolift unfortunately sours a lot of this episode. And as William mentioned above, Picard should not have lingered in the Romulan Neutral Zone once he learnt of the Enterprise's problems.
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Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 7:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

Ubik said: "The depiction of actions is not an endorsement of those actions. "

I think it's the other way around; debating these actions is the art's means of justifying the contrivances it pushes in order to justify the depiction of actions it enjoys. Murder, torture, killing, crime, war, rape, violence etc are cool dopamine rushes. They generate easy shocks. You then tag on your moral to sanction, or absolve, the audience's consumption.

Ubik said: "I think we should encourage it to do so, rather than demanding a strict and comforting moral code from its characters"

But it's Discovery that is trading in a familiar and comforting moral message: there are cartoonish existential threats out there who want to decimate you, and so you have two options: genociding them, or holy compassion. Do you blow up Cronos? Do you kill the Tardigrade? Do you shoot first? It's an old strawman which has very little to do with anything. And in real life, it's always powerful jerks who appeal to these kinds of obfuscatory false binaries.

Given that most art's means of addressing this conundrum is to typically bite from both slices of the cake (Michael forgives Lorca, Phillipa kills him. The Feds love the Founders, but only after nuking them into submission etc), I wouldn't be surprised if the Feds destroy Cronos and then go back in time to save it.

Brian said: "The third item dragging this show into the ground is the spore drive. What I take issue with is how it is used in the show, or should I say over-used. Someone else alluded to this in their review--it's used essentially as a magic wand to take the Discovery anywhere, anytime, and do anything."

Brian Fuller probably cooked it up to rationalize a series which jumped time zones and universes. It will be interesting to see if the new writers ditch the concept. What bugs me most about it, though, is not the concept - it's basically just Warp Drive with added Hand Wave Powers - but the animation. The Discovery constantly spinning and flipping over itself looks really goofy IMO.
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