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Trent
Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 8:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S1: Fight or Flight

Enterprise was at its best with first season episodes like this: mundane, banal, pseudo-realistic tales in which the Enterprise crew struggle to do simple things (which later Trek series treat as routine). And so here we watch as the crew struggle to communicate, develop boarding party rules and fix their targetting systems. Very simple. Very unique and gripping. It's a shame the series, like DS9 did after its first 2 seasons, felt the need to move away from such things and toward BOMBASTIC VIOLENT DRAMA.

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Trent
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 11:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Lights of Zetar

Oh no, no Trekfan review yet? I'd gotten in the habit of reading Jammer's review (usually negative), then William's review (usually verbose and analytic), then Trekfans (usually positive and upbeat). They unintentionally mirrored the tone of Bones, Spock and Kirk.

Anyway, I agree with the consensus on "Zetar", though I thought the new "gravity chamber" set was interesting and quite imaginative. The idea of a "cluster of lights" being a sort of floating hive mind which desired "individual bodies" is also interesting in theory. That the episode is written by a famous puppeteer is also interesting, in that it works metaphorically as the tale of a woman who becomes a puppet to a group mind, wrestles over whether or not this makes her a pawn or frees/empowers her creatively as an artist, and then is reborn after surving (literally lol) pressures from controlling men.
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Trent
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 11:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

Shannon said: "Over the past decade it hasn't been right-wing Americans driving vans through crowds of people or blowing up bombs at marathons."

But even this is a product of right wing politics. It is right wingers funding, arming and training theocratic regimes, arming terrorist factions, and deliberately destabalizing nations (via coups, proxy armies, "rebels" etc) for profit, and then acting surprised when blowback occurs. And as a European, I include both the Republicans and Democrats under the aforementioned "right wing" banner. Both your parties are Big Business Parties, one side (the Democrats) is simply a little bit gentler, a little bit smarter, though the banks are slowly buying them out as well.

Shannon said: "The Las Vegas mass murderer was a left-wing nutcase that supported Bernie."

No he wasn't. This is common internet fake news.

Shannon said: "I enjoy this blog because we discuss the show itself and for the most part leave partisan politics out of it."

The show is clearly political and the writers have explicitly likened the Klingon's to a certain type of Trump supporter: the Klingon's are a hyperconservative but disparate group who nostalgically fetishize a mythical homogenous past, scapegoat the Other and cling to ideas of national purity.

Shannon said: "Right-wing doesn't imply conservatives, as there are many of us that have no problem whatsoever with legal immigration in the United States. There are extremists on my side of the political aisle that fear multiculturalism."

Doesn't this miss the point? "Multiculturalism" and "immigration" began as a right wing political project implicity geared toward the lowering of wages, bringing in cheap labor, dismantling borders (to "lubricate" the flow of labor) and creating a reserve labor force to pacify workers (and crush unions). Indeed, the US Treasury - with the aid of commercial banks - has long released a report every few months specifiying how many "unskilled" immigrants are necessary for the economy. The economy - essentially a giant debt ponzi scheme - as a whole collapses if countless legal and illegal immigrants arent brought in. In the 1800s, it was radical and far-left economists who advocated resiting immigration on purely economic grounds; ie, to put pressure on capitalists and hasten systemic collapse.

With the civil rights acts, the influx of West Indians and Jews and Irish to the UK and USA, and the crushing (or deradicalizing) of the political left , both the left and right began tacitly supporting "multiculturalism", either for cruel economic reasons or smug humanitarian reasons. But the point is, it is silly to say that "many moderates and conservatives have no problem with multiculturalism". Multiculturalism is itself the product of their market extremism, an extremism designed to serve a specific class and which, historically, has always angered displaced, poor "local" populaces. 80 percent of the planet is in poverty (living on less than 10 dollars a day, with about 40 percent living on less than 1.90) precisely because everyone is comfortably moderate.

But all of this is irrelevent when mapped onto Klingons and the Federation. These are societies which have the technology to create post-scarcity planets; the type of Imperialist bickering and fighting Trek portrays doesn't really make sense in-universe, which is probably why Discovery bailed on its Klingon war.

Skorch said: "So an average of 2.22, which is not that good, but not terrible. Hopefully they will keep up the quality they set with 'Into the Forest' when it returns."

My ratings are similiar to yours, but I liked the pilot more and wasn't that hot on "Into the Forest".

The question is whether Discovery's first season is thus-far stronger than previous Trek debuts? Personally, I think TOS' first season was the most consistent, with over a dozen classics, and with even the average episodes distinct, original and memorable. Indeed, every Klingon and/or Romulan episode in TOS Season 1 is more interesting than the Klingon war arc in Discovery. Balance of Terror, essentially an extended action sequence, also does space combat better than anything in Discovery. And Court Martial is leaps and bounds better than Michael's mutiny arc. Heck, even Devil in the Dark does the "sympathy for alien creature" trope better than Discovery's tardigrade arc. And Conscience of the King is vastly more interesting (and atmospheric) than Context is For Kings.

I feel DS9's first season is also underrated. Its good or great episodes were: Emissary (only the first half), Past Prologue, A Man Alone, Dax, The Nagus, Vortex, Progress, Duet and In The Hands of the Prophets. It's treatment of conflicts (between Bajor/Cardassia/Federation) was also vastly more mature and interesting than that of DSC, though IMO that went away once the Dominion entered the picture.

And Voyager at this stage had: Parallax, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Prime Factors, State of Flux, Heroes and Demons, Faces, Learning Curve.

So - depending how highly you rank its bookend episodes, and how much value you place on its consistentcy (its consistently slick and above average, but never reaches the highs we associated with classic SF writing) - Discovery is arguably only better than TNG and ENT's season 1.
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Trent
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 10:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

Omicron said: "Sure, it was nice to have a place, for a change, where honesty and fairness are top priority and unorthodox views (like my own) are given a fair hearing."

But your views are not "unorthodox" on this site. I would say about half of the comments here responded to DSC negatively, and that Jammer gave low scores to most of the episodes.
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Trent
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 10:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Requiem for Methuselah

A pretty daring feminist message, and a lot of good ideas, get wasted in this episode. Did Kirk have to be that unhinged? Did the villain have to be that powerful? Did the Enterprise have to be shrunk yet again? In hindsight, Season 3 of TOS had the most highbrow, SF ideas, but motched most of them.
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Trent
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 7:39pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: That Which Survives

The following comment by Jammer is the best summation of this episode ever: "That Which Survives" is as close to nothing that you can have on the screen and still have some semblance of a Star Trek episode."

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Trent
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 7:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Heart of Glory

On the X-Files, you always knew a Rob Bowman episode; it looked like a feature film, was gorgeously lit, had great action scenes, felt kinetic and muscular and had clever camera work.

Watching season 1 and 2 of TNG, Bowman's (a young, novice director at the time) episodes are the ones that stand out. They have an energy about them, the best of which is arguably Heart of Glory, an excellent little episode which, if I'm not mistaken, is our first re-introduction to the Klingon Empire.
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Trent
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 5:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

BZ said: "Wasn't the original pitch an anthology show with every season (or even few episodes) following a different crew in a different time period in the Star Trek universe? The Discovery would not have been in all of them. "

Correct. As I understand it, Fuller pitched a show in which every season had a different arc and was set in a different time period. This was rejected because this would require different casts and sets. Perhaps they solved this problem by having Discovery branch time periods and universes (same sets, same casts, different universes).
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Trent
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 8:16am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: Bread and Circuses

I thought this was an excellent episode. Here we have a hyper-conservative society which resembles "civilized Rome". The differences: the slaves are kept in check with welfare, medicine and televised violence. This is a brave statement. The rebels of this system, however, believe in a "sun God" which we later learn is essentially "Jesus". This, of course, echoes our history, in which Cesar and Rome stopped resisting Christian heretics and made Christianity the Empire's default religion (thereby spreading it across the world). The episode is right to portray Christianity as something oppositional to ancient Rome, but wrong to suggest that the introduction of Christianity is what civilized Rome and resisted Rome; rather, the early Christian cults were enfolded within Rome, assimilated to it and it to them, and so functioned as a rubber-stamp for subsequent Empire building. The Church at this time was not a good, reformist thing. Perhaps Gene Coon - who worked on this script - was a sincere Christian, so I'll forgive all this.

The episode has some other interesting moments; Spock's intensity, skills and strengths during the fight sequences are tremendous; you really get the sense of a powerful, physically and intellectually superior being. Spock and Mccoy's scenes/banter is also excellent, and their friendship really comes across. Kirk's willingness to sacrifice himself and his friends is also noble. Scotty too is given a good little arc.

I would say the episode's flaws are its superficial and sexist treatment of the female slave, and its incoherent approach to the Prime Directive (which, in the show's defense, was still being fleshed out at this point).
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Trent
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 7:57am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

Hunter said: "During the pullout shot of the Discovery at the end, you can kind of make out a piece of debris at the back that looks like a wrecked D7."

Interesting if true. Does this mean the first eight episodes were set in a mirror universe? And is there only one mirror universe?

Regardless, it seems Brian Fuller's rejected pitch is what Discovery is becoming: Trek meets Sliders, with Lorca looking to fix the wrongs in his "home universe" using the Discovery. It's a bold, gutsy direction to take the franchise, but also kind of needless. You have a universe of species, sights and planets at your disposal; seems needlessly convoluted to resort to alternative universes, mirror universes, and alternate timelines, to cook up tales of "exploration".
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Trent
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 8:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S1: Miri

Surprised at the negativity here. I've always regarded this as one of the better episodes from the season; it's like a creepy, post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies, with some very graphic Zombie make-up effects thrown in.

Some have complained about the episode being set on Earth. I thought the writers did this deliberately, the episode like a giant metaphor for our earth dying when man leaves aside his youth, love and innocense for adult forays into greed and desire.
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Trent
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 7:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: Assignment: Earth

When Roddenberry has big input, the result is usually a terrible script. Here he realizes that Star Trek is about to be cancelled and so turns an episode into a secret (and awful) pilot for another show. Real classy Gene.

I think we can basically pretend that this is not really a Star Trek episode.
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Trent
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 8:56am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

So I guess that's it until January. I found Discovery to be, thus far, such a cruel and joyless show. Personally I only liked the two-part pilot, primarily for the wonderful space-walk and "first recontact" scenes. I also thought Captain Phillipa and the Shenzhou were more interesting than anything that occurred to or on Discovery.

I guess I'll check out Orville. People seem to be talking highly of it, and some of Jammer's reviews were positive.
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Trent
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 8:24am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

The first nipples on Star Trek. All this series needs now is full on rape subplots, edgy sodomy, child murder, naked hookers and a couple trendy massacres. Then tack on a "murder is bad" subplot at the end to retroactively Trek-it-up and justify it all.
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Trent
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 4:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: Duet

The Bajoran/Cardassian arcs in the first two seasons make me wish the Dominion were never introduced or invented. The first two seasons of DS9, at their best, touch upon so many contemporary issues (religion, terrorism, colonialism, cultural assimilation, post-colonialism, acceptance, peace treaties, a technologically advanecd hyperpower mediating between two lesser powers, the Bajoran's refusal to accept the wormhole aliens in scientific terms etc etc), but then the Dominion come along and bulldoze all that away, in favor for Space Nazis and cartoon villains. I feel that the latter half of DS9 is really when 90s Trek jumped the shark away from intellectualism, a shark that's still jumping.
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Trent
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 11:11am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

WTBA said "Unless he means it sarcastically (which he doesn't seem to imply elsewhere), it is a wonder he is watching the same show."

In fairness, Trek romances have a terrible track record. Kira and Odo, Sisko and his wives, Wolf and Dax, Chakotay and 7ov9...Trek romances are pretty bad. Indeed, the best Trek was at romance, was probably the Spock/Mccoy/Kirk, homoerotic bro-mance.
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Trent
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 11:06am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Gee said: "This is because the ships were just as much a character in the show as the actors, in line with that great maritime tradition of ships having personalities of their own"

This is what I loved about TOS. You really get a sense of Kirk's man-love for his ship, which is constantly referred to his "lady", or the "only woman in his life he needs", and its safety is constantly portrayed as being his top priority, more important than even his own life. Indeed, the Enterprise and Kirk have such a bond, he can tell when its engines are off-kilter and when its hulls aren't vibrating on cue.

Picard's Enterprise conveyed a great sense of place, of a tangible 3D space, but it wasn't loved as much as Kirk loved his ship. Indeed, Encounter at Farpoint begins with Picard still learning about his ship. In contrast, when we first meet Kirk as a captain, he and the Enterprise seem to have been through a lot together already.

The Enterprise in JJTrek, meanwhile, has no personality. It's repeatedly battered and replaced and never seems a home or something that can be relied upon. Discovery's similarly coldly portrayed. It's Lorca's tool, a weapon, and he'd be happy on any ship that got the job done. There's none of that 17th, 18th, 19th century nautical romance between Lorca and the Discovery. Oddly, Captain Phillipa and the Shenzhou managed to convey some of that nautical warmth. You get the sense that the Shenzhou, with her telescopes, her lady-buddy XO and Captain, and its gang of explorers and mappers, is a nice place to hang out.
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Trent
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 10:52am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

Season 3 has a number of great premises. This one - overpopulation taken to the point of planetary absurdity - is excellent, but the script is unfocussed, unpolished, and doesn't milk a great premise. It's a shame, because Kirk having righteous monologue-battles with a planet of uber-procreators could have led to something fascinating.
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Trent
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 10:34am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

"Comparison is the thief of joy"

Comparison is also the bedrock of discernment and refinement and helps guard against passive consumption. I'm reminded of the story of several tribal African teenagers who were taken to the UK and USA to view how others lived. When they returned home, they committed suicide months later, some because they were suddenly ashamed of their mud huts. Comparison, an anthropologist argued, made them unhappy. But I always thought the lesson was "build better houses".
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Trent
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 8:46am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

An excellent analysis, William B, and an interesting, thoughtful read.
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Trent
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 5:35am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Cloud Minders

A brave message, and a standout episode for season 3, but I still feel "The Cloud Minders" wastes its premise. What starts off as an episode with a very topical and radical theme, degenerates into fist-fights, a corny ending (Let's all just get along!) and a gamble on Kirk's part ("Let's expose everyone to gas!") which too simplifies complex real-world issues.

That said, the remastered version of this episode is stunning. Lots of new, neat, FX shots.
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Trent
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 5:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Greekarious wrote: "Why exactly did Michael pillar and Jerry Taylor leave? It’s a real shame that Piller’s last script was insurrection."

Taylor pretty much stayed with Voyager till the end. I don't know why Piller left, but I've always viewed him as being one of the few showrunners who kept the franchise from going full stupid. DS9, which he co-created, was at its most interesting and mature when it was a Israel/Palestine/Nazi/Jew allegory. Then Piller left and the Dominion were brought in to sex it up. Piller also became showrunner on TNG's season 3, the precise moment when the show got its act together. And with Voyager he helped cook up a great premise, crew and fought for serialization (Berman wanted the opposite). On TNG he also instituted a policy where every single unsolicited spec script sent in was read (this was how he discovered Ron Moore), something you can't imagine the franchise doing today.

I even think Piller's "Insurrection" is a great script. Ditch the studio mandated "action hero" climax, and stick to his original villains, and you have a neat SF tale.
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Trent
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 4:39pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Mertov said: "The formula can only last for so long."

Sure, but countering formula with another formula is not originality. Nor is countering cliches with countercliches.

DS9 and much of Enterprise already broke away from TOS and TNG's "planet of the week" format with long, "shades of grey" war arcs.

And let's not forget that Discovery's tactic thus far has been to simply employ reversals. If past Trek had noble captains, Discovery's captain will be a brute. If past Trek used classical music, Discovery will use contemporary pop etc etc.

Actual original writing would have avoided the above tropes and gone off in entirely new directions.

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Trent
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 4:26pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Lethe

I previously viewed this episode's title (Lethe was also the name of the Greek spirit of forgetfulness and/or concealment) as a reference to Sarek, but I wonder if its an allusion to Ash; Ash, a Klingon sleeper agent who has forgotten his past, perhaps via a memory wipe.
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Trent
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 4:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

MisterWooster said: "What we have in DISCO is a Trek that doesn't adhere to the "8ish or so Senior Officers Going on Adventures" template, and the reason behind that is: That Template No Longer Works In 2017TM."

The template works fine. As someone who reads mountains of new science fiction novels a year, I can assure you that deep, unique, philosophically, scientifically and politically interesting scifi "adventure" and "first contact" tales are everywhere (everyone go read Peter Watts' "Blindsight" and Octavia Butler's "Lilith's Brood"). The problem is, television writers live in bubbles and are primarily influenced by film and TV, and not literature, and certainly not science fiction literature. So they have no tales to tell.

The pulp scifi magazines and anthologies that influenced early TV SF writers no longer influence modern TV writers. Indeed, your modern tv SF fan rarely even reads SF literature. Nor are they enamoured by the old, nautical tales that birthed TOS. Nor are they interested in the politics and logistics surrounding 17th-18th-19th century mapping, exploration and colonialism.

And so Discovery is the kind of show a writer with a narrow range of interests and input, for an audience with a narrow range of interests, will produce.

MisterWooster said: "off-the-shelf stories than with Discovery's admittedly more challenging view of Trek's core values"

People aren't ticked off because Discovery is different or "challenging core values", they're ticked off because Discovery's aesthetic, tone, style, message and writers are conventional. Like almost everything on TV, this is a series in which people at war do bad things for the greater good and wrestle with how bad is bad, how good is good and where to draw moral lines. It's House of Cards, Game of Thrones, 24, The Americans, Homeland etc, with CGI and a more overtly liberal denouement. In contrast, TOS and TNG were aesthetically and philosophically like nothing else on TV. They were (and still are) genuinely radical. People don't necessarily want TOS and TNG back, but they want that meaningful difference.

MisterWooster said: "There seems to be an instant equating of "writing I don't like" with "bad writing."

In the space of 2 episodes, we've had Lorca abducted by Klingons and Lorca intercepted by Mudd. Space is so small - witness how fast Stella rendevous with Discovery - that everyone's covert ship is running into each other, yet so big that the Federation's leaves the Shenzhou and a functioning Klingon flagship in a graveyard for seven months. If you're going for realism rather than the allegorical, abstract, expressionistic tone of early Trek, you can't be so goofy.

MisterWooster said: "DISCO is trying, and succeeding (mostly) to drag Trek - and its longtime fans - into the 21st century."

It's not only "longtime fans" who are skeptical of Discovery. I'm young (grew up on Voyager and Ent) and started watching TOS for the first time recently and quite quickly categorised it as my fave Trek. DISCO, in comparison, seems to be doing what JJ-Trek did. The only difference is that Discovery's attempting to be political. It's glitz and violence are only in the noble service of getting us to Old Skool Trek Utopianism. Of course the skeptics think otherwise: the series' "progressive" politics are being used to justify its reliance upon psychopathy to drum up drama. It's a bit like the countless modern shows which pretend to offer "serious, topical, well-meaning stories about the exploitation of women" to justify rape narratives and female nudity. Indeed, almost every historical/fantasy drama on TV rolls out a pert sex slave (as short-hand to "prove how evil" a character is), whilst its writers hilariously and simultaneously defend the titilative act by citing "realism" and their "serious intentions". This exemplifies what philosopher Robert Pfaller calls "interpassivity", performing our indictments for us whilst allowing us to engage in base consumption with impunity.

Discovery does something similar. Its Section 31s, its psycho captains, its wars, its massacres, its swearing, its edgy mutineers aren't titilative tactics, its writers believe, but "serious" and "utopian". But ask yourself what you think the writers actually enjoy writing. And ask yourself what they think modern audiences expect of drama.
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