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methane
Tue, Aug 15, 2017, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Maquis, Part I

--spoilers for the 2nd to last episode of TNG--

Ro on TNG was introduced as a Bajoran refugee, part of a group of Bajorans who had left their planet during the Cardassian occupation. She wouldn't join the Maquis until the second to last episode of TNG season 7. DS9 season 2 was airing at the same time as TNG season 7, so these DS9 episodes are several months before that. I'm pretty sure these DS9 episodes are the first mention of the Maquis in the Star Trek Universe.

Pillar was introducing the Maquis in both DS9 & TNG to prepare for Voyager, which was going to start the next year. I think I've read that Behr (who would take over DS9 in season 3) was annoyed that DS9 had to introduce the Maquis just to set up something for Voyager. Of course, DS9 would do way more with them than Voyager would (which pretty much forgot the whole idea after their pilot)
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methane
Sun, Aug 6, 2017, 7:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Chosen Realm

This benefits from good acting from the guest star & somewhat clever writing detailing how the ship was taken over (organic explosives they didn't know to search for) & how it was taken back (aliens ignorance of the transporter). Despite that, it's an action plot we've seen before that didn't allow for much characterization from our characters. So it never really grabs the viewer.

And yes, religious differences do often come down to silliness over "9 days or 10".

Corey says: "the Sunni/Shia conflict has always spawned, not from religious doctrinal disputes, but issues of power, politics, resources and land. Religious mumbo jumbo comes after."

eehhh...of course the people in charge of each sect seek "power, politics, resources and land". That's true of pretty much every religious or governmental leader. Once two groups are divided, they naturally compete over all of those things.

But religious doctrinal issues are special monstrosities that leaders use to channel power to themselves, dehumanize their opponents, and make compromise extremely difficult. These doctrinal issues aren't just pushed by the top leaders, but by clerics at all levels of society, who have an incentive to continue to advance the correctness of their views. This is essential for clerics to maintain their own importance in society. This whole system is key in keeping the divisions permanent.
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methane
Sat, Aug 5, 2017, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

So, I finally watched it a few weeks ago.

It's he first Star Wars movie since The Return of the Jedi that I would give a passing grade to (no, I don't think the Force Awakens was a good movie). I'd give it somewhere between 2.5 to 3 stars.

-As others have said, it's plot-driven. Only the droid felt developed as a character.

-I didn't have a problem with Tarkenton. That may be because I didn't know he was going to be in the movie when I started watching it (I probably knew at some point, but had forgotten it in the 8 months or so since the movie came out). I realized he had to be CGI as soon as he appeared onscreen, but I thought it was done well-enough. To echo nearly everyone else, Leia didn't look as accurate.

-I agree the ending doesn't line up well with the beginning of the first movie.

-Glad Disney allowed the to actually kill all the featured characters. It would have really felt hollow if they forced a happy ending for them.

-some of the fanservice was hollow. I agree with the commenter above who said Vader choking random lackey was tiresome...filmmakers doing this at every opportunity undermines the previous movie rather than building up the current one.

This could have been a classic with better character development. But the plot carries it along well enough that it gets a passing grade.
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methane
Sun, Jul 30, 2017, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Similitude

"The reason I dislike this episode is that I don't believe any ethical person would create a clone they know will have to die, in order to save someone"

Every time a human life is create people know it will die. I don't think lifespan is what makes a life worthwhile (a life that lasts 100 years isn't necessarily more worthwhile than one lasts 10 days).

As someone pointed out near the top of the thread: the decision to create this life is analogous to parents who have another child in order to provide a tissue donor for one of their other children. I understand people may feel uncomfortable about that, but as long as the parents will love the new child, I have no problems with it. Similarly, I have no problems with the initial decision to create the new life in this episode. Again, I must emphasize: quality of life is not determined by lifespan!!!!

If they would have stuck to that premise, this might have been a strong, poignant episode, as we could watch a human lifespan play out over a relative blink of an eye (would have been even better if they gave him a lifespan of a few months, and had his life play out over half a season). The idea didn't need a forced conflict.

Of course, they had to pile on all sorts of twists & turns: DNA memories*! Now the procedure will kill Sim! now maybe there's a procedure to make Sim live a "normal" lifespan!

I didn't dislike the result, although I agree with some of the problems others have stated. The biggest problem is that all the twists took away time to really absorb & dwell on the ideas or to give much characterization (with an idea that opened the door for a lot of characterization). I'd give the episode 3 stars.


*They could have easily gotten away with not using DNA magic. Just say that the symbiont had some small amount of telepathic powers that let Sim absorb some of Trip's memories. Telepathy is a magic that's been in Trek a long time!
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methane
Sat, Jul 8, 2017, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Rajiin

Elliot said:

"Isn't it convenient that Archer doesn't pay for the sex slave but still gets to take her back to his ship? For someone who frequently harps on the "have your cake and eat it too" contrivance in scripting, I'm surprised you didn't pick up on this point. All he had to do was get into a silly fight for which there are no consequences. I'm curious about what the writers were thinking; I mean, I'm all for liberating slaves from prostitution, but it's rather selective here AND the dialogue makes only a passing reference to "we don't believe people can own people" or whatever. "

The fact that the slave got to the ship without being purchased was a plot point. She had a mission to get to the ship, and she had to find a way even if she wasn't purchased.

That the Enterprise crew didn't go and free everyone is understandable. If they went in with weapons and freed everyone they weren't likely to get any business done at the port, nor anywhere else in the region. And they could possibly get a whole new set of enemies when they're already struggling with the Xindi. But if a woman frees herself and then asks for asylum (essentially what she did), they can't really turn her down. (Which doesn't mean they need to give her permission to wander the ship freely. Archer should have been weary of her).

------

On the episode itself: the main plot was tired, but not awful. Most of the rest of it was better than what Enterprise had been giving us. The spice merchant was fun and the T'Pol/Trip stuff was fine here. Overall, I'd give it a passing grade.
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methane
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Second Season Recap

This season wasn't full of bad episodes. The problem is, there aren't any great episodes either. Most of them are just above or just below passable. On the whole, an uninspiring season of Star Trek.

Some notes:

-the best episodes of the season were probably the Borg episode (which I think can fit into cannon if you squint a little), "Stigma", or maybe "Future Tense" (as a pure action episode)

-I don't like the Duras family being villains across centuries. I don't like the idea that if you're good/bad then your ancestor or descendant was/will be the same. That's the sort of reasoning that justifies an inherited aristocracy. I would rather an ancestor of Duras be a hero & the ancestor of Worf be a villain.

-I said in my review of Season 1 that, despite my dislike of the whole idea of the "Temporal Cold War", it really didn't hurt that season. It didn't hurt this season either. I thought "Shockwave part II" was OK (if unmemorable) & "Future Tense" was actually enoyable.

-I also said in my review of season 1 that I hadn't remembered how bad Jolene Blalock was that first season, and that I remembered her doing better later. She did indeed improve significantly in the 2nd season. She won't be remembered as one of the great actors of Trek, but she was fine this season.

-Of the crew, T'Pol & Phlox got some good character moments this season. Aside from them, Ensign Mayweather in "Horizon" is the only who really got any development (and that was in a middling episode). Tucker is well acted, of course (and is heavily used as the everyman by the writers), but I wouldn't say the character has really done any developing before we get to the season finale. I don't know what to say about the captain. He's written blandly, and I don't think Bakula elevates the material.

-I think the episodes in the first two seasons of Enterprise weren't worse than the first 2 seasons of Voyager (and were perhaps better, although I haven't watched Voyager in a long time), but Enterprise suffers by not having memorable characters that draw you back even when the writing is bad. Berman & Braga said they were excited to do a prequel so they could write less "perfect" humans. Yet the humans on the show are so very bland.

-About the finale: I wasn't really impressed. Once you take out the pointless Klingon plot, and the foolishness of an alien species deliberately giving up the element of surprise, the drama is mostly in watching the characters reactions to the attack on Earth. That doesn't resonate as well as it should, partly because we haven't been drawn in by these characters for 2 years so far.

-About the change in direction & the Xindi conflict: clearly a change was needed, and more serialization is certainly welcome. However, this Xindi conflict was clearly unneeded. The first 2 seasons of the show were stronger when dealing with the cultures of the Andorians & Vulcans. I'm pretty sure I thought at the time a focus on them (and other prequel elements) would have been a better direction. i remember the 3rd season being a mixed bag; I'll see how well it holds up.

-Of course, mostly what the show needed was better writing.
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methane
Mon, Jun 12, 2017, 10:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Strejda-

"Evolution never intends for any specie to die, it's point is to avoid extinction"

I wouldn't say evolution has an intent or a point. That implies evolution is something with thought & goals...a "guiding hand". Evolution is controversial because there is no guiding hand involved.

Evolution by its nature is random, which is why predicting how a specific species will evolve doesn't work (you can make some general statements...a large species confined to a small island will likely shrink over time or die out...note in this case you can't say it will definitely shrink, as it may die out!). So saying with certainty that a species will definitely get smarter is completely misunderstanding what evolution is.
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methane
Sun, Jun 4, 2017, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The Search, Part I

"How is that Dr. Bashir knows how to use a console on the bridge of prototype ship he's never been on before and can fire weapons on an attacking ship? Starfleet Medical teaches this?"

Given the consoles are all touchscreens (and not physical buttons), I assume the consoles conform to whatever setup the user chooses. Different species would have different optimal console designs (based on hand dexterity & field of vision), and individuals themselves could customize their consoles to their liking. Even if Engineers decided a brand new console design was the most optimal, it would still be an awful idea to prevent someone from calling up a different version. For example, if a visiting doctor suddenly needed access to a console in a medical emergency, you'd want him to instantly call up the screen he's most comfortable with using, rather than making him have to endure "introduction to starfleet console display 475.2 beta" before using it.

Bashir would just call up whatever console display he's comfortable with and go from there. He might not know all the new systems on the ship, but he should certainly be able to do all the basic stuff right away (engines are still engines, communications are still communications...), and ask the computer anything he's unsure about.
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methane
Wed, May 31, 2017, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

One thing I did praise the writers of this movie for doing was giving everybody in the cast time in the spotlight. I think they did better than any previous Star Trek movie (including TOS & TNG movies) was using everyone. If you asked me who the leads were, I'd probably say Kirk reflexively, because he's the captain. If I wasn't thinking too hard, I'd probably say Jaylah next, because she's the character I remember the most from this movie. But of course, she couldn't be the 2nd lead...she missed the first hour or whatever of the movie, not appearing until the crew ended up on the planet. (note: extended action limited memorable character moments during that whole stretch).

But the truth is, I don't think any character was a lead this movie, at least, not in the sense of previous Star Trek movies. Uhura's screentime was down, but so was Spock's & Kirk's. That meant more time for Scotty, Checkov, Sulu, & McCoy, as well as more time for Jaylah.

I think that was a strength of the screenwriters; it takes skill to get every character contributing meaningfully in a movie...especially when so much of it is driven by special effects. Yes, it does highlight how there was only 1 woman in the original crew, which is probably a reason why writer's introduced Jaylah. Because of her, I do think the overall screentime for women did not go down from the last 2 movies.
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methane
Wed, May 31, 2017, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

damyen said:

" the movie you liked the most is the one liked least by the rest of people"

go back to my review, I said:

"I will say that unlike the last 2 movies, the parts I disliked in this movie bored me, rather than annoying me or making me angry (blowing up Vulcan for not much payoff...transporters that go across the galaxy!). That's somewhat offset by the fact that I don't think the good parts of this movie hit the peaks of the last 2 movies (though it's obviously been awhile since I've watched them)."

Note that I never once said this was my favorite, though I did imply the planetary section was perhaps the best section of any of the movies.

More to the point: I was never upset over the Spock/Uhura relationship in the other movies. Those movies had problems, but the Spock/Uhura relationship wasn't one of them.

"You guys keep trying belittling uhura for her relationship with spock"

Where did I belittle her relationship with Spock? I did note that relationships were missing from this movie, but that women overall had more screentime. I don't think the lack of relationships is what kept Beyond from being a success. I read an article the other week (I forget if it was a newspaper or online) that specifically noted how Marvel had mostly abandoned relationships in their movies, and they continue to be blockbusters.

Look, I understand you wanting more screentime for Uhura, and perhaps my post came off as more adversarial than I meant it to. If so, I apologize. But I think there are problems with all 3 movies, but those problems don't have to do with how much one character or another has screentime.

"you dont care about women represenration. You just dont want them to get in the way of the original trio and 'steal' screentime for those dynamics you prefer."

I'm not going to claim I care about women's representation as much as you do. But don't accuse me of not caring at all.

The original cast was heavily male, which means that any remake focusing on that crew is going to lean male, however much screentime they give Uhura. If they decide to come out with a new, mostly-female crew for Star Trek movies I'd be interested in it, as long as the stories are good. I do have affection for the original characters, but I'd be exicted about well written Star Trek with a new crew.

"And it exactly is just a desire of some people to keep trek like it was 50 years ago"

Stop putting words in other people's mouths! Star Trek needs to develop. I've never complained about Uhura's screentime. But whatever the character breakdown, it needs to develop by adding quality stories.
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methane
Tue, May 30, 2017, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

Women did better in Beyond than in the 2 previous movies. Yes, Uhura had less screentime, but what was mostly lost was her "girlfriend" screentime. There wasn't any translating for her to do, but in the Enterprise-crashing attack she was the kick ass warrior who nobly sacrificed her own freedom to separate the saucer section. That's about as much spotlight as she received in each of the 2 previous movies outside of her girlfriend activities. Any lost screentime for Uhura (or other women from previous movies) was more than made up for by the addition of Jaylah, who took up a lot of screentime & handled herself capably. In smaller roles, the Commodore was a woman & the redshirt who hid part of the weapon for Kirk was a woman. Each of these was depicted as capable & competent (I mean, I think we're supposed to appreciate the redshirt, although I question surrendering a weapon of mass murder to an obvious villain even if it saves Sulu's life)

Overall, women got more screentime and were consistently shown as being competent & capable.

Of course, none of the women's screentime was spent talking to a boyfriend or being shirtless on screen. Apparently this is what Damyen missed. I don't mind relationships on screen, and I certainly don't mind shirtless women, but I don't think many will agree that adding that would have made Beyond great.

The decline in Star Trek's movie box-office has nothing to do with trying to "placate old fans". The old fans were a big part of the success of the first 2 movies! The whole reason why the studio picked Star Trek to put their generic action formula in is because there were lots of Star Trek fans to sell to (note, these aren't all old people; young people are still discovering the TV shows today, despite the fact they're all dated). Now, these fans were not the only reason it had success, but the studio absolutely counted on those people for a good chunk of the box office release.

The decline of the reboot Star Trek movies is similar to most movie franchises. And when you reduce Star Trek to mostly mindless action movie, you really shouldn't be surprised that it's following a standard action movie decline. To be fair, the TNG movies declined as well (they also felt studio pressures to action it up!). I don't think anybody talks about the TNG movies being classics, aside from maybe First Contact (which I wouldn't call a classic, but that's another review). Similarly, unless an upcoming sequel raises the quality, I don't think many will remember these movies any better than blockbusters like "Independence Day" (a blockbuster in its time which got a belated sequel this year to no interest).

Damyen, the studio would be better off listening to what old-school fans really want. The original series was massively popular in the 1980s. Then the Next Generation came out and averaged 20 million fans a week in the US for 7 years at a time the country was much smaller than today (1990 population was 248 million, today it's about 325 million). People are still discovering the Star Trek TV shows today.

Star Trek done well has a far bigger potential audience than these movies have done. But Star Trek done well is not mindless action movie. You can make it work as mindless action movie, but 1) you won't fully engage the natural audience for Star Trek & 2) it'll never be as good as a great mindless action movie in a franchise designed for action above all else.

Making a Star Trek movie that's a pure action movie is like making a Superman movie a depressing story about mindless destruction and hopelessness. Sure, you could do it, and you'd probably make money the first time you did it...but you'd leave everyone much less excited for the next one. You're not playing to the strengths of the character, and the strengths of the character are why he became such an icon in the first place!

Speaking of which...several commentators earlier on this thread mentioned Marvel. I don't think Marvel Studios has been as consistently successful creatively as others, but Marvel Studios has done one thing absolutely right: tailor the stories to the characters & not the characters to the story. If it's going to make a Captain America movie, it's going to be a movie that goes to the strengths of Captain America as a character. They're trying to make a great Captain America movie, not a great action movie that happens to have Captain America in it! If they make an Iron Man movie or an Ant Man movies, it's going to be completely different.

The producers of these Star Trek movies have not been trying to make a great Star Trek movie! They've been trying to make a generic action movie with Star Trek characters thrown in for flavor (so they have at least one audience they think is guaranteed). Of course, favors without substance will go out of fashion over time.

--------------

Star Trek: $287 million; STID: $467 million; STB: $336 million
The Martian: $630 million; Gravity: $723 million; Interstellar: $675 million

The audience for smart science fiction is demonstrably larger than Abrams Star Trek. The fact that the studios don't want to make Star Trek smart science fiction is lousy business. That would appeal to the strengths of the franchise and make money for them!

Damyen I assure you they could make a smart movie and still give Uhura a notable role! The old school fanboys that you deride would be happy with the result. Would you?
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methane
Sun, May 28, 2017, 9:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

I haven't hated the previous 2 movies, but bad parts have mostly cancelled out the parts I've enjoyed, leaving me pretty 'meh' on the whole reboot series. I've watched each of Abrams' movies exactly once. Assuming I don't die early, I will probably watch them again...in 10 or 15 years or so (after I've undoubtedly re-watched TNG again & DS9 maybe twice....heck, I'll probably even re-watch Voyager before getting around to my 2nd viewing of those movies).

Which helps explain why it took me so long too watch Beyond. It's been on Epix (which I have) for a while now, yet I felt no urgency to watch it before the TV network year ended last week.

Before I offer my critique on this movie, I feel like I should also talk about my opinions on action movies in general: I don't hate them, but I certainly am not an unabashed fan of them. I enjoy the latter Fast & the Furious movies (not so much the earlier ones), while being pretty much 'meh' on the 1st & 3rd Iron Man movies, and I felt the 2nd Iron Man was an outright bad movie.

I think this is partly because the further you go away from reality (and towards science fiction or fantasy), the less effective stunts or CGI-work are by themselves. You can skimp on character work and go straight to a dazzling action scene if it involves something reasonably familiar (like cars driving fast), and the scene can be appreciated for the experience itself. However, the more disconnected the action is from our daily experience, the more good setup & character work are necessary, both to make the scenes believable & to keep the stakes understandable.

Note to producers: better character scenes makes your audience more engaged in the action scenes!

That said, this movie starts out fairly well...although isn't this the 2nd straight movie that begins with the crew failing their away mission? Anyway, it works well enough, up until the Enterprise come out of the nebula. Then, ACTION!!!! I'm not going to say it the action wasn't well done. But with, what, 4 hours of total screen-time in just over 2 movies devoted to this crew & ship before this point (and much of that 4 hours devoted to ACTION!!!!!), I had a hard time caring about what was going on. It wasn't poorly done as far as action scenes go (the direction was fine, as was the writers' ability to give all the different characters something to do), but there hasn't been the character work done in this series to make me care about anything that happened until everyone was on the planet & we could start see our characters as characters again. Despite the technical merits of these scenes, I was bored & waiting for it to get over with. The fact that the characters essentially had no control over their fate for this entire sequence didn't help to keep me involved.

The best part of the movie was on the planet. Our characters had time to have personalities. The action wasn't groundbreaking, but I enjoyed it. The humor had a high success rate. I don't think Quinto did as well with Spock this time around, but that's a hard role to play. All the characters had stuff to do, although the prisoners (Sulu & Uhura), obviously had less space to shine.

I could nitpick sections of the planet section, but there's really only 2 parts that I want to call out: the motorcycle appearance & the Public Enemy song. I was immersed in the movie, but those sections yanked me out of the "future" & reminded me again that I was watching a movie whose producers are trying to carefully appeal to a generic audience. To be fair, the song didn't appear for long, and the annoyance at the motorcycle mostly went away once there were numerous holograms riding around in circles. Still, change the motorcycle to an obviously alien vehicle & the rap song to alien music ("Andorian New Wave"), and you could have had just as much fun without yanking your audience out of the movie.

When we get off-planet again, it becomes a bit more uneven. Once more music yanked me out of the movie (and I was a teenager when "Sabotage" came out, so I guess I'm the target for the music choice). Our characters were obviously less helpless for this action sequence, which helps. I did start to think of plot holes at this point (why didn't he use drone ships to fly home 100 years ago?..). The fight between Kirk & the villain in the air-ducts was imaginative & worked well for the "required physical confrontation between head hero & head villain at end of move"*.


A few other quick comments:

-the villain's backstory intrigues me (and Elba of course does fine with what he's given), but I agree that it's very much underwritten. For those who've seen the DVD/Blue-ray: are there any deleted scenes fleshing out this story?

-Sulu being gay was another thing that took me out of the movie. If it was a new character shown as gay (like our new alien girl) I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but changing the sexuality of a character we'd all understood as straight for 50 years caused a disconnect. It also, unintentionally I'm sure, brings up a troubling implication: does the fact that George Takei is gay means that any character he played must be gay? Of course not...but going out of the way to retcon the sexuality of a character he played after he came out does seem to imply that.

-It's nice to get more "alien" aliens in Star Trek, but give them a little bit of personality between the jokes, please.

Overall, I guess I'd give this movie a rating just under passing (1.75 if 2 is passing). If they had subtracted a little generic action (especially the sequences following the exit from the nebula until they get to the planet) & added more character and story this would have easily been a passing grade. Subtract even more action for character bits and this could have been a very good movie.

I will say that unlike the last 2 movies, the parts I disliked in this movie bored me, rather than annoying me or making me angry (blowing up Vulcan for not much payoff...transporters that go across the galaxy!). That's somewhat offset by the fact that I don't think the good parts of this movie hit the peaks of the last 2 movies (though it's obviously been awhile since I've watched them).

I'll also say that I enjoyed this movie more than 4 of the Star Wars movies released after "Return of the Jedi" (I haven't seen Rogue One yet).


I would definitely be interested in what this writing team could do with less of an ALL ACTION All THE TIME! mandate from the producers.




*somehow Wrath of Kahn works very well without a physical confrontation. Yet nearly every Star Trek movie since then has one.
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methane
Fri, May 5, 2017, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Discovery

"I find this quote from Moonves to be interesting:

'You know that a Star Trek will travel. You know a The Good Wife [spin-off] might not do nearly as well. It is much more of an American show. There is much more talking involved as opposed to action-adventure. So [international sales] does affect your decisions, but not exclusively.'

Right there he pretty much admits that the dumbing down of Star Trek in the past decade was to "make the international market happy". "

CBS has nothing to do with the movies. The only thing CBS has done with filmed Star Trek this past decade is move TOS & TNG to high-definition. So I don't think you can accuse him of "dumbing down" anything yet.

We'll see what the show actually is.
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methane
Thu, Apr 20, 2017, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Stigma

I've forgotten any "message" add-ons that originally aired with this episode. With those present, I might have been as annoyed as Jammer; it would have come across as trying too hard, and also drawn attention to the fact that it doesn't match-up perfectly with what was the AIDS situation at the time.

Watching it now, without that add-on, I felt this was one of the better episodes of the series to date (albeit one that's still probably only 3 stars...maybe 3.5). While I knew the writers were probably thinking about AIDS while writing this, I enjoyed it as an episode about prejudice without attempting to overlay it with a real-world situation.

I also thought the dialogue was a lot of fun in the Trip sub-plot! While I've often rolled my eyes at way sex has been dealt with in the first two seasons, I enjoyed this one.
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methane
Sun, Feb 26, 2017, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: A Night in Sickbay

I feel the level of hatred for this episode is unjustified. I suppose I would give it 1.5 stars; there's some pretty idiotic things in the premise that keeps it from getting a passing grade, but there's enough good things that keeps it from being awful.

First, I'll acknowledge the bad stuff:
*Archer taking his dog along was certainly foolish
*Archer's Freudian slips are dumb
*I really don't need to see Phlox clipping his toe nails.

Some things in it's favor:
*I did enjoy the "day in the life of Phlox" part of the show. Phlox was shown as intelligent and perceptive while still eccentric. A good foil for the captain when he was saying stupid things. While I didn't really laugh out loud at the humor in sickbay, I found it mostly pleasant (toe nail clippings aside).
*The Freudian slips were dumb and the dream pointless, but Archer realizing that he has an attraction and dealing with it was an act of maturity.
*Archer certainly was foolish to blame the aliens for what happened to his dog. But, we never actually saw him act foolish to the aliens himself. He was saying these dumb things to his crew-members (mostly to his first officer), knowing it wasn't going to be repeated to the aliens themselves. I think he subconsciously knows he's being an idiot, but isn't going to stop and ponder it while he's stressed worrying about his dog and the ship isn't in any danger. Aside from the sexual frustration, I would have liked Archer to come to the realization that he lets the stresses of the job build up inside of him, and then he lashes out at his Vulcan officer because he knows she can take it in stride. That doesn't make him the greatest leader, but it does make him an understandable human.

Again, it doesn't get a passing mark, but every Trek series has many worse episodes.
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methane
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: First Season Recap

OK, so in the past half-year or so I've re-watched the first season of Enterprise for the first time since it originally aired, borrowed the blu-ray release to see all the extras, and read the "unauthorized" history of Star Trek books. A warning: this comment will be scattered.

On the production crew: this is the best-looking Star Trek ship since the original series. The designers very successfully made it look like something that predates the original Enterprise while giving directors interesting visuals from various angles. The Suliban look good. The special effects on a weekly basis are generally done well. Sometimes they don't seem particularly inspired when coming up with yet another alien-of-the-week, but the behind-the-scenes staff were really good at their jobs at this point.

The "temporal cold war", which I hated at the time, really didn't hurt this season. It actually only came up in a few episodes, and those weren't awful.

One thing the writing staff did get right this season: less technobabble than we had in Voyager, or even later seasons of TNG.

The opening credits music: still bad after all these years.

I thought the Ferengi episode was watchable. Not good, not bad, but watchable. Of course, there was no reason the invaders had to be Ferengi, and it would have been more interesting if they would have made them aliens the Enterprise would come across again (perhaps even a species that would come to join the Federation).

Best episode of the season: "Shuttlepod One".

The characters: I'm not being very original by saying Connor Trinneer as Trip is the highlight of the crew, with Phlox coming in second. T'Pol may actually be the most interesting character as-written this season, but the actress unfortunately does not do a good job with her performance. I think she improves in later seasons, as I don't remember her being this bad (and I think she was better towards the end of this season). Unfortunately the captain never really gets characterization, and the other crewmembers aren't much more defined at the end of season one than they were in the pilot.

By far the most interesting story ideas this season were the ones that took full advantage of the setting: the Vulcans not being quite who we know in the later series; their conflict with the Andorians; the Boomers in "Fortunate Son" witnessing the Enterprise bringing an end to their way of life; the crew having to deal with how much to interfere with another society without a Prime Directive to guide them in "Dear Doctor".

Note that I said these were the most interesting story ideas, not that they produced great stories. "The Andorian Incident" had an interesting setup and a great ending, but not much worthwhile in between (besides Jeffrey Combs). "Dear Doctor", which could have been a classic 4 star episode of Trek with a better thought-out dilemma, suffers because of the bad science at the heart of it (you can "predict" evolution), as well as the fact that nobody really believes the prime directive makes sense taken to those extremes. The Vulcan shows consistently suffer because all the actors seem to struggle with those roles...not just Blalock (the writing could also be a bit more nuanced & a bit more consistent). "Fortunate Son" needed another few days of the writers developing their ideas before producing their script.

And that points out the consensus problem with the season: the writing. Watching & reading some of the behind-the-scenes stuff makes these problems seem almost inevitable. The production was rushed and hurried from the start; the writing staff had no time to sit & develop stories or talk about long-range plans; Scott Bakula wasn't officially hired until right before the pilot started filming.

[A side note: this is exactly why we should want Discovery to take all the time it needs!]

A further difficulty was studio interference. While Braga & Berman did want things to be more different (they wanted to set most of the first season on Earth, before the Enterprise even launched!), the studio was pushing them to make it more generically bland Star Trek. The temporal cold war was added because of studio pressure.

Still, much of the blame has to fall on Braga & Berman. They claimed they were setting out to do more of a character-based show, yet, after a year of episodes, most of the characters are ill-defined. They assembled this writing staff and got story credit for a large number of episodes. Plus, from interviews with the writers, Braga apparently wasn't very good at running a writer's room at that point in his career.

I have to say: Braga is the last major Star Trek writer from the TNG/DS9/VOY era I would have considered to run a "character-based" show. Characterization was never his strong suit. But then again, I suppose everyone else had moved on by then. I forget if it was on a blu-ray feature or the "unauthorized" book, but I remember Braga saying that he felt the "boomer" culture really didn't have any story ideas, so he just dropped it after "Fortunate Son". That should have been a solid source of character-based stories for the show.

*Sigh* Well, I think this was better than TNG season 1, and maybe better than Voyager season 1 (neither of which I've seen a very long time). But I don't hold the first seasons of either of those shows in high regard. 15 years after its release, this season remains a disappointment.

I could go into more specifics, but this has taken me long enough. I do believe there was an opportunity for a really strong Star Trek season here. They had some good underlying ideas, just never well executed. And the episodes with good ideas were surrounded by many forgettable, generic episodes that didn't feel like anything but filler.
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methane
Thu, Jan 19, 2017, 11:31am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Discovery

According to CBS' statement a few days ago, it's starting production next week. They're just not fixing an official release date.
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methane
Thu, Jan 12, 2017, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Kyle, the prime directive in the original series was mostly about cultural development.

However, in TNG, the episodes "Pen Pals" & "Homeward" both say the prime directive also means the Federation is not supposed to interfere with natural destruction of races without warp drive. Note that "Pens Pals" was in season 2, while Roddenberry was still involved, so you can't say it was against his interpretation. Of course, both episodes also had the Enterprise ultimately ignoring the prime directive, as the writers don't really believe in it when it's taken to that extent.
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methane
Wed, Nov 2, 2016, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Discovery

" And if this "problem" becomes severe enough, the costumers will stop paying."

Yes! CBS can make a product and set a price for it. Each individual can decide to buy it or not to buy it. I didn't think this needed to be said. After all, I've said multiple times I won't be a regular subscriber to the streaming-service. Other people will make the same choice!

But one person is not every person. Most people are still not all people.

Most people will not buy this service; that doesn't mean there won't be many that do. CBS can be successful with only a small percentage of US households adding the service. You seem to think that because you personally won't be subscribing, that means there will be zero subscribers and that will be a disaster for CBS. You should know that shows and whole networks can be successful even if you don't personally watch them! Even if you don't personally pay for them!

The next time you're in a decent-sized supermarket, pay attention, as if you're seeing things for the first time. I've lived in a third-world country, so I understand how truly magical a supermarket is! Look around at all the different products. Most of the products they sell you won't be buying that trip. Many of the products you won't buy on ANY trip. Maybe they're not to your taste; maybe they're too expensive to be worth the purchase. For each of these products, know that there are a lot of other people who will also never purchase them. Despite this, most of these products will continue to be sold. They don't need to be purchased by a large percentage of people to be worth selling.

If you're disappointed that you won't see the new series right away, feel free to say so. I'm disappointed! But my disappointment doesn't mean CBS is making a bad decision. It also doesn't mean the series won't be worth watching whenever I do see it. I'm sure everyone here has known good shows they only started watching years after they started airing, or even after they stopped producing new episodes. The Star Trek franchise has a history of this; the original series had far more viewers watch it in the first few years after it stopped producing new shows than during it's original run.

--

I just about never go to the cinema because I don't think it's worth the money. So when I do watch a movie, it's generally a year or more later than other people. That doesn't mean that the movies are bad when I see them (though certainly some are). My decision not to go the cinema hasn't meant the collapse of the movie industry; somehow movies still get made.

---

" 'Youtube recently added a paid subscription service'

So? There's nothing new in the situation of having pay-for TV alongside free TV, and there's nothing wrong with it either. It has been that way since the 1940's at the very least. "

Exactly! CBS is offering "pay-for TV" (its streaming service) "alongside free TV" (its over-the-air broadcasts + limited streaming of recently-broadcast shows). You offered Youtube as an example of something different from what CBS is doing. It's not.
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methane
Mon, Oct 31, 2016, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Discovery

Speaking of Old Trek writers on this series, Nicholas Meyer is a consulting producer and is supposed to have written the second hour. Some people might not be a fan of him, as his view of the future has been significantly less utopian than Roddenberry. Nevertheless, he had a big part in 3 of the best-remembered movies.

---

Chrome:

"just looking at Fuller's writing credits for Voyager: "Spirit Folk", "Fury", "Bride of Chaotica!", "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" and other poorly-received shows make me think his absence could actually help Discovery."

It's hard to hold his Star Trek credits against him as:

1) it was, I believe, his first job. If you're trying, you'll get better with practice.

2) We don't know for sure how much his bosses at Voyager were dictating things. We do know that Ron Moore said: "The politics of the show were such that the egos of the people in charge of the series were threatened by the people who worked for them. To be blunt, Bryan Fuller and Mike Taylor were treated very shabbily, and it pissed me off. They took a lot of crap, and the only reason it was done was to keep the guys on the top of the pyramid feeling good about themselves. It also had the effect of keeping the writing staff from working in concert as a group." (1)

3) Fuller's done a lot since that's very good. I enjoyed Wonderfalls & Pushing Daisies a lot, and I believe he was responsible for some of the best early Heroes before that show went downhill. Hannibal had a lot of fans, although I never tried it (not really my genre). All of these shows also had critical acclaim while he was involved with them.

The counterargument to that would be that he hasn't created anything that was a big hit.


(1) If you're a Star Trek fan and you've never read Ron Moore's big post-Star Trek interview (done long before BSG came along), you should check it out: www.lcarscom.net/rdm1000118.htm

---

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi:


"TV as we know it will simply die, due to lack of interest"

It's strange that you're attacking the CBS service and then saying this. I think most people have concluded that the old TV model is fading away. You can say that it will "die", but you could also say that it's simply evolving. CBS streaming is anticipating that change.

"There are already channels on youtube which are far better than anything shown on mainstream TV."

Youtube recently added a paid subscription service; it's moving towards the CBS streaming model, not away from it.
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methane
Sun, Oct 30, 2016, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Discovery

Oh, there is one more source of profit for the show on the CBS streaming service: advertising.

CBS's streaming service has ads. So even if it doesn't add any new subscribers, getting current subscribers to watch an extra hour of programming each week will allow CBS to charge more to advertisers. New subscribers will increase both the ad revenues and the subscription revenues.

CBS has mentioned offering an ad-free version. You'd be able to pay more to get rid of the advertisements. Either way, it's profit for CBS.
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methane
Sun, Oct 30, 2016, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Discovery

Those of you who think this will be some kind of financial disaster are off base. CBS already announced to shareholders that money from international sales of the show have exceeded the costs to make the show (1). The show could go on for years without anyone from America watching. And that's before any money for product licensing is counted!

And, yes, there will be people who subscribe to the service to see the show immediately. I won't be one of them, but you're fooling yourself if you think there won't be any. It won't be as many as Netflix, but it doesn't need anywhere near that number to be successful. Netflix has huge programming costs; those costs continue to rise even as the library of programming it offers to subscribers is shrinking. With the international deal, CBS has no program cost for this series. Every subscriber added is additional profit for CBS.

For all of you unhappy that this show isn't bundled into some other service (like Netflix), you're going to have to get used to it. People have been complaining for years that having different networks bundled in their cable bills was unfair, saying 'a la carte' would be better. We're just seeing the start of what a true unbundled environment will look like. We will have more and more services, with fewer and fewer shows on any one service. Cable providers will probably survive as "bundles" of programming that will offer you a cheaper way to get a wide variety of programming.

It's also important to point out that this show will not be forever locked on the CBS streaming service. Obviously, you will be able to purchase episodes individually (on itunes or some other service) or as a package on Blu-Ray. However, reruns of the show will eventually be available elsewhere. Look at Showtime, which is owned by CBS. If you want to watch new episodes of Showtime programming, you have to pay for a subscription. However, once shows finish their original runs on Showtime, CBS licenses reruns to other providers, while still making them available to Showtime subscribers. You can find many Showtime shows on Netflix right now. Just a few years back, competitor HBO signed it's own deal with Amazon, allowing that service to stream much of its back catalog of shows.

If you want to legally watch the show on something other than the CBS service, you will be able to; you're just going to have to wait.

--

"I am afraid Fuller pretty much *is* gone. The exec producer credits are a standard way of acknowledging significant contributions to the making of the show. There are multiple examples of TV shows with a bunch of guys who have this title that are barely if at all involved with the show after a certain point. I don't doubt that Fuller will be available to chime in with advice from time to time, but as I understand it he's no longer seriously involved with Discovery. Disconcerting news."

It's been reported that he's written a few episodes and that they've already charted out the story for the season. It doesn't appear that he will be much involved now in the casting, physical production, or editing. But I think the writing is the most important part to get right. If the writing is good I'll forgive a lot of other problems.

I don't know if this show will be good, but this relentless negativity on the internet seems to have less to do with creative decisions than with the method of delivery.

--

"Just thought of something regarding attempts to make Star Trek Discovery the flagship for All Access: Wasn't Voyager the flagship for the now defunct UPN network when UPN first started? Emphasis on "now defunct"?"

Oh, it goes back further than that. Star Trek: Phase II originally went into production in the 1970's as a TV series to launch a new Paramount network. When they worried advertisers wouldn't give them a chance, they decided to abandon that and make a movie instead. Then Star Wars happened and that gave them an extra push to go the movie route.

Eventually, of course, Star Trek spin-offs became the cornerstone of a Paramount TV Network, as Voyager and then Enterprise ran for 11 consecutive seasons as the anchors of that network. The year after Enterprise was cancelled, Paramount decided to merge their network with the WB to form the CW Network, which still exists today (though most of the shows are Warner Brothers productions).


(1) trekcore.com/blog/2016/07/cbs-says-star-trek-discovery-is-already-profitable-ahead-of-production/
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methane
Mon, Oct 10, 2016, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Rogue Planet

"Actually what T' Pol stated is what many real life scientist consider a real possibility. That there are rogue planets capable of supporting life without a Sun because of hot gas venting from areas and that is where the life would concentrate from."

Yeah, that would form an atmosphere and could keep areas hot enough for life. But I don't think you would have enough light for photosynthesis-based plants...certainly not large jungle-type vegetation. The creators missed out on an opportunity to imagine truly alien life. I'm no expert, but I'd imagine the "plants" on such a world would have to be chemosynthesis-based, something like we find near undersea volcanic vents...although this would probably imply the atmosphere wouldn't be breathable to humans. Any "leaves" wouldn't be directed towards the sky, as there's no sun there.

---

For those who compare the doctor's decision here with his previous decision: I'm sure he would make the distinction that in the previous episode he was letting a planet's ecosystem sort itself out. In this episode, he's reducing the interference of an entity from outside the planet's ecosystem (the hunters). This is generally how the other captains interpret the (yet-to-be-issued) Prime Directive: if the 'problem' is internal, you're supposed to stay out of it (not that they always do that); if the 'problem' is from off-planet, they're definitely getting involved.
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methane
Tue, Aug 30, 2016, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Seventh Season Recap

Overall, I felt this was a satisfying season. I felt everybody got appropriate endings, even if they didn't always get the strongest material to get to those endings. I have lots of little thoughts on different aspects of this season, so this will be a rambling post.

I found the first 2 episodes to be solid, although (as I've said before), making Sisko's mother one of the wormhole aliens (or a human possessed by a wormhole alien), was a mistake. It didn't add anything to the series, while removing some of the moral differences between the 'prophets' & the paghwraiths.

While her episodes weren't the strongest, i did like the character of Ezri, and I did like how she progressed through the season. Sorry haters (or is it one hater, with lots of usernames?). I don't think she & Bashir are destined to be together forever, and if they ever show up in Star Trek again, I hope they aren't a couple.

Among the stand alone episodes, "The Emperor's New Cloak" is the only one I would call truly bad, although there are several, like "Prodigal Daughter" and "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang" that I would say are just passable. "Take Me Out to the Holosuite", "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River", "It's Only a Paper Moon", and "Chimera" are all classics for me.

Some people (including Jammer) have pointed to Bajor not being admitted to the Federation as something that was missing from this season. I disagree. We already saw Bajor get admitted, which they turned down at Sisko's urging. I think it is understood they will again be offered admission soon after the peace is firmly established. If there would have been a season 8, it would have made a good storyline. The war would have made some Bajorans more sure of the fact that Bajor should try to be neutral, even as other Bajorans would be more convinced than ever that Bajor needed to be firmly integrated into the Federation. I think it was appropriate that season 7 end with the war without trying to tack this on. If we ever see a Star Trek series set post-DS9, I expect we'll see Bajor mentioned as full Federation members.

That said, I agree that it would have been good to see more stuff happening on Bajor these past few seasons.

On the subject of the final serialized episodes:

-I wish Ezri had more to do aside from resolving her romantic life. I think the writers were using her relationships with Worf & Bashir as an excuse to introduce some romantic comedy "fun" into the dark episodes while communicating the general idea that "life goes on". Sometimes it worked, but it dragged out too long (both parts: ending her realtionship with Worf & starting her relationship with Bashir). Of course, she did get the great speech on the nature of the Klingon Empire in "Tacking into the Wind".

-Speaking of that speech, the changing of the leadership of the Klingon empire was well done. A climax of Klingon political stories going back to...what, the 3rd season of TNG? Which would be 10 years of Klingon stories. The political changes on Ferenginar, however, don't make much sense. Which, I suppose, is consistent with how Ferengi society has worked throughout the series. Still, the characters were good there.

-Yes "Extreme Measures" doesn't address the moral questions posed by section 31, and yes, it does rely on "VR cliches" (as Jammer puts it), but I enjoy the episode for what it is: not a classic, but OK as the last Bashir/O'Brien buddy pairing.

-I agree with most everyone that the Cardassian material was the strongest of the final run. I disagree with a lot of people in that I believe it's appropriate that Damar gets killed before seeing Cardassia freed. First of all, he has done a lot of evil in his time, so it's not like he's an innocent. More importantly, however, the series is ending by removing the people who can command unthinking allegiance. Sisko (the chosen of the 'prophets'), Winn (the head of the religious hierarchy), Dukat (the charismatic leader), & Damar (the revolutionary hero) are all gone. Cardassia & Bajor are going to have to move forward by coming together without any obvious leaders who can command blind obedience. If there was an 8th season, it would have been interesting to see to what extent Kira & Garak could influence their planets. Neither one would have commanded blind loyalty, and Garak in particular would have been treated with suspicion.

-On the Winn/Dukat/Sisko prophet/paghwraith material. Some of the Winn/Dukat stuff was entertaining. Dukat becoming a Bajoran for a while is interesting, seducing Winn is both icky and interesting, losing his eyesight & being exiled is interesting, but we don't see him suffer (or learn) anything from that. Still, reducing Dukat to a one-dimensional 'bad-guy' was dull and a let down. Winn's characterization seemed to change from episode to episode in the final episodes (which I wrote a little about in a few comment sections). Like Sisko's 'prophet parentage', adding the paghwraiths to the series was a mistake.

-However, I do think Sisko ending up in the wormhole, out of time, is an appropriate ending for the character. Time has been a recurring theme with the character throughout the series, even before they decided to make him part-prophet, and the victory of "Sacrifice of Angels" required him not to find a straight-forward hero's ending. One of the earlier commenters above complained that DS9 didn't use a lot of science fiction ideas. Well, the hero of the series having been in the wormhole the whole time (guiding himself?) is an interesting science fiction idea.

I think every episode of the final run was worthwhile, but the unevenness of the material always leaves me with a bit of a feeling that this season wasn't quite as strong as it really was. Oh well, DS9 is still my favorite version of Star Trek & one of my favorite shows of any genre.
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methane
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 10:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: The Andorian Incident

I imagine the writer's wanted the big stone face to be so tall they couldn't see through the holes, and were surprised when it ended up being human-sized.

I've actually enjoyed re-watching the series so far. I think that's mostly because I haven't watched much of any Star Trek series besides DS9 in about a decade, so all the clich├ęs present in the 'exploring' episodes don't seem as stale to me right now.

Still, this is the first memorable episode. As Paul notes above, stories about the diplomacy of the early Federation were the strength of Enterprise.
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