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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 11:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Collective

VOY declawed the Borg -- true, but it seems to me the Borg are to VOY what the Cardassians are to DS9 -- both originated in TNG and got taken in new directions, although DS9 had better results. But the Borg have limitations on what can be done with them while retaining the mantle of best Trek villains, which gets messed up with VOY.

I like the premise of this episode although there are some holes: I don't think the Borg collective should just write off an entire cube even if the juvenile drones aren't worth keeping. The idea of some virus creating the situation of immature drones trying to sort themselves perhaps does make a mockery of the Borg, but VOY has already exhausted many avenues with the Borg. I didn't mind this idea of juvenile Borg trying to make it as a small collective with the hope of joining up with the full collective. Good teaser that grabs your attention when Paris looks out the window and sees a Borg cube right there.

Another good episode for 7 and a real potential turning point for VOY, so I like the possibilities. The biggest gripe is the child actors sucked, but this is common to all Trek series. The main Borg leader was insufferable, but if there's a lack of integrity in terms of their behavior, it can be easily attributed to their abbreviated Borg development -- so we have a very unpredictable Borg episode but one with plenty of danger as evidenced by botched assimilations.

In a way, I'm reminded of "I Borg" but this episode didn't probe enough into Janeway taking advantage of the cube or trying to destroy the greater collective -- if VOY picks up on that in a follow-up episode that would be fine, but this episode leaves a lot of loose ends/quick resolutions like 7's motherly role with the new (former Borg) kids (and what of Harry's assimilation? We know he'll be 100% by the next episode. And the Borg baby?)

Good enough for 3 stars for "Collective" -- there's a good story being told here although the execution lacks but the ideas are good (even if going to the honey hole that is the Borg and another 7-centric episode -- yes indeed Star Trek: Seven of Nine). This one could have been a 2-parter and tied up loose ends. I enjoyed "Collective" as an episode on its own as it exploits a once-formidable villain -- hard, for me, to go wrong with a Borg episode.
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Intergalactic Hegemon
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: The Disease

Correction on previous comment: after sufficient internet research I realize that is not the same fellow who played Mr. Beuller. I guess I just wanted it to,be him.

Lie to yourself long enough and it becomes truth.
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Intergalactic Hegemon
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Counterpoint

I'm not confused, friends. In the pilot, when we are first introduced to Harry Kim, he very nervously calls Janeway "sir" upon their first interaction. The reaction from him is total embarassment. The body language on Paris (or was it Chakotay) and Janeway herself after Harry's gaffe clearly back up the idea that Kim effed up when calling her "sir".

If "sir" is in fact completely acceptable even when addressing females, then why was the Harry-calls-Janeway-sir scene ever conceived, written, and put into that episode.

So you may be right, that I shouldn't be upset every time Janeway is called sir. Starfleet protocol...but that calls into question the scene I described above.

Hegemon out.
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Intergalactic Hegemon
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Relativity

Its November 5. 1955. That was the day he invented time travel. He remembers it clearly: he was standing on his toilet, hanging a clock and slipped and hit his head. When he came to, he drew this...
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Intergalactic Hegemon
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: 11:59

I enjoyed this episode, its thoughtfulness, and the perspective on our current times by those hundreds of years in the future. My brain was exercising a good deal as I watched.

But Tuvok only had one line.
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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Sanctuary

These aliens need the discipline of the Dominion.
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Dr Lazarus
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Episode VI: Yo, people. These idiots built another death star, only larger. Someone go get those technical readouts from 30 years ago, and we'll blow this thing again and get out of here.

I couldn't believe when Luke finds out that Leia is really his sister, he doesn't even pause and feel bad about those lonely cave nights on Dagobah, when he was ejecting quarts of midiclorides into a tissue while fantasizing about the makeout sessions with Leia back in the day.

And it blows my mind that Han isn't even a little mad at Lando for getting him encased in Carbonite. Those Jedi are very forgiving. How many billions of people has Luke's father, Vader has killed and tortured? And when Luke tells Leia she is his sister, and that Vader is his father, she doesn't even make the connection that Vader is her dad too!!!!!!! What the F . . .??

I like watching this episode whenever there is a free HBO weekend on cable, but I turn it off during the big celebration scene when the galaxy is partying like it 19999999. That's because Lucas changed the very last scene where the Jedi ghost of Obi Wan, Yoda, and Luke's real dad, who just died on the death star as Vadar, but was replaced with little whiny Annie from Episode III. Is anything sacred??????
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Dr Lazarus
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Episode V, while a favorite, will be known for two things.

That Vader is actually Luke's father, and that Lucas is a big liar when he claimed he had wrote out the entire trilogy in the beginning. Instead we get a steamy scene of Luke & Leia making out, big time, while in episode VI, we find out they are actually brother and sister! You can almost hear the midiclorides scream out in disgust, then silenced. Oh, then we get the scene where Han & Leia make out, big time. If it wasn't for 3CPO being a C-Blocker, those two would had went horizontal. Leia gets around. Weren't Han and Luke buddies?? What's the equivalent of the Mile High Club in space, in a galaxy, far, far, away?
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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Civil Defense

Mildly entertaining but shallow episode -- was it sloppiness that the Dukat self-defense program wasn't disarmed when DS9 was handed over to the Federation/Bajor or that it couldn't be? Anyhow, the progressively worsening situation with Dukat's pre-recorded commentary was fun to watch. It seemed idiotic to me how Kira kept phasering computers to disarm the life-support system and force-fields -- Dukat's program certainly worked against her Bajoran thinking.

I guess one point worth mentioning is the thoroughness of Dukat the Cardassian in creating an elaborate system of self-defense against a Bajoran uprising. If there's one trait of Cardassians, it's their meticulous and calculating nature.

Sisko saving the day at the end reminded me of Data in "The Naked Now" putting all the chips back into place -- so seeing Sisko doing this was a bit hard to believe. The whole ending scene with Jake pulling O'Brien out of the fiery passage was also hard to believe -- and somewhat cliche trying to be really heroic/grandiose.

Even Dukat's appearance on the station -- wasn't one of his better performances although it was funny to see him get his comeuppance for his gloating. Definitely some interesting back-and-forth with Garak. But his scene with Kira in Sisko's office didn't work -- at least those 2 are continuing their head-to-head battle of wills which will continue during the series.

The countdown to self-destruction should have brought out more memorable feelings between characters -- logical to place Odo/Quark together, but their dialog was entirely forgettable, mainly because Quark is too annoying.

Not sure if the episode suffered from the technobabble solutions because that has to be part of the equation in this type of plot, but it didn't seem logical to me -- whatever Sisko/O'Brien came up with regarding DS9's shields and the ending blast - I'm not exactly sure what was supposed to have taken place.

2 stars for "Civil Defense" -- some potential wasted here. An interesting (albeit maybe a tad far-fetched premise) and I don't think we got many good character moments -- mostly action-based but with some good barbs traded at times. DS9 took a lot of destruction but I assume it will be back to normal in time for the next episode -- of course it wasn't going to blow up, but how it was spared was not realistic.
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William B
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Fury

Kes episodes, ranked by quality and Kes-ness (IMO):

Before and After
Tuvix (some good material)
The Gift
The Swarm (role as Doctor's advocate)
Cold Fire

Kes was generally neglected and then offered poor episodes, but there are a few exceptions, and I really like Before & After in particular.
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William B
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Repression

Tuvok eps ranked by quality / Tuvok-ness:

Tuvix (sort of)
Random Thoughts
Worst Case Scenario (ensemble but he has a lot of material)
Alter Ego
Learning Curve
Ex Post Facto

A great character, well-acted, generally neglected and misused, with only one really great episode (Meld) and a number of missed opportunities. Oh well. I still enjoy the character a lot, but I wish that he had had more chances to shine. I think Tuvok was hurt the hardest by Seven's entry into the show (well, excepting Kes obviously) -- Seven took the Stoic Character/Captain's Confidante role from Tuvok in many episodes, Kes' departure left his role as tutor behind, and generally Tuvok-centric shows mostly dried up, after him being one of the most central figures in the early seasons.
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William B
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Drive

Paris episodes, ranked by quality and Paris-ness:

Lineage (late-Paris/Torres works for me)
The Chute
Worst Case Scenario (ensemble piece but he has the most material really)
Author, Author (Doc show but he has a lot of material)
Day of Honor
Blood Fever (Paris/Torres stuff)
Non Sequitur (I like the Paris stuff in this otherwise lame episode)
Gravity (mostly a Tuvok show of course, but a key and decent supporting role)
Thirty Days
Bride of Chaotica!
Time and Again
Ex Post Facto
Vis a Vis
Investigations (does this even count since they shuffle it to Neelix?)

Most Tom episodes worthwhile are relationship-related -- Tom/B'Elanna of course, but also his friendship with Harry, his relationship with the Doc -- and those have a mixed record but basically I think lead to some worthwhile stuff. Tom as a character in isolation works less well and usually those episodes are middling to terrible.
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William B
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Natural Law

Chakotay episodes, ranked (by quality and Chakotay-ness):

Scorpion (as much about him as Janeway)
State of Flux
Distant Origin (great though Chakotay's role comes late in the ep)
Year of Hell (subplot sorta)
One Small Step
In the Flesh
Tattoo (interesting but ultimately doesn't work)
Waking Moments
Natural Law
The Fight

They sort of forget to give him decent stories as the show goes on, and he doesn't really work out as a character, but he does end up being important in most of the two-parters -- at times it's almost like after season two he only exists for a handful of eps a year, and then in the big two-parters, which have mixed success. I'd actually say looking over this list that his episodes come off looking okay overall, though I think the show doesn't use him that effectively most of the time.
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William B
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Natural Law

Seven episodes, ranked for quality and Seven-ness:

Dark Frontier
Someone to Watch Over Me
Survival Instinct
Child's Play
The Omega Directive
One Small Step
Hope & Fear
The Gift
Scorpion II
The Raven
Infinite Regress
Body and Soul
Human Error
Scientific Method
Unimatrix Zero (I actually think this two-parter is worse than many of the eps below, but the Seven material isn't bad exactly)
The Voyager Conspiracy
Natural Law

Obviously a lot of winners in this list -- though I think that her best material was in s4-5 and that there's a bit of a drop-off in the late-era Seven shows (my five least favourite uses are in the last two seasons), though even there mostly the Seven stuff is misguided or boring rather than outright bad. Dark Frontier is an episode where the Seven stuff works almost perfectly for me and it's the other elements of the show (Janeway) that hold it back from greatness.
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William B
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Prophecy

I figure I might as well do this one for various characters:

B'Elanna (or sufficiently B'Elanna-heavy) episodes ranked (IMO) -- for both overall quality and for B'Elanna handling:

Lineage (I know it's controversial but count me among the fans)
Barge of the Dead
Flesh and Blood Part 2
Random Thoughts (mostly a Tuvok show though)
Day of Honor
Faces (I know a lot of people like this one more than this but I have problems with it)
Blood Fever (fun but thin)
Extreme Risk
Alice (Paris show which she has a role in)

So obviously there are some problems and there's a lot of repetition, but overall I think that she has a decent set of shows, some of which play off her Core Issues (Klingon/human stuff), some of which have her as a competent nerd/engineer, some of which even use her effectively as a bystander who can carry an episode (Muse/Remember), and mostly there weren't that many turkeys associated with her in comparison to other characters.
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William B
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Homestead

Neelix eps (or Neelix-related eps) ranked (IMO):

Mortal Coil
Tuvix ("related")
Fair Trade
Repentance subplot
Once Upon a Time
The Haunting of Deck Twelve
Live Fast and Prosper
False Profits

IMO, part of the reason Neelix's reputation is so bad is that the worst Neelix eps were so early in the series -- season two and three -- and by that point it was hard for the writers to fully rehabilitate the character. That said, they managed to tone him down and give him a few decent stories. I actually like Neelix, honestly, outside season two, though I'd say his potential was generally somewhat squandered.
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Dr Lazarus
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I'm a huge Star Wars fan. But I didn't like this movie the first time I saw it. I didn't like it the 5th time I saw it two years later. It's been on cable a lot so I've seen it about 10 times now. I still don't like it much, but after multiple viewings it kinda makes more sense, sorta.

I don't know how the girl could do the the things she does, but it does bring to mind Episode 1 and Anakin. He said he was a podracer, and was the only human who could do it. Qui Gon said he must have Jedi reflexes. Anakin knew absolutely nothing about the force, but knew what a Jedi was, just like the girl. She was pretty good with that staff. Much to good for a skinny girl. I never saw where she used Jedi mind tricks before though. If she had, she may had been able to get more food portions.

I still I say it was a rehash of A New Hope. And how many Zillions will the Galactic Empire spend on a bad design like a death star or planet? They need to go to India and get some better engineers so they can build a planet killer that can't be easily exploited. Perhaps more screen doors over the thermal ports?
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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Precious Cargo

I think this episode was meant to be a comedy. But the only time I laughed was at 'Faith of the Heart'.
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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Remember

Don’t understand the enthusiasm for this episode. Really, what happened? We spent most of the hour watching Torres watch a story involving genocide. She confronts the aliens about it and they deny it and … well, that’s about it. The moral lesson is “Don’t do genocide and if your ancestors did it, don’t lie about.” Fine. Well, I guess we’re all feeling pretty morally uplifted right about now.

But as a drama? It falls flat. It involves characters for whom we have no attachment and who will disappear as soon as the episode ends. The story has no impact on any of the Voyager characters, whom I’m pretty sure have long adopted the “don’t do genocide” standard of behavior. It doesn’t involve a threat to any crew member (putting aside the rather lame plot point that these dreams were going to fry Torres’ brain - which, we knew that wasn’t going to happen, so why bother?)

These story needed to engage the characters to make choice, because choice is the essence of conflict and good drama. Imagine this was different scenario, one which Voyager needed the help of the aliens because they were going to run out of dilithium in 6 months and these aliens had a ready supply of it. And then in the middle of concluding delicate negotiations, Torres starts accusing the aliens of genocide. Janeway is p*ssed. And now we have genuine conflict. What does Janeway do? Does she reprimand Torres for screwing up the negotiations? Does she support Torres? Does Voyager still deal with an alien race that committed genocide years ago or do they tell them to take a hike - at the possible cost of being stranded in 6 months?

Muddle it up even more. Are the memories real? Or they created memories as has happened with people who create false memories of child abuse? Maybe Tuvok takes the logical approach as says that since we can’t know the truth and anything will do can have no impact on a race that has long since been exterminated, Voyager should make the deal and go on its way. Torres vehemently argues against that, claiming that would make Voyager part of the atrocity. What does Janeway do?

Now THAT would be drama and I think it would be gripping because both sides have a legitimate point. As it is, this episode was little more than virtue signaling: “Don’t do Genocide”. Yeah, thanks for the tip.
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Peter G.
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The House of Quark

Just watched this one again to refresh my memory, and it occurs to me that there's more here than 'Ferengi hijinx.' I think the mistake here would be to chortle early on when Quark says "It's not about profits any more, it's about respect." Maybe we're prone to roll our eyes here at how self-deluded Quark is about something he's lying about anyhow. But in fact this is probably the most honest he's ever been. What we see in House of Quark is a story about a man whose religion is money and even he admits that respect is simply something he *needs*. No one can only care about money, even if they protest to the contrary. Having him take over a Klingon Great House is a funny way of showing us how even the least valorous of us probably has inner fantasies or even a self-image of heroism, or of being larger-than-life, or of being acclaimed. Klingon culture is basically a extreme version of that thing we need, which is to be shown respect and "honored".

Seen in this way this is probably the most important Quark episode of the series, insofar as it's a defining moment where we see that either he really isn't a regular Ferengi, or else if he is that they are full of self-deceit in general. And not only do we get a Ferengi who realizes he needs what Klingons call honor, but likewise we see a Klingon who craves what Ferengi do - seizing lands and power using economic trickery. It's a funny juxtapose to be sure, and I think there's some IDIC in there about even the most hardened cultures having something to learn or gain from others even that are very different from them.
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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 8:30am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

"The meat of the story is that the original Ardra story - the tale of a God providing salvation to people - is itself a fraud which is hijacked by a money-milking con-artist. The second con-artist is almost besides the point."

The story never goes into whether the original legend is true or not, and I think your analysis misses that critical point.
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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 7:58am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: The Killing Game

Was this two-parter a hot mess? Sure it was, but who cares! Nazis, the gang as underground French resistance fighters, wild and crazy Holodeck fun! It was entertaining, I enjoyed it.
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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:45am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

Chrome said: "Except there was no second coming in this episode, it’s a hoax...."

That's the point. Almost all religions have a second coming narrative: Maitreya's coming in Buddhism, Kalki Avatar et al in Hinduism, and Judaism, Islam, Rastafarianism and almost all New Age cults all have similar narratives about "paradise on earth" coming only when a savior arrives. The point of the episode is that this progress is achieved not by foretold supernatural dieties, but by the hands of men.

Chrome said: "but the meat of the story lies in catching a fraud in the act."

The meat of the story is that the original Ardra story - the tale of a God providing salvation to people - is itself a fraud which is hijacked by a money-milking con-artist. The second con-artist is almost besides the point.

Peter said: "I actually never did consider Planet of the Apes to be about black/white inversion!"

Planet of the Apes is pretty blatant about its race politics. In 1961, its writer Rod Sterling was asked "what he'd most like to write about next?" He responded: "I'd like to do a definitive study of segregation, from the Negro's point of view." Soon after he'd write "Planet of the Apes", a giant "what if the shoe were on the other foot?" parable about a chauvinistic American astronaut (Charlton Heston) forced to experience racial discrimination (justified along bio-genetic lines) of a type once reserved for blacks. The various revolutions in the original franchise were themselves based on the Watts riots, and tap into a zeitgeist in which some believed that black liberation struggles would threaten the security of white racial hegemony.

Charlton Heston was also cast for deliberate reasons. Heston made a career starring in epics in which Western and non-Western interests collide. In "Gunfighter Nation: The myth of the frontier in 20th century America", for example, cultural historian Richard Slotkin states that the typical Heston character was a "hard and self-willed White male", an uber conservative "who stands for the highest values of civilization and progress but who is typically besieged from without by non-white savages who greatly outnumber him and beset from within by the decadence, corruption and softness of his own society". Indeed, in the sixties Heston seemed to be perpetually fighting to defend an outpost on the margins of Western civilisation from black/brown/oriental barbaric onslaughts (The Naked Jungle, El City, 55 Days at Peking, Khartoum etc).

Peter said: "But reverse your premise and assume religion is correct (or at least worthwhile) and then you can have an alternate read, which is "if not for con artists these people could have gone very far on the power of their faith."

The episode makes it clear that the power of their faith can't get them far, as their faith demands they be crushed and enslaved. This is foretold. This is what they believe. Escaping this teleology is to break free of their faith. The episode makes it explicit that Ardra's "progress" comes at a huge cost. Intellectually defending Ardra thus forces one to pick and choose what aspects of her you deem positive; a delusional belief in Ardra may inadvertently lead to centuries of progress, but it is not belief per se, it is not an honest belief, but a denial and rejection of over half of what Ardra represents. Ardra grants you salvation only to ultimately own and torment you.

And that's the very point of the religious critique. As Data and Picard say, "Fear is a motivating factor", but an irrational and unneeded one. You don't need a fear of God to stop you beating your wife - a fear which will open you up to hysteria (the planet is literally on the verge of mass suicide), subjugation, blackmailing and cons - you have the ability to realize problems and solve things yourself.

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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 6:15am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

This is a hugely underrated episode. I have known women who have played appalling and unexpected tricks to get what they want (freebies, attention, love, sex) and Ardra is probably based on someone the writer knew. I am also under no illusions whatsoever that an intelligent woman is a formidable enemy and that most people are too stupid to recognise this. Society would race to the aid of a female devil if she were opposed by a male saint. The gender card isn't played in this episode other than Ardra hitting on Picard, which i think she did brilliantly.

I am an aspie who does not easily fall for tricks, and i have plenty of experience with intelligent and ruthless women to the point where most fiction I write these days is based on true events. I'm not some dumb American Pie reject, and would certainly not be stupid enough to fall into the clutches of that type of woman ever again. And yet Ardra is incredibly appealing. She does not lack for charisma. She's unpredictable, with a sense of humour, and is wrathful when denied. The scariest thing about her is that if I were Picard, then Ardra would be the one woman in the universe I couldn't resist.

And this, combined with brilliant writing and brilliant acting, along with an urgent sense of pace and a suitable atmosphere of "crazed wtf", is why I love this episode.
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Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 12:26am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

I saw this installment tonight. Despite Jammer's lengthy love-affair review, this was likely the worst episode of any Star Trek series I have ever seen. Right up there with "Spock's Brain" "Mudd's Women" and some of the Wesley silliness. It was terrible - even though so many reviewers here apparently loved the badness. It was nothing more than a dopey, attempted rip- off of a Star Gate classic.
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