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Jason R.
Fri, May 14, 2021, 8:25am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

"Sisko was wrong."

Was he though? He didn't accuse Picard of being a traitor or a murderer. He simply stated the fact that they had met in battle. Sisko's tone, to be sure, was accusatory, but that just makes Sisko human in sitting in the same room with the man who without question killed his wife. That Picard feels guilt for this also makes him human.

I am with you that this was one of the best scenes in the series and one of the most powerful in Trek. It's stuff like this that makes Emissary by far the best series premiere in any Trek series.
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Crobert
Fri, May 14, 2021, 7:16am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: A Man Alone

Wow...Keiko gives off serious "Karen" vibes and we're like 4 hours into this thing.

Please tell me this isn't going to be the normal. I've seriously not yet seen anything redeeming about her. Whether it's Skyler White or Betty Draper writers just can't seem to write a wife character without making her a shrill, joyless ball buster.

Don't get me wrong - at some point I was definitely on Skyler and Betty's sides because they were married to absolute garbage human beings but that doesn't mean they weren't still just awful spouses in their own right.
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Crobert
Fri, May 14, 2021, 7:06am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

Sisko speaking his mind to Picard is my favorite part of this episode and I *love* Picard.

Surprised so many people don't like it. Yes, it is irrational - that's the point. And Picard because he, too, is irrational in the guilt he holds onto. It was a genius bit of writing because it hearkens back to a huge event that should have had far greater shockwaves in TNG. It shows us that Sisko has an edge that the 3 shift rotationers on the Enterprise don't.

It's great writing and great TV for all those reasons and more. The fact it stuck with so many of you being one of them.

Sisko was wrong. That doesn't make it bad writing it makes it realistic. He wasn't there to see what Picard went through. His only exposure to the Borg was probably getting blown up into widowerhood. It would be very, very easy to convince yourself that you lost your wife because some flagship captain couldn't keep his shit together while in enemy hands.

I loved Sisko from the moment that happened.
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Tidd
Fri, May 14, 2021, 3:51am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

No, 2.5 stars.

And, where did they find room for an entire starship on such an overcrowded planet?
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Tidd
Fri, May 14, 2021, 3:15am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

I think the reviews are rather unfair. Yes, the plot declined after one of the best openings ever, and contained some serious flaws, but there were seeds of a great episode: the nature of diplomacy and some great verbal jousting between Spock and the Gideonian council; the problems of overpopulation (a big issue in the 60s) and what to do about it; the inherent tension between a starship, Starfleet, and the Federation when a crisis arises during negotiations.. it could - should - have been one of the classic episodes.

But...

For goodness sake! Spock realised pretty quickly that he was aboard a duplicate ship, and communicated the fact to the real Enterprise- did it not ever occur to Kirk to try his communicator?

The green faces on the view screen were quite scary but the scenes of people trying to move around in a crowd just outside the window were theatrical but utterly unrealistic.

“Oh, Donna!” telling Kirk she remembered being in a vast crowded arena struggling for oxygen.. surely that was normality for her, not the dramatic situation she implied?

The implication that Gideonites preferred utter misery over using birth control was absurd.

Gideon was supposed to be a peaceful planet so where did the two heavies guarding Kirk come from?

Rating: 3.5 stars for potential but a bit less than 3 for the episode as finally delivered.
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Booming
Fri, May 14, 2021, 2:16am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

to add:
Theocracies, absolute monarchies, one party dictatorships, oligarchies are all different forms of autocracies.
I'm not conveying personal opinion here. I'm giving you broadly accepted definitions in political science.
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Booming
Fri, May 14, 2021, 2:09am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Peter
Jason was on the right track.
Your definition is not good. To give a simple example of what a totalitarian country would never allow. Studying abroad. Doing business abroad. Private property.

To take a line from Ahrendt's definition: "Total domination does not allow for free initiative in any field of life."

China is a pretty oppressive autocracy.
Here is the democracy index (by the economist intelligence unit). As you may notice, they don't even have a totalitarian classification.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index

Let's keep in mind that Western nations, especially the USA, are in a global struggle with China and that this influences how the media portrays them and our perception. For example, a few days ago 50 people were killed by government forces in Colombia and it barely made the news.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pboh1SFk6TM
(Just read the smartest guys in the room again;)
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castlerook
Thu, May 13, 2021, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: His Way

Seriously, this episode should get 4 stars solely on the basis of the two scenes with "holodeck Kira," in which we clearly see Nana Visitor channeling her aunt Cyd Charisse, and doing it very well.
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Peter G.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 10:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@ Jason R.,

"how do you distinguish totalitarian societies from garden-variety autocracy?"

I've never considered that question specifically, but I imagine it would be a combination of culture and structure. Autocracy seems to revolve around one or few people making all the decisions. So a tribal culture with a king 10,000 years ago would be autocratic. But to be totalitarian that culture would also have to incorporate the belief that the individual's primary duty is to serve the state. While modern retrospectives tend to view any autocratic government as being ipso facto a tyranny, in fact I suspect that many historic cultures were both autocratic but also dispersed in terms of its values. For example, a feudal England had a king but also places high value on the rights and individual powers of the local lords and dukes, who - while subject to the king - were not mere slaves but had a significant dignity and authority of their own. The feudal system worked on the spreading out of honor and a decentralized governance, even while the king was overall sovereign. Autocratic after a fashion, but not totalitarian by any means. The Roman Empire is probably another example of an autocracy in which the individual was by no means understood to be a mere vassal of the ruler or ruling party. The plebs, maybe, but the patricians had more standing than that. For a third example, I just read Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and the WWI-era Arabs seem to be very much an individualistic society (so not totalitarian) but they did have a king; therefore autocratic. They, too, had a dispersed power arrangement.

By contrast, the USSR seemed to place little to no value on any human life, and even though Party members had exclusive rights and privileges, they too could vanish if they stepped out of line; and this is probably even true of those right at the top. I've not versed enough in the minutiae to be able to argue whether even the ruler himself was afraid of stepping out of line, but my guess would be yes. So from this perspective the Soviets were utterly totalitarian, but depending on how you look at it maybe not so autocratic. Could the chief really just do anything he wanted, or was he tightly reigned in by the mob around him? Perhaps you could call that an oligarchy, but once we go down that road many cultures that have oligarchic elements could just as soon be said to have autocratic 'flavor'. But I think the sense in which you're using the term implies a clear individual or circle at the top exercising clear and absolute power (like in North Korea). And I would say that China falls under that category. But now I have to admit that I'm not familiar enough with the Chinese government structure to say more. Maybe they are both autocratic (the rulers(s) can do anything with impunity) and totalitarian (the culture and power structure place the individual as completely subservient to the state).

There's a moral, or perhaps philosophical element to this as well, which is that totalitarianism not only involves the populace being subject to the state, but like in 1984, the morality actually stating outright that this is their function. Contrast with certain types of autocracy, such as let's say Vikings or maybe the Mongols under the Khans, where while there was an absolute ruler (the best warrior, perhaps) but where the individuals were really in charge of themselves and vital in serving their own interests. The Klingons are similar to this, maybe. In this kind of culture the morality of following the absolute leader necessitates that he's the greatest of them, is above them in power, but still has to prove his worth time and again. And the public morality in this kind of culture seems to involve some kind of guarantee that the individuals will profit or at least gain honor from participating in the ruler's demands, but that they will probably depose him if he is weak or starts disregarding the spoils due the warriors that go into combat. It's not just a governance thing I'm trying to point out, but the actual morality that you're only fit to be ruler if you are XYZ, win us battles, get us booty, etc. This is certainly autocratic in terms of power structure but more or less the opposite of totalitarian.

I could list many other examples of divergence between autocracy and totalitarianism, but I should probably stop...
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Eskimo
Thu, May 13, 2021, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Vanishing Point

I CANNOT BELIEVE this is rated so high. So so so wrong. This was absolutely terrible. So bad I was offended at the end that they would seem this showable.
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Jason R.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Peter G. Just a question: how do you distinguish totalitarian societies from garden-variety autocracy?
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Peter G.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Maybe it's wrong-headed to define totalitarian in terms of being a monstrous tyranny that wreaks havoc on the populous. I think the term in its basic sense means a society where the priority of health is on the society, government, or state, rather than on the individual. This can probably include states where the individual's well-being (and rights) are merely secondary to that of the state, or in fact are totally irrelevant. We could get into whether the rights of individuals being irrelevant can even possibly result is a stable society, but putting that aside the chief feature of totalitarianism seems to be that the totality (however it's seen) is the chief sovereignty. Contrast with a democracy, where the sovereignty of the individual is inalienable and (according to that philosophy) is subservient to no one without consent.

To the extent that China's society allows for government to exercise any means it deems fit to establish control; that individuals would have no say or recourse if the government acted against them personally (like if you were disappeared or arrested); and that even morally the general ethic is geared up towards the collective rather than the individual vis a vis one's duties and allegiances; so from this standpoint I have no trouble suggesting that China is totalitarian in the most meaningful sense of the term. That doesn't need to mean it's a brutal tyranny burning fields and disallowing commerce. Even Nazi Germany was still a commerce-oriented society, and from the perspective of a well-off German they probably would have felt that it was a pretty free country in terms of what they could choose to do with their day (so long as that didn't include criticizing the state or helping 'dissidents'). There's a big difference between that, and between the sort of tyranny where really no one is allowed to have anything and you can expect a pogrom to come any day for basically no reason.
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Jason R.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

"Are you seriously claiming that present China is not totalitarian? Come on now..."

It does seem to have some totalitarian elements, especially with the social credit system. But it doesn't seem anything like a true totalitarian country a la North Korea.

As someone who was basically banished to the styx during Mao's purges I don't really get a totalitarian ideologue vibe from Xi Jinping. He seems to be more interested in restoring Chinese greatness and avenging past humiliations rather than creating a communist totalitarian utopia.

At least from the short time I spent in Beijing it seemed to me to be a pretty cosmopolitan society with people doing their own thing. But that's Beijing to be fair and I wasn't there long.
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Booming
Thu, May 13, 2021, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Omicron
"Are you seriously claiming that present China is not totalitarian? Come on now..."
From a political science perspective it is not. It is actually far from totalitarian. No serious political scientist will call China a totalitarian country.

"I'd like to remind you that historically, this so-called "solution to inequality" never worked. You take away the "money = power" equation and something else will fill its place."
Not to turn this into a lengthy argument that really has nothing to do with Star Trek. Redistribution works in many ways and I'm not for abandoning the monetary system or money as an incentive. I'm not a communist. I personally would say that nobody should have more than maybe 50 million € maybe less. Anything else is threatening to a democratic society. Apart from that we need a very transparent state but as I said, I cannot explain my thinking in one or two paragraphs. :)
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Daya
Thu, May 13, 2021, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: A Night in Sickbay

@Maq
I agree that the Xindi were strange. What I meant is culturally / emotionally further away from humans, not just physically / technologically. In general there seems to be a failure to imagine really alien emotions or cultures; not only in Enterprise, but in all of science fiction. Most of the cultures like Vulcan, Klingon, Ferengi, Romulan are just humans with certain aspects enhanced. In fact most of these cultures can be mapped to various human cultures. The Borg were truly alien, till they introduced the Borg Queen which made them just baddies with better guns. On the other hand, there were many one-episode cultures in TOS / TNG that did show genuinely alien concepts. Return of the Archons, Miri, The Squire of Gothos, Darmok, Metamorphosis, Devil in the Dark, Su'Kal and For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky come to mind.

I was just ruing the fact that Enterprise lost an opportunity by not coming up with such truly alien concepts. If they had done so, Archer's relative incompetence would have been easier to tolerate. And we would have had more engaging stories, more fitting to the wonder that early space travel ought to be filled with.

P.S.: Regarding your comment about DIS -- yes, DIS has zero concept of the possibilities of science fiction. The only counter example in 3 seasons being the episode Su'Kal.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 13, 2021, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Jason R.

Your hope is misplaced.

The only reason these "true believers" exist in such numbers is that there's an efficient system of propaganda that generates them and fuels their fire. The vast majority of them were ordinary people just a couple of years ago. And when the current craziness ends (which *will* happen eventually) they will drop their fanaticism just as easily as they adopted it.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 13, 2021, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Booming
"As an adage, only Stalinist Russia and Maoist China were totalitarian, everything after that was/is just good old autocracy."

Are you seriously claiming that present China is not totalitarian? Come on now...

"Being a socialist I'm against people accumulating riches in general but, for different reasons, I'm also against extreme riches because of the danger they pose to a democratic society. In the end money is just power and the rich are getting richer."

I'd like to remind you that historically, this so-called "solution to inequality" never worked. You take away the "money = power" equation and something else will fill its place. In the end, the powerful just become more powerful, and those who used to be "poor" become even more oppressed.

In short:

Money itself isn't the problem. The real problem is twofold:

(1) There are almost no balances that keep the super-powerful from abusing their power.

(2) Our society currently rewards people based on how well they manipulate others, rather than on their actual contributions. This is true both for monetary wealth and political power. The way our society is currently structured, it is virtually *guaranteed* that all the worst scumbags will float to the top.

It is these two things that need to change, whether by official legislation or by changing social norms. And limiting the accumulation of material wealth isn't going to get us any closer to these goals.
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Daya
Thu, May 13, 2021, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: The Communicator

It doesn't seem that implausible that while preventing technological contamination, Archer and co. forget about cultural contamination. Essentially, they don't take the civilization's development and future history seriously enough. Just like when your teenager says "my life is over", and you don't take them seriously enough. You have gone through that phase, and tend to mentally discount it. Archer realizes too late the harm his fib has done.

= = = =
Also:

* The general says Archer's _unadorned head_ is surgically altered, because he has never seen a person without forehead ridges before. He is not calling the makeup a surgical alteration.

* It is OK that the planet's development does not exactly match Earth history, they are not Earth. This is not time travel.

* Enterprise's transporter's targeting scanners may be nowhere near as good as TOS/TNG, because transporters are a primitive technology. Locating and targeting are two very different things. One has to find something within a few feet, the other has to draw a bounding box the thickness of a single molecule around an object.

* Archer is an imperfect character, and developed that way. It is odd to berate writers for writing an imperfect character on purpose, and blaming Archer's imperfections on the writers' laziness. It is also odd to expect a _prequel_ to follow the "Star Trek ethos". The Star Trek ethos is still being developed, which is the whole point.

* Biosign detection from orbit does not have to work as well as it does in TOS/TNG either. Furthermore, these aliens were quite similar. There was exactly one organ the doctor completely failed to identify. The rest of it was "deformed" or in different numbers, but essentially the same anatomy. The blood chemistry was different, possibly not detectable from that distance. Furthermore, even if biosigns had been detected, being able to target a transporter correctly is entirely different.

* Lots of primitive human societies (tribes) have been happily contaminated both culturally and technologically by visiting humans. We humans do not have this sensitivity. That Archer should have this sensitivity _before_ the Federation even exists, just because all the people on this board saw TOS and TNG first is hilarious. It is exactly this sensitivity that is being shown being developed step by step.

* Being worried about the contamination due to a communicator is not idiotic. The communicator has a power source the likes of which this society will not develop for a few hundred more years. Getting their hands on such a power source will give one side in the war a very large advantage. The computing ability and communication ability would also create such an advantage when reverse engineered. Just destructing it with a small charge would not remove such contamination. Molecular deconstruction might, but a de-molecularizer may not fit within communicator technology of that time (or any time before the year 3000, when communicators finally merges with teleporters).

* Communicators have universal translators, that is how they can communicate with different cultures. They got it right almost throughout the episode. E.g. in the interrogation scene, the communicators are nearby. They got it wrong in the hanging scene where Archer asks them to spare Reed, but the communicators are in a room inside the complex, at a distance from the hanging site, where the UT's ventriloquism should not work. You can view that scene as the two sides didn't actually understand each other (they don't actually converse), but that may be a fluke!

* Archer does seem like a slow learner for the most important post any human has ever held. I would chalk this up to bureaucracy / politics. I am sure Columbus wasn't so worried about cultural contamination either.
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Sean Cooney
Thu, May 13, 2021, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Contagion

Rewatching Star Trek the next generation - again lol.

I don't understand why Counselor Troi is so hard to write for. Her telling the captain it would be prudent to withdraw seems like something maybe the first officer would say if it needed to be said...maybe I'm the only one bothered by that...
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Frank Offenhaus
Thu, May 13, 2021, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Live Fast and Prosper

Contrived annoyances make the 2/4 generous IMO but understandable for reasons given in Jammer's review. There were so many contrivances in this episode. More than usual for Voyager. I think there were like 4 I can remember off the top of my head that would've stopped the narrative from progressing at all.

When a story has 4 contrived scenes that would've collapsed the entire narrative without them, it's plumb BAD writing. But the episode is salvaged from being a completely annoying waste by some happy surprises that cut through the truly annoying contrivances.
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Peter G.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

Putting aside that the TOS Romulans were given Roman titles and an aristocratic bearing, I'd say the Dominion is most like the Roman Empire. They conquer regions that are sometimes allowed to self-govern within parameters, the legions come in when there's a problem, and the leaders are declared to be gods. Although to be fair, this was probably not uncommon, since afaik the Persians for example also deified their leaders.
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Lewd Mangabey
Thu, May 13, 2021, 9:44am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Author, Author

My feelings are very much in line with Kristen's excellent analysis above (almost 10 years ago). This was a pleasantly enjoyable "missed opportunity" episode for me (Voyager has oh so many of these, didn't it?), and I'm shocked by Jammer's 4-star sendup. I'd give it 2.5 stars or maybe 3 if leaning on the episode's comedic value.

I discovered Jammer's reviews as an excellent study guide in rewatching the series: my feelings usually align with his pretty closely; as a consequence, with each season I've opened up, I eagerly scan for and make a mental note of his 3.5 and 4 star reviews. These are the ones to make time for and WATCH watch, rather than having on in the background while cooking, cleaning, etc.

Seeing this 4-star gem just before the end of the show, I looked forward to it with considerable anticipation. And I was sorely disappointed. It was poorly paced; it superficially toyed with one of the core "sci fi nuggets" of the series in the Doctor's sentience, rights, etc. without offering any insight or depth; it was painfully derivative of past Voyager and TNG fare. And the final scene, far from touching, insulted viewers' intelligence: where are the hollow emitters for these Mark 1s? Why are they slaving away by hand in this hellish mine with techniques and tools that would have been outdated 80 years ago? Are they doing hard time?

Aaaanyway, Jammer, if you're listening, I want my money back!

In all seriousness, I've really taken a lot from reading these reviews so many years after the show first came out. I've also really enjoyed reading this extensive archive of other viewers' reactions. With my rewatch drawing to a close, I dunno if I'll have cause to post again, but I do want to say a big THANK YOU to Jammer for organizing this treasure trove of content. My words can't express the fullness gratitude (nor can my hundreds of page views and the advertising revenue they've hopefully generated). Peace and long life.
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Booming
Thu, May 13, 2021, 8:47am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

True. The Dominion is more like an apartheid autocracy. The term totalitarianism is problematic as is the term absolutism. For similar reasons. What is commonly seen as the dividing line between totalitarian systems and autocratic systems is the treatment of the people. In totalitarian regimes people are "activated" meaning that they have to be indoctrinated or show their loyalty constantly. In Autocracies the population is supposed to be passive. If you don't cause problems, then the autocratic authority will not bother you if you don't show up at the local dictator appreciation meeting.
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Jason R.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 7:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

I wouldn't call the Dominion totalitarian. We see in various episodes that Dominion vassals like the Karima are more or less free to go about their business. That does not suggest a totalitarian structure.

Frankly, I am not sure they map well onto any particular regime in history but I confess I don't know much about the Ottoman Turks.
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Booming
Thu, May 13, 2021, 6:49am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

Most species are amalgamations of several countries at various points in time.
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