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Yair
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 9:04am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

@JohnTY,

That's pretty funny, but you are wasting your time.

One of the things I appreciate these reviews for is that hostile comments will have *zero* influence on Jammer. He won't hesitate to praise something pilloried in the comments or vice versa. That's amazing integrity - or maybe he's an android from the future.
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Yair
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 7:44am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

Occasionally nice character exploration, but it's mixed with a plot which isn't logical when examined because it's at the service of Action (a la S1), and a somewhat exploitative use of Airiam (which would have worked if she had been even slightly developed earlier) - 2 to 2.5. Calling out Burnham is always appreciated though.

* Why would Control need to go to all these lengths to get the Orb data? The Discovery surely never intended to keep those secret from Starfleet itself!

All it would take would be to fabricate an order to the Discovery to upload its data somewhere - and Control could even get that order by simply convincing whomever is still alive since it's so easy to justify (the Discovery is at risk of destruction given its dangerous mission and technology, the data is extremely valuable, and providing it won't be much of a detour given the spore drive) . Once the data is out there, Control could have as much access as it wanted given it already impersonates Admirals.

* Control managed to choose for itself to kill people, and passes the Turing Test without fail. It looks quite self-concious already to me. It's a typical dangerous AI plot, delivered by the characters telling us PLOT rather than showing anything.

* Airlock sequence - doesn't the Discovery have transporters? Didn't Control, well, keep control of the doors at the facility?

* Video encoding strive for efficiency, the ultraviolet data Saru seeks simply won't be encoded in the first place even in a 'real' video. Besides, checking for holograms would be the first thing every semi-competent examiner would do. Oh, and temperature data would be in the infrared (still not stored).

* No reason to deplore the use of mines in space, the current arguments against land mines don't apply - a distinction even 21th century treaties could understand given that the non-land mine types are not regulated.
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Yair
Tue, Mar 12, 2019, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

@Joseph,

If we look past the tone, ORV does have some pretensions, actually more than DIS which simply intends to be a pure action-adventure. It's only fair that commenters here try to judge the show according to its pretensions.

However, ORV is not self-congratulatory. Nearly all of the crew is slightly screwed up in different ways, Mercer has significant flaws and does not share certain Trek captains' haughtiness. But it is sometimes being too shallow. e.g. the astrology episode may have meant to argue about "class, race and gender existentialism", but the initial choice simply made it too easy to dismiss and it spent too much time with crew jeopardy.

I'm wary of the word 'critical', since it has been twisted to reflexive opposition, and that's also an easy path, just a different easy path than self-congratulation. ORV could have been more probing, and maybe we'll see that in the future.
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Yair
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 8:44am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

@Jopseph,

Art is about introspection of nature (especially human nature). Good introspection does not have to critical of 'us' (whatever that is), or even to deal with us. Fiction about some 12th century BC people could very well be worthwhile art if it examines human nature honestly and incisively.

Also, the nature of this particular subgenre is to indirectly critique current human politics by showing a supposedly more enlightened one, rather than critiquing it directly (I haven't seen this episode, so I can't comment on whether it does this).
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Yair
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

@Dave in MN,

CBS can't rely on the Picard series just yet. These decisions must be made in advance, and it's just too risky - for all CBS knows that show could bomb. Besides, if DIS is cancelled too soon, fans will decide the Picard show would be cancelled too. They won't invest time in it and it would end up a self-fulfilling prophecy. CBS has no choice but to renew DIS (already done), and reasonably fund the next season.

@Paul G,

We must take this theory to its logical conclusion.

Once the Discovery did its thing and left for Talos, the Kelpiens immediately genocided the Ba'ul, and will slowly but inexorably increase their domain. In the far future, there's a nearly unstoppable Kelpien Empire making the Terran Empire look nice, and the Red Angel is one of the bad people trying to make this reality stick.

The time rift thingy was sent by the desperate underground trying to stop the Empire from ever existing. It tried to do so 'nicely' by preventing the Discovery from awakening the Kelpiens but narrowly missed the time-window to do it. Now the only way to stop the Empire is by blowing up half the galaxy (a direct consequence of timey-wimey theory, don't ask).

This is a longshot, since the underground has so few resources. Discovery will probably prevent this and have a huge victory party. Then, Emperor Saru will watch and quietly snicker from the background, knowing that his final victory is inevitable.
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Yair
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

There's no way CBS will discontinue DIS or even cheapen too much on the next season, barring something like CBS going chapter 11 or a massive DIS-related PR scandal. It doesn't matter what the ratings are or what Netflix thinks, DIS is just too critical for CBS's future.

DIS is nearly the only selling point of its streaming service ( = the future as far as CBS sees it), plus CBS is planning on other Trek TV shows. Kill off DIS, and CBS can forget about fans investing time in the other Trek shows ("CBS will just cancel them anyway"), while its streaming service takes a big hit. Not going to happen, no matter what anyone says.
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Yair
Sat, Mar 9, 2019, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Last week was a plot-bridge episode but with some pretty bad arc choices, these unfortunately keep reverberating a much better directed and written episode (A high 3 IMHO).

The good has been told by others here: A/B plots that are intended to parallel each other, Callbacks to TOS that work for once, Culber and Stamets getting some characterization again finally (Stamets hasn't been a real character since mid-S1). So I'll focus a bit more about the bad.

* The S31 part gets more irritating. Why should anyone in S31 defer to Georgiou? They know enough about her to know they should keep her far away and on a tight leash.

So whatever with Michael's parents. Judging by its reputation, S31 must be doing far more evil stuff everyday by breakfast. Leland should have just laughed Georgiou off and have her offed offscreen. Plot armour, I know...

* Speaking of S31, I wish Tyler was just written out of the show. Show-wise, he's a confusing character which has been given poor material since S1, and that doesn't change here (Culber carries that plot and scene).

Plot-wise, there's no good reason for him to be allowed on the Discovery. Tyler provides no unique capabilities, but he's a walking unknown risk on a very valuable Starfleet ship. Even when he doesn't try to make trouble!

In this episode, Tyler's very existence on the ship is distracting the crew and leading them away from the real problem, while leading to discomfort among actual ship personnel. Any other S31 person (or better - no S31 'liaison') would have been more credible.

* That leads us to the other arc trouble, Is Pike going to, well, command a bit sometime? Characters keep going against his wishes or disrespecting him. In this episode, he gently corrected Saru, but that was Pike's mess hall and he was absent. I checked how Tyler got in the ship in the first place, and it's Leland all but forcing it. Every instance of Pike's light hand can be individually excused, but overall he's almost not running the ship.

* If we're talking about insubordination, we have to mention our resident serial mutineer. So Michael was so arrogant even at age nine? This does tie in well with her behaviour in the pilot, but the character is now even more unappealing to me. At least the show has been keeping its Michael quotient down recently, and that alone makes it more watchable.
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Yair
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 2:54am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@Booming,

I meant that fans were perfectly capable of hating on a male character which was thought to be annoying and have undue plot powers. The attempts to blame any critic of Burnham with sexism are tiring.

Aside, people here keep saying Sarek told her to do the Vulcan Hello. Check out what Sarek actually said. He keeps warning her (not to let her history get in the way, that what worked for Vulcan might not work for humans...) and Michael needs to prod him repeatedly to get an answer from him. We don't need a high EQ to see that Sarek does NOT want humans or the Federation to follow the same path. (come to think about it, did this even work for the Vulcans given that they are members of the Federations and Klingons are perfectly fine attacking it?)
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Yair
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 8:34am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@Booming,

"I also ask myself sometimes why for example Picard or Garak were never called Mary Sue (Marty Sue?)? Both characters who knew everything and were almost always right. "

Lets see: Half of early TNG is Wesley Crusher saving the ship from stuff Picard couldn't deal with. Then Picard is forcibly turned into a Borg against his will. Err.. That's not Mar(t)y Sue at all.

Maybe Wesley Crusher was, but then they simply called such characters "Wesley Crusher". And he met such hatred that makes the current complaints regarding Michael Burnham look tame. Nobody is going to create a fan forum dedicated to the Michael's death (the infamous 'alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die' newsgroup) .
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Yair
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 5:20am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@Tim C,

That's a very technical definition of 'obligated'. If someone put a gun to my head, I guess you'd say I could 'choose' to my head blown out. Burnham's choice was between forced labour for life in a dilithium mine (strongly implied to be very dangerous, they talk about an 'accident' killing 50 convicts) and possibly redeeming herself in Starfleet serving as she did before, or at least serving in a place where she's not confined, not forced to do dangerous labour or to live with the type of people who go to that type of prison. That's a very easy choice.

The reason people are judgemental about killing T'Kuvma has little to do with the character himself. A slightly different setup and no one who have complained. It's about Burnham, who had an opportunity to fulfill her duty while preventing the deaths of millions (or at least she believed she had the chance) and chose to kill T'Kuvma instead (I am unable to review the scene right now, but that's certainly the impression I and many others got at the time). Now, there are extenuating circumstances, but she's supposedly an elite 'logical' Starfleet officer and we have higher expectations accordingly.
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Yair
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 3:28am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

"kills T'Kuvma" should be "killed T'Kuvma " of course.
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Yair
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 3:17am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@Tim C

Burnham was sent to prison for the mutiny alone and for no other crime ("For the charge of mutiny, it is our ruling that the defendant be stripped of rank and hereby sentenced to imprisonment for life."). Perhaps she didn't tell them of what she did to T'Kuvma and of the implications thereof (some repentance that is). Alternatively, maybe she did tell them and Starfleet found no fault (which is dubious considering Burnham herself thought it would lead to the deaths of many).

Either way, she's never punished or (as far as we know) even examined regarding T'Kuvma,, and whenever she tells people she kills T'Kuvma she tells it matter of factly, there's no trace of any self-examination going on.

Furthermore, Burnham is obligated to act as an officer. According to Burnham herself (in "Si Vis Pacem"), her release was temporary in order to serve in the war, and her sentence will resume after. If she stopped serving, Starfleet would have no doubt resumed her sentence earlier.
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Yair
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@Stargazer,

They obviously ran _some_ medical scans all this time. They couldn't possible recruit a complete unknown into Starfleet, and sickbay did get a little out of him. If Starfleet knows nothing, than Saru should have never been allowed to beam into any planet, since the local conditions could have killed him immediately for all anyone knows. Lets face it, we don't know whether Starfleet could have cured the condition Saru thought he has and the characters not even trying is a plot hole since they obviously care for him.

Also, you're ignoring the bigger issue, that it wasn't clear at all Saru was dying even before the twist. The only thing sickbay said was that Saru had a lot of adrenaline and that he was in a enough pain to make a human pass out (it isn't clear to me whether the pain was related to Saru's 'death state' or the orb's death throes reflected into Saru's empathy or the orb's attempts to communicate, it's possible he wasn't in pain by the time he was in his quarters because the orb was gone). The only person who said Saru was dying was Saru, and he apparently has zero medical knowledge.
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Yair
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@Steven,

I don't think it's right to call this a cavalier attitude. It's one that tries to balance the needs of the crewmember with the needs of other people.

Let me put it by analogy. Captains can order crewmembers to their death. The reason Starfleet allows captains to make this call is not because the crew are considered cannon fodder, but because of the general interest. This is far from an unlimited power, Captains can't run death matches on their ship. They need to have reasonable cause, or Starfleet would be *very* displeased.

If Captains can similarly order crewmembers to live that would be for the general interest, not because individual rights are considered irrelevant, and It's quite possible Starfleet will want a reasonable cause there too.
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Yair
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@Steven,

it could be that Starfleet couldn't save Saru in the short run. But maybe they could. His biology wasn't completely alien, the doctor could check adrenaline levels. They can't know whether they could save him without checking him. Saru got, what, five seconds at sickbay? Besides, as I stated earlier, there were good reasons to doubt Saru's self-diagnosis beforehand.

They could have tried to help him, and if they couldn't fix him then let him die. Assuming the stakes are high as they seem to be, the worst case where Saru lives a while longer then he intended wouldn't have been so bad.
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Yair
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@Steven,

Perhaps captains always grant permission for this in typical peacetime circumstances, but there are enough circumstances where there's more at stake than one person, and that should be enough for Starfleet to justify a rule requiring asking for permission.

Look at the other side: Letting Trip die early enough in ENT S3 probably kills humanity. Torres might be replaced by Carey, until he dies and Voyager ends up without a proper chief engineer (if she dies early enough, millions of aliens probably die in "Dreadnought"). Letting Saru die here, would have who-knows-what consequences. The Discovery arguably may well not have enough time to get a new first officer without compromising its mission (a mission considered vital enough to bend the PD). Now maybe not all these circumstances justify overriding a person's wishes, but some of them must.
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Yair
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

@Steven,

There were reasons to doubt Saru's self-diagnosis. IIRC he has no medical training that we know of, his culture is at a low level of technology compared to the Federation, sickbay barely got to look at him, and for all we know Orb induced death state could be different from the 'real' death state. Or perhaps the madness state could be easily treatable with Federation technology. Regardless the madness state is not much of a threat given Saru gave notice in advance.

I'll go further and state that it's quite possible that keeping Saru alive *against his will* may well have been justified. He's a Starfleet officer, when he signed up he gave up some rights. Now people depend on him. The Discovery may not be able to finish its critical mission without him (this episode is proof). Killing oneself without permission can be compared to desertion, and could well be illegal under Starfleet's laws**.

Imagine that Torres wanted to kill herself in VOY, or Trip in ENT S3. Lets further say all the prerequisites here are satisfied in those cases. Wouldn't Janeway or Archer still have justification to order them to live given the circumstances? If Pike can order Saru to his death if he has reason to believe it's necessary (and we probably agree that he can), why can't he order Saru to live?

** This doesn't contradict "Ethics", since Worf didn't decide to commit suicide. Maybe if he had he'd have to submit a formal request. Since it was obvious that Picard would honour such a request, no character had reason to discuss it.
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Yair
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 11:22am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

Oh, and lowish 3 stars I guess. I'd given it higher if I had to grade it immediately afterwards, but as I think about it the seams come apart a bit and one can see the stitchings.
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Yair
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 10:59am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

This is the best DIS yet, exceeding my expectations following the previous throwback episode.

The Orb storyline is obvious filler but it's reasonably well delivered, and it develops into storyline which explores the Saru character and gives new depth and new questions. I liked that a lot. SMG even tries to act and is less Mary Sue than ever! The B-storyline is rote, and weighed down a bit by Reno which overdoes its gimmick.

* I'm not 100% sold on the 'Saru asking Michael to kill him' scene. I was sold in the moment (at least until Michael did cut), but now that I think of it I'm not so sure. There was already basis to doubt Saru's self-diagnosis. After all, very weird things happen on DIS all the time, this was a very unusual case and Saru is not a medical expert on anything (as far as we know).

Had Michael killed Saru, Michael would have always wondered whether he'd lived had she refused. Is it Saru-like to ask his friend to live with such guilt? He could have, for example, asked 'kill me when I go mad' instead.

Also, I doubt Federation law allows Saru's request. In the modern day, accepting jurisdictions require a supporting medical opinion for euthanasia. Add in the fact this is a Starfleet officer, so even when euthanasia is legal it probably requires Startfleet approval. He's quite possibly asking her to risk serious legal consequences, and I think Michael has learnt to avoid that.

* The writers should ease up on the superlatives. 'Most empathic soul' I can live with, but 'had to fight for every breath'? Please. Michael Burnham is no Tasha Yar.

* Aside, Stamets can't be very well versed in 21th century history. Any serious action regarding AGW would require a lot more than building solar panels. Probably that's the pop-history version decades after the issue was solved.

*** All in all, DIS has developed two characters reasonably well, Michael (which I have a lot of issues with, but no the amount of development per se) and Saru. Maybe add in Tilly. Stamets, however, seems to be regressing, he was a more interesting character 1st season. The writing is improving, now the show needs a slightly larger cast. 3 characters + a de facto guest star (Pike) isn't quite enough for this format.
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Yair
Wed, Jan 30, 2019, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: New Eden

Maybe I should phrase it differently - the inability of most starship crews to interfere usefully and the fact that they're necessary for other missions is a more of a separate justification for PD rather than a different justification for non-intervention.

Assuming that the people in charge had decided to interfere in New Eden, presumably they'd at least be able to send in specialists and sufficient force to ensure that enlightening the people won't, for example, lead to nasty civil war between remaining religious factions and the other Edenites.
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Yair
Wed, Jan 30, 2019, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: New Eden

@Chrome,

Human or Not-Human is the wrong way to think about it. Especially in a setting like ST where half of the races are humanoid and likely "compatible" with humans. The arguments for and against PD have only a little to do with species anyway.

One question is whether these are Federation citizens (nope) or members of a civilization apart of the Federation (very debatable). Pike could argue that this a separate civilization and therefore non-interference is justified, while Michael could argue that this is a wayward colony and they are simply reintegrating them into the fold.

Either way, there are justifications for non-intervention aside from PD, namely, that starship crews are in all likelihood not the right way to do it if intervention is judged to be necessary. While TOS/TNG like to present simplistic scenarios, where the crew shows another way and everything just works, this is less realistic than warp drives or transporters. Responsibly interfering requires significant consistent interaction and the Discovery simply didn't have the time or resources to shepherd the planet to a different way of life given their mission and capabilities.

Since this is Trek, no one would revisit the issue, but in a proper Federation setting, there should be higher-ups who should be the ones to consider the issue rather than leaving it all to officers like Michael - the PD issue here wasn't at all an urgent or exceptional question, unlike some other cases in TOS/TNG and unlike the 'nuclear winter' issue which was urgent and did justify an immediate decision to intervene.
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Yair
Sun, Jan 27, 2019, 5:26am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: New Eden

@Karl,

Good art often relies on limits. Not having limits, can just as easily make it difficult to tell interesting stories as to enable them. What you see as 'limitless potential' can also become 'very limited/confused storytelling' when you have to ask yourself 'why didn't the protagonists do that? what about the implications of the technology to the setting? how to make the antagonists powerful enough to be a credible threat?'.

Think of all of cases we needed to have arbitrary things shut down the transporter ("can't get a lock", "ion storms", having it the first system to go offline) because having it would ruin the episode. Think also of all the implications transporter tech would have. It took decades of storytelling for Trek to own much of it.

The spore drive 'tech' has even less limits, and it has to go away. Add the serial nature of DIS (less time to explore the implications), and the dreadful non-explanation for it (arguably against the spirit of Trek). You end up with something that probably can't be integrated into Trek, not in DIS anyway.

DIS 1 already used it as a massive bomb amongst other things. You want to add a multiverse + timetravel to it. Eventually the question after each episode is going to be 'why didn't the protagonists travel back in time as soon as trouble started, to avoid the issue in the first place?' and every antagonist's first action must be to find a way to disable it. That's boring!
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Yair
Sat, Jan 26, 2019, 8:22am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: New Eden

This by far is the closest DIS has gotten to 'typical' Trek storytelling. We have an A/B structure (A on the planet, B on the ship), and this episode tones Michael down significantly.

I'll go as far as to suspect this particular chapter is more episodic than serial (which I consider as a stylistic choice, not as 'one is better' choice). What did get for the greater arc here? Michael's vision already suggested that the Red thingy is interested in (some) humans and its shape, and they'll probably get some other clue it is real next time. So we end up with Tilly getting a 'ghost' friend. That's possibly not a part of the main 'Red Angel' arc and could have been done in 2 minutes in another episode, so the 'meat' of this chapter is episodic.

All this means that this chapter needs to be graded along a more typical Trek curve, and DIS has a bit to go here. The direction could get some work and the premise isn't original or well-used (reminds me of ENT S3 'North Star'. The gimmick there was a Western). It does keep attention. Hm... 2.5 given that Frakes can do better but also that DIS is improving on some of its more annoying issues.

Notes:

* Saru and the crew never debate whether they should save the colony (and that's a good thing). In certain other Trek series we would have had a tiresome debate.

* Michael is still annoying. Obviously the first thing one does when being graciously hosted is tell the hosts they're wrong about everything.

* Tilly's "What would Michael have told me to do" sounds like the showrunners satirizing themselves. Same with Pike expressing all but surprise that she followed orders. A hint that characters are going to be allowed to come up with their own solutions rather than Michael doing everything by herself?

* I'm OK for once with Michael convincing Pike to go down to the planet again. This time, it's not because the non-Michael person needs to be dumb for Michael to shine, but because he placed a high priority on PD.
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Yair
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Brother

"just" sounds a bit too dismissive. I mean that DS9 could have been written with religious overtones strongly deemphasised and still be DS9-like (we'd need to ditch the 7th season religious plot, but it wasn't so well received anyway).
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Yair
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Brother

@Booming,

* DS9 and BSG are not comparable at all religion-wise.

DS9 has religious overtones but these are just overtones. Quite a lot is entirely independent of it. For example, the entire Dominion war plot could have easily functioned without it. The show would just have had to shut the wormhole some other way. DS9 easily allows an 'atheistic' explanation if one wishes it (not in the sense of the Prophets not existing, but in the sense of them being super-advanced wormhole-aliens).

Religion is absolutely central to BSG, both new and old (finding Earth based on a myth, Eternal Recurrence in the new series, etc. etc.). God is a key part of the setting.

* The rest of your list are just a result of war being a part of the series (which DS9 didn't even get into in its first seasons). That part describes plenty of sci-fi shows, to the point of not being so useful.

* BSG is an interesting case to discuss, because BSG had a somewhat similar trajectory to TOS: A short original sci-fi series restored for awhile by an a letter-writing campaign, followed decades later by a (very successful) new series. What makes people 'loyal' to a particular show/setting, and not to others?
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