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Tue, May 19, 2020, 10:37am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Spectre of the Gun

Really enjoyed reading the comments for this one, and I'll agree that while this is only a fair episode it has an engaging quality to it (I even had a dream about a showdown after watching it, for what that's worth!)

I'll try to go to bat for Chekov's behavior in this one. I think the underlying message here is about how Russia (the USSR back then) was also enamored with the legend of the American West. Chekov, a Russian never having been a part of American culture, might actually fantasize and romanticize about being a tough cowboy who stands up to the bad dudes and gets the hometown girl because that's something completely new and compelling from his cultural point of view. Kirk, in contrast, has an American history in his blood and knows that the cowboy days were not all grand so he doesn't get caught up in the romance.

2.5 stars with a shout out to the thought put into this one seems good to me.
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Fri, May 15, 2020, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

It is good news. Anson Mount deserved his own show considering how much he carried DISCO season 2. I'm looking forward to getting to know Rebecca Romijn's Number One better too. Turns out Pike's a fascinating character which is funny considering his humble roots in the ill-fated TOS pilot.

So, I guess the question is now how much will they respect TOS canon? Discovery was propelled into the future because the writers felt constrained by the franchise's history and now they're doing a 180 with a show that will live off that canon.
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Thu, May 14, 2020, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Menagerie

A venerable classic that is discomforting and familiar. I've read people say that TOS is like "The Twilight Zone" but really I think that characterization distorts what TOS is about. TWZ works by turning reality upside-down putting you ill at ease. TOS does similar upsetting things with science, but by and large the feeling by the end of the episode is a positive one.

Submitted for your consideration, "The Menagerie". Yes, Pike has suffered a gruesome fate from a simple inspection turned horribly wrong. Indeed, it's eerie the form of life that Pike is reduced to. Yet the humbleness of Starfleet officers like Menson, Kirk, and others give Pike this venerable dignity.

Especially compelling are Spock's efforts and loyalty to Pike which are arguably emotionally driven. In an interesting turnabout, much of the episode is premised on Spock being thought of as so logical that he'd never attempt a stunt like mutiny and conspiracy. However, we see Spock can act illogically or at least trick his logic sufficiently to be a wonderfully sentimental person.

One interesting conundrum is the ending where both Vina and Pike condemn themselves to a life of illusion. As outsiders we might not be able to accept this illusion and reject it as a zoo like the original Pike. But if we too were robbed of everything we once were by injury or trauma, we might feel a like as an invalid is an unsatisfying illusion. The need to return to one's comfort zone, to one's known life (even if it's quasi-fictional) is understandable.

Weighing this episode down a bit is the awkward framing device which at times exposes the stitches of a show that's, after all, thrown together from old footage for budgetary reasons. But what an unbelievably well-conceived framing device this is.

3 - 3.5 stars. An odd but lovable episode.
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Tue, May 12, 2020, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Dagger of the Mind

@Rahul

Yes I agree, there's so much more I could talk about but it's been said very well already by others. That Dr. Adams is a pathological liar and a respected man gives us a lot to think about.

I don't mean slow in a derogatory way. The way they balance both action and slow creepy scenes at the rehab clinic give it a real thriller vibe.
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Tue, May 12, 2020, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Dagger of the Mind

I like how this show stays silent on the details of Kirk and Dr. Noel's past, while a lie about those details puts the mission in jeopardy. There's a great metaphor here about people wanting to forget their pasts and not confront them, hoping that such denial is the safest way to deal with past conflicts. We see the danger of the facade come to life as we have people who have forgotten their pasts and are "cured" but only live as acting zombies filled with ideas in conflict of their true selves.

There's a broad message here about facing your problems head-on because even a good-intentioned lie can leave you empty.

A very well-executed slow episode. 3.5 stars.
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Sun, May 10, 2020, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

I like Peter's point above about justice being more logical than retribution. Going back as far as TOS, Starfleet officers never doled out executions. Even when they caught a killer red-handed like in "The Conscience of the King" or "Turnabout Intruder", they always turned that person over for treatment and prosecution.

Skeptical makes some interesting arguments that the episode could've gone further about justifiable homicide and I'm sympathetic to that. He also mentioned some sort of executive meddling in this episode, yet as far as I'm aware the situation was that one of the writers (not the credited writer above) and Spiner wanted it to be definite that Data would own up to killing here, while whoever made the final decision (Shari Goodhartz? Piller? Berman?) decided to leave it open-ended. Does that make the story weaker? We're supposed to consider whether Data changed, and the ending leaves that question up in the air for the audience to ponder.

In any case, I don't think the story hinges on this one scene; the moral dilemma Data faces near the end is just one layer of the episode. As Jammer describes well, there's a lot more complexity to this show with Data using logic and passive resistance to never give Fajo what he wants.
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Fri, May 8, 2020, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Devil in the Dark

This episode is a real treat. Like Rahul, I like how the story unfolds from the miners' POV, allowing us to see civilian life and danger firsthand. All the main TOS characters are in great form here, and you got to love how the danger starts out as a horror movie villain only for it to develop into a gentle and reasoning alien.

Much of what we see develop in the movies as the main traits of Spock (empathy, telepathy, mind melding, logic) get their start in this episode. In fact, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home basically lifts the outline of this story and adds a little time travel and comedy to make a hit. I agree with Jammer that the mystery behind the silicon rocks was a little obvious, but it was still fun seeing Spock so engaged with them. Likewise, we get complementary scenes for the other mains like Kirk taking Spock's curiosity seriously and McCoy being a good sport and awesome doctor despite his initial skepticism. Scotty even gets a moment to shine where he jerry-rigs a life support system.

Truly a must-see TOS episode. A high 3.5 stars from me.
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Thu, May 7, 2020, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

@Elliott

I mean if we're directly comparing DS9 and VOY's ratings, both shows were close but DS9 was on average always ahead:

95-95 season: DS9 average: 6.61 million viewers, Voyager: 5.68 million viewers
96-97 season: DS9 average: 5.76 million viewers, Voyager: 4.73 million viewers
97-98 season: DS9 average: 4.96 million viewers, Voyager: 4.24 million viewers
98-99 season: DS9 average: 4.04 million viewers, Voyager 3.44 million viewers

It is interesting that Voyager peaked more often in later seasons, but then also DS9 was off the air at that time. That said, I too suspect the syndication deals influenced the numbers more than the quality of the material. But I can't say for sure that's the case.
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Thu, May 7, 2020, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Emissary

This site shows more detail on DS9 (and Voyager) ratings:

http://users.telenet.be/WebTrek/Ds9/Ratings/ratings.html

One thing I think is interesting is that DS9 started much higher than VOY but then leveled out to be about the same. The conclusion we can safely draw is that, for whatever reason, there was an overall decline in Star Trek viewership starting in 1996 (DS9 Season 4, Voyager Season 2).
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Wed, May 6, 2020, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Miri

I agree with the comments calling this one a sort of Zombie Apocalypse story, and I think it's engaging on that level. Despite the low budget reuse of an NBC set and yet another Duplicate Earth, the costumes and makeup are nice and we get a rare treat of fine Star Trek kid actors. That said, I'm with Jammer in that there are some mind-blowing lapses in logic for the drama to work in the episode. Everyone is on the clock trying to cure the disease and yet they let days pass without searching for the communicators which are apparently vital to the cure.

The relationship between Kirk and Miri was enjoyable, and it leads to some interesting discussions about entering adulthood and what it means to be stuck as a child. I only wish the episode went a little further and capitalized on the children-versus-adults dilemma. Unfortunately, it seems like these children are too stupid to live which hurts feeling much sympathy towards them. Perhaps if we knew more of what kind of abuse they suffered, we could relate to them better.

I agree with Springy that Yeoman Rand being helpless and lamenting not being able to show off more skin to Kirk was pretty icky. Luckily, Rand gets better material in other episodes.

Some intriguing concepts and decent characters but missing the real polish of a classic. 2 stars seems about right.
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Thu, Apr 30, 2020, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Court Martial

I hasten to add that, conflicts aside, Joan Marshall's portrayal of the a prosecuting attorney was quite enjoyable. It's nice to see that this show was fairly ahead of its time portraying women as very competent and formidable professionals. That might be enough to add an extra .5 stars.
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Thu, Apr 30, 2020, 10:18am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Court Martial

A mixed bag. Most of the acting with the exception of Richard Webb was tip-top. There were some interesting investigative scenes and the heartbeat scene was both a clever and creative reveal if nothing else. The absurdity of the legal portions makes this difficult to watch at times. It doesn't help that the music dramatizes the wrong moments in the courtroom. For example, Kirk pleads "not guilty" at the beginning of his hearing and a dramatic trumpet blares, but the teaser already made it abundantly clear Kirk was requesting the trial to prove his innocence.

One shining point that deserves praise comes from Samuel T. Cogley's main argument. His speech about a person's rights to face their accuser was spot on. The position has become more relevant in modern times since today we have similar computerized accusers like red light cameras which are hotly contested on the same grounds presented for the Computer in this episode. Still, I could do without the rambling name dropping of Moses and Aristotle at the trial (without even quoting them).

Jason R. wrote:

"I am shocked no lawyer has commented on the ludicrousness of an old romantic flame being selected as the prosecutor and not stepping down. Sliiiiiight conflict of interest!!"

Yes, that part's nutty and I'll add that it's dubious Kirk would take the stand at a trial for his own criminal negligence. I know it doesn't make for good tv, but shouldn't the defense attorney be saying what Kirk said? DS9 at least gave a nod to a Fifth Amendment-like law in its courtroom episode (Worf was just a Gomer and waived his rights).

All-in-all, the basic structure of this show is sound and as someone mentioned above "The Measure of a Man" riffs on some of the same character beats. I'll give this 2 stars for that and the intriguing legal argument.
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Tue, Apr 28, 2020, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Oh and I think those screenshots Dom or whoever linked above pretty well prove Tim's point. You can see like 3 Enterprise Ds, 6 D'deridex warbirds, and 3 Klingon BoPs that all look identical. Anyone who's ever dabbed in Maya, Houdini or similar CGI applications knows how easy it is to replicate an image like that. It's pretty lazy.
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Tue, Apr 28, 2020, 8:36am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

I can't think of any encounter in DS9 that's comparable to TWOK or TUC. I can't put my finger on it, but at some point they really did stop scripting the Trek battles like naval battles.
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Mon, Apr 27, 2020, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Tim wrote:

"My point is that it DOESN'T look good and it's NOT effective storytelling. It's just space combat porn for the teenage fanboys."

Well that's not fair, calling it porn implies that the battle was actually satisfying some urge. ;-) I'm with you that the number of ships was just an excuse to raise the stakes. It didn't do much for me.

"Now skip ahead to the fleet engagements of the war arc. We don't know any of the crew of these ships, they're literally manned by nameless redshirts, so there's no real emotional impact to what we're watching. There are so damn many of them on the screen we can't tell them apart, two thousand foot long starships move about like F-16s, they fight at point-blank range, and there are more explosions on the screen than we'd see in a Michael Bay production."

Yep, DS9 battles looked good but even then there was very little attachment to a given ship in a big battle because none of us knew who was on what ship. Give me the triple confrontation between the Enterprise-Chang's BoP-Excelsior over that stuff any day.
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Mon, Apr 27, 2020, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Though I agree the ease of CGI is part of the reason they'd make more fleets than before in modern Trek, it's still extremely expensive to make it look good. ST:P isn't primarily a show about ship battles like DS9 or the TOS movies, so it doesn't really make sense for them to blow their whole budget on super unique ships that barely get five minutes of screentime.

Also, I think it's worth mentioning that while the Romulan fleet was numerous, it contained numerous "pocket cruisers" that were compact like Narek's ship. I only remember seeing a handful of D'deridex class ships.
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Sat, Apr 25, 2020, 10:08am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

"it grew organically out of the last film."

You're saying that resurrection of a character is 100% organic? The Genesis planet is surely a GMO.
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Fri, Apr 24, 2020, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

I agree with Booming here. Heck, I never watched "Spirit Folk" during its original run (and I still haven't watched it) so the idea that modern Star Trek is some sort penance for us being accomplice to this episode is ludicrous to me.

Peter G. wrote:

"But tell someone "you've got six months and I need the script in hand" and that's a recipe for crap"

"So Spirit Folk, being most likely a result of a quick timetable and a lack of ideas, is probably also what leads to a ST: Nemesis. We have Insurrection done, and before someone comes up with a great inspiration the production company is already asking how quickly they'll be able to release the next one."

While I don't disagree that a rushed timetable and corporate demands can lead to bad material, in actuality ST: Nemesis had the longest period between Trek sequels ever and it was still bad. That Nemesis did so poorly in the box office and led to some serious retooling of Star Trek might be a testament to positive consumer forces at work.
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Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

@Ashrol

Sounds like the beginning of a hypothesis where you should give specific examples and cite just how A begot B. How does "Spirit Folk" lead to "Star Trek: Nemesis", for instance?
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Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 5:31am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Marauders

I’m wondering why the Klingons didn’t just beam the miners 200ft in the air and drop them, or beam them all in to a building, etc. Dropping them from great heights might be seen as dishonorable, but these Klingons didn’t seem to much care about that, and there’s no way they wouldn’t come back. What would have made sense is a transporter inhibiting dampening field that forced them to come down by shuttle.

That leaves bombarding the facility from orbit - something the Klingons seem okay to do (they did it in a later episode when the augment experiment caused the illness - killing thousands from orbit). The humiliation they went through would almost certainly make them do it - unless they really did report to the High Council and were forbidden from doing that for some reason.

So many issues with this episode....
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Mon, Apr 20, 2020, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Time's Arrow, Part II

Jack London's story ran its course in the first part, if I remember correctly. The purpose of the story was for Jack to see how a penniless "foreigner" could instantly strike it rich and for that to be his inspiration for his own successful life.

With that arc complete, it does make some sense to have part two focus more on Clemens, who is arguably the more interesting part of the time period. Or at least it's safe to say the Clemens character's ideas are more applicable to TNG's agenda of enlightenment.
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Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 8:26am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Descent, Part I

"Funny, I hated Admiral Bitchayev when I was a kid, but she's totally right."

Did it matter, though? Hugh's experience as an individual messed up the cube he was on anyway. Now that you mention it, it's interesting that this plot thread gets picked up a little in Picard. Instead of MC Escher artwork, it's an anti-organic life message that destroys them. The Borg have a fragile psyche?
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Fri, Apr 17, 2020, 2:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

I like William B's points but I do sympathize with Jason R's position. Indeed, if Bashir had been too timid to befriend Garak, Garak might have turned out for the worse, actively working to undermine the DS9 crew.

Interestingly, I think this episode itself illustrates that Garak is still a volatile person to have on your team. Sure, he got the job done, but he did it with multiple murders and a dangerous gambit that could've made things worse. I think the only reason Sisko asked Garak for help was that he was desperate and he knew Garak was capable of swaying the Romulans with means that he couldn't devise himself. Garak went behind Sisko's back to get the plan done, but it also seems like Sisko counted on Garak to do something like that. When you're dealing with Garak you basically need to expect a certain level of treachery and hope that his goals align with your own.
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Fri, Apr 17, 2020, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

"Kira was a cold blooded killer too."

The main difference is Kira is a reformed soldier, in that she takes a conscious effort to be patient and not resort to violence anymore. It's not clear if Garak ever reformed per se, though I agree one possible ending we could imagine to his arc is that he gives up the spy game and tries to rebuild Cardassia (basically becoming like Kira at the beginning of DS9).
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Wed, Apr 15, 2020, 11:41am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Suspicions

@Booming

I don't agree with his wording or with the use of Mary Sue generally, but there is an agenda being pushed (not in a negative way) in that the line exists for the benefit of the 1990s audience. It is kind of funny that it comes up now because they want the audiences' awkwardness with females to be mirrored in the characters on screen. Because the scene ends up being clumsy, I think the subject should've been dealt with back in TOS or not at all. It feels patronizing as well as anachronistic.
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