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bencanuck
Sat, Aug 3, 2019, 7:44am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Living Witness

I remember liking this episode when I was younger, but after recently rewatching it, I have to say that my reaction is something like T'Paul's or Daniel's.

The episode is creative, certainly. And the use of fun 'mirror universe' elements to tell a substantial story and contribute to ideas of a philosophical or sociological order is really appreciated. This episode is well thought out on several fronts, as well as well produced, designed well, and acted with conviction. But...

The narrative sets up oppression that is happening, for the characters in the story, *right now*. There are people being oppressed un the *now* of the characters. Everyone knows it. It can be seen with their eyes. They just have to open them.

Meanwhile, the plot focuses in on the historical accuracy of events in the past. This is where the problem lies. Anyone with a mind for justice is more concerned with oppression that they can see is definitely, without a doubt, happening right now. But because of its design and theme, the plot of 'Living Witness' expects us to care more about the intricacies of the past, and this is framed in terms of justice, too, not just accuracy.

And that's where it all collapses. Right, establishing the truth is about justice. We can all agree to that. But this historical justice is not of a lesser value than *known* contemporary acts of oppression. Anyone who thinks that is, in practice, supporting those contemporary acts of oppression. If, today, someone were to divert thinking about contemporary racial injustice towards one specific incident on one specific day 700 years ago, most of us would consider this to be racist distraction. Conveniently shifting priorities like this is usually a sign of support for racist activity. And rightly so. Emphasis and priority say a lot.

That's why some people feel as if the episode is saying the oppressed 'deserved it'. The episode doesn't say this. But the writers *do* definitely say that, for this episode's themes and plot, definitive contemporary injustice is less relevant than historical accuracy. After all, one drives the plot, while the other is just part of the story, background, and environment.

And that... is just odd for a Star Trek ethos. It is bound to be upsetting for some people. The episode needed a significant contribution saying that the oppression that definitely exists was the major issue (because we *know* it is happening *now*), though this does not imply that historical accuracy is unimportant. But... if the episode takes this direction, it also ceases to be recognizable as 'Living Witness'. Thr narrative consistency, tightness, and focus will diminish. If, however, narrative consistency and focus win, then the implication is that the contemporary theme is secondary to the historical theme. But if the contemporary theme of *known* oppression is secondary to establishing the facts about one day 700 years ago, basically any sort of racial diversion tactics are left uncriticized. This is a gaping hole for anyone who is concerned about *both* sorts of (in)justice. Thus the episode is both a creative masterpiece and an unsalvageable thematic disaster from the get-go. Once you see what is missing and what choices were made in the narrative focus, it becomes disconcerting.
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bencanuck
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 12:29am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

@Skyelord

"speaking crew on the actual ship"

Bryce and Rhys are male characters; they're on the bridge in most episodes (in season 2, nearly every episode or perhaps every episode). They have names and talk. They're certainly more important characters than Pollard ('Replacement Doctor').

Not sure why you don't see the black man and the Asian man on the bridge. They're there.
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Ben
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 2:21pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

It's tough to root for team nu-Trek when they change so much, shit all over what came before, drastically underperform in the writing department, then act so smug and SWJ self-righteous about it when they can't even get their facts right about what DID come before... you know, the ST content that became popular, inspired a franchise and created the opportunity for these people to have a JOB creating new Trek these days?

https://twitter.com/startrekcbs/status/1108443091025956865?s=21

Tower of Babel is an episode?

This is a nitpick, but that SMG error embodies the "end of history" that's happening in modern works today. Who cares about the old? Who cares about the standards of what came before? Let's just redo Trek, and redo it in a self-absorbed way that clearly misses the mark on so many levels. SMH.
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Ben Rowe
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 2:46am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

It's funny you bring up McNeely aping Williams -- the first place I encountered his music was the soundtrack for Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, the "movie without a movie" release Lucasfilm did (all the tie-in products without the movie) in 1995 to test the waters for the Special Editions and thus the prequels.
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Ben
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 10:31am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: The Sound of Thunder

Hey @Jammer, what are your thoughts on starting a YouTube channel to vocalize these reviews, and take more advantage of the fan buzz/modern podcast trends, in addition to continuing the site as-is here?
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Ben S
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 9:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part I

This episode thrilled me in the same way that the early Borg episodes of TNG thrilled me. As others have said, haven't felt that kind of excitement in a while.

After the episode was over, I realized the Kaylon are more like the Cylons of BSG than the Borg. The Borg were only half-machine and it was their humanoid side that proved to be their big weakness. Cylons, on the other hand, taken from the original BSG were full machines with only one goal: The extermination of all humans.

This, I think, could make the Kaylons more dangerous overall. An enemy that has no trace of human emotions or compassion is going to be harder to deal with. I hope they become a regular group of villains for the crew to contend with.
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Ben
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S2: Assignment: Earth

I remember watching the rerun of this episode as a kid and I felt at the time that it was the most memorable episode of Star Trek. I watch it today and still think it is a really cool episode just from the idea of a person that they don't know is a human or an alien, the tech he uses, his cat, etc etc. Also the time travel is great. I don't see why this is not one of the best episodes of Star Trek (though I'm just throwing that out there... I'm not exactly that well versed as you guys about all the episodes).
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benzev
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 6:39am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Dauphin

Regardless of plot holes etc, this was entertaining, which is really the bottom line.

Sure, one would expect that just in being assigned the mission all necessary and available information would have been imparted- including the fact the people being transported are shapeshifters and also that they are extremely anxious about risk, infection etc- all points to be discussed beforehand.

If there is one point that I find offputting about Wesley, apart from his youth in a situation where highly trained high IQ personnel are queueing up for position, it is the depressing fact that apparently nepotism remains as ingrained in the 24th century as it is now.
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ben sisko
Wed, Oct 10, 2018, 11:45am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

@Togu Oppusunggu

“It's naive to think that race has just disappeared completely by the time of the Star Trek universe, no mater what Rodenberry thinks. I's certainly still with us, and expressions of "get over it" always smacks of insensitivity to the realities of the issue.”

Funny you should say that, because “get over it” is basically the message advocated in this episode. Sisko doesn’t even come clean to Bashir about why he doesn’t like his program. That could’ve been a good discussion, but - the opportunity for actual discussion between different races was lost.
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Ben
Fri, Aug 31, 2018, 7:50am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Minefield

Khan was arming the ship's self destruct, not the Genesis device ;-)
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Ben Sisko
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 2:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down

I know I’m a little late to the game here but for anybody reading this, BSG is such a good show that even it’s sub par episodes are entertaining. Like many great shows or movie franchises, it’s the characters that make it watchable or not. I love these characters so much that I could watch them play cards and drInk all episode and still be amused.
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Ben
Thu, Jun 21, 2018, 9:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Timescape

Couldn't get into this one... watching actors hold their breath and stand realllllly still just felt silly, like a gimmick in a children's play. I couldn't take it seriously. And really the whole episode was one gimmick after another. Now time's standing still, but only for certain members of the crew! Now it's moving 50 times faster than normal! Now it's going backwards! And even though each of these concepts should be practically revolutionary in its implications, Geordi can simply configure an armband to immunize the crew from the effects, and precisely calibrate the reversal of time, as though these things had been done a thousand times.

I also wasn't much sold on the "mystery" aspect, which only shifted into gear for 5 minutes at the end and felt tacked-on to me. However, I did like the opening banter on the runabout, Picard's maniacal laughing, and the concept of a warp coil incubating the young of another species.

For my money, I'd have preferred that the episode be about the runabout going for 47 days without anyone on board being aware of it, running out of fuel, and then the crew having to find their way back home. That could have been interesting and it's where I thought it was going. Alas, no. 2 stars.
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Ben
Tue, Jun 19, 2018, 10:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Time's Arrow, Part I

I have a soft spot in my heart for this episode, because I remember when it originally aired and how excited I felt watching it (then the loooong summer wait for part 2). For me, it still holds up quite well on rewatch. The reveal of "Data's head" is fun to see even if you know it's coming. The phase shift in the cave was very well done. When we finally meet the Devidians they (especially the woman) are just the right amount of creepy, and the ivory snake cane is a master touch. I love Star Trek dress-up and time-travel episodes -- Star Trek IV has always been my favorite for that reason -- and I thoroughly enjoyed the crew romping around in 19th Century San Francisco. The Mark Twain character didn't dominate Part I as he did Part II so he was more enjoyable/goofy than annoying in this one.

There are some great lines here, especially early on as the crew tiptoes in comical fashion around Data's death, and Brent Spiner had great comic timing in those scenes, especially "I am also fond of you, Commander." Then there's Troi in the cave -- "There's life here. A child. An old woman. Dozens more. Hundreds. Terrified." And Data in the cave narrating the Devidians' draining of life with scientific precision, which only increases the horror. Picard to Guinan: "I haven't seen such a complex operation since the Academy lab final in exochemistry. " And finally Troi again in the cave, "There is no life here. What I have sensed is more like an imprint. An echo of the last moment of life. Human life. They all died in terror ." These are all great lines and really build the suspense.

Jammer may be right that the episode is "all setup and absolutely no payoff," but when the setup is fun to watch, and the actors seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, who cares? Star Trek -- like most shows -- rises and falls with the characters. In this episode, they're all at their likable best. And for that, plus the suspense and elaborate build-up, I'd give 3.5 stars.
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Ben
Mon, Jun 11, 2018, 8:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Suspicions

This episode is abominable and I can't believe that it actually exists. Along with Rascals, probably the worst TNG episode I can remember. And unlike Rascals (Riker's technobabble extravaganza), it has not a single scene that is remotely enjoyable to watch. I could not care the slightest for any of the characters, for the concept of a shuttle flying into a star's corona, for the murder mystery, for the framing device involving Guinan and voiceovers, and by the end I didn't even care if Beverly (who I usually like) lived or died. I admit that I skipped about 10 minutes of it to preserve my sanity. 0 stars.
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Ben
Thu, Jun 7, 2018, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Schisms

@ Del_Duio

Concur absolutely. It's like having the feelings of nostalgia and discovery all rolled up into one! Puts a smile on my face when it turns out to be a good episode like this one.

@ LaSmelter

Yes I also found Troi to be excellent in this episode, and particularly in the holodeck scene where she really was a conduit for the increasing suspense.
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Ben
Thu, Jun 7, 2018, 10:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: The Chase

When I originally saw this in the first run, I thought as many have mentioned that it should have been a two-parter given the scope and the profound implications, and how hurriedly it seemed to wrap up after the buildup. Now, 25 years later(!), I doubt that the writers could have filled two complete episodes and kept it engaging. BIrthright, anyone? It would have ended up being a bloated mess. As it was, at one episode it stayed pretty suspenseful all the way through. So as you're watching it you don't have time to think all too much about how absurd it all is, as many have mentioned above.

Actually, it seems like this episode is almost a commentary on Roddenberry's utopian ideals by those who took the reins after his death. Here this ancient civilization assumed that only through camaraderie and teamwork could the various species work together to make the "program" work. Instead, it's only through backstabbing, deception, lying in wait, destroying all the life on a planet, blowing up a ship, and killing a professor do they all make it there to the end. In other words, it's as much through conflict as through peace and harmony that advances and discoveries are made. Take that, Gene!

On that note, can someone explain why the fact that the Klingons are harboring and actually deploying some sort of planet-devouring technology is not worthy of serious concern? I mean, that's practically Death Star-like in its implications. Shouldn't the Klingon captain have been apprehended and brought to trial by the Federation for completely destroying all life on a planet? Although then he wouldn't have been around to utter the wonderful "If she were not dead, I would kill her" line, I suppose.

And can someone also please provide an in-universe explanation of how anyone could understand what the Progenitor hologram was saying? Clearly, she wasn't speaking English, or any language known to the universal translator. I mean, are we really not supposed to think about that kind of thing? It's like in Face of the Enemy, did the Romulans imagine that Troi was actually speaking Romulan, rather than English that was being translated into Romulan through technology?

Despite the absurdities, an engaging episode, although it's not more than 3 stars.
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Ben
Thu, Jun 7, 2018, 2:41am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Lessons

I consider this a beautiful episode with tremendous acting performances by Patrick Stewart and the very likeable Wendy Hughes. I was pleasantly surprised that there was no throwaway "B" subplot to throw red meat to those who expect action in every episode, and for that I give the writers a lot of credit. Also for daring to have multiple lengthy scenes where the characters do no more then play music and react to one another, mostly non-verbally. Perhaps it helps to be of a certain age to appreciate the nuances. Picard showed a fragility here, especially when he smiled at Neela's encouragement during the lessons, that really sold the romance.

Of course Neela wasn't going to last more than one episode but it was handled as well as could be expected. At least she wasn't killed off. I'd give this a solid 3.5 stars.
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Ben
Thu, May 24, 2018, 10:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: The First Duty

This episode is outstanding for the reasons that many have eloquently mentioned above. The plot, the acting, and the suspense are superb, as is the "reveal" of the Kolvoord Starburst. But what seals its 4-star status for me is the final scene. When Picard meets Wesley on the campus walkway, you expect him to say something like "I'm proud of you, Wesley" or "You did well back there," and pat him on the back, because the genre requires the status quo be regained at the end of the episode. Instead, Picard retains the same clipped aloofness and formality that he adopted from the moment Wesley said "I choose not to answer, sir" earlier in the episode. He offers no assurances or consolation. Instead, he deals in consequences: "It's not going to be easy staying here on campus, everyone knowing what you did. You have difficult times ahead." He tells Wesley that he won't be graduating with his class with an undertone of "you deserved worse." Tellingly, Picard's last line is "Good-bye, Cadet," not "Good-bye, Wesley," and they depart with a stiff handshake. This is a mature episode with a mature ending.
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Ben
Thu, May 24, 2018, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Schisms

Although I'd watched most of the first-run episodes in high school and college and nostalgically rewatched most through Netflix/Amazon the last couple of years, I believe I'd missed Schisms completely so watching it today was a real treat, especially as I'd assume any episode I'd missed to this point must have been awful.

I'd have to give this one 3.5 stars. The writing is excellent -- first, actually constructing two poems in strict meters that are so exactly what you would imagine Data writing is by no means a straightforward task. Second, the holodeck scene as many have pointed out is absolutely gripping in its building horror, both acted and directed to perfection, and in my opinion is one of the standout scenes of TNG. Worf's scene with Mot the Barber (an unexpected recurring character) was hilarious.

I thought Jonathan Frakes was outstanding, and as a fan of the much-maligned Marina Sirtis, her Counselor Troi more than held her own, especially in the holodeck scene. I'd also point out that I enjoyed what to me was an unspoken red herring -- Ensign Kaminer (I looked it up), the "newcomer" joining the ship's senior crew as a victim of the abductions. Think MacDuff in Conundrum. I kept waiting for her to tip her hand, because I remembered that she was also at the poetry reading -- seemed a little too much screen time for an unintroduced crewmember.

It's just unfortunate that Braga felt the need to end the episode with a race-against-time-or-enterprise-gets-destroyed plot device. It was really unnecessary, just as in last week's Relics. In Relics, can't we just enjoy the Dyson Sphere without the Enterprise nearly being liquidated by the stellar core? Here, can't we just enjoy the creepy aliens and mysterious abuctions (if you get my meaning) without the subspace field nearly causing a hull breach? And why isn't Picard ordering that the saucer section be jettisoned if the ship is really that close to being ripped to shreds?

But I've learned not to judge a TNG episode too harshly by the last five minutes, given the constraints of the genre. 3.5 stars for me.
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Ben Ramsey
Wed, May 9, 2018, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Blink of an Eye

Everyone has missed the most glaring "plot hole" of all, one that unfortunately makes the entire story impossible I think, or at least very problematic. If the planet experiences a day in the time the outside universe, from low orbit and beyond, experiences one second, then the planet would be spinning at a whirling rate. Voyager would look down and see the planet spinning super fast, all the way around once per second, like a basketball rolling along the ground. But presumably the actual revolution of the planet around its star (for the year) is normal. This means the seasons would not appear accelerated from Voyager's point of view as they did near the beginning of the episode, and from the surface, seasons would actually be 900 years apart, taking 3600 years to fully orbit the star (if it's similar to earth). More importantly, how would light work? How would light from the star reach the planet's surface? There is only so much energy being output from the star, and it would be spread out 1/3600th its normal intensity. It would be basically night always, nothing could grow, the planet would be an iceball, no civilization, no story. Or perhaps the star is actually a large super-giant star, which we know can be at least 1500 times larger than our sun, but in that case Voyager would have noticed the unusually large bright star with a planet orbiting too closely, and the astronauts would be instantly cooked and fried with radiation and heat as soon as they got into orbit.

It's best they ignored this issue, it would be too extreme to try to portray it.

I actually have a bigger problem personally - the civilization would have DEFINITELY discovered the time lag issue with the normal space program development. It's impossible that the first launch of an orbital object would be an advanced manned mission to Voyager. There would be satellites (sputnik?) and other test flights. From the ground, a rocket would go up and up, then the rocket would suddenly freeze it's relative velocity, painted in the sky along with the sun, moon, stars, and Voyager, all relatively motionless to each other. Over the next several years the ground could observe the rocket relatively inching closer and closer to Voyager.

Oh well, it's all a bit heady stuff, and way too hard sci-fi for Star Trek. I still liked the episode, and the fact that it made me even think of stuff like this is a plus in my book.
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Ben Brode
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 11:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S1: Code of Honor

I couldn't bring myself to finish this episode. On top of the overt racism (which is undeniable), the plot is extremely boring. We get a Tasha Yar episode, and let's face it, she's not really capable of leading an episode by herself.

I think her "strong woman" role is too overplayed and just feels a little awkward, especially when Lutan covets her because of her strength.
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ben sisko
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 7:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

“So as I understand it, the whole plot of solving the cloaking secret and getting back from the MU was (to reference KT's correct observation) yet another shaggy dog episode that meant nothing”

Lorca used the crew’s desire to beat the Klingon cloak to get back to his universe. Those multi-jumps and scans allowed him to find a viable path to the MU. So, it was a relevant part to his story, as it showed how much he could con the Discovery. By the time Starfleet finally got the cloaking secret, it was too late for it to turn the tide of the war, even if it helped a little. This was addressed last episode.
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ben sisko
Mon, Jan 29, 2018, 8:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

Guys, Sarek didn’t have a goatee in the trailer. The only MU character brought over was Georgiou.
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Ben E.
Fri, Jan 26, 2018, 5:41pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Someone to Watch Over Me

Some of this episode fell off into the land of corniness, but everything involving the ambassador was absolutely hilarious. The duet was cringy, but otherwise the dating lessons felt natural. Definitely up there for me. Relatable and melancholy ending.
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Ben E.
Fri, Jan 26, 2018, 12:38am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Course: Oblivion

Biggest problem with this episode: The copies can't breathe oxygen (see Demon). You'd think doc woulda noticed that.
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