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Thu, Jan 21, 2010, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S4: The Plan

"Send in the Cavil-ry"? ROTFL

I for one thoroughly enjoyed Razor, and from your review, Jammer, it sounds like I will enjoy The Plan, too.

Unfortunately, I'll probably have to wait for the DVD or watch a visually sub-par version of it on youtube, because so far German TV hasn't even aired Razor or the final season of BSG, let alone the webisodes or the Caprica prequel. I don't have much hope that they'll ever show Razor here, which raises the question if they'll ever do a German dub of it at all. Which presents a problem once the Big Box of The Ultimate BSG Collection arrives on the market (and we all know it will one day) they'll never sell it here on the German market if all the extras and spin-offs haven't been dubbed.

Now, personally, I have no problem with watching BSG in English, but my husband prefers to watch it in German. (I have watched the first three seasons both in English and later in German as well, and I must say fortunately the German dub and the choice of voice-actors was very well executed. Other series, like i.e. Heroes, fare much worse.)
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Sun, Sep 20, 2009, 8:14am (UTC -5)
Re: Four Series and the Trek Ideology

Brilliant article. I wonder though, if your'd written this article some years alter, what your analysis of Enterprise would have been, how you would have fitted that series into the greater Trek mythology.

As for Deep Space Nine, don't forget cynical ex-spy Garak the Carcassian and his many discussions about human literature and conflicting worldviews with the station's idealistic (and in the beginning sometimes rather naive) Dr. Bashir.
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Sun, Sep 6, 2009, 11:48am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: Awakening

The sad part is, the writers could've used the Katra plot to move some other, previously underused character into the spotlight instead of making Archer the extra-special guy again.

What if Mayweather or Hoshi or Malcolm Reed had crossed the desert along with T'Pol, or along with T'Pol and Archer if the captain absolutely has to be there, and Surak's Katra had been transferred to one of them?
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Sun, Sep 6, 2009, 11:41am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: Kir'Shara

They should've kicked out Archer and renamed this series The Soval and Shran Show. ;-)

Season 4 still had some shaky parts, but it was a huge improvement over the previous three seasons of Enterprise.
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Sun, Sep 6, 2009, 11:14am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: Awakening

We should start an Enteprise/Temporal War/Iraq War drinking game. ;-)

"The Xindi attack on Earth changed everything." Drink!
"You traverse vast wastelands based on false information." Drink!
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Sun, Sep 6, 2009, 11:07am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: The Forge

Spock's pet Sehlat was first mentioned by his mother in the TOS episode "Journey to Babel".

I loved this episode. Tighly plotted, insight on Vulcan society etc. Just one thing makes me cringe: Why God why does it have to be dumb *Archer* who gets Surak's katra transfered into his mind?? Archer? Are you kidding me, writers?
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Sun, Sep 6, 2009, 10:55am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: The Expanse

This episode marks the post-9-/11 spot when the writers tried to turn Archer into George W. Bush, striding along in a flightsuit with a mouthful of righteous anger phases and a stuffed codpiece. "Whatever it takes."?

Seriously, what marred the emotional impact of the episode for me was the fact that the Xindi arrive to attack Earth and of course they attack the former United States! Because presumably US-American viewers wouldn't give a damn if the Xindi laser had cut through India or Japan or Turkey instead of Florida? I can see the Xindi attacking the northern hemisphere because there's more landmasses there than in the southern one, but the question remains: Why did they aim so badly? Seriously, if I had crossed half the galaxy to test out my prototype(!) weapon on another species' planet without warning and start a war with them, I would make damn sure I aimed at the most populated areas, instead of slicing through water half of the time and then flying away again. Alright, so they got Florida. Apparently the Xindi came to Earth to wage war on manatees.

You might say the Xindi got their pre-emptive war in a bit early. But if you want to wipe out a species (including all their offplanet colonies) you better try a biological agent instead of slicing and dicing the planetary crust. So this was a stupid move, obviously designed to make the Xindi into targets.

Let me go on a little rant here: As a German viewer i'm somewhat miffed that every time you see Earth from space in an American series or movie (Battlestar Galactica, Enterprise, you name it) you *always* see the North American continent displayed instead of any other part of Earth.

Just as the Mercator maps of Earth hanging in American schools are different from the one hanging in European schools, as far as I know (I may be wrong, but I've seen such maps on TV). In the US, the Americas are placed in the centre of the map, meaning that Asia is cut in two and stuck at the left and right edge, while in European atlases the Greenwich zero meridian running through Europe and Africa is in the middle of the map, with the whole of Asia, India, Australia etc to the East and the Americas to the West, and the Pacific dateline bisecting the Pacific ocean on both edges of the map, like this:
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Sun, Sep 6, 2009, 10:01am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek (2009)

I liked it. Despite the fact that it's yet another time travel story. Despite the fact that the many many plotholes could have been avoided with just a bit of thought.[*] Despite the fact that some of the more cringeworthy scenes (most of them in conenction with new-Scotty) were obviously just there for "comedic value".

But dammit, I liked the characters! I liked the actors, too. (Except, why didn't the producers try and cast someone for Sulu who looked a bit less ugly and a bit more like the young George Takei? Oh well.)

I can even overlook that they shot in a brewery, or the question why the Enterprise has a hall full of pipes filled with water that are only there to set up the lame "gag" with Scotty nearly drowning. Eh.

But for the first time in a long time, this Trek movie felt... alive. What it means to be part of the Star Fleet elite corps. What it means to look up to the stars and dream about boldly going out into Space. What it means to mingle peacefully with alien species.

Destroying planet Vulcan (seriously, it was a time travel story, I did expect them to press a reset button!) was a bold move. I just hope the producers asnd writers follow up to it in the sequels by inspecting the ramifications on the new timeline, instead of dropping the topic by the wayside as if nothing has happened. In that latter case, the destruction of Vulcan would have just been a cheap plot device for shock effect. I'll wait and see.

AS for an above poster saying that a Kirk who drove a car into a canyon when he was twelve does not make officer material... I disagree. Even in the old timelike, Kirk had always been a maverick, a rebel. But in TOS, we first met him when he was already over thirty and an established captain. This time around we got to see him as a teenager and a young man, with Captain Pike having to fill the role model role for him instead of his biological father.

It reminds me of the TNG episode "Tapestry", when Q offered Picard to rewrite Picard's own history, giving him the chance avoiding all the stupid things he had done as a young man... but as a result, the Picard in the new timeline never took risks, he was never given command responsibilities, he never became "officer material" despite having all the memories of his older self.

All the characters were younger (seventeen year old Chekov! heh), more immature (James Kirk) or more emotionally torn and rough around the edges (Spock), but you could see the persons they will eventually (hopefully) mature into. I am confident the writers will not let us down in that regard.

The movie could have been much better plotwise, but the actors were good and the CGI looked neat.

([*]Seriously, I'm a roleplayer and gamemaster and it took me only like 10 minutes to rewrite the plot in my mind so as to make it a more coherent and logical. If I can do it, why can't the paid scriptwriters??)
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Sun, Sep 6, 2009, 9:22am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

After I hit Send on my above comment I realized I had allowed the Archer-apologizers to frame the discussion in a way that narrows it down to a single topic: interference vs non-interference.

Now, while the script writers do their best to pretend that this episode is about the origin of the Prime Directive, it really isn't.

The whole idea of the Prime Directive is about not interfering in the CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT of a LESS technologically advanced species. But as Hecktar stated above: "Cultural contamination is moot since the Valakians had contact with two warp civilization prior to the enterprise."

What Archer and Phlox refused to "interfere" with here is their idea of the BIOLOGICAL "destiny" of the Valakians.

Furthermore, if Archer and Phlox were so determined to *not* interfere with alien cultures, they should have said "Sorry, won't." and warped-speeded away right after their contact with the Valakian representatives asking for their help. But they didn't.

Instead, Archer and Phlox initially promised the Valakians to try and help them. They went down to the planet. They interacted with the natives. Phlox started medical testing. He started working on a cure.

The whole bogus ethical dilemma started only when
1) Phlox announced that the disease is a species-wide genetical plot device.
2) Phlox encounters the Menk (or rather, a few individuums) and immediately makes three dubious claims:
a) That two sentient species cannot peacefully coexist on the same planet without the more technologically advanced wiping out the other one (despite the fact this hasn't obviously happened there), and
b) That the Menk *as a species* are getting more intelligent (compared to what?) because some trained individuums can function on the level of parrots.
c) That the Valakians are meant to die out so that the Menk can fulfill their preordained destiny.

At which point Archer and Phlox declare the Valakians obsolete and interfere on the side of the Menk.

When the episode was over, I remember viciously hoping the reason we had never seen Denobulans in Kirk's time was that the whole species had died out from incest and arrogance.
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Sun, Sep 6, 2009, 7:53am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

"Archer is right. He is not there to interfere. It's not his place to jugde on who lives and who dies."

Sorry, Jack, but that is nonsense. It's a cowardly excuse. By refusing to help despite being ASKED for help, Archer and Phlox have already made a judgement on who will die. They could have easily refered the decision to their higher-ups or to the Vulcan Science Council, but they didn't. They had a cure, but they decided to hold it back for reasons that are wholly religious and based on ridiculous bogus biology. Legally, that is failure to render assistance, despite there being no risk to themselves!

If you are asked for help by a diabetic woman who desperately needs a shot of insulin, and you have insulin but refuse to give it to her because you think God decided for her to die, or that her underage child is more worthy and would upon her death inherit all her money, and she subsequently dies as a result of your decision, I'm pretty sure that would be considered manslaughter or even murder. And causing a whole race and civilisation to die is genocide.

The Prime Directive, which didn't even exist at this point in time yet, only states that Star Fleet is not supposed to interfere in non-warp cultures which, and this is important, are not aware of the existence of other space-faring cultures Out There. This especially refers to things like intra-cultural wars, that is wars the race is waging among themselves between different nations for example, or to things like natural catastrophes.

Once a race is aware that there are "aliens" out there who can help them, however, Star Fleet is allowed to swoop in and save them with their advanced technology, because it is assumed that cultural contact has already been made.

Archer and Phlox were not asked to interfere in a territorial or cultural dispute or war between the Valakians and the Menk. Phlox was asked to give medical assistance and refused for reasons that do not hold up either scientifically nor ethically, and Archer went along with it.

Archer could have told others about the disease and extinction the Valakians face. As far as I remember, he didn't. Some hero.
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Thu, Aug 27, 2009, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Because Vulcans force pregnant women to give birth on stone slabs in dark caves.... because that's totally logical. Right. (sarcasm!)
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Thu, Aug 27, 2009, 11:39pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Definitely the worst movie of the franchise to date. A half-star movie.

The Spock-birth scene alone would be a reason to kill this movie dead, talk about a horrible mis-characterizations of Spock's parents.
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Mon, Aug 10, 2009, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Addendum to my posting(s) above:

If the script writers really wanted an episode that explored the need for developing the Prime Directive, they could easily have taken the premise (two sentient species sharing the same planet and civilisation, the technologically dominant species is threatened with extinction by a disease) and twisted it in a variety of more interesting ways:

1) Give the quasi-religious conviction voiced by Phlox and Archer to the Valakians. They are faced with extinction and most of them believe this is their Destiny or the will of their God(s) and that their souls will be reborn in the "primitive but strong" Menk species. A minority of "heretics" disagrees and sends pleas for help into Space in the hopes of attracting an advances alien race.

Phlox comes up with a cure, and Archer has to decide if he wants to intervene, if he has the moral authority to intervene, or even the diplomatic ability to convince these people.

2) The Menk and Valakians are equally intelligent, but for some reason the Menk are still stuck in a bronze age or stone age society... either because the Valakians didn't want to intervene in their social development, or because the Valakians have only recently discovered the region of a far-away continent where the Menk live, or because the Menk tribal elders shun all technology as foreign and fear the danger of assimilation. Contact with the Valakians on the other hand has brought advantages to a few less xenophobic Menk tribes, such as trade, medicine, artificial wells, better nutrition and the idea of peaceful coexistence. But the more xenophobic of the Menk see the Valakian's disease as a divine sign that the Valakians are supposed by divine providence to die out and the Menk are supposed to inherit all their nifty techno toys.
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Mon, Aug 10, 2009, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Two Days and Two Nights

An "entertaining" episode? Three stars??
Frankly, I had to stop myself from falling asleep during this big pile of nothing. Jammer, you're far too lenient on these episodes.

There's a reason a Two Days and Two Nights recap is featured in The Worst of Trek section of the Agony Booth.
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Mon, Aug 10, 2009, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

[Correction: That sentence should have read: "...nor will the continued existence of the Valakians stop the Menk from getting more intelligent..."
I thought I had caught all the typos, but obviously I didn't.]
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Mon, Aug 10, 2009, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Zero stars from me, too.
Oren Ashkenazi, David Key, SimonC, Bertie and Hecktar have already brought up many of the points I was about to make.

You'd hope that Science Fiction writers have at least a basic grip of the natural sciences, but Star Trek writers seem to lack even that. We the audience accept the basic premise of faster than light travel and transporter technology as part of the background setting. No problem with that. But Star Trek writers seem to have a special problem grasping even the fundamentals of genetics and the Theory of evolution through genetic variation and natural selection (for thr sake of brevity, I won't get into the topics of epigenetics, proteomics and lateral gene-transfer here). Over the years Trek writers have produced a number of groanworthy "fun with DNA" episodes that had more in common with creationism than sound science. But this episode takes the cake.

David wrote:
"If nothing else, that's a sign that the cast and writers did their job."

No, if the writers had "done their job", these points of discussion would've been brought up by the characters within the episode! Instead, Archer and Phlox are in total agreement. Worse, why are Cpt. Archer and general physician Phlox the ones to make a decision on which hinges the survival of a whole sentient species? Why not call a number of Earth and Vulcan geneticists for help?

It's another false ethical dilemma, dreamt up for the sake of cheap drama.

Worse, Phlox starts from a number of wonky premises. First of all, he simply proclaims that two sentient species cannot coexist on the same planet, or as Jammer put it: "in a typical case of the evolutionary process with two distinct species, one group would've likely wiped the other out long ago". What?? The writers have obviously never heard about co-evolution.

After observing a handful of Menk individuums working in a Valakian household for a few minutes, Phlox comes to the questionable conclusion that the Menk as a species are getting smarter. (Raising the question of how Dear Doctor Phlox measures "intelligence".)

He then proclaims that for some unexplained reason he's 100% certain that Mother Nature is just waiting to make the Menk a fully intelligent species, but the Valakians are in the way of the Menk "realizing their full potential". Again, this is nonsense. (Please note that the writers never try to claim that the Valakians enslaved the Menk.)

We're supposed to feel warm charitable feelings towards the poor semi-intelligent Menk. But the Menk will not die out if the Valakians survive, not will the existance of the Valakians stop the Menk for getting more intelligent... because it hasn't done so up to now!

Furthermore, none of the characters in the episode ever voices the hypothesis that maybe the reason why some Menk are getting smarter (if indeed they do) is because co-evolution and interaction with the more intelligent Valakians is accelerating the development of their brains. On a genetic level, maybe the Valakians select those Menk as household pets that already show a high degree of intelligence, and these Menk become sought-after partners among the other Menk, plus a Menk child born in a Valakian household will have a greater chance not to die in infancy from some disease or malnutrician than those born "in the wild".

More importantly, brains are not static but highly adaptive. Menk living and working in a Valakian household come in contact with completely different stimuli than Menk living among their own. They hear the Valakian language, and have to learn to understand what the Valakians want of them, and in turn learn to make themselves understood. They are trained to work with technology. Adaptive pressure influences brain development. On the other hand, a brain that is not subjected to stimuli becomes retarded, as has been demonstrated both on animals and human case studies.

Furthermore, modern medicine is a product of intelligence. Denying te Valakians medical help is like denying surgery to someone with a burst appendix by claiming that his appendicitis proves that he is "genetically inferior" and should die already.
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Thu, Jul 23, 2009, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Past Prologue

"Btw, is it just me or does Garak seem to be hitting on Dr. Bashir from the get go (...)?"

It's not just you. ;-) Bashir is so adoringly nervous during their first meeting, he acts like a blushing virgin girl, and yet he seems fascinated by Garak's charm and intimations of sinister secrets.

I see Garak and Bashir as the one great tragic love story of DS9, because they ended up apart, each one bitter and traumatized by their respective war experiences.
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Fri, Jul 17, 2009, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

I disliked both Insurrection and Nemesis, for various reasons, although they had two things in common: It felt like the scriptwriters had turned these movies into The Picard & Data Show.

And, like so many of Voyager's alien villains, the villains of Insurrection and Nemesis fall back into the tired old stereotype of "ugly = evil" (at least for male villains, for female villains it's "sexually aggressive = evil"). I expect something more enlightened from Star Trek. Voyager had pizza-faced, diseased aliens who stole people's organs, Insurrection had stretchy-faced aliens who plotted to steal people's life energy, and now Nemesis had the Remans, vampire-bat-faced psychic rapists who turn people to dust by death magic, sorry, by some energy field WMD. At least it creates a pretty green light show before it kills you.

The problem with Nemesis is IMO that its plot is all over the place, as if the writers tried to stuff the script with as many plotlines as they could find. The movie starts solidly with the terrorist attack on the Romulan Senate and the overthrow of their government. From those first scenes, I expected the movie to be about a Romulan civil war, in which Picard (and maybe Ambassador Spock) would serve as a neutral party and diplomat, given that TNG and DS9 had established that Spock had been on undercover diplomatic mission on Romulus and that the (now dead) Romulan government had entered a peace treaty with the Federation during the Dominion War.

But then the movie introduced the Data/B-4 storyline; and the plot about the Remans fighting to throw off the shackles of slavery (which could have been interesting if it had gone anywhere); and then it topped it up with the introduction of an evil psycho clone of Picard, one of the most overrated villains around and a character we had never met before and would never see again because it was clear he would be dead by the end of the movie. By that time, the plot about the coup d'etat and assassination of the Romulan senate was all but forgotten, and the main villain was a pasty-faced human.

This wasn't a story about Romulans any more, not even about the Remans and how their culture had been warped by the arrival of the Romulan overlords millenia ago when the proto-Romulans had left Vulcan and colonised the twin worlds. No, it was all about Shinzon's crazy parental issues and his fixation on Picard. Suddenly, Shinzon didn't want to wipe out the Romulans, which would at least have made some sense, no, he tried attacking Earth, which made no sense at all, given that the Federation might have willing to help the Remans achieve political equality.

The movie didn't even work as a dark psychological thriller or as a character study of Picard, because I found I couldn't care for Shinzon's childish tantrums and Picard kept acting out-of-character. The director was trying too hard to re-invent Picard, a character I had always respected for his wisdom and cool-headedness, as an action hero.
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