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Dan L.
Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 9:00pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Friendship One

"[The urge to explore] can't justify the loss of lives.... whether it's millions, or just one."

@Tim Smith

I would like to understand your reasoning, as you've reached a conclusion about what Janeway meant, that is different than the one Jammer and I seem to have reached.
She is holding the nacelle of the model ship Lt. Carey had almost completed when she says "or just one." In that context it seems clear to me she is referring to Carey - and not some hypothetical member of the public who inadvertently gets in harm's way inadvertently dies as a result. The entire dialog exchange between Janeway and Chakotay was about Carey. It seems to me that she is saying exploration is not worth it, if that exploration kills millions, or only kills Carey (just one).

Who would the other "just one" be? I don't believe any innocent civilians were killed in this episode. Alien lives had been lost due to the presumed mishandling or misreading of the probe's schematics, but that was long before Voyager visited the planet. Those aliens arguably were "innocent civilians," but the final scene did not seem to characterize what their ancestors did as "space exploration." (In any event, more than one alien died in the accident).
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Dan L.
Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 7:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Friendship One

Ten years later I have revisited my comment and have one more observation:
Voyager had a number of episodes that ended with characters practically speaking in whispers to each other in darkly-lit rooms ("Prototype" is another that comes to mind). You know you're in for some bad writing when these scenes start to play
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Dan L.
Sun, Feb 28, 2016, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Vengeance Factor

Not a great episode, but does have that classic Worf line: "Your ambushes would be more successful if you bathed more often!" Funniest Worf line in the whole series
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Dan L.
Tue, Jan 26, 2016, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Great review, Jammer!
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Dan L.
Sat, Nov 9, 2013, 6:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Savage Curtain

So, what did the rock creature learn about good and evil by episode's end? Nothing - zero-which also describes the amount of watchable content this offers.
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Dan L
Sat, Jul 13, 2013, 9:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

@ Dom: although I do know what a rate of return is, you may be right in that more than a handful of previous star trek movies had a higher rate of return than this one did. I do not know what movies 1 through 8 made overseas and cannot find this info online... if you know of a site that would be great. I don't know what the studios want and don't know if THEY know what they want in terms of budget/quantity. I mnknow little to nothing about Hollywood accounting-the real, actual accounting. I do know that the industry can be quite good at deluding itself into thinking it is giving the public what it wants. More than one studio executive has stated that studio research shows that moviegoers "love" the jalf-hour's worth of commercials moviegoers must sit through. I would love to see that research.
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Dan L
Sat, Jul 13, 2013, 9:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

I must confess, all snark aside, but I was not paying particular attention to the the semiotic properties and qualities of STID because I was too enraged that the movie did not follow the Aristorelian unities (a concept which I only found out about when I googled the phrase "are there any rulers for good drama?"). Aristotle's Poetics dictated that a successful drama must have the unities of place (take place in one location), time (must take place essentially over a year) and action (must have as close to zero subplots as possible).

Thankfully, modern folks understand that good drama (or, merely entertaining drama which is all that STID wants to be-and I believe it achieves at that modest goal) need not be limited by such artificial restraints. Likewise, people know that not every action in a film that is taken by a character must be directly motivated by a specific, on-screen exchange of dialog telling us why the character took the action, lest the action be criticized as a "plot hole."
To take an example: near the end of the movie, Spock states to Kirk something along the lines of ...."because you are my friend," to explain the motivation for a prior action. Some would argue that if, before this line of dialogue, there was no line of dialogue that directly established the friendship, the friendship did not exist and the utterance of the word "friend"by Spock is evidence of poor writing, poor character motivation, or constitutea a plot hole, etc.

I respectfully submit that the friendship could have been "properly" dramatically developed (and that it was) by other devices in the movie- devices that had the cumulatifwle effect of allowing us to imply or infer a friendship. Devices such ad ACTIONS taken that allowed the audience to realize there was a friendship. Whether this movie contained poor characterizations and plot holes is a matter of debate because just as there is no fixed definition of Star Trek, there is no fixed definition of the ingredients needed to create good "character motivation.". Unless, that is, if you subscribe to a specific theory like Aristotle's, in which case, please feel free to share with all commenters here the elements of that theory.

Also, there were certainly times when this movie was illogical and dumb. For an illogical, dumb action movie that contained a fair amount of trash, though, STID was pretty good. Find me an action movie that you think had no or few plot holes and I will tear it apart, just as you can tear apart one I would name (actually, I would not name one because it is a fool's exercis. Shakespeare himself was criticized for having the nerve to use the deux ex machina plot device).

As the late film critic Pauline Karl stated in her famous essay, "Trash, Art and the Movies," (Google it, it is an ezcellent read): "I've never trusted the instincts of people who claim they were born with such good taste in movies that they did not first have to wade their way through trash to get to "art," meaning that if one cannot or will not look for or appreciate simple entertainment value in a movie, why is that person bothering to go to the movies in the first place?


If you think that STID has no entertainmnent value, by all means, that is your right, and that is an argument you can make - with facts and reasoning and by evaluating what is actually there on the screen. I can/have/would/will do this, can't you?

BTW, Miss Karl praised TWOK and in the opening line of her review called out "wonderful, dumb fun.! That is exactly how I would describe movies 2 and 12 myself
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dan l
Sun, May 19, 2013, 6:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

@Matt- Thanks for the fact-specific rebuttal to many of the criticisms aimed at this movie. I think that the first question that needs to be asked when criticizing a movie or TV show is "was this entertaining in some way?" "Did it engage my interest?" If a movie fails to do this, it probably will not be a very good movie, let alone a good quote "Star Trek" movie. Ifa person only ooccipies himself with the question of "Is this a good Star Trek movie?" (Whatever that means; what Star Trek "is" is a question to which there can be multiple and even inconsistent answers) Or "Does this movie feel like StarTrek?", cchances are the person will not get around to the "entertaining" question. I find that sad, because preoccupation with the latter two questions can cause q person to refuse to be entertained. I think-I believe-that whatever thing Star Trek is about, or ""stands for," it, at its best, goes about it in an entertaining way. how good did thisnmovie measure up as entertainment? Enough to allow me to say it was worth at least part if the ticket price. That ought to count for something.
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dan l
Sun, Mar 31, 2013, 4:50pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: All Good Things...

Watching this episode brought me to tears 19 years ago and so has reading this review just now, knowing it will be Jammer's last for a star trek episode. Thanks for all of the great years of great reviews,.Jammer. as Q said, and is indeed true, "All good things must come to an end." See you....out there...
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Dan L.
Sat, Dec 15, 2012, 5:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

Hi Jammer,

"Masks" wasn't so bad it was good. "Masks" wasn't so bad it was bad. It provided not a shred of entertainment value, was mind-numbingly vacuous, and committed the cardinal sin of being unforgivably boring. No other episode of any "Trek" series has managed to hit this trifecta so well - or so poorly.
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Dan L
Mon, Sep 3, 2012, 11:19am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Suspicions

Also, not that anyone is counting, but this is the SECOND time in season six that Crusher's ordering an autopsy against a family/culture's wishes is used as a major plot point (the other time being in that other keeper of an episode, "Man of the People". I guess there is one difference between the two episodes: In "Suspicions", we do not know who the killer is, and we do not care. In "Man of the People", we DO know who the killer is, and we do not care). How tired.
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Dan L.
Mon, Sep 3, 2012, 11:15am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Suspicions

Jeremy Short-in coming up with your (possible explanation) for why the guest characters were shalow, why the regulars were a bit off, etc., you obviously have showed much more thought than the writer did in concocting this episode.

In my opinion, the writing was just tired. You have the lame flashback plot, the tired introduction of characters about whom we could care less, and a lacklustre mystery that in the end underwhelms because we are given no clues that would give us some kind of investment in the story's resolution.

Also, re: Guinan - this wsan't just a sad swan song for the character. This was the first time where there was absolutely ZERO point to having Guinan on the show. Guinan was there for one reason: so Beverly could relate information about what brought her up to the point at which we saw her at the beginning of the episode. a "Medical Log" series of entries could have done the same thing...

Dull, dull, dull
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Dan L
Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 1:00am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Man of the People

Ian-

This episode provides several moments of unintentional hilarity. The opening scene, with the old woman screaming at Troi.

Ambassador Alkar stating, matter-of-factly, that "most of my receptacles last longer than this...."

Picard's response, with proper English accent: "rrrrrrrrrrrreceptacles!"

And then the talk Picard has with the Ambassador about how the Ambassador's desire to clear his head of negative thoughts does not justify "brrrrrrrrrrutalizing her [Troi]." (The whole notion that a mediator can only be effective without having to deal with all those messy background emotions is patent nonsense, if you think about it - which is more than the writers did). The notion that the Federation would grant the Ambassador immunity from prosecution even if he killed someone is likewise idiotic.

And then Dr. Crusher stating something to the effect of "We haven't got long... He may find another receptacle" (what are the odds she would use the Ambassador's ludicrous description of the people he used to "flood with psychic waste" (another hilarious line).

And then the Ambassador gets his traveling companion to undergo the "receptacle" ceremony with him in such a hurried manner that if she had half a brain she'd realize the guy was a lunatic.....

Unfortunately, the moments of hilarity (even the intentional one with Ensign Janeway) do not make up for the fact that this episode is essentially on auto-pilot, with no sense of urgency, poor line readings and complete illogic (how can a mediator empathize with either side if he refuses to invoke any feelings from which to draw upon?)
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Dan L again
Fri, Aug 5, 2011, 11:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Survivors

I'm looking back at my comments from July 27, 2008. Still feel the same way about the scene with Guinan and Picard. I didn't pass the exam then, but did pass, finally, and was admitted this year. The episode was in my thoughts for the two days where things worked out.

Jammer, you are quite right that "The Survivors" is an unsung gem. To me, the greatest mystery about the episode is why it is unsung.

The acting: The acting was the best it has ever been on TNG (the story somehow gains a bizarre poignancy by the fact that John Anderson and Anne Haney are now both gone). The final scene between Picard and Kevin - the direction, acting, writing, lensing, staging, sound and lighting came together to produce two perfect minutes of television.

The staging: Often it is said that a script's level of ambition counts for little if the level of execution is found wanting. "The Survivors" was an enormously ambitious episode whose execution matched the ambition.

The mystery and build-up of suspense: A mystery is only as good as is how good the placement of clues are throughout the story. Although the ending of course was a "Twilight Zone"-whoa type of ending (one wishes that Rod Serling, who had denigrated the original Star Trek, had been alive to see it, as it was as well-written as anything Serling came up with), when one rewatches the episode, one realizes that it played fair and did not cheat, in much the way "The Sixth Sense" played fair.

The intangibles: The moment where Picard informs the Uxbridges that Troi's mind is gradually being destroyed is followed by Richad's saying, plantively, "Kevin.... no...." in a voice that suggests controlled anger, frustration and fear all at once... so many nice little touches like that. The story was essentially free of contrivances and plot gimmicks, did not have to rely on pyrotechnics to compensate for lacklustre direction (which BBW Pt.1, as great as it was, did).

Great character drama, great action, seeking out new life (something TNG rarely did), thought-provoking... what more could a fan want?

Apparently the answer is "The Inner Light." That episode, although great, was nothing more (and less, i suppose) than a terrific example of audience manipulation and an attempt to manufacture poignancy that should have (and did come from, to some degree) come from the characters, not from the music or the speechifying. In this episode, one could feel the gears grinding. "The Survivors" unfolded so naturally, with such elegance and grace, as to, I am afraid to suggest, be simply too "reserved" to be considered great. And that's a shame. The episode is as fine as ANY hour of TNG.
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Dan L
Mon, May 9, 2011, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Dawn

What struck me about this episode was how.... grungy and poorly lit it was. Perhaps the visual ugliness was meant to obscure how thin the plot was...

Vrey little happens in this episode. It is formulaic and pedestrian..... and for some reason, it moves SOOOO slowly. That would not have been such a problem had there been a compelling storyline to be found, but since there was none to be found, the episode just plods...

I also never believed that Trip and the alient were REALLY able to communicate with each other. One or the other managed to pick up on a few "choice" words spoken by the other, but it was astoninshing that Trip kept speaking in English over and over and somehow hoped the more vociferous he became the more likely the alien was to hear it.

In Darmok, we believed that the characters gradually came to understand each other. The "understanding" in this episode is a pre-ordained plot contrivance.

That, plus the fact that most ofmthe episode was a thudding bore, makes this a 1 and 1/2 star entry in my book
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Dan L
Sun, Oct 18, 2009, 6:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Friendship One

I agree with Jammer overall about this episode. While Janeway's "not worth a single life" preposterous closing line is not just its pedestrian, hypocritical stupidity (her entire existence is a walking repudiation of that line), there is something much more wrong about it.

That something is an example of what Jammer and others have accurately described as the fatal twin flaws of Star Trek: total lack of continuity in storytelling, and its (related) cousin of total disregard for character consistency (or for character generally). Regarding flaw #1, how many times has Janeway learned (or more accurately, have the writers preached) the virtues of space exploration even if it means putting lives in danger? I'm reminded of the episode "Random Thoughts." Seven tells Janeway in that episode (the one where the crew explores a planet where violent thought is punished by engrammatic memory purge) that if Janeway's goal is to get home, she is pursuing it in a most efficient manner. Says Seven, "You constantly impose your own obstacles toward achieving that goal by this process of exploration, borne of a desire, you say, to learn more about aliens and increase your knowledge base. Well, if you're going to be inefficient and make a detour to every planet you visit for the sake of learning more about people, maybe you should at least try learning about what their laws are in advance (i.e. because of your failure to learn these laws, B'Elanna's life is now at stake.) Janeway, knowing that her exploring this planet may cost B'Elanna's single life, intones, "We don't explore space because we have to - we do it because we WANT to." An unabashed, ignorant, and evasive declaration extolling the virtues of space exploration. Such delcarations (and attendant acts) were made throughout the show, ad nauseum, in the seven years leading up to this episode and in the few thereafter. Again, the lessons of those episodes - "space exploration is good" (see, e.g., "One Little Ship" are thrown out the window, good one day only, no one learns anything from them, because, why, in the next self-contained episode, with a similar premise, the writers decide, just for the sake of it, to have a character arbitrarily draw a contradictory conclusion. Total inattentiveness to storytelling consistency. Which, of course, automatically results in (yes, flaw #2, 12:00 high, coming fast) characters behaving internally inconsistently. How can we even say, in a sense, that Janeway's comment is stupid, when the writers haven't even made any attempt to make her a smart individual in the first place by having her act consistently in response to similar situations (or by having her act inconsistently, but explaining the reasons for her doing so) in the first place? To paraphrase Lewis Carroll, if someone has tried to make you believe six implausible things before breakfast, does that person really sound any more ridiculous when, right after breakfast, he or she spouts another implausibility? The "implausibilties" here are having the "characters" say whatever the plot requires of them one day to achieve a desired jerry-rigged effect. The next day, the same character will say the exact opposite if it suits the contrived situation's storytelling purposes.

If there's one line that shows how self-contained episodic storytelling is 1) both properly given a dirty name when the writers don't care about the characters or situations, as well as 2) a device which frees the writers from ever HAVING to care about the characters or situations, Janeway's closing line is it.

Pathetic.

By the way, though, maybe it's just me, but this episode's teaser was one of the most awesome two minutes in Star Trek history. We see the Friendship One probe, accompanied by the strains (and, as ominous Trek-composed music appears, straining),of Vivaldi's "Spring," and within the span of barely over a minute and a half, the tone goes from mysterious to sonorously optimistic, to uncertain, to ominous, all at once, with action, music, and dialogue all working in harmony to convey the changes in tone. Awesome.
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Dan L.
Fri, Jun 5, 2009, 11:28am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek (2009)

Maureen,

Very nice story. I am 31 and my mother and father are 58 and 59, respectively. My parents both watched every episode of TOS when the show aired, they watched (a year after they got married) the Animated Series, and all of the episodes of the remaining Star Trek shows. All 3 of us saw all 725 Star Trek TV episodes, multiple times, and have now seen every movie at least 3 times. We saw Star Trek "XI" the night it was sneaked, May 7th, and when it was over, we all barely said a word to each other. Instead, we all (as if we were reading each other's thoughts) got right back in line to see the movie again, even though we all had to get up very early for work the next morning. When the second viewing was over, we reached the consensus that we had seen a great movie. "Man, that movie was fun," we all said. I commented to my parents, "I'm sure some fans will be less than enthused after seeing the film when they realize the movie was made for everyone and not for the flyspeckers." My father said, "And that fact is why, for the first time in history, no matter how loudly these fans scream about how the movie wasn't "REAL TREK," "canon," or so forth, Paramount can finally listen to the complaints while having the luxury of putting their earmuffs on if the noise gets too loud." It was a joy to hear and literally see how many people have now become interested in Star Trek because the filmmakers took the time to make a movie that was for everyone, not for a club of winking insiders that sees Star Trek movies but complains no matter what is put on screen even if the filmmakers attempt to cater to them. If so much as one person, by becoming a fan after watching this movie, nurtures/furthers an interest in science or math, in an efffort to know more than he did the day before, that conversion is worth more, and is more important, than a million cries of, "Wait - Spock's sideburns weren't the same height as they were in Season 1."

It was director Ernst Lubitsch (generally regarded as one of the best directors every) who said: 'As soon as someone tackles a big theme with a message we take him seriously and call it art. We appreciate a painting of the crucifixion . . . whereas a simple Cezanne depiction of a vase and an apple may be far more enduring as art. I believe -- and I am not comparing myself to Cezanne -- in taking a lesser theme and then treating it without
compromise.' -- Ernst Lubitsch

I believe Abrams and company would have done Mr. Lubitsch proud.
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Dan L.
Thu, Jan 29, 2009, 12:45am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: These Are the Voyages...

The reboot definitely worked for the Batman franchise (Academy Award snubs notwithstanding); seems to have worked with James Bond (Casino Royale was one of the best action films of the decade, and Quantum of Solace has its defenders, although I am not one of them); and may have worked with Superman (Superman Returns was a decent movie that had the misfortune of only making $200 million in North America and $200 million in the rest of the world. Its costs were rumored to be as high as $270 million, though, so in Hollywood terms, it was considered a financial flop, and there may be no sequel).

No one would argue with respect to any of these three series, though, that the reboot effort was a resounding failure. As the concept of "reboots" is gaining hold (and favor) in our moviegoing consciousness, it would look all the more disappointing were the Star Trek reboot to fail. Star Trek has been unofficially rebooted more times than Billy Martin was fired by George Steinbrenner - most successfully in 1982 and 1987, and kind of in 1992 when DSN launched. Ub But since then, it's been more booted around than successfully "rebooted," as the Next Generation films failed to improve creatively and as Enterprise failed to stanch the decline in the quality of Star Trek television that started with Voyager. This is one of those moments - there were really only three others - 1979, 1982, and 1987, where it is do or die, and if this latest effort falls down, Star Trek may not be able to get up again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. In earnest.
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Dan L
Sun, Jul 27, 2008, 7:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: The Best of Both Worlds, Part I

Re: BBW Pt. 1: "And there's a haunting, quiet discussion as well, with contemplations of The End, in which Picard and Guinan wax philosophic in the face of possibly inevitable decimation. Picard's contemplation of the end of humanity's role in history is the epitome of grace under pressure, as he reflects upon it in a larger context of history: "Will this be the end of our civilization? Turn the page." Hints that would later add to the speculative fire abound. Guinan: "Nelson never returned from Trafalgar." Picard: "No, but the battle was won." Will this conflict, even if victorious, see the end of Picard? And Guinan's testament to the human spirit offers reassurance: "As long as there's a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail." It's brilliant writing.

It damn well is. This scene is as well-written as the scene in Henry V (the speech presaging the Battle of Agincourt) by a certain famous playwright. It is utterly inspiring in its ability to bring to the fore feelings that some people thought they had buried and destroyed: that no matter how bad things may seem, they will get better.
Whenever I am concerned about how I will handle a difficult event (such as the Bar Exam I am taking Tuesday and Wednesday),I watch this scene - not to "remind" myself that I will "prevail" - but to remind myself of what Guinan implicitly laid bare: that diligence, hard work and decency are ultimately what will cause all who possess those qualities to "survive" - to have made a difference in the affairs of humanity; and that, even when we are sweating the large stuff, and even when we thus can't "put things into perspective," the will to live somehow makes even the "large stuff" not irrelevant, but conquerable; there's always a chance of prevailing even in the worst-case scenario and that fighting the battle is itself a form of victory-of prevailing. I watch these scene when I am at my worst, as a "good luck charm," and just when I need inspiration, and regardless of the result of the "particular" battle, the scene -and recognition of what it says - is what allows me to keep on fighting, even when nothing else does.
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