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Dick
Fri, Nov 9, 2018, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

Just finished watching Calypso. It was a decent episode of "The Outer Limits".

But seriously, I think Calypso is the least dreary, most optimistic story to come out of STD thus far. Unlike most of the regular characters in the series, Craft is actually likable and isn't concealing some hidden agenda. The setting doesn't really make sense in the context of Star Trek canon, but then STD has been playing fast and loose with canon from day one.

Overall, it felt like a completely different show--a pastiche of 2001, Wall-E, and Her--that just happened to be filmed on the Star Trek sets. The only element of STD that carried over was the clunky and emotionally inert dialogue that has always characterized the series.

Bottom line: Short Treks still aren't Star Trek, but I'll take more lowkey drama like Calypso over most of what we saw in Season 1.
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Dick
Sat, Oct 6, 2018, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

IMO, Nemesis is the worst of the first ten Star Trek films. The basic plot is no worse than the other TNG films, but the inaccurate characterization, odd pacing, and cringe-worthy humor drag it down. The final battle scene has some thrilling moments, but cribs too much from superior moments in Star Trek II and VI.

On the plus side, I like the Picard/Data scenes including the deleted scene that Jammer mentions above. The Tom Hardy/Patrick Stewart scenes are also good and hint at some interesting themes that are never properly resolved. The special effects are very nice and a clear step up from the less than convincing CGI of Insurrection.

A reedit could considerably improve the film. The first 20 minutes or so are a complete mess and leave a bad first impression that lingers over the rest of movie. I would eliminate the opening scene on Romulus (Shinzon's coup is better left unexplained), most of the wedding sequence (Picard's toast is atrocious), and the risible dune buggy sequence. The Picard/Data deleted scene would be restored. All of the icky Troi/Shinzon stuff needs to go, along with the pointless Reman boarding party and silly fight between Riker and the Viceroy.

The ending of the film is odd, with a less than inspiring shot of the NCC-1701-E undergoing repairs in spacedock. I would replace it with the deleted ending that introduces Picard's new first officer and ends with the Enterprise triumphantly jumping into warp. None of these changes would make Nemesis a great Trek film, but they would improve it somewhat.
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Dick
Sat, Sep 29, 2018, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Renaissance Man

This was the last episode of Voyager that I had never watched, and it was a disappointment. The first two acts are great as the mystery of Janeway's odd behavior and the Doctor's clandestine mission are slowly revealed. I was hoping that the Doctor was running a long con on the alien kidnappers and was going to cleverly outwit them in the end a la "The Sting".

Instead, we get the Doctor foolishly trusting the aliens, crippling Voyager, and disobeying a direct order from Janeway. In the final act, it's Tuvok and Tom to the rescue as the Doctor suddenly becomes inert, and the "confession" scene at the end is just plain silly. Two stars.
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Dick
Sat, Aug 18, 2018, 12:38am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

Just watched this episode, and I'm sure the other comments covered most of my gripes already, but here they are anyway:

*Why in the world is Tyler/Voq not sitting in the brig with L'Rell? Sure, he claims to be 100% Klingon-free, but the Starfleet doctors don't understand what's going on in his head so why should they trust him? The entire Tyler/Voq subplot in this episode fell flat for me.

*On a similar note, Empress Georgiou should also be in the brig or at least have a 24-hr security detail. No one should be going into her quarters and talking to her alone. And of course the decision to lie to the crew and put her in command of the ship defies any explanation. Maybe Cornwell is a stereotypically crazy admiral who would endorse such a plan, but a logical, truth-telling Vulcan like Sarek never would.

*Burnham's stupid decision to lie to Saru about the Kelpiens a couple of episodes ago has no payoff in this episode. Saru is mildly annoyed when he learns the truth and then the whole matter is forgotten. It also appears that she is going to lie to the crew about Georgiou's true origins. Are the writers trying to sabotage Burnham's redemption arc by making her as untrustworthy as possible? Are they capable of that level of incompetence?

Anyway, I'm glad that the show appears to be headed in a different direction for Season 2. I can live with the awkward characterizations and blatant visual discontinuities of STD if they just get some decent writers.
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Dick
Sun, Aug 5, 2018, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

@Dave in MN: "I'm overjoyed.... finally something other than as prequel!!!!"

Don't be so sure. After all, they brought Leonard Nimoy back as Spock but sent him back in time to appear in a prequel movie. No reason why they wouldn't do the same with Picard given STD's total disregard for continuity.
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Dick
Sat, Aug 4, 2018, 12:01am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself

After a generally terrible first chapter, I've finally brought myself around to watching the rest of Season One. Bringing the Mirror Universe into Discovery so early reeks of desperation (or more misguided fanservice, which DIS has served up in abundance).

The main problem with using the MU here (aside from the fact that it has been played out on DS9 and ENT) is that capricious and gratuitous violence is already a hallmark of Discovery in the (supposedly) Prime Universe. Think back to the violent conclusion of "Battle at the Binary Stars" or the sudden, bloody death of Cmdr Landry or the shocking murder of Dr. Culber in this very episode. I mean, how much worse could the Mirror Universe really be?

As usual, the visual effects are excellent, but even Jonathan Frakes's steady direction couldn't eliminate the excessive lens flares and dutch angles that we've come to expect from DIS. Is this really what they think people want?

Anyway, I'm finishing up an initial viewing of VOY Season 7 at the same time as I watch the rest of DIS Season 1. For all of its faults, Voyager is the only one I'm looking forward to watching each night.
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Dick
Thu, Jul 26, 2018, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Nightingale

I'm finally getting around to watching most of VOY Season 7 for the first time, and this episode was not good. It makes sense that the hapless Ensign Kim would naively trust the Kraylor, but I would expect Janeway to be much more skeptical of their hard luck story and detect Shepherd Book's obvious deception.

Once the deception is revealed, it's appalling that Harry continues to aid the Kraylor in their military endeavors rather than extricate himself and Seven from the situation as gingerly as possibly. It's not like the Annari were especially cruel or unreasonable. I think we were supposed to feel like Harry was just evening the odds a bit, but we really don't know what the real military situation was or whether the Kraylor were at helpless as we were lead to believe.

At any rate, Ensign Kim should have faced some sort of consequences for needlessly involving Voyager in a dangerous conflict and potentially shifting the balance of power between two civilizations. The lack of resolution just illustrates the sort of sloppy, lazy writing we came to expect from Voyager, I suppose.

On the bright side, the CGI shots of Voyager on the planet's surface were unique and looked terrific. . I also liked the Icheb/B'Elanna stuff. It was light and fluffy, but sometimes light and fluffy is fine when you just want to chill with the crew of Voyager at the end of a long day.
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Dick
Sat, Mar 31, 2018, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Starship Mine

This is an episode that I loved as a kid (long before I ever saw "Die Hard"), but it doesn't quite hold up years later.

It might have worked better with Riker or Worf stuck on the Enterprise fighting terrorists, rather than the peace-loving, tea-drinking, flute-playing Capt. Picard that we all know and love. I also agree with the comments above that this would have been a better story for the more action-oriented DS9 or VOY.

Anyway, "Starship Mine" isn't the worst episode, and it's even kind of fun if you let your brain idle for an hour.
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Dick
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 12:24am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Just finished watching this episode, and it didn't work for me at all. ALL of the Klingon stuff (overdone prosthetics, hideous production design, subtitled dialogue, inscrutable characters) continues to drag the series down. I hope the Klingon War ends soon and our heroes warp off to find better adversaries.

The stuff down on Pahvo was better, but not great. It was nice to see location shooting in a non-Southern California environment, and the non-corporeal lifeform(s?) with an unclear motivation was a Trek-like premise. Watching Saru freak out and use his super-strength to subdue Tyler and Burnham was also kind of cool, but I have to wonder why they didn't just work together to ambush him, incapacitate him with phasers, and then transmit a signal to the Discovery.

Unfortunately, the plot moved too fast (a typical problem for this series), and the whole "living planet" idea didn't develop beyond a warmed-over take on "Avatar". Ideally, they should have ditched the Klingon subplot and given the scenes down on the planet more time to breathe. It takes time to develop dramatic situations, and the complete lack of tension in this series is probably its Achilles' heel (huge problem with the Abrams movies, too).

Random Thoughts:
- At this point, I couldn't care less about the fate of Admiral Cornwell. Any tension regarding her fate was deflated by the confusing crosses and double-crosses on board the Klingon ship. I suppose it could all be resolved in an interesting way next week...

- When Tyler and Saru use a magic crystal to link minds, Saru's threat response is triggered by Tyler's duplicity. Was it really all about the transmitter or is Tyler hiding something else???

In all seriousness, Ash Tyler is the most likable and relatable character on the series thus far. It will be very disappointing (i.e. bad scriptwriting) if he is revealed as a spy.

- Although the scenes between Stamets and Tilly seemed superfluous, I'm glad we're starting to see the negative side effects of the spore drive. I assume this bizarre science experiment gets shut down by the end of the season.
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Dick
Tue, Oct 31, 2017, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

@Konstantinos

I don't doubt that some people in the 23rd century will be listening to 20th century music, but should we really expect a futuristic dance party to look and sound exactly like a 1990s college soirée? Until Star Trek '09, Trek was always judicious with the use of 20th century music ("The Way to Eden" notwithstanding). Maybe late 20th century hip-hop saw a sudden, short-lived revival in the mid 23rd century? Whatever the case, it's a departure from the timelessness we used to expect from Star Trek.

@BZ

I suspect that we will get a satisfactory explanation for the abandonment of the spore drive at some point. Perhaps Stamets will start to experience negative side effects the more he uses the drive?

I think we got a reasonable explanation for the abandonment of the slingshot effect with the Introduction of the Department of Temporal Investigations in DS9 and the Temporal Prime Directive in VOY. Starfleet must have instituted strict policies against laissez-faire time travel sometime prior to the beginning of TNG.
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Dick
Mon, Oct 30, 2017, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

I kind of liked this one until the end, when Mudd let his guard down for no reason and allowed himself to be disarmed. It made him look incredibly stupid after outwitting the Discovery crew at every turn for the previous 35 minutes. Ideally, Stella and her father should have gotten the jump on Mudd *first* and then explained the ruse.

The twist ending with Stella and her father felt very TOS-like, but it was tonally inconsistent with Mudd's murder spree and the generally grim atmosphere established in DIS thus far. Even so, it was nice to see something a little more lighthearted and enjoy an episode without long scenes of subtitled dialogue from the monster-movie "Klingons".

Random Thoughts:
-The party scenes were very 21st century and will age poorly (like the bar scene in Star Trek '09 or space hippies in TOS).

-I know that Lorca is an exotic weapons enthusiast, but it's disturbing that he has those dark matter death balls just lying around in his collection.

-No way that Tyler is a Klingon. He could be a brainwashed Qo'noSian Candidate though.
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Dick
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 11:29am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Context Is for Kings

"Context is for Kings" worked well enough on its own terms, but the premise of the show is antithetical to everything that pre-2009 Star Trek represents. Everyone on the Discovery is stern, secretive, and/or cynical (except Tilly, who's just a goofball). Can't we have at least one normal, well-adjusted Starfleet officer on this ship?

I get that the war with the Klingons has taken an emotional toll on the crew, but even in the darkest days of the Dominion War the DS9 crew maintained their moral center. Episodes like "Paradise Lost", "Inquisition", and "In the Pale Moonlight" worked because they showed characters and institutions that we knew and trusted thrust into impossible circumstances, yet the characters never lost their moral center. They bent but did not break. How does Discovery grapple with Trekkian ethical quandaries when every single character is already compromised?

It's still early in the series run, but we need a reason to like these characters other than the arrowhead insignia on their shirts.

Random thoughts:

-Lens flares galore in the first beauty shots of USS Discovery. Can we retire this cliché already?

-Presumably the Discovery went back and rescued the hapless pilot of the prison shuttle. She should have been just fine in that EVA suit.

-People like the tribbles. Yes, we get it. How many times did tribbles appear on Star Trek during the 40 years from 1966 to 2005? Five times including the animated series. (Memory Alpha says there was a tribble in Generations, but I've never noticed it in a dozen or so viewings so it doesn't count.) Since 2009, tribbles have appeared in 2 out of 3 reboot movies and now in the 3rd episode of DIS. I like the little buggers, too, but they don't have to be in every single iteration of nuTrek! I propose a tribble moratorium.
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Dick
Sat, Sep 30, 2017, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars

I finally got around to watching "Battle at the Binary Stars", and some of my optimism surrounding the first episode has dissipated. Burnham's violent hatred of Klingons, manifested here when she cranks up the phaser and kills T'Kuvma in violation of her own advice minutes earlier, is becoming less understandable and simply reflects poorly on her as a character. Worf hated Romulans and O'Brien and Kira hated Cardies due to prior tragedies in their lives, but they were *never* as unhinged as Burnham.

This episode also jettisons any semblance of wonder and discovery from the first installment in favor of a straightforward fleet battle between the Klingon and Federation forces. I get that they're trying to establish Klingons as the Big Bads for the rest of the season, but can we get a glimpse of optimism or classic Trek philosophy here? Every other Trek series managed to do it in the pilot, even when confronted with a malevolent trickster god, Cardassians, a 70-year journey home, or a Temporal Cold War.

Other random thoughts/nitpicks:

-Burnham is sentenced to *life* in prison for mutiny. Doesn't seem like the Federation has a very enlightened philosophy of penology. Maybe she'll get time off for saving the Earth in a future episode (a la Kirk).

-Captain Georgiou's death is awfully anticlimactic. In theory, it should have been a jolting and emotionally resonant event, but there's something about the pacing of the sequence that just left me cold. Actually, pretty much everything about this episode left me cold.

-Shades of "Star Trek: Nemesis" in Burnham's flight through space, but didn't Ensign Deadmeat mention in the first episode that the temperature outside was -260 °C (just 13° above absolute zero)? Does that seem remotely survivable?
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Dick
Tue, Sep 26, 2017, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

To me, STiD is the worst Star Trek film ever made. Aside from the typical Abrams-era excesses (nausea-inducing camera movements, incoherent action sequences, and, yes, lens flares), the plot is borderline-incomprehensible and fanservice is heaped upon the viewer in the most hollow and insulting way possible: "Look, a tribble! You nerds like tribbles, right?" "Section 31! 'Member them?"

The lazy aping of The Wrath of Khan is just plain embarrassing, right down to Spock's cringe-inducing KHHAAAANNNN!!! Why bring Khan into it at all if he is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike his Prime Universe namesake? Carol Marcus is brought over from TWoK with similarly dubious reasoning (no, seeing her stripped down to her skivvies is not a good reason).

The Star Trek franchise is no stranger to deus ex machina solutions, but I can't think of anything more perfunctory and unearned than Khan's Magical Blood. Not only is this movie bad Trek, it's just plain bad.
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Dick
Mon, Sep 25, 2017, 1:20am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars

Against all odds I actually liked this. It was a nice change of pace from the frantic, borderline-incomprehensible reboot movies. Hopefully we'll see a little more collegiality among the crew as the show progresses, but "The Vulcan Hello" was a good introduction to Michael, our main character.

It's hard to compare this to any previous Trek pilot episode because it's so different in tone and purpose, and it ends on a cliffhanger. Lacking any decontamination chamber sequences, it was better than "Broken Bow" anyway.

Continuity-wise, the Klingons and overall production design are so wrong for a show set in the 2250s, but ENT had the same problem with anachronistic technology and alien encounters (e.g. Ferengi, Borg, proto-holodecks) in the 2150s. As long as the characters are interesting and the stories are good, I can deal with lapses in continuity.

I am somewhat concerned about Star Trek headlining CBS's new All-Access service. DIS could be vulnerable to the corporate meddling that left VOY stagnant for seven years trying to prop up UPN, especially if the initial subscriber count is below projections. Trek was at its best off in the wilds of syndication with TNG and DS9.

Other random thought:
- Though slow-paced, the EVA scene was a nice callback to Spock's spacewalk in TMP.
- The opening theme music is great. The title sequence itself is slick, but leaves me a little cold.
- So Spock has *another* long-lost sibling that no one has ever heard of before? Hmmm.
- The Klingon sarcophagus was giving me serious Stargate vibes.
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