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Sleeper Agent
Sun, Sep 15, 2019, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Counterpoint

That kiss is one of the most beautiful moments in Trek history. And that last shot ...

4 Stars. A perfect episode.

PS. The end did NOT feature Tuvok on the bridge.
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Sleeper Agent
Tue, Sep 10, 2019, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Living Witness

Beltran as Evil Chakotay is worth the watch alone.

4 Stars.
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Sleeper Agent
Tue, Sep 10, 2019, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Infinite Regress

Jeri Ryan did a wonderful job with all the fragmentary characters; the Ferengi impersonation was my favorite. The alien of the week a.k.a species 6339 was a bit of fresh air as well. Their suites were very cool - I hope we get to see them again.

The rest was moderately entertaining. OK episode, but would probably skip during a re-watch.

2 Stars.
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Sleeper Agent
Tue, Sep 10, 2019, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Timeless

What the f*ck were you smoking Jammer?
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Sleeper Agent
Tue, Sep 10, 2019, 12:06am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Timeless

Criminally overrated episode. Couldn't wait for it to be over.

0,5 Star. Would never re-watch.
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Skeptical
Sun, Sep 8, 2019, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Redemption, Part II

Why is TNG my favorite show? Well, for one, I honestly don't like much TV, so admittedly it doesn't have much competition... But anyway, it combines the best of one-off ideas (a la Twilight Zone, ie, TVs version of short stories) with a relatable, consistent cast and world building. It's the best of both worlds in that sense. We have a standard SF space opera world, but one that isn't wholly dependent on wars or good vs evil, so there's room for more interesting stories than just Star Wars or Flash Gordon or other space operas. Its stories could either be exploring weird scifi concepts like Cause and Effect or be scifi variants of political drama like The Defector. While the "Planet of Hats" trope was overused, it did often produce cool alien species that pushed the narrative in unique directions like the Children of Tama. Sure, much of the crew faded into the background, but Picard and Worf and Data had many, many strong moments and stories about them. And the cast was pretty darn competent too, with Patrick Stewart being absolutely phenomenal. And so the stories they told could be elevated, and when drama kicked into high gear (like, say, Reunion) it would be gripping.

I could go on and on and on, but nowhere in there is there anything about the so called enlightened, progressive future. When the person that created the show was in charge and tried to push that idea, the show was essentially a failure and barely watchable. When he got kicked upstairs and Michael Piller took over, the show's "purpose" switched to being stories about the characters, and it kicked into high gear and stayed there for years. At best, the general optimism of the future is all that's needed.

I mean, when the show really tried to push that stuff, it was practically a turnoff. Rather than looking "enlightened" or "tolerant", the cast was smug and condescending and arrogant and frankly unlikeable. Look at how they treated the frozen people in The Neutral Zone. If that's our enlightened future, sign me up for being a perpetual troglodyte, because Picard and company showed no signs of compassion or human decency at all. And that's far from the only example I can make where the crew, once they started going political, seemed more nasty than tolerant.

But hey, if that's what you see and like in the show, more power to you. But I notice you said you dismiss any concerns about bad science in Trek. Don't get me wrong, I agree. But there are a lot of Star Trek fans who are very defensive about ST being a good show *for science*. That they had science advisers on staff and were careful to keep everything realistic and even Stephen Hawking was on the show! Are those people not true Star Trek fans? When those people blow up about a silly science error and say that it destroys what Star Trek stands for, do you just say "dude, it's a mistake, get over it?" Because I do too. So why is their interpretation of Trek one that not everyone needs to follow, but yours is?

I never had the Philip J Frye sob story of how Trek was my only friend from a troubled childhood. I'm not saying my childhood was perfect (although I can't really complain), just that I didn't take any emotional solace from a TV show. And I never saw Gene Roddenberry as a Prophet or Visionary, and so don't take his thoughts to be Holy Writ. It's just a really good sci fi show in a really good universe, but naturally one with faults in it as well. And I don't find the catsuits to be a worse fault than some of the poor writing or poor science or other hokey aspects.
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Sleeper Agent
Sun, Sep 8, 2019, 4:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Once Upon a Time

Sure, there were some good moments and beautiful shots, but in the end it felt like two B/C plots stitched together. Janeway was seen from one of her best sides all while Neelix got some further depth. Most felt like filler though.

1,5 Stars.
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Sleeper Agent
Sun, Sep 8, 2019, 7:24am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Extreme Risk

Very strong episode with a top notch performance by Roxann Dawson. When I started watching VOY I would never have guessed that B'Elanna would become one of my favorite characters, but just as Kira grew on me in DS9, the chief engineer is impressing me more and more for every season.

People have been on and on in the comments about the lack of follow up in VOY. Janeway's irrational sides, the failed response from B'Elanna and Chakotay about the maquis extinction etc.. In the last three episodes we get excellent angles dealing with those issues. To some, however, it's not enough...
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Sleeper Agent
Sat, Sep 7, 2019, 11:22am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S5: Drone

Great episode! Although I like the precious "Night" better, this one certainly had a lot of entertaining elements including a great guest star, amazing make up and effects, and a thrilling story which had you (kind of) guessing 'til the end.

What I find curious is the sudden appearance of a Borg SPHERE. Did I miss something or have the collective suddenly developed a new model of ships? As the crew seem astonishingly blasé about it when it appears, I am leaning to the former.

On another note, I've noticed that the better VOY gets, the more bitter the comments. H8rs gonna h8, I guess....
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Skeptical
Sat, Sep 7, 2019, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Redemption, Part II

If by "fan service", you mean "actually being made for fans of Star Trek", then maybe... =)

Booming and Jordy, I never said the green vest was EFFECTIVE fan service, but between that and how often Kirk manages to lose his shirt in the show, I imagine it did play a role. For what it's worth, I never saw Troi's catsuit as being attractive either.

But there's obviously some subjectivity in how "tasteful" it all is. No, Star Trek is not super over the top campiness of the 1980 Flash Gordon movie (which I love), and yes it may have been better than any other SF show up to that point save perhaps Twilight Zone, but it was still kinda campy. It was low budget, had hammy acting, and had fistfights every other episode. It had a Mary Sue alien main character who's telepathic powers were whatever the episode needed at the time. It had humans with psionic powers, young Dr. Pulaskis that could learn telepathy, a magic barrier surrounding the galaxy, inconsistent speeds of starships, alien planets that were exactly like Earth, giant glowing green hands grabbing starships out of space, and aliens stealing Spock's brain. That doesn't strike me as all bran cereal.

Yes, the TNG era was better. But it still had its silly moments. It had a superintelligent android incapable of using contractions or even escaping a Chinese finger trap. It had a ridiculously powerful starship that could blow up entire planets but didn't bother to have any basic security. It had a child prodigy who was smarter than the most elite crew in Starfleet. It had spatial anomalies that could turn people into kid versions of themselves, shrink DS9 runabouts into toy sizes, or turn Voyager into a giant maze. It had DNA introns turning you into monsters and animals, human-sized viruses flying around, entire universes appearing that were the size of breadboxes, punching holes inside an event horizon, transporting not working because of "photonic interference", wars being put on hold so that people could play baseball or perform a bank heist on the holodeck, etc etc. It wasn't really always a bunch of deep high minded shows. Charles Dickens was probably thinking of TNG when he wrote "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Voyager constantly felt like a rough draft of a good idea with all the holes plugged in with the same constant tropes and mindless action. Enterprise was a step down from even Voyager. That leaves DS9 as the only consistently well written show, but oftentimes it seemed to be the prototype of modern TV of constantly producing drama for drama's sake, rather than the TNG ethos of smart people doing smart things.

Don't get me wrong, TNG is my favorite TV show of all time and I love it despite its faults. I have a soft spot for Voyager despite being frustrated that it didn't live up to its potential. But I just can't put these shows on a pedestal and declare them to be sacred. It's still just entertainment, and the writers are still just mere mortals. And I'm not just going to pretend the silly side of Trek doesn't exist.

Yes, catsuits may look out of place in the 21st century, but it's an established fact that for some strange, bizarre reason, jumpsuits were all the rage in the 24th century, so much so that even Starfleet decided it made a great idea for a uniform (maybe Zeframe Cochrane was right and people in the 24th century didn't need to use the restroom...). It looks stupid and isn't that much better than cheesy SF futuristic outfits like from the Jetsons or something, but it's part of the show. And so if jumpsuits are such a popular fashion choice in the future, why is it so out of place if some people might like to wear their jumpsuits a little tighter?
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Skeptical
Sat, Sep 7, 2019, 8:26am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Q Who

If I had to create a reasonable timeline of Q's character...

I assume, prior to S1, Q (only DeLancie Q will be referred to as Q here) was already on thin ice with the Q Continuum. Presumably, he's been mucking with races and shirking his Q duties (Quties?) or whatever. However, at Encounter at Farpoint, I assume he was under the direction of the QC, at least to some extent. They had become interested in humanity recently (conveniently ignoring Quinn being involved in humanity and Amanda's parents becoming human and the fact that the QC had become uber boring with nothing new under the sun, but there just ain't no way to close all the plotholes), and so sent Q to test them. Maybe they weren't THAT interested, and thus thought this was a "minor" job that they could trust the delinQuent person to do as a way of Q getting back into the QC's good graces.

But Q had a lot of freedom in this job, and I'd say he did it poorly, mainly due to his dismissive attitude toward humans (which coincides with his role as a "tormentor"). It seemed Q made up the Farpoint Station test on the spot, and even afterwards lamented that it was too easy (indeed, compared to the temporal paradox in AGT, that plot did seem kinda beneath the Q...). I think it's safe to that, at this time, Q didn't care at all about humanity.

("'At this time'? How little do you mortals understand time. Must you be so linear, Skeptical?" Shut up Q! The idea of an immortal, omnipotent, omniscient being having a story arc over 7 years is already kinda dumb, but it happened so we have to use linear time to deal with it!)

But, perhaps because he was bested, it did spark an interest. I wouldn't say he fell in love with humans at this point; perhaps he was just frustrated and wanted a second round. So Hide and Q happened, where he again tested humanity, or Riker in this case. I imagine this was NOT at the behest of the QC, and they may not have known about it at first. But he also made a bet with Picard about the outcome of his test, and he lost that one too. But when the time came, he refused to honor his side of the bargain (leave humanity alone forever), and IIRC it was the QC that forcefully removed him.

I imagine, at some point around here, the QC started coming down in judgement against Q. Like I said, he was on thin ice beforehand, but the ice is now cracking. Maybe it was botching the first trial of humanity, maybe it was intervening with humanity a second time in unauthorized ways despite humanity still being "on trial" (particularly with a bet that the Q would avoid humanity forever, which the QC had no intention of holding up), or perhaps it had nothing to do with humanity at all. Either way, Q was kicked out of the QC, and perhaps it wasn't the first time. He was presumably a troublemaker for quite a while. So I don't think it's a mistake in the script here. Guinan correctly noted that Q was in trouble again.

But in any case, Q is starting to show his interest in humanity now. But enough to help them? I don't think so. He's bored, listless, and decides to go hang out with the strange people that bested him twice and he's not sure why. Perhaps, at this point, he's now curious about them. But Picard outright rejects him. And rejects him by saying they don't need him.

"In your own paltry, limited way, you have no idea how far you still have to go."

That quote from AGT was even more true in S2 of TNG. And maybe now Q is just frustrated. Humans obviously have some potential, they outsmarted him twice. But Picard was just so overly arrogant and smug. Q knew the QC was interested in seeing just where humanity would go, but thanks to their arrogance at this point they weren't going to go anywhere. You can't learn something if you already think you know everything. And while Q is not an agent of the QC anymore, he can't help but be annoyed at the smugness going on here and wanted to push Picard down a peg or so.

So no, I DON'T think that QWho is part of the grand scheme of Q, or that it was his subtle way of pushing humanity along. I do think it worked out in that way, that Picard and company did learn their lesson. And I do think Q was happy they learned their lesson, but not necessarily to prepare them for AGT or whatever, or even to prepare them for BoBW. He was just happy that HIS point, that humanity was still kinda dumb, was proven for once.

It's not until later, perhaps after the events of Deja Q, that Q actually becomes humanity's advocate. He treated Picard with kid gloves during True Q when humanity was tangentially in the way of QC business (being willing to take Picard's advice on how to approach Amanda, etc), and he helped Picard out in Tapestry (my personal theory is that it was less about Picard learning his lesson regarding the stabbing, and more about subtly expanding Picard's understanding of cause and effect in preparation for AGT, and of course he acted as Picard's aide in AGT. It wasn't there from the beginning, but Q sort of grew attached to humanity throughout the course of TNG, rather than just having different ways of showing it.

Or, in TLDR format:
EF: Q completely dismissive of humanity, but on QC business
HQ: Q wounded and angry at humanity for beating him, not on QC business
QW: Q curious about yet frustrated at humanity, not on QC business
DQ: Q coming to acceptance of humanity, gaining empathy with humanity
TQ: Q chummy with humanity while on QC business
Tapestry: Q secretly prepping humanity for the upcoming QC trial
AGT: Q secretly aiding humanity while on QC business
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Skeptical
Thu, Sep 5, 2019, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Redemption, Part II

Chrome, well, I'm happy I'm NOT watching Discovery. Does that count?

Meanwhile, I am endlessly bemused by the fact that this whole thing started because two female villains in Trek have tiny little boob windows in their armor. Meanwhile, the most famous villain in all of Trekdom, starring in the most critically and fan- acclaimed film of all of Star Trek, ran around in a low-cut shirt showing off his pecs for the entire galaxy to see. I say, in the interest of feminism and gender equality, that Lursa and B'Etor should be allowed to have just as much cleavage as Khan did! =P

OK, but seriously everyone, these sort of hand-wringings are kinda bizarre to me. Seven and Troi wearing specialized outfits is sexist and demeaning, but Kirk's green vest is perfectly acceptable. Marvel seems hell bent on refusing to allow any female superhero to be seen as sexy while clearly having no qualms in making Captain America and Thor into sex objects. We are constantly told that the Amazon warrior fighting in a chainmail bikini is completely ridiculous while ignoring the big chested, oiled up muscular he-man in a loincloth right next to her. What's the difference?

So let's do a thought experiment: why is Seven's catsuit exploitative while Kirk's vest is not?
- Is it because of the level of sexiness? I'd say no. Obviously, men and women's outfits and what the opposite sex perceives as attractive is different. A hot girl in a minskirt is undoubtedly a turn-on for guys; I'm going to presume a hot guy in a miniskirt is a turn-off for most women. Sleeveless vest is probably the most "sexy" you could get a male guy to look without him looking ridiculous (or just looking like a stripper). And let's face it, a catsuit is far from dressing a woman as a stripper as well. One could presumably have given her a sexier outfit without being too out of place. After all, this one doesn't even show any skin!
- Is it the practicality or "out of place"-ness of the outfit? Again, I'd disagree. How often do you see guys wearing something like Kirk's vest walking around on the street or whatever? Of course, you don't see too many catsuits around either. But then again, Trek (or at least the TNG era) for some reason had an obsession with assuming everyone in the future will wear jumpsuits. So maybe her outfit is more normal! A bit silly, I know, but I'll call this one a wash... I would say neither outfit seems particularly "normal", but neither is too outlandish to be considered a costume (with a small caveat on Seven: see the next point).
- Is it the comfortableness of the outfit? That... I could grant you. Supposedly the Season 4 shiny silver catsuit was ludicrously uncomfortable. Given that, I could see how it wouldn't be something one would choose to wear themselves, and thus only worn for the desire of the opposite sex, and thus "exploitative". However, that was changed fairly quickly IIRC. So for both this point and the previous one (since shiny silver is also kinda "costume-y"), I will grant that S4 Seven might lose, and so instead will move the goalpost and say this comparison applies only to later Seven and her more comfortable-looking catsuits. Yeah, it's goalpost moving, but then again I've never heard anyone specifically talk about S4 Seven when discussing their concern about how exploitative this is. Also, I'm just going on the assumption that they were more comfortable; obviously I don't know that for sure. And as an aside, I imagine wearing a skirt is perfectly comfy. So if a female Starfleet captain decides to show up in the Captain's chair wearing a skirt a la Kirk's relaxed dress code, would that be exploitative?

So again I ask, is there anything more exploitative in Seven's (later season) outfit compared to Kirk's vest? I'm having a hard time coming up with anything.

About the only thing I can think of is going back to that first point, that "sexiness" in men and women are generally seen as different. And yeah, maybe, in general, male sexiness tends to be more subtle. After all, just how many women out there think that guys are extremely sexy when wearing a finely-tailored suit? And yet, such a suit shows off none of the man's body or accentuates the man's physical features. In contrast, the flip side - a guy finding a woman in an elegant dress sexy - generally happens because the dress itself is highlighting her physical features. In general, it's a lot easier to get away with eye candy for women. So Captain America can walk around in a tight T-shirt, with the clear purpose to make the women drool. But it's seen as just natural. Sure, the equivalent might be Black Widow walking around in tight yoga pants and a sports bra, but that's seen as being more blatant since, I don't know, women's sexuality is more obvious or something.

So on the one hand, since pandering to the male taste is often more obvious, it can be seen as more exploitative. But on the flip side, it seems that society is more accepting of pandering to the female taste if only because it isn't as obviously visual. Heck, it wasn't that long ago that the best selling book in America that was mainstream and perfectly acceptable to be seen and discussed in public was BDSM erotica aimed squarely at women. Imagine if it was culturally acceptable for men to consume porn in public? But, of course, most men don't want to READ their erotic entertainment, they want to SEE their erotic entertainment. And presumably that makes all the difference. And it's not just 50 Shades of Gray. IIRC, the romance genre is the best selling genre of fiction, and needless to say it's not exactly providing a realistic representation of men!

So is it just the visual factor that is exploitative? That pandering to men's tastes require an actual women to dress provocatively, while pandering to women's tastes requires a man to only be well-dressed, or in the case of literature not need an actual man at all? And yet, there's a huge push to change video games and comics and cartoons and whatnot to make sure all women are dressed prudishly there so as not to "exploit" women, despite the fact that no real-life woman is required for that pandering at all...

Is it the "demeaning-ness" of it all? But, if so, how is pandering to men's taste more demeaning than pandering to women's taste? My wife likes watching TV, and so I've unfortunately been exposed to many TV shows aimed at women. And there are plenty of catty, sexist, demeaning comments made by the women about or towards the men in many of these shows, as the women show their sexual desire for the various men. Isn't that the sort of demeaning to men? If Seven is a respected member of the crew, working professionally with everyone, and an interesting character who also happens to wear a sexy catsuit, is that more or less demeaning than an entire novel in which the male character is there to fulfill a woman's fantasy?

I fail to see how one is worse than the other. They're just different. And Trek has, on occasion, aimed their appeal at both sexes, albeit to different degrees. Has it focused more on titillating men than women? Certainly, but that's not surprising given the perceived demographics of Trek watchers. But other popular entertainment has gone the opposite route. Even Marvel movies as I said, which one might expect to be aimed more toward men than women, tossed in obvious sex appeal to women rather than men.

If entertainment is going to use sex appeal as part of its appeal, which it so obviously does, I have a hard time getting worked up about how they go about doing it. Men and women perceive sex differently, and so the appeal is going to be different for men and women. So as long as it fits the tone the overall story is going for, who cares? So in that sense, Seven's catsuit never bothered me, since it really wasn't out of place in a world where those awful TNG S1 uniforms existed. Same with TOS' over the top alien outfits. Honestly, TOS was more "pulp" than "serious SF", even if it was more serious than most scifi shows at the time. So the outlandish costumes generally fit the tone of TOS pretty well. Peter mentioned that TOS felt more tasteful than Enterprise, but I think it's just that exotic female costumes just fit in with the over-the-top ness of TOS. The TNG era definitely tried to be more serious (at least post S1), so they probably would feel more out of place there even if a catsuit seems fine. I guess I can't speak for Enterprise since I couldn't make it past the first season though, but I guess the decontamination rubdowns were a bit too... obvious for a supposedly serious and *snark* intellectual show.

Also, Jordy, while Kira's high heels may have no practical use to a military officer, Nana Visitor's high heels definitely did have a practical use for filming a TV series: it made her closer in height to her male co-stars. Sure, you can hide it with proper framing and such, but the heels just make things easier, so I can't complain about that. At least, no more than how improper it is for a military officer like Riker to be constantly hunched over and leaning on everything...

And circling allll the way back to the original question, I'm not even sure how erotic the Duras sisters' boob windows was supposed to be. To be honest, if they really wanted it to be sexy, I think they should have given it only to B'Etor, since she was the one constantly pawing at everyone. On Lursa, who is always so serious, looks ugly (no offense to the actress, it's just the whole Klingon thing), and is otherwise dressed completely conservatively, it's just... there. Maybe they wanted to give it to B'Etor to accentuate her animalistic sexy side, but then thought it would look out of place and unnatural if it was just her? I don't know. It's a weird design decision overall, but honestly one I never gave much though to. I suppose the same could be said for the Borg Queen in First Contact, given a "low cut" outfit and being overly sexual toward Data despite, of course, being an absolute horror. It's obviously not titillating, so is it just meant to be confusing? Is it just to give a shortcut that the Borg Queen is a "temptress", and thus make it more likely that Data might be tempted, even if she wasn't actually tempting in that manner? If so, could the same be said for Lursa and B'Etor, especially B'Etor with her pawing approach?
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Sleeper Agent
Tue, Sep 3, 2019, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: One

Just like "Demon", it is, in its entirety, wholly uninteresting.

Half a star for both.
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Sleeper Agent
Mon, Aug 26, 2019, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: The Killing Game

Oh, and when Tom asked Harry "If Betty Grable came around that corner, what part of her would you be staring at?"

It would have been absolutely brilliant if he would've answered "I'm gay."
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Sleeper Agent
Mon, Aug 26, 2019, 12:13am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: The Killing Game

@Trek fan: Thank you, you nailed it.

It's funny how some call this 'too unrealistic' when an episode where Kes aged backwards in random short leaps in an alternative time line gets high praise.

3 Stars.
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Barium sweep
Sun, Aug 25, 2019, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Survivors

The main thing I thought should have been done was Kevin ought to have killed himself in penance. The idea he gets away with genocide does not sit well.
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Sleeper Agent
Fri, Aug 23, 2019, 10:41am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Message in a Bottle

"But when did the Doctor have sex?"

Well he did have a romantic relationship in an earlier season. Plus, he has access to the holodeck just like every body else. But I would imagine that he mostly tried it out to see what it was like, in general he seems very asexual.

Regarding the episode: it was entertaining and had a fair share of interesting ingredients, but in the end left me somewhat underwhelmed. Kudos to Andy Dick though, I was afraid it was going to get cringe-y, but he pulled it off satisfactory. I look forward to more Hirogen action; from the little we saw they look like a very promising villain.

2 Stars.
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Sleeper Agent
Tue, Aug 20, 2019, 11:55am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Waking Moments

This one combines elements from two classic TNG episodes: "Schisms" and "Frame of Mind", and to that adds it's own spice in form of a Peak Performance Voyager crew. Needless to say it's a slam dunk.

There's not much to complain about really, the story is super solid and keeps on unfolding most elegantly 'til the very end. Mixing in comic relief and action perfectly in what otherwise is a dark and sinister plot. I for one don't think it's very important to have the aliens motive spelled out for the audience - in "Schisms" nobody cared, albeit it was a more mysterious tone to those aliens, but still.

David Bell's music does sound extremely alike his DS9 arrangements, but if it works, it works. I would also like to point out one of the main highlights of this episode, namely the absolutely BEAUTIFUL photography. There were so many gorgeous frames in "Waking Moments" that I lost count half-way in. Even if you don't like this episode it is certainly worth a re-watch just for the shots.

When I watch this I fall in love with Voyager. No way this gets less than 4 shining stars.
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Stephen
Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 4:59am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: One Little Ship

Nog probably jinxed things. He did make a remark in "A Time to Stand" about putting a Jem'Hadar on the Defiant.
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Sleeper Agent
Sat, Aug 17, 2019, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Concerning Flight

Silly, but all things considered not too bad. Two things stood out enough to make it a bearable one:

i. Tuvok claiming to be from Scandinavia.

ii. Janeways parable of a small bird and its relation to human intellect.

2 Stars.
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Sleeper Agent
Mon, Aug 12, 2019, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Year of Hell, Part II

The story is pure BS. The rest is smashing. Kurtwood Smith is a treat, Tuvok too and Mulgrew ... WOW!!!

3,5 Stars.
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Sleeper Agent
Sun, Aug 11, 2019, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Year of Hell, Part I

I've said it before and I'll say it again: time distortion/alternative timeline-stories annoys the cr*p out of me. In this episode we get a shining example of how messed up it easily gets.

On the positive side everything else is really good in "A Year of Hell Part 1". Mulgrew is on such a level that she alone makes it worth the watch. Bravo!
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Sleeper Agent
Sun, Aug 11, 2019, 9:42am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Revulsion

The premise has plenty of potential, but unfortunately we end up with a result that could've been more.

As some have already pointed out, the story and the distressed hologram should've been written/played with more subtleness - I believe it could've been up there with the best, was it more a psychological thriller instead of a classic slasher.

I also agree that the over-eager Doctor in the beginning didn't fit well with the no-f^cks-given Doc in the second half.

A part from that it's a very solid episode with no real weak spots. The B'Elanna/Tom relationship is being handled very satisfactory, both actors with terrific performances that add nuance to respective character.

3 Stars, so far season 4 is killing it.
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Skeptical
Sat, Aug 10, 2019, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

Booming, you have completely and totally misrepresented practically everything I said, made absurd and frankly vicious and mean-spirited assumptions about my beliefs (I'm suddenly an imperialist trying to bomb everyone else into submission? Where the bleep did that come from???), seem to believe that your view of the world is the only possible correct one, and have essentially proved my point far better than I could. But rather than get into some stupid tit-for-tat war, let me try again...

Point #1: should we get life lessons from Star Trek? Well, let's assume that we should, that Star Trek writers are soooo much smarter than us and can impart great wisdom to us lowly, stupid peons. So let us learn from these great folks, starting from the beginning of TOS. Actually, let's skip ahead to near the end of Season 1 and start listing are important lessons:

Errand of Mercy: Pacifism, even in the face of evil and oppression, is good!
The Alrernative Factor: Don't make a Star Trek episode when you're on drugs...
City on the Edge of Forever: Pacifism may sound good, but in the face of evil and oppression is bad!

Um... what? So, if I'm getting life lessons from Star Trek, how am I supposed to know what is good and just when they are providing contradictory lessons literally TWO EPISODES APART! And that's not the only time either. Using the power of the Q to save people from disaster is bad in Hide and Q, but good in Deja Q. The Prime Directive is the upmost good (ie, prime), except all the times when it's not. Using technology from a sadist is bad in Nothing Human, but stealing Borg technology is A-OK in Dark Frontier. And, as the piece de resistance and breaking TOS' record for whiplash, our hero Sisko says that an organization in the Federation that does shady things to protect the Federation is totally 100% evil literally THE WEEK BEFORE he does a bunch of shady things to protect the Federation.

If you're relying on Star Trek to find good life lessons, you're gonna have problems, because it's all over the place. There is no hope of having an actual cohesive moral code when you have dozens of writers wanting to tell dozens of stories.

Ah, you say, but there's subtle differences. Pacifism was bad in COTEOF but good in EOM because the situations were different. Oh really? What is the nice dividing line between the two situations? What makes it ok in one situation and not the other? That's not to say that there CAN be subtle differences, that different situations can call on different actions, but is that what Star Trek taught? Is the difference clear and easily understandable based on these episodes alone? Of course not.

Because, in both instances, the writers were trying to tell a story. And getting into all the details on a life lesson would turn it into a lecture instead.

And this is even ignoring the fact that the TRUE message in EOM is completely effed up: pacifism is good, and if other don't agree you should use your own violence to impose it on them!

But actually, that brings it to Point #2: people can take different messages from a story because, again, the story is prevalent and you can't just stand up there and lecture. So, what does that mean? If we SHOULD take messages from Star Trek, but people take DIFFERENT messages from the same episode, what then? Are they both right? Is one wrong?

And if one is wrong, why? Why are they a miserable failure at interpreting a TV show while the other person is a super genius? Who is to say which one is right? If a story can be interpreted as an analogy for one situation, can it be interpreted as an analogy for a much different one? And again, who says one is right and the other is wrong?

I suppose the author can say so. But if the author wasn't smart enough to realize how his or her moral message can be logically applied to unapproved wrongthink, why should we listen to the author?

Since Booming appears to be a pretty clear liberal, let's do something crazy here. Measure of a Man is about the Civl Rights movement, right? Of course it is. Guinan's statement makes it pretty clear. And yet, and yet... The final judgement of the judge lady was, quite clearly, that she does not know if Data counts as a "person" and does not feel qualified to judge on that particular matter, but instead chooses to err on the side of caution and give Data the right to choose in this interest, given the particular downside of judging incorrectly. So if this is an analogy of the Civil Rights movement, is that the right message? "Who knows if them black folk are really human, but I suppose we ought to give them rights just in case" Is that the lesson we should learn, that there's a legitimate reason that we can't be sure people of a different color than us are really human?

Of course not. The author clearly didn't intend that to be the case. But it made sense to make that ruling in our analogy to fit the story of Data. And yet, and yet... That judgement - when we aren't sure about personhood, we should err on the side of caution - DOES show up in a modern political debate. But it shows up in the Pro-Life movement, where all the good liberals who think Star Trek is on their said is 100% against. So of course, all the good liberals will shriek and holler and say that this is twisting the true intent of the episode and HOW DARE THEY! But why? Like I said, the analogy of the actual judgement fits the Pro-Life movement far better than the Civil Rights movement, even though I'm sure that wasn't the author's intention. But if we are to take moral lessons from Star Trek, we have to apply those lessons to areas outside the limited scope of the episode. So who's to say that this application is 100% false?

I've said it before in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and I'll say it again in a tongue-in-cheek manner, just to prove that different interpretations are possible, but... Star Trek is actually a right-wing utopia fantasy, not a left-wing utopia fantasy. The utopia was created by an act of pure capitalism and due to a singular private citizen's will and drive rather than a government program, the military is highly respected and full of good people rather than uneducated morons who want to kill stuff, the prime directive is a way to stop moral liberal busybodies from imposing their nanny-state isms on other people and let them have their freedoms, and the single greatest threat to the galaxy is the clearly communist Borg. See, 100% right wing! Why should that not be the message we get out of it?

But Booming thinks only Booming's interpretation is correct. That was my point with the alternate interpretation of this episode. Fact #1: Both men AND women can have unrealistic expectations that their partners should act and behave exactly like they want them to. Fact #2: for both men AND women, these unrealistic expectations can produce seriously unhealthy relationships. Does anyone actually disagree with either of those two facts (and, if so, perhaps you ought to look in the mirror to find the real sexist...)? So, given that, why can't the "moral message", if you want to find one in this episode, be applied to both men AND women? And yet, when I suggested that women could get a moral message out of this episode, Booming started ranting about presidential elections and a bunch of other crap. Why isn't this interpretation of the message a valid one? Apparently Booming thinks it's impossible, but I have no idea why.

The reason these alternative messages exist, of course, is because the authors are trying to tell a story. In order to ensure no other possible message except the intended one gets through, the author would have to constantly push away from the actual plot and keep manipulating the story to make sure the one true message gets across. And when that happens, the story suffers. And that makes for bad fiction. We call it "Season 1 of TNG."

But in any case, back to this idea that "only one true message" exists, as it segues nicely into Point #3: More often than not, the people who claim lessons can be learned from Star Trek aren't actually learning lessons themselves, but rather think that OTHER people should be learning the lessons that THEY want them to. Pretty convenient that the one true message of Perfect Mate is a Perfect Match for Booming's worldview, and that all other interpretations and all other worldviews are self evidently false, right?

Here's a fun little game for everyone: go read the comments for The Drumhead. Look for all the comments that say something like "this is such an important episode, and is so relevant for today!" Got it? There's plenty of them. Now, notice that EVERY SINGLE ONE of them thinks its relevant because they believe that THEIR POLITICAL OPPONENTS are the ones that are crazy, conspiracy spouting unhinged maniacs like Satie while THEIR POLITICAL ALLIES are the calm, rational Picard. Every. Single. One. Even those on polar opposite sides of the political aisle.

There may be a supposed message of the Drumhead, but the TRUE message that everyone looking for a message got out of it was "You are so much better than those stupid evil people you despise."

Does anyone who wants messages in their fiction actually want to learn from those messages, or do they just want to use them to feel morally superior?

I mean, I've been on this website for a LONG time, and have seen a TON of these dustups and stupid arguments appear. I guess the takeaway is that Star Trek fans have never learned the main message of Star Trek, that of tolerance and respect for other people. So if Star Trek fans who claim to care SOOO much about moral messages in shows can't even learn the most basic one, why should we have them at all?

And, finally, we get to Point #4: there is a difference between thematic fiction and message fiction. By no means am I arguing for the Tom Paris route of just make a silly, zany show with twists and turns and no weight behind it. But themes don't need to be life lessons. Themes don't need to create us vs them attitudes. Themes are naturally interwoven into the story and arise naturally from the story rather than exist in a tug of war with the story. That's good fiction.

Let's look at what could probably be considered a consensus pick for best Star Trek, namely Wrath of Khan. There are two very clear themes in the movie: Pride goeth before a fall, and getting old is a part of life. Are those "messages" we need to "learn"? We probably knew them already, and certainly didn't learn them from this moview. And it's not like the authors are constantly shouting them from the rooftops either. For one, the fact that there are two of them makes the movie more organic rather than feeling like a morality play. For two, they both come up in different ways. Obviously Khan's arrogance takes center stage, but we also have undercurrents with Kirk arrogantly ignoring Saavik's request to raise shields despite protocol and the Marcus' arrogance of not realizing or not caring that they were also developing a WMD. Kirk coming to accept life took several twists and turns, from the start complaining about his age and feeling useless, to the middle-end talking about Kirk refusing to face death but now being forced to, and of course the more subtle bit of Kirk reconnecting with his son as a reminder that growing old also means passing things down to the next generation and the joy of watching that generation grow.

All of that is GOOD writing. All of that is THEMATIC writing. Much, much better than message writing.

So to sum up:
1) Star Trek's messaging is poor and all over the place anyway, so it's hardly a moral authority.
2) People can interpret Star Trek episodes in different ways, so there's no moral authority.
3) People inevitably interpret Star Trek to fit their preconceived worldview anyway, so that hardly counts as a moral authority.

Ergo, when it comes to fiction, it's better to have good themes and a good story than to try to tell a message.
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Skeptical
Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

Theo,

Fair enough if the subtext of Picard and Kamala's time together was clearly sexual. Like I said, I'm going by memory here. Obviously her request that he stay the night can easily be seen that way, but I didn't remember the rest of it being obviously of one nature or another.

But as for the notion that there is no way of knowing if Kamala lied? Let's look at it further. There appears to be two forms of her emotional morphing: a temporary, immediate morph like with the miners(?) and Riker, or the permanent imprinting that the story revolves around. So suppose she lies about being permanently imprinted on Picard in order to make herself look more appealing to him. Thus, that act of lying means that she is in the midst of her temporary imprint. (Admittedly, there could be more than just 2 forms, ie, a short term, mid term, and permanent imprint, but let's just keep things simple). So that means that she is picking up on Picard's desire to see her change in order to become someone he could be attracted to. Are we in agreement?

But Picard's surface level, conscious desire is specifically that she NOT imprint on him, since his surface level desire is to fulfill his duty with minimal problems. So she must be picking up on his deeper, more subconscious desires. Again, seems reasonable.

But let's put that to the test with Riker. IIRC, her imprint on him involved no personality, no intellectual or emotional attachment, just pure physical attraction by making out with him. That's less personality than even the show she put on for the catcalling miners. So does that mean that Riker's idea of the perfect mate is nothing more than a hot body that's ready to go? Yet, we already saw an artificial perfect mate for Riker: Minuet. She was hot, sure, but also sultry and seductive. And what did Riker do when he was alone with his perfect mate? Spend a lot of time, perhaps even hours, flirting with her. He didn't go straight to bed then. And we see multiple instances of Riker flirting throughout the show. It seems reasonable to assume he enjoys the chase as much as the prize, if you know what I mean. He wants to flirt with his mate and enjoy a little back and forth as well.

But Kamala didn't pick up on that. Why not? Meanwhile, what was Riker's conscious state while being with her? Like Picard, he undoubtedly didn't see her as a potential suitable mate due to his duty. But unlike Picard, I could imagine that Riker, as a fan of the female form, did have idle thoughts about how hot she was and perhaps some curiosity about what she would be like in bed. Not a real fantasy, not dwelling on it, but still. And since it was just idle fantasy and not dwelling on it, it wasn't connected to any specific personality, just the physical curiosity. And so that's what she picked up and morphed into, a purely physical mate.

In other words, her transient imprint picks up on his conscious desires, even if her permanent imprint would pick up on his subconscious desires. I suppose there's a certain amount of logic to it, that it would take time for her own subconscious or whatever to understand the subject's true desires and thus time for her own brain to be rewired. But either way, we seem to have evidence that the transient imprint acts on surface-level desires. And if so, her transient imprint would also act on Picard's conscious desires. But the "lie" would be for the benefit of Picard's subconscious desire. Ergo, it is not a lie at all, but a truth.

Again, it's not an ironclad proof. Maybe there is a midterm imprint as well, or maybe my split between conscious, current desire and subconscious, true perfect mate isn't exactly how it works. But whatever, it's more evidence in its favor. I think the evidence is definitely weighted towards it being the truth.

Whew, this is getting long... Anyway, next topic: on whether Kamala imprinting on Picard is a tragedy for her or not:

Yes, there is a clear tragedy if someone is a perfect match for person A but must be with Person B, even if her Person A personality is a better ideal than a Person B personality. If she imprinted on a stuffed shirt like Picard and then married someone who loved adventure and excitement and wanted a partner to share those loves, that could be a tragedy. But that's not really what happened here. IIRC, it was pretty explicitly laid out that her husband-to-be didn't really care about obtaining her as a person or as a wife, but rather just saw this ceremony as a means to an end. She was nothing more than a tool for his political position and power.

If that's the case, what would she be like if she imprinted on him? If he sees her as a mere tool, will that be how she sees herself? Will she just sit passively in a chair for the rest of her life waiting for the few moments when she will be useful either in the bedroom or in state functions? Is that even much of a life?

But back to Picard. In a way, Picard and the king are similar: they both have some strong desire for independence and solitude. Presumably, for both of them, the idea of a perfect mate is someone who is not around them all the time. The difference, though, is that the king doesn't care about her one way or another outside of when she is pleasing him, while Picard presumably wants her to live a rich and fulfilling life when they are not together. So her new Picard-centric personality is one where she wants to fulfill her duties, wants to make her partner happy, but also is perfectly fine with her partner being alone for long periods of time and will happily find fulfillment by herself in those time periods. Her king-centric personality would have been wanting to fulfill her duties, wanting to make her partner happy, but would be a passive blob during the long periods of time when she is left by herself. Nothing of the Picard imprint would contradict what the king would want, and perhaps there's some tragedy that she would rather make Picard happy than the king, but at least the 80% of her life where she would be alone is much better for the Picard imprint.

So I disagree with your analogy. Instead, she may not be able to, say, pursue being a Shakespearean actress, and she may be forced to go to Miley Cyrus concerts once a week, but she is now perfectly able to read and listen and watch Shakespeare in her downtime when she wouldn't have been able to before. Thus, introducing Shakespeare into her life is making it better, even if it isn't the perfect life. It's not that she imprinted on a good person like Picard that makes her life better, it's that she imprinted on a good person AND a loner.

---

Peter and Booming, I'm not saying that there should never be any deeper meaning or anything, but that it is WAY too easy for that to distract from the story itself. Dune is the story of an extremely valuable commodity critical for transportation being found only in a desert region populated by individuals who have a suspiciously large number of Arabic words in their dialogue. It is sooo easy to say that this is an allegory, or that the message of the book is about Middle Eastern politics and oil and such. But it really isn't. There are so many other plot points and messages that have absolutely nothing to do with oil, and the main resolution of the "oil" conflict relies on a solution that is absolutely impossible in the real world. Frank Herbert may have taken inspiration from the real world here, but uses it only as a springboard to create a richer, better story. Same here. Even if the origin of the story was the fantasy of the perfect girlfriend, allowing the alien story to progress without worrying about the "messenging" of an imaginary perfect girlfriend wish fulfillment story.

I mean, Booming, it seems pretty clear that you are looking at this from a feminist perspective. But why? Yes, guys can have fantasies of having a perfect girlfriend designed for their happiness. But do you really think that girls don't have fantasies of having a perfect boyfriend designed for their happiness? Seriously? So is it misogynistic for a man to have this fantasy, but perfectly natural for a woman to have the fantasy? If the roles were reversed, and this was a male metamorph, would we be complaining about the societal problems of expecting a man to change on a woman's whims?

If both men AND women can have this fantasy, what is the point of looking at this from a feminist perspective just because this one happens to be from the male fantasy point of view? If it's a problematic viewpoint, shouldn't it be an equal opportunity problematic viewpoint? And even if you say that the male fantasy has a more prominent problematic history due to political marriages, well, why should I care that deeply about what a few nobles did hundreds of years ago? Shouldn't the female fantasy be more socially relevant in MODERN society given the general societal pressure of telling men that the women are ALWAYS right when it comes to relationship issues, and that a man who marries should get used to losing every argument?

So in order to properly talk about this social concept, we need to bring in male metamorphs. We need to bring in the emotional impact this has on these metamorphs, even though as Theo pointed out they are aliens and human-centric emotional values are kinda dumb for them. We need to bring up what it means to be in a relationship and the values of independence vs submission and blah blah blah blah blah. And most importantly, we need to do ALL of this in ONLY 43 minutes while STILL fitting a good, engaging story in.

Is that possible? I don't think so. Even if the time restriction is out, it's still nearly impossible to weave an engaging story in with trying to present a full, fair moral argument. 9 times out of 10, it comes off as terrible preaching. Since there is no dialogue with the viewer, there is no possibility of the writer changing his/her viewpoint. Thus, the dialogue/preaching is all one-sided. Which means that, in order to accept it, one must accept that the writer knows what he or she is talking about.

And as I said previously, I simply do not accept Hollywood as my superior. Booming brought up Code of Honor. Yes, I can see that it was a jumbled, screwed up attempt to talk about racism. But you know what? Strip away ALL of the African subtext (or text, as the case may be) from the episode. And what do you have? A message about how we should bend over backwards to appease people who kidnap our family (and implied to rape them) when we invite them over as guests. What the bleeping bleep??? What kind of a message is that? Now yes, the writer did try to paper that over by saying these people had a critical vaccine or cure or whatever that was needed. In that case, the story COULD be how far would we go to humiliate ourselves or even support evil actions in the face of the "greater good", but based off the rest of the episode, the rest of Season 1, and Gene's philosophy in general, I reckon that the vaccine bit is just an attempt to hide the true message that I said earlier. A message that is very clearly morally repugnant to me. So again, why should I listen to them? One could argue that MAYBE I'm wrong, MAYBE they might have a point, but that would require extensive dialogue to convince me, not a pat 43 minute show where I have no input.

So frankly, stop trying to teach me something and just entertain me instead. I have no problem with real world inspirations or examining real world truths, but I'd much, MUCH rather they be twisted to improve the quality of the story rather than the story be twisted to put more emphasis on the inspiration.

And it doesn't help that the messages are all so simple. Peter, the "message" you provided, about the fantasy girlfriend and how it really isn't fair to either her or you to indulge in it, is certainly true. But do you really need this story to tell you that? I'm sure you knew that already, even if you don't think about it constantly. And yes, this is only 43 minutes long so you can't expect complex messages. But that just means the "message" can stay way in the background and tell a good story instead.
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