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Jason R.
Tue, Jan 28, 2020, 5:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

"My point was that racism has barely anything to do with instincts. Believing that we are instinctively primed to hate people who look different has no real basis. That is just pub talk or layman logic, gut truth. I'm really not sure what the proper term is."

I think, to be fair, he was using "racism" as a proxy for pretty much any bigotry or prejudice against outsiders based on whatever criteria (ethnicity, language, dress, religion, etc...) and was not confining himself to whatever narrow term of art you may use in your field.
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Jason R.
Tue, Jan 28, 2020, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

"I know that you think social science is witch craft but saying that racism comes from instincts is so far off it is basically wrong. For example. Most of European history dark skinned people weren't considered less valuable Humans. The Romans didn't consider black skinned people less and used them in almost all ranks. One of the holy wise men in the bible was described as black (Balthazar). Racism towards black people developed during the last 400 years which has certain reasons but it has nothing to do with instincts."

And if his claim was that *anti black* racism specifically was inherent to human nature you'd come close to having a point.
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Jason R.
Tue, Jan 28, 2020, 3:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

To play devil's advocate here I don't think the first episode gives us enough context to conclude that the UFP has fallen into darkness to the extent that some are suggesting. While banning synthetics is worrisome there's no indication that existing synthetics are being persecuted or enslaved (or would be) just yet. For whatever reason synthetics are seen as dangerous and should simply not be created in the first place. I don't see this as radically different from the ban on genetic enhancement which is at this point canon in the series since at least DS9.

As for the Romulans that is a tougher one. We know that Starfleet was prepared to evacuate the refugees but their rescue fleet was destroyed (by the synthetics). Picard doesn't tell us the whole story in that brief snippet but we have to assume that the decision to abort the plan was as much about logistics and resources as it was some callous bigotry to the Romulans, or else the UFP would not have tried in the first place.

Bottom line I don't see anything here that fundamentally breaks the status quo from TNG / DS9 / Voyager era Trek - at least not yet. Frankly, Turkana IV from season 1 TNG is a bigger blow to Rodenberry's alleged vision when you stop and think about it!

Heck since Picard's vision of humanity from TNG season 1 was so clearly at odds with the evidence going back to TOS perhaps he is the one who was deluded all along? Maybe his disillusionment is a result of his eyes opening to what was always true rather than some new development in the last 20 years.
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Jason R.
Tue, Jan 28, 2020, 2:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

"Also Turkana IV was a “failed colony.” Evidently human colonies apparently sometimes collapse into war torn hellholes. According to Roddenberry."

Well yes, a human colony.

The point being that if you're prepared to take a marker and draw an arbitrary line on a map excluding "failed" states from the picture then we don't need to wait for the 24th century to realize utopia - just draw a line around countries like Sweden where no one starves and everyone gets free healthcare and call it a day and say humanity has eradicated hunger and provides free healthcare to all!

I thought the whole point of the Rodenberrian vision was that humans don't let humans starve / die in wars / live in depravity. If not, then how is his "utopia" different from today, other than having a galactic map of planets instead of a global map of countries?
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Jason R.
Tue, Jan 28, 2020, 1:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

"Turkana IV is not a Federation planet. That is kind of the point of her backstory."

Ummm, so the "evolved human" is only evolved so long as he lives within UFP borders?

I mean in most first world countries today starvation is practically unheard of. Do we draw an arbitrary line around the first world and declare the inhabitants "evolved" because they defeated hunger (while inhabitants in the third world continue to starve?)
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jamie Mann
Tue, Jan 28, 2020, 1:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Darkness and the Light

Sadly, another episode where my opinion differs from most.

As other people have said, in many ways, this feels like a repeat of Duet, but with the roles somewhat reversed.

In fact, it feels like the entire point of the episode was to get Kira into a "courtroom" with Silaran - the deaths which took her there were little more than window dressings to set the scene.

(It's also heavily contrived - are we really meant to buy into the idea that a Cardassian house-servant would be able to so easily bypass Federation security, have access to illegal teleporter-scrambler tech and be able to sneak explosives onto a space station despite the fact that he's both a Cardassian *and* heavily disfigured? What is this? The Phantom of the Opera, as played by Alfred Pennyworth?)

Unfortunately, with the lighting and the frequent monologing, it all ends up feeling like a theatre production. As in: we're watching two actors, acting on a stage. Which broke the suspense for me.

It's also somewhat of a regression for Kira, as she falls back into the "angry ex-terrorist" mold from the first series, not least when she declares that all Cardassians were valid targets.

In truth, I read her statement as a "look back" on how she felt during the occupancy, rather than her current attitude. But it's been interesting to see how people reviewing this episode have reacted to this, not least those who have reacted with horror.

Because while I don't condone her attitude, and I hope to never be in any situation which is even remotely similar, I do at least somewhat understand where she's coming from.

The Cardassian Occupancy of Bajor was an actively destructive, brutal and cynical one. The most obvious comparison is WW2, when Nazi armies rolled across Europe and conquered entire countries, seizing their resources and enslaving and/or killing anyone who argued with them or didn't fit into the Ayran ideal.

Sadly, it's far from the only example of an entire people being suppressed. From the Israelites who followed Moses to the Russian revolution, Japan's actions across the Far east during WW2, Belgium and the Congo, the wholesale massacres in Cambodia and beyond, there's plenty of examples of "occupations" where the native peoples were literally classed as sub-human and hence fit only to be worked to death - or worse.

And that's where Kira came from. Certainly, if you watch the WW2 news reels of the slave camps, or read about the Nazi use of slave labour, there's very clear parallels with the mining operations on DS9, and the various stories that DS9 has done over the years.

And that's where Kira was coming from. When you're dealing with someone who is actively and brutally destroying everything you care about, then anyone who directly or indirectly supports their activities is culpable.

In fact, that's what I think the writers were trying to get at, with Kira's final statement.

"He wanted to protect the innocent … and separate the darkness from the light. But he didn’t realize … the light only shines in the dark … and sometimes innocence is just an excuse for the guilty"

Silaran's defence was that he - and the other people in the house, including the children - were innocent. But they were actively facilitating the destruction of an entire society and planet, and at least in Silaran's case, he was there willingly.

So yeah. He may have been innocent of causing direct harm, but indirectly, he was definitely culpable.

And so... innocence is just an excuse for the guilty.

With that said, I'm still not particularly keen on this episode. Not only is it heavily contrived, but it feels like it should have aired a few seasons earlier and whatever message the writers intended to put across in Kira's final statement, it's too obtuse.
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James White
Tue, Jan 28, 2020, 8:14am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

@Jason R

A "higher state of being" is not the same as a utopian, or perfect, state of being. Booming's point relates to the overall vision of the future, not whether certain, imperfect components of this vision still exist. What's more interesting is whether Gene himself would gravitate to a more flawed vision of our future, were he still alive today.
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Jason R.
Tue, Jan 28, 2020, 7:01am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

"We are living in sad times when people are apparently incapable of even imagining a future were humanity has achieved a higher state of being."

For the record, apparently even Gene Rodenberry couldn't imagine it either, certainly not in the original series. There were numerous examples in TOS of greed, corruption, prejudice, being very much alive in human societies. It was only in Season 1 of TNG that we saw the rainbows and unicorns version of this with godawful episodes like The Neutral Zone or The Last Outpost. And this nonsense died with Season 1, rightly so. Indeed, now that I think of it, even in Season 1 they weren't committed to this - remind me, what species were the rape gangs on Tasha's homeworld?

And yeah, it's hooey to imagine a world where humans, who basically talk, act and think like 20th century people, absent genetic engineering, have somehow manufactured a society where "greed" and "bigotry" are abolished. This isn't just utopian; it's IMPOSSIBLE. It's akin to abolishing headaches a la that ridiculous comment by Crusher in The Battle.
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James G
Mon, Jan 27, 2020, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Hollow Pursuits

Brilliant episode, this one. Very clever. A really terrific performance by Dwight Schultz.

The only complaint for me is that the drama and suspense at the end relies on a tried and tested formula; the 'ship in grave peril with only minutes to find a technical solution' chestnut. Apart from that this episode is a welcome and original diversion from the usual tropes. Some strong humour, as well.

I hadn't seen this one for many years and was watching the scene where Riker, Troi and Geordi turn up on the holodeck through my fingers. I was half expecting them to find the holographc Deanna with her underwear round her ankles, up against a tree.
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Jason R.
Mon, Jan 27, 2020, 9:54am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

"So why do TPTB feel the need to "recalibrate" the 24th century now, all of a sudden? Are Trump and Brexit scarier than a global nuclear war? The lack of perspective that the showrunners are exhibiting here is positively funny. It's like they've completely abandoned all hope for humanity, just because reality has gotten a little rough."

Ha! Because the original timeline merely had global nuclear armageddon, post atomic horror etc... but in retrospect that was naively optimistic?
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JulieYBM
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 8:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

I loved it. I'm a little sad to see the novels might be ignored but it's a nice story so far and it's incredible seeing so many old actors bad.

I do wish the cinematography had been more inventive. I want smarter angles, shot rhythm and handling of dialogue scenes. They could save so much time for more important scenes by handling scenes through off-camera ADR.
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Jason R.
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 7:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

Jor-El agreed - I just found puffed up Brent Spiner in makeup cringe-inducing. Given it was just a few seconds of screen time here and there it would have been one of the few times I would have applauded use of de-aging cgi.

Also I wish they'd stop using the makeup from the movies and go back to Data's look from the show. The movies made him look greasy and slimy and totally unappealing. I wish they would not have carried that over into the new series. Yuck.
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Jor-El
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 7:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

I still don't understand why they couldn't use current technology to thin Data's face and make him look younger. It's so distracting and takes me out it. Are we really expected to not remember how Data looked? Isn't this aimed at TNG fans who actually watched TNG? All I see now is old Brent Spiner playing Data with lots of makeup which is failing to make him look younger and instead is making him look creepy and ominous.
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Jaxon
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 10:14am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

"I'd love to see Kira and Bashir in season 2, as well as obviously Worf"

If it means Worf has to be one of those monsters they're trying to call Klingons now, I'd prefer they not bother.
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Jim Smith
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 5:48am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

Watching this for the second time, I genuinely felt a twinge of anger. Because clearly it's possible to write a decent Trek series these days. This opening episode proves it. So how come Discovery's first two seasons were so utterly *wretched* in the main?

I loved nearly everything about this opener. I loved the continuity nods. I loved the supporting cast and their characters. I loved the visuals of space and Earth. And most of all, I loved Patrick Stewart and Picard. Boy have I missed them. His shredding of the news interviewer was pitch-perfect. And speaking not pitch-perfect, Brent Spiner still has that Data voice nailed. Yeah, he's aged some. But we're seeing him in dreams, so it's easy to imagine him looking slightly 'off'.

The episode pacing was good, slow and contemplative when it needed to be before ramping up the speed and the tension when Dahj and Picard are attacked. I thought that it was going to feel a bit rushed, especially with the last couple of minutes being devoted to a teaser for the season ahead. But it felt pretty good to me in the end.

Biggest problem? Want more! :-)
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John
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 3:40am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

GET YOUR CONTINUITY ERRORS HERE:

Greetings! I will be your guide to all of the continuity errors present throughout the entire Star Trek: Picard series. This will be fun. Here in Remembrance, we have one minor error:

Picard is constantly seen as dreaming in this episode. He has very vivid dreams of Data and even says to one of the Romulans, "The dreams are lovely. It's the waking up part I'm beginning to resent."

And yet, in the 4th season episode of Star Trek: TNG, "Night Terrors," it is established that Picard doesn't recall his dreams ever. In that episode, telepathic aliens are killing the crew by suppressing their ability to dream (except for Troi, who has nightmares). Crusher then stumbles on to the problem and asks Picard in his ready room, "Can you recall any of your dreams as of late?" Picard responds, "I don't recall dreams." Then Crusher adds, "Most people don't. But think about it. Have you even had a dream recently?" To which Picard, once again, sternly replies, "I don't recall."

I'm hoping the writers of Star Trek: Picard remedy this continuity error in the future by having Picard say something like, "I used to never recall my dreams. But now, they are the only things that make my waking state seem real." That would be cool.

Anyway, carry on, everyone. I shall address more continuity distortions in the next episode, if any!
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Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 3:22am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

Another episode where I sadly disagree with Jammer's score.

As previously mentioned, I'm not a fan of DS9's dealings with religion, given how it simplifies things to produce something which can both fit into a 45-minute episode and won't cause any controversy with the networks who buy the syndication rights.

The answer is usually to push the religious aspects onto an alien race and have the humans of the story as observers who have little or no direct involvement with the religious activities in question; they'll occasionally take part in the Ceremony Of The Week, but won't actually join the religion in question or engage in any significant discussions about it,

The Bajorans are a prime example of this. Every Bajoran hews to the same religious creed to a lesser or greater decree, and at the upper end of the scale can display some worryingly behaviours. Accession is one of the better examples of this, when we see Kira quitting her job because Akoorem Laan believes that the traditional caste-based system should be restored. And in the very same episode, we see a Vedek blithely pushing another Bajoran over a railing and to their death, because the Bajoran in question didn't want to go back to their caste.

It's a highly primitive setup, especially for a society which is allegedly so spiritual - it's a mash-up of the medieval Catholic Church and the rigid, stagnant, and caste-based societies of ancient India and China - a system which is at least as much about maintaining the status quo as it is about spirituality.

Worse, this setup makes little or no sense to me - in a universe where beings of all shapes, sizes and capabilities exist, why do the Bajorans believe the Wormhole aliens to be gods? They've had everything from energy-based aliens to the mighty Q himself (equally if not more capable of manipulating time and space) visit, and the Wormhole aliens didn't even understand the concept of linear time or that the Bajorans were worshipping them until Sisko stuck his head into the wormhole. Hell, it only takes a sentences or two of technobabble to send ordinary linear-time creatures careering into the past.

(And yes: I know it gets wibbly wobbly timey wimey with the fact that the aliens are non-linear and can manipulate the past, present and future. From a 4 dimensional perspective, they essentially ignored Bajor for 10,000 years, other than to occasionally/accidentally drop artefacts out of the undiscovered wormhole...)

Then we come to this episode, in which the writers decided to throw in some more medieval elements. Uncannily accurate visions which slowly kill the person seeing them, even as they find themselves irresistibly drawn by the tantalising possibility of becoming One With The Cosmic All.

Oddly - and presumably deliberately - these visions are never directly tied to the Bajoran religion; instead, they're associated with the effects of Sisko's holodeck accident. Also, they're treated with scepticism, despite the fact that Sisko is able to accurately describe current events which he should have no knowledge of, such as the Admiral's relationship issues with his son.

I'm guessing that this is an artefact of the unwritten rule that ST humans should only observe religion rather than engaging with it, but it does leave things somewhat muddied.

The whole thing with B'hala feels off, too. This is a 20,000 year old painting with partially visible coordinates, and not a single Bajoran has ever attempted to closely study the paintings for further clues? The Cardassian occupation only lasted for around 30 years, which leaves around some 19,970 years for study, and Sisko didn't do anything especially super-scientific in his analysis.

Maybe their society really is just primitive and rigid...
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Sarjenka's Brother
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 12:37am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S2: The 37's

Folks make a lot of good points about the flaws in the story -- especially a truck that remains operational after being in space. That should have been caught in writers' meeting.

And how did they have such nice weather and a blue sky after going through that maelstrom of an atmosphere?

Usually these unforced errors diminish an episode, but I honestly got swept up in the sentiment and emotional impact of the episode.

I think it could have been a good two-parter actually, with Part I being the season ender for season 1.
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Sarjenka's Brother
Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 10:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S1: Learning Curve

Sometimes I find myself swimming against the "Trek" tide, and this is one of them.

I liked "Learning Curve," and I think Janeway gave Tuvok the assignment because he ALSO had a lot to learn -- and she knew it.

In series placement, I think this would have worked a lot better around episode 5, 6 or 7. I think Maquis integration should have been the first story arc.

It was also not a good episode with which to end a season.

As for the cheese, I actually thought it was an inventive and even plausible explanation for the biopack infection. I'm sure the designers of the ship never anticipated a live galley.

Great outing? Nope. But I think it's better than most folks do.
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Sarjenka's Brother
Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S1: Jetrel

I think this was Voyager's "Duet." It even comes in the same place as "Duet" -- next to last episode of the first season.

And just as I'd rate "DS9" higher than "Voyager," I'd rate "Duet" higher than "Jetrel." Still, it was a very good hour of "Trek" and one of the best episodes of season 1.

Among its other attributes, it definitely fleshes out the character of Neelix, who needed it pretty badly.

One nit-pick: I would have liked to haven known the current status of Talax. Is it still conquered and ruled by Jetrel's race or did it break free? Either, I'm surprised Voyager could just assume orbit around the moon of a planet with a space-faring race in control and not have to explain itself.
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J Ryan
Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 7:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

Jammer, just want to say thank you for the comprehensive, insightful, well-written reviews. They've become part of the whole Star Trek experience to me. Each episode I watch I go right to your site and read your review. Excellent work. I hope you are able to keep it going.
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Jamie Mann
Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 6:47pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ascent

Sadly, this one was a fairly meh episode for me.

As other people have noted, it's an episode which could have worked a season or two earlier, but at this point, the relationship between Odo and Quark has already been explored, and there's little new here, and a load of bickering which could pretty much have been lifted wholesale from the aforementioned earlier episodes.

It would have been more interesting to have more of a focus on Odo's struggles with being a Solid - while it does factor into the storyline, especially with the broken leg, this would have been a prime opportunity to explore the implications of his situation. In fact, it would have worked better if he'd been injured in the crash and then had to depend on Quark for survival...
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Jaxon
Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 5:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

The year 2016 seemed to be a turning point for America, where it made a sharp turn away from heading for a future humanity like that depicted in Star Trek, and headed for one much more akin to the future humanity depicted in Avatar.

Looks like this show has recalibrated Starfleet accordingly, which would explain Picard's disgist.

The reporter than interviewed Picard seemed like she worked for One Federation News Network.
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Jamie Mann
Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 2:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

I'm... not sure about this one.

Once more, the entire bridge crew of the space station is swanning around for weeks in the gamma quadrant for $pointless_reason, at a time when hordes of Jem Hadar ships are wandering around the Cardassian border and taking pot shots at Federation and Klingon ships.

And once more, we find ourselves on a planet inhabited by a bunch of attractive Californians living in Generic European Rural Village.

But then there's a twist! A time travel twist! Though at least for once, it doesn't involve a trip back into some key point in American history.

Sadly, something doesn't sit right with me about the time travel elements of this episode. I think it's because it's not a closed loop - there's no indication that the crew were aware of the colony on their "first" trip back in time. Though I suppose it could be argued that Yedrin deliberately lied or concealed anything which would interfere with his plan.

(Though equally, the fact that O'Brien held out for a decade before giving up and (re)marrying also suggests that he didn't have any foreknowledge. And surely Yedrin Dax would have remembered that Jadzia Dax spotted the flaws in his faked sensor logs. And...)

That aside, the dilemma is an interesting one. Should the crew of the Defiant effectively sacrifice themselves to save the lives of the 8000 descendants (and their ancestors thereof, which would probably bump up the total to 12000 or so - oddly, this is never mentioned in the episode)?

To be honest, I'm not sure this is something which should have been decided by Sisco; instead, it should arguably have been put to the vote of the entire crew. After all, as O'Brien eloquently notes, many of them have marriages and relationships back home, so there's a cost in either choice (not to mention the personal aspects, such as the fact that O'Brien would have to break his marriage vows!). And then there's the wider picture - how would DS9 survive without it's only defensive platform and the entire bridge crew?

And I have to wonder what Star Fleet's Temporal Directives would say about this situation? I'd guess they'd probably recommend breaking the loop!

Then there's the actual descendants themselves, all of whom are suspiciously young and healthy looking, considering they've had 200 years of presumably dwindling technological and medical resources. I suppose it could be argued that they could use their replicators to replace stuff, but TNG and DS9 often point out how limited the replicators are when it comes to complex devices, except for when it's convenient for the writers, naturally. And even then, I'd question how much educational material and/or documentation would have been on the Defiant to train the 10 or so generations of kids who grew up on the planet.

Furture Dax and Odo are a bit off too. As ever, the role of the symbiote is unclear; in this instance, it's once again little more than an extended memory store. And Future Odo is just odd - he wanders around with a stoner glow and a blissed out grin. And the faux Klingons, running around hunting and blurting out cribbed bits of Klingon philosophy...

(Actually, what happened to Future Worf? We've previously seen Klingons running around and actively fighting at the ripe young age of 150, so Worf could have potentially still been alive - or only recently deceased...)

I dunno. It's an interesting dilemma, but the story they constructed around it feels off and the actual events are overly trite.
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Jason R.
Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 12:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

"Aside from the fact that I love Picard and yet still recognize that an objective person should acknowledge that cringe worthy is cringe worthy wherever you find it, you made a great "rebuttal." Fail more entertainingly next time"

Indeed, I have made it clear on this thread that I'm not objective. If they have Picard spending the next two episodes sitting on his porch filling out his taxes (do people pay taxes in the 24th century?) I will tune in.

But for the record, thus far things have been completely passable. Picard is still Picard - he hasn't shot anyone in the back, mutinied or started an interstellar war, so as far as I am concerned we are off to a good start.
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