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Mal
Wed, Jan 13, 2021, 8:13am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Whom Gods Destroy

Prelude to Axanar

The Four Years War Part III

Mal’s review before Jammer's


“Yeah sure I’ll tell you. They called me Queen Bitch Whore of the Federation.”

- Captain Sonya Alexander


3 stars (out of 4)


Set about 20 years before the events of "Whom Gods Destroy,” this incredible 21 minute feature tells the story of the the Ambush at Inverness V at which Garth of Izar earned his nom de guerre. The all-star cast is incredible. Tony Todd (Jake Sisko in “The Visitor”) plays Admiral Ramirez, the head of Star Fleet. Todd's stirring speech at Archer stadium more than makes up for the fact that we never actually got to see Captain Archer make a speech in the Enterprise finale.

The feature also stars two nBSG alumni. Richard Hatch (Apollo in the original BSG, Tom Zarek in the reboot) plays the Klingon nemesis. He brings the same underdog anxious gravitas to his role as Klingon Supreme Warlord in “Prelude” as he did as Interim-President of the 12 Colonies on Battlestar Galactica. And the always fun Kate Vernon (Mrs. Ellen Tigh) plays a potty-mouth starfleet captain in exactly the style you hope for. Yes, she even tells us about her drinking!

Rounding out the all-star cast is Soval (Enterprise), played by the original actor from the show, and Martok-actor J. G. Hertzler plays an Admiral and has perhaps one of the funniest lines of the episode: “A Vulcan’s gonna go what a Vulcan’s gonna go. But the Andorians. They were happy to supply us the phasers.” Trust me, his delivery is hilarious!

The action SFX are top notch and clearly take inspiration from nBSG. There is a particular shot of a Klingon battle cruiser descending through the atmosphere that reminded me of Galactica falling through the sky above New Caprica City in Exodus part 2. Here is how @Jammer describes the scene from nBSG,

"In one scene, the Galactica FTL-jumps to a point high in the sky above New Caprica City, does a free fall while on fire.”

I would love to see @Jammer’s review of “Prelude to Axanar.” This feature certainly does a better job than all but the best of TOS season 3 episodes, and more than 90% of ENT and VOY, and it is far superior to all of nuTrek.

In "Whom Gods Destroy," all we learn about Axanar is a quick line from Kirk,

KIRK: I agree there was a time when war was necessary, and you were our greatest warrior. I studied your victory at Axanar when I was a cadet. In fact it's still required reading at the Academy.

GARTH: As well it should be.

I can say without reservation that “Prelude to Axanar” is better than, and will actually enhance your enjoyment of, "Whom Gods Destroy.”

Finally, I absolutely love the uniforms from this time period, a faithful call-back to The Cage. Seeing Garth in his prime, tell you how he earned his named is - without doubt - worth the price of admission.

https://youtu.be/1W1_8IV8uhA
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Mal
Wed, Jan 13, 2021, 5:04am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@water, I don’t think the public at large likes Discovery.

When you look at all 42 episodes of Discovery ranked at IMDB, there are no Season 3 episodes in the top 10. None. Zero.

https://www.imdb.com/search/title/?series=tt5171438&sort=user_rating,desc&count=250&view=advanced

Even the public at large thinks the quality of Discovery has dropped off for episodes 30 to 42.

When I contrast Discovery with TNG, the difference is shocking.

For episodes 30 to 42 of TNG, the ranking at IMDB gives us,

# 5 Measure of a Man (episode 35)
# 8 Q Who (episode 42)
# 44 Matter of Honor (episode 34)
# 66 Contagion (episode 37)
# 78 Time Squared (episode 39)

That’s right, 5 episodes from episodes 30 to 42 of TNG make it to the top half. That Includes two top-10 episodes!

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls063581623/?sort=user_rating,desc&st_dt=&mode=detail&page=1

And remember, the competition to get into the top 10 for TNG is 4 times greater than for Discovery - because there are 4 times more episodes.

By contrast, only 3 episodes from episodes 30 to 42 of Discovery make it to the top half, meaning 9 episodes are below average. And the highest Season 3 Discovery episode is ranked #15. None are in the top 10.

Sad!

The quality of this season of Discovery has fallen dramatically, as is obvious to the public at large - far beyond @Jammer’s website.

That is in sharp contrast to where we were by episode 42 in TNG.
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Mal
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 11:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Empath

@Rahul, @William B, & @Peter G., fascinating comments. I love our conversations about TOS! As @Rahul said over in the “Tholian Web” thread, "They surely didn't expect folks like us to watch the series over and over again and analyze it to death!” I have to imagine, like all great creators - painters, poets, writers, film makers - they would have been thrilled to know that people still appreciate their work all these years later. That people still derive meaning from it. And we derive meaning not just from TOS, which is 55 years old, but also @Jammer’s reviews and his website, which is 25 years old. Talk about longevity!

I find it particularly interesting for these discussions to look at how each of us reacted to the three big TOS torture episodes, Triskelion, Plato, and Empath.

@Jammer rates Empath highest (3 1/2 stars), Plato a very close second (3 stars), and Triskelion last, by far (1 star).

@Rahul agrees with @Jammer’s order and ratings for Empath and Plato, but would rate Triskelion slightly higher (2 stars).

@William B agrees with @Jammer's order, but Plato is a distant second, not a close second.

@Peter G. is a little harder to read, but if I may, I think he puts Plato at the top of the heap and Triskelion at the bottom - but only because he believes Empath is “good” for him, like “medicine”.

Like @Peter G., I have Plato at the top (I give it 3 1/2 stars). I agree with @Rahul on Triskelion (I give it 1/2 a star more than he does, but close enough). But where I must part ways with you, my friends, is The Empath. It is dead last for me.

I wonder why that is?

We could be tempted to point to pure aesthetics. I love the theater, the bare bones staging, the higher level of acting required. William Shatner was of course Shakespearean, as was Patrick Stewart. Star Trek just wouldn’t be what it is without those two. But The Empath was bad theater. I have to agree with @KokoLeQ (“looked like it was her community college drama class' final project”). The quality here was unfortunate.

I commend @William B for his honestly on "Kathryn Hays' extreme emoting”. Maybe a different actress could have elevated the performance. But maybe not. The script was also amateur - as @Rahul points out, the writer never sold anything before this episode. And it seems, she never sold anything after it either. Suffice it to say that Joyce Muskat did not go on to have the star-studded career of a Ronald D. Moore (nBSG) or a Naren Shanker (Farscape, The Expanse).

But of course my problems with The Empath go much deeper than that.

@Peter G. posits that the issue here is biblical, "addressing issues like the problem of evil or why a God needs to suffer alongside his people in order to help them.” In a way @Rahul seems to take the same tack, "they represent intellect and are tasked with playing God.”

But I’m still of the view that the giant face in the center of the galaxy was a fraud ;)

https://youtu.be/x9sqkahSziU?t=101

So let me instead take a more Trekkian alternative

https://youtu.be/lNwzawXu4v8?t=49

As @William B muses, "I think that the test has something a little similar to Q's testing humanity in TNG”.

Indeed, Q gives humans their first real challenge in "Q Who?”

As a result of the forced encounter with the Borg, Q is responsible for the death of 18 Enterprise crew members. But Q didn’t just snap his fingers and kill 18 crew members. Nor did he torture them. Q is not the malevolent entity Nagilum from “Where Silence has Lease”.

https://youtu.be/Hh5Si9BWt5A?t=80

Q accelerates a conflict that was already set in motion hundreds of years ago in First Contact/Regeneration (ENT) and pushed into top gear in The Raven (VOY). If anything, those 18 deaths prevented the deaths of millions of more humans had the Federation been completely unprepared in BoBW.

And what of the Borg who died in the encounter? Are these drones innocent victims of Q, like Ozaba and Linke?

Seeing as the Borg were headed for Earth anyway, I have to assume that the drones would have been in the conflict eventually, and could hardly be called a victim - except that yes, they are of course victims of the Borg themselves. But the key is that they are not Q’s victims.

But let’s change Q Who a little.

Instead of the Enterprise hurled out, suppose Q had just put a detachment of heavily armed Jemhedar onto the ship, and 18 Enterprise crew members died subduing the invasion. Humanity would still have had it’s bloody nose,

https://youtu.be/MD05IVpnwFU?t=101

Q would still have been able to give his little speech.

But what of the Jemhedar who die in this hypothetical version of Q Who? The Jemhedar who would have died at the hands of the Enterprise crew as they fought to retake the ship? Those Jemhedar would most certainly be innocent victims, killed by Q’s actions in order to teach humanity a lesson about the true nature of the galaxy. We might not like the Jemhedar, but that doesn’t make using them - killing them - as instruments to teach humanity a lesson, into some sort of moral act. It would be evil.

Which brings me to @Peter G.’s fascinating question, the "difference between setting something in motion that will happen, or setting in motion something that *can* happen.”

For me, that’s the difference between Q Who and All Good Things. In AGT, Q sets in motion something that *can* happen, that humanity would simply cease to exist. Not at Q’s hands. But because of what a human - Picard does. Q gives Picard the knowledge of what he has done so that he might decide to do differently.

Where Silence has Lease is evil - imposing pain and death for your own purposes.

Q Who is destiny - it is coming for you whether you like it or not.

All Good Things is free will - if you have the knowledge, you might chose to act differently.

That’s the difference between "setting something in motion that will happen” and "setting in motion something that *can* happen”. The difference is free will. That is all the difference in the world.

In that way, I completely agree with @Rahul on one point. In The Empath, these aliens "represent intellect and are tasked with playing God.” And Star Trek season 1 did an incredible job of examining power like unto the Gods, and what that power does to a man (Gary Mitchell), a teenager (Charlie X), an alien (Squire of Gothos). This omnipotence arc culminates with one possible solution to the omnipotence problem: the Organian’s extreme pacifism in “Errand of Mercy.” TNG is slightly less categorial, but comes down to essentially the same answer in Deja Q: omnipotence must be policed.

But of course the real danger to us today (or in the 60’s for that matter), is not in brute force omnipotence. For two reasons - first, brute force omnipotence is still the realm of scifi. But second, and more importantly, brute force is easy to recognize, and people are immediately and instinctually repelled by it.

But when omnipotence hides behind intellectual superiority, there is always the risk that a superior intellect might trick you into thinking their exercise of arbitrary will over you is in some way justified.

And so TOS took us down the arc of showing that intellectual rule is still evil, not least because it tends to extreme cruelty. Of course that's what the story was in Triskelion, where the rulers were literal brains in a jar. There were also a series of computer overlords, not one of which was benevolent. In Plato we again saw rule by the intellectual elite, and we again saw that they wielded their power in a way to create pain and suffering without any regard to the well being of others. We again saw that they were evil.

And this Intellectual’s Arc of Evil culminates with The Empath. For what better rational do those who seek to exert power over you have to inflict pain and death, than, it is “for the greater good”.

As @Dubh says of these aliens, "They've found their answer to the Trolley Problem, and make no apologies for it.”

No doubt there was an army of Admirals and PhD’s who justified evil in every regime of the last century. No doubt there will be an army of experts who will continue to justify all manner of evil in our century as well.

But Star Trek posits a future where man has evolved far enough to recognize evil and call it out - no matter the "higher purpose" it may claim to serve. As Kirk very rightly says in The Empath,

KIRK: You've lost the capacity to feel the emotions you brought Gem here to experience. You don't understand what it is to live. Love and compassion are dead in you. You're nothing but intellect.

When people tell me that the evil aliens in The Empath were somehow justified in what they did, I see that TOS failed in its mission with this episode; it failed at morality. That is why this is bad Trek. As DS9 might have put it,

https://youtu.be/DhkfuyBLDlY?t=224
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Tomalak
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 7:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

I stopped watching this garbage mid-way through this season, but I still come back for the joy of seeing Jammer slate it in the reviews. Thanks, Jammer. If anything will get me watching again it would be a really positive review ... I'll not hold my breath.
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Mal
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 7:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: A Man Alone

@Guderian, love your handle! May you be blessed with dozens of wives and hundreds of children :-)

https://youtu.be/Y6ulHm02L0Y?t=403
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Mal
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 11:13am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Elaan of Troyius

@Jammer gives this 2 stars and his rating for the Andromeda remake is 3 stars, and I’m just here to say that I totally agree - Andromeda’s “The Honey Offering" is way better!

https://www.jammersreviews.com/andr/s1/honey.php

Hey @Bill, I owned the Braveheart VHS tape just for Sophie Marceau ;)

And while Sophie was obviously hotter, Elssbett Mossadim was very, very impressive.

https://youtu.be/-dQGA8J2ylg?t=1615
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Mal
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 1:46am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Empath

I don’t like The Empath.

Frankly, I didn’t enjoy it.

And I am not moved by its “message”. I can’t stand the torture, and I know there are better ways to depict self-sacrifice.

I think I just got turned off seeing Bones brutalized. McCoy’s body hanging limp and tortured.

https://youtu.be/IHd9bYGJtoI

It reminded me of the end of a Babylon 5 episode “Passing Through Gethsemane,” where they find Brother Theo’s body hanging after being lynched,

https://youtu.be/B8z06-W5G2U

Theo of course had been a murderer, and the folk who lynched him were the survivors of his murders.

What did Bones do to deserve that pain and horror? Kirk has a similar question. He asks, his ample arm-pit hair showing,

https://youtu.be/a36MHuKQBiw?t=9

But Kirk gets no answer.

*

https://youtu.be/BFsCIE-TB88?t=144

*

Eventually we learn that Kirk and Bones are brutalized to within an inch of their lives (two prior subjects, Ozaba and Linke, had already died from the torture) simply to teach some chick “self-sacrifice” - "Her instinct must be developed to the fullest,” and the torture must go on and on so "The test must be complete.”

What the fuck? Talk about evil.

Evil is using other people for your own purposes without any regard for them, no matter how much pain and suffering you are causing them - even death - because you think your fucked up purposes, your “lesson”, your “test” is more important than they are.

These are psychopathic aliens with zero Empathy, which is why, with all their technological prowess, they don’t have the basic decency not to pick up sentient beings and torture them, and in the case of Ozaba and Linke, kill them.

"When we resume our interrogations, you will decide which of your men we shall use. It is essential. There is an eighty seven percent chance that the doctor will die. And while Commander Spock's life is not in danger, the possibility is ninety three percent that he will suffer brain damage, resulting in permanent insanity."

I don’t watch Star Trek to watch evil. And in that vein, I guess I fully endorse @PetH’s far more succinct review above. I can get enough of psychopaths on all the other TV shows out there. I love House of Cards. Kevin Spacey plays a psychopath. I expect better from Trek.

The thing is, if you want to test self-sacrifice, there are better ways to do it.

In Babylon 5’s “Comes the Inquisitor”, Sebastian is able to test Delenn’s instinct for self-sacrifice, through torture, yes. But even Sebastian - Jack the Ripper - comes across as less evil than these sick fucked up aliens in “The Empath”. For two reasons: first, it is Delenn’s choice whether or not she wants to go through with the test, or drop out, and second, Sebastian does actually understand that what he has done is reprehensible.

The last scene with Sebastian is key,

https://youtu.be/Vn3EiDTgZDk

The Empath is the worst torture an all Trek, except of course nuTrek, which isn’t Trek at all. And there is no shortage of torture in Trek,

Geordi,

https://youtu.be/WTAmjxBI4pg

O’Brien,

[do you really need all the torture-O'Brien clips ;) ]

Picard

https://youtu.be/jk3EsXgXcyQ

Soval,

https://youtu.be/ulmH7DxQEKI

Uhura,

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cLR2Fl0ALe4/U7HCgW0xYMI/AAAAAAAADTg/SjpGdcpV7Nc/s1600/got8.png

Spock,

https://youtu.be/9nWE-aXaqms?t=17

Odo

https://youtu.be/cCc9Q391TV8

which was actually torture for Garak too.

And yet, none of those were completely gratuitous. Scotty had the right idea ("I would say she was a pearl of great price”). Only in this case, it wasn’t worth the cost.

In the future I may simply skip this episode and watch Babylon 5 instead. At least that is a morality I can respect,

http://b5.cs.uwyo.edu/bab5/snds/3prllife.wav

Remember Ozaba. Remember Linke. They had names. These alien psychopaths tortured and murdered them. Fuck them.

https://youtu.be/YrSy9r0-lMg?t=43
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Mal
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Tholian Web

@Rahul said, "where TOS shines here is the situation created with Kirk's seeming death and the effects that has on Spock/Bones. Even if Bones is over the top, he is playing an archetypal role”

I agree completely that the sibling rivalry between Bones and Spock, and how it comes to a head here, would be a core contribution to TOS, especially in light of “Bread and Circuses,” which has that cute dialogue when the four of them are in jail,

SPOCK: Doctor, if I were able to show emotion, your new infatuation with that term would begin to annoy me.

MCCOY: What term? Logic? Medical men are trained in logic, Mister Spock.

SPOCK: Really, Doctor, I had no idea they were trained. Watching you, I assumed it was trial and error.

FLAVIUS: Are they enemies, Captain?

KIRK: I'm not sure they're sure.

I’m not sure they’re sure. LoL :-) Well, “The Tholian Web” could have gone a long way to sorting that out. Except for one thing that really detracts from everything. The madness.

They start this episode with a mutiny on board the Defiant, which leaves everyone dead. And then the madness causes our crew to also lose it. In that kind of artificially-mutinous environment, how can we tell if the friction between Spock and Bones is really at so high a level that they have to go watch Kirk’s final home video, or if that is just a symptom of the madness (madness I tells ya!)? The artificial madness really muddies the waters. For what purpose?

They could have played “Tholian” like “The Immunity Syndrome”, an insanely competent crew trying to find its ghosted captain while also dealing with a unique adversary intent on trapping them in a web. Now that’s something I would have loved to watch!

It’s a matter of TPTB being lazy in season 3 and going with madness again and again and again.

I suspect it is harder to write a strong competent crew, in which, sure, Bones has strong reservations about Spock’s command abilities. After all, Bones was there on “The Galileo Seven” and saw so many men die under Spock’s first command. Just a few weeks ago, Bones had to order Spock to get some damn rest in “Paradise Syndrome” because the stresses of command were getting to him. But as competent professionals, they take Kirk’s final orders as a sign to fall in line for now. They have a job to do. They have a captain to save. They have a web to evade.

Oh by the way, getting rid of madness would have also elevated Uhura’s role. Bones would have taken her glimpse of Kirk far more seriously, rather than the ravings of a mad woman. Remember how weird it was the first time Jake sees dead Sisko in “The Visitor”? How much less of an impact would that have been if everyone on DS9 was going mad at the time? I’m not even in “The Visitor” fan club, but I think it did a much better ghost story than “Tholian”.

“Tholian” is like if “The Visitor” took place during "Dramatis Personae”. Ridiculous.

I love the idea of “Tholian”. The new alien race. What is the "territorial annex of the Tholian Assembly”??? I want to know.

I love seeing the Defiant, even if it is unfortunate that every time we see a Constitution class ship, the ship and crew are dead. Decker lost the Constellation (“Doomsday”). The Republic was destroyed because of Finney (“Court Martial”). The Farragut crew was killed by some weird fog (“Obsession”). 500 people on the Lexington and Excalibur were killed by The Ultimate Computer. We could go on and on… . In any case, there were lots of good ideas in Tholian, including pushing the Bones/Spock relationship up to the next level. Maybe I’m so hard on the episode not because of what was there, but because of what was squandered.

@Rahul said, "Anyhow, I think you're about to review "The Empath" -- one of my favorites, so I look forward to that!”

For “The Empath,” I’m thinking of just re-posting what @Brundledan wrote for his review of Plato’s Stepchildren,

"Hateful.

Hateful.

Hateful.

There aren't enough words in the dictionary to describe "Plato's Stepchildren". It is fifty minutes of pure, sadistic humiliation of our lead characters. The third season had its share of stinkers, but this is the only one of them that makes me wish the series had been yanked from the network schedule before the ep had a chance to air.

I can only imagine how many Trekkies who had worked so hard to get the show renewed sat in front of their televisions in slack-jawed horror that Friday night in November 1968, watching Kirk slap himself silly for thirty seconds and wondering what they had written all of those letters for.

Hateful.”

:-)

Weirdly, I used to always enjoy The Empath.

I think back in the day, when they would air TOS reruns during marathons, they would be careful not to put too many torture episodes or too many madness episodes into any given marathon. I suspect these episodes hold up a lot better on their own or when couched with some fun episodes, rather than when they are viewed in Season 3 airing order - which makes them seem needlessly derivative, and over the top sadistic.

On TNG, Chain of Command part II is one of my all-time favorites. On Babylon 5, Intersections in Real Time - the Sheridan torture hour - is one of my favorites. The Delenn torture episode is also good - "Comes the Inquisitor” starring Jack the Ripper! On Firefly, "War Stores" - the Mal & Wash torture hour - is awesome. But if these episodes were all aired one after another, they themselves would become torture. I feel Season 3 of TOS is a lot like that.
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Mal
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 7:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Plato's Stepchildren

@Peter G., I know what you mean!
Who has the space any more to read with so many intrusions on our attention? Sometimes I plan a vacation just around a few good books. As long as the the place has no TV and no internet, I find I can really get into it. I read a couple wonderful novels over Christmas/New Years this year, and all it required was that I travel about 600 miles from my wifi :-)

I think Plato gets a lot of advantage from being sandwiched between two great thinkers, his teacher Socrates, and his student, Aristotle. I don't know that Plato himself contributed anywhere near what the other two did. But since Socrates was a little like Jesus, in that he didn't bother to write anything down, I suppose we'll have to take Plato as Saul: his scribe for the ages.

When you read Aristotle, you'll get a sense of the heights that Greek philosophy could reach, the philosophy upon which their vast civilization across the Mediterranean and till Persia, was based. Aristotle was Alexander the Great's teacher, and his student seems to have done something with his education.

You can find a lot of Aristotle online.

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/files/Nicomachean_Ethics_0.pdf

I love that page 1, paragraph 1, starts with "The End" :-)

And the best part of it is the Table of Contents. You don't have to read the whole thing. You can just find a topic you like, and jump right in.

Aristotle of course has a lot of respect for his teacher Plato. He starts his criticism of Plato with saying how difficult it is "in view of our friendship". But, he says, Truth sometimes requires a sacrifice of what we hold nearest and dearest. The pursuit of Truth is a sacred duty. And then he tears into Plato, but very gently ;)

The great painter Raphael showed that Plato and Aristotle were pursuing opposite ends in his painting now hanging in the Vatican,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Athens#Central_figures_(14_and_15)

where Plato is pointing up, representing his pie-in-the-sky philosophy, while Aristotle's hand is grounded in the facts.

Most of what we know Plato for is often attributed to his teacher Socrates. For example, the Cave is told by Socrates.

But Plato - in contrast to an absolute devotion to the truth pursued by his teacher and student - was a proponent of the Noble Lie.

Plato's Noble Lie led to an insane amount of evil over the next few thousand years.

There are some fun short videos on Plato, made for our age when reading is not exactly a trivial task,

https://www.ted.com/talks/wisecrack_plato_s_best_and_worst_ideas

The videos are probably a better than slogging through The Republic.

There are so many better uses of our time. Like watching old Star Trek episodes!
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Mal
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 6:59pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

@Chrome, I noticed that weirdness with DS9's Tribbles rated higher on IMDB than TOS' Tribbles.

And I got to asking myself why?

But I have to admit, although TOS' Tribbles is one of the very best in all of Trek, DS9 actually manages to be one of those rare tributes that actually adds something more and is lots of fun. It is actually super well done.

For example, there are the great scenes with Dax. I mean, she lived through this era - it's not history - it's nostalgia. For those of us who say TOS before TNG ever aired, that's a really wonderful perspective to see up on screen.

https://youtu.be/rA210N8Y1iM?t=124

Also, the crew - Sisko, Julien, O'Brien, and Dax, look incredible in the old uniforms. The episode did an unbelievable job recreating the TOS sets, and they look better than ever. Contrast that with Discovery, which looks nothing at all like the old TOS sets when we get a glimpse of the Enterprise.

Compare Sisko and Dax on the bridge of the Enterprise

https://youtu.be/8XF4OH2JJaA?t=160

With Burnham and Pike on the be bridge of the Enterprise

https://youtu.be/z2MMXRIiPsA

You can't even tell its the Enterprise - it looks exactly like Discovery!

There are also some great comedic touches in DS9's Tribbles that gel well with the original's very funny tone. In the original, Kirk spars with a Federation bureaucrat. In the DS9 version, Sisko is questioned by Federation bureaucrats - and they kick it up a notch, by naming them Dulmer and Lucley!

And then there is the famous Worf quote:

https://youtu.be/rA210N8Y1iM?t=234

I mean, DS9's version was so good, that ENT picked up on it and actually ran with the Klingon-Augment story line!

So @Chrome, that's a long - very long - way of saying that I understand why some people like DS9's Tribbles even more than TOS' Tribbles. It has everything TOS did, plus even more - which almost never happens with a tribute episode.
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Mal
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Jammer, fantastic review. I had no idea that the episode title was a last minute change. Yeah, "Outside" would have been much more appropriate. Both for Su'Kal, and also, in an ironic way, for the turbo lifts too :-)

I wonder if that title-change is why the scene with Aditya Sahil seemed like it was just randomly shoehorned in?

They should have saved "Part 2" for a summer mid-season special - the kind nBSG was very good at, and even Discovery tries to do with its Shorts. Giving Sahil his own Short in which he is brought back into the fold, could have been a nice touch.

The more I think about this season, the more I think the real disappointment was what they did, or rather failed to do, with Osyraa.

@Jammer writes, "That especially goes for Osyraa as a character, who seemed in "There Is a Tide" to be a more layered and sensible villain interested in making deals, but goes back to being merely an evil cartoon here."

I recently rewatched an old TOS episode called "The Enterprise Incident". The Romulan Commander there is off the charts! She is ever bit the worthy adversary of Kirk and Spock. Osyraa could have been that for Vance and Burnham. The actress Janet Kidder certainly seemed like she would have been capable of carrying that kind of weight. Even though Osyraa was nothing like the Orions we have come to know, I actually really respected the work Kidder put into to her - she refused to play a victim of her people's history of enslavement. Not once did she use her wiles to get her way. She did it all through sheer force of will.

But as usual with Discovery, the writers let us down.

They turned Osyraa, who could have been one of the most interesting characters ever - maybe even a regular political adversary to Vance and Burnham for season 4, like Kai Winn was on DS9 - they turned her into a comic book villain.

It's too bad.
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Mal
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 7:24am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Wink of an Eye

Rather than write a whole lot of my own words, let me just endorse @Rahul's opinion above. A solid 3 stars from me. I'm always happy when Kirk knocks boots with an impressive woman.

https://youtu.be/So0ZrTwf8vI
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Mal
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 5:41am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Plato's Stepchildren

Plato’s Stepchildren

Season 3 episode 10


"With smiling words and tender touch,
Man offers little and asks for so much;
He loves in the breathless excitement of night,
Then leaves with your treasure in cold morning light."

- Spock, singing beautifully


3 1/2 stars (out of 4)


The set up for this episode is very interesting. An alien race from the Sahndara star system was forced to flee their homeworld when their sun went nova three thousand years ago. A few of that race’s survivors came to Earth. It was a time when Greece was the center of civilization, and this alien race quickly adopted the Greeks' modes of living and philosophies.

This is the second time we’ve seen aliens on Star Trek closely associated with Greek culture. The first time was in season 2, in "Who Mourns for Adonais?” There the great Apollo and his compatriots had visited Earth five thousand years ago, but left when Earth’s culture changed, and humans stopped worshiping them as gods.

Here, the aliens fell in love with the Greek culture that we now know a different set of aliens, Apollo & Co., had inspired. And when that culture died, these aliens left Earth and brought Greek culture with them to a new and unknown planet. There they lived for more than two thousand years in relative stagnation, while back on Earth, mankind progressed, and themselves reach the stars.

And as was true when Kirk met Apollo, this meeting is also doomed almost from the start.

In the interim, these aliens have developed telekinetic abilities. It seems, there is something in the water.

For an idle life of the mind, probably few philosophers are as appropriate as Plato. Most of Plato's philosophy was ghastly, and no society has ever been based upon it. In his mangum opus on ruling a “utopia," Plato figures the only way he’d ever be able to put his theories into practice, is if he could brainwash the children without any interference from parents. So he proposed strict controls on breeding and population,

"We shall, then, ordain festivals in which we shall bring together the brides and the bridegrooms. But the number of the marriages we will leave to the discretion of the rulers, that they may keep the number of the citizens as nearly as may be the same, taking into account wars and diseases and all such considerations, and that, so far as possible, our city may not grow too great or too small.”

If you were a good little soldier, the rulers in Plato’s system would give you more chances to have sex,

"And on the young men, surely, who excel in war and other pursuits we must bestow honors and prizes, and, in particular, the opportunity of more frequent intercourse with the women, which will at the same time be a plausible pretext for having them beget as many of the children as possible.”

All kids are taken away by the government, and if the government thinks a kid is somehow defective, that kid should just be killed off,

“And the children thus born will be taken over by the officials appointed for this. The offspring of the good, they will take to the pen or créche, but the offspring of the inferior, and any of those of the other sort who are born defective, they will properly dispose of in secret, so that no one will know what has become of them.”

Is it any wonder then, how the aliens in "Plato’s Stepchildren" treat Alexander?

The Greeks were a wonderful culture - wine, food, song, theater, architecture and of course their Olympics are still a force for world-peace, even to this day. But they also had their monsters. And Plato’s ideas on how to run The Republic were monstrous.

It is that monstrous philosophy that attracted these aliens so much that they modeled their entire society on it. What’s that old saying? Takes one to know one.

I have seen very few critiques of Plato as devastating as Plato’s Stepchildren. I suspect most people haven’t even read The Republic (@Peter G., did you finish your careful reading?).

I don’t know much about the writer of this episode, Meyer Dolinsky, but I commend him on getting the fascist feel of Plato exactly right.

In addition to "Who Mourns for Adonais?”, this episode is also a good follow up to "The Gamesters of Triskelion”. Once again, pure intellectualism is a poor foundation for governance, and almost certainly leads to sadism in the pursuit of elite’s stimulation (h/t @Trent).

This is epic Trek. The actors are perfect. Kirk is top notch with Alexander, and maybe not till Tyrion Lannister decades later, do we get a more noble dwarf on TV. Barbara Babcock plays Philana perfectly - every gesture, every expression is worth your attention - she basically cums watching the fantasia performed by our four heroes.

https://i.imgur.com/c1TZa0z.png

Of course Trek is best when it is showing us the infinite possibilities for good that lay in our future. But it is also good to remember what can go very, very badly if we are led by evil philosophies from our own past.

Plus, I never tire of hearing Spock sing.

https://youtu.be/9nWE-aXaqms?t=16
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Mal
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 1:59am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Tholian Web

3 stars @Jammer (and @Rahul)?!? Are you out of your Vulcan minds?!? Just cause it has your beloved “Defiant” does not make it good ;)

Weak sauce, 2 stars at best.

And I am officially sick of people going or acting mad. We’re only 9 episodes into season 3, and so far madness has played a role in 6 episodes!

- The Enterprise Incident - Kirk acts like a raving lunatic as a cover
- Paradise Syndrome - Kirk catches the Tahiti Syndrome
- And The Children - weird fist-bump thingy makes people act insane
- Is there no Truth - looking at the Medusan ambassador drives you mad
- Day of the Dove - weird red blob thingy makes everyone crazy
- Tholian Web - space is warping and driving people mad

Madness, Madness, Madness I tells ya!

If this was Voyager, I’d say the writers had simply run out of ideas. Oh wait, I’ll still say that ;)

I agree with @Daniel B, the episode would have been just fine without the Tholians. And it would have saved @dgalvan a watch.

Only saving grace for this episode is that it means Discovery does not take place in our universe. To wit,

CHEKOV: Has there ever been a mutiny on a starship before?

SPOCK: Absolutely no record of such an occurrence, Ensign.

So how do we explain Discovery? To wit,

SPOCK: Well, picture it this way, Mister Chekov. We exist in a universe which co-exists with a multitude of others in the same physical space. At certain brief periods of time, an area of their space overlaps an area of ours. That is a time of interphase, during which we can connect with the Defiant's universe.

So it turns out that CBS All Access is actually access to all the different universes, and in one of those, Discovery exists as a Star Trek series.

Either that, or Spock is a damned liar. After all, he liars to his captain:

KIRK: My last orders. The last orders that I left for both of you. The last taped orders.

MCCOY: Oh, those orders. Well, there wasn't time. We never had a chance to listen to them.

SPOCK: No. You see, the crisis was upon us, and then passed so quickly, Captain, that we

KIRK: Good. Good.

Finally, if as @William B says, “The Tholian Web” was meant as a ghost story, then dang nab it, this episode and Sub Rosa (TNG) are proof positive that Star Trek should never EVER do a ghost episode again.

I can see, @William B, why Scotty’s been hitting the bottle so hard lately (see also "Spectre of the Gun”). With all the madness this season, I can't say's I blame him.
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Mal
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 1:29am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Hi @Gunslinger, since you seem to have created your handle two days ago to convince us that Discovery is Star Trek, why don't you tell us what Star Trek is for you?
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Mal
Mon, Jan 11, 2021, 12:18am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky

The best title in all of Star Trek ruined by mediocre execution. The ideas here are fantastic

- the exploration of closed-off cults,

[After Spock removes the Instrument of Obedience]
NATIRA: He is not part of our people. You've released him from his vow of obedience.

- silly old men as truth tellers,

NATIRA: Forgive him for he was an old man, and old men are sometimes foolish.

- RTFM!!!,

NATIRA: This is the Book of the People, to be opened and read when we reach the new world of the promise. It was given by the creators.

MCCOY: Do the people know the contents of their book?

NATIRA: Only that it tells of our world here and why soon, one day, we must leave it for the new world.

- friendship versus love (h/t @William B),

NATIRA: You have lived a lonely life?

MCCOY: Yes, very lonely.

And so much more packed into one tiny hour!

It is also a shame that Bones and the high priestess have zero chemistry. As @Trek fan points out, "Friday's Child" could have been a model here - maybe the actress was lacking?

So far this season, Kirk has been tempted to leave by Miramanee, Spock by the Romulan Commander, Bones by Natira, and Chekov by Sylvia. Who's next?

@Rama, interesting write up about "The Stars My Destination". Of course JMS was a huge Al Bester fan, and named the character played Chekov on Babylon 5 after him.

You might enjoy the Babylon 5 novel "Final Reckoning", which is the last stand of Alfred Bester.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/77251.Final_Reckoning
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Mal
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 8:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Day of the Dove

Mediocre 2 1/2 star episode at best - I agree with @Rahul and @Skeptical.

War bad. Peace good.

This episode aired 4 days before the 1968 presidential election at the height of the Vietnam war. "Anti-war" was the politics de jure of its day. But I wonder if seeing the same message again and again, week after week, in Star Trek was a lot more palatable back in the 60's before the internet and social media?

Today, when we get politics all the time, day and night, a non-political show might be a breathe of fresh air. But in the 60's, it might have been Star Trek that really stood out as unique and refreshing with an overt political message?

As a bard once said, maybe I was born too late,

https://youtu.be/tLyw7jytykE

Few points on what makes "Day of the Dove" particularly derivative:

- Dude, we just had aliens take over the ship and make crew members act weird, like a couple weeks ago, and the result ("And the Children Shall Lead") was abysmal! Why inflict this on us again?

- Dude, we just had the whole peace is good shtick last week ("Spectre of the Gun"). And we get it, peace is good, fighting is bad. But how about a few good stories too, from time to time? You know, when you take a break from pontificating from your soap box.

- Dude, do you guys love rape or what? As I wrote in my review of Private Little War ( https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-tos/s2/private.php ), we've now had the rape of Uhura in "Triskelion" and the rape of Nona in "Private". I think nurse Chapel is feeling left out - why don't you rape her too? We have like 20 episode left, there is time!

One interesting thing is that two of the key actors from "Day of the Dove" got much better roles in Babylon 5.

Of course Chekov plays the wonderfully complicated telepath Bester in B5.

https://youtu.be/igxyCyFiKmU

And Michael Ansara (Kang) plays the incredible technomage Elric in Babylon 5.

https://youtu.be/zbvqxZmTGLc

Given what JMS may have done with Miranda and Kollos ("Is There In Truth No Beauty?") with his characters Lyta and Kosh - and now seeing how JMS took Michael Ansara and Walter Koenig to whole new levels - was JMS basically riffing off of Season 3 TOS when he decided to make B5? If so, he did an even more amazing job than I gave him credit for.

No wonder Majel decided to play tribute to her husband on Babylon 5 instead of on Star Trek,

Londo: He was a great man.

Majel: Yes. Yes, he was. But greatness is never appreciated in youth, called pride in midlife, dismissed in old age
and reconsidered in death. Because we cannot tolerate greatness in our midst, we do all we can to destroy it.
This place has become a memorial
to his unfinished work.

Babylon 5 - a memorial to Gene's unfinished work, after Gene walked away from TOS in season 3? A fascinating thought.
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Mal
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 10:15am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

@Rahul, I don't think I've ever put together a "top Trek" list.

I did enjoy the video RLM did on top 5 TNG episodes recently:

https://youtu.be/m-hGLHOzvgs

But I suppose if I was to start putting together a top 5 episode list, it might go something like this,

1. The First Duty (TNG)
2. In the Pale Moonlight (DS9)
3. Journey to Babel (TOS)
4. The Drumhead (TNG)
5. Living Witness (VOY)

What do you think?
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Mal
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 6:27am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Spectre of the Gun

Pretty decent 2 1/2 star episode that could easily have been improved with a few minor adjustments.

For one, as @Original Greg points out, since DeForest had played an Earp in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (alongside Burt Lancaster!), and the same story in another TV show called "You Are There”, it should have been Bones’ memories that the Melkotian used to recreate the setting. That would have had two benefits:

1. It would have avoided the ridiculousness pointed out again by @Original Greg, that Mr. Spock would know anything at all about this event in history, and

2. It would have given us a little back story on Bones - maybe his family had been involved in that initial move westward.

https://youtu.be/P2fFWLiQ_t4

Another easy fix would have been a little more humor. The show was funny enough, but not exactly Back to the Future III funny.

https://youtu.be/DO9PtW-wMBM

Drunk Scotty was a nice touch.

And the matrix-like message (@Kiamau) is fairly cool.

https://youtu.be/z8UFzsaCRp4?t=191

The lengths Kirk goes to avoid the fight are epic. I loved the scene where Kirk goes to the Sheriff and begs protection of the law - and the Sheriff just keeps promising him that no one will ask any questions! It was great commentary on how different the morality of humans as depicted in old westerns differed from the morality held up by Star Trek.

As Kirk puts it,

KIRK: We fight only when there's no choice. We prefer the ways of peaceful contact. I speak for a vast alliance of fellow creatures who believe in the same thing. We have sought you out to join us. Our mission is still one of peace.

That is Star Trek, isn’t, boiled down to its essence? Sad that nuTrek does not follow this code. But then again, nuTrek isn’t really Trek at all, is it?

Lastly, as you may or may not remember, we get pretty close to this episode again in DS9’s Things Past

https://youtu.be/j9OorFk_wWk
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Mal
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 4:32am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

Is There In Truth No Beauty?

Star Trek season 3 episode 5


"Who is to say whether Kollos is too ugly to bear or too beautiful to bear”

- Miranda


2 stars (out of 4)


This episode is half zero-stars and half four-stars, and I suppose that makes it absolutely perfect for the question which it asks.

No one can look upon Kollos, a Medusan, without going mad. Since so one is able to look upon a Medusan, no one knows if they are too beautiful or too ugly to bear. Miranda can be in their presence only because she is blind, and thus incapable of telling us if they are beautiful or ugly. Mr. Spock (and presumably other Vulcans) who have seen Medusans are devoted to logic, and wouldn’t let something as superficial as appearance cloud their judgements.

And so Medusans exists in a sort of Schrodinger’s beauty box - anyone who tries to peak inside will not be sane long enough to tell us what they saw.

It reminds me of a question I once heard when I was a kid: what does cyanide taste like? What I was told is that no one knows because all the people who have ever tasted it died before they could tell us what it tasted like. I even heard a sick joke that someone once started writing down the flavor but died after scribbling “S”. Which of course could be sweet, salty, spicy, savory, sour - no help at all!

Some of you may know that the fashion company Versace uses a picture of Medusa as its logo
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Versace

The logo can either be taken as beautiful or ugly, after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I imagine the founder of that fashion house was going for something more concrete - he wanted it to be striking. And both extreme beauty and extreme ugliness are striking. It is gray that is dull and boring. Medusa was many things, but she was never boring.

The Greek legend of Medusa talks of a strikingly beautiful woman who seduced the great Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Medusa and Poseidon had sex in Athena’s temple (they were kinky like that in ancient Greece), and Athena got pissed, and transformed Medusa’s beautiful hair into snakes.

Greek sculptors showed Medusa as terrifying and beautiful, and the Versace logo certainly invokes that feeling. In any case, if merely looking at Medusa could turn you into stone, she is sort of like cyanide or Kollos - no one survives long enough to tell you whether the snakes made her even more beautiful, or terrifying, or both. What Medusa was for sure, was striking. Stone cold striking ;)

@Andy's Friend very helpfully provides the poem by Herbert from which the title of this episode is derived. The key lines are:

Who sayes that fictions onely and false hair
Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?

What this Christian devotional poem by Herbert is asking is: Given that poets seem to go on and on about the beauty of things that are not real - like false hair - isn’t there anything that is true (that is real) that has beauty - beauty that maybe worth a line or two of poetry? Or is it (as @Peter G. asks and) as people keep telling us, that the truth is ugly, hideous, gory - that it is a Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad...

Of course the poem is titled "Jordan", like the river, and you can guess what Herbert, who was an ordained minister, had in mind, that he thought might just be both true and beautiful - and thus, worth a poem or two.

The key line of dialogue from the episode tries to hide this answer:

SPOCK: I see, Doctor McCoy, you still subscribe to the outmoded notion, promulgated by your ancient Greeks, that what is good must also be beautiful.

MARVICK: And the reverse, of course, that what is beautiful is automatically expected to be good.

KIRK: Yes, I think most of us are attracted by beauty and repelled by ugliness. One of the last of our prejudices.

One of our last prejudices indeed. Star Trek in its own way tried so hard to show a future where the prejudices of its day - racism, sexism - had been overcome. But discrimination based on attractiveness, Kirk mused, was still very much with them.

Which is interesting. Given that how you looked in Kirk’s time was very much a matter of choice. Just two weeks ago, Kirk had changed his appearance to that of a Romulan. No doubt if Spock wanted to, he could clip his ears to fit in with the all-human crew. How he looks is a choice.

If how you look is a choice, is it still prejudice to judge a book by its cover?

I’m going to agree with @Strider, that it is a real pleasure to watch Spock when he is possessed (@Trek fan says it is a little like he gets a Trill symbiont - I agree!). I think possessed Spock was also my favorite part of “Return to Tomorrow.” In that charming state of mind, Spock/Kollos gives us a line from Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty”,

SPOCK: Uhura, whose name means freedom. She walks in beauty, like the night.

But I for some reason they leave out the part of the poem that best reflects Uhura,

And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Indeed.

Finally, I wonder if this episode inspired JMS when he was creating Babylon 5?

Ambassador Kosh on B5, like Kollos, only went around in an encounter suit, and could not allow himself to be seen. And Lyta, the human telepath and Kosh's devoted aid, was she modeled on Miranda?

I suppose it is only fitting then, that Kosh showed us one moment of perfect beauty

https://youtu.be/Jli3ruqWYlc
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Mal
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 12:45am (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

@William B, that's a great list. IMDB has "Journey to Babel" - my favorite - as a top 10 episode :)

Here is a combined list for 749 Star Trek episodes:

https://www.imdb.com/filmosearch/?explore=title_type&role=nm0734472&sort=user_rating,desc&mode=detail&page=1&title_type=tvEpisode&num_votes=1000%2C&ref_=filmo_ref_typ

In the Pale Moonlight is #1. TOS doesn't even break the top 5. How do we feel about that?
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Mal
Sat, Jan 9, 2021, 8:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

@Nolan, LOL. Love it! If Burnham can be Captain, anyone can be a captain. Star Trek for the Norvo's of the world - amazing :-)

I'm reminded of something Londo Mollari said when he learned that Vir was to be Emperor after him, back on Babylon 5,

"Now, pfttt, anyone can be Emperor. I can be emperor. Vir can be Emperor! If Vir can be emperor, a small Earth cat can be Emperor."

http://b5.cs.uwyo.edu/bab5/snds/any1empr.wav
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Mal
Sat, Jan 9, 2021, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

@Rahul said, "The only thing I'd add is that you seem to be putting a lot of weight on Jammer's ratings to determine whether or not an episode is series defining."

Oh man, @Jammer's rating drive me up the wall! You point out "Conscious of the King," which @Jammer gave 2 1/2 stars to, and I gave 3 1/2 stars and called it a "classic" and "easily the best episode of Star Trek up to th[at] point in the show".

In fact, @Jammer's TOS ratings have been so off, that half way through the show - season 2 episode 13 ("Obsession"), I actually joked:

"Well, I suppose it was bound to happen eventually: I actually agree with @Jammer’s rating for an episode ;-) Though after two decades and hundreds of reviews, the chances of absolutely no agreement were fast approaching zero."

LOL

So, @Rahul, please don't think I take @Jammer's rating as anything other than his opinion, to which he is entitled, and frankly, given his expertise with all things Trek and the longevity of this site, is actually a very valuable opinion.

But for a series-defining touchtone, don't we want something that most of us who are, shall we say obsessed with Star Trek, can agree was the epitome of that show?

In my review of Conscious of the King, I said that the reason I didn't give it 4 stars is "Because it is not a crowd pleaser. This ain’t a story that is “guaranteed to satisfy the whole family.” This is a slow and brooding monster..."

And one thing @Jammer's reviews are very helpful to us for, is picking out the universe of episodes from which we can chose the touchstone.

I propose that unless an episode gets at least 3 1/2 stars from @Jammer, as much as we might love it for our own reasons (after all it is art, and with art, the only opinion that matters, is our own!), still we can't go so far as to claim that that one episode speaks best for all of that series just because we love it?

I just got through watching "The Paradise Syndrome". In it, I talk about Paul Gaugin's Tahiti Syndrome. If someone were to ask what is the epitome of a Paul Gaugin painting, a lot of people who love his work would say this one:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Will_You_Marry%3F

There are others equally popular, equally good - maybe even some I like more. But if I had to pick just one, that would probably be it.

I see in "The Paradise Syndrome" you talk about a Van Gogh white iris in connection with something called "Star Trek Continues" (which I have to admit, I don't know anything about).

But let's take Van Gogh. I have my favorite. You have yours. But I think most people would accept that the epitome of his work would probably boil down to picking one from a small handful.

I think we'd settle on Starry Night by the end of it, but I could be convinced of another if need be. He was so talented, and there are so many 4 star paintings to chose from!

Same for Star Trek. There are so many 3 1/2 or 4 star episodes to chose from.

So if you had to pick from an episode that @Jammer gave at least a 3 1/2 stars to, which would you chose?

For me, I would to go with "The Enterprise Incident." Every other highly rated episode of TOS is special because of some special feature of that episode that does not necessarily translate or carry over to the rest of the show. But "Incident" is 4 star without anything added. Just pure ordinary TOS gold.

https://youtu.be/dipFMJckZOM
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Mal
Sat, Jan 9, 2021, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: And the Children Shall Lead

omg. just shoot the fucking kids. shoot everyone. blow up the ship. burn the whole fucking thing to the ground. aaaghhhh!

https://youtu.be/rrfTLNUsqRc

@Trek fan, i love you, but you sound like baghdad bob.
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Mal
Sat, Jan 9, 2021, 12:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

Hi @Rahul, these threads are interesting in huge part because you all have been engaged in wonderful discussions for the last few years - I'm just happy to join in the fun.

I think you've already got a handle on what I mean by series defining - it isn't necessarily the best episode of the series (which for DS9, I agree with you, is In the Pale Moonlight), nor is it my favorite - which for TOS, for me, has always been "Journey to Babel".

Series defining is an excellent episode that sets the tone and sets the standard for the series. Where the series really comes into its own. A touchstone if you will.

So while I agree with you on ENT that "Regeneration" is a great episode, the Borg were by no means central to ENT (they were central to TNG, and even more so for VOY). Regeneration is really a "special" episode for the series. "Damage" is a more "work-man-like" episode, if you know what I mean? It marks the point where ENT came into its own with the crescendo of the Xindi arc.

As with Regeneration, something similar is true for In the Pale Moonlight. It is not quite typical for DS9. If nothing else, the format of Captain's Log retrospective is quite unique.

My favorite from DS9 is Inter Arma Enim Silent Legis, but that too is not an ordinary DS9 episode. Section 31 was always a little out of the ordinary for the show.

The reason I picked "Improbable Cause" is because it is so normal, and yet, it can be argued that that is where DS9 finally came into its own. It is an absolutely excellent version of normal DS9. No fancy gimmicks, no time-travel, no Q, no prophets, no visions. In that way, I completely agree with you that "Duet" could easily be the right touchstone for DS9. I guess it is just hard to accept that DS9 got into its groove so early in its run.

Which brings us back to TOS.

On Balance of Terror, I think we're going to have to agree to disagree ;) Obviously that episode's thread has a couple of factions,

- the @Jammer faction that says it is 2 1/2 stars,

- the second faction (in which I include myself, @Robert, @Startrekwatcher, @Paulus Marius, and @Tim C) that puts the episode at around 3 stars, and

- then there is you, @Rahul, who sees something in that hour that I suppose the rest of us haven't seen yet, giving it, what 4 stars?

But that's the thing about Star Trek: every time you watch it, you see something new. Maybe when I go back to the well in a few years, Balance of Terror will rise again in my estimation.

That said, I think it is fair to say that Balance of Terror is not "clearly a superior episode" ;) At the very least, opinions differ.

As to "Errand of Mercy", I agree, it is awesome. The reason I don't think of it as a touchstone for TOS is because it has the super god-like beings in it, the Organians. Then again, you probably have a point, godlike beings really are in the core-DNA of TOS! But @Jammer gives "Errand" only 3 stars. Probably not high enough to be an exemplar.

Why I chose "The Enterprise Incident" as the touchstone for TOS is because it is 4 stars and yet everything is so normal. No super natural powers. No mirror universe. No comedy special, like Tribbles. No deus ex machina. Just good character work coming together in a great story.

Finally, how can I argue with praise for Montalban?!? The man was gold. To be fair, I did already say that "If Kirk had Khan, Picard had the Borg, Sisko had Dukat, then Spock has the Romulan Commander." Isn't that an admission that they are at least on par?

I agree that Windom (Decker) was also exceptional, and I wouldn't mind calling The Doomsday Machine TOS' touchstone, except for the fact that large parts take place where Kirk is not in the big chair. In any case, Khan is still Khan ;)

I have never been fan of Mark Lenard, but I respect that people seem to like him a lot. Finally, I think it might be unfair to include Joan Collins on the list - hers was a very un-Star Trek like role. But she is a gem. Still, I don't think anyone would say that "City" was typical for the show in a way that would make it a touchstone.

So where does that leave us?

Like I said, if I wanted a single episode to fairly stand for all of TOS, I would pick The Enterprise Incident. No tricks, no gimmicks. The show knows exactly what it is.

That said, TOS was so much more complex and multifaceted than TNG, there are bound to be other opinions. I think with TNG, there will never be any doubt what the single episode exemplar is.
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