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Steve McCullagh
Thu, Jul 12, 2018, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Alternative Factor

Two stars is exceedingly generous for this one; it's so bad that before I did a full TOS rewatch last year I actually misremembered it being a season three episode 😁

Just awful. One of the all time worst episodes to me.
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Steve
Sat, Jun 16, 2018, 7:41am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Lineage

This episode is amazing. My wife and I are watching this series before our children are born, the last Star Trek we haven't seen (and VOY was my favorite as a kid, but I stopped at s4 as I tired of the reset button). As our children will be of two races with prominent results, they will likely (unfortunately) receive a lot of comments regardless of whether we raise them in my country or their mothers, and I'm hoping characters like Mr. Spock will be a source of strength for them.


The comments about this episode not being sci-fi are ridiculous. The most popular sci-fi shows rely on character, and very often -but not always - the tech, to pull us in. Blade Runner relies on us questioning the main character's background - is he a replicant? The focus is on the characters, but replicants couldn't exist without the sci-fi setting.


Alien is a horror film about the crew surviving a monster attack - I'd say the sci-fi is almost superfluous - it could have been set on an oil tanker, and they could've diverted to some island for some reason and picked up a "Love Craftian Horror" there.


The Martian is 100% a survival film about the main character overcoming the odds in a harsh environment. Mars make for an overwhelmingly harsh environment, but the basic premise is enhanced by the sci-fi setting, not requiring of it - but benefiting from it.


This episode is along those lines. 'Torres fearing her husband won't love the baby because it has her traits and her own father didn't' does not need to be a sci-fi. But add race into the reason, and a Sci-Fi situation allows all [human] races viewing it to identify rather than not, and it being a sci-fi setting allows the question of whether its right to modify the child (something we cannot do). This is the very best version of sci-fi where the story and characters are center and their problem isn't technobabble "we found a subspace harmonic wave" and the solution isn't "invert the polarity of the ventral EPS conduits and phase - change the deflector to get us out!"


Rather its using a situation that could happen today - genetic deformation - and that can be solved using tech as part A of a problem, and then using the technology to change the fetus as a a "problem B." Problem A is "human condition corrected by tech." Problem B is "human desire can be corrected by tech" and problem B can only be overcome by the characters, not the tech.


Science Fiction doesn't always have to have characters overcoming problems created by tech, but that is often much more interesting than tech problems being solved by tech.


I also enjoyed the Doctor and B'lanna's role reversal from the Doctor's own experience with a family he created to be perfect earlier in the series - where she insists part of being a father is dealing with the difficulties of reality. Here she is insisting he make her baby 'more perfect' (so perhaps the Paris baby won't make friends with a real life Larg and K'kath upon returning to the Alpha Quadrant).



Also, perhaps her fears are more justified than the episode lets on? Paris did already father children that looked different than him, and both him, and the mother (Janeway), abandoned them...
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Steve Goldberg
Thu, Jun 7, 2018, 12:24am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Suspicions

This was truly the worst-written episode I've ever seen, and that includes the very close second, Aquiel. Whoever was the primary author should be punished for this pitiful script. I also found the added dialog horrendous. In fact, as I was watching the seminal and worst scene in the episode -- scene 5 in which the scientists are all in the room discussing the initial experiment before it takes place -- I thought to myself, "this is the worst-written episode I've ever seen."

In particular, there were major problems from that scene that set the stage for all the other stupid problems with this script:

(1) Late-added dialog -- in scene 5, there were obviously several statements that were just crammed into the script last-minute, to help us, the idiot audience, understand the obviously extremely complicated (read: inane) plot a little better.

For example, Kurak's statement that was *obviously* inserted last-minute: "I, for one, came here only at the request of my government. I am highly dubious that this so-called metaphasic shield technology will prove anything but a fantasy."

Hah! This isn't writing! This is just the margin notes of the script, telling us what he's thinking, written into actual dialog!).

(2) Also as added dialog in scene 5, the Vulcan character, T'pan, really violates every tenet of Vulcanism, in multiple ways (see below) with her pitifully-written and even worse-acted lines, starting with: "Since everything Doctor Reyga says contradicts the work I have been doing in subspace shielding, I will have to be convinced that he is credible." Hah hah! Margin notes again, anyone? This was pitiful for multiple reasons, especially:

(a) The delivery of this line and all the rest of T'pan's dialog (as well as her reactions to others' dialog) was *non-Vulcan-like* in the extreme. She came across as pouting (a non-Vulcan emotion!), in denial as she was unwilling to listen to reason (the worst offense -- this is a Vulcan whose culture is driven by the quest for logic and reason!), etc.; and

(b) the lack of any scientific critique of Reyga's "invention" -- as a scientist, she would have a rational basis for believing this was a flawed invention, not just say it "contradicts everything [she has] been doing in subspace shielding"! I mean, this is really incredibly off-base for a Vulcan scientist to be saying. The emotion in the actor's voice, her facial expressions, etc. were all just completely wrong. The director deserves much of the blame here. In fact, for scene 5, I blame the director entirely -- terrible writing allowed to be made even worse by last-minute script additions, and terrible, terrible acting out of the Vulcan's character.

(3) Of course, as everyone else has pointed out, it's entirely contrived and unbelievable that Crusher would be leading this "investigation" entirely on her own, especially after the second death that was clearly under unexplained circumstances.

She's the medical officer who would do the medical part of the investigation (i.e. the autopsies) -- but she would be *asked* to do these by the actual investigator(s) who would have surely been brought in to determine what had happened!

Crusher wouldn't have had to go ask the Captain for permission. That's ridiculous.

The fact that nobody seems to give a flying crap about this situation is also ridiculously stupid and unbelievable. She would never have been on her own conducting interviews and determining how to proceed with this investigation.

There's a whole structure of support around her, with well-defined roles and responsibilities, a military-like structure with clear lines of responsibility -- they would all come together to solve this. It was especially offensive for me as a viewer to be subjected to the stupid scene where it's like the other medical person is doing her a *favor* by asking the computer to bring up the medical data she needs to investigate this properly. I mean, that's just *ridiculous*. It made me so angry that we were supposed to feel like it was so great that she decided to help Dr. Crusher out here. I mean, c'mon, that's just ridiculous.

She would never have had any trouble getting anyone to help her investigate -- that would *never* happen the way the pitiful writer of this episode wrote that it would happen. That writer clearly had no idea how anything in the world worked at all. I hated this episode so much because of this.

(4) The entire sequence after the ship returns and they beam Jo'Bril's body to sick bay (through the end of that scene when he's dead) was *ridiculous*. There were so many things wrong, I won't try to enumerate them (and mos t have been pointed out above), but the key ones that stood out for me were:

(a) how ridiculous is it that Dr. Crusher is left to her own devices to figure out what's wrong with Jo'Bril and how to treat him? I mean, at this point in the 34th century (or whenever this is) with the United Federation of Planets and all that comes with it, there's clearly a massive compendium of medical data on every single intelligence species that they know about. Especially someone who comes on board the Enterprise and is a renowned scientist in his field, etc. Worst-case, he would have brought his own physician with him, but more likely they would have had people cross-trained on multiple species and they would have diagnostic systems and massive volumes of detailed information on each species (not to mention on each person) on the ship! The idea that Crusher would only have a simple diagram of the person's innards to diagnose them with, and would ever say such drivel as was written for her about not knowing *anything* about this species, is .. just that, drivel. It's of course the whole basis of her not realizing that a lizard-like species would be cold-blooded and be able to go into hibernation, but I mean, come up with a different plot device since this was not one that made any sense! The idea that both the computer(s) and the medical staff would all decide someone's dead and throw them into the morgue based on such a simple, cursory attempt to save them, not even knowing what was wrong in the first place, was *pitiful* writing, to say the least. I was not fooled for a second. The instant she declared that she had no idea how to treat him, and that his cells were not decaying or whatever it was, I knew he was still alive. So it was just stupid to have to sit through the whole episode from that point waiting for her to figure that out, too.

(b) seriously, all these great scientific minds, including the inventor, all just consider this a "pass/fail" test that was a simple "fail"? I mean, there's still a LOT that went right with this experiment, and to just have everyone so deflated and certain it had failed, just because the lizard-guy goes into stasis for no apparent reason, was probably the dumbest thing of all in this episode (and that's saying a lot). There was clearly a *lot* of diagnostic data to pour over, that they just ignored, declaring it a failure just because lizard-guy seemed to die. Many people have pointed this out above, so I'll not go on, because it's so obvious at this point. But I had to include this for completeness. It is critically stupid and whichever of the listed co-writers of this episode should have been fired instantly upon this script being submitted, because this episode should never have been made and hurt the entire series.

(c) as many people have pointed out, it really made *no sense at all* to have a person need to pilot the shuttle to prove this device was functional. First of all, as with any scientific experiment, there would already be tons of data from previous experiments the inventor had done to get to this point. He would have had a team around him, too, it wouldn't have just been up to the 5 people sitting around the table in the lab in scene 5 to decide the entire fate of this experiment. They would have started that meeting with the inventor and his team presenting the data to date -- all the experiments they'd done up to this point, how they were able to address the various constraints that the other scientists were skeptical of them being able to address, etc. All that would have been done, they would have agreed (based on real data) that it seemed viable, and the only question would be to reproduce the test results now, in a controlled way that they could all observe, to ensure he wasn't cheating somehow on his previous experiments. But there was *none* of that. They acted as if this was the first time it had ever been tried -- like, inventing a new technology was a simple matter of luck! Like he would have said "I'm sure it would work if someone just tried it" and they all decided to try it for the first time that day. And then to have all his detractors decide amongst themselves which of them would pilot the vessel -- when in fact it would *clearly* have been possible to remote-pilot it, was also obviously stupid. Finally, more stupid than all that, was the fact that they had *no contingency plan* for how to abort the experiment if it ever started going wrong. They would have known a priori that the transporter wouldn't work past a certain point, and they would have built in controls to ensure it automatically turned out of the corona on its own if there were any problems. There would have been a dead-man switch (assuming they really couldn't do it remotely and really needed a pilot, which was already a stupid assumption) such that if the scientist (who wasn't doing science but was just piloting it -- hah!) did not press a button every 30 seconds for example, it would go out of the star's corona so they could be emergency beamed back. And/or they would have had signal enhancers to lock onto them in that situation, etc., etc. It was just stupid, stupid, stupid from the get-go.

Thanks for listening.

Steve

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Steven
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Mind's Eye

About Sela - I concur, I've always found her backstory to be extremely weird. She's just 22 years old, but a commander? Any why does she look exactly like her mother? We've seen Trek actors play their own relatives before, but there were usually hundreds of years in between - think of Brent Spiner on "Enterprise".

I know that a core story to define her was how she betrayed her own mother, when she was still a small child, and told the guards that her mother was trying to flee, getting her own mother killed. That's a strong backstory, to point out how this child was brainwashed into thinking like a Romulan from her earliest days. But still... it doesn't go well with being played by the same actress.

I would have made Sela an actual clone of Tasha instead - with no Romulan DNA involved. Effectively, she would've been like Shinzon from the Nemesis movie. Now, I don't really like that movie, but the concept of a clone as such is a good one: You have exactly the same person, from a genetic perspective, just raised in another environment, and you see that beloved person grow up to be evil. I feel this is how the Sela actor should've been done; it just would've made more sense. It could also have explained why Tasha looked older than 22; the clone could've gone through an accelerated growth.

I think the clone should've been created AFTER Tasha's execution, by her husband, in order to replace her with a more loyal version. That would've been genuinely eerie. So yeah, the writers kind of created a sub-par backstory for Sela. It could've been better.
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Steven
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Night Terrors

> I watched this episode back to back recently with Schisms and I find Night Terrors to be by far the better episode. In fact, I find the episode has really held its own over the years and remains a creepy, unsettling outing even now. My rating would be 3.5 stars.

I guess this is exactly where we differ. I see it just the other way around. The idea that aliens are experimenting on you, severing your bones, possibly injecting you with mind-altering substances etc. and you wake up the next morning, unsettled, but unknowing of what went on, is true horror to me.

"Night Terrors" on the other hand didn't have any substance; there was no real danger, the horror didn't have a face. The horror remains extremely abstract, being a vague "fear of a mental breakdown", while the crew cognitively knows that actually NOTHING is going on. They should KNOW that it's all just in their heads (because Beverly discovers the medical condition early enough, and by that point the whole crew would be informed). How is it interesting for the audience to watch people battle NO ACTUAL ENEMY? Well, it isn't.

I just fail to see how "Night Terrors" constitutes "good horror". Sure, the idea to lose your cognitive abilities is very frightening - and in one of the few good scenes of the episode, Picard talks about how one of his relatives lost his mental capabilities when he grew old and turned into a fragile shell of a man. This struck the right cord, and the episode should have been developed more along those lines. Forget all the stupid horror and paranoia stuff; if the episode had shown us how everyone turned into imbeciles (hard to act, admittedly), it would have realized its potential.

The episode should have been more about the fear of turning into an invalid person, and much much less about paranoia and violence.

Concept/Potential: 3.5 stars
Execution: 1 star
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Steven
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Night Terrors

This is one of the TNG episodes that I dread the most. It just has too many flaws to be any good.

- First of all, I am not a horror fan, in general. I am just bored by scenes like the one where dead bodies are sitting upright in the morgue. It's like watching a C-grade horror flick.

- More importantly, I just don't think that becoming anxious and paranoid is a logical consequence of getting no REM sleep. It doesn't ring true. I believe that people who are seriously deprived of REM sleep will become extremely passive and "psychologically broken". They won't be able to do much of anything. I once stayed up for like 60 hours and simply was a wreck. Patrick Steward is the only actor who gets it right in this episode: He has serious concentration difficulties, all his mental abilities are coming apart.

I guess my main problem with this episode is that I don't buy into the notion that "the whole crew will kill each other like on the Brittain". REM deprivation just doesn't lead to this. I find it utterly unbelievable.

And the whole trope is worn out anyway. Didn't the crew in "The Naked Now" (season 1) kill each other as well? And wasn't it done on TOS, too? In each of those instances, it was far more believable that the crew would turn violent.

So my beef with this episode is that everyone acted like they're in a run-of-the-mill "crew turning violent" episode (also thinking of Genesis from season 7 here, which had a higher sense of danger to me, even though its premise sucked), although all of them should have acted simply like they're losing their cognitive abilities and turning in some sort of imbeciles or autists. This episode was a misfire. Troi flying didn't convey a huge sense of horror either, because Marina Sirtis played too stiffly. Honestly, the only thing that saves the episode is the clever resolution that the aliens were trying to communicate what they need all along.

2 stars, objectively, although subjectively it's one of my most dreaded stories and I want to give it a lower score.
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Steven
Fri, Mar 16, 2018, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Vanishing Point

This episode seems to be very divisive. People either enjoyed it or felt that it was a boring rehash of older Trek. I count myself among the latter group.

Please let me add a few points to the discussion, to explain why I feel that the episode was crafted poorly - although the main idea was a good one and could've served to characterize Hoshi better.

One problem was that everyone who has a good knowledge of Star Trek will figure out rather quickly what's going on: Like so many people before her, Hoshi is trapped in some sort of illusion (possibly inside her own mind) and probably just needs to wake up. That's what I assumed, and eventually it turned out that I wasn't very far off.

I was immediately reminded of TNG's "Remember Me", in which Dr Crusher fears that everyone around her vanishes without leaving a trace - and her worries turn into a reality. The difference here is that it is not her surroundings, but Hoshi herself that vanishes. But it became clearly pretty early on that, like Dr Crusher, Hoshi was caught in a universe governed by her own mind (her own fears), so it either had to be a parallel universe created by the transporter (unlikely, seemed a bit too far fetched) or Hoshi had to simply be hallucinating the whole thing.

So far, so obvious. Having that figured out without any effort, the pacing of the episode is just off: It is much too slow and boring. The real insult to the audience is though that Hoshi doesn't have to figure anything out. In ANY other similar story, the unconscious character always had to find a way to free themselves:

- Dr Crusher had to realize she was in a parallel universe, in order to escape
- Geordi and Ro Laren had to find a way to de-phase themselves and return to the normal universe ("The Next Phase")
- Dr Bashir had to fight against the deterioration of his mind, in order to stay alive and ultimately wake up (in an early DS9 episode in which he got wounded by a dangerous weapon and felt in a coma)
- The Holo Doctor had to determine whether he was a hologram or a real person (Louis Zimmerman) in Voyager's "Projections"

So the established pattern is, for me, that the captured protagonist has to figure out the reality of his situation in order to escape from it. THAT'S what brings excitement into the story. This episode here was lacking any of that: Hoshi never figured out anything, she was just "along for the ride". She still had no idea what was going on when she was rematerialized. And as other people have pointed out, she sleep-walked through the plot in the sense that she just brushed away things that didn't make sense, such as why another crewmember was suddenly able to break a code that she couldn't. She didn't investigate.

I am sorry, but this episode totally failed for me to shed more light on Hoshi's character - all it did was to make her look stupid. And good character work was the only justification to have this episode in the first place. The main plot was just lame, if you knew it was a hallucination. The ONLY job that this episode had was to be a solid character piece, and it wasn't.

Seems like Hoshi wasn't the only one sleepwalking here. The storywriter was too.
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Steven
Mon, Feb 26, 2018, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

So that you don't misunderstand me: I get the idea that Michael was supposed to make mistakes in the pilot, so that she could "redeem" herself later. That was an important development for her character. However, what they needed to do is to have Michael make bad decisions that the audience could actually sympathize with. Decisions that didn't make the viewer hate her. Frankly, by the end of the pilot, I was *satisfied* to see her thrown into prison and I couldn't care less about what would happen to her. I basically wanted to switch to another character and never hear of Michael Burnham again. Now, by the end of the season, I've finally come to find her bearable; that's the most positive thing I can say about the character.
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Steven
Mon, Feb 26, 2018, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

>> "I guess the bottom line, for me at least, is that DSC is at least taking chances and trying a relatively creative approach to Sci-Fi storytelling."

> "I think it's an old hat approach at this point. To be frank, telling one-off serialized stories would have been the marketing risk, since the most popular shows now are all serialized. And by the way, I'm not dissing that, I had no problem with the idea of DISC being serialized. My problem as I now define it is that their method of doing so is just to copy-paste the structure of Fringe and redo that show with new characters."

Let me be more explicit than Peter G here and say that DIS uses one of the "safest" formulas of any Trek series, which makes it all the more astounding how much the series stumbles, despite the bar being as low as it is. Basically, they don't even risk much and still mess up what little they aspire to.

Serialized storytelling has been the norm since the early 2000s. It's nothing spectacularly new. The grade of innovation is comparable to "Enterprise", a series that (in my opinion) failed because it was simply a more boring version of the Trek that had come before it. Similarly to Enterprise, Discovery can't be called particularly "creative" in what it does. And besides, the turn towards serialized storytelling can already be seen in Enterprise, seasons 3 and 4. The whole of season 3 is just one big arc.

Also thank you, Peter G, for your observation that Jammer's ratings have to be seen as a "sliding scale" whose low- and hi-points are readjusted for every show. With that in mind, I can use my personal "correction factor" for his DIS ratings: Distract one star from Jammer's scores, and they feel about right, compared to the older Trek.

It would be interesting to give new scores in retrospect, though. One good example would be the second part of the pilot: I think it has become more and more obvious, over time, just how catastrophic this episode is for the overall arc, because it contains two cardinal errors that damaged Michael's character: First, her misguided attempt to shoot at the Klingons without provocation, and secondly her mistake to shoot T'Kuvma when Georgiou was already dead, and despite saying before the mission that it was imperative not to kill T'Kuvma and create a martyr. And five minutes later, she does. I recognized pretty much instantly how egregrious both mistakes were, but to be fair the magnitude of the failure (on the writers' part) only became fully clear when we learned during the course of the season that Michael was supposed to be a genius, champion of morality and so on. I wonder whether in such a light, the score of older episodes should be lowered. It feels wrong to me to give the two parts of the pilot the same score, because the second part screwed up which could've been a salvagable setup from part 1.
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Steven
Mon, Feb 19, 2018, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

>> "Take a very simple scene, as an example, a very small detail, that shows you exactly what is important in this show: When they first discover the Klingon satellite, they can not get a visual, because the visuals are blurred... So they look through an analog telescope, and can see it clearly. Can you see the idiocy? The "Optical scanner" (which is just a fancy name to say "telescope with an attached digital camera") can not see the object clearly because a field distorts the photons coming from that object, but an old telescope, which recieves exactly the same distorted photons, can see it clearly? This is a very minor and unimportant example, that is dwarfed by many other, bigger examples (and really, I would have just overlooked it normally as cheesy), where the show thinks its viewers are idiots. The ultimate example of that trend is the final solution to the klingon war: They just give up because Burnham is awesome. The show treats everybody, its cast, its viewers, like an idiot, and expects me to cheer them on for it. No, I will not do that. That has nothing to do with "But muh Klingon redesign" or "But Starfleet wouldn't do that!". NOBODY who is sane would do something like that. Nobody. None of the characters involved, would ever do that. And if they did, it would backfire spectacularly."

That's the feeling that the series has constantly been giving me, ever since the pilot. It's worth pointing out how much this disrespect for the viewer undermines the viewing experience. If you feel treated like an idiot, it gets very hard to get involved or immersed with the movie/series.

I just want to leave a brief comment on this episode: It has indeed shown how inept the writers are, and if it were for me, I couldn't give it more than 1 star. It is absolute madness to presume that L'Rell would abort an already won war, because she simply has no reason to do so. It's no exaggeration, as others have suggested, to call this one of the weakest/least believable conclusions to a war plot that has been shown on serialized television.

But anyway, the silver lining is that I feel now is a good moment to quite watching the show. We've seen the complete arc of season 1; we are capable of judging now; and we have a certain sense of completion. I see little incentive to jump into a new adventure/story next season and get invested into a show again that has HAD its trial run in season one and utterly failed in my opinion.

I really wanted to like the show, but things already started to fall apart in the pilot when I started to feel treated like an idiot, - to come back to the quote from the beginning of my post -, because I was supposed to follow Michael Burnham on her journey to mutiny, while her decisionmaking made no sense to me whatsoever. That experience is not only echoed, but completely dwarved by what we got served in the season finale; so in a sense, the series has come full circle. It's just baffling how nothing makes sense. If you just poke a little bit, if you just use your intellect for an instant, everything falls apart. We are expected to narrowly follow the perspective and narrative from Michael Burnham's POV, which is ultimately insulting to the audience. We are told what to feel and what to think, and all the ambiguity that was tauntingly woven into the series in its first few episodes turned out to be misleading: No, there is no complex use of multiple perspectives here; it's all just the Michael Burnham show. Love her, feel with her, or otherwise this series isn't for you.

Apparently my comment wasn't as brief as I thought... sorry for that. I'm saying my goodbye to those who have decided to stay onboard for season 2. It was a good discussion, really, and more intriguing really than watching the show itself.
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Steve
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Will You Take My Hand?

I thought the season was pretty decent until this episode....but wow. This was terrible. A few things...

1 - Sarek would never ever agree to attempted genocide and using indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction. Ridiculous.

2 - That speech at the end was terrible. Who was she talking to anyway? They were in the middle of a medal ceremony and she starts rambling on like a mad person.

3 - Klingon ships in the Sol system...was hoping for some epic last stand. Instead we get Orion Sex Slaves.

4- Admiral Lisp...I know it's not her fault but man, that lisp...what's going on. Can't take her seriously with that lisp going on.

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Steven Wieler
Fri, Feb 2, 2018, 6:13am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

> What STD did to Captain Lorca is consistent with SJW agenda of the series: white
> people are bad. You certainly can't trust a white man.

> It's a shame that STD is using Star Trek to promote a divisive political agenda.

On the other hand, there is also the message "you can't trust a Pakistani/Muslim", because look at who the sleeper agent is. And the black doctor has just been killed off (black people are unimportant, I guess?), so the "good" crew of the Discovery is pretty white now. Anti-white people? That's a conspiracy theory that is just in your mind, no offense. You can't cherry-pick one single character and claim that it proves an anti-white agenda. That's just lazy thinking.

White people can be pissed, middle Eastern people can be pissed and black people can be pissed by the portrayal of certain characters on the show. Hey, gay people can also feel insulted because how romantical was it to show Stamets and his lover brushing their teeth together? It was a silly/forced romance. So, basically, every political group can be angry about this series if they cherry-pick what they don't like.

In the end, it's just a poorly made series and the insult to certain groups is non-intentional. It's just a by-product of sloppy writing and character work.
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Steven
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 12:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

You guys have indulged in this fun exercise of comparing the moral make-ups of the Star Trek captains, especially as Discovery is lacking in this department.

So I can't resist; here is my list:

1. Picard
2. Sisko
3. Kirk
4. Janeway
5. Archer

Incidentally, I am very much guided by the moral angle because IMO this list shows whose morality is superior to whose, and my sympathies for the captains go by exactly the same order. I'm just too much of an idealist to enjoy something like "Discovery", I guess. Although I did enjoy the reboot of BSG, which is in many ways the antithesis of Trek. However, BSG was "real politics" done right, in an artistic way, far superior to what Discovery has to offer.

The difference between Picard and Sisko has been detailed by you guys. Picard's morality is preferable in theory - if the circumstances allow it. He would've struggled against the Dominion though. Kirk is on place 3 of my sympathy list because his morality is less clearly defined than Picard's or Sisko's. Kirk generally has his heart in the right place and is the "original template" for a Starfleet captain, but imo he is surpassed by Picard and Sisko. Janeway is most similar to Sisko, in my books, because she has to make many decisions under extreme circumstances - but in the end, she is too erratic to be considered on-par, although Mulgrew understood to sell the character surprisingly well, using her charisma.

On Archer, I had to laugh a bit when reading Peter G's description of "George W. Bush in space"... although that's just the issue I'm having with him, too. Scott Bakula comes across as too "American" for my taste. Admittedly, his diplomatic side works rather well in seasons 4 and I might have ranked him higher if more of "Enterprise" had been about the actual formation of the Federation, as opposed to the boring stuff that we got served in the first three seasons. I refuse to even rank Lorca after his recent outing as a comic-book villain.
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Steven
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 10:55am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: What's Past Is Prologue

[Quote Peter G:] I'd like to be able to make some grand-sweeping statement like "the moral fiber of this show is completely degenerate" but I think that would be missing the point. It's not that the morals of the writers are mixed up, but simply that they don't exist. They're busting every move to keep the plot twists coming and I don't think there's much more to it than that. There's no consideration for what any broader message might be, and so any message one can draw from the show is going to be largely accidental rather than by design.
...
It's almost like a Terran Empire's version of a Star Trek series, and sorry to those who like reading only positive reviews, but yes, it's an actual betrayal. It's not just some new show we should be thankful for, but it an insult to what I grew up thinking of as Federation values. It's some piece of irony that the story of the series is focused on a character whose chief characteristic is being a traitor.
[/Quote]

To me, that's still the core of what is wrong with DIS. And I noticed something recently: I enjoyed the Mirror Universe episodes more than anything else, ever since the first 30 minutes of the pilot episode. You know, when Michael betrayed her Captain for arbitrary and incompehensible reasons - she's really the first main character of a Trek series that I can't connect to. Now, arriving in the Mirror Universe, the show suddenly became bearable. I think that's because everyone in the MU is so blatantly evil and psychopathic that our "heroes" suddenly become sympathetic - purely by contrast. It's really a sad state that we need the comical simplification and black-white painting of the MU to make the PU crew tolerable.

I haven't posted here since episode 6 or 7, but I've promised to come back and give my verdict on season 1. - So, I think I can do that now: This series is still a failure in my eyes. I mostly share the opinion of Peter G here - no coherent message, no vision, no moral commentary like we're used from Star Trek; instead it's all about action, visuals and paper-thin plots and I don't see the "Trek" in this series any more. There are some technical improvements, granted; the pacing and directing got a lot better recently, but that doesn't change the course of the series which to my taste is all-wrong. In terms of characterization, I have to acknowledge some improvement (from unbearably insonsistent to more or less coherent characters; especially after the reasons of Lorca's erratic behavior have been revealed). Still, I don't expect to pick up this series after the end of season 1.
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Steven Walker
Wed, Jan 24, 2018, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Vaulting Ambition

I loved this episode! One fan complaint that I cannot wrap my brain around is the notion that the show somehow failed because some fans were able to deduce the twists ahead of time. In the age of constant week-to-week speculation by an army of fans, it's literally impossible for a serialized show to keep a big plot twist a secret unless they cheat by not offering enough clues to make it believable. Figuring it out early doesn't mean the show failed. I personally do not try to hard to speculate because I don't want to ruin anything for myself. I never would have guessed Tyler=Voq, nor would I have guessed the big twist in Westworld, if fans had not posted their theories online, and I really wish I had never read them. I actually guessed Mirror Lorca, but not in a serious way. Just in a "this is an answer that would explain why he doesn't embody Starfleet ideals" kind of way, but I didn't really think the show would have the courage to go there, so it still felt like a huge revelation to me. My point is, if you are the type of person who spends more time obsessively speculating about potential plot twists than the writers spent writing them, it's not fair to criticize the show if you figure it out early.
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Steve o
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Mirror, Mirror

I'm going through TOS on Netflix in order. Before this episode, my previous favourite was Balance of Terror, but this one supersedes it I think. Amazing episode. The only things I thought weren't great about it was the kind of untidy ending and the throw-away romance (which, in it's defence, did have a little bit of significance to the plot.)

Sulu was so good as a bad guy. A refreshing change for him as I sometimes think that his usual character is often a little too meek. (Although, not, I should say, in balance of terror. He was great in that also.) The cinematography was great. Subtly darker and broody, and it made Sulu look really menacing in the sick bay scene. Great stuff!

Out of all the characters from the 'real' universe in this episode, the one that impressed me the most was Uhura. It was awesome that here, all the mirror characters were bad-ass, but the real Uhura was totally bad-ass and I loved that. A huge step forward for her character. Much better than the "Captain, I'm frightened." Uhura I've seen in past episodes. (Although, there was a momentary glimpse of that, I gotta say.)

But the character that the whole show balanced on was Spock. Wonderful and believable in his cold, quietly calculating but fantastically deadly alter-ego. That beard! Devilish! Brilliant and clever character writing, even if, perhaps some of the plot devices were a bit ham-fisted.

It was great to see the episode that started the mirror universe idea. I enjoyed some of the mirror journeys that we were treated to in DS9 and the idea was used, differently, but to good effect in TNG, but for me, this one tops the lot.

Amazing.
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Steve
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Survivors

I as well think this is one of the better episodes in the series. One of the things I like about the series is that they don't make boring omnipotent beings. They're all pretty nuanced. Q is basically what you imagine how a man would act if you turned him into a god (pompous above everything else) while Kevin is entirely different, if not even on the opposite side of the spectrum. He just wants to live life, doesn't really want to be what he is, and he sheds it as much as he can to life his life out as a human man to be with the one he loves.

I think people are shortsighted when they question how someone could simply kill an entire race rather than do any number of other things in response to the only being they ever loved being killed (something they could've easily prevent if not for their own personal code they lived by). Imagine any time you ever yelled at anyone who did something really bad.

This guy is a god - for all we know, killing that entire race might have been the godly equivalent of a scream of rage in response to them killing his loved one. Especially since he's able to do it with a single thought. Imagine all the times you wished someone dead? He simply couldn't control himself enough in the wake of what happened to have that one thought, that unfortunately for him, unlike an actual human, he can't take back.

I think Picard's lines at the end are taken exactly with that in mind. To steal another line from something completely different, Primal Fear, when this "soulless" defense attorney tries to explain why he does what he does, he says "I believe in the notion, that people are innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that notion because I choose to believe in the basic goodness of people. I choose to believe that not all crimes are committed by bad people. And I try to understand that some very, very good people do some very bad things." This is the same kind of mindset Picard is displaying at the end, and as others have said, Picard probably understands as well that a god punishing himself with endless grief and regret is more than what humans could do to him anyways.

The mystery component of the episode was pretty solid too. Like someone else said, Picard shows himself a worthy captain as he doesn't just take the hand he's dealt. A ship that keeps up with the Enterprise at ridiculous speeds and seems impossible to defeat suddenly letting off, later being easy to defeat - he wasn't happy with the simple conclusion of the safety of the enterprise but wants to get to the bottom of what's really going on. That's always been Picard at his best in this series and part of why the finale was so incredible.

I agree that the Troi part was maybe unnecessary and a bit much, though I think the music box was an interesting choice, sort of like a "kind" way to keep someone off of their trail while inadvertently torturing them in the process. Who knows - if not for the seriousness of that, Picard may not have been quite as determined to figure out what was going on.

There are certainly some better episodes, but I always find this one very memorable and I'd agree with 4 stars too on it. If choosing a selection of the greatest episodes - let's say 20 across the series, I'd include this.
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Steve
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 9:13am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

@BZ
You're right, it's certainly not relevant to this specific episode – more a general comment on the navel-gazing quality of Discovery's universe building.

It's stated in an earlier episode that only the humans among the Discovery's crew are capable of horizontal gene transfer to access the mycelium network, on the grounds that they share a common ancestor with mushrooms and therefore share a considerable quantity of their genetic makeup. The fact that the humans and the mushrooms are required to share a common ancestor for plot reasons rules out the idea that the mushrooms came to Earth from off-planet. (Particularly given that we're shown the origins of life on Earth in the final episode of TNG – no mushroom networks to be seen.)

I suspect that trying to make sense of it all is a waste of time, because the writers don't appear to have made any effort to make these things internally consistent. Discovery uses its science for effect and gimmicks, rather than attempting to make it coherent on any structural level. When you put that expectation to one side, it's a lot more enjoyable to watch – but as a fan of old Trek, which at least tried to make these things add up, it grates.
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Steve
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 5:54am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Re. Evan's comment that 'Discovery's crew is 100% American', adding to the 'insularity and claustrophobia of the show' – I'd take this further by saying that the show's whole universe is far too Earth-centric. The tardigrade was apparently a mutation of a creature from Earth (at first I thought the comparison to the tardigrade was only superficial, but as the series has gone on it seems that the creature is LITERALLY related to Earth tardigrades somehow). The mycelium network relies on mushrooms from Earth, and the only crew members capable of the DNA transfer required to operate the spore drive are the humans from Earth (as they share genetic material with the mushrooms).

The idea that a universe-defining concept like the mycelium network should have such strong ties to Earth makes the entire show feel somewhat naval-gazing and – again – claustrophobic. And it denies the series some of that sense of outward-looking wonder that made Trek feel so inclusive and open. While I'm not a huge fan of Christopher Nolan, it feels like a line from Interstellar sums how the show's writing differs from earlier series: "We used to look up in the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt."
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Steve
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 5:44am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

As a lot of people have said, the last couple of episodes have redeemed Discovery somewhat after a nervy start. But a recurring concern is that Starfleet seems to be run in a way that doesn't seem sustainable. There's no respect for chain of command; insubordination is barely punished; mutineers and strangers are given influential positions on the bridge; commanding officers are sent into clearly dangerous situations with woefully inadequate security. The plot is being driven forward by events that seem illogical to the point of breaking immersion – ironic, for a show in which logic is praised so highly - and the overall result is that the universe feels insubstantial and, frankly, a little cheap (again, ironic for a show that costs so much).
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Steve
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Balance of Terror

Having seen this episode for the first time today, my jaw dropped when I saw Sarek as a Romulan commander! I wonder if people were similarly shocked and reminded of this episode when seeing the actual Sarek character for the first time.

Great episode. My favorite so far. There's so many interesting facets.
Spock and Sulu are superlative in this one.

I enjoyed the Romulan commander's ordeal. Watching him be outmanoevered yet still show his respect for his adversary was great. I do regret the writer's decision to kill the character though. I get the sentiment behind the choice, but there was the potential for a great rivalry here in future episodes, had they given the character a name and a means of escape.
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Steven
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 5:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

@Ubik

I have a hunch that the basis for our disagreement is that we use the terms "vision, coherent narrative or style" somewhat differently. Although I tried to be explicit, these terms are still not self-explanatory and need to be put into context and into a larger artistic/cinematic theory. I won't do that right now because it would be a bit exhausting to dig so deep, but I believe this is where our misunderstanding lies.

So okay, I retract my arguments and criticisms for now, because I can't properly explain them.
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Steven
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

@Ubik

I see where you're coming from in your reaction to my post. But you ignored what was meant as the keywords of my text - "vision, coherent narrative or style".

My arguments are not, as you say, logical loops (strawman arguments), but they are based on my observation that Discovery doesn't have its own cohesive style but feels like an awkward copy and paste job - at least to me.

I am fully aware that you don't have to share that opinion, and that you might interpret what you see as a good form of entertainment - maybe even having its own distinctive feel - instead of seeing it as something that is lacking. As to "The Force Awakens", it was acceptable entertainment for two hours, but personally, I don't mind whether this movie exists or not. It felt empty to me and I will probably not watch it again. Literally like a copy that makes you wonder: Why not watch the original instead? That's just my feeling towards it.
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Steven
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

To give us conflicting characters may actually be one thing that Discovery got right; they certainly did a better job than on ENT, where everybody was too content and nice to each other. The DIS characters have potential for future conflicts, especially between military and science officers. Kind of "New Battlestar Galactica meets Star Trek".

Unfortunately, the characters still don't intrigue me, so I'm not particularly looking forward to seeing future conflicts between them and I'd rather focus on the exploration and science fiction aspects. But yeah, the character work hasn't been a complete miss; what I don't like though is how inconsistent the characters still are and where their moral compass is, AND how similar they are to 21st century people.
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Steven
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Oh my god, I just read what Trent wrote two days ago. Here's a quote:

>> MisterWooster said: "What we have in DISCO is a Trek that doesn't adhere to
>> the "8ish or so Senior Officers Going on Adventures" template, and the reason
>> behind that is: That Template No Longer Works In 2017TM.

> The template works fine. As someone who reads mountains of new science
> fiction novels a year, I can assure you that deep, unique, philosophically,
> scientifically and politically interesting scifi "adventure" and "first contact" tales
> are everywhere (everyone go read Peter Watts' "Blindsight" and Octavia Butler's
> "Lilith's Brood"). The problem is, television writers live in bubbles and are
> primarily influenced by film and TV, and not literature, and certainly not science
> fiction literature. So they have no tales to tell."

Now THAT is a plausible explanation to me. I have heard a couple of good explanations now for why Voyager, or Enterprise, failed to meet the expectations. None of them are suggesting that the new course that Discovery takes is the necessary cure to an outdated formula. True, Star Trek was (and is) in crisis, but I believe that the course that Discovery has taken hasn't been of much help in solving this crisis; if anything, it has obscured the issue.

Quick summary of some convincing points I've heard:

- "TV writers live in a bubble and don't take inspiration from good literature any more" is a very good explanation. The remix of TV shows that Discovery writers pull off in such a fancy way is not a solution.

- Another very good point was that TNG had a coherent vision from the start, it wanted to be different from contemporay TV and do its own thing; in that regard, it followed in the footsteps of TOS. Where's the vision/boldness in Discovery? And no, it's not bold to do a mixer of existing TV shows. (As I said previously, let's wait till the end of season 1 to do a judgment on what "vision" or narrative the new show has. All I can say is that currently I'm not seeing it.)

- TNG also had a superb production team. The reason why Voyager wasn't as great as TNG or DS9 has largely to do with conflicting ideas of what the series was supposed to be or where it wanted to go. In the first two seasons, there were a couple of good concepts and conflicts between the characters that the writers should have expanded upon. At the core of TOS, there are three characters with conflicting attitudes and ideas (Kirk, Spock, Bones); something similar would've been needed for Voyager. Chakotay and his Maquis crew were too easily implemented into Voyager's crew after season 2 and there was little internal conflict left among the crew. I could go on with this; but I think my point is clear that the "8ish main officers going on adventures" template as such is not the problem.

Let's wait and see.
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