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Tim C
Sun, Feb 23, 2020, 5:23am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

I'm not American, Booming. ;)
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Tim C
Sun, Feb 23, 2020, 4:15am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

(above comment was a reply to Booming)
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Tim C
Sun, Feb 23, 2020, 4:14am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

^^ Obviously when Crusher or the EMH de-Borged people, they were sedated. But when people got assimilated you'd better believe that at least some of them were aware of it. Remember "Dark Frontier", when Seven is present on a cube during a mass assimilation? Those background screams from people gettin' all Borged up sounded pretty conscious to me.

Why wasn't Icheb sedated? I dunno if they're sadists so much as it seems like they just don't give a damn. Maybe they don't even consider ex-Borgs as people anymore. Whatever the reason, it's immaterial to the events being depicted: Icheb met a horrific end at the hands of some bad people, Seven saw the aftermath, and it changed her forever.

Yes, the torture scene is there for the audience, so that we *empathise with Seven*, and that we know what an incredibly dangerous risk she is taking when she decides to confront these people. They will literally *dismember* her. It adds tension. I get that some people are squeamish with on-screen violence, I just don't agree with them that the scene is totally perfunctory and the episode could be exactly the same without it. I for one will never look at Borgs the same way again.
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Tim C
Sun, Feb 23, 2020, 3:33am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Hard disagree on this one, Jammer. Robert above raises an interesting point about the gore: Borg assimilation and part removal is a genuinely horrific process. Previous Star Trek shows have hinted at it but this is the first time it has really been show to us just how horrific it is. This is what Picard was put through. That is what Seven was put through. *As a child!* (Incidentally, it also highlights just how insane the "let's get assimilated deliberately" plotline from VOY's Unimatrix Zero was).

The opening scene serves two important functions. (1) It shows new viewers, and reminds older ones, what it means to have Borg implants removed (and put in in the first place). It demonstrates, graphically, the danger that Seven is going to be putting herself in later in the episode by using herself as bait. (2) It shows us why Seven has become what she has become.

If we hadn't seen this moment on-screen, and Seven had just turned up saying "I want revenge because Icheb was tortured and murdered by 24th century organ thieves", would that have sufficed? I don't think I'd have been happy with it, and I would have questioned why her ex-crewmates - her "collective" - weren't able to bring her back from the brink that she's clearly gone over.
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Tim C
Fri, Feb 21, 2020, 7:15am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

I think that's a mischaracterisation of my opinion, Booming. It's not that I don't think Star Trek has an identity; it's that I think it has *multiple* identities, and it suffers whenever it tries to copy itself. TOS, TNG and DS9 are all quite distinct from one another. VOY and ENTs biggest creative weakness was their unwillingness to move on from the TNG model. It led to the eventual cancellation of the franchise. People had been there and done that.

Trek has to keep moving forward and reinventing itself. In Disco's case, it's as a slam-bang action adventure, the kind that VOY was always trying to be. And PIC wants to try being a long-form streaming-era drama. Much better to have these honest attempts at something new than a rehash, I feel.

Some vocal commenters seem to think that Trek has lost its optimism. I disagree. The writers of Disco have not been great at it, but there *have* been honest attempts to maintain the spirit. And PICs first season is one singular story, perhaps even to continue into the next, so I think it's a bit early to judge it at the episode five mark.
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Tim C
Fri, Feb 21, 2020, 5:44am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

I wrote a lengthy piece detailing my thoughts on the criticism of "Discovery is not Star Trek", Andy's Friend. They are equally applicable to the same criticisms of Picard. You can find it in the comments of "An Obol For Charon": https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-dsc/s2/obol-for-charon.php

TLDR: We're all entitled to our opinions, but with such a wide variety of Star Trek tales having been told already, I don't think it's a valid criticism to dismiss anything dark as "not Star Trek".

BTW, it's not that I don't accept the utopian vision espoused by Picard in many of TNG's early episodes. Picard and his crew clearly practice what they preach, and the Federation as a post-scarcity society that no longer has to worry about things like poverty is a wonderful vision of the future. But TNG and VOY both had a very limited scope: they focused on the crews of ships that got to zoom away from the issue of the week, and not worry about what came after. DS9 showed us what it looks like when you zoom out from a Starfleet crew and look at a complicated bigger picture outside the Federation, and surprise surprise, it's not as simple as Picard would often present it.

To quote myself from the aforementioned linked comment:

"Much like the producers at Paramount back in the day, shackling Voyager's creative reins to the ghost of TNG in the hopes that residual popularity would last forever and sustain their doomed new TV network, the people who charge that "Discovery isn't Star Trek" would seem to prefer the universe to remain creatively frozen in amber, an Orville-style rehash of a storytelling style we've already had over 700 episodes of, in the fear that somehow, attempting something new will invalidate the things they already love. Personally, I think that's bollocks."

I'll let my other prior words do the rest of the talking, if you care to read them. I'm tired of this particular debate.
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Tim C
Fri, Feb 21, 2020, 3:35am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

You're welcome, Mal. I'd highly recommend the book if you have an afternoon or two to while away; the whole storyline of Raffi slowly growing more and more distant from her family even as she and Picard are saving thousands is one of the saddest and most poignant parts of it.
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Tim C
Fri, Feb 21, 2020, 2:56am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

John Harmon, I take great umbrage at being described as a "supposed" Star Trek fan! :P I bleed Trek and have since I was a kid. I still enjoy rewatching the old shows.

So speaking as a long-time fan, I *love* my Trek with grit in it. I like it when the ideals of our heroes are challenged, and we see them fail, and pick themselves up again, because that's what life is. I like it when we are reminded that these are military people in dangerous occupations, and when the risks they are taking are demonstrated.

What I never enjoyed about the old broadcast shows was the bland sterility enforced by being a prime-time network TV show for families. If I'm watching a show about adults doing adult things , then yes, I expect to see violence, swearing and the like. To me, that's far more engaging purely because it's simply how we know people work. Sure, the Federation may have taken care of their citizens' material needs and done away with war, but Star Trek ain't just the Federation.

To quote a few sages...

"Let me tell you something about Hew-mons, Nephew. They're a wonderful, friendly people, as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people... will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don't believe me? Look at those faces. Look in their eyes. "

"It's easy to cling to your principles when you're standing on a vessel with its bulkheads intact, manned by a crew that's not starving."

"Do you know what the trouble is? The trouble is Earth. On Earth there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. It's easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the demilitarized zone all the problems haven't been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints, just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not."
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Tim C
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 11:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Without getting into another endless "What is Star Trek?" debate (a question which, after over 700 TV episodes and thirteen movies, has such a wide-ranging answer that anybody who claims to know it is lying), I would like to say just how much I personally prefer the way the new shows are geared towards adult viewers. Adults swear, bat'leths stab, people bleed, and the preachy utopia of a well-run Federation starship in peacetime is revealed to be so much self-congratulatory back patting once you move outside of that bubble, something that anybody who has travelled to poorer countries knows today.

DS9 was also good at pointing out just how hard a place the galaxy can be, but the new era of Trek is taking it to another level, and I like it.

Eventually, I'm going to want to see a return to a show aboard a happy-go-lucky ship, just for a change of pace. But for now, I feel like I'm getting to see those parts of the Trek world that I always assumed existed, but never got the opportunity to see.
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Tim C
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:03am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Damn. They were obviously going for shock value with that opening flashback, but it sure worked on me! (Cue the "oh gosh, that isn't Star Trek" crowd...)

"Fridging" Icheb is a cheap way to give Seven her new, even harder edge. That said, cheap doesn't necessarily mean bad or ineffective. I totally buy it, and Icheb was never that interesting a character that I'm going to mourn his loss. I wonder if the writers are coming for Naomi Wildman next...

Icheb isn't the only minor character to meet the executioner: on the non-Seven side of things, Maddox is introduced and summarily dismissed, and Jurati's double-agent status is confirmed way earlier than I thought it would be. And it looks like we're getting to the cube next week! After four episodes of setup, they're sure wasting no time knocking the dominos over.

As far as chapters of a novel go, this one is my favourite so far. The Trek universe feels bigger than it ever has, with all kinds of unexplored corners and institutions. And no pointless Soji/Narek/Rizzo scenes, either. Nice!
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Tim C
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 4:13am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

Since we're on the topic, I don't think the Kurtzman era has been "terrible" thus far. It's definitely had some serious stumbles, but they really all had their problems over time, and none of them came out of the gate at their best. Discovery's second season had a long-term plot that turned out pretty rubbish at the end, but the show also gave us a great version of Captain Pike along with several new characters that I actually really like (Saru, Stamets, Reno). I also think it's had some great one-off episodes that I'd be happy to add to my list of Trek rewatches in years to come.

Picard is just way too young a show for me to judge, especially as it's even more serialised than Disco. But I think the cast is strong and the premise thus far is interesting; seeing a legend like Picard dealing with the consequences of failure on a long-term basis is fascinating to me, and the kind of storytelling opportunity that was never afforded by an episode-of-the-week format on network TV.

I could have done without the reboot movies though. ST09 and Beyond were fun, but only fun, and only tolerable because of the alternate universe conceit. (The less said about Into Darkness, the better. Ugh.)
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Tim C
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 9:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

Last night, I read the official PIC prequel novel, "The Last Best Hope". Although not on-screen canon, it does make for a great bridge from Nemesis to the show and has the blessing of the show's writers. Key points are:

* True to form, when Picard leaves the Enterprise, he can't bring himself to tell Beverly how he really feels and ask her to come with him.

* The sheer scale of the Romulan evacuation and resettlement effort (all worlds within a ten light-year radius of Romulus have to be evacuated) is daunting at first, but Starfleet decides to go all-in, citing previous successes like rebuilding Cardassia after the Dominion War. However, the first seeds of dissent in the Federation are sowed when it starts drawing resources like industrial replicators from smaller member worlds, particularly those close to the Neutral Zone.

* Raffi is an intelligence officer in Romulan Affairs with a no-bullshit briefing style that catches Picard's eye, and he brings her in as his XO because like Riker he wants someone who won't sugar coat the truth to him. However, the multi-year mission puts a huge strain on her marriage and eventually sees her estranged from her husband and son.

* Picard appoints La Forge to retool production at Utopia Planitia to scale up construction of the thousands of transport vessels required to move the 900 million people who need evacuation. La Forge in turn recruits a (very unwilling) Bruce Maddox to create a synthetic labour force of non-sentient androids to assist in the construction efforts.

* Political considerations come in when a junior Federation councilor from one of the aforementioned border worlds starts agitating against the allocation of so many resources to aid the Romulans. The Romulans do not help their own cause when it emerges that they have released inaccurate projections of the supernova to the public that make it look not as bad as it actually is, cementing their reputation amongst Federation citizens as duplicitous and untrustworthy.

* When it becomes clear the true impact of the supernova is going to be much bigger, Picard takes the extremely controversial decision to bring Romulan refugees across the Neutral Zone to a Federation planet (Vashti) which has offered to welcome them with open arms. This infuriates many on both sides, but the good PR of Federation citizens and Romulan refugees getting along so well helps to garner public support for the mission.

* Later on, Romulans handling their own evacuations massacre a group of civilians on Nimbus III who refuse to leave. Footage is leaked to the public and incites more anti-Romulan sentiment.

* Picard holds the Quwat Milat central to his belief that the Romulans are people worth saving. He visits with them and Elnor many times over the years.

* Captain Clancy works very, very hard behind the scenes to smooth over ruffled feathers from Picard's unilateral actions (which partly explains why she's still so angry at him for quitting when things got rough).

* The Federation's best astronomers suspect some kind of foul play with the supernova, given how unexpected it is and how fast it progresses, but nobody has any solid theories as to who is responsible.

* The synth attack takes everybody by surprise. Bruce Maddox (who has been having an affair with Jurati, his then-student) had been working on another project and splitting his attention, leading La Forge, Jurati and himself to question whether or not they went rogue because he missed something in their design. Raffi suspects foul play, but Picard believes that they simply might have become conscious and decided not to be slaves. Nobody knows for sure.

* The synth attack almost completely wipes out Starfleet's ship-building capabilities. Continuing the rescue mission now means basically shutting down every other core Starfleet mission of exploration, science etc, and the call is made that the aid that has been given already will have to be enough. Picard resigns, and we know what happens from there.

I thought it was a really great read, if you're into Trek-lit. It does a really great job of going into the mind-boggling scale and logistics requirements of the mission Picard is trying to pull off. And it really hurts when it all turns to shit on him.
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Tim C
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 4:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

Drea - I didn't take Picard's blatant intrustion into the Romulan cafe to be a stance against racism. It played to me like indignant anger that what he thought to be his sincere efforts to help in the past being thrown back in his face, mixed with a bit of what his doctor warned him about a couple of episodes ago: his Irumodic Syndrome is going to see him making impulsive, emotional decisions and he might not even be aware of it.

He's also very aware that his advanced years mean he might not get the opportunity to come out this way again, and he wants to confront his mistakes head-on. I think it's very in-character for him to try opening a dialogue through any means necessary, as was his decision to throw the sword down and keep trying even in the face of mortal danger. His anger at Elnor for ending it with violence afterwards felt very real to me too.
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Tim C
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 5:43am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

And we're off! "Absolute Candor", even moreso than last week, underlines just why Picard has left so many pissed-off people in his wake. It wasn't just Starfleet and the Federation's failure to follow through on their promises - which it seems that a lot of Romulans now think was a ploy to get them to put aside their own plans - it's that by resigning, *Picard* gave up all of his own powers to continue to influence events. No more ship, no more crew, no more ability to travel across the quadrant giving rousing speeches.

I also liked that this showed us one of the reasons that the Picard we have now is so much more relaxed with his emotions than TNG Picard: his dealings with the sisterhood-whose-name-I've-forgotten basically *required* him to loosen up, lest he lose their help in Romulan resettlement. And the man who lost his entire family way back in "Generations" obviously doted on orphaned Elnor in a surrogate father-son sort of way that makes perfect sense.

Speaking of Elnor - hearing a homegrown Australian accent coming from a Romulan surprised, delighted, and confused me. Great stuff.

I wish the credits hadn't spoiled Seven's surprise appearance at the end of this. It was a great dramatic entrance.

3 stars.
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Tim C
Fri, Feb 7, 2020, 1:40am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

Three episodes in the can and I suppose that's the "pilot" done? I enjoyed it, but once again I'm left feeling vaguely unsatisfied, due to the serial nature of the show. Disco doesn't have this problem most weeks; PIC on the other hand is driving me utterly *crazy* with the wait between episodes. Next season I think I'm going to wait until it's complete before I dive in.

Otherwise, I don't feel like there's much to analyse here that hasn't been covered in previous weeks. Bullet points:

* I like Rios! And his ship full of holograms! I feel like the metal in his shoulder is misdirection, and we're going to find out that he's a hologram himself. Seeing emergency holograms again also really makes me want to see Voyager's Doctor, and how well he's being treated in this AI-hating future.

* I like Raffi, but they're overdoing the substance abuse angle. We don't need to see her swigging from a bottle or vaping in *every* scene to get the message, show.

* The more I see of the Romulan commandos, the more I start wondering: if they can just use transporters to assault anywhere that they want to, why can't they just beam up their targets? That first encounter with Dahj would have gone very differently if they just beamed her directly up to their ship. Likewise, if they wanted Picard, it sure doesn't look like they'd have any trouble just plucking him right off the surface... Best not to think about it too hard.

* Seeing Hugh is a nice callback, but so far he's just kind of a cipher, isn't he? It's not like his character was ever super-defined in the first place, but this didn't contribute much. I hope future episodes will flesh him out a bit.

* Same actress, but I liked Dahj way better than Soji.
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Tim C
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 5:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

Dave in MN, my read on Admiral (*googles name*) Clancy getting so angry with Picard was that just a couple of days ago he was on TV calling Starfleet "dishonorable" and "downright criminal" for past actions, and now he swans into her office asking for a favour? The insults would have still felt very fresh.

Swearing in modern Trek is something that has been debated ad nauseam over in the Discovery reviews, but to briefly throw my own two cents out there again: I'm all for it when it's employed judiciously and in appropriate context. (Context here being an emotionally charged discussion between two military* officers.) After all, the only reason we never heard it on the old shows was network broadcast standards, and we're thankfully free of that puritanical silliness now.

*Insert debate about whether or not Starfleet is actually military here
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Tim C
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 4:39pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

An okay episode that is purely about pushing long-term plot pieces around the board. Given what the writers have said about the very serialised nature of this show, I think we can expect a lot more of this, which is kind of frustrating. Disco also had its plot-pushing episodes, but there were also quite a few that served well as self-contained episodes-of-the-week and had their own internal dramatic payoffs.

My thoughts on this one echo some of the other criticisms already posted here: the intercutting between the explanation of the Romulan Zhat Vash and the CSI scene seemed unnecessary and just kind of annoying, as opposed to dramatically interesting. Star Trek shouldn't be afraid of going the "nerd procedural" route; it's been the show's bread and butter since 1967, after all.

Performances good across the board, and although I've seen criticisms elsewhere that the writers don't seem to really know TNG that well, I think they are doing a remarkable job with the callbacks and the evolution of the characters. One thing that doesn't particularly ring true is Picard's refusal to try and get the band back together; I get that the writers aren't just doing a TNG redux, but a better excuse than "I don't want them to do it for me" would not have gone astray.

I'm also tired of secret police and conspiracies in general. Every iteration of Trek since the reboot movies has given us some version of it, and dramatically it feels played out. Far more interesting in this episode was the sincere disagreement between two people who both thought they were doing the right thing in Picard and Admiral Whats-her-name. Who's to say that Picard's insistence on helping the Romulans *wouldn't* have resulted in the splintering of the Federation? Certainly not Picard, who huffily resigned in outrage and left his colleagues to continue the job of holding it all together. Seems to me like the Admiral has every right to be pissed off at this ex-officer publically disparaging them, even if Picard is in the moral right.

I enjoy watching week-to-week, but gee I'm really considering just switching off the Internet for the next two months until the show's over and I can binge it in one hit.
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Tim C
Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 7:19am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

Good to have you back on deck in full flight, Jammer!
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Tim C
Fri, Jan 24, 2020, 5:19pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

Filip, you say "poor editing", I say "streamlining stuff that the audience doesn't need to see". I'm right with you on the pitfalls of the writers just leaving it to us to fill in gaps in storytelling logic (I probably have a good rant or two on that subject floating around on this site, in fact), especially in a serialised narrative. I just don't think it was a major one that breaks the story being told or the world it's set in.
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Tim C
Fri, Jan 24, 2020, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

Of all the nit picks that could be made, hearing people seize on the "positronic cloning" as proof this show is ridiculous trash is the funniest. It's Star Trek, the same series that gave us people evolving into salamanders, de-evolving into spiders, interbreeding aliens, de-aging transporters, etc, etc. If you can't get over a bit of throwaway technobabble that could well be explained further along than episode one anyway, methinks you probably have a deeper issue.

As for Picard waking up at home vs a hospital or police station, I think we can reasonably infer he was treated and returned home, and that things were covered up. YMMV, but does anyone think it really would have enhanced the episode to give us a five minute scene of Picard having magic medical wands waved over him to heal his burns, or frustratedly trying to convince sceptical cops there were Romulan assassins on the roof of a Starfleet facility? It'd just be filler that's just as easily covered by a single line of dialogue, which it was.

The real meat of all that was his realisation that he needs to dust himself off and live again, which is the scene we got. And an effective one, at that.

You wanna talk about universe-breaking nitpicks, I would love to chat with you in another thread about Disco's magical teleporting shuttlecraft...
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Tim C
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 7:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

SPOILERS

Well, wasn't that just wonderful?

Not perfect, mind you. From a production standpoint, there's a slickness to this that definitely marks it as a sister show to Discovery, which at first didn't feel like it was the right fit. But from the moment Picard's TV interview started getting ugly, and we saw that old moral certainty (with outrage at injustice) poke through the calm exterior, I was sold. Picard's back, baby!

What I think I most appreciated about this first episode was that the writers have clearly molded this twenty-years-older version of the character on the guy that we knew from TNG, rather than the weird action hero we started getting in the movies. The scholar, the thinker, the speechmaker. A welcome evolution for the character is his clear relaxing on personal displays of emotion, which feels quite fitting for a now-retired man who for years felt he had to maintain a professional distance.

Aside from Sir Pat's expectedly winning performance, I also liked all these new characters we're meeting. Seeing Romulans so clearly devoted to Picard is a very fun bit of world building and a great way of showing just how much the Alpha Quadrant dynamic has changed in the last twenty years. The actress playing Daj *nailed* the fear and confusion someone in her situation would be feeling, and with a short amount of screen time had me completely invested in her story. The two plot twists regarding her - that she's Data's "daughter" and her shock death - both managed to take me by surprise and left me genuinely excited to see what happens next.

Also: B4's eventual fate was to end up disassembled in a drawer. Thank god!

Bring on episode two!!!

3.5 stars.
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Tim C
Sun, Jun 2, 2019, 7:22am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Demon

Every couple of years I like to check back in and read this one again. Never fails to make me smile!
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Tim C
Sat, May 25, 2019, 4:43am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

Lol Booming, I came here to post the same link. I was giggling the whole time, even if I haven't agreed with all their criticisms of the show to date.
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Tim C
Fri, May 24, 2019, 7:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

I'm loving how one minute of teaser, consisting of just pretty-looking shots of a vineyard and an expositional monologue, is already drawing loud declarations of how much this series is going to suck. Never change, Internet. < 3
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Tim C
Thu, May 23, 2019, 11:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

How about: when Janeway altered the timeline in "Endgame", Voyager's early return caused a butterfly on Earth to flap its wings, which lead to Starfleet's Chief Of Fashion making a different call on 2390's uniform design, and also his choice of sandwich for lunch.

Fun fact: I'm in my tenth year of military life and my fourth uniform (fifth if you count the new dress uniforms!) Starfleet's got nothin' on the ADF.
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