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Thu, May 28, 2020, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

"And again, the blatant plagiarism of Mass Effect 3’s story endgame that they thought no one would notice. "

Read a ton of comments here, and this was the only one I saw to reference this. I haven't played Mass Effect myself, but people who have are saying the plot of this show is heavily derivative of it, there seem to be a lot of smoking gun similarities that are hard to ignore.

Then we can look at Star Trek: Discovery and realize that many aspects of season 1 are ripped off from the computer game Tardigrades, including a number of characters that look visually similar (the characters of Michael Burnham, Paul Stamets, Hugh Culber, Sylvia Tilly), to say nothing of the use of a giant Tardigrade that can travel through space instantaneously.

It's really surprising to me that shows with the kind of budgets Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard have would need to resort to this kind of copying, it certainly isn't something I'd find indicative of high quality writing.
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James White
Thu, May 28, 2020, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Omicron and Eamon - I agree with you both. CBS had a "sure thing" with Picard that they cashed in on. So, the quality control was probably lacking. Still, if they had bothered to ask the core ST fanbase what is essential to them, the end result may have been closer to the Picard of TNG. The thesis they operated under - that this Picard would be wholly different than the previous Picard, existing in a fundamentally changed Starfleet - probably doomed the whole thing. You can't "undo" Picard in this manner. But, again, this supposes that Kurtzman and his team had the wherewithal and talent to stay true to TNG while bringing a fresh message and set of challenges in a competent manner. They obviously did not.

Moreover, as Eamon indicated - they never needed to.
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Jay Marks
Wed, May 27, 2020, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

Never mind. Found them. Doh.
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Jay Marks
Wed, May 27, 2020, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

@ Peter G.

Always enjoy your comments/posts......never NOT insightful and thougtful.! For TOS APLW, you recently wrote in part, "It begs the question of not just which approach is enlightened, but which will actually work." A interesting little truth bomb.

BTW, I don't know why the comments from today are not listed here. I saw them in the Comment Stream. I refreshed this page., but nothing. What am I missing?
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Wed, May 27, 2020, 7:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Life Support

I, for one, was happy to see Bareil go. The actor sucked. Always the wooden, one dimensional performance. Not particularly well written either. Unfortunately, Shakaar was not that much better.
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Wed, May 27, 2020, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The Die Is Cast

I never really liked the Eddington character, but to his credit (and expanding on what Elliot said), he immediately admitted his sabotage to his supeior officer because he felt it was the right thing to do (his future duplicity a season later notwithstanding), while Sisko couldn't muster up the same with *his* superior officer, instead cowardly "hanging up" on him.
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James White
Wed, May 27, 2020, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

The truly sad thing is that STP didn't have to suck. It sucked because of factors having nothing to do with the underlying idea of revisiting one of the most iconic sci fi characters near the conclusion of his life. There are many, many ways in which this story could have worked. But that presupposed that a "work of art" was ultimately what CBS desired. What it prioritized. When you have a new show, you need a high quality product. You need to be infused with some combination of exceptional acting talent, writing, substantial issues (or kinetic scenes), depending on what it is you seek to achieve. You hope for those iconic moments - that transcend an episode or even a season - that viewers remember. These keep us coming back. They become the backbone for the mythology that develops. They are the "art" upon which the product depends.

With ST, CBS went full on mercenary. Fan service. Check. Return of iconic character. Check. Cool F/X. Check. Diverse cast. Check. Mystery box. Check. Plot, coherency, intelligence, vision, depth, and the grasping of human beings to understand some higher truth - something bigger than themselves - all of this. UNNECESSARY. Not undesired. Just not needed to succeed. Perhaps too much of a risk. Perhaps not fully attuned to what the younger demographic wants. Who knows.

The sad thing is that STP could have been a great drama. Perhaps even exceptional. But it was never given a chance. Because a hack producer, a mediocre writing team with little to no understanding of ST (as a whole), and a bunch of corporate fucks (much like Disney) decided that success would be exclusively defined by immediate viewership. That the artform itself was irrelevant to the formula in which success was defined.

In the end, we don't hate STP in a vacuum. We hate it because we understand the contempt that CBS held for the entire thesis of ST. A greedy, short-sighted, shallow and intellectually fallow organization contorting ST into something that it could never be. I stand by my original conclusion: fuck you Kurtzman. Now, I'm just adding a few more names.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, May 27, 2020, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

Like Nibbler from Futurama. His dark matter poop "weighs as much as a thousand suns."
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Jason R.
Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

@Peter as was the door to Central Command headquarters - kind of hilarious.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Schisms

I love the absurdity of the sloped wooden table. They could've just shortened two of the legs of the last table, but instead they had a carpenter build this bespoke folly for all of five seconds of screen time. That then led to the even more jarring jump to the metal "table" after it.

I think what would've worked better is to start with the same conference table, then shorten it as shown, then change it to a metal table which would look like a typical stainless steel prep table in a commercial kitchen, then after discussion one of them would say "make this a medical exam table" at which point we get something more like what was shown. That's still kind of over-the-top, but at least the progression is more believable.

It is interesting that they fixated on the sloped part, because the tables we saw in the actual alien lab were flat. That doesn't mean they don't tilt or that some of the experiments that were done on the people didn't make them feel like they were inclined in some way, so I can give that a pass. Still, it led to the weird sloped wood table and crazy jump to the tricked out exam table. I'm glad that the actual tables looked quite a bit different than what they came up with on the holodeck, which helps with the realism.
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Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Little Green Men

Elliot said:

"Question: when did the Ferengi go from hostile (if pathetic) foreign power (c.f. “Rascals”) to friendly neighbour that can appear over Earth without incident?"

By this point we've had "The Nagus" and "Prophet Motive".

Sisko's cordial dealings with the Nagus in that interim have likely thawed things at least to a point where questions are asked first.

Also, Starfleet *is* expecting the arrival of their first Ferengi cadet ever.
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Jason R.
Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

Jeffrey not sure this impacts your discussion but I will remind you the sphere was said to be constructed of neutronium. That is the densest matter in the universe short of whatever a black hole is made of.

Incidentally, the notion of any object (other than a neutron star) being made of neutronium is ludicrous. Such a material would explode the instant it is removed from its native environment.
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Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Little Green Men

Chris said:

"The way I always try to rationalise this sort of thing in Star Trek, is to invoke the ancient humanoids from TNG's 'The Chase'. But even if all humanoid life was seeded, the idea that the lifeforms and cultures on each planet developed at the same rate, to within a few hundred years, still doesn't add up. "

It's not impossible that, if not for the Dark Ages, humans might have been at the current technology level of 2020 by, say, 1500.
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Jason R.
Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Omicron I think the only question that really matters is it in any good? Others have fully canvassed the reasons why it isn't.

Perhaps it's my perspective as a TNG era trekkie and child of the 80s, but I never had a problem with DS9's allegedly darker tone or questioned its status as Trek. I don't even agree that it is particularly dark frankly excepting a handful of episodes, In the Pale Moonlight and For the Uniform being the standouts that get everyone's panties in a bunch.

And those episodes were either storytelling blunders best ignored or the consequence of a very specific context driven by the war story being told. But DS9 as a whole was never "dark" overall. And to be clear, I see "dark" as more or less synonymous with nihilism.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

Peter, it's a tragedy that the tech is so uninteresting because this Dyson Sphere should've been the discovery of the century.

Regarding the amount of material needed to build this shell, it all boils down to how thick it is really. The Wikipedia article on Dyson Spheres (specifically a Dyson Shell) notes a calculation by Anders Sandberg that a shell constructed from our solar system's available materials at Earth's orbit would be roughly 8-20cm thick depending on density. That apparently includes the solid cores of the gas giants, but no idea what happens to their gas or liquid components. Assume we can get some more thickness by converting that mass into something else.

Regarding gravity, apparently the gravitational pull on an object inside a hollow sphere is zero. The stronger forces acting close by are canceled out by the weaker forces acting at a distance because there's so much more of it. Any civilization advanced enough to build this thing could put gravity plating on the whole inside face, so that doesn't bother me too much. I also wonder what sort of effect solar winds might have on pushing gasses towards the shell.

The impression I got from the episode was that Geordi and Scotty were only on the Jenolen for at most a few hours. They'd need to be checking in from time to time, taking a break, getting something to eat. If it was longer, then the Enterprise had that much more time to get out of the star's corona.

Regarding opening the hatch, I meant that Geordi and Scotty could just sit off in the distance, "hail" it so it would open, then just keep doing that as many times as necessary to communicate with the Enterprise and give them time to escape. They acted like the one time they tricked the hatch into opening was the one and only time it would work, but there's no basis in that. For all we know they could stay out of range and keep hailing the portal over and over until it was fully opened, kind of like waving a stick in front of an automatic door sensor.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Tue, May 26, 2020, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

The science in this one is so bad, which is unfortunate because the Dyson Sphere is such a cool idea, but here it's just another tacked-on tech plot of the week. Let me call out the things that really stood out to me, which others have commented on too.

First, Geordi figured out way too quickly what happened to the Enterprise. If you look back on the scene all the pieces are there, but it's just laid out on a platter. Minor nitpick I guess.

Second, how does the sphere create such a huge gravity well when it's mostly hollow? Yes if it takes up all the matter present in a solar system to build (and then some), that's a lot of mass, but they go into systems with stars big enough to go supernova, quasars, etc., and they don't seem to have any problem with the gravity.

Third, how does anything cling to the inner surface of the sphere? Its center of mass is still at the star. I suppose they can use some tech to explain this, since they do get all of the star's energy to harness.

Fourth, it should've taken years for the Enterprise to get from the portal to anywhere near the sun at those speeds. Even if you assume those tractor beams accelerated the ship at impulse speed (let's say 1/8 impulse, which would be 1/32 light speed), it would still take nearly three hours to travel the 100m radius of the sphere.

Fifth, what idiot designed the portal to fling ships directly towards the sun anyway? Of course, since it would really take so long as to be irrelevant...

Sixth, the Enterprise barely makes it into orbit of the sun, but they're so close they're being hit by flares and other solar ejections. Ok, but by the time they're hailed by Geordi on the Jenolen, they have full engines back, yet they're still within spitting distance of the sun? Why weren't they already back at the portal trying to open it, or did the tractor beams wipe their sensors of their previous trajectory? They should've pulled up to a higher orbit at the very least.

Seventh, Geordi could've opened the portal, hailed the Enterprise, and conversed with them as many times as needed to figure out a solution. Jamming the Jenolen into the hatch was just a contrivance.

Eighth, beaming through the shields. SFDebris put it best.

RIKER: Wait the shields are still up.
SCOTTY: Never mind that!
RIKER: You can't beam through the shields, we did a whole episode about it.
SCOTTY: We'll...we'll tell you the frequency. Yeah! You can beam through the shields if you know the frequency.
RIKER: No the episode was about beaming through our own shields. I mean we know the frequency of the shields of our own damn ship.
SCOTTY: I uh, I only have the shields up in the front and back.
RIKER: Nuh uh, I call no way.
SCOTTY: Uhh I hate this bloody century!

Ninth, nobody ever seems to bring this up, but in the final scene Picard says "Since you lost your ship saving ours, it seemed only fair." Yet Picard was the one who asked Scotty in sickbay why he wasn't on the crew manifest in the first place, because he was just a passenger.

I'll let myself out now, but I still really like this one overall. It's mainly the last 10 minutes where I think it falls off a cliff.
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James White
Tue, May 26, 2020, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Omicron - I can't disagree there. If Patrick Stewart would not play Picard as he was on TNG, they really should have said no. It's funny, because in the first episode of the PIC show, you see a glimpse of the old Picard in the interview. Then it's gone for most of the season. THAT MAN needed to come out. He can be older, wiser, even more taciturn. But he cannot be someone unrecognizable to the man that just dominated TNG for all those years.

As for Stewart himself, he's an actor. They're usually not nearly as clever as the characters they play. What do you do...

Take solace in the fact that you know better than the actor himself when it comes to Picard. And look for a brighter future for ST. Who knows, maybe Kurtzman will suffer an embolism when attempting to edit one of his meth-infused, shit scenes.
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James White
Tue, May 26, 2020, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Omicron - I agree as well. When Ridley Scott started fiddling with his Alien prequel films, that really bugged me. Lucas as well in the SW universe.

Don't sweat it. I thought the Halloween series was irredeemable. Then Carpenter told every director since the original to fuck off. And the result was fantastic. You never know what the future holds, especially for something as timeless as ST. In the meantime, things like Inner Light, Chain of Command, Darmok, BOBW, and so forth will always exist. Just declare Picard "over" with All Good Things. Or maybe even Nemesis if you can stomach it. Kurtzman sucks so bad that honestly I don't consider his shows ST.
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James White
Tue, May 26, 2020, 3:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Booming - as they say in this country, "not so fast, Jack" :)

As you said, let's get through the list. I'll list your comments and my "response" to each.


-Black Mirror (apart from San junipero - which I love) it is a very dark show. I liked it more when nobody knew it.

Response: You forgot USS Callister (tough middle part but very uplifting ending); Striking Vipers (fun and engaging); Nosedive (light-hearted fare); Hang the DJ (romantic); and several others. It's not just SJ my friend. Also, a number of the other shows I would not consider "very dark." Yes, White Bear is brutal. But only a few get to that level.

-The Expanse: As I said, right now I have a problem with dark and depressing.

Response: Yes, you indicated this. But you also said there is very little "good sci fi shows" on today. Those are two different things. But I'll take you to mean that "good" = "optimistic." I don't think a majority of people would agree with you. Also, there is a quite a bit of humor in The Expanse. It's really not as bleak as you make it out to be. In fact, the realism adds to my optimism that in the future, at least there will be forces on both sides fighting it out. ST is a utopian drama. Good luck with that future.

-Dark: Not sci fi. And being German I must admit that I'm highly critical of everything German. I think we should stick with strange arthouse movies that nobody watches :) I saw the first season and thought eh...

Response: I disagree. It's a time-traveling mystery/drama that spans multiple timeframes. At best, you could argue it has other elements as well so it's a hybrid.

-Stranger Things: Also not a sci fi show and certainly not optimistic. I really liked the first season but now with the rest I can never watch it again. The later copy and paste seasons destroyed it for me.

Response: That's subjective. The show continues to garner a positive reception and critically favorable reviews. Also, if Stranger Things isn't sci fi, then neither is the X Files or Fringe. Telekinesis, inter-dimensional travel, alien creatures. Yes, this is hardly "hard sci fi." However, ST has warp drive and transporters, neither of which is grounded in anything close to legitimate science.

-The OA: Never seen it. Did not tickle my fancy. Doesn't look very optimistic, though.

Response: It's not overly optimistic. I liked parts of it. It has a very loyal fanbase which was very upset over its cancellation.

-Westworld. MOST PRETENTIOUS SHOW EVER. I liked the first season but after that it becomes pretty thoughtless torture porn. It's like they have to fill a murder quota every episode. Also this show is so much in love with itself.

Response: Actually, it doesn't. Season 2 is held in high regard and some prefer it over season 1. Season 3 is a bit more of a mixed bag. However, it's an attempt to "reboot" the show beyond the theme park motif. The primary criticism is that it is too unwieldy and complex. Hardly the "thoughtless torture porn" you are describing.

-Dr. Who. Yeah ok but for the time being I have no way of getting that even though I'm on three streaming services. It is also pretty redundant but silly enough to be enjoyable.

Response: Well, TNG was pretty redundant when you consider its connection to TOS. VOY is TNG redux. Enterprise is proto-TOS and far less enjoyable. Only DS9 deserves a truly innovative label. Dr. Who isn't for everyone. But it's fun and generally uplifting. A

-Devs: I don't have Hulu. While I really liked both Garland features (I actually like the less beloved Annihilation more) this also looks preeeety depressing.

Response: It's an existential tale with a sci fi premise. If you like Annihilation, you'll probably like this. Because Annihilation is all kinds of depressing and fucked up my friend.

-Handmaid's Tale: Here I jumped ship when I realized that Peggy from Madmen would never get out of it. Also torture porn. Maybe even worse than Westworld. Also very depressing.

Response: Or, incredibly well acted, tight script, compelling plot turns, and extremely believable drama. Torture porn takes up a very small part of it. That's a lazy critique.

-The Man in the High Castle: I liked it a bit but the leads are just too terrible and the plot is all over the place. Also dark and depressing.

Response: Leads are decent but I'll agree they could be better. Also, you've used you allotment of 5 "dark and depressing" criticisms. You're no longer allowed to use this.

-Lost in Space:

Response: That was pretty funny. You rick-rolled me, YouTube style. Seriously, Lost in Space is so much better than it has any right to be. The sci fi and overall concepts may not be top tier, but the episodes are entertaining and the characters are well developed. Mediocre? No, Will Robinson!!

-The Orville: Yeah... eh it's ok. The only relatively positive show on your list. If you can ignore some troubling aspects like Stalky McrapeBlob.

Response: This show is worse than probably every other listing. It's at least uplifting so it gets an auto bump of 50% on your scale. Otherwise, it's pretty stupid.

-The Rain: Pass. That show came out when I started to tire of all this dark and depressing stuff that is 95% of "good" shows. People really have to pop a Xanax or get out more.

Response: Yeah, that's probably true of this show.

- Altered Carbon: I watched the first episode, I think, and found it pretty stupid and simplistic.

Response: One episode viewing. Congrats. It's not 2001. But it has it's moments.

- Humans: Never heard of it. Looks like Westworld but less gory but still depressing and dark.

Response: Maybe you don't like depressing and dark because you're prone to constantly saying "depressing and dark"

-Mr. Robot: Evil corporations control us all. I already live that, I don't need to see a show about it. :) I liked the first season, though, then it went off the rails. Consumed by it's own success, I assume.

Response: Partly true. It's a sold show across its seasons. Very few would say it "went off the rails." Also, if you live this, and you're depressed to the point that you cannot watch 75% of the sci fi out there, I suggest a change of scenery for you.

As I said before. Either the US has lost the ability to create positive outlooks or the audience is so depressed that they want nothing else. I do want positive.
The good place was nice, ok they dropped the ball in season three but still. I cried and laughed and at the end I didn't think that everything will get worse and life is a nightmare where we helplessly tumble towards our doom.

Response: We haven't lost the ability. We're in a holding pattern while we "clean house." The U.S. rarely does anything in an efficient or simple fashion. We move in cycles, and the change is often messy. I'm the eternal optimist. Things will get better. The U.S. would do well to embrace some of the features of your country, particularly when it comes to NOT SAYING FUCK YOU to every scientist on television.

Villeneuve is doing Dune... hmm that gives me some hope. I'm somewhat interested in the second age Tolkien thing Amazon spent a whooping billion on. I fear that it will be another tank driving through my early teenage memories. We shall see.

Response: Yep. I'm just having some fun with this. I very much want a return to form for ST. But, to play devil's advocate, you may have dismissed some of the shows above too quickly. Give a few another shot.
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James White
Tue, May 26, 2020, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Booming - I do agree that Trek is unique. But maybe let it "die" for awhile. It can always come back, especially when the CBSs and Disneys are no longer fucking with our cultural artifacts. In the meantime, give a number of those a try. Also, there's another BSG remake/reboot on the way, a new vision of Dune, a new Nolan film, and plenty of indi sci fi projects.

Ultimately, Roddenberry was a visionary. So we have the extraordinary creation of a visionary's universe, brought to life by some very talented showrunners and writers. Same with Tolkien's LOTR. Possibly the same w/ Dune if Villeneuve can get it right.

Maybe what we need is a new visionary - one that creates a very positive, rich and mentally engaging future. Doesn't need to be ST. With all the talent out there, I say just give it time.

Also, and root for Alex Garland to land new projects.
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James White
Tue, May 26, 2020, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Booming, here is what's out there -

Black Mirror
The Expanse
Stranger Things
The OA
Dr. Who
Handmaid's Tale
The Man in the High Castle
Lost in Space
The Orville
The Rain
Altered Carbon
Mr. Robot

A few have ended recently. And there are others I obviously haven't mentioned. But I stand by what I said. That is a very strong list of sci fi shows.
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James White
Tue, May 26, 2020, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Cody B - I suggest you do a little research before responding. I'll give you a mulligan.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Tue, May 26, 2020, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

Set designers are part of the production team, which also includes the director, cinematographer, art director, lighting designer, props department, costumes, makeup, camera operators, grips, etc. The term set designer and production designer are used rather interchangeably, with set designer tending to be used a bit more in theater rather than in TV or film. This particular episode has numerous credits that would apply:

Directed by Peter Lauritson
Cinematography by Marvin Rush - director of photography
Production Design by Richard D. James
Set Decoration by Jim Mees
Art Department
Jason German - props
Andy Neskoromny - assistant art director
Gary Speckman - set designer
Rick Sternbach - senior illustrator
Cari Thomas - scenic artist
Herman Zimmerman - original set designer
Ed Miarecki - props (uncredited)
Michael W. Moore - props (uncredited)
William Peets - chief lighting technician
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Tue, May 26, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Meridian

For once they adequately explain away the “single village” thing. Their expedition crashed and the planet was uninhabited. Nuff said there but if they prefer their corporeal existence why don’t they just leave with the Defiant? This episode is a hot mess. The first of an otherwise stellar start to season 3. The Dax romance is Troi romance-level cringeworthy. And it’s almost always the fault of the guest actor and how he’s written - milquetoast boring and unremarkably handsome. Why would Dax fall for someone so ordinary? He’s worthy of a hookup at best. Gawd even Shakaar and Bareil are more interesting than this yawn inducing schmuck. Meanwhile the first major seed of the Odo/Kira romance is subtly planted, proving the writers are more adept at long form romance tales.
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James White
Tue, May 26, 2020, 11:09am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

It's ironic that in an age in which there is an over-abundance of compelling and thought-provoking science fiction, so many are lamenting the "death of Trek." It's only a "cult" if you live myopically.
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