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Philadlj
Sat, May 29, 2021, 11:04am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S1: The Arsenal of Freedom

For those wondering why there was no consistent chief engineer in the first season: it all comes back to the 24th century Ent-D being less of a military battleship and more of an exploratory cruise ship.

On such a vessel with civilians, families, and children, the counselor would be more important role than the mechanical workings of the ship.

Thus, the symbolic shift from Scotty as third in command of the TOS ‘Prise to the ship’s psychologist getting equal standing with the CO and XO on the bridge.
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philadlj
Thu, Jan 7, 2021, 7:52pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

WAIT WHY IS THE DISCOVERY THE SIZE OF THE DEATH STAR ON THE INSIDE???
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philadlj
Thu, Jan 7, 2021, 7:34pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Sigh...always with the excruciatingly painful torture scenes...
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philadlj
Mon, Jan 4, 2021, 6:56pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: There Is a Tide...

Never thought we'd get a reference to Star Trek V, but the Morse code scene between Bryce and Rhys was fun. "STAND BACK?"

Barefoot Burnham going full McClane was also fun.

Admiral Vance is perhaps the best Starfleet Admiral in Trek history. He's just so damn...STARFLEET, and yet still not just wallpaper paste (see: Bryce/Rhys when not knocking out Morse code).

After the shit they pulled killing Culber, I really want to doubt they'll kill him AGAIN, along with Adira and Saru. I happen to like all three, so save 'em! Judging by how well the "anti-radiation meds" work (Burnham's burns just vanished like dermal regeneration), they can hold out until someone can go get them.
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philadlj
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 10:39pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 2

Also: the closing...toasts? to Georgiou were bizarre to say the least. It felt less like characters, many of whom never spoke to her, were actors talking about their fellow actor *Michelle Yeoh*, not Mirror Phillipa Georgiou.

Like Georgiou telling Burnham she's not as great and awesome as she could be—she could be GREATER!!!—and Burnham bursting into tears for the 36th straight episode—it felt oversentimental, overindulgent, and unearned.
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philadlj
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 10:24pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 2

Another okay DIS episode but not among the best of the season; I'd give it a 2.5/3 tops. The GoF announcing himself was BAD-ASS.

While the number of producers in the opening credits seems a bit...excessive, in previous ST series those lists of producers would carry into the actual episode, accompanied by the guest stars and technical talent.

What does feel like not only a missed opportunity but...kinda LAZY, was the fact that all they did to modify the opening sequence was flip the images and invert the colors.

Enterprise completely re-did its opening with a bold new orchestral theme and a nice riff on the usual exploratory credits by showing scenes of Terran history, which is a history of war.

By comparison, the flip-and-invert feels so half-assed, I wonder why they even bothered.
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Philadlj
Fri, Nov 6, 2020, 5:53pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: Forget Me Not

I’ll join the chorus proclaiming this easily the best episode of (non-animated) Trek since “If Memory Serves”, which was to me the only other episode of Disco worthy of a full four stars. The writing, performances, and even score all took a big step forward. At no point did it feel like a drag I needed to get through. Dax has always been one of my favorite characters, so it was great to see the Trill given focus for the first time in a while. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the first non-binary and trans actors in Trek, which is a huge deal. Blu de Barrio was tremendous, particularly in the subtle but vital transformation from “Just”Adria to the joined Adria Tal.
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Philadlj
Fri, Nov 6, 2020, 5:11pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: Forget Me Not

That...was beautiful!
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philadlj
Thu, Nov 5, 2020, 8:53am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: People of Earth

I eventually watched on till the end (I always do, it's still Star Trek at the end of the day, which is still amazing after so much time passed without it), and I agree with Jammer, this was the best episode of the season so far, and the first Mandalorian emphasized how far short the first two episodes came up in the "sci-fi western" department.

It really comes down to "less is more", as cliched as that sounds. All episodes of The Mandalorian have been exercises in restraint and solid, logical structure. It's clear great expense was spent on making the episodes look good—Tatooine is a this point one of pop culture's most fully-realized fictional planets—but the creators clearly know precisely how far nifty visuals will get them without other strengths, and that's not that far.

Despite the headache-inducing nightmare that was the conclusion of season two, I remain an avid watcher of Discovery not because I love to hate it, but because in spite of its numerous flaws it is a typically diverting and at moments compelling viewing experience.

Unfortunately that's due in large part to the visuals. The sound design, on the other hand, has always pretty pedestrian and sometimes slapdash. Take the activation of Discovery's Spore Drive—you'll hear a goofy sound effect very similar to the alien fighters from the 1997 film Independence Day).

That, along with the anachronistic hodgepodge of bridge and computer sound effects, conspire with the insipid scriptwriting and aggressive lack of generosity in spreading around the characterization to basically hogtie an ensemble of talented actors. Even Doug Jones' Saru can only do so much with such hoaky, hoary dialogue. Similarly, the "Joss Whedon School of Witty Banter" can be an easy way for the audience to connect with characters, but is best expressed in small doses, not plugged directly into the bloodstream via IV. I don't wince when Burnham or Tilly burst into tears; I feel sorry for the actors for not having lines worthy of their skills, as TNG so often did.

The visuals are so good, it serves to highlight the show's many shortcomings and the rift in competency between them. Mandalorian isn't perfect, but it's more *balanced*, and its flaws aren't so overt in comparison to its strengths that it detracts from my viewing experience.

While on the topic of "less is more", the size of the cast in general is another flaw in Discovery. Detmer, Rhys, Bryce, and Owosekun remain, to me, glorified versions of TNG's random redshirted Helmsperson of the Week. By season three, all of TNG's ensemble cast had been given either main plots or at least enough shades of characterization within episodes to get a good idea of who they are. These four are regular members of the bridge crew, and yet beyond their general duties I still have no clue who they are.

Disposable crewmen weren't an issue in TNG, as the Enterprise had a massive crew; it became much more of a problem in Voyager, as the realities of TV casting meant the nobodies were constantly rotating in and out despite the vast distance from Federation space.

With Disco we again have a situation where every person matters, because they each made the individual decision to leave their timeline behind for the good of the universe. Yes, that's ridiculous, but when people make that choice one would hope you'd, I dunno, *know and care who these people are*, or that they'd at the very least register as people and not just automatons pressing buttons and shouting reports.

Little attempts were made here and there in season two, but it was too little too late, as the massive plot dumps drowned out any meaningful characterization. If anything, the scraps we got about these forgotten Disco crew members just made things worse, since they simply scratched the surface of who these folks were and did nothing else with it. Airiam is the most egregious example. Not only was she suddenly re-cast, but turned into a literal plot device and sacrificed.

Even Tasha Yar had more to say and do before she decided to leave the show and was unceremoniously killed off. When I first watched TNG as a kid I liked Yar, and when she died, even though it was "an empty death...a death without purpose", her loss hit me hard. Airiam's got a ceremonious death, but because she was a virtual stranger it fell flat.

If you're not going to put the work into your ensemble cast, you shouldn't *have* one, or it should be much smaller. Frankly it would have been better if Detmer, Owosekun, Bryce and Rhys had simply stayed behind in the 23rd century. It's highly doubtful any of them will even get a Tasha Yar's amount of characterization before the third season is out. Burnham, Saru, and the main plot simply take up too much space.
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Philadlj
Mon, Nov 2, 2020, 2:19pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: People of Earth

5 minutes in and already committing the same sins as the first two seasons. A lengthy, stilted, WAY too cliché ridden, emotionally charged Burnham monologue thinly disguised as a “log entry”, accompanied by equally over-the-top dramatic music that demands you FEEL SOMETHING. Just not smart or good TV. Certainly nothing new.
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philadlj
Mon, Oct 12, 2020, 10:46pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: Peak Performance

Loved when Worf shoved his sad little wooden ship model into the desk drawer. I only wish we'd gotten a brief shot revealing that the drawer is *full* of failed attempts!
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philadlj
Wed, Apr 29, 2020, 4:25pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: The Measure of a Man

Just watched this again after a few years, on Netflix, which has a stunning HD remaster. It's often almost *too* good at times, as it reveals that parts of the Enterprise and Starbase weren't as spotless as SD television suggested! Still, exposing the imperfections of the production design is a small price to pay to see the minute detail in the actors' faces and eyes, which really brings their performances to life.

And *what* performances. Stewart, Spiner, Frakes, the guest stars, and Goldberg are all at the top of their games, and have a superb script into which to sink their teeth. Even LaVar Burton maximizes his minimal screen time with his subdued yet devastating goodbye to Data.

Looking back at how the stinger contained a poker game (the first on TNG) in which Data first learns about the meta-logical intricacies of the game, and I can't help but see Riker's bluff being echoed in a part of Picard's courtroom strategy: rely on that which is unknown to sway your human opponent.

Every time I watch "The Measure of a Man" I notice another subtle moment of excellence in the writing and performances. And it draws a little closer to clinching the position as Best Episode of Star Trek, Period.

THERE IT SITS, indeed!
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Philadlj
Fri, Mar 27, 2020, 9:38am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Honestly, a better and more cohesive finale than I was expecting. I’m happy they didn’t go the Big Space Battle route and instead had an ending worthy of TNG. Glad Picard’s not dead (his transformation to a Synth was was unsettlingly quick and easy, but it wasn’t out of left field; dude’s name is in the title so he wasn’t going to stay dead). I’m also glad his resurrection wasn’t a question to be answered in S2. Like all Treks before it the first season had its issues but I was left entertained and at times moved, and even the bad bits were at least amusing.
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Philadlj
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 9:25am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Right, @Henson, Barclay!
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Philadlj
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 9:22am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

First and foremost, RedLetterMedia is entertainment, and they are never not aware of this. Mike is an “old fogey”, and Mr. Plinkett’s ST/SW reviews are essentially expressions of that Inner Old Man.

As someone who grew up watching TNG/DS9 and was hugely disappointed in the obsession with prequels starting with ENT, I harbor a lot of the same cymic and skepticism about Nu-Trek. But like Mike, I still can’t resist it!

Even the dynamic of Mike “forcing” Rich to keep doing these reviews is a bit of an act, since Rich could always say “no thanks”, but RLM gained fame through those old reviews, and will always be a part of its DNA, which means reviewing any new Trek is a given.

I’ve appreciated their entertainment, and Half in the Bag has also provided hours of entertainment as well as made me aware of a lot of good smaller films in the last few years that might have passed me by in this age of superhero tentpoles.

In an older Re:View segment, Mike and Jay give a very favorable review of ST:The Motion Picture that mirrors the opinions of both Jammer and myself. I’ve watched enough ugh RLM to see the legit critical chops at work beneath the comedy act. It helps that they themselves are filmmakers and creatives in addition to consumers, it lends them perspective from both sides of the industry.
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Philadlj
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 8:45am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

You’d think all these boozers on ST:Picard could greatly reduce their suffering by simply taking anti-intoxicants, like Sisko and O’Brien when they were posing as Klingons.

Picard was changed back from being a SPIDER MAN with a hypospray, for crying out loud! ;)
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philadlj
Fri, Feb 21, 2020, 10:15am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

In a series that so far has been dominated by Patrick Stewart and Picard and left me caring about little else, Jeri Ryan makes her triumphant return to Trek as an older, more jaded Seven, doing her damndest to maintain order in a galaxy of chaos and finally providing that key second character I truly care about. As was the case on Voyager, she steals every scene she's in.

I know behind the scenes Ryan was very nervous about returning to the role, but that goes to prove she's her own harshest critic; she is a consummate performer who absolutely nailed Seven's evolution and stole every scene she was in. Her little aside to Picard might be the highlight of the series.

As a longtime Trekkie I also appreciated the return to a more episodic format, both with Seven's inter-episode arc and the "mission of the week" involving a covert operation to recover Dr. Maddox, who is sadly reduced to a glorified MacGuffin who only serves to point Picard to the Artifact.

There were hints Jurati's relationship to Maddox was more than simply/professional scientific, and I'm starting to see why Jurati has laid on the cuteness so thick (so as to hide her hidden motives from the rest of the crew). It's all a bit contrived but hopefully it spells the start of interesting character development, as well as conflict within the so-far buddy-buddy crew.

Jaffi returning to the La Sirena after her son spurned her wasn't too surprising. There was never any doubt she'd be back; otherwise why even bother introducing her only to have her around for a couple weeks? Notable that her abandoning her son to help Picard the Romulan effort mirrors Picard abandoning her after the effort failed.

I wish Picard had said...*something* after Rios said his fee doubles in Romulan space. What are we working with here, some kind of non-aligned credits? Gold? Latinum? Wine??

I'm still trying not to see Elnor as a character straight out of the LoTR universe, but his not-in-on-the-joke fish-out-of-waterness at least adds variety to a crew of otherwise tortured souls.

Final Verdict? This was the best episode to date, 3 1/2 stars, mostly thanks to Seven and taking a break from the Cube characters.
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philadlj
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 9:11am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

One more thing: ALL HAIL JERI RYAN.

"You owe me a ship" is certainly a great way to get things rolling! Can't wait to watch her take on the present-day Seven.
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philadlj
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 9:07am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

I don't reflexively object to a different pace of storytelling than the mission-of-the-week nature of TNG et al. I don't even mind that the Utopian federation has fallen on particularly hard ethical times.

But as you say, if you are going to make a ten-hour movie you'd better have more than two hours of content. Picard does not, even though it should—a novelist runs the show, for crying out loud!

I too missed more Hugh as the Narek/Narissa/Soji beats were simply repeated from previous episodes, and fear Hugh may not even be back for more than a few token lines. I know this is not Star Trek: Hugh, but he's at least a far more developed character in terms of his TNG past, and the robot-sibling love triangle isn't compelling enough to justify sidelining him.

Also, I could not believe even people like *these* use "paradigm" so frequently in idle conversation. It felt like executive producers talking.

Dr. Jurati also spun her wheels as Picard's version of Tilly, who herself is a Joss Whedon-style wisecracking spunky genius character. There's something to her being the only civilian on a ship full of Starfleet vets and now a warrior monk, but she still shouts ZHAT VASH MOLE so loudly it might be a disappointment if she *wasn't* a mole.

Rios is fine, but like TNG's "The Naked Now" (which I watched immediately following this episode...quite the whiplash!) introducing different versions of your characters before the audience knows who the real character is is rarely wise, and I don't really see the point of multiple holographic versions of him. It's a neat idea, but it's in the way.

I didn't hate this episode, but I also don't think it deserves more than two stars or two and a half tops. Like the previous three entries, it has some cool moments, but is just so utterly unsatisfying in isolation.

I know ST:Picard is a commercial product *designed* to make you keep watching and, incidentally, keep paying subscription fees. I just wish it did it more opaquely. I can't shake the cynicism in what has amounted to four episodes of treacle-slow pacing, stalling, and repetition.

To borrow the grades RedLetterMedia has assigned so far (after three episodes), the visuals/production values get an A-Plus, while the "Trekness" of Picard gets a D-Minus, leading to an Average Sci-Fi TV Show grade of C-to-C-Minus.

If you want gritty "Anti-Trek" sci-fi, The Expanse is miles better. Picard feels like a glitzy late-to-the-game pretender almost wholly dependent on nostalgia.
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philadlj
Fri, Feb 7, 2020, 3:43pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

I feel like a skilled editor could cut enough superfluous fat from these first three episodes to condense the story into a brisk, focused, but still unrushed 60-70 minute pilot. Instead, 30% of this season has been nothing but table-setting. Chabon is an unequivocally brilliant novelist and storyteller (and a Trek fan, for which I'm glad), but these three episodes have exposed his inexperience with running a tv show.

I've also been disappointed in the startlingly large number of continuity errors regarding Starfleet officers' rank insignia. TNG and DS9 hardly ever had those problems. I'm wonder how in a scene where Commodore Oh is wearing 20th century styled sunglasses, the director didn't bother to ask a PA to straighten her pip! Even non-4K HD is unforgiving of sloppy details like that.
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philadlj
Thu, Apr 25, 2019, 8:15am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

First of all, a heartfelt thanks again for continuing to provide your incisive and enlightening reviews. To twist a phrase of the Klingons, today it is a good day to live in a world with new Star Trek on the air, even if this Trek is very different form that of our youth.

While we may not always agree on where an episode stands on a mostly arbitrary rating scale, I know you'll always intelligently argue your positions and offer insights I did not initially consider.

I also feel this was a 3 - a 3.5 or higher wasn't really possible with the way they wrote themselves into a corner. I echo your wish for more consistent showrunner situation going forward; for a show to re-invent itself every season could be innovative, but has been mostly distracting in these past two years.

It would also be advisable for the show to branch out from Micheal Burnham. Not that I dislike the character or the actor, but it's safe to say her background has been explored exhaustively. I am full of anticipation for whatever they come up with for S3 in a year or so (hopefully), and also wish (perhaps foolishly) they'll go easy on those horribly dizzying "camera spinning around a conversation" shots. We've witnessed "most is more" this season; taking the intensity of everything down a notch or two once in a while would be appreciated.
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philadlj
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 8:27am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1

In all seriousness...WTF, Discovery? How much soaring melodrama do you think Trek fans honestly want, or need?

Did you think we'd forget you failed to develop over half of the show's cast by staging these ridiculous goodbyes and "we're coming with yous"? I can't invest in these relationships that never happened!

Po was fun in the Short Trek, but is bascially a magical plot solution machine with exceedingly bad makeup (like, "doodling on her face with a Sharpie" bad).

"I get to make a supernova. This day ROCKS!" GRRRRROOOOAAAAANNNN
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philadlj
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 8:23am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1

My Doge-inspired review:


Wow.

many goodbyes

so crying

much maudlin

very speeches

such stalling
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philadlj
Thu, Apr 11, 2019, 8:52am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S2: Through the Valley of Shadows

If you listen to Armin Shimmerman without his Quark makeup (say, in the Seinfeld episode "The Caddy", you will notice a difference in the clarity of his voice.

But *despite* the fact his nose was smushed under a Ferengi nose, he still managed to emote and create a distinctive voice for Quark. He never sounded like he was struggling to talk, that's just the way Quark talked.

It was the same with Rom, Zek, Brunt, and Nog. The makeup affected their voices, but not to the point of distraction.

They made it work.

Mary Chieffo isn't making it work.

That's not her fault; she probably has little say in the structure or process of her make-up beyond telling them when its intolerable uncomfortable or painful.

But if you're going to make a conscious effort to make the Klingons "more alien", to the point it seems like they have blue skin, well...there were probably better ways to do it! Ways that didn't make it so hard for the actor to move and talk that they don't seem alien at all...they seem like an actor in uncomfortable makeup. Which means they failed!

What's so frustrating is that they *didn't* fail with Saru, who arguably has just as much makeup on his face.

I'm just not sure what went wrong with L'Rell but it's inconceivable the producers listened to her talk in full Klingon makeup and said "Okay, that's good, let's go with that!" And yet apparently that's just what happened!
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philadlj
Thu, Apr 4, 2019, 11:11am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S2: Perpetual Infinity

Always great to see Sonja Sohn do her thing (and she seemingly hasn't aged since The Wire ;). She was perfectly cast and utilized, and her character reminds me of Rintarou in Steins;Gate, someone beaten down and hardened by watching his loved ones die in hundreds of different ways while attempting to save them and prevent WWIII.

I just wish the showmakers would stop giving SMG so many scenes of such sustained emotional intensity that it would be a tall order for any actor not to seem maudlin and forced. Scenes that should be used ever so sparingly - if at all - have become commonplace this season.

Burnham's Vulcan calm has always been believable, but now that she's more showing emotion this season, the cracks are showing and they're hard to ignore, especially when sharing screen time with vets like Sohn. But this isn't just down to GMG's acting. It's a total failure to properly utilize her strengths and mitigate her weaknesses - something any good writing/directing team should be able to manage.
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