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Mon, Jun 8, 2020, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Q2

Even "Death Wish" borrows a lot of good faith we have from the franchise thanks to TNG. I mean it guest stars not one, but two TNG characters to help give it credibility.

Say what you will about Farpoint, but it was an original concept that created a popular recurring character and theme for the franchise.
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Mon, Jun 8, 2020, 10:15am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Savage Curtain

Negress was much less commonly used than Negro in the United States. Note that negro can be used to mean any black person whereas Negress has a specific exotic black female connotation. If we were applying today's standards, we'd have to ask "would a black woman consider "Nigress" to be an endearing word?" to which I'm sure the answer is a resounding no.

Actually, it is an interesting choice here because we usually consider Lincoln a progressive visionary but the writers purposely gave him antiquated politcally-charged jargon. The fact that he apologizes quickly afterwards shows that he was still struggling to get used to a situation where the inferior status of Africans he fought against was no longer status quo.
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Mon, Jun 8, 2020, 7:54am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Wink of an Eye

Well, it's an interesting episode concept and I agree with others that the time mechanics portion of the concept was underutilized. On the plus side, Shatner is really on his game this episode and it's fun to watch him resist a hopeless situation using whatever means he can manage (e.g. sabotaging the transporter to buy some time, sleeping with Deela to play into her belief Kirk would eventually come to terms with his situation).

I really liked the costumes and props in this one. Naturally Kathie Brown is a knockout, but even things like the Scalosian wearable communicators provided an interesting beyond TOS-era feel. I also think that, despite the deplorable use of the Enterprise crew as a sperm bank, Deela came off as an antagonist the audience could be sympathetic with. I suspect this is why many were feeling that the ending was off when Kirk didn't go to any lengths to save the Scalosians.

2.5 Stars.
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Fri, Jun 5, 2020, 9:52am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Day of the Dove

It is fun to see tensions escalate so quickly and there's plenty of Cold War allegory to be found between the Feds and the Klingons. I also like the way the episode makes fun of saber rattling by giving each character believably high stakes *dialog* but with no real stakes involved. It shows how hollow blustery rheteric alone is. In the information age where people get to tweet whatever violent message they want without thinking, I think this feels especially poignant.

I agree with Rahul that having the main cast acting out of character denies the episode some character truths. For example, while Chekov and Bones become hyper-aggressive quickly, it's hard to believe that - even subconsciously - these two are repressing their true violent feelings and the alien's illusion lets them express that. But, I suppose this doesn't matter since the big picture is more important than individual character stories here.

3 stars.
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Wed, Jun 3, 2020, 8:18am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Piece of the Action

If only the Horizon had left behind a copy of Jurassic Park, there could've been a planet of dinosaur zoos.
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Chrome0
Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: By Any Other Name

@Peter G.

I knew what the phrase meant in its original context but I was struggling trying to fit it into this episode. But I think you're reading is correct; that Kirk and the others needed to treat the Kelvans as humans in order to form a bond with them. Treating them like alien invaders only increased the antagonism between the two peoples. Funny, I was just criticizing Space Force for antagonizing the Chinese in the same manner.
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Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Just to follow up with Mal, I thought Space Force was pretty good, though most of its charm arises from the great biplay of Carrell and Malkovich. I'm not sure what to make of the "ending", but I guess there's more to come. One criticism I have is that I don't really like how it treats the Chinese as boogeymen antagonists. China and the U.S. have their spats, sure, but I can't imagine China claiming the Moon and desecrating the American flag just for giggles. Otherwise, the U.S. satire was interesting and it may indeed be timely.
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Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 11:12am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: By Any Other Name

Another Spock tries out his mental powers episode, but this time to no avail. Usually in TOS, the Federation is in a superior or equal position handing out charity, so it was nice to see a reversal of the paradigm with Kirk's mercy becoming his captor. The Kelvans maintained their dominance over the Enterprise throughout most of the hour and it wasn't and a casual conversation about food that Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Scotty were able to figure out how to beat their captors. Scotty's method for enticing the senses is a golden moment for TOS so it's no wonder "Relics" ends up referencing it.

I kind of wish they had tried harder to squeeze a message out of this episode, but the Romeo and Juliet title was referenced often. I suppose the lesson is if you try to imitate something too closely you may just end up enamored with it?

3.5 stars.
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Sat, May 30, 2020, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Ah, Carrell, Malkovich and story by Daniels? It sounds like it has a lot of potential. Alas, no Netflix subscription here so hopefully it will have a free preview somewhere.
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Fri, May 29, 2020, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Return to Tomorrow

After watching many of the allegory-intense TOS episodes recently, this episode was a breath of fresh air. Most engagingly, the setup is an early take on the now classic Sci-Fi concept of ancient species that were once like humans but somehow became so advanced they destroyed themselves.

I like how Kirk mentioned that humanity may be already superior in one way to Sargon in that it already overcame a similar self-inflicted disaster (presumably he means WWIII and the post-atomic horror but even the Cold War would be a sufficient example). Sargon dismisses Kirk's point and says that his people already evolved past an atomic incident, but one wonders if Sargon's people ever united in peace the way humanity did. The being that possesses Spock is from the "other faction", which implies there was still dissent and unrest among Sargon's people. This other faction ends up being Sargon's Achilles' heel by stopping his plan and showing that a part of his people never got past the original conflict.

This chink in the armor also adds another dimension to Kirk's "Risk is our business" speech. Indeed, humanity is willing to take such risks for curiosity's sake but it appears that in this particular case humanity is better off without the reward of overwhelming power.

It's worth mentioning since others commented on the disappointing ending that there was a controversy with this episode's writer John Dugan, a Catholic. He wanted Sargon and Thalassa to live on in the end as spirits without bodies, which is how he ended it in the original script. Roddenbery changed it so the two would simply fade into oblivion. Dugan was pretty upset by this change as he believed there should be an afterlife for even these beings and ended up using a pseudonym in the credits because of the change. I'm not sure the change materially affects the story, but it's funny Roddenbery went to such lengths.

Anyway, this episode speaks to many of Trek's strong points and I think Jammer underrated it quite a bit (to be fair, he was right about Shatner overacting). I give it a high 3 stars.

Random Historical Fact Check: Kirk rhetorically asks "What if the first Apollo mission failed?" Apollo I was the victim of a tragic fire that forced the mission to abort. Naturally though, NASA made more attempts after that.
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Wed, May 27, 2020, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

Yeah, Peter, I don't think there's any doubt Kirk is unhappy arming the people here. He's despoiling what he used to think of as the "Garden of Eden", after all. He even has to give the order twice to Scott at the end who is confused about why Kirk would be asking for a bunch of weapons. The way Kirk's friendship with Tyree plays into this is that he's able to help Tyree man up and be able to defend himself in war. Kirk says this isn't the best life for Tyree, but at least it's a *chance for life* for him and his people.

The PD doesn't apply here because the Klingons already messed with the natural development of the people. Kirk's solution is supposed to correct that interference. But as the episode discusses, it seems likely to lead to escalation and ramped up interference by Starfleet. Maybe in the Star Trek universe, escalation never happens and the Klingons back down, but in the parallel real world conflict *this episode mentions specifically* that wasn't the case.
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Wed, May 27, 2020, 11:43am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

@Peter G

Actually, I don’t have any issue with Nona’s character; in fact I rather like her. I just don’t think her motivations were fleshed out very well. Unfortunately, without more information, the episode makes her a shallow harbinger of evil when, as you described, it should be more complex than that.

The problem with saying that Kirk was "just trying to help" is that Kirk on his own accord would not help the Hill people and the episode addresses that. If the Village tribe (why don't these groups have names?) developed guns on their own, then it's implied Kirk would leave the Hill people to their fate and let them die. It's not until Klingon interference is confirmed that Kirk is forced to get involved as a matter of duty. This makes it look like Kirk's interests are in line with Starfleet's and the burden he has to bear is for Starfleet's cause - i.e. winning or maintaining balance against the Klingons.

One thing the episode gets right, as I mentioned, is that it doesn't look like Kirk wanted to get involved in arms escalation in the first place. The episode also removes Spock from the discussion and therefore logic from Kirk's position and implies he's under some sort of drugged influence that impairs his judgment. So, I don't think the episode really wants to make us to believe Kirk was 100% doing the right thing. It's more like Kirk was in the classic JFK position where his liberal ideals to help the little guy and Democracy sound good in theory, but in hindsight we can see that the Nixon/Bones position of not getting involved in a hopeless fight (even for a just cause) was the stronger position.
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Tue, May 26, 2020, 7:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

Here we have a right good set-up, an interesting analogy, some great moments by the Big 3 and a smart black doctor who the characters don't make odd remarks about. Plus, we even get some Klingon shenanigans and gorgeous Trek girl. This has the framework for a classic TOS episode.

Unfortunately, Nona the Trek girl is just a plastic villain (who I guess serves as an Eve metaphor in the garden of Eden?) without complexity. They could've made Nona interesting in a number of ways like: a) Making it clear she wanted to seize Tyree's power and start some sort of matriarchy; b) make her an agent of the Klingons helping to instigate a doomed fight; or c) she really loved Tyree and wanted him to become the strong leader her people needed.

Of course, I could let the Nona stuff go because the underlying Prime Directive conflict is an interesting one. Unfortunately, Kirk's solution feels oddly on the wrong side of history. I don't know if NBC was unable to show it, but the U.S. policy of containment in Vietnam was not working in 1968. A few months after this episode airs, the Tet offensive will make it clear that maintaining a "balance of power" in Vietnam was an untenable solution. Of course the Trek writers couldn't have known exactly how Vietnam would develop, but they probably should've stayed away from advocating military policies about an escalating conflict.

Another possibility is the episode wasn't about Vietnam at all and the writers were inspired by another proxy war where containment kind of worked... like Korea? Still, pretty spotty.

Anyhow, I can understand why arming peaceful people in a larger conflict might be the right thing to do in certain circumstances. And okay, Kirk is torn up over having to do it. So, although the policy presented appears to be a bad one, at least we know the characters also didn't like it much either.

Considering the good moments and morally difficult dilemma, I guess I will go ahead and maintain the balance of power in my rating award this 2 stars.
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ThirdFromTheRight
Mon, May 25, 2020, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: A Fistful of Datas

The episode was just a bit of silly fun, come on.

Thoughts:
1) Worf actually drives the action for a change, and he also has a bit of an arc in which he starts out dreading Holodeck time with his son, takes a liking to it, and then (despite the Data mishap), suggests he’ll do more even though Alexander disappointedly expects him to have soured on it. The slight smile on Alexander’s face when Worf says something like “they’ll need a sheriff...*and* a deputy” was sweet.

2) Data is a rather fenced-in character. There’s entertainment value in having Brent Spiner do *anything* outside of Data’s little behavioral box (we get to see him, I believe, *moseying*).

3) May I just say how gorgeous Marina Sirtis is in this episode? The cigarillo-smoking aside (which I personally find a total turnoff), she never looked more attractive in a TNG episode. And by the way, if you ever get to meet her, Marina Sirtis is much cooler to be around and much more engaging than Deanna Troi, the character, ever was. In this episode a little bit of her natural personality comes through.
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Mon, May 25, 2020, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: The Omega Glory

This one just doesn't gel despite bringing up so many big (and even a few great) ideas. The mysterious chemical that led to a "Fountain of Youth" was enough to carry the whole episode. Someone in Star Trek: Insurrection's writing room figured that out and made a whole movie about it, but I digress.

I think the patriotic Cold War American allegory could've worked but they needed to push the idea all the way. Take "Patterns of Force", for example. It's not a great episode but at least it sticks to the one idea about the power of facism and leaves us with a coherent message about the subject. Here, we get a few quotes about "liberty" and a hamfisted tribute to the Declaration of Independence but none of it seems to resonate with what those things mean to Americans, let alone what the implications of freedom meant during the Cold War.

This episode's worst crime is to have so much promise on big subjects and to utterly fail to deliver on them. Luckily, TOS gets it right most of the other times. 1.5 stars for Morgan Woodward being truly menacing and a good foil to Kirk. Still, what a waste.

P.S. As a special bonus, we find out who's a Canadian in this comments section. ;-)
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Sun, May 24, 2020, 9:17am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Wolf in the Fold

Besides the kooky psychology, I think this is a fairly interesting one which finally puts a spotlight on Scotty. TOS is better with investigation scenes than courtroom scenes, so it pays well that we spend most of the time on the forensic side. And yes, it's somewhat outrageous that there's a spirit who possessed men, but I think the episode makes the concept plausible by presenting the being as more of a material entity that can be explained by science. Trek will go on to do other shows with beings like this, and at least in this show there seems to be an interesting payoff between the actions of the being and the violent thoughts of men.

John Fledler is great as the wormy wolf in the fold (he played a similar role in 12 Angry Men, another legal episode) and effectively plays up the naysaying administrator. Kelley was also brilliant in this one; I love the way he already knows about the nightclubs Kirk brings up. You have to wonder what kind of life Bones led before his career on the Enterprise.

I'll go with 3 as well.
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Thu, May 21, 2020, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Squire of Gothos

@Peter G

That's a good point that Trelane's power seems to be technology-based akin to Ardra or the like. The nature of his existence gets a little murky towards the end because we see these pulsating energy orbs in the sky representing Trelane's parents. It could be that Trelane's people have evolved past their corporeal forms and that's why they at once find human beings recognizable yet interesting. And -- what we're shown might just be advanced technology.

It is to the episode's credit that it leaves the door open on the subject, and like you said we get a certain "Wizard of Oz" feeling to Trelane's abilities. The whole thing is just smoke and mirrors and you need someone like Kirk who can navigate calmly and peacefully through it.

Q was also called a "flim-flam man", but not because his powers were fake, but what he was offering as a "gift" to humans was hollow. I get the feeling that after Q was humiliated by Picard/Riker he upped his game quite a bit so he could show that he is the real deal - not just in terms of power but in wisdom.

As for the magical Q guns - yeah - it was just a slapdash way to make Voyager come to the rescue in a vaguely Civil War manner, and I try not to think about that episode too hard.
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Thu, May 21, 2020, 8:11am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Squire of Gothos

I liked William Campbell's nice mix of menace and whimsy, which I think keeps this episode from being a total dud. Shatner had some great moments where he called off the bluff and talked down the squire. You can really see that Shatner is a much better actor than the material he was given.

While I agree with others with the comparison between the Squire and Q, I think people oversimplify Q's role on TNG. Unlike the squire, Q has a specific agenda of teaching his opponents a lesson. Q isn't just a playful superbeing that's curious about humans. It's the latter reading of the character that leads to his butchering in Voyager, unfortunately.

2 stars.
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Tue, May 19, 2020, 10:37am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Spectre of the Gun

Really enjoyed reading the comments for this one, and I'll agree that while this is only a fair episode it has an engaging quality to it (I even had a dream about a showdown after watching it, for what that's worth!)

I'll try to go to bat for Chekov's behavior in this one. I think the underlying message here is about how Russia (the USSR back then) was also enamored with the legend of the American West. Chekov, a Russian never having been a part of American culture, might actually fantasize and romanticize about being a tough cowboy who stands up to the bad dudes and gets the hometown girl because that's something completely new and compelling from his cultural point of view. Kirk, in contrast, has an American history in his blood and knows that the cowboy days were not all grand so he doesn't get caught up in the romance.

2.5 stars with a shout out to the thought put into this one seems good to me.
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Fri, May 15, 2020, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

It is good news. Anson Mount deserved his own show considering how much he carried DISCO season 2. I'm looking forward to getting to know Rebecca Romijn's Number One better too. Turns out Pike's a fascinating character which is funny considering his humble roots in the ill-fated TOS pilot.

So, I guess the question is now how much will they respect TOS canon? Discovery was propelled into the future because the writers felt constrained by the franchise's history and now they're doing a 180 with a show that will live off that canon.
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Thu, May 14, 2020, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Menagerie

A venerable classic that is discomforting and familiar. I've read people say that TOS is like "The Twilight Zone" but really I think that characterization distorts what TOS is about. TWZ works by turning reality upside-down putting you ill at ease. TOS does similar upsetting things with science, but by and large the feeling by the end of the episode is a positive one.

Submitted for your consideration, "The Menagerie". Yes, Pike has suffered a gruesome fate from a simple inspection turned horribly wrong. Indeed, it's eerie the form of life that Pike is reduced to. Yet the humbleness of Starfleet officers like Menson, Kirk, and others give Pike this venerable dignity.

Especially compelling are Spock's efforts and loyalty to Pike which are arguably emotionally driven. In an interesting turnabout, much of the episode is premised on Spock being thought of as so logical that he'd never attempt a stunt like mutiny and conspiracy. However, we see Spock can act illogically or at least trick his logic sufficiently to be a wonderfully sentimental person.

One interesting conundrum is the ending where both Vina and Pike condemn themselves to a life of illusion. As outsiders we might not be able to accept this illusion and reject it as a zoo like the original Pike. But if we too were robbed of everything we once were by injury or trauma, we might feel a like as an invalid is an unsatisfying illusion. The need to return to one's comfort zone, to one's known life (even if it's quasi-fictional) is understandable.

Weighing this episode down a bit is the awkward framing device which at times exposes the stitches of a show that's, after all, thrown together from old footage for budgetary reasons. But what an unbelievably well-conceived framing device this is.

3 - 3.5 stars. An odd but lovable episode.
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Tue, May 12, 2020, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Dagger of the Mind

@Rahul

Yes I agree, there's so much more I could talk about but it's been said very well already by others. That Dr. Adams is a pathological liar and a respected man gives us a lot to think about.

I don't mean slow in a derogatory way. The way they balance both action and slow creepy scenes at the rehab clinic give it a real thriller vibe.
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Tue, May 12, 2020, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Dagger of the Mind

I like how this show stays silent on the details of Kirk and Dr. Noel's past, while a lie about those details puts the mission in jeopardy. There's a great metaphor here about people wanting to forget their pasts and not confront them, hoping that such denial is the safest way to deal with past conflicts. We see the danger of the facade come to life as we have people who have forgotten their pasts and are "cured" but only live as acting zombies filled with ideas in conflict of their true selves.

There's a broad message here about facing your problems head-on because even a good-intentioned lie can leave you empty.

A very well-executed slow episode. 3.5 stars.
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Sun, May 10, 2020, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Most Toys

I like Peter's point above about justice being more logical than retribution. Going back as far as TOS, Starfleet officers never doled out executions. Even when they caught a killer red-handed like in "The Conscience of the King" or "Turnabout Intruder", they always turned that person over for treatment and prosecution.

Skeptical makes some interesting arguments that the episode could've gone further about justifiable homicide and I'm sympathetic to that. He also mentioned some sort of executive meddling in this episode, yet as far as I'm aware the situation was that one of the writers (not the credited writer above) and Spiner wanted it to be definite that Data would own up to killing here, while whoever made the final decision (Shari Goodhartz? Piller? Berman?) decided to leave it open-ended. Does that make the story weaker? We're supposed to consider whether Data changed, and the ending leaves that question up in the air for the audience to ponder.

In any case, I don't think the story hinges on this one scene; the moral dilemma Data faces near the end is just one layer of the episode. As Jammer describes well, there's a lot more complexity to this show with Data using logic and passive resistance to never give Fajo what he wants.
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Fri, May 8, 2020, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Devil in the Dark

This episode is a real treat. Like Rahul, I like how the story unfolds from the miners' POV, allowing us to see civilian life and danger firsthand. All the main TOS characters are in great form here, and you got to love how the danger starts out as a horror movie villain only for it to develop into a gentle and reasoning alien.

Much of what we see develop in the movies as the main traits of Spock (empathy, telepathy, mind melding, logic) get their start in this episode. In fact, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home basically lifts the outline of this story and adds a little time travel and comedy to make a hit. I agree with Jammer that the mystery behind the silicon rocks was a little obvious, but it was still fun seeing Spock so engaged with them. Likewise, we get complementary scenes for the other mains like Kirk taking Spock's curiosity seriously and McCoy being a good sport and awesome doctor despite his initial skepticism. Scotty even gets a moment to shine where he jerry-rigs a life support system.

Truly a must-see TOS episode. A high 3.5 stars from me.
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