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Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 6:14am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Where No Man Has Gone Before

Ben said: "the other crew but the plot is basically one that we will see again and again. Man has superpowers which must be overcome."

Yeah, it's a good episode, but ran too close to the similar "Charlie X".

If you merge the best traits of "Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before", you probably have the perfect Trek pilot. The former has a more dispassionate, intellectual tone, and stronger female characters, the second has better crew camaraderie, central characters, and a willingness to embrace adventure.

In a way, the producers' demand for a second pilot saved the show from some of Roddenberry's colder instincts; it turned something a bit too niche and esoteric into something more pulpy. Or it could simply be the lucky casting of Shatner and later Kelley (who doesnt appear in this episode), the latter's homespun take on the Doctor lending the show a very frontier/western feel. Nimoy's great, but he couldn't elevate "Cage". You sense he needs Kirk and Bones to bounce off of.

Another thing I like about this episode, like a lot of early TNG, was how much busier and nautical the ship feels. Before the show got lazy, you had lots of background extras rummaging about, walking about and doing odd things, and the camera often lingered on little procedural details that get dropped later on. The ship seemed more livelyand real than it would eventually get. Most Trek series fall prey to the same problem IMO, the ships or stations seemingly more alive before the respective shows telescope down to a narrow central cast.

(IMO Discovery never had this verisimilitude; while the various Enterprises feel like real vessels, Disco feels like a glossy set rather than a space-faring ship)

This episode also epitomizes that TOS distrust of gods and superpowers, and its hatred of those who seek "personal perfection", "social perfection", or even eugenics, all of which it associations with dangerous "order". And so man must struggle to better himself, TOS argues, struggle breeds character, but don't get too better, because perfection is bad, and requires powers that will corrupt your soul and lead you to flip out, rip off your shirt and kill everyone! It's a funny blend of the zeitgeist, a little bit Eisenhower, a little bit Franklin Roosevelt.

Modern Trek seems to alter this a bit. Q's not quite a villainous God (he seems to help Picard at times), Riker resists going mental when he gets Q powers, "Nth Degree" has a positive portrayal of Barclay's godhood (or am I remembering the episode?), that Space Jesus guy in "Transfigurations" didnt go rogue, Wesley didn't use his Harry Potter powers for evil etc.

You also sense TOS would resist things alike augmentations, or even the holodeck - "The Conscience of a King" questions whether machines have led to the Federation men "losing their masculinity" - while decades later Picard outright becomes a robot.

If TOS had a fear of a certain type of tyrannical power (a mad cocktail of authoritarianism, ego and religion), understandable given the formative years of its creators, in TNG the overriding fear seems to be things a bit more lowkey; Data (and his brother) going rogue, the machinic Borg, bad apples in the Federation, the "resurgence" of an unhinged Klingon Empire, the seemingly liquid malevolence of the Romulans etc.

Kirk and his gang, with respect to their hatreds, seem to have more conviction. You sense Picard has a bigger kaleidoscope of problems, perspectives and moods to juggle.
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Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 5:10am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

It's ironic that folk here are crying about cancel culture on the day American conservatives lost a Supreme Court attempt to sanction LGBTQ workplace discrimination.

Note that conservatives are quick to frame this Supreme Court loss as an "attack on freedom"; requiring churches to recognize same-sex marriages is, in their eyes, an attack on tradition, individual freedoms and divine law. They don't see such Supreme Court losses as an "expansion of their culture" - the beauty of marriage for all! God's blessings expanded to incorporate everyone! - but an attack on the rights of a privileged few.

Because that's what conservatism has historically always done; attempted to preserve the power and exclusivity of a minority.

And it's worth remembering where the "bemoaning of cancel culture" as an ideological tactic, originated. It started as an explicit tactic to frame civil rights as a violation of individual rights in order to justify the perpetuation of exploitation and discrimination. Desegregation, women's rights, worker's rights, gay rights, gay marriage, miscegenation, transgender rights etc were all framed as attacks on free speech and individual rights.

Conservatives moaned about their "heritage being cancelled" when they were forced to hire gays, women or blacks, and moaned about their "individual rights" and "freedoms" being broken when they were forced to give women the vote, or kowtow to labor laws. Now issues of climate change and corporate personhood are enfolded within the same game.

Historically, the people uppity about being "cancelled" are on the wrong side of history. And, contrary to Cody's claim, are the ones investing billions of dollars into collecting the names of the people and organizations - and outright infiltrating these organizations - who shame them. There's a reason the Snowden leaks revealed that the Five Eyes Spying Programs spent much of their time collecting data on journalists and environmentalists, and there's a reason the CIA and FBI spent hundreds of millions of dollars and man hours infiltrating universities, activist groups, taking names, making lists, engaging in "bad jacket" tactics and setting up fake newspapers to spy on people. Similarly, there's a reason Antifa is classified as a "terrorist organization" but the KKK isn't, that the Rodney King beatings were done by policemen now promoted up the ranks, and that the police historically collaborated with the KKK to murder black activists.

To pretend that "leftist cancel culture" is remotely similar to the ways in which entrenched power cancels it, and has cancelled it throughout history, globally, is laughable, immoral and ahistorical. Purple haired university teens cancelling and deplatforming you on twitter might be annoying, but its conservatives running platforms to cancel the EPA, Planned Parenthood, Social Security, the United Postal Service etc etc. And we have much leaked literature by the latter explaining that its their tactic to whip up frenzies about the former, to help slide by such policies; identity politics is how power distracts from class politics.

More importantly, conservatives must cry about cancel culture because history in general, slowly cancels conservatism. These cancellations occur quickly in the cultural sphere - conservatives tend to lose every generation's cultural battles - but slowly when it comes to actual power; there are currently no meaningful threats to capitalism and its blocs of power, which conservatism, in its defense of privilege and/or hierarchies of exploitation, clings to as it once did divine rights, theocracy and monarchy.

The irony is, conservatism has always been the cause of the symptoms it decries. It brings over slaves and cheap labor and then moans about the darkies. It exalts the All Knowing Invisible Hand of the Market then moans about the weakening of religion. It cries about the death of white cultures, but relies on a brand of ultra deregulated globalization that dissolves all borders. It creates a work culture, then moans about the collapse of family life. It uses women to lower wages, then cries about the loss of "traditional gender roles". It bends over backwards for megacorporations, then wonders why village life or family stores shut down. It creates a global debt ponzi beholden to consumerism, then berates people for their permissiveness. It deregulates environmental laws and jails conservationists, then wonders why the forests are on fire. It rabidly exploits minority groups, then cries when they start fishing for rights.

In the 1980s, this very same conversation was being had about lead paint. Seriously. Conservatives and Reaganites were moaning about being cancelled on lead paint. Lead paint isn't toxic! Free speech! We must preserve our right to lead paint and prevent the fascist creep of anti-paint policies!

Today's argument will be similarly forgotten, and be seen to be similarly ridiculous, within a generation.

And there's a reason the western conservative ideal is a kind of fantastical image of the 1950s - the poor and marginalized out of sight behind the white picket fences - just prior to collapse of the Soviet Union*, and just prior to when laissez faire capitalism ramped up at home, and went global abroad. Conservative values kills conservative values. And then it goes killing everyone who tells it that to its face.

*there's also a reason conservatives in the UK and US are now infatuated with Russia. Late to enter the game of neoliberal capitalism, and so mercifully free of low paid "minorities" and "darkies" (and the concomitant civil rights movements that fought for things like gay rights and secularism), Russia is now seen as a bastion of White Pride, White Conservative Values, and Orthodox Christianity. The current conservative party in the UK, and Republican party in the US aren't just awash in Russian oligarch cash, but have members who increasingly idolize Russia as their new "American Ideal".
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Fri, Jun 12, 2020, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

lol Booming, why are you always making people angry? Just because western conservatism hinges on property rights which are inherently exclusionary, were won through massive levels of genocide and forced expulsion, and which propagate ideas of hierarchy which are justified by covert and overt racism, and which deflect from these issues by scapegoating lefties and minorities, and just because the Nazis got their race based laws from the US, attended meetings at US bar associations to help them draft up these laws, and got tips on concentration camps from American Indian reserves, doesn't mean western conservatism has anything to do with Hitler.

I know these are tense and heated times, but Trump is an anomaly, and western conservatism will return to its normal, moderate ways (Bush, Nixon, Reagan, King Edward etc) soon, just as Roddenberry's Trek (a normal, stable, moderate space future, with a nice moderate stance on gay conversation therapy, corporate monopolies and climate change) urges us to work toward.
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Thu, Jun 11, 2020, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: The Visitor

Jason said: ""but we all know full well what was behind the casting choice in the real world- some executive was afraid if blowback for depicting a black man with a white woman, even one in alien makeup."

It's the other way around. The taboo up until recently was pairing black actors with black love interests. When DS9 was made, the African American actor usually "got" the white girl, or (in the early 2000s) the latina girl, not another African American girl. The former tests better with more audience members, and probably "comfortably" kowtowed to old racist notions (black women aren't sexy, white beauty is superior etc).

In the context of the mid 1990s, pairing Sisko with a black actress would have been mildly more trailblazing. It was part of a new Afro-American/black-culture/pride/body positivity wave. In the context of a real-life far-future Space Federation, it's racist and weird, but the intention (pushed by Brooks) at the time was the opposite.
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Sun, Jun 7, 2020, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Kurtzman Trek ain't gonna get better. They're going to keep pumping out series and gimmicks to con audiences, but the whole franchise at this point has been corrupted and co-opted by money men and hacks.

I've been watching the Steven Moffat era of Doctor Who and it's been keeping me going until Trek is handed over to someone with talent. It's got the same pacifist, humanitarian vibe of Roddenberry, and the experimental, zany qualities of Braga-Trek. Too many unnecessary monsters and kiddie stuff, but every now and then it hits some big highs.

And you just don't get those highs anymore with Kurtzman Trek. Instead it's just a kind of long stretch of mediocrity punctured by awful Kurtzman tropes and decisions.

You also sense that Trek now has an identity crisis. Without a smart showrunner to bend things toward his or her singular vision, it flails in all directions. And so it wants to be a zany Braga-esque mindf*ck, but exists in an era where other shows are doing this better ("Rick and Morty", "Futurama", "The Good Place", "Community", "Orville" etc) and more concisely.

It wants to be "serious", but repeatedly sabotages this desire by inserting Kurtzmany action schlock.

It wants to be original and new, but is constantly inserting call backs and fanboy nods.

You sense that Kurtzman Trek abounds in a bevy of aesthetic contradictions, desperately chasing down every possible demographic and market share, like some kind of odd, grotesque, cobbled-together Frankenstein Monster.

The recent announcement of "New Worlds" epitomizes this made-by-committee desire to follow the fickle whims of fanboys, a new show rushed to production lines to appease the horde screaming for "more episodic Trek!".
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Fri, May 15, 2020, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Cody said: "You are choosing to discount every movie I named as having any artistic value"

You're changing the topic. Nobody's talking about "artistic value". We're talking about the "propaganda", be it explicit or implicit, of American war films, which many, especially non-Americans and film scholars, routinely regard these films as being rife with. And this is true of many war films, be they made by jingoistic guys like Michael Bay, or supposedly prestigious directors like Spielberg or Ridley Scott (who admits he made “Black Hawk Down” as a modern version of one of his favorite films as a kid, “Zulu”, which pined for the glory days of British Imperialism).

Cody said: “I’m not going to comment much on your racist multiple usage of the term “white boys””

My usage of “white boys” was deliberate, not “racist”, and your reaction to it – and missing of its point – further proves Booming's point.

Booming: “Hi guys, did you know most American war films are propagandistic?”

Cody: “That is a bigoted statement. Here are some Vietnam war films which have no propaganda!”

Booming: “The Vietnam war, a war in which countless millions of civilians were murdered, in which thousands were tortured, in which the country was obliterated by more bombs than were dropped in the entirety of WW2, in which hundreds of thousands continue to die to mines, chemical poisonings and mutations, in which the nation was illegally artificially divided and a dictator propped up, in which the CIA colluded with the ARVN to stage terrorist attacks on civilians to foment agitation, in which the US turned down Vietnamese pleas for emancipation from French rule (and help in writing a democratic constitution) and instead sided with and armed the French, leading to films which whitewash all history and politics, never-mind the Vietnamese themselves, to focus instead on sad white guys gunning down faceless primitives (in “Apocalypse Now”, the Vietnamese literally walk about with bows and arrows!), isn't propagandistic? Propaganda has always hinged on omission!”

Cody: “You said 'white guys', that is bigoted!”

Booming: “War, colonialism, and white power are intertwined, and racialist thought has always bed-rocked western warfare. Being blind to this is itself a tenet of racism.”

Cody: “Black lives matter is also racist! All lives matter!”

Booming: “Ima walk away now.”

Cody said: “but I really hope you grow up.”

It's the other way around. The war genre is largely juvenile, panders to baser blood lusts, and rarely goes beyond designer carnage and much romanticised madness. Were the genre to “grow up”, it would actually examine the wars they profess to be about, but they can't, and so remain trapped on a apolitical level, collapsing conflicts to the level of soldiers looking out for fellow soldiers, everything else cynically dismissed.

Cody said: “You are talking about grown men who were brave enough to put their life on the line for other people. Whether you agree with wars they served in or not you should have enough respect to...”

More Gulf War and Vietnam vets died of suicide at home than in their respective theaters of war. On a literal level, their home soil is more hazardous then the wars they “braved”. And the reason for these suicides is largely due to the discrepancy between the actuality of war, and the kind of bogus mythologies their nations instil them with, and which you're trying to perpetuate here.

And of course most of these soldiers don't “choose to put their lives on the line”, as you claim. Most soldiers are low income, 66 percent of US soldiers were drafted in WW2, 90 percent of US army soldiers were draftees at the height of Vietnam, over 40 percent were black, and none have the freedom to disregard wars they object to. There is little “free choice” here. The notion that they're “saving people” is similarly an insult to the colossal acts of evil that were the Gulf and Vietnam Wars, and even the supposed "Good War" of WW2, in which the chief allies were busy engaging in modern colonialism in the Caribbean, Africa, China, South America and Asia, and suppressing democracy at home. Their “war on fascism” itself had little to do with any morally consistent “objection to fascism” either (or “saving Jews from Hitler”, as a common WW2 myth goes; one recalls the sneaky subplot in “Saving Private Ryan”, in which an intellectual/pacifist character stands by and watches while a Jew dies slowly to a knife by a German who was “compassionately” released earlier in the film).

This is why I mentioned Mel Gibson's “Passion of the Christ” earlier. Jacques Ellul, an expert on propaganda, once (correctly) predicted that military mythology would increasingly come to resemble religious mythology and iconography. And so you have one BS narrative – Christ's sacrifice - morphing into another: freedom needing to be periodically replenished by blood being spilled on the altar of the military, soldier's torn bodies used to bolster not the church, but faith in the state. But Christ didn't die for your sins, is largely made up, as are most things attributed to soldiers.

White said: "Trent - your use of the term solipsism is completely off the mark."

Im using the word in the sense of being myopic, navel-gazing and self-centered. I mean, "Deer Hunter" is literally a Vietnam film about a dude who broods for 3 hours because he cant bang Meryl Streep. His dilemma: leave the guy Streep wants to marry to be tortured by Vietcong caricatures, or rescue him and live the rest of his life celibate. The horrorrrrr...!

Mal said: "Stephen Moffat probably made his reputation with nuWho viewers back when Girl in the Fireplace aired in the second series....."

That episode was recommended to me too, and I almost watched it last week, but I think I'm going to watch season 5 to 12 before looping back and catching the David Tenant era. I've not seen "The Expanse", but agree that "The Good Place" is excellent.
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Mon, May 11, 2020, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Cody said: "PLATOON- Fully shows the horrors of war. FULL METAL JACKET- see previous. APOCALYPSE NOW- see previous. THE HURT LOCKER- PTSD and trauma, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN- specifically shows the cost of human life and losing loved ones, THE DEER HUNTER- completely anti Vietnam war, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY- completely anti Vietnam War, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA- American film using native Japanese actors spoken in Japanese to easily relate to and humanize the Japanese soldiers of WWII, SCHINDLER’S LIST- American made WW2 film showing how a German man saved thousands of Jews from their death and the horrors of war."

"Showing horrors" doesn't make something "not propaganda". Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ", for example, spends most of its running time watching as Jesus gets graphically brutalized. Once the audience is sufficiently bludgeoned into feeling guilty, it then hits you with its message: this death saved you, earn this, and worship at the altar of the cross. In this way, you're positioned to adopt a very specific ideology.

“Saving Private Ryan” pulls the same stunt. You watch Americans get brutalized for two hours, before it guilts you into legitimizing its message: earn this, these Christ-like soldiers died for you, scarified themselves on the altar of “freedom” etc. Along the way you have other little sneaky bits – a German who is shown compassion comes back to murder an American, little symbolic scenes with Jews and German knives etc – all serving to bolster a very silly and a very American view of the war, scrubbed clean of any wider political, geographical or socio-economic context. And of course our heroes are always outnumbered, out-teched and out-gunned, like cowboys surrounded by Indians in westerns, another genre that specialized in reversing history and feigning victimhood.

If “Saving Private Ryan” got high on its little war-porny set pieces – there's a reason its chief influence has been video games – “Schindler's List” plays like a snuff film getting high on its little torture sequences, Jews hunted by Nazis like humans were by sharks, tripods and dinosaurs in Spielberg's fantasy films. Ralph Fiennes even gets his own little arc which serves to explicitly prove how much of a monstrously “inexplicable” thing Naziism is ("I can't help being evil!"). Causes, politics and context don't matter. Then you get the Zionist ending, Jews “deservedly” marching to Palestine/Israel to the tune of Jerusalem of Gold.

“Hurt Locker”, meanwhile, bends over backwards not to say anything about US involvement in the Middle East. The director's “Zero Dark Thirty” was even worse.

Then you have Vietnam. Like most American war movies, "Deer Hunter", "Apocalypse Now" and "Platoon" hinge on romanticised madness and much macho self pity. The overriding message is always "look what they did to us", the Vietnamese largely invisible, and the Vietnam war itself rendered incomprehensible. In the case of "Deer Hunter", you have the Vietnamese portrayed as grinning savages (their dialogue is not even Vietnamese) and introduced with propagandistic scenes showing the NVA killing babies and women (and later toying with Americans with their roulette games or tiger cages, which historically didn't happen; it was the US-backed South Vietnam torturing the vietcong in the infamous cages). "Platoon" and “July”, Stone's genuine attempts at “anti Vietnam war” films, themselves can't escape being about the lost innocence of white dudes. There's a solipsism and myopia to these films that, even when the author has the best intentions, can't help being propagandistic.

“Full Metal Jacket”, made by a dude with some brains, at least seems to critique this trend. Here you have a cynical hipster – Private Joker, who believes himself immune from propaganda, who believes himself having survived bootcamp brainwashing as a "free-thinking individual" – nevertheless still intellectualizing and rationalizing himself into being a good Imperialist. He/America rapes Vietnam in the name of saving Vietnam. He kills, he convinces himself, in the name of mercy and humanitarianism. Tellingly, it's also the only film where the combat has the white boys always comically outnumbering the Vietnamese (they're in their safe military base, walking behind convoys of tanks, up against a single child etc), and where Vietnam's an actual civilization that gets pulverized rather than a nightmarish, lawless jungle in need of taming by the Mickey Mouse Club.

So American war films are largely propaganda. And it's not bigoted to say this. I'm always reminded of Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle's joke about them: “American foreign policy is horrendous. Not only will America come to your country and kill all your people, but what's worse, they come back twenty years later and make a movie about how killing all your people made their soldiers oh so sad! Boo hoo! Americans making a movie about what war did to their soldiers, is like a serial killer telling you what stopping for hitch-hikers did to his clutch.”

A lot of this is to do with funding too. You don't get Pentagon support and access to gear if your script doesn't toe the party line (and a lot of military contractors have shares in big movie studios and TV stations). Stuff like "Full Metal Jacket" and "Redacted" couldn't get US military approval, and the Department of Defense turned down each of Stone's three Vietnam films.
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Sun, May 10, 2020, 8:49am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Hi, William, thanks for the comments. I see what you mean about Steve Moffat. He's a bit like Brannon Braga, favoring lots of mind-bending, elaborate narrative gymnastics. I loved his season 5 of Who, but 6's arc was a bit too enamored with its cleverness, though the standalone episodes were pretty fun.

I'm watching season 7 slowly, which thankfully focuses more on standalones, whilst simultaneously skipping ahead to season 8 and the Capaldi era, which I hear is more serious, slow and low key. I've been enjoying his Grumpy Old Man take on things. With Orville on lockdown, and having run out of Trek, Who's been scratching my SF itch.
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Wed, May 6, 2020, 8:03am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Turnabout Intruder

I agree with MaraCass. The HMS Beagle was a military vessel because it carried rifles. And it wasn't captained by a woman because sitting in a chair and giving orders requires the cushioned comfort of god-given testicles.

Booming also makes a good point; with their genetic predisposition toward high IQs, all high-ranking jobs should be performed by Ashkenazic Jews.

These are good opinions coming from very smart brains.
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Fri, May 1, 2020, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Does anyone here watch Doctor Who? A Trek friend recommended me watch an episode called "Blink" and then "Vincent and the Doctor", and said I should start watching it at the new season 5. I've seen the aforementioned two episodes, and so far it seems like really great TOS/TwilightZone styled SF stories.
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Sun, Apr 26, 2020, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Why do Rios and the gang take grenades to the Synth compound to destroy the beacon, when they've just repaired their ship, which has shields, armor and weapons? Just fly the ship over and blow up the beacon.

Why, in the pilot, when Daj "senses Romulan assassins", does she and Picard them leave the safety of a Federation promenade for an isolated rooftop? Surely it is better to stay where it is safe.

Why does Commodore Oh have Juratti infiltrate Picard's group, and then, afterwards, still launch a ninja attack on Picard's chateau? It makes no sense to get Juratti to use Picard to find Maddox, when killing Picard robs you of finding Maddox.

Why doesn't Picard take the dead Romulan bodies to Starfleet as evidence? And why doesn't Picard ask his Romulan minders to use their "recreation device" to resurrect the past and so provide more evidence of the attacks? Why don't Rios and the gang meet Jurati and Picard on their trek across the desert to the ship/village? How does Jurati know how to use the imagination device? How does Data know what's happening outside the quantum simulation? If Soong knows Data knows what's going on outside, why doesn't he give Data a body? What happened to all the scientists on the cube? Why doesn't the Federation stay to help them? And why...

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Fri, Apr 24, 2020, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

Booming said: "I didn't get the impression that they are driven by strong emotions. Just literally inhumane calculations."

They have emotions, depending on your definition of emotions. What I like is the way the show has characters, throughout both seasons, outright calling the Kaylons sociopaths and racists (they even cut off Gordon's leg), such that this two-parter's "revelation" never comes entirely out of the blue. The Union's allies have always been twisted, and the show seems concerned about the ramifications of making alliances with bad groups purely for access to resources and technology.

What's hard to understand, is the Doc's love-affair with Issac. It's cute, but the show never fully, or believably, explains it IMO.

The next episode is viewed by many as the weakest of the season. Has a handful of good scenes, but the consensus here when the episode premiered is that it didn't push beyond similar Trek episodes. After that you have 2 masterpieces IMO.
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Fri, Apr 24, 2020, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

Booming said: "but from the battle scenes alone I had no idea what was going on."

Though I prefer my space battles Nicholas Meyer style, and though it gets unnecessary chaotic in a few shots, I thought Orville's climactic space-battle was extremely visually coherent and very well done for what it was (ie space opera mayhem).

It's obviously emulating "Star Wars", particularly "The Return of the Jedi's" climax, with the Orville whipping about like the Millennium Falcon, and the Kaylon orbs like Tie-fighters. But IMO the visual language is nowhere near as haphazardous as Kurtzman-Trek or recent Trek rip-offs.

Orville's battle follows a nice little sequence, seems well storyboarded and framed, it progressively gets closer to the moon, and then the Earth, and builds to a nice crescendo. And the hardware is always easily identifiable: the Union fly white flat things and the bad guys giant eyeballs.

I agree and disagree with your "no sense of distance/time" comment. In one sense, of course, you're right. In space opera shows like this, the distances traveled are ridiculously unbelievable. But the Orville spends over 30 mins of the episode hurtling toward Earth, which IMO is a good job for this genre.

What's more incredulous is the Krill showing up in the nick of time (and then zipping away when no longer needed). It's the old "here comes the cavalry!" deus ex machina, which really taints the ending. It's a cliche that should have been dodged. But the show is so pulpy and comedic that it didn't really bother me too much.

The episode doesn't have the seriousness or gravity of TNG's BEST OF BOTH WORLDS (which it obviously emulates, Seth giving us a look at his version of Wolf 359), but I thought it was on par with Voyager's best actiony two-partners, and better in several respects.

I don't know how I'd rank this fleet battle against DS9's. What DS9 did with 90s tech and budgets was amazing, but I always found its "Star Wars" influences out of place for Trek. In DS9, the Defiant's our Millenium Falcon, and ships slug it out like WW2 era fleets on a 2D canvas. As I'm willing to suspend less disbelief with Trek than I do with a lark like Orville, this always bothered me. I've always preferred Trek battles to be more like slow submarine battles, though to DS9's credit it gave us some good sub-battles as well (particularly episodes set on Klingon ships).
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Mon, Apr 20, 2020, 5:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Picard on his fondness for interfering:
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Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Who Mourns for Adonais?

Rahul said: " I'm quite impressed with the integrity it has kept to TOS from the sets to the costumes, the music etc. Really well done by Vic Mignogna & co. The actors captured the spirit of TOS well."

They get the camera work, compositions and retro lighting right as well. They even get the flamboyant titles right ("PILGRIMS OF ETERNITY!"). "Discovery" tried to do this, but its deliberately overwrought titles came off as cringey.

"Who Mourns For Adonnais" is one of my favorite Trek episodes, so when I heard "Continues" opens with a "sequel", I had to see it. It's a really well done show, and you get over the different actors fairly quickly.
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Tue, Apr 14, 2020, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" drags a bit, but it's Tarantino's interesting take on the utopian genre. After his linkages with Weinstein, he sets out to make a film in which LA is ultimately good, in which things work out, in which producers aren't sleazeballs, in which sexism is shut down, in which C grade actors are adored, in which everyone's worst initial assumptions about characters are reversed etc. As Pacino says of Dicaprio's character after getting him a job: "because you're worth it".

The thing almost feels like a Roddenberry dream.
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Wed, Apr 8, 2020, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Why does Jurati have the Magic Iphone in this episode? Rios and Raffi use it, then leave for the synth compound, while Jurati and Picard walk to La Sirena. How does Jurati find this thing, figure out how to use this technology, and so quickly, and at such a crucial moment?

Regardless, watching this episode again lowers it even further in my estimation. It really kills whatever good-will the series had managed to cling on to. The Romulan Refugee arc goes nowhere. The Borg cube stuff goes nowhere. Picard's illness pops up once and then is suddenly cured. The Federation/Admiral stuff goes nowhere. The synth attack on Mars goes nowhere (how were they hacked? Why are they no longer banned when they're clearly still vulnerable to hacking?). The Soji/Romulan romance goes nowhere. Every single plot thread in this show was botched - PaghWraith and Jesus Sisko level botching - with the exception of Soji's confrontation of her identity as a synth.

And this episode sort of crystallises how throwaway everythiing that came before is. It retroactively destroys the whole season, and does so in a cartoonish way at odds with everything prior. Picard sacrificially flying a little "fighter jet" into the heart of an enemy fleet like Braveheart while trying to hold off space tentacles seems about the worst place a show about Picard should end up.
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Mon, Apr 6, 2020, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Home

One thing Orville starts doing really well in this season, is its fly-by shots of alien planets and cities...

There's a sense of wonder, and of joyous exploration, all capped off with a score evocative of 1980s Trek movies.

And this kind of tone is something JJ-Trek and Nu-Trek have been incapable of doing. And I don't think they'd be capable of pulling this stuff off if they tried. "Orville's" one-foot-in-comedy approach lets it get away with a kind of earnestness and visual naivete that most contemporary SF, because they're tonally on a different planet, can't touch.
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Mon, Apr 6, 2020, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Home

Booming finally likes an Orville episode.

The season 2 premiere, together with this episode, is when The Orville started to firmly win me over.

This episode in particular reminded me of old SF book covers (the psychedelic skies, cities, "car" rides and horse-creatures), and 1950s SF homesteads. There's a visual boldness to this episode, and the coastal setting also offers nice atmosphere.

The things that bother you about the episode didn't bother me; I sort of accept this as a kind of cartoonish show, Seth as a Kirk-like Big Ham, the characters broadly drawn, the visuals deliberately veering toward the retro.

The home-invasion tropes didn't do much for me (shades of Haneke's "Funny Games"), but I thought the little action sequence with Ed in the gravity suit was quite original.

Jammer didn't like the next episode (2nd weakest of the season IMO, after the porn episode), but it has a very good ending, and I like the spirit of the episode. I also think it's self-consciously mocking the Ash Tyler arc in "Discovery", using similar character names and reversing several key things.

Afterwards you have "All the World is Birthday Cake", which most agree has a great first (first contact) half. Second half is IMO kind of generic. Then you have "A Happy Refrain"; not sure how that episode will go over with you, but it has a shuttle bay symphonic orchestra which is great. Shades of TNG's many musical sessions.

Then it's pretty much very good episodes till the end, with only one being a bit weak, and with at least two verging close to 4 stars (in the 4 stars TNG sense).
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Mon, Apr 6, 2020, 10:55am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Eye of the Needle

I'm surprised at all the negative comments here.

For me, this is Voyager's best episode. You have the crew behaving extremely professionally and competently, and yet you also have a plot which explicitly focuses on the emotional and psychological stresses being placed on the crew.

This is also an episode which treats space as a vast, lonely, daunting place. And though there is no explicit action here, the episode is tense, generates thrills in classy and original ways, and hinges on an interesting series of scientific ideas (micro wormholes, time slips etc).

And, of course, we have villains who are treated with respect and sketched rather sympathetically. The scene in which Janeway, in her lonely cabin, talks with a "Romulan villain", is particularly great. Rife with suppressed yearning, and some mutual understanding (they're both scientists), the script dodges all the usual villainous cliches.

Couple this with the episode's overall aesthetic style - austere, elegant, patient, savoring moments of silence etc - and its ultimately tragic tone, and IMO you have Voyager at its peak. While there are many other Voyager episodes I'd class as great, they aren't great in the classy ways this episode is. And as the show became increasingly bombastic, this episode seems to recall TNG at its most elegant.
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Wed, Apr 1, 2020, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

The climactic Data scenes didn't wow me, mostly because a part of me is always aware that scenes like this only exist due a kind of logistical necessity; Spiner can't play a robot who doesn't age, and no longer wants to anyway.

Also, Picard's lost countless crewmen, witnessed the deaths of whole planets, and his friendship with Data always seemed to have a professional and somewhat distant air. I don't see Data's sacrifice in "Nemesis" as being something that would overly traumatize Picard, and certainly not decades later. Indeed, Picard would have celebrated Data's death; it's a very Federation, very loving and noble thing for Data to have done.

Similarly, upon finding Data alive in a USB, I don't believe Picard would have so readily let Data commit suicide. Yes, Picard would not violate Data's personal wishes. But Data informs Picard of the existence of "golems" and "body transfers". Picard would have argued with Data a bit, and tried to get him shunted into a new body.

(incidentally, Data's knowledge of Jurati, the golems etc, seems unbelievable. Is the show implying that Jurati and Soong are communicating with Data and telling him what's going on outside?)

To the show's credit, Data already seems to calculate ahead to these arguments. Data wants to die, he explains, because dying makes his "Nemesis" sacrifice special. It also makes relationships, friendships and love special. Data sees dying as a very "human" thing to "achieve". I don't agree with this argument - and surely a resurrected Data still has plenty of opportunities to die - but the show anticipates arguments for resurrection, and makes a point to knock (or appear to knock) them down.

Meanwhile, it's odd how Riker, who seemed a closer friend to Picard than Data was, gets shunted aside when Picard dies. This is your ex captain, and he has major health problems, and just took on a huge Romulan fleet and killer synths, and he's your close friend and you obviously love him, and you just warp away 10 seconds before his death? Surely this episode is committing the same sin it professes to be fixing; Riker discards a dying Picard as Picard discards Data.

Picard's failure to help the Romulan refugees, meanwhile, seems like something that would actually traumatize Picard far deeper than Data's loss. A personal failure to help people, to keep a promise, and a failure by the Federation to stick to its professed values, strikes me as something that Picard would find far more injurious. I see Picard as possessing a streak of sanctimony that would rationalize Data's death, and be unforgiving toward the treatment of the Romulans. The latter should be the focus of a show, not the former.

Finally, the Data scene requires you to buy a heap of contrivances. I just can't buy Data's memories being stolen, or being on this planet, I can't buy this planet being tied to Romulan Legends, I can't buy Picard getting sick at just the right time, I can't buy Riker leaving, I can't buy Riker appearing, I can't buy Romulans not torpedoing that planet, I can't buy 200 hologram La Sirenas, I can't buy this show's potential connection to "Discovery" season 3 etc etc.

By the time you get to Data and Picard in a room, it just all becomes too incredulous. And the notion that the show is "covertly thematically about Picard's failure to handle the loss of Data" seems insulting to the Romulan refugees and the victims of Mars. After all, as Data literally tells us, their deaths allows Picard's righteousness to have meaning.

What should have happened is this: Data informs Picard that Jurati has a golem, and tells him that Jurati wants to know if Picard wishes to continue to live. Picard, rather than passively acquiring a body, actively chooses resurrection. And he chooses it so he can help people. Because the reduction of unnecessary suffering is the Picard ethos.
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Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Omicron said: "Mocking fellow commenters..."

Booming knows I'm not mocking him. Booming is my spirit animal, like Chakotay and his pokattah.
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Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Omicron said: "Booming is already reviewing season 2 of the Orville. He doesn't seem to like it any more than season 1. "

lol, I just read his opinions. In my mind, Booming's an angry German sociologist professor ("Nein, I do not buy zis, Macfarlane!").

Surprised he didn't like some of those episodes at the tail end of S1, or even the low-key S2 opener. I hope he enjoys "Home"; I found that to be a really sweet but simple episode.
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Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 5:10am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Booming, try to get a cheap copy of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Aurora", "Green Earth" and "Red Mars", for good SF novels with a sociological/ecological bent. With your occupational background, I think you'd like them. For a great first contact story, and mind-bending aliens, check out Peter Watts' amazing "Blindsight".

I too am disappointed by all the highly touted SF shows on TV. But prose science fiction still has a few auteurs doing great work.

Also start back reviewing Orville. Season 2 is much better.
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Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 8:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Tim said: "They might have access to them (science articles) but they damn sure don't use them. In fairness, neither did 90s Trek. TNG maintained the illusion through the first four seasons or so, generally trying to at least pay lip service to real world scientific principles."

A writer of Trek styled SF (as opposed to hard SF) should read as much science stuff as possible, not to get the physics right, but to constantly fuel outlandish ideas. The more novel things you are exposed to, the more novel your writing is. Sometimes the slightest piece of weird information can spark an entire story or concept.

Remember, Trek has always been a bit closer to Weird Fiction than "actual science". It's literary ancestors primarily wanted to indulge in formal experimentation. To find new ways of telling stories. To play games with narratives. To do weird, cool stuff. Making one's story "scientifically plausible" was often an afterthought, something sorted out at the last hurdle.

Which is not to say that Trek can't also do "hard SF", but I don't think it ever has. It mostly bounces from pulpy action to sociological tales to little fables/allegories, or in most cases, if we're being honest, a kind junky mishmash.
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