Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.11 (Contagion)

270px-STContagionCast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Carolyn Seymour (Sub Cmdr. Taris)
Thalmus Rasulala (Captain Donald Varley)
Folkert Schmidt (Doctor)
Dana Sparks (Tactical Officer)

Writers: Beth WoodsSteve Gerber

The USS Yamato (the sister ship of the Enterprise, also a Galaxy class ship) is destroyed by a virus that also infects the Enterprise.  The source of the virus appears to be the planet Iconia, an ancient, almost mythic race.  The planet is in the Romulan Neutral Zone, so Picard orders them to go there.  When they arrive, the Enterprise starts to suffer system failures – transporters, life support, replicators and so on.  Picard beams down to the planet, as a Romulan ship catches up with them.  However, the Romulans are also suffering from system errors that cripple their ship as well.

Picard, with Data and Worf on Iconia, solve the riddle of the Iconians – it was said that they travelled the stars without ships, and Data discovers the gateways they use to do this.  Worf and Data move back to the Enterprise through a gateway as Picard sets the self destruct (to stop the Romulans getting the technology).  He leaps through the gate and appears safely – on the Roluman ship!

This is actually a highly enjoyable episode.  The destruction of the Yamoto (and all hands) at the start is quite shocking, considering the ship has the same mix of families and crew as the Enterprise herself.  The Romulans are nice to see – their ships are still breathtaking – and the Captain of their ship is played by the awesome Carolyn Seymour, who was Abby Grant in the original BBC Survivors TV series (she also appears later in this series, once as a Romulan again and another time as another alien.  She can also be seen in a couple of episodes of Voyager).  She is a great actress, and gives some gravity to the situation.

The system failures aboard the Enterprise are quite scary, although they are overcome rather easily – they do something we have all done when our computers have a virus – turned it all off and reloaded all the software.  Although it happens pretty quickly, so we can assume that the Enterprise doesn’t use Windows!

The end, where the Iconian base is exploding around Picard, and he faces either dying or going into one of the gateways and ending up who knows where, is rather tense, although again it is rather convenient that he ends up on the Romulan vessel.

But, all in all, an engaging story with nice humour and some good performances.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 7.5/10

May 18, 2009 Posted by | chief o'brien, cloaking devices, destruction of a starfleet ship, iconians, romulans, system failures | | 5 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.8 (A Matter of Honor)

tng-2-8Cast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Laura Drake(Vekma)
Peter Parros (Tactics Officer)
Brian Thompson(Klag)
Christopher Collins(Captain Kargan)
John Putch(Ensign Mendon)

Writers: Burton ArmusGregory AmosWanda M. Haight

As I was saying, I was watching this rubbish show known as Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2.  Then I watched this episode, and it literally turned everything on it’s head.  So far the episodes have been dull, childish, unoriginal, badly written drivel.  This one is literally the opposite.  It is interesting, adult (in one moment perhaps more adult than they would get away with today) and the plot, whilst simple, actually makes sense.

It is literally like watching a different show.  The Klingons, who have only really featured in one episode of this show before this, come across as a very real race.  No silliness, just characters that come across, as Riker described them, “brave and unique” – if a little slow to grasp the obvious, in the case of their Captain.

The adult moments both come in the dinner scene.  As Riker eats with the Klingons, it is suggested that if he finds their food too hard to eat one of the females could breast feed him, and he even suggests a threesome later with two Klingon women.  It is funny, but not in a silly slapstick way.  It shows adults with a real sense of humour, and as such – especially for this show – it is very refreshing.

It is nice not to be aboard a ship with such clean lines as the Enterprise.  The design of the Klingon ship is much like we are used to, but it is nice to spend some time there.  You do start to warm to the Klingon characters (even though the Captain is a bit of a twit).

Even the stuff on the Enterprise is quite good.  Oddly, both Geordi and Deanna do not appear at all (and the episode is so interesting you don’t really notice that they are not there).  The opening scene (where Riker and Picard talk about the inter species exchange program) is just like a normal conversation between two adults.  And that’s why this episode works so well – all of the characters are believable, even Mendon (although I think Worf was quite close to beating the crap out of him at one point).

Luckily, this upturn is not limited to just this episode, and there are some more decent ones on the way quite soon.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 8.5/10

January 4, 2009 Posted by | benzite, chief o'brien, cloaking devices, klingons, phaser range | | 2 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.16 (When the bough breaks)

Wesley and another annoying Enterprise child.

Cast:
Philip Waller (Harry Bernard)
Ivy Bethune(Duana)
Jerry Hardin(Radue)
Brenda Strong(Rashella)
Paul Lambert(Melian)
Amy Wheaton (Tara)
Jeremy Wheaton (Mason)
Jandi Swanson (Katie)
McKenzie Westmore (Rose)
Dan Mason(Accolan)
Vanessa Bova (Alexandra)
Jessica Bova (Alexandra)
Michele Marsh (Leda)
Connie Danese(Toya)
Dierk Torsek (Dr. Bernard)

Writer: Hannah Shearer

This is another extremely clunky episode from this very very average first season of The Next Generation.  A planet called Aldea (which is a myth rather like Atlantis) appears out of nowhere – it seems that they have hidden behind a cloaking device.  Now, they are ready to be found as they cannot reproduce anymore and they want the help of the Federation.

Rather than asking for medical help though, they decide to just take a selection of children from the Enterprise, including Wesley Crusher.  They are not cruel to them (apart from the fact of their kidnap) and they want to nurture their latent talents (one finds out that he has a gift for art, another for music and so on).

The problem with this episode is that there is no real threat.  The Aldeans are not nasty people, just deperate, and you know that at some point everything would get sorted out.  So when you watch this you don’t really care because you know exactly what is going to happen.  Even when they throw the Enterprise across space as a minor demonstration of their power you know by the end everything will be okay.

Add to all of that, you have “The Custodian”.  The whole planet is run by a computer, so the citizens of the planet don’t have to do anything.  It is not all powerful and it does not rule them, so it is not quite a crappy classic Trek supercomputer.  And by the end we find out that the shield that has protected them is what is causing them to be sterile, and the Enterprise children will also be unable to reproduce. 

Also, this is the first of a handful of appearances by Jerry Hardin (Deep Throat in various X-Filesepisodes) and I also noticed for the first time that two of the other Enterprise kids are played by the younger siblings of Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher).  None of this makes the episode any better though!

Everything gets talked down nicely and the Enterprise gets their kids back, including Wesley.

Very poor and rather dull.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 3/10

July 25, 2008 Posted by | cloaking devices, disease/sickness, super computers, thrown through space | | 1 Comment

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
James Doohan(Scotty)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
George Takei(Sulu)
Kim Cattrall(Valeris)
Mark Lenard(Sarek)
Grace Lee Whitney (Rand)
Brock Peters (Admiral Cartwright)
Leon Russom(Starfleet Commander in Chief)
Kurtwood Smith (Federation President)
Christopher Plummer (General Chang)
Rosanna DeSoto(Azetbur)
David Warner(Chancellor Gorkon)
John Schuck (Klingon ambassador)
Michael Dorn(Colonel Worf)
Jeremy Roberts(Lieutenant Dimitri Valtane)
Iman(Martia)

Writers: Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Nicholas Meyer, Denny Martin Flinn

One of the moons surrounding the Klingon home world explodes, causing the Federation to offer help.  The first thing that is needed is a peace treaty, so Kirk is sent out to meet the Klingon chancellor and escort him to Earth for these talks.  After a dinner in which both parties prove that it will take a while for the Federation and the Klingons to see eye to eye, the Enterprise appears to fire on the Klingon ship.  Two Federation suited officers beam across and murder the Klingon chancellor in the chaos.  McCoy and Kirk beam across to try to help and are arrested for the murder.  They are trialled and sentenced to life imprisonment at the penal colony/dilithium mine Rura Penthe, where they escape, discover that the whole with has been a set up between Klingon General Chang and a high up Federation officer.  They get to the peace conference at Khitomer just in time to prevent the Federation presidents assassination by a human disguised as a Klingon.  They are then told to head back to Earth to be decommissioned.

As things go, this is not a bad movie.  I don’t think it’s as good as everyone seems to remember.  There are some good moments – the first time the Enterprise fires on the Klingon ship must have been quite shocking if you didn’t know it was coming.  And the Vulcan Valeris was a surprise traitor, though it would have been better if it has been Saavik as per the original plan (but neither previous actress was available and they didn’t want to recast again).

The Klingons came across rather well in this story – both David Warner and Christopher Plummer were excellent in their roles.

The worst thing about it was the silly humour.  The “if the boot fits” gag with the Dax character (not the Dax we get to know later on DS9) was pathetic, as was the section when they are trying to speak Klingon go get into Klingon space without rousing suspicion.

The characters were all talking about retirement at the start.  This makes sense – you get the impression that films two through five are meant to happen quickly in relation to one another, with a large gap between one and two and a large one between five and six.  Kirk has not really seemed old until this film – Shatner in his fifties was easily able to pull off Kirk, and although they were all good fun in this movie it was the right move not to do any more.  Scotty, Spock and McCoy in particular are looking very old indeed!

It was a nice send off.  It was great to see Sulu in his own ship.  It does, however, seem unreal that I will not see these people together again.  I have been watching the classic series and movies for this blog for the best part of a year now, and it does not seem real that I won’t see them again.  (Although truth be told the only character I will never see again is Uhura – the others all turn up in various shows or movies.  In fact, one of them show up in the next thing I am going to watch!

Many crew must have died in this, but as no dialogue in the film confirmed the casualty figures, I shall assume they all survived.  So Kirk lost 58 crew in his film and TV adventures.

It’s been fun, but now I have a new group of people to get used to!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Confirmed Crew Deaths Under Captain Kirk: 58 (to be reset for the next series)
Score: 7.5/10

June 4, 2008 Posted by | cloaking devices, doubles or duplicates, family members, inside another stafleet ship, klingons, mind meld, prisons/penal colonies, romulans, sarek, set on earth | | 1 Comment

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
James Doohan(Scotty)
George Takei(Sulu)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
Merritt Butrick (Dr. David Marcus)
Robin Curtis(Saavik)
Christopher Lloyd(Kruge)
Mark Lenard(Sarek)
Judith Anderson (Vulcan High Priestess)
Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand)

Writer: Harve Bennett

You know, my memories of this particular story of the film series were not that great.  There is a theory among the fans that the odd numbered films are not that good.  I have to say both the first film and indeed this one prove that wrong.

The story is relatively simple.  The Enterprise arrives on Earth having returned directly from the events of the previous film.  McCoy is behaving oddly, and when they arrive, they are told that the Enterprise is so badly knackered that she will not be repaired – she is to be scrapped.  Spocks’ father, Sarek (played by the fantastic Mark Lenard) visits Kirk to find out where Spock placed his memories before he died.  It turned out to be McCoy.

Meanwhile, on the Genesis planet, David and Saavik find Spocks coffin but it is empty.  Their ship (the Grissom) is destroyed by a Klingon ship that wants the secrets of the Genesis device.  They find a young Spock with no memories who is rapidly aging, like the planet.

Kirk asks if he can take McCoy to the Genesis planet, but is told he cannot, so he steals the Enterprise and all but Uhura go to Genesis.  There they are attacked by the Klingons, David is killed because Kirk will not surrender and eventually they have to self destruct the Enterprise.  Just before it explodes they beam down to the Genesis planet, which is breaking up, Kirk fights the Klingon commander and wins, and pretends to b him and they get beamed up to the Klingon ship, capture it, and eventually take Spock back to Vulcan (he is now about the right age) and reunited with his body.

The story is not anything like as good as the previous film, but it does have some benefits.  Firstly, this is the first appearance by Klingons as we know them – bumpy foreheads, costumes, knives and everything.  We saw something that was a bit like this in the first film, but the Klingons here are the template used from this point on, and they are great.  Chrisopher Lloyd is especially good as their vicious Captain, who kills crewmembers just for making a mistake (he killed his gunner when the Grissom is destroyed, he only wanted it disabled) and he also orders the death of David (well, any death, it was up to the Klingon on the ground who actually died).  So Yay to the Klingons, they are finally here!

The next two bits I adore are the obvious bits: I love the sequence where Kirk and company steal the Enterprise – they are persued by the experimental TransWarp ship the USS Excelsior, but luckily Scotty has sabotaged their new engines, so the persuit does not go very far.

Also, the destruction of the Enterprise is a really big deal moment.  This is the ship we have seen in every TV episode, and every movie up until this point.  Okay, it was going to be scrapped, but the fact that Kirk destroys her is a poignant moment.  And the effects are pretty good as well – the saucer explodes, but the rest burns up in the atmosphere of the planet.

I also love the fact that Sarek is back – we see Mark Lenard in two more films, and even in a couple of episodes of The Next Generation.

So what if the plot isn’t the strongest, so what if the sequence on Vulcan where Spocks’ mind is taken from McCoy and put back into Spock go on for a bit.  It’s nice to see him again, even though he only gets a few words at the end.

As I said before, this is kind of the middle story in a trilogy, and whilst the two that surround it are much stronger (perhaps the best the series has to offer) I think this one is good too – the quality of two and four tend to push this third film into the shadow a tad.

Crew Deaths: 0 (David doesn’t count, he isn’t Enterprise crew)
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
Score: 7.5/10

May 30, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, cloaking devices, david marcus, death of a recurring character, destruction of a starfleet ship, family members, inside another stafleet ship, klingons, mind meld, pon farr, saavik, sarek, self destruct, set on earth, set on vulcan, stolen ship or shuttlecraft, vulcans | | 2 Comments

Star Trek 3.2 (The Enterprise Incident)

Cast:
Joanne Linville (Romulan Commander)
Jack Donner (Romulan Subcommander Tal)
Richard Compton (Romulan Technical Officer)
Robert Gentile (Romulan Technician)
Mike Howden (Romulan Guard)
Gordon Coffey (Romulan Soldier)

Writer: D.C. Fontana

Luckily, the travesty that is Spock’s Brain if followed by something with much more sunstance.  The Enterprise Incident is a rare episode featuring the Romulans from the classic series – in fact, in the third episode to feature them it is also only the second time we have seen them.

Kirk appears to be going a bit mental, and during this he orders the Enterprise into the Romulan Neutral Zone, at which point the ship is quickly captured by three Romulan vessels (now using the Klingon Bird of Prey design, which was apparently done to save money, as we had already seen this vessel in an episode that had already been shot (but not shown).

The whole things is a massive con in which Kirks mission is to steal the Romulans new cloaking device.  This he does by a trick in which Spock appears to accidentally kill Kirk in front of the Romulans, the death is certified by a Romulan doctor.  Kirk is then surgically altered to look like a Romulan (the surgical alteration is a trick often used in later versions of Star Trek but I think it is the only time it is employed in the original series).

Considering the third season of this show has such a bad reputation, the quality of this episode is unexpected.  The acting is good, and it tries to paint the Romulans as more than just warmongers (although they were always one of the more complex races on this show.)  The one part that doesn’t quite ring true however is the (female) Romulan commanders infatuation with Spock.  And also Kirk beams aboard the Romulan ship too easily – don’t they have sensors?

So they steal the cloaking device and connect it to the Entperprise – something very rare indeed, a Federation ship with a cloak.  We get to see something similar in an equally excellent Next Generation episode, and collaboration with the Romulans in the Dominion War in Deep Space Nine means that they fit (and operate) the device aboard the USS Defiant.  But it is very rare.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 43
Score: 7.5/10

April 25, 2008 Posted by | cloaking devices, romulans, surgically altered | | 1 Comment