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

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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 2.7 (Unnatural Selection)

292px-katherine_pulaski_prematurely_agedCast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
J. Patrick McNamara(Captain Tagget)
Patricia Smith (Dr. Sara Kingsley)
Scott Trost (Transporter Ensign)
George Baxter (Child from station)

Writers: Mike GrayJohn Mason

Oh for the love of God!  Seriously, if I were a fan of Star Trek and I was watching this season the first time it ran, I think this episode would have just about killed my interest.  There has not been a really good episode yet in this season – this is the seventh dreadful episode in a row.  Season One was not the greatest, but it never got this bad. 

For one, the format changes just have not worked.  As this episode proves, Doctor Pulaski is just no replacement for Beverly Crusher (something even the production team seemed to pick up on as she didn’t even get a mention in the main credits).

Basically a genetic research base tries to create a race of superbeings (children) but their immune systems are aggressive and cause the normal people around them to age.  Pulaski stupidly wants to risk beaming one onto the Enterprise, even though clearly that will put them all at risk (the way they found out about this was when they found a Starfleet ship with a dead crew, all from premature aging).  Actually this is a simplification – at the start of the episode we don’t know that the children cause the illness, and Pulaski wants them beamed onto the Enterprise so they can survive when their parents die.  To prove that being around them is safe, she beams into a shuttle with one and gets infected and starts to age.  Sadly, she doesn’t die.

From this point the episode is tedious.  She ages, as do the people at the research base, and then when it looks like all is lost she finds a cure, and everyone returns to their proper age.  Dull, predictable nonsense.

It’s a shame, because anybody who gave up as a result of this one missed an absolute gem.  The next episode doesn’t fix everything, but it is rather good.  Doesn’t make this drivel worth sitting through though!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 1/10

December 1, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, chief o'brien, destruction of a starfleet ship, disease/sickness | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.24 (Conspiracy)

292px-dexter_remmickCast:
Ursaline Bryant(Capt. Tryla Scott)
Michael Berryman(Capt. Rixx)
Ray Reinhardt (Admiral Aaron)
Jonathan Farwell (Capt. Walker Keel)
Ward Costello (Admiral Quinn)
Henry Darrow(Admiral Savar)
Robert Schenkkan(Lt. Cmdr. Dexter Remmick)

Writers: Robert Sabaroff, Tracy Tormé

The opening fifteen minutes or so of this episode are very good indeed.  Without showing anything – just an illicit meeting between four Starship Captains on a rock in the middle of nowhere – you suddenly get a sense of the fact that something Big Deal is happening.  The revelation a few minutes later that one of the ships that met up has since been destroyed is quite shocking.  The Captain – Walker Keel – was an old friend of Picard and Crusher.

So they go back to Earth – another big deal, since this is the first time this series has visited the home of the Federation (we didn’t even go there in episode one).  We meet up with Admiral Quinn from a few episodes ago – and he is clearly different.

The episode goes downhill from this point.  There is a fight in which we see someone kicked through some room doors, which collapse.  Surely that person should have been in great pain with broken bones rather than going through the door.

And the race that has taken people over is quite creepy – although the stop motion movement of the creature looks rather clunky in these days of CGI, although Remmicks death scene is good.  (Incidentally, the BBC cut that actual moment from the episode because they considered it too violent for the time slot.  Yet the clip in the final episode of season 2 which shows the moment again was overlooked).

It seems unlikely that such a race could get such a foothold in the Federation, so although there are some genuinely violent and scary moments, you can’t quite help feeling that it would never have happened.  Also, the final scene of the episode suggests that there is more to come, which never happens in the run of this show or any of the sequels.

There is a lot of death in this story – the whole crew of the USS Horratio, Remmick, several admirals, yet none of the Enterprise crew die.

So, quite an interesting episode, but possibly a bit overrated by fans.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 6.5/10

September 5, 2008 Posted by | admiral quinn, death of a recurring character, destruction of a starfleet ship, mind control, rogue captains, set on earth, vulcans | | Leave a comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.20 (The Arsenal of Freedom)

Cast:
Vincent Schiavelli (Peddler)
Marco Rodriguez (Capt. Paul Rice)
Vyto Ruginis (Chief Engineer Logan)
Julia Nickson(Ensign Lian T’Su)
George de la Peña(Lt. Jnr. Grade. Orfil Solis)

Writer: Maurice Hurley, Robert Lewin, Hans Beimler, Richard Manning

The Enterprise investigates the missing USS Drake and they go to the planet Minos.  They receive a broadcast (which appears to be an advert for weapons manufacture).  The Drake was visiting the planet because all of the population have gone missing.

They beam down.  Crusher and Picard fall down a big hole, and the others (Tasha, Data and Riker) are chased by a probe that gets more and more difficult to destroy each time it appears.  Also, a massive version of the same probe attacks the Enterprise (of which Geordi is now in command).  Eventually Picard comes across the control centre of the machines (conveniently in the same hole he and Crusher fell down) and agrees to buy the weapons that are being demonstrated, which shuts the demonstration models off in the nick of time.  It turns out the people of Minos were destroyed by their own creations…

It is not very good, this one.  The opening moments where they get the transmisson of the advert come straight out of The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy(although not as good) and the level of coincidence reach stupid levels when it is revealed that the killer drone things are controlled from where Picard and Crusher come from.  And the set of the exteriors on the planet is the worst kind of crap soundstage.

There is some good.  There are some nice character moments for Geordi (who takes command, and has a row with yet another chief engineer) and also a bit of back story for Beverly (who was living in a colony where there was a major disaster when she was young).  But all in all the actual story is rubbish and it looks very, very cheap!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 3
Score: 4/10

August 25, 2008 Posted by | destruction of a starfleet ship, planetary population destroyed | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.2 (The Naked Now)

Cast:
Skip Stellrecht (Engineering Crewman)
Lorine Mendell(Diana Giddings)
Kenny Koch (Kissing Crewman)
David Renan (Conn)
Michael Rider (Transporter Chief)
Benjamin W.S. Lum(Jim Shimoda)
Brooke Bundy(Sarah McDougal)

Writers: . Michael Bingham, John D.F. Black, D.C. Fontana

The Enterprise discover the USS Tsiolkovsky just as the last of her crew die when the open the bridge emergency hatch into space.  When they beam an away team aboard, everyone is dead – many frozen, inlcuding one in the shower.

It soon becomes apparent that whatever killed the crew (a disease that gives similar symptoms to intoxication) of the other ship is loose on the Enterprise.  Under the influence, Wesley Crusher takes over engineering and removes all the control chips from the engines.  Then, the star they are in orbit explodes (that was what the Tsiolkovsky was there to witness) and a hunk of rock is heading for the Enterprise!  Data repairs the system in the nick of time and they all escape.

Okay, this episode is a total remake of The Naked Time – even down to the rustling sound that indicates that the disease has been passed on.  And the series makes no pretence of it – they refer to the specific incident and even reference Kirk by name (the first character from the old show to be named on this one – we saw McCoy in episode one but he is never named!)  The characters all lose their inhibitions – including Data – and we get to find out some additional thinks about the crew.  For example, we learn that there is a definite attraction between Picard and Beverly Crusher.  We also get to find out that Tasha, although a bit of a tomboy, does have a feminine side, (in terms of wanting to look pretty) but she also has a fairly agressive sexual nature, and as well as throwing herself at men in the corridor she actually seduces Data.  In fact, everyone gets rather amorous – once Wesley seals himself into engineering with a force field, the other six crew on the other side are all over each other! 

The funny moments in this are genuinely funny, especially Picard – once intoxicated, whenever he walks through a door he does a little jump, which is just hilarious, as are all his scenes with Beverly.  (When they wave at each other on the bridge!)  And when Data walks into the bridge for the first time after he has contracted the intoxication that is the precise moment where everyone fell in love with that character.  Brent Spiner is hilarious – in a scene that could have been rubbish delivered by another actor, he makes that character his own.  His pratfall is second only to David Jason’s in an episode of Only Fools and Horses

We get to meet the first of several Chief Engineers this season – Sarah McDougal.  She’s okay, but it does get much better when Geordi gets it next season.

It’s not a bad episode, and is does show how capable some of the actors are.  Data, Picard and Crusher do especially well out of it.  It still feels like an episode from the original series though.

Crew Deaths: 0

Total Crew Deaths So Far: 0

Score: 7.5/10

June 6, 2008 Posted by | destruction of a starfleet ship, disease/sickness, inside another stafleet ship, ship/station taken over | | 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 II: The Wrath of Khan

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
James Doohan (Scotty)
Walter Koenig (Checkov)
George Takei (Sulu)
Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) 
Bibi Besch (Doctor Carole Marcus)
Merritt Butrick (Doctor David Marcus)
Paul Winfield (Captain Terrell)
Kirstie Alley(Saavik)
Ricardo Montalban (Khan)
Ike Eisenmann (Peter Preston)
John Winston (Cmdr. Kyle)

Writer: Harve Bennett, Jack B. Sowards

The USS Reliant accidentally comes across Khan, from the season one episode Space Seed.  He takes control of the ship, hell bent on only one thing: getting revenge on the man that abandoned him on Ceti Alpha V.  To do this, he steals project Genesis – a new device that will turn a lifeless moon into an instantly terraformed world.  If you happen to use it on a world that already has life, it will replace that life with the new matrix.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise is no longer doing missions, it is being used as a training vessel under the command of Captain Spock.  The ship picks up a confused message from the head of project Genesis, Doctor Carole Marcus, and so StarFleet send them out to investigate.  When they come across the Reliant, they assume she is friendly, until she fires.  As the shields are not up, the Enterprise is very badly damaged, but Kirk manages to find a code that enables him to make Reliant drop her shields.  Enterprise badly damages Reliant, then moved on to find the surviving Genesis staff in the bowels of the planet their research station is orbiting.  They trick Reliant into thinking the repairs will take a lot longer than they actually will, then make a break to hide in a Nebula.  The Reliant and Khan follow, but Kirk has the upper hand and virtually finishes off the Reliant.  So Khan stes off the captured Genesis device, which the Enterprise has no chance of outrunning as the repairs that need doing are in a radiation flooded compartment.  Spock carries out the repairs so they can escape, and dies as a result, his coffin left on the new Genesis planet.

This is an utterly superb movie.  I am not sure if it is my favourite one or not, I am in the process of watching them all, but it is great.  The acting is excellent – Saavik is a great new character, and she is played really well by Kirstie Allie in this film.  It is such a shame that she is played by someone else.

Other parts that are fantastic are the fights between the Enterprise and the Reliant.  This is the first time that we have seen ships in Star Trek blowing each others guts out, and the corresponding shots inside the vessels as they are hit are excellent.  The other effects that are great is the film that Kirk and company watches to inform them about Project Genesis – you see a moon transformed into a living, breathing planet.  Brilliant for it’s day.

The performance of the main cast is also brilliant.  The scene where Scotty loses his nephew is really good, as, of course, is the death scene for Spock.  Also, I really like the uniforms – that was something I forgot to say about the previous film, the one thing I didn’t like were the ghastly seventies uniforms.  These ones are much better, and last for all of these movies, as well as any flashback sequences from future series.

The music is also great.  In fact, I can’t think of anything bad to say about this movie.  It is interesting that Khan recognises Checkov, as Checkov was not in the series that Khan featured in.  I suppose we can assume that he was just on board, just not a member of the bridge crew.

I am not sure how many Enterprise crew are killed in this, I can only confirm two -Preston and Spock.  The amount of damage to the ship would suggest many people died, but there is no confirmation of how many deaths in any status updates given by anyone, so I am going to assume that there were many injuries but only two deaths.

Love this film, and also it kind of serves as the first in a trilogy.  This is Trek at it’s best.

Crew Deaths: 2
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
Score: 9.5/10

May 29, 2008 Posted by | david marcus, death of regular character, destruction of a starfleet ship, exes, family members, inside another stafleet ship, khan, mind meld, people from the past, saavik, set on earth | | 2 Comments