Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.2 (Where Silence Has Lease)

nagilumCast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Charles Douglass (Ensign Haskell)
Earl Boen(Nagilum)

Writer: Jack B. Sowards

This is a very unusual episode.  It has only one plot – many episodes have two things going on that somehow get linked, but this one concentrates fully on the one story.  The Enterprise finds a hole in space, and accidentally ends up inside it trying to get out.  The try flying out the way they came, going to maximum warp and hoping to fly out the other side… they try loads of stuff and basically it doesn’t work.

They encounter a Romulan vessel that turns out to be an illusion, they beam across to the USS Yamato (their sister ship, which also appears to be there but also turns out to be an illusion) and then they are tantalised with openings back into the real universe than vanish as soon as they set course for them.  In the end, they discover an entity called Nagilum that is effectively holding them prisoner in this void.  He kills a member of the crew just to see how much the human body can cope with, and asks Pulaski to demonstrate reproduction.  (Ugh, Troi would have been marginally better!)

Picard decides to destroy the ship (to prevent Nagilum studying human death, which he guesses will use between a third and half of the crew) so Nagilum sends duplicates of Troi and Data to talk him out of if, which of course doesn’t work.  They end up being set free.

Pulaski is still an odd character – she has taken a dislike (or at least an indifference) to Data who is at this point the most popular character on the show – last show she made a bit deal of pronouncing his name wrong (Daa-ta instead of Day-ta) and this time she questions whether or not he knows what he is doing when called upon to magnify an image on the viewscreen.  It is very hard to like her.

Oh, and there is this odd sequence on the holodeck with Worf at the start.  Has nothing to do with the story and shows him fighting monster things.  They do turn up again a number of times – presumably to justify the cost of the costumes and set in this episode.

This is just an odd episode.  It starts with Picard walking out of his ready room looking lost (perhaps he had a few too many in Ten Forward the night before) and just goes nowhere.  Hard to like, hard to have any opionions about at all really.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 3/10

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September 13, 2008 Posted by | anomaly (spacial/temporal), chief o'brien, doubles or duplicates, inside another stafleet ship, self destruct, super beings, worfs holodeck exercise program | | 3 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.23 (We’ll always have Paris)

parisCast:
Michelle Phillips(Jenice Manheim)
Lance Spellerberg (Chief Herbert)
Jean-Paul Vignon (Edouard)
Dan Kern (Lt. Dean)
Isabel Lorca (Gabrielle)
Rod Loomis(Dr. Paul Manheim)
Kelly Ashmore (Francine)

Writers: Deborah Dean Davis, Hannah Shearer

This is a funny bugger of an episode.  It is basically a meeting between old lovers – Picard and the now married Jenice Manheim.  The twist is that her husband is doing these strange experiments that lead to odd time anomalies.

And that’s it.  There’s no real threat, there’s no chance of this couple getting back together, nobody dies.  Really it’s a character piece with a time anomaly thrown in!

The time anomaly scenes are fun – I especially liked the moment where Riker, Picard and Data walk into a lift, and when the doors open the past versions of themselves are outside the lift having the conversation they were having when they entered the lift – and then they interact with themselves.

Then later in the episode, as Data has to put antimatter into the anomaly to close it properly, there are suddenly three of him and they don’t know which one exists in the correct time frame to insert the antimatter.  Then one of that Data’s exclaims “it’s me” with no explanation as to how he knows.

Also, the vision of the Paris of the future was not that great.  I looks as though it got flattened at some point and rebuilt from scratch – only the Eiffel Tower seems to have survived.  And the person who ran the cafe was rather happy for Picard to take in the view without ordering anything.  It would have been more realistic for him to say “order something or piss off!”

I don’t hate this.  It’s okay, but nothing special.  And very difficult to say much about!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 5/10

September 3, 2008 Posted by | anomaly (spacial/temporal), asteroid, disease/sickness, doubles or duplicates, exes, time travel | | Leave a comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.12 (Datalore)

Cast:
Brent Spiner (Lore)
Biff Yeager (Lt. Cmdr. Argyle)

Writers: Maurice Hurley, Robert Lewin, Gene Roddenberry

As they are passing, the Enterprise visits Omicron Theta, the planet where Data was found.  They visit the exact spot where Data was found, and Geordi sees something the original people who discovered Data never saw – an entrance into a base.  There, they find a laboratory and another android like Data.  They beam the components up to the Enterprise, and put the android together.  He is Lore, the android made before Data.  His behaviour is a little strange, but when Lore deactivates Data and swaps places with him he contacts the crystalline entity that killed the colonists.  Wesley realises that there has been a swap (although as usual people don’t listen to him straight away) and eventually (just as the entity starts attacking the Enterprise) Wesley convinces Beverly that he is right, they find Data, reactivate him, and stop Lore.  He is beamed into space.

This episode is a bit of a cliche – the moment that we saw Lore it was obvious that at some point they would swap places.  But Spiner plays boths parts so well he is a joy to watch.  There are many scenes that are just the two of them together, and they are really interesting to watch.  The episode is a little predictable, but the performance more than makes up for it.

And once again we have an episode where Wesley Crusher has worked out what has happened ahead of everyone else, and nobody takes him seriously.

This also features the second and final appearance by Chief Engineer Argyle.  We see at last one more Chief before Geordi takes over Engineering.

The only bit of this episode that is bloody stupid is the assertion that Data cannot speak using contractions (can’t instead of cannot etc) but Lore can.  Talk about creating a rod for your own back!  Data has on occasion used contractions in the past, and he will again, but for f**ks sakes, in the one episode where it is vital you don’t balls it up, what is the first thing Data says when asked if he is okay just as they have beamed Lore off the ship?  He says “I’m fine.”   Aaaaaargh!  Cretins!  Is this some subtle message telling us that actually Lore is the one that has survived?  Sadly, it is nothing that clever, just a silly cock up in the script department (or possible in Spiner’s performance, though I somehow doubt that).  A stupid end to an otherwise okay episode.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 7.5/10

June 20, 2008 Posted by | androids, chief engineer argyle, doubles or duplicates, family members, lore, space creatures | | 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: The Motion Picture

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
James Doohan (Scotty)  
George Takei (Sulu)
Majel Barrett (Chapel)
Walter Koenig (Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols (Uhura)
Persis Khambatta (Ilia)
Stephen Collins (Decker)
Grace Lee Whitney (Rand)

Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Alan Dean Foster, Harold Livingston

A great cloud is heading for Earth.  It has already destroyed three Klingon vessels that investigated it, and a Federation Space Station that happened to be in the way.  The only ship in range is the Enterprise, nearing the completion of a refit but not quite ready…

I think it’s fair ro say that this film is either a love it or hate it kind of film.  The people tht criticise it claim that it just doesn’t feel like Star Trek as we knew it, but I have to say that I disagree.  Although made ten years after the series was cancelled in 1969, I get the impression that it is meant to be set 2 and a half years after the five year mission ended, so about four to five years after the show.  The Enterprise has been gutted and rebuilt, and now hardly resembles the original, certainly internally, and the outside looks a lot more streamlined.  In fact, our first look at the scrubbed up Enterprise is that magnificent sequence where Scotty takes Kirk over to it via shuttle, as the transporters are not working.  You are teased with shots through the side of the space dock, but that first full head on shot is very emotional – no doubt partly due to Jerry Goldsmith’s amazing score.  This sequence alone tells you it’s Trek, but not quite as you know it.

Captain Decker is the new boss, but most of the rest of the crew (apart from McCoy and Spock) are doing their old jobs.  It was nice to see Janice Rand again, after she vanished half way through season one.  And I loved the fact that Kirk used the crises as an excuse to get out of his stuffy Admirals office at StarFleet and take command of a ship again.  You get the impression that he has been bored out of his mind these last two years or so.

The sets are okay – some of them are too recognisable as the sets that get reused for The Next Generation.  In particular, the Engineering set is very similar indeed, as is the basic look of the corridors.

The new characters – Decker and Ilia – work well, but their relationship is rather similar to that of RIker and Troi on The Next Generationbut there’s a good reason for that: when this film was being put together, it was actually the pilot episode of the new TV series, and as Nimoy didn’t want to appear, Decker was the new first officer and Ilia a navigator (Checkov seeming to havce moved to security).  There would have been a Vulcan science officer, Xon.

This is Star Trek done on a grand scale – for it to work it had to feel big, and it did.  Never has planet Earth felt like it was going to be destroyed in the series – in fact, we never visited 23rd Century Earth on the show, though we did visit the past on numerous occasions.  Some of the effects look excellent – for example the detail on Vulcan, and also the Golden Gate Bridge by StarFleet HQ.  All good stuff, and the sequences inside the cloud – everything looked enormous.  Some argue that this all went on for too long, that the sequences inside the cloud were boring.  I can see that point of view, but I don’t agree – they helped build the tension very well.

This is a very adult Trek – I don’t mean language and violence, I just mean in the seriousness of it.  There is very little humour in it – unlike the TV show and most of the other movies.  Again, this put a lot of people off, but I really like it.  Had all the films been this heavy, then it would have become boring, but this was pitched just right, for me anyway.

I also liked the ending, the revelation that is was an old Voyager probe that has been picked up by a race of computer beings, souped up, and helped on it’s way.  Some fans suggest that the sequence at the end is the start of the Borg, and whilst I would love to think that it true, it cannot be – the Borg did not know about us until much later, and has they been formed from a StarFleet commander and a drone with the memories of a navigator, they would have got here a lot quicker!

A couple of minor nigges: why did Kirk draft a retired McCoy back into the service?  He didn’t really need him as a Doctor (Chapel is now fully qualified) it just felt like he wanted to bring him along for tha sake of it!  And how come Spock was able to fix the Enterprise engines just like that when StarFleets finest couldn’t?

So, all in all, a really confident start to the series with great effects and a real sense of scale.  And, incidentally, the introduction of Jerry Goldsmith’s excellent theme that went on to be used in another three films and every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Crew Deaths: 4
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 56
Score: 8/10

May 28, 2008 Posted by | andorians, doubles or duplicates, exes, klingons, mind meld, set on earth, set on vulcan, space station, super computers, transporter problems, vulcans, wormhole | | 2 Comments

Star Trek 3.23 (All our Yesterdays)

Cast:
Johnny Haymer (The Constable)
Stan Barrett (The Jailer)
Al Cavens (Fop #2)
Anna Karen (Woman)
Ed Bakey (Fop #1)
Ian Wolfe(Mr. Atoz)
Mariette Hartley(Zarabeth)
Kermit Murdock (The Prosecutor)

Writer: Jean Lisette Aroeste

Well, two from the end and we have an episode that isn’t bad.  It isn’t great, but it is a damned site better than anything we have seen for a while.

A sun is about to go nova, and the planet that orbits it (Sarpedion) has sent it’s population into the past of the planet to escape the disaster.  Each person could choose the period of Sarpedion history that they went back into.  When Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the planet, the last person there (who sent all the others back) thinks the Enterprise crew are stragglers.  Kirk goes back to the equivalent of the sixteenth century, and McCoy and Spock accidentally end up in the Sarpedion ice age.

I won’t pretend that it is great, but there are moments that I like.  The fact that Kirk is rescued from almost certain execution as a witch by someone from the future who is also living in the past is quite nice.  The fact that Spock starts to revert to behave like contemporary Vulcans from that time period (5,000 years ago) is quite well handled for this show given the state it is now in.  He doesn’t very violent (just mildly!) and considering they could have had him revert to an animal state (complete with snarling and foaming at the mouth!) I thank heaven for small mercies.  There is one tired Trek cliche in that the guardian of the library seems to have made two identical copies of himself for no apparent reason.

Of course they all find their way back just in time and the Enterprise does get out of the solar system just before the sun goes nova.  But we finally have an episode that isn’t so bad – and it could have been.  I was not so keen on the segments showing Kirk in the past, but the bits with Spock and McCoy were quite good (they meet with another person from the future.  A couple of books suggest that perhaps Spock fathered a child at this point, but it ain’t cannon if it isn’t in the show).

So, a slight return to form.  And only one to go!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 52
Score: 6/10

May 26, 2008 Posted by | doubles or duplicates, time travel | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 3.19 (Requiem for Methuselah)

Cast:
James Daly (Flint)
Louise Sorel(Rayna Kapec)

Writer: Jerome Bixby

Yes, we have another piss poor episode as this once great series lurches onwards towards its tragic cancellation.  The premise seems to be okay – the deadly Rigellian Fever is rampant aboard the Enterprise – three crew are already dead, most are infected and things are looking grim.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a planet where an unprocessed mineral (Ryetalyn) can be made into a cure, the problem is that the planet is occupied by Flint – and old chap, and Rayner, a girl he claims to have adopted.

Straight off, this episode pisses me off.  The crew are dying, and Flint clearly finds the “relationship” between Rayna and Kirk annoying.  Spock points this out to Kirk – Flint stands in the way of them and the cure but Kirk cannot resist trying to take her away from Flint, even though there is a strong chance it will cost the lives of everyone on the Enterprise.  For Gods sake stop thinking with your libido, man!  Rayner turns out to be an android made for Flint by himself – the reason for this is he is immortal.  (In a nice crossover, the story he tells of the way he didn’t die from an injury sounds exactly what we see in the Highlander films).  It turns out he was Brahms, and Moses, and a lot of other people from history.

He also has very advanced science – in a scene reminiscent of the scene that pissed me off from Catspaw in season two, he shrinks the Enterprise down and sticks it on a table.  And with all of this shit going on, he still tries to take Rayner away from Flint – this time by arguing that she is as human as any real human and thus has the same right to choose.  YOUR WHOLE CREW IS SITTING THERE IN A SHRUNKEN ENTERPRISE DYING IN FRONT OF YOU YOU UTTER TIT.  FORGET HER.

Then, at the end, as Kirk mourns her, Spock erases the pain from his mind with a mind meld.  Without permission.  Aren’t there rules about that sort of thing?

Drivel.  Utter drivel.  Still, not that many to go now!

Crew Deaths: 3
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 52
Score: 2/10

May 20, 2008 Posted by | androids, disease/sickness, doubles or duplicates, historical characters, immortals, mind meld, people from the past | | 6 Comments

Star Trek 3.14 (Whom Gods Destroy)

Cast:
Steve Ihnat(Garth of Izar)
Yvonne Craig (Marta)
Gary Downey(Tellarite)
Keye Luke (Donald Cory)

Writer: Lee Erwin, Jerry Sohl

Since I have been writing this blog, I have been categorising the episodes by the “Trek Cliches” that they contain.  With some episodes they contain none that I have used so far (which means I have to try and think of a new one).  Then there are episodes that contain cliches that I have seen before.

Then, there are episodes that contain so many it is almost funny.  Such is this episode.  Interestingly, this was the second episode that the BBC never showed (well, not until 1994) due to the torture scenes.

The premise is simple: the lunatics take over the asylum, including a former Starfleet Captain, Garth.  He is able to shape shift, so when Kirk beams down he initially disguises himself as Cory, the Doctor in charge of the asylum.  And so we get something that is rather similar to Plato’s Stepchildrena few episodes ago – the only difference is that the people in charge are literally insane.  (The point of this particular asylum, by the way, is to completely eliminate mental illness.  They don’t seem to have quite managed this yet!!)

Garth takes on Kirk’s appearance and tries to beam back up to the Enterprise, but luckily Kirk has put in a code the person beaming up has to respond correctly to.  Garth pretends that he was just checking that Scotty was following his instructions, then tries to get the correct response out of Kirk.  He goes quite far to do this, including torturing Cory, then Kirk himself.

When the torture doesn’t work, Garth disguises himself as Spock to trick Kirk into giving up the code, which, of course, fails.  He then does something far nastier – one of his fellow inmates (one of them green women) is driven outside (into the toxic atmosphere of the planet).  As Kirk watches her choke (someone he was snogging not that long ago) Garth tells Kirk that he has planted an explosive in her necklace, he then blows her up.  It is a genuinely nasty moment in an otherwise average episode.

The episode ends on a bit of a tired cliche when Garth changed himself into Kirk and good old Spock has to work out which is the actual Kirk, they then fight and you cannot tell which is which so Spock is unable to shoot.

It’s not a bad episode, but it is very slow and very similar to other episodes that we have already seen in the run.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 46
Score: 6/10

May 13, 2008 Posted by | andorians, disease/sickness, doubles or duplicates, mad captains, prisons/penal colonies, shape shifters, tellarites, torture | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 2.8 (I, Mudd)

Cast:
Roger C. Carmel (Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd)
Richard Tatro (Norman)
Alyce Andrece (Alice #1 through 250)

Rhae Andrece (Alice #251 through 500)
Kay Elliot (Stella Mudd)
Mike Howden (Lt. Rowe)
Michael Zaslow (Ensign Jordan)
Writer: Stephen Kandel, David Gerrold
Oh dear. After a run of decent episodes (apart from Catspaw) we get this utter drivel.
The episode is a sequel to last season’s Mudds Women and sees the return of Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Harry to his friends). He has become trapped on a planet run only by robots, and he uses one of them to infiltrate the Enterprise and divert it to the planet. Then, the robots take over the Enterprise and beams down all the crew. Just as Harry is about to leave, the robots turn on him and he has to stay as well.
The rest of the episode sees the crew attempting to confuse the robots and they eventually get back to the ship.
There is one moment that I quite liked. It is suggested early on that Uhura finds the idea of becoming immortal in the form of an android to be quite seductive, which I thought was out of character for her, so when it is later revealed as a trick I was relieved. The background cast often get a shoddy deal and their characterisation is often not up to much, and had Uhura really decided she wanted to be an android it would have made this shoddy affair just about bearable.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 33
Score: 4/10

March 27, 2008 Posted by | androids, doubles or duplicates, harry mudd | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.27 (The Alternative Factor)

Cast:
Eddie Paskey (Lt. Leslie)

Robert Brown (XI) (Lazarus)
Janet MacLachlan (Lt. Charlene Masters)
Richard Derr (Commodore Barstow)
Arch Whiting (Assistant Engineer)
Christian Patrick (Transporter Chief)
Writer: Don Ingalls
Hey, I’m back. (Wanting to watch a Trek episode on my new TV had nothing to do with it, honest!) This is an interesting episode. It’s one of those average shows – it’s not awful but it’s not great. The central idea, that two identical looking guys from opposite universes (presumably one ours, one other) are locked in a fight, the ramifications of which are creating instability across the entire galaxy and beyond. The Enterprise is closest, so they draw the short straw to investigate.
Obviously, what is happening is not immediately revealed – Lazarus initially just looks like a schizoid nutter – but I liked the idea that they cross the universes though what is described as a tunnel that is like a “safety valve”. Having watched the Doctor Who story “Logopolis” recently, the concept sounds rather like the CVE that is used to cross into another universe, but I suspect that they didn’t nick it from here as the way the idea is used is very different.
Some silly stuff here. Lazarus is supposed to be this violent, dodgy geezer, yet they let him run around the Enterprise rather than keeping him locked up. And curiously, the scene set in the alternative universe is filmed on a soundstage rather than the location used for the scenes set in our universe. I don’t really understand why – surely it would have been cheaper just to film this sequence when they were on location? Or maybe someone thought the look had to be different enough so that even the stupid viewed could pick up on what was actually going on.
So, an okay concept averagely executed.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 26
Score: 6/10

January 19, 2008 Posted by | doubles or duplicates, parallel universes | | Leave a comment