Utterly Star Trek Review

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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 1.1 (Encounter at Farpoint)

Cast:
Patrick Stewart(Captain Jean-Luc Picard)
Jonathan Frakes(Cmdr. William T. Riker)
LeVar Burton(Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge)
Denise Crosby(Tasha Yar)
Michael Dorn (Lt. Worf)
Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher)
Marina Sirtis(Counsellor Deanna Troi)
Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher)
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
John de Lancie (Q)
Evelyn Guerrero (Ensign)
Chuck Hicks (Military Officer)
David Erskine(Bandi Shopkeeper)
Timothy Dang (Security Guard)
Carey Hiroyuki (Mandarin Bailiff)
Jimmy Ortega (Lt. Torres)
Michael Bell(Groppler Zorn)
DeForest Kelley (Admiral Leonard McCoy)

Writer: Gene Roddenberry, D.C. Fontana

The crew of the new USS Enterpriseare on their way to pick up the rest of the crew (including the first officer and Chief Medical Officer) at Farpoint Station when they are stopped by a being with unimaginable powers called the Q.  They try to outrun Q, and in doing so separate the ship into Battle Section and Saucer Section – the saucer contains all of the families and the battle section contains all of the armaments.  Q puts them on trial in a 22nd Century court, but the Captain, a chap called Picard, suggests that their actions should act as their defence.  So grudgingly Q lets them continue with their mission to Farpoint.

When there, the two parts of the ship reconnect and the rest of the crew come aboard.  The Bandi (the people that built Farpoint) seem rather eager to please – they seem to bve able to get their hands on anything anybody wants.

The crew explore the tunnels underneath the city, when a massive ship turns up and starts shooting the Bandi city (not Farpoint station).  Then Riker and some others beam across and the corridors in the ship look exactly like the tunnels under Farpoint.  Q turns back up and tries to interfere with what they are doing (telling them to fire on the ship etc) but they soon realise that both the ship in orbit and the station down below are massive life forms capable of transforming energy into matter – the Bandi have been keeping one barely alive and using it to build resources like Farpoint Station.  The Enterprise feeds the creature on the surface energy and it flies into space to be with it’s mate.  Q lets them off and says he will be back.

It is very hard to know what to say about this.  When it was new and unusual we all loved it – but now this opening episode just seems a little dated.  The ship itself looks great, although you don’t get to see that much of it.  The saucer separation is a nice touch, but Q is just irritating.

Patrick Stewart gives a solid performance as Picard, and Spiner excels as Data, but the rest do not fare so well.  Troi’s accent is horrible (they really tone it down as the series goes on), and Worf, Geordi and Yar just seem like background characters (although in fairness Worf was originally just that, he was not a main cast member at the start, he was only supposed to be in a few episodes).  It was also nice to see Colm Meaney (he gets no name in this, but we can assume it is O’Brien I think!)

The effects are okay – I never liked the force barrier thing of Q’s, and the flash as the ship goes into warp now seems a bit tacky.

All in all this is just okay – in fact, I have realised that it feels more like an episode of original Star Trek than The Next Generation.  I know it gets better, but I wonder how long before it feels like the show I am expecting?

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

June 5, 2008 Posted by | character from another series, chief o'brien, exes, q, space creatures, super beings | | Leave a comment

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

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 3.24 (Turnabout Intruder)

Cast:
John Boyer (Guard)
Harry Landers (Dr. Arthur Coleman)
Barbara Baldavin (Communications Officer)
Sandra Smith (Dr. Janice Lester)

Writers: Arthur H. Singer, Gene Roddenberry

Yay!  Finally an episode that I actually enjoyed watching.  It is not one of the very best, I’m not trying to say that it is, but it is so much better than anything in the last, say, half a season.

Nutter Janice Lester (an ex of Kirks) managed to swap bodies with him, but before she can kill Kirk (now in the body of Janice) McCoy and Spock come back so he is forced to appear to care for the dying Janice Lester.  He is in league with Arthur Coleman, the only other person who actually knows what is going on.  There are some nice and subtle clues to what is going on – when Kirk contacts the Enterprise we hear “Captain Kirk to the Enterprise” instead of the now familiar “Kirk to Enterprise”.  Shatners portrayal of the insane woman is very good – there are some nice, subtle differences to his usual performance.

The plot is okay as well.  As you would expect, Spock is the first to suspect the truth, and he confirms his suspicions with a mind meld.  I do find it rather unlikely that no one else believed him – and Spock would have been better taking what he knew to McCoy to come up with some devious plan to expose Lester.

However, he does not, and the thing goes to a tribunal.  By the end of this, Scotty is also quite convinced that what appears to be Kirk is not the man at all, and tells McCoy.  This is overheard, and leads to a charge of mutiny, upon which Kirk appears to sentence Scotty, Spock and McCoy to death.

This is the only bit that I did not like, but I grudgingly admit that, if unhinged, Lester might have acted in that way.  It all ends, as you would suspect, with Kirk and Lester being restored to the correct bodies, and the truth coming out.  Some great performances – I loved the bit where Sulu and Checkov know that what is happening is wrong, but do not have the balls to put their necks on the line.

As I said, this episode was a lot better than much in the second half of the season, it is just a shame that, as the final episode, it didn’t have a more definitive ending.  But then, it was never meant to be the final episode…

So that’s it.  79 episode, some good, some bad.  But there is more to come.  A lot more.  Starting with a movie… (not a cartoon.  I’m not going there, sorry!)

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 52
Score: 7.5/10

May 27, 2008 Posted by | body swaps, exes, mind meld | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 1.20 (Court-Martial)

First Aired: February 2, 1967

Cast:
Percy Rodriguez (Commodore Stone)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Samuel T. Cogley)
Joan Marshall (Lt. Areel Shaw)
Hagan Beggs (Lt. Hansen)
Win de Lugo (Timothy)
Alice Rawlings (Jamie Finney)
Nancy Wong (Personnel Officer)
William Meader (Space Command Rep. Lindstrom)
Bart Conrad (Captain Krasnowsky)
Reginald Lal Singh (Captain Chandra)
Richard Webb (Lt. Commander Benjamin Finney)

Writer: Stephen W. Carabatsos & Don M. Mankiewicz

This episode is filmed on many of the same sets as The Menagerie, and indeed they were filmed next to each other. On the original video release, they released them in production order not transmission order. Next to each other it all looked rather cheap, but luckily this far apart it works fine.
The story is a little similar as well – Kirk is being Court-Martialled again (which at a brief glance looks like a continuity error, as Commodore Stone says this has never happened to a Starfleet Captain before. But then the man holding the court martial in The Menagerie was not real anyway)
It starts badly with a screaming family member blaming Kirk. She just needed a slap. And it gets worse when we find out that the prosecutor at the trial turns out to be one of Kirks old shags.
I did like Kirks attorney, Samuel Cogley. The guys never uses a computer and we see a room with books just strewn everywhere. There is something endearing – and very feasible – about a man living in the 23rd Century who rejects the modern world in favour of good old fashioned paper. I imagine there wouldn’t be many of them but somehow I just warmed to him.
As episodes go this one is standard fair. That is not to say the idea 0f a court based drama cannot work on an episode of Star Trek, as was proven in the second season of ST:TNG with The Measure of a Man. The end is a bit of a cop out – the person who allegedly died faked it to get revenge on Kirk for an earlier incident. Oh, but didn’t tell his daughter. Git.
Oh, and the “white sound device” that McCoy uses towards the end of the episode is highly shite. It is literally a microphone with some red sticky tape around it.
Oh, and in the big fight at the end Kirks shirt gets ripped. Again. I need to start looking at where they ripped – it is possible they have two or three standard ripped shirts. On this one, the right shoulder is ripped, hanging down at the front, although the black collar band is intact. The rip reveals all the shoulder and right pecs. If I see it again, I shall refer to this shirt as Ripped Shirt #1.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 25
Score: 6/10

August 29, 2007 Posted by | exes | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.15 (Shore Leave)

First Aired: December 29, 1966

Cast:
Emily Banks (Yeoman Tonia Barrows)
Oliver McGowan (Caretaker)
Perry Lopez (Lt. Esteban Rodriguez)
Bruce Mars (Finnegan)
Barbara Baldavin (Specialist Mary Teller)
Marcia Brown (Alice in Wonderland)
Sebastian Tom (Samurai)
Shirley Bonne (Ruth)
Writer: Theodore Sturgeon
The first thing I noticed was that Kirks’ Yeoman was not Janice Rand. I know she only featured up to a certain point in the first series, so it is possible that we won’t see her again (until the movies, of course!) Of course, they were shot in a different order to the one in which they were transmitted, so it is possible that we will see her again.
Kirk says “erm” in the middle of announcing the stardate. I suspect that it was at attempt to show that Kirk was in need of a break, but it just sounds like Shatner fluffed his line and they couldn’t be bothered to go for a retake.
There is lots of outside filming in this episode, and it really stands out. There have been others (such as Miri) but it’s nice to see actual countryside and not a crappy soundstage.
I was impressed that the tiger was actually there with them – when I first saw it I assumed that it was a stock footage shot, but later you get to see it in shot with Kirk and Spock (only with a bloody big chain round its neck!)
This is a famously silly episode, but it is quite fun. There really isn’t enough plot to fill the full fifty minutes, and the long fight at the end (in which, yes, Kirk gets his shirt ripped) just seems like it’s there to fill time. A couple of crewmembers die, including McCoy, however they all get bought back to life by the end, so this episode scores zero there!
So, nice use of locations, some good comic moments, but ultimately over long and a bit silly.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 20
Score: 6

August 8, 2007 Posted by | androids, exes, super beings | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.7 (What are little girls made of?)

First Aired: October 20, 1966

Cast:
Michael Strong (Dr. Roger Korby)
Sherry Jackson (Andrea)
Ted Cassidy (Ruk)
Harry Basch (Dr. Brown)
Budd Albright (Rayburn)
Writer: Robert Bloch
This episode has good points as well as bad. The most frustrating thing is that we already have themes repeated from earlier in the series – and bearing in mind that this is episode seven…
In this episode, we get to see another Kirk lookalike, just as we did in the episode before last. Okay, this one is a robot (or android or whatever) and we have already seen similarities between other episodes. Perhaps they should have looked at showing the episodes in a different order – I am watching them as the DVD presents them, which is in transmission order not production order.
The good: Ruk is massive, it really does look like he can easily throw Shatner around. Sherry Jackson, the actress who plays Andrea, is rather lovely – normally the sixties look doesn’t do much for me, but she looks fantastic. It is also nice that one of the background regulars – in this case Christine Chapel – has a large part to play in the episode. And the effects when there are two Kirks are pretty good for the time. The food they eat in the meal about halfway through the episode looks like a current brand of dried dog food. (I list that as a good as it made me laugh!)
The end became a little melodramatic. The twist, that Christine’s ex was a robot, was somewhat obvious, and the idea that all the robots destroyed the race that made them is not new. In fact, I am sure it will be repeated at some point soon!
So, okay, but not great.
Crew Deaths: 2
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 19
Score: 5/10

July 29, 2007 Posted by | androids, doubles or duplicates, exes | | 3 Comments

Star Trek 1.1 (The Man Trap)

First Aired: September 8, 1966

Cast:
William Shatner (Captain James Tiberius Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock)
DeForest Kelley (Dr. Leonard McCoy)
Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Janice Rand)

George Takei (Lt. Sulu)
Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura)
Jeanne Bal (Nancy Crater)
Alfred Ryder (Prof. Robert Crater)
Bruce Watson (Crewman Darnell)
Michael Zaslow (Crewman Green)
Vince Howard (Crewman)
Francine Pyne (Nancy III)

Writer: George Clayton Johnson

Although not the first episode to be produced, this was the first one aired. There are some differences between this and what becomes the established series – the first is the treatment of the regulars other that Kirk, Spock and McCoy. They all seem to get some actual character development, something that you do not see that often in later episodes.

It is slow in places, especially after the quick-fire editing we are used to in modern television. There are some moments of sexism (especially the references to Yeoman Rand) that, whilst being the kind of things men no doubt would say in the modern age, just wouldn’t get shown on TV. Also the opening scene where everyone sees a different woman are not handled that well, and as for Crewman Darnell almost drooling all over Nancy… well, he deserved to die, that’s all I can say!
The soundstage representing the planet is also very basic even by Star Trek standards, however I am always impressed by the Enterprise. Okay, so the technology seems wrong by the standards of today, but there is still something enduring about the design of the ship, especially the interior. They were able to set most of a two part story from the final season of Enterprise within a very similar ship and it still looked great!
The story on this one is okay – in a way I feel that what is going on is a bit obvious, and I am never totally convinced by the character of Professor Crater – I don’t see that anyone would let as many people die to protect this secret, especially after the creature killed his wife.
The regulars are on fine form in this story. Kirk is very direct with McCoy about the death of his crewman early on, and this story gives an unusual focus on the good Doctor. I also really enjoyed the opening scene where Uhura tries to employ Spock in idle conversation, and Rand and Sulu in Sulu’s quarters with his plants. The only regular who does not appear is Scotty.
So, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The transformations of the creature are rather basic, and the monster at the end… somehow I don’t think any human could fall in love with that, even if it could change shape! So, not one of the best.
Crewman Death Count: 4
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 4/10

July 24, 2007 Posted by | exes, monsters | | 1 Comment