Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.10 (The Dauphin)

dauphinCast:
Colm Meaney Miles O’Brien
Whoopi Goldberg Guinan
Paddi Edwards Anya
Cindy Sorenson Animal Anya
Jennifer Barlow Ensign Gibson
Mädchen Amick Anya as Teenage Girl
Peter Neptune Aron
Jamie Hubbard Salia

Writers: Leonard MlodinowScott Rubenstein

After a pair of excellent episodes, The Dauphin is a bit of an anticlimax.  It’s not that it’s horribly bad, like most of the first seven episodes of the season, but it’s not that great either.

It’s a basic plot.  The Enterprise is taking the next ruler of a planet from a planet (Salia) where she has been hidden until she is ready to rule.  Her only company on this world has been her protector, an old woman called Anya.  Anya, it turns out, is a shapeshifter and will do anything to protect Salia – even if the threat is relatively minor (for example, she orders a crewman with a mildly contagious disease to be killed).

Meanwhile, Wesley and Salia seem to like each other.  Wesley, not having had much experience with the opposite sex, goes around asking people for advice on how to approach her, and this gives us two of the best scenes in the episode.  The first is when Worf describes Klingon mate attraction techniques (complete with roar) and seems to get rather carried away.  The second is when Riker uses Guinan to demonstrate his chat up lines, but they both get so carried away they ignore Wesley who leaves in disgust.

We do not initially know that Anya (and later Salia) are shape shifters, but it is not a major shock.  Anya is very well played, and although she is a small woman you seriously get the impression that she could take on Worf.

The scenes between Wesley and Anya are quite nice, but it is still not all that substantial an story for the character.  Wesley is hard to use well, and they very rarely manage it.

So, an average tale, made slightly better by the couple of humorous scenes in the  middle.  It is something this show can sometimes do very well.

Oh, and in case you don’t know, the episode title is a French historical allusion – in France, the Dauphin was the title given to the heir apparent of the throne of France from 1350 to 1791, and from 1824 to 1830.  See, you learn something from this!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 6/10

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May 17, 2009 Posted by | chief o'brien, formless creature, guinan, monsters, shape shifters | | 4 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.1 (The Child)

01a-3Cast:
Diana Muldaur (Dr. Katherine Pulaski)
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Whoopi Goldberg(Guinan)
Seymour Cassel (Lt. Cmdr. Hester Dealt)
R.J. Williams(Ian Andrew Troi)
Dawn Arnemann (Miss Gladstone)
Zachery Benjamin (Young Ian)
Dore Keller (Crewman)

Writers: Maurice Hurley, Jon Povill, Jaron Summers

Aaargh!  What the hell is going on?  Worf and Geordi have changed job (and uniform), as has Beverly – in fact she has moved off the Enterprise, and Wesley is supposed to be going with her!  She has been replaced by a McCoy clone called Katherine Pulaski.  Also, we have a bar called Ten Forward complete with a barkeep that we have never seen before, Guinan.  Wesley has been put in a slightly less horrible costume, and we can see less of Riker’s face as he is hiding behind a beard.

Okay, so it made sense that Worf would officially take over the Security job (he has been acting head of security since Tasha died towards the end of last season) and Geordi also has a lot more to do now (again, he quite often did some engineering bits last year so it is not a total bolt out of the blue, at least we don’t get a different chief every other week!)  Oh, and they have made Worf’s makeup better.

But that is quite a lot of changes for a viewer to take in, and it does feel like we are shedding cast what with Tasha leaving three episodes ago and now Beverly – hell, at least we got a goodbye scene for Tasha, although it was horrible.  There are more changed between this episode and the last than at any point on the old series.

Any why the hell didn’t Wesley go with his Mum at the same time she left?  It doesn’t make sense – unless the stress of moving home and the stress of having that little git around whilst she did it would have just tipped her over the edge – I can see the conversation now: “Captain, please look after him for a few weeks, or I will end up killing myself!”

As for the episode – well, this was apparently a script for the aborted Star Trek: Phase II series.  Basically, a formless creature floats into Deanna Troi (and even I was suprised when I first saw this about which orriface it is suggested the form enters her by) and she has a baby.  Meanwhile, some specimens that are needed to cure a plague start growing when they shouldn’t and threaten to infect the whole Enterprise.  It turns out that the baby (which grows rapidly and is a young man by the end of the episode) is releasing a kind of radiation that causes the plague sample to grow, so the child kills itself (not by stabbing itself or jumping into the warp core, he just kind of switches off).  It turns out that it was just a creature that wanted to understand humanity by being one!

Oh, and Guinan talks Wesley into staying.  Bitch.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 6/10

September 12, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, chief o'brien, disease/sickness, formless creature, guinan | | Leave a comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.22 (Skin of Evil)

tasha-skinofevilCast:
Brad Zerbst (Nurse)
Walker Boone (Assistant Chief Engineer Lynch)
Mart McCesney(Armus)
Ron Gans(Voice of Armus)
Raymond Forchion(Lt. Ben Prieto)

Writers: Hannah Shearer, Joseph Stefano

This episode is a mixture of the surprisingly well done and the completely bloody awful.  As anyone reading this knows (and if they don’t where the hell have you been for the last 21 years!) this is the episode in which Lt. Tasha Yar is brutally killed by a shitty blobby black oil slick thingy.

Armus itself (the black oil thingy) is rather badly realised – when it moves it looks like very bad early CG or a dreadfully awful bit of hand animation.  In fact, you will be pig sick of the “effects shot” of it absorbing/leaving the shuttlecraft by the end of the episode.  The idea, however, of a literal “skin of evil” that is abandoned on a planet so that the race that left it there are no longer afflicted by those emotions and behaviours is a good one.  During one of the conversations you get between it and Troi you realise that this thing takes a sadistic pleasure in inflicting pain.  And the only two good bits in the episode are the actual death of Yar (rather suddenly quite near the start – if you were expecting something big deal don’t – it’s very sudden and actually rather well done.   In fact, it is so sudden if you did not know she was going to die you probably expected her to be bought back from the dead before the end).  I also liked the scene where Riker was absorbed into the oil slick, and indeed the moment where he is spat out – that is actually quite scary.

However, the resolution, that Troi bores the energy out of it, enabling her to be beamed away (okay, that’s not what they actually say happens, but it is how it comes across on screen) is bad, and the final, mawkish scene on the holodeck is enough to make one sick, as Tasha says goodbye to all of her mates.  Cue vomit!

So, a surprising episode.  Surprisingly bad for a show where a cast member is killed.  There will not be many more of these, and the others are done much better!

Crew Deaths: 1 (Tasha)
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 2/10

August 30, 2008 Posted by | death of regular character, formless creature, post death message | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.7 (Justice)

Cast:
Brenda Bakke (Rivan)
Jay Louden (Liator)
Josh Clark (Conn Officer)
David Graves (Edo Boy #2)
Eric Matthew (Edo Boy #1)
Brad Zerbst (Nurse)
Richard Lavin (Second Mediator)
David Q. Combs (First Mediator)
Judith Jones (Edo Girl)

Writer: Ralph Wills, Worley Thorne

An away team beam down to the planet Edo to assess the place for shore leave.  Since it has already been determined as safe by another team, Wesley beams down as well.  Although there are very few laws, and very little law enforcement (bascially a random zone is monitored daily) Wesley unfortunately breaks a greenhouse in an active zone and is sentenced to death.  They are out of contact with the Enterprise, which has made contact with a being that sees itself as the protector of the planet below.

Eventually contact is restored and Picard talks his way out of Wesley’s execution.  They are allowed to leave by the creature in space.

This episode is naff.  The people of the planet are all scantily clad and the suggestion is that they spend most of their time shagging.  There are a couple of nice moments amonst the silliness (Worf’s assertion that he cannot make love to a human woman as they are too fragile is funny) and I also really like the way that Picard sends Geordi to a window to “have a real look” at the vessel thing outside.  Also, we see a character on the bridge played by Josh Clark who may very well be Carey, a character we see from time to time on Voyager.  He is not named, so there is nothing here to say that it isn’t him.

Unfortunately, this episode is just an excuse to show flesh, and perhaps to reinforce the existence of the Prime Directive – it takes so long to rescue Wesley because Picard won’t just take him, he has to do it in a way that is within the law of the Edo (and that doesn’tm piss off their God, the thing in orbit).  We also see the first site to site transport, when God gets upset when they bring an Edo onto the Enterprise.

Not great, but a nice performance from Patrick Stewart save it a bit.

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

June 13, 2008 Posted by | formless creature, primitive cultures | | 1 Comment

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.6 (Lonely Among Us)

Cast:
Kavi Raz(Lt. Cmdr. Singh)
Colm Meaney (O’Brien)
Marc Alaimo(Antican Delegate)
John Durbin(Ssestar)

Writers: Michael Halperin, D.C. Fontana

The Enterprise is taking two warring races to a peace conference on the unlikely names planet Parliament.  En route, the ship flies through a cloud, and a life form from that cloud becomes trapped in the sensor circuitry.  It moves from person to person – via Worf, Beverly and then Picard.  He sets the course back to the cloud and beams out as energy only.  The entity then leaves him and they are able to beam him back using the pattern in the pattern buffer of the transporter.

If it sounds dull, believe me it is actually duller.  They spend ages talking about whether Picard is fit for command, and Beverly doesn’t even relieve him when the being actually admits that it is not Picard!

The aliens (the ones at war, the Anticans and the Selee) are bloody awful – they would not have looked out of place in 70s Doctor Wholet alone this.  It is nice that Colm Meaney makes a cameo as unnamed character that it is fair to assume is O’Brien, but is is a very quick moment – we won’t see him now until next season.

We get to meet yet another of the Engineering staff – this time Assistant Chief Engineer Singh (although they refer to Argyle but we don’t see him).  Singh is also the first Enterprise crewmember to die in the show.

We see Wesley on the bridge again in hiw own clothes, although the awful acting ensigns uniform must be on the way soon.

In short, this is crap.  Avoid.  Like the plague.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 2/10

June 12, 2008 Posted by | chief o'brien, formless creature, mind control | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 3.18 (The Lights of Zetar)

Cast:
Libby Erwin (Technician)
Jan Shutan (Lt. Mira Romaine)

Writer: Jeremy Tarcher, Shari Lewis

This episode is so awful I actually had to watch it twice, because I lost interest about half way through and when I glanced up again I realised it had almost finished.

The Enterprise is heading for the Memory Alpha facility – a massive electronic library, that sadly has no shields because the information was to be made available to everyone.  The Enterprise is taking Mira Romaine to Memory Alpha, who has new facilities and stuff to fit.

On the way they are attacked by lights, which then race for Memory Alpha and get there ahead of them.  When they arrive, most of the people posted there are dead (including another Andorian), and the one survivor is not coherent.  And very soon dead as well.

My first problem with this story is the so called relationship with Romaine.  He is acting completely unprofessionally, leaving his station to see how she is after the lights cause her to pass out.  It us utterly out of character for Scotty – the character is the ultimate professional, and would not behave like this.  Some of Kirks comments are quite amusing, but the bottom line is Scotty would have been reprimanded for this behaviour.  Which of course he isn’t.

The lights attack the Enterprise again.  When they fire phasers into the heart of it (and Spock has identified at least ten life forms) Romaine collapses, so Kirk stops firing and they interrogate her.  Personally, I would have wanted to find a way of killing the lights without killing her – shield her in some way.  They do determine that she has the same brain wave patterns as the lights, and that their thoughts are becoming hers.

It plods on slowly but surely, with the creatures eventually revealed as the life force of the last hundred people of the dying planet of Zetar, and they are looking for a body they can live in.  The deaths on Memory Alpha was a side effect due to them resisting.

I don’t know what to say.  It is another dreary bottle show (we see some of Memory Alpha, bit not much) that seems to go on forever with very little plot.  When they risk killing Romaine at the end to try and free her from the creatures there is no tension and frankly you are left not really giving a toss whether she survives or not.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 49
Score: 2/10

May 19, 2008 Posted by | andorians, formless creature, mind control | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 3.7 (The Day of the Dove)

Cast:
Michael Ansara (Kang)
Susan Howard (Mara)
Mark Tobin (Klingon)

Writer: Jerome Bixby

This episode is based on a fairly silly premise – that equal numbers of humans and Klingons are forced by another shapless entity to fight aboard the Enterprise with primitive weapons.  The entity (which feeds on the emotions bought on by conflict) kills all one hundred members of a Federation colony, causing the Enterprise to come in and find out what happened.  Then the Klingons turn up, their ship having been attacked, and all but forty of their crew dead.  The Enterprise crew think the Klingons killed the colony.  The Klingons think the Enterprise killed their crew.  And Checkov wants revenge for the fact that the Klingons killed his brother.  Sulu later points out that he never had a brother.

So they are taken aboard the Enterprise, the surviving Klingons held in a conference room.  Most of the Enterprise crew get trapped below decks, so the numbers are equal.  Then all the weapons turn into knives.  They all fight, and find that they cannot die.

This episode should be rubbish, but actually it is okay.  Sure, we have another shapless entity, but what I really like about this is that the Klingons feel like Klingons.  Although they do not look like the bumpy headed nutters we see in later versions of the show, their attitude is much more like what we are used to, and it makes the episode much more interesting.

There are some nice comic moments as well.  I love the moment when Scotty goes down to the armoury and finds racks and racks of swords where the guns should be.  He even finds a claymore that he takes a shine to.

The end, of course, is rather predictable – the crew convince the Klingons of what is actually going on  and between them thet get rid of the entity.

So, a bit silly, but the Klingons are here.  Finally.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 45
Score: 6/10

May 2, 2008 Posted by | formless creature, kang, klingons | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 3.5 (Is there in truth no beauty?)

Cast:

Diana Muldaur (Dr. Miranda Jones), 
David Frankham(Larry Marvick) 

Writer: Jean Lisette Aroeste

Diana Muldaur is back!  It is a shame, as she was only in Star Trek what seems like a few episodes ago (less than ten) and she is so recognisable it just seems a shame they didn’t either cast someone else or hold this episode back a bit!

As for the actual story, it resolved around the Medusan ambassador, who  is kept in a box because his appearance drives people insane.  Naturally, Spock is resistant to this, but he does wear a red visor just in case.  So does the ambassadors personal assistant, Miranda Jones (Muldaur).

This episode features the first appearance of the IDIC symbol, an important symbol in the Vulcan culture, standing for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.  The symbol and the reference turn up lots of times in most of the Trek series.

Then the Enterprise gets lost (it goes too fast and enters a space/time continuum, is Spocks rather rubbish explanation) and only the Medusan can navigate them back to the known galaxy, so Spock has to meld with the alien to operate the controls.  Oh, and there is a line about the fact that Miranda would be unable to fly the ship as she is blind, and there is no way a blind person could pilot a starship, apparently!

Again, once there is the mind meld, Nimoy gets to do emotions as the ambassador melds with him to enable him to fly the ship home, which he does with ease.  However, when finishing the meld he forgets to put a visor on, and goes a bit mad for a bit (he is half human, after all!)  But all is soon resolved.

This episode is rather lightweight, not a lot really happens and the bit where Spock sees the ambassador almost seems tacked on because the episode underan by ten minutes.  Fairly unmemorable.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 45
Score: 5/10

April 30, 2008 Posted by | formless creature, mind control, mind meld | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 2.14 (Wolf in the Fold)

Cast:
John Fiedler (Commissioner Hengist)
Charles Macaulay (Jaris)
Pilar Seurat (Sybo)
Charles Dierkop (Morla)
Joseph Bernard (Tark)
Tania Lemani (Kara)
Virginia Aldridge (Lt. Karen Tracy)
Judith McConnell (Yeoman Tankris)
Judi Sherven (Nurse)
 
Writer: Robert Bloch
 
This is one of the few episodes that concentrates on a character outside of the big three – yes, the (almost) fourth main character, finally gets an episode that is all about him.  About him, although he is hardly in it!
 
The main thrust of the story is that there has been an accident in engineering that was caused by a woman, so to avoid Scotty having, as a result of the accident, hatred of women, McCoy and Kirk take him to a planet where there are lots of pretty women who do lots of exotic dancing.  So, the sexism of the time the show was made is superimposed onto this story.  I mean, if the accident has been caused by an african member of the crew would they have behaved the same way?  Also, later on Spock states that women are more easily and completely terrified then men.  Please.
 
Anyhow, the BS psychology means that when a woman is murdered, Scotty is automatically the prime suspect, although the knife also does have his fingerprints on it.
 
It then looks as though it is going to be a crappy trial episode, but luckily the trial brings up some more evidence that the murders are actually being done by an evil entity that is travelling around causing people to kill.  In fact it appears that it influenced Jack The Ripper to kill.  Hmm.
 
It goes on, and they manage to identify that whatever it was controlling Jack went into space when man went into space, and it turns out that the killer is inhabiting the body of Hengist, who is prosecuting Scotty.  The episode picks up a bit at this point, when the entity shows that it can exist as well in the ships computer as a human body, although it would have been more scary if the actor hadn’t had such a high pitched voice that when called upon to cry “kill, kill” he just sounded comic.
 
So, started badly and got better.
Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 40
Score: 6/10 

April 10, 2008 Posted by | formless creature, mind control | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 2.13 (Obsession)

Cast:

Stephen Brooks (Ensign Garrovick)
Jerry Ayres (Ensign Rizzo)
Writer: Art Wallace
The obsession in the title is one of Kirks – three members of the Enterprise crew (redtops, naturally) are killed by a cloud on a planet, and Kirk is convinced it was a creature that he encountered 11 years ago when serving aboard the USS Faragut and won’t let it lie. And despite the fact that the medical evidence supports his claim that it is the same creature, nobody believes him. I find this very difficult to understand – the way the men died was very usual – all of the “red corpuscles” (I assume they mean Red Blood Cells) were missing from the corpses, which is exactly what happened 11 years ago.
Kirk starts behaving erratically – snapping with people, questioning their loyalty. You can sort of understand why he would be upset by it – half of the crew, including the Captain died, and it was also his first deep space mission. But coupled with the fact they are supposed to rendezvous with a medical ship with vital drugs for a planet that had a disease that is killing lots of people… I don’t believe Kirks reaction, which underpins the point of the whole episode.
About halfway through, McCoy and Spock bring his behaviour to Kirks attention, and after this it suddenly works. He clearly doesn’t want to slow down when they are pursuing the creature in space, but he does. That moment is far more believable than any of those that precede it, and it seems that Spock and McCoys little “pep talk” did the trick.
The second half of the episode is pretty good, it finished the story nicely and Kirk is able to give both himself and Ensign Garrovick (son of the Captain of the Faragut, now in Security aboard the Enterprise) the closure they need, as well as destroying the creature.
Crew Deaths: 4
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 39
Score: 6/10

April 9, 2008 Posted by | formless creature | | Leave a comment