Utterly Star Trek Review

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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 1.6 (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 V: The Final Frontier

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
DeForest Kelley (McCoy)
James Doohan(Scotty)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
George Takei(Sulu)
David Warner (St. John Talbot)
Laurence Luckinbill(Sybok)
Charles Cooper(Korrd)
Cynthia Gouw(Caithlin Dar)
Todd Bryant(Klaa)
Spice Williams(Vixis)
George Murdock (God)

Writers: William Shatner, Harve Bennett, David Loughery

Sybok – a man who turns out to also be a son of Sarek – takes over Nimbus III, a planet that was intended to be the planet of galactic peace, but has kind of been forgotten.  By holding the Klingon, human and Romulan ambassadors (yes, we finally see a Romulan in a movie and a female one at that) he judges that someone will respond by sending a starship.  Both the Klingons and the Federation do – they send the new Enterprise, which is still having it’s faults ironed out bu Scotty.  However, when the Enterprise arrives, and they try to rescue the hostages, it turns out they are on Syboks side.  Sybok takes over the Enterprise, and they fly off to kind God, who is at the centre of the Galaxy.  The Klingons follow.  God turns out not to be God just some creature that has been trapped in this place (presumably by an advanced race who saw it as a threat).  Sybok buys them time to escape with his life.  Then the Klingons arrive, and are talked down by the Klingon ambassador.  Everyone survives.

I really don’t want to come across as the stereotypical Trek enthusiast and slag this movie off.  My memory of it before I watched it today was that it was a lot of nice moments that just did not add up to being a great film.  Sadly, when I watched it today, I have realised that it isn’t even that.

I think the idea behind this film was to go back to the original idea that the story is about these three men – Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and their relationship.  I noticed that all of the other regulars were listed as co-stars, for the first time in the movies.  And they are marginalised in this film – even made to look a little foolish (Sulu and Checkov getting lost on Earth, for example).  The ease with which Sybok influences them all is also a little frustrating, although he fails to convince Scotty (although the story had another way to make Scotty look foolish – “I know this ship like the back of my hand”).

It’s got some good guests – David Warner, a really good actor, is given very little to do (although they more than make up for this in the next film when he plays a Klingon, and later in The Next Generationwhere he plays an awesome Cardassian).  Charles Cooper is good as Klingon Ambassador Koord – they obviously liked him, as he came back as another Klingon on The Next Generation.

This film possibly suffered because it was the first Trek movie to come out during the run of The Next Generation.  It was filmed between the breaks between seasons 2 and 3 and came out during 3.  This cannot have helped – season 3 was when The Next Generationreally found it’s feet and became a distinctive show of it’s own.  The fact that many of the sets were just Next Generation sets redressed didn’t help – there are a couple of corridor shots that are blatant Enterprise-D corridors, not a redress in sight.  It is a real shame.

So, all in all, the first bad film in the series.  I genuinely think that this would have killed the movie franchise if The Next Generation has not been doing so well on TV at the time.  Luckily, the original crew have one final outing to make it up so us…

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
Score: 5/10

June 3, 2008 Posted by | family members, klingons, mind control, romulans, sarek, set on earth, set on vulcan, ship/station taken over, songs, super beings, transporter problems, vulcans | | 1 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 3.10 (Plato’s Stepchildren)

Cast:
Michael Dunn (Alexander)
Liam Sullivan(Parmen)
Barbara Babcock(Philana)
Ted Scott(Eraclitus)
Derek Partridge(Dionyd)

Writer: Meyer Dolinsky

I really hate this episode.  In fact, it was not shown by the BBC in the UK until 1993 – they decided during the original run that it could not be shown because of the sadism in certain scenes.  This is possible.  I would rather follow the line used once by a British comedian called Jasper Carrott.  “Why’s it banned?  ‘Cos it’s crap!”

The basic idea is that a group of aliens with telekinetic powers have lived alone on their planet for years.  Now there are only 38, but they have lived for thousands of years.  However, they have no immune systems left and have started falling ill.  McCoy cures the illness easily, and so is told he will be staying.  The Platonians disable the Enterprise, and torture Spock and Kirk to get McCoy to agree to stay.

The torture scenes are bloody silly.  I am not sure what the production team wanted to do, because there is one scene that is so cringeworthy and silly it spoils the whole episode.  This is the moment when Alexander rides on the back of Kirk like a horse, complete with Kirk making horse noises.  It is utter, utter crap.

This episode is also renowned because it contains American TV’s first interracial kiss.  Bollocks.  Both Kirk and Uhura are being controlled by the Platonians at this point – the action is not voluntary.  So in fact what we have here is technically the worlds first televised interracial sexual assault.  Brilliant.  Well done.

Spock is forced to dance and cry.  I cannot say anything good about this utter turd of an episode.  Well done BBC for not showing the bloody thing for 25 years! 

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

May 7, 2008 Posted by | earth based culture, mind control, songs, super beings | | 2 Comments

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 3.4 (And the children shall lead)

Cast:
Craig Hundley (Tommy Starnes)
James Wellman (Prof. Starnes)
Melvin Belli (Gorgan)
Pamelyn Ferdin (Mary Janowski)
Caesar Belli (Steve O’Connel)
Mark Robert Brown (Don Linden)
Brian Tochi (Ray Tsing Tao)
Lou Elias (Technician #1)

Writer: Edward J. Lakso

This is reputedly one of the very worst episodes ever made.  I am unable to agree.  It’s not very good, but I have seen far worse since this project began.  The Enterprise visits a planet where the adults all seem to have killed themselves, leaving only the kids.  Only they are not bothered.

The main problem is that the child actors are the stars of this episode, and they are not all that good.  And once the kids start playing with people’s perceptions of what is going on it just is embarassing.  The scene where Kirk breaks down at the realisation that he has lost the Enterprise is pathetic.  Uhura seeing an older version of her self is dreadful, and I just don’t get why Sulu sees a knife kaleidascope!

It’s not all bad.  The kids cause the Enterprise to be taken out of orbit of the planet, but they trick everyones perception so that the crew think they are still in orbit rather than space.  So when they beam the security people into space, that is quite creepy.

The ritual thing that the kids use to summon the angel is embarassing – in fairness to the kids, they always look pretty embarassed when they are doing it.  And the stabbing motion the kids do when altering perceptions looks pretty silly.  (In fact, it rather looks like they are miming something else, but you’ll have to have seen the Buffy episode The Hush to get that one!)  And the fact that Spock just plays a recording of the chant the kids do in order to summon the angel for himself – just plain silly.  And they break the hold this thing has on the kids by playing some home movies of the kids before the parents died.

The final end of the angel is just silly, and we end up with a bridge full of crying kids.  Nice.

Crew Deaths: 2
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 45
Score: 4/10

April 29, 2008 Posted by | mind control, ship/station taken over, super beings | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 2.20 (Return to Tomorrow)

Cast:
Diana Muldaur(Dr. Anne Mulhall)
Cindy Lou (Nurse)

This is an intriguing idea.  The crew find three ancient conciousnesses from a race that died a quarter of a million years ago, they wish to borrow three bodies (worryingly this includes Kirk and Spock, as well as Doctor Anne Mulhall, played by Diana Muldaur, who later became The Next Generation’s Doctor Pulaski) and build themselves some robot bodies.

Once they have taken over the bodies (which the crew allow them to do freely, but not without a deal of debate, as the technological advances they might get could be massively beneficial) things seem to be going okay.  Spock is smiling and compliments Nurse Chapel on her looks, which is a nice moment.  The problem is that the presence of the new minds speeds up the bodies metabolism to a dangerous rate (apart from in Spock, who can stand it with his Vulcan physique) so the aliens go back into their holding spheres until the being in Spocks body can create a drug that will enable them to inhabit the bodies with no ill effects.

And they do start to build the robot bodies, however the creature in Spock is unhappy with the thought of going into a mechanical body, and sabotages Kirks dose of the drug and conspires to kill him so that he can keep the body he is in.  Even the creature inside Doctor Mulhall is unhappy with the idea, however she is unaware of what Spock is up to.   However when it comes to the crunch, when the first robot body is ready, she doesn’t want to go into it and decides to keep the human body.  However, eventually her conscience gets the better of her.

I actually really like this one.  For once, not all of the aliens are bad guys – two are a bit misguided, but actually end up doing the right thing.  Having not seen this episode for a while, and not really remembering it, I assumed at first that all three were going to be bad, so it was nice that this well written episode exceeded my expectations of it.

And there were some great performances, especially from Nimoy, who is clearly relishing the opportunity to show some emotion.  There has been a run of dodgy episodes, but it is worth them for the gems such as this one.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 40
Score: 7.5/10

April 16, 2008 Posted by | androids, mind control | | 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 1.24 (This side of paradise)

First Aired: March 2, 1967

Cast:
Jill Ireland (Leila Kalomi)
Frank Overton (Elias Sandoval)
Michael Barrier (II) (Lt. Vincent DeSalle)
Dick Scotter (Painter)
Grant Woods (Lt. Commander Kelowitz)
Writer: D.C. Fontana
So the crew go along to a planet thinking that all of the settlers have died – they have had no contact with them and the planet is being bombarded by Berthold Rays. So when they get there and everyone isn’t dead it really makes no sense! They shouldn’t be alive – all of their animals are dead, there doesn’t seem to be anything indigenous to the planet apart from plant life.
Then Spock is infected with spores from a plant and then pretty much everyone else gets infected and everyone decides to stay on the planet. The whole crew mutiny and decide to beam down to the planet. But somehow Kirk resists this paradise, when everyone else falls under it’s spell. YEAH RIGHT! Eventually, Kirk is the last person left on the Enterprise. Then a cunningly left spore plant gets him then he decides to beam down…
But then he gets angry! And is miraculously cured. So he beams Spock up, makes him angry then cured him! Then they make everyone get angry and everyone is cured.
This episode gets remembered because we get to see Spock lighten up (when he is under the influence of the spores).
I suspect that this episode is rated as an all time classic. God knows why.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 25
Score: 4/10

September 5, 2007 Posted by | mind control | | Leave a comment