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 2.19 (A Private Little War)

Cast:
Gary Carpenter(Yutan)
Arthur Bernard(Apella)
Booker Bradshaw(Dr. M’Benga)
Ned Romero(Krell)
Michael Witney (Tyree)
Nancy Kovack (Nona)

Writers: Gene L. Coon, Gene Roddenberry, Don Ingalls 

Kirk visits a planet that he first surveyed thirteen years ago, to find that that have gone from being a bronze age culture to having basic guns.  Spock is shot and badly injured, and then a Klingon ship turns up.  Kirk and McCoy beam down to the planet to work out why the sudden advancement in technology, and the Enterprise has to leave orbit so the Klingons don’t spot them.  Then Kirk is attacked and poisoned by a creature called the Mugato, so McCoy takes him to the village of someone he met on his first trip.  So far, so good.

Then it takes a turn for the worst.  A woman on the planet (Nona, the wife of Tyree who Kirk met last time he visited) is determined to get the more advanced weapons the crew carry.  Her opening scene is embarassingly written, and the acting is dire.  She does, however cure Kirk, in another scene that almost had me reaching for the sick bag.  (She appeared to use some form of magic, with a lot of head rolling and screaming.  It does work, but frankly if my Doctor ever does that little performance, I would rather be left to die).

Quite quickly, Kirk manages to prove that the Klingons are actually supplying the new weapons to the other village, so Kirk gives similar guns to Tyree and Nonas village.  McCoy is against this (of course) but Kirk insists that there has to be a balance of power to preserve both sides.

It is a very unsatisfying episodes, and the Klingons don’t really play a huge part in this episode – you only see one (only in a couple of scenes) and you don’t see their ship at all.  And the ending is that Kirk buggers off leaving his “friends” with the same weapons the other village are using, they don’t seem to have made plans for what may happen next (the Klingons give them better guns, or phasers, or nukes or whatever).

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 40
Score: 4/10

 

April 15, 2008 Posted by | doctor m'benga, klingons, monsters, primitive cultures | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.29 (Operation — Annihilate!)

Cast:

Joan Swift (Aurelan Kirk)
Maurishka Taliferro (Yeoman Zahra Jamal)
Craig Hundley (Peter Kirk)
Fred Carson (Denevan #1)
Jerry Catron (Denevan #2)
Writer: Stephen W. Carabatsos
Because of the modern days of television where the season ends on either a massive finale or a huge cliffhanger, there is somehow something slightly unsatisfying about this episode. I understand that I am applying a modern day sensibility onto this episode, so for the purposes of this review we will look at it as just another episode.
This is the first time that we have seen the family of any of the regulars as far as I recall – Shatner has an uncredited cameo as the corpse of his brother George. The people of whatever planet they are on are on the path of some form of insanity, so they visit the planet in the hope of preventing whatever has been going on, but when they get there it has already arrived.
Spock gets infected by the same alien species, and this is the first part that I don’t like about this episode. Rather than persuading Kirk to let him go back to the planet (on the grounds that no further people are at risk since he is already infected) he tries to pull a gun on Scotty and force him to beam him down, a sign (to me anyway) that he is not himself.
Kirk ends up in a situation where he may have to kill the million colonists to prevent further spread of the madness, but of course we all know that he manages to defeat the aliens and save the day. So it is very average indeed – an obvious ending to a rather obvious story.
Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 26
Score: 5/10

January 30, 2008 Posted by | family members, monsters | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.25 (The Devil in the Dark)

First Aired: March 9, 1967

Cast:
Ken Lynch (Chief Engineer Vanderberg)
Brad Weston (Ed Appel)
Biff Elliot (Schmitter)
George E. Allen (Engineer)
Jon Cavett (Guard)
Barry Russo (Lt. Cmdr. Giotto)

Writer: Gene L. Coon

It’s been a while – I watched a run of tedious episodes too quickly and they just borerd me to the point where I had to have a rest.

Anyhow, this is another reputed classic. Actually, it’s pretty good compared to the ones I have just recently watched, although it is a rather typical preachy morality tale. Basically, a silicone based life form (ie a rock) is protecting it’s nest, on a planet where some Federation miners are, erm, mining. Of course, it takes most of the episode to work out what is going on, and eventually everything is solved. The rock creature – a Horta – is badly realised, and in some of the books based on the series, one becomes a member of the Enterprise crew. Thank fuck they never did that in the TV show.

There are a couple of good moments, my favourite being when McCoy cures the creature of a phaser wound using cement. The mind meld is less good, with Spock sensing so much “pain” that I almost thought Deanna Troi had turned up twenty years too early!

It has it’s moments, but this episode is too predictable. When Spock first picked up a silicone nodule the whole audience must be crying out “it’s a fucking egg you green pillock!” And the thought that the colonists will suddenly work with this thing when it has killed fifty of them is rather difficult to believe.

So, okay, but not great.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 26
Score: 5/10

October 9, 2007 Posted by | mind meld, monsters | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.18 (Arena)

First Aired: January 19, 1967

Cast:
Jerry Ayres (Lt. O’Herlihy)
Grant Woods (Lt. Cmdr. Kelowitz)
Tom Troupe (Lt. Harold)
James Farley (Lt. Lang)
Carole Shelyne (Metron)
Sean Kenney (Lt. DePaul)
Writers: Gene L. Coon
This episode is one of the most well known of the original run. The basic idea has been copies many times, however I do admit that my knowledge of the genre before this show is rather limited, so whilst I am assuming that the original Star Trek series did it first, I am also first to admit that I could be wrong.
The actual area that they beam down to – the outpost on Cestus 3 – is pretty good. The destruction looks to be on quite a large scale, and when the outpost is once again attacked, this time with our heroes on the ground, it is pretty realistic (apart from one bush that explodes twice!!)
Also, the effects for what is a photon torpedo and what is a phaser seems to have settled down now. I don’t recall if I mentioned it on here, but in an earlier episode we hear the call for a phaser blast and we see the effect for what we now call a photon torpedo. Picky bugger, aren’t I?
The Enterprise persues the ship of the aliens that destroyed the colony, with the intention of destroying it when another race – the Metrons – intervene and throw the captains of both ships onto a planet and they are left to fight it out man to man. The rest of the crews can watch the fight (yes, it’s reality television folks! Interestingly, a recent episode of the UK comedy Hyperdrive does the same, only they add the reality TV element, and when the crew of the HMS Camden Lock finally manage to contact their crew, instead of giving them information on how to escape, they give them all feedback on how they are coming across!)
The Gorn captain is a man in a very bad rubber suit who makes silly animal noises, and in fact the second half of the episode is Kirk running around trying to kill the Gorn whilst the Gorn runs around trying to kill him! Interestingly, the Gorn race apparently turn up again in an episode of Enterprise but are done using CGI. I look forward to that!
The end is a little obvious – Kirk shows The Quality of Mercy (TM) and the Metrons let the Enterprise live to fight another day. This is one of those okay episodes – it ain’t crap and it ain’t great.
Crew Deaths: 2
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 25
Score: 7/10

August 28, 2007 Posted by | monsters, super beings | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 1.16 (The Galileo Seven)

First Aired: January 5, 1967

Cast:
Don Marshall (Lt. Boma)
John Crawford (High Commissioner Ferris)
Peter Marko (Crewman Gaetano)
Phyllis Douglas (Yeoman Mears)
Rees Vaughn (Crewman Latimer)
Grant Woods (Lt. Cmdr. Kelowitz)
Robert Maffei (Creature)
Writers: Shimon Wincelberg, Oliver Crawford
Oh. No Rand. Maybe she has gone.
So, a shuttle from the Enterprise crashes on a planet, with Spock, McCoy, Scott and four others. Having not watched this for a while, my guess is that the four “unknowns” will die, and the others will survive.
I think this is the first time that we have seen a shuttle from the Enterprise. (The one we saw in part one of The Menagerie was from the space station, although these are clearly the same sets!!) This episode is supposed to be a classic. But it is about seven people trapped on a planet being killed off by yeti-like monsters. What is to like? The only plus side to The Galileo Seven is that we notch up a few more crew deaths! (One on another landing party, 2 on the Galileo).
Crew Deaths: 3
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 23
Score: 3/10

August 8, 2007 Posted by | monsters | | 1 Comment

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