Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.11 (Contagion)

270px-STContagionCast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Carolyn Seymour (Sub Cmdr. Taris)
Thalmus Rasulala (Captain Donald Varley)
Folkert Schmidt (Doctor)
Dana Sparks (Tactical Officer)

Writers: Beth WoodsSteve Gerber

The USS Yamato (the sister ship of the Enterprise, also a Galaxy class ship) is destroyed by a virus that also infects the Enterprise.  The source of the virus appears to be the planet Iconia, an ancient, almost mythic race.  The planet is in the Romulan Neutral Zone, so Picard orders them to go there.  When they arrive, the Enterprise starts to suffer system failures – transporters, life support, replicators and so on.  Picard beams down to the planet, as a Romulan ship catches up with them.  However, the Romulans are also suffering from system errors that cripple their ship as well.

Picard, with Data and Worf on Iconia, solve the riddle of the Iconians – it was said that they travelled the stars without ships, and Data discovers the gateways they use to do this.  Worf and Data move back to the Enterprise through a gateway as Picard sets the self destruct (to stop the Romulans getting the technology).  He leaps through the gate and appears safely – on the Roluman ship!

This is actually a highly enjoyable episode.  The destruction of the Yamoto (and all hands) at the start is quite shocking, considering the ship has the same mix of families and crew as the Enterprise herself.  The Romulans are nice to see – their ships are still breathtaking – and the Captain of their ship is played by the awesome Carolyn Seymour, who was Abby Grant in the original BBC Survivors TV series (she also appears later in this series, once as a Romulan again and another time as another alien.  She can also be seen in a couple of episodes of Voyager).  She is a great actress, and gives some gravity to the situation.

The system failures aboard the Enterprise are quite scary, although they are overcome rather easily – they do something we have all done when our computers have a virus – turned it all off and reloaded all the software.  Although it happens pretty quickly, so we can assume that the Enterprise doesn’t use Windows!

The end, where the Iconian base is exploding around Picard, and he faces either dying or going into one of the gateways and ending up who knows where, is rather tense, although again it is rather convenient that he ends up on the Romulan vessel.

But, all in all, an engaging story with nice humour and some good performances.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 7.5/10

May 18, 2009 Posted by | chief o'brien, cloaking devices, destruction of a starfleet ship, iconians, romulans, system failures | | 5 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.25 (The Neutral Zone)

romulamCast:
Gracie Harrison (Clare Raymond)
Leon Rippy(Sonny Clemonds)
Anthony James(Sub-Cmdr. Thei)
Marc Alaimo(Cmdr. Tebok)
Peter Mark Richman(Ralph Offenhouse)

Writers: Deborah McIntyre, Maurice Hurley

Odd episode, this.  For the first two seasons, we don’t get the big two part story split over the season break.  At the end of season one, we get this.

Describe it, and it sounds rather dull.  Firstly, there are three people from 1990’s Earth who were frozen after their deaths and shot off into space.  Data finds a capsule full of people like this – most are decomposed, but three are not, so they are revived and cured of what killed them.

It is quite interesting as these characters are used to show the difference between the enlightened 24th Century and the backward 20th.  Of the three, the most sympathetic is Clare – her husband, she assumes, has her frozen as she knew nothing about it.  Sonny Clemonds, a drug taking heavy drinking guitar player doesn’t seem to care too much (he actually gets the best line – “We won’t be inviting these Romulans so our party, will we”) and Ralph who can’t get his head around the fact that capitalism has been and gone.

Woven around this is a mission to go to the Neutral Zone near the Romulan empire where several Federation outposts have been destroyed.  We are re-introduced to the Romulan Empire (one is played by Marc Alaimo, who will later become Gul Dukat on Deep Space Nine) and we find out that some of their outposts have also been destroyed, revealing that bigger things are going to come…

It’s not bad at all, considering it is such a simple idea.  The thought that there is something out there bigger and badder than the Romulans that is capable of scooping whole cities up is interesting, but it is not until much later that we find out who is behind it…

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 4
Score: 7/10

September 10, 2008 Posted by | people from the past, planetary population destroyed, romulans | | Leave a 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 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 3.2 (The Enterprise Incident)

Cast:
Joanne Linville (Romulan Commander)
Jack Donner (Romulan Subcommander Tal)
Richard Compton (Romulan Technical Officer)
Robert Gentile (Romulan Technician)
Mike Howden (Romulan Guard)
Gordon Coffey (Romulan Soldier)

Writer: D.C. Fontana

Luckily, the travesty that is Spock’s Brain if followed by something with much more sunstance.  The Enterprise Incident is a rare episode featuring the Romulans from the classic series – in fact, in the third episode to feature them it is also only the second time we have seen them.

Kirk appears to be going a bit mental, and during this he orders the Enterprise into the Romulan Neutral Zone, at which point the ship is quickly captured by three Romulan vessels (now using the Klingon Bird of Prey design, which was apparently done to save money, as we had already seen this vessel in an episode that had already been shot (but not shown).

The whole things is a massive con in which Kirks mission is to steal the Romulans new cloaking device.  This he does by a trick in which Spock appears to accidentally kill Kirk in front of the Romulans, the death is certified by a Romulan doctor.  Kirk is then surgically altered to look like a Romulan (the surgical alteration is a trick often used in later versions of Star Trek but I think it is the only time it is employed in the original series).

Considering the third season of this show has such a bad reputation, the quality of this episode is unexpected.  The acting is good, and it tries to paint the Romulans as more than just warmongers (although they were always one of the more complex races on this show.)  The one part that doesn’t quite ring true however is the (female) Romulan commanders infatuation with Spock.  And also Kirk beams aboard the Romulan ship too easily – don’t they have sensors?

So they steal the cloaking device and connect it to the Entperprise – something very rare indeed, a Federation ship with a cloak.  We get to see something similar in an equally excellent Next Generation episode, and collaboration with the Romulans in the Dominion War in Deep Space Nine means that they fit (and operate) the device aboard the USS Defiant.  But it is very rare.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 43
Score: 7.5/10

April 25, 2008 Posted by | cloaking devices, romulans, surgically altered | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 2.12 (The Deadly Years)

Cast:

Charles Drake (Commodore George Stocker)
Sarah Marshall (Dr. Janet Wallace)
Felix Locher (Robert Johnson)
Carolyn Nelson (Yeoman Doris Atkins)
Laura Wood (Elaine Johnson)
Beverly Washburn (Lt. Arlene Galway)
Writer: David P. Harmon
I remember this episode as a kid – I think it was one of the very first ones that I saw. I recall being terrified at the obvious ageing of the characters.
Many many years on you do tend to look at this episode a little differently. Firstly, we know what the actors actually looked like when they were that much older, and whilst some of the ageing makeup is quite good for it’s day, they do look rather different in this episode than they do for real now.
The story is going okay then takes a massive nosedive when they do a competency hearing. Of course Kirk isn’t fit for command – we see that he is forgetting stuff very early into the episode. Why the hell McCoy didn’t declare him unfit for command (something we know for later stories is the prerogative of the chief medical officer) I don’t know. This portion of the episode is a waste of time. As are the arguments of the main crew. It would have been far better to have them lucid and just having the odd memory lapse (enough to get them declared unfit for command) and
having to deal with what comes next…
Then when Commodore Stocker takes command (as everyone else is too senile) he makes the decision to go the most direct route to the Starbase – and this happens to be through the Romulan Neutral zone.
We don’t see the Romulans properly in this one – we see their ship trying to blow the crap out of the Enterprise, but luckily McCoy (even in his advanced aging state) comes up with a suggested drug that might reverse the effects, and luckily Jim is able to take command of the ship again before they are blown to kingdom come (using the corbomite bluff used in the first season!)
Ooh, and the radiation drug hyronalin gets mentioned, I think this is the first reference but we get to hear a lot about if in future generations…
This is okay fair, there is much better, there is much worse…
Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 35
Score: 6/10

April 3, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, romulans | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.14 (Balance of Terror)

First Aired: December 15, 1966

Cast:
Mark Lenard (Romulan Commander)
Paul Comi (Lt. Andrew Stiles)
Lawrence Montaigne (Decius)
Stephen Mines (Lt. Robert Tomlinson)
Barbara Baldavin (Specialist Angela Martine)
Garry Walberg (Commander Hansen)
John Warburton (The Centurion)
Writer: Paul Schneider (II)
This is the very first time that we see the Romulans! (It’s just a shame that the lead Romulan is played by the same actor who later plays Spocks father Sarek in this series, several of the movies and even a couple of episodes of ST:TNG). It starts with a wedding that never quite happens, and you just know that by the end of the episode, one of the not-quite-married couple will be dead. (Which in a way is a good thing. The crew death count has been static on this blog for far too long!)
This is the first time we see things like Neutral Zones, and cloaking devices, and there is also a statement made that Humans have never clapped eyes on Romulans, and that they have a primitive war about a century ago. I also know that Romulans appear on episodes of Enterprise so I am looking forward to getting that far ahead with my viewing to see how they deal with that. (I have not seen all of Enterprise yet – when I finally review them for this blog it will be the first time I have watched the later episodes!)
The moment we first see a Romulan is truly drop jaw – they resemble Vulcans. With the forty years of stuff that has come since, we are all used to this fact, but when I watched this the first thing I wondered was if it was a cost saving exercise, to stop the producers coming up with a new design of alien. Perhaps I am too cynical, however you soon forget all of that. Mark Lenard, who plays the Romulan Commander, is a truly excellent actor, and I love watching him in this, and I am so glad we get to see so much more of him in the future.
The Enterprise persues the Romulan vessel, and it basically becomes a game of cat and mouse between the two vessels, both of them firing at each other and inflicting damage. There is a minor irritant here – the special effect used whenever Kirk calls for phaser fire is what we become used to as photon torpedo fire. No big deal, it just stood out.
The two commanders try and psyche each other out, playing tricks on each other, playing dead etc, trying to work the other out. It ends inevitably, with the destruction of the Romulan vessel, but again, I like this since it has the wit not to paint the Romulans as cardboard bad guys – their commander is painted, like Kirk, as a man of honour caught in a situation honour demands that he must deal with, even though he would rather not. Kirk even offers to save the survivors, and there is a final conversation between the commanders over the viewscreen. It is a good scene, and reminds me somewhat of the second movie – the two protragonists never get to actually meet.
So, another good one. This cannot last for long. Can it?
Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 20
Score: 8/10

August 8, 2007 Posted by | romulans | | Leave a comment