Utterly Star Trek Review

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Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.2 (Where Silence Has Lease)

nagilumCast:
Colm Meaney (Miles O’Brien)
Charles Douglass (Ensign Haskell)
Earl Boen(Nagilum)

Writer: Jack B. Sowards

This is a very unusual episode.  It has only one plot – many episodes have two things going on that somehow get linked, but this one concentrates fully on the one story.  The Enterprise finds a hole in space, and accidentally ends up inside it trying to get out.  The try flying out the way they came, going to maximum warp and hoping to fly out the other side… they try loads of stuff and basically it doesn’t work.

They encounter a Romulan vessel that turns out to be an illusion, they beam across to the USS Yamato (their sister ship, which also appears to be there but also turns out to be an illusion) and then they are tantalised with openings back into the real universe than vanish as soon as they set course for them.  In the end, they discover an entity called Nagilum that is effectively holding them prisoner in this void.  He kills a member of the crew just to see how much the human body can cope with, and asks Pulaski to demonstrate reproduction.  (Ugh, Troi would have been marginally better!)

Picard decides to destroy the ship (to prevent Nagilum studying human death, which he guesses will use between a third and half of the crew) so Nagilum sends duplicates of Troi and Data to talk him out of if, which of course doesn’t work.  They end up being set free.

Pulaski is still an odd character – she has taken a dislike (or at least an indifference) to Data who is at this point the most popular character on the show – last show she made a bit deal of pronouncing his name wrong (Daa-ta instead of Day-ta) and this time she questions whether or not he knows what he is doing when called upon to magnify an image on the viewscreen.  It is very hard to like her.

Oh, and there is this odd sequence on the holodeck with Worf at the start.  Has nothing to do with the story and shows him fighting monster things.  They do turn up again a number of times – presumably to justify the cost of the costumes and set in this episode.

This is just an odd episode.  It starts with Picard walking out of his ready room looking lost (perhaps he had a few too many in Ten Forward the night before) and just goes nowhere.  Hard to like, hard to have any opionions about at all really.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 5
Score: 3/10

September 13, 2008 Posted by | anomaly (spacial/temporal), chief o'brien, doubles or duplicates, inside another stafleet ship, self destruct, super beings, worfs holodeck exercise program | | 3 Comments

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.14 (11001001)

Cast:
Katy Boyer (Zero One)
Jack Sheldon (Piano Player)
Gene Dynarski(Cmdr. Quinteros)
Carolyn McCormick (Minuet)
Alexandra Johnson (One Zero)
Iva Lane (Zero Zero)
Kelli Ann McNally (One One)
Ron Brown (Drummer)
Abdul Salaam El Razzac (Bass Player)

Writer: Robert Lewin, Maurice Hurley

This episode is so simple, in fact almost nothing happens in it, yet somehow it is great.  Riker in particular does well out of this episode – there aren’t all that many episodes that give him a lot to do, but this one does.

The premise is simple: the Enterprise is in a starbase having it’s first upgrade, including an upgrade on the holodeck.  Many of the crew leave for some shore leave (as much of the ship has to be shut down to facilitate the upgrades) – for example Worf and Tasha go and play a game called Parisee Squares (a game we hear about a lot but don’t see) and Riker spends the first fifteen minutes getting the brush off from everyone as they all have other things to do, and he is pretty much the only person left on the ship apart from Picard, Wesley and the upgrade team (four Binars).  There is a really nice scene in the upgraded holodeck where Riker creates a fantasy woman in a Jazz bar in the 1950’s, and plays a bit of trombone.  Picard joins him.

Suddenly, the antimatter containment field starts to collapse and so they evacuate the Enterprise.  The sequence where the ship is abandoned and sent out into space so the explosion is away from the starbase is bloody excellent, you get a real sense of how big the crew is.  Riker and Picard are on the holodeck, but nobody can contact them.  As soon as the ship gets away from the starbase the magnetic field repairs itself.  It turns out that the Binars have stolen the Enterprise because something is going to wipe the computer on their planet.  The Binars copy their computer onto the Enterprise computer, and then when it is wiped they restore it using the Enterprise backup.  When asked why they didn’t ask for help, their answer was simple and perfectly logical for a binary race: “you might have said no.”

It’s simple, it’s great.  Minuet (Rikers fantasy woman on the holodeck) is such a complex computer character that Riker kind of falls for her, and is upset when she is wiped from the holodeck memory.  As we get to find out in a few years time, he liked her so much he pretty much thought of her as a real person!

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 1
Score: 8/10

July 22, 2008 Posted by | live music, minuet, painting, parisee squares, self destruct, ship/station taken over, stolen ship or shuttlecraft | | 5 Comments

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Cast:
William Shatner (Kirk)
Leonard Nimoy (Spock)
James Doohan(Scotty)
George Takei(Sulu)
Walter Koenig(Checkov)
Nichelle Nichols(Uhura)
Merritt Butrick (Dr. David Marcus)
Robin Curtis(Saavik)
Christopher Lloyd(Kruge)
Mark Lenard(Sarek)
Judith Anderson (Vulcan High Priestess)
Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand)

Writer: Harve Bennett

You know, my memories of this particular story of the film series were not that great.  There is a theory among the fans that the odd numbered films are not that good.  I have to say both the first film and indeed this one prove that wrong.

The story is relatively simple.  The Enterprise arrives on Earth having returned directly from the events of the previous film.  McCoy is behaving oddly, and when they arrive, they are told that the Enterprise is so badly knackered that she will not be repaired – she is to be scrapped.  Spocks’ father, Sarek (played by the fantastic Mark Lenard) visits Kirk to find out where Spock placed his memories before he died.  It turned out to be McCoy.

Meanwhile, on the Genesis planet, David and Saavik find Spocks coffin but it is empty.  Their ship (the Grissom) is destroyed by a Klingon ship that wants the secrets of the Genesis device.  They find a young Spock with no memories who is rapidly aging, like the planet.

Kirk asks if he can take McCoy to the Genesis planet, but is told he cannot, so he steals the Enterprise and all but Uhura go to Genesis.  There they are attacked by the Klingons, David is killed because Kirk will not surrender and eventually they have to self destruct the Enterprise.  Just before it explodes they beam down to the Genesis planet, which is breaking up, Kirk fights the Klingon commander and wins, and pretends to b him and they get beamed up to the Klingon ship, capture it, and eventually take Spock back to Vulcan (he is now about the right age) and reunited with his body.

The story is not anything like as good as the previous film, but it does have some benefits.  Firstly, this is the first appearance by Klingons as we know them – bumpy foreheads, costumes, knives and everything.  We saw something that was a bit like this in the first film, but the Klingons here are the template used from this point on, and they are great.  Chrisopher Lloyd is especially good as their vicious Captain, who kills crewmembers just for making a mistake (he killed his gunner when the Grissom is destroyed, he only wanted it disabled) and he also orders the death of David (well, any death, it was up to the Klingon on the ground who actually died).  So Yay to the Klingons, they are finally here!

The next two bits I adore are the obvious bits: I love the sequence where Kirk and company steal the Enterprise – they are persued by the experimental TransWarp ship the USS Excelsior, but luckily Scotty has sabotaged their new engines, so the persuit does not go very far.

Also, the destruction of the Enterprise is a really big deal moment.  This is the ship we have seen in every TV episode, and every movie up until this point.  Okay, it was going to be scrapped, but the fact that Kirk destroys her is a poignant moment.  And the effects are pretty good as well – the saucer explodes, but the rest burns up in the atmosphere of the planet.

I also love the fact that Sarek is back – we see Mark Lenard in two more films, and even in a couple of episodes of The Next Generation.

So what if the plot isn’t the strongest, so what if the sequence on Vulcan where Spocks’ mind is taken from McCoy and put back into Spock go on for a bit.  It’s nice to see him again, even though he only gets a few words at the end.

As I said before, this is kind of the middle story in a trilogy, and whilst the two that surround it are much stronger (perhaps the best the series has to offer) I think this one is good too – the quality of two and four tend to push this third film into the shadow a tad.

Crew Deaths: 0 (David doesn’t count, he isn’t Enterprise crew)
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 58
Score: 7.5/10

May 30, 2008 Posted by | accelerated ageing, cloaking devices, david marcus, death of a recurring character, destruction of a starfleet ship, family members, inside another stafleet ship, klingons, mind meld, pon farr, saavik, sarek, self destruct, set on earth, set on vulcan, stolen ship or shuttlecraft, vulcans | | 2 Comments

Star Trek 3.15 (Let that be your last battlefield)

Cast:
Frank Gorshin(Bele)
Lou Antonio(Lokai)

Writers: Oliver Crawford, Gene L. Coon

On the way to decontaminate a planet, the Enterprise crew see a shuttlecraft that was reported stolen a couple of weeks ago at Starbase Four.  (Despite the fact that the footage of the shuttle clearly shows that is is Enterprise shuttle seven.  Oh well).  On board is a fellow called Lokai, who has a unique skin tone – he is white on one side and black on the other.

Not long after, another person from Lokai’s world arrives and claims that Lokai is a mass murderer and that he should be taken back to their home planet.  In fact, he briefly takes over the Enterprise (he has the power to control these things with his mind.  He also makes out that both himself and Lokai are thousands of years old).

This episode is about racism, pure and simple.  It isn’t even subtle – but it is very clever.  The only difference between Bele and Lokai is that their colours are opposite – one is white on the right hand side and one is white on the left.  This really points out the futility of racism – it’s not even that these people have different skin tones, they simply have them on the opposite sides of their bodies.  For this and this alone thsi episode stands out among others.

Sadly, the plot isn’t great.  After Kirk sets the self destruct (he won’t let Bele take over the ship, but as he cannot regain control this is his only option).  Kirk has threatened to use the self destuct before, but what makes this different is the way it is done – they use the same destruct codes when the Enterprise is finally destroyed for real in the third film.  So eventually Bele agrees to let them finish their mission to decontaminmate the planet (the first mission of this type we see, although there are others in later series) then takes over the ship again (having disabled the self destruct) and then takes over again.

When they arrive at their home planet, everybody is dead.  The war between the two opposing skin tones has killed literally everyone on the planet and the whole thing is pointless.  However, Bele and Lokai beam down and try to kill each other.  The Enterprise leaves and lets them get on with it.

Although not great, this episode is a lot better than some I have watched recently.  I really do genuinely admire the way they did the racism storyline, it makes the point brilliantly.  The rest of the episode really is a character piece.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 46
Score: 7/10

May 14, 2008 Posted by | saving a planet, self destruct, ship/station taken over, stolen ship or shuttlecraft | | 1 Comment

Star Trek 2.22 (By Any Other Name)

Cast:
Warren Stevens(Rojan)
Barbara Bouchet(Kelinda)
Stewart Moss(Hanar)
Robert Fortier(Tomar)
Lezlie Dalton(Drea)
Carl Byrd (Lt. Shea)
Julie Cobb (Yeoman Leslie Thompson)

Writer: Jerome Bixby, D.C. Fontana

Yay, I remember this one when I was a kid!  Actually, I don’t remember the whole episode but the sequence where two members of the crew are turned into little cubes that contain their essence, which can be restored if undamaged, then one is crushed in front of Kirk.  This death really upset me as a kid, and atypically it is the pretty young Yeoman that dies, not the redshirt.

A group of aliens, lead by Rojan, want to get back to the Andromeda galaxy, to give them the message that this galaxy is fit for takeover.  They posses weapons that can paralyse people, and they take over the Enterprise in a matter of moments.  They then start to modify it to get it ready for travel between galaxies – in fact, it is modified so much that it can do Warp Eleven!  Later episodes suggest that the maximum possible speed is Warp 10, but perhaps they have re calibrated the Warp Scale by then.

So off they go and head for the Andromeda galaxy, but first they have got to get through the energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy – somewhere they have visited before.  Scott rigs the ship to self destruct when it goes through, so that the aliens won’t get home and bring more of their kind, but they don’t do it.  Once the Enterprise is through the barrier, all non essential personnel are turned into cubes.  Including Uhura and Checkov.  In fact everyone apart from Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty.

Once on their way, the Kelvans (the aliens) start to show an interest in some of the things humans do – they respond to stimulation of the senses.  So Scotty gets one of them horrendously drunk – they start on the Saurian Brandy, and progess through Scottys drink collection to something that is green.  (A joke done again with Data in The Next Generation.)

Kirk meanwhile tries to interest the female Kelvan in sex, by sticking his tongue down her throat (it expresses warth and love, apparently).  This makes Rojan very jealous.  Also, McCoy injects one of the others with what he tells him is vitamins, but actually it is stimulants.

Anyhow, these things together enable the few remaining crew to get the paralysers off the Kelvans and talk them around.

I quite like this episode.  It’s a bit silly in places (especially the second half, after such a serious start) but somehow it works and I like it.

Crew Deaths: 1
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 41
Score: 7/10

April 18, 2008 Posted by | drunk, self destruct, ship/station taken over | | Leave a comment

Star Trek 1.10 (The Corbomite Maneuver)

First Aired: November 10, 1966

Cast:
Anthony Call (Lt. Dave Bailey)
Clint Howard (Balok)

Writer: Jerry Sohl

Another early one (at least in production terms. It must be. Uhura’s back in yellow for this one). I like the start of the episode – Kirk is not on the bridge when everything kicks off – you see that he doesn’t live there, which we don’t really see as the series progresses. It’s nice to see the others dealing with the situation then calling their Captain when things seem to be getting out of hand. There’s also a really unusual (and really cool) hand held shot as Kirk walks from the turbolift onto the bridge. You get a much better idea of the size of the bridge, and it suddenly seems a lot more real than it has before. In fact, this whole episode is set on the Enterprise, and sometimes episodes that do this seem cheap and a bit dull, however on this one it works and helps to create a somewhat (and increasing) claustrophobic feeling as you watch the show. The Corbomite bluff is nice, in fact it is one of the moments I most remember as a kid when watching the original series. It’s also nice to see McCoy seriously challenge Kirk on his actions regarding Bailey, although I’m guessing he doesn’t go through with it.

Some less cool things. Firstly, Bailey is obviously not coping with what is going on, and should have been removed from the bridge as soon as he showed signs of this (and he really showed plenty). Also, the green aliens (which I think are used as the final still in the end credits for most of the run of this series) look great static, but rather than use a person in makeup they used a puppet, which looks dreadful, especially when it “speaks”.

This episode is what The Next Generation producers would have called a bottle show – one that cost very little to make, as it only uses existing sets and has a minimal guest cast. These shows are usually a bit crap, mostly because it only uses existing sets and has a minimal guest cast. This goes to show every rule has an exception – whilst a little slow in the middle, this is a nice episode. Even the twist (that the alien is not actually a green monstrosity but a cute bald kid) is not as annoying as it sounds on paper!

All in all, not bad at all.

Crew Deaths: 0
Total Crew Deaths So Far: 19
Score: 7/10

August 2, 2007 Posted by | self destruct | | 1 Comment